Monday, 20 October 2008

Worrying times

The last few days have been very worrying. My husband's 81 year old Grandmother was taken into hospital on Friday. She had been suffering with a bladder infection that had got out of control. She had become so poorly that sickness was causing her not to keep the antibiotics down.

Initially on Saturday she appeared to improve a little but on Sunday she developed Septicemia which in turn caused problems with her heart. My husband is very close to both his Grandparents and because he is in Liverpool has been feeling the distance. It would be at least a five hour drive to get back to see her. He has been on standby all weekend.

Not only are we extremely worried about her, but Grandad also. He is in his 90's and has suffered from Emphacemia for 20 years and needs a lot of support. It's quite amazing really, both of them have health problems and alone stuggle to cope, but together as a team they cope very nicely. Grandad is unable to visit Nan in hospital and is undoubtedly very concerned.

Today we received the new that Nan is on the up and is now stable. But it looks like she will be staying in hospital for around a month and when she does get home will not be able to care for Grandad anymore. It looks like they are going to need full time help.

Hubby's contract in Liverpool comes to an end this week, so he is going to come home on Wednesday and spend a bit of time with the family before he goes off to his next job, which unfortunately is in Dumfries! So Thursday the kids are going to stay with my sister and we are heading back to Somerset to see both Nan and Grandad.

I do hope Nan recovers quickly, I really am unsure how Grandad is going to cope without her, and it is awful to see them apart.


Things are a bit crap at the moment, and I will fill you all in a bit later on but for now I leave you with some photos that I took of the autumn colours the other day.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

ABC Wednesday - M

M is for Mum

Maybe a popular post for this ABC Wednesday, but this is my little tribute to the special mums I know.

I never appreciated my mother until I had my own children, probably a common story. I believe mums are very important and I feel terribly sorry for people who have to do without their mums for whatever reason. Like bringing up your own children, whether you agree with how they did it or not, the way your mum brought you up always has a bearing on what you do. And you can't beat you mum when you're feeling rough, even to this day I seek comfort from mine when I'm ill, even if it's only a whinging phone call! My mum turned seventy last Saturday, and is a wise and interesting woman who I hope to have with me for many years yet. Thanks mum!

Another mention has to go to a good friend of mine back in Somerset. She got pregnant very soon after starting to see her partner, and still very young, was panicked when she found out. She wasn't sure if she was going to keep the baby and wrestled with it for a long time. She decided to keep it and March last year gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. She is a wonderful mother, who has glided from a young and free girl who loved partying, to a mature woman who always puts her boy first. She is still with her partner and they are expecting their second child early spring.

Her sister is next. I have to mention her. Her and her partner had wanted to have a baby for a long time but due to health reasons had to keep putting it off. Finally they got the all clear and were trying to get pregnant for ages, way before her sister got pregnant, which was difficult for her. Anyway their first baby, also a boy is due tomorrow. So my thoughts are with them and we are all hoping for a smooth birth as she still has health issues. These are the times when I really miss my friends.

Finally I would like to mention another friend who sadly had her impending motherhood snatched away, when just a week before she was due, she was told that her baby had died.

So everyone that was lucky enough to have a good mother, please take a moment to think of her. For those of you who didn't (my husband being one of them, she did far more harm than good) I am sorry. For those of you that are mothers, be the best you can, they will thank you for it....... eventually!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Adventures without my camera!

Can't believe I was so stupid as to forget to take my camera!! Because we were blessed with such a beautiful day today we decided to make the most of it. I spoke to one of the local farmers the other day and he agreed that it was ok for us to walk through his fields. I thought it would be, but it's polite to check isn't it. He told us it was fine as long as we respected the country code, which of course we would anyway.

So off we went today. Jedi's foot has recovered remarkably and she was determind to come. She still can't flex it fully but if she's careful she can put weight on it now. We headed up the field directly behind the cow sheds which sit behind the house. We soon came across a large stream which runs down between the two large hills. It was quite a long way down and we had to carefully pick our path. When we got down there it was so beautiful. This is why I wish we had the camera. It tumbles down from the hills through a slate lined valley, dotted with little waterfalls.

It was cool and green and beautiful. We followed the stream up hill, weaving from side to side, choosing the best route. Some parts were a real problem solving session, where the stream was too deep, or the slate too slippery. There were awkward parts where the gorse was too thick or a ledge to narrow. It was exciting, adventurous and challenging. The girls enjoyed sips of the cold, fresh water and marvelled at the strange fungus and moss we found.

We got a bit wet and a bit dirty, but that's half the fun right? We had quite a steep climb to get out of the valley and then had to follow the sheep trails back around the hill towards home. We all had a fantastic time and even though some of the walk was tricky the girls learnt about all sorts of things, like wet slate is slippy, the edges of the bank aren't always solid, and tree branches that look like good hand holds are sometimes rotten!! Good things to know if you're going adventuring!!

I just wish I'd had that camera, but I promise that next time we go adventuring I will take it with me. This place is too gorgeous not to share with you.

On another note Jedi has decided she wants to blog too, so please pop over and say hi to her here.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

A pain in the .....foot.

I am sure my kids were sent to try me. I mean Trouble is getting so much better behaviour wise, we still have the odd battle but we enjoy eachothers company more and more. And Jedi is such a great kid but these last couple of weeks have been such hard work. Not through any fault of her own, of course, but stressful none the less.

There was another incident at school yesterday with the Devil child. Only a minor one in comparison to what has been happening, but still an incident, and one that should not have been allowed to happen. For some reason in the last lesson of the day DC (as he shall now be known) was moved to the table next to Jedi. Usually he is at the other side of the room. He then spent quite some time pinching Jedi at every opportunity. This on it's own is probably quite a common occurence in schools all over the world, but why on earth, when they know Jedi has a problem with DC was it allowed to happen? It was a supply teacher but I don't think that is anything like an excuse. So I had to kick off at school again this morning.

This whole issue is proving to be quite a drain on us. Jedi has started having dreams about it, which shows that she is not dealing with it quite as well as she makes out. And every day I take her to school it makes me feel like I am taking a lamb to slaughter, and I end up worrying about her all day. It just proves her love of school though that she still wants to go. I have now written to the Chair of Govenors and told them that the next substantial attack will result in me pulling Jedi from school. Personally I don't think home schooling is good for children, but as she has only been at the school for just under a year and it is her final year of juniors, I don't really want to move her, so it may be my only option.

Anyway, aside from all that she's had the recent chest infection that we had been hoping to avoid. She's off the antibiotics and is much improved, but it has been a worry again. Then, just to ice the cake, yesterday evening when demonstrating her dancefloor 'shapes', she rather over enthusiastically leaps into the air and comes down on the outside edge of her foot and falls to the floor in agony. My first thought is that she has broken it again! She has previously broken bones in both of her feet, but that's another story! Living where we do the nearest 24hr emergency department is Lord knows where and I didn't think it was quite bad enough for an ambulance. So I dosed her up with pain killers and put a bag of frozen peas on it.

She slept downstairs on the sofa last night, because she has a bunk bed and there was no way I was heaving her up there. Today we spent all morning in town going between the MIU at the surgery and the hospital x-ray department. Luckily, however, it is not broken. Instead she has torn the tendon that runs along the outside of her foot and pulled it away from the bone a bit by her little toe. Excuse me, but fucking ouch!! Poor thing, (I was going to say little, but after carrying her around all day, I can tell you she's not bloody little!) She is in a lot of pain and feeling very sorry for herself. I now have even more to worry about when I take her to school. She wants to go but she is going to be twice as vunerable. And I am worn out. Yes tired from carrying her but also pretty emotional drained. Roll on Saturday when Hubby is home and I can have a nice big, protective, manly cuddle.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Cooking up a storm

On Saturday evening Jedi decided she wanted to make pasta bake for tea. Simple enough, but she wanted to make sure she got it right, after all she is only eleven. So she comes into the lounge where me and hubby were watching a bit of telly. Jedi was asking a few questions on the best dish to cook it in and how to go about it. Then she asked;

"Should I cook the pasta first?"

"What did you just say?" says Hubby in a shocked and rather angry voice. Me and Jedi looked at eachother, puzzled.

"I said; should I cook the pasta first?"

"Oh" replies Hubby, sheepishly.

"What on earth did you think she said" I asked

"Should I cook the bastard first?!"he muttered.

I don't think I have been laughing enough lately because this kept me going all night. Every so often I would remember the conversation and burst into childish and uncontrollable giggles. It is still making me snigger now!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

ABC Wednesday - L

L is for Lory

Lories are beautiful birds which come in a variety of colours. My favourite has to be the Duyvenbode Lory, and the reason for this is because I once owned one.

This is Caleb.

I think Duyvenbode Lories are often overlooked because they are not immediately eye catching. But I fell in love with Caleb as soon as I saw him. As you can see in the photos he was mostly a rich chocolate brown with flashes of an amazingly bright yellow/orange. This bright colouring was most obvious in flight as it is most prominent beneath the wings and tail. You can also see a blue tinge to his tail which was most obvious when the sun caught it.

Caleb on his specially adapted poo catcher!

Lories have a very soft diet of mostly fruit and in the wild nectar. They have specially adapted tongues, which are somewhat like a feathery tube, which they would use to get nectar from plants. Caleb was fed a special Lory mixture that was a bit like packet baby food, fed fairly wet, and also fruit and a runny honey mixture. Because of this runny diet you can imagine what his poo was like!! He had an amazing habit of shooting it at someone if they weren't to his liking. So a special perpex sheild was attached to his cage to protect everyone and everything.

Caleb and his toys

Caleb loved to come out and play, this bell was one of his favourites probably because it was noisy. He would sometimes lie on his back and kick his toys like a cat.

Unfortunately Duyvenbodes can be very noisy. Caleb was a real mummy's boy and took a dislike to my, then, husband. As soon as he walked in the door Caleb would start this awful shreeching noise and wouldn't stop until my husband left again. The time came when I received an ultimatum, him or the bird. So unfortunately I had to sell Caleb. Probably the wrong decision as he is now my ex husband but that's life!!

One of the funniest things about owning one of these birds is trying to get insurance for them. I phoned pet insurance companies then got told surely I wanted motor insurance for my Lorry!!!

I found this amazing picture of a Duyvenbode Lory in flight at Warren Photographic.

Beautiful aren't they?

Poor Little Birdies!!

As if it wasn't enough that the poor birds that do venture into my garden to feed, get constant and relentless harrassment from my beastly Bengals, they appear to have another problem. Now, I am a huge fan of birds of prey but what I witnessed up close and personal today was something completely new!

There I was in the garden, after bringing the girls back from school, having a look at my chickens. I heard a fuss in the tree where I hang the bird feeders, and looked up to see a Sparrowhawk fly out of the tree and right in front of me with a blue tit in it's talons! Now, I know this is what Sparrowhawks do, and I have seen them in the fields darting along the hedgerows, but never quite like this. I was actually quite shocked.

Then about twenty minutes later I was stood quite close to said tree on the phone to my mother. The Sparrowhawk came back for another go, and flew within a couple of feet of my face, I actually ducked! It was lovely to see, I really enjoy seeing more and more wildlife, especially when the kids get to see it too, (they saw the hawk through the lounge window) but I wish it would leave my poor little birds alone. The fact that it was so brazen and was totally unbothered by me standing there just amazed me.

Speaking of local wildlife, me and the girls were lucky enough to see a badger a couple of evenings ago. We were coming home from the high school visit, it was dark of course because it gets dark so early now. As we came up the drive there was a badger badgering about. The girls loved seeing it. Animals like this must seem like a myth to some people who never get the chance to see them.

Funny day today, the weather couldn't decide whether to be sunny or raining, so I'll leave you with these pics of the hill this afternoon.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Art Attack!

Hey all, been busy again. But doing what I'm not actually sure! I know the kids have been monopolising the laptop and I haven't had much of a look in! Bad news on the bunny front I'm afraid, there was only one more in the nest and when I checked the following day it too had died. It's such a shame, she is such a good mother when she's got passed the first few days. I promised the kids we will try again in the spring, and I will just have to be more vigilant.

Jedi has had a bad chest again this week, and has ended up on antibiotics yet again. It is difficult to know whether she is better than she would have been if she hadn't been seeing my cousin. I guess putting the rib back in place doesn't neccessarily mean that the pocket that had formed in her lung will disappear too. She hasn't been that ill though so hopefully it is working.

Anyway, a few days ago we popped into town. Jedi is now old enough to have a bank account with a cash point card, and as she is pretty responsible for her age, I agreed to open a bank account for her. Both the girls received cheques from their nan for their birthdays so they have to go somewhere. They both now have a bank account but Trouble can't access her money without me. She can have a card when she is 11. Of course, Jedi is feeling very grown up and superior and can't wait until her card arrives in the post. The good thing is we live about four miles from town anyway and neither of them can get there without me, so their money is pretty safe for a while at least!

While Jedi and I were in town setting up the bank accounts we visited the local gallery. There are two very talented artists based there. One, who I believe is the owner, draws the most wonderful birds of prey, and the other is wildlife photographer and film maker Dee Doody. Apparantly he hasn't been painting all that long but I find his work very beautiful and captivating. He is also the nicest man you could meet. If he is at the gallery when you visit you can watch him paint and he is always happy to chat.

On Wednesday when Jedi and I popped in to say hello, Jedi bought herself a new sketch book and a nice soft pencil. When we got home she decided she wanted to sketch one of Dee's paintings. After six and a half hours, a little coaching on composition and shading, this is what she produced.

As a comparison, here is the painting by Dee that she copied;

It's not a perfect copy, but I think you'll agree that the sketch is really rather good! Dee thought so when we took it in to show him. Jedi gave him a copy and he put it up near his own work in the gallery! He also gave Jedi a print of his own and a wildlife DVD for more inspiration. We ended up chatting to him for about an hour that day! He does a lot of work with Gigrin Farm, that I mentioned in my ABC Wednesday post. He helps out with the marking of eggs and ringing of chicks, and mentioned that there appears to be a nest very close to our house. I'm hoping that I may be able to get involved next spring.

Anyway, if your are ever in the town of Llanidloes, North Powys, pop into the Nature Gallery and check out some of the amazing art work of both artists, and who knows maybe one day, some of Jedi's work too!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Trouble is nine!

I dedicated a post or two to Jedi so now I am doing one for Trouble. I should have done it on Tuesday but I didn't get the chance.!!

Trouble was born in Somerset at 1.17pm on the 30th September 1999. My pregnancy had been pretty hard work. I had morning sickness for 7 months and severe pelvic pain. I am a small person and have always had a small bump, I don't put on much weight either, which is great but makes midwives think my bump is too small. When I had my 20 week scan they told me Trouble had stopped growing. I had put more weight on that week than at any other time so I just couldn't see how she could have stopped growing. From then on I had weekly scans and had to be monitored every other day. It was a difficult time with a toddler already running round.

They say you should feel a healthy baby kick at least ten times a day, when I was being monitored she would kick 80 times in 20 minutes! Does that sound like a unhealthy, unhappy baby? I took everything with a pinch of salt, I think we know deep down when everything is ok. Trouble was finally induced two weeks early, because my consultant was convinced that my placenta was failing again and this was causing Trouble not to grow properly. I was told she would weigh four pounds.

Wednesday morning I had to ring the hospital and check if they had a bed for me. They didn't, so I took Jedi to the local fair! Later that day the hospital had a bed free so I was taken in and given a pessary about 8pm. The next morning I woke to a few twingey pains which soon developed into contractions. I had a bath, which was amazing and really took the edge off. When Jedi was born they had broken my waters and although I had ended up with a caersarean it had definately sped up proceedings. I mentioned this to the ward staff and promised them if they took me to the labour ward and broke my waters I would get on with it!

So that's what happened, I was moved down to the labour ward and my waters were broken. Because I had been induced I had to be monitored constantly and couldn't move around but this was one of the only times Trouble wasn't any trouble. She popped out with out too much effort and I only had gas and air. She weighed in at a surprising 6lb 11oz (not 4lb!) and the official labour time was four hours.

I'm glad that we are looked after and monitored and checked out, but this time I think they had it wrong. Although, a friend of mine recently went for her 20 week scan only to be told that her baby was dead. How does that happen? How do they miss it when there is something wrong but seem to make up problems when there aren't any.

Anyway, Trouble was a wonderful baby, she was quiet and content. Everyone told me how hard it would be to have two children now, but it wasn't. In fact I hardly noticed her at all! That was until she hit 7 months and started to crawl, then she appeared to make it her life work to annoy Jedi and cause as much 'Trouble' as possible. You know how everyone has a story about something they did when they were a child, like putting toast in the video, cutting their hair, or drawing somewhere that they shouldn't? Well that was Trouble everyday, all day. When her dad got home from work there was always a list of five or six things she had sone that day. I couldn't leave her alone, and only relaxed when she was asleep.

She's still hard work now, but since we have moved to the country, she has less opportunity to disappear like she was, and is improving. Trouble may have been a nuisance, but she is a loving, happy child, who had a great determination and knows what she wants. She has a lot of traits which in future will no doubt take her a long way but at the moment tend to get her into trouble. She does quite well at school but needs to concentrate and maybe work a little harder.

Trouble doesn't know yet what she wants to be when she grows up, but with her stubborness and determination I am sure that she will do what ever she wants!!

Happy 9th Birthday Trouble!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

ABC Wednesday - K

I promised a lighter ABC Wednesday after my heavy duty 'I', unfortunately I missed J all together so here is this week's contribution;

K is for Red Kite

Red Kites are a very distinctive bird of prey because of their tails, which often, from below, appear to be forked. They are a beautiful bright chestnut colour and have a wing span of nearly two metres, but with a relatively small body weight of around 2-3lbs. A few years ago red kites were incredibly rare in the UK. A couple of places were then set up to try and reintroduce a healthy population. I am extremely lucky to live pretty close to one such centre, Gigrin Farm. Other red kite centres imported the birds from Europe but Wales is home to the only native birds in the UK. It was all started by the late Mr Powell who would feed the kites that nested on his farm when he had spare rabbit meat.

In the early 90's the Powells were approached by the RSPB and asked to be an official kite centre and to open to the public. The Powells, thankfully, agreed and the result is an amazing place where we can all go to get a better look at these beautiful birds.

I visited Gigrin Farm back in August, the weather was fine and as I arrived the anticipation was huge. When you first get there, there are a series of buildings containing displays and lots of information. You then walk down a short track to the purpose built hides. There are four public hides and a couple of specialised hides for photographers and film makers. Get there early to ensure you get a good view, but I have to admit all of the hides give you an amazing view anyway. A tractor comes out with meat, which is beef, all fit for human consumption. It is spread out over the area just a few metres from the hides.

You need a little patience as the birds will not come in to feed until they know it is safe. First the crows come. Because Kites are such a small bodied bird, they do not have the strength to lift large pieces of meat, the crows help to break it up a bit, and also show the kites it is safe to feed. Kites don't land to feed as a buzzard might, they swoop down and snatch meat from the ground.

They then head up to clear airspace and feed on the wing. The sight from the hide is amazing. Even if you are not a kite fan you cannot fail to be impressed by the birds swooping just in front of you.

In the winter months around 400 kites visit Gigrin Farm every day, they come down to feed in groups. While one group feeds another circles waiting for their turn. Just driving passed the feeding centre at the right time of day, provides the amazing spectacle of clouds of Red Kites in the sky above the road. If you do get the opportunity to visit, please go along, the money we pay to see these amazing birds ensures that the Powells can keep affording the meat to feed them and keep these birds from dying out.