Category Archives: family

Just the norm

Tommy and LJ had a ‘sleepover’ yesterday ( the reason for the inverted commas will be obvious to any grandparents out there). I’ve watched Tommy develop and am struggling with being amazed at what he can do with his little arm and being cross with myself for being amazed, as to him this is just the norm.He was ‘decorating’ ( yes those inverted commas again) the Christmas tree and couldn’t get the bauble string to go over the branch. I never do things like that for him although the grandma in me often has to sit on her hands to stop herself! He held the bauble with his left hand and pushed his little arm Into the middle of the string to hold it open. Amazing he’s worked it out, but why wouldn’t he it’s normal for him?

We snuggled reading books and he had a bottle of juice with a stopper, he opened with his left arm whilst tucking the bottle under his little arm, he used his little arm to press it down, he opened it with his teeth. I watched in fascination. He is oblivious as this is his world. I have hundreds of examples of where he amazes me but then I make myself remember he’s an ordinary little boy learning to do things his way.

He climbed over his baby gate yesterday and found his advent bag – one book a day for December and a toy on Christmas Eve -really grandma?? – well at least he and LJ have lots of books to read and play with now – my poor son was distraught and was going to wrap them up again but it’s just Tommy being a 2 year old.

LJ is now one and is the most independent child I’ve ever met. She meets life on her own terms, cuddles when she wants, climbs, feeds herself potters happily and has been walking for ages! Having Tommy so close in age she just copies everything he does – they come as a pair and he greets her like he’s not seen her for months when you pick them up from nursery where she is in a different room – here she is and a hug.

I’m so proud of the pair of them, I know they will cope with whatever life brings them – they will both have their own challenges and I need to be amazed by them as the brilliant children they are. 

For the love of books …

It’s advent soon and I’ve nearly completed the advent sacks for Tommy and LJ. This isn’t my idea or even a new idea but it is lovely and I decided a bit of positivity was called for today.


Instead of chocolate I wrap up 24 different books and number them, then put them in a sack for my grandchildren to open one each day. It’s great that they love books, there is something so special about having a warm wriggly child snuggled next to you listening in awe or playing with the interactive books with a giggle. Seeing books as a treat and as something to associate spending time with someone you love is priceless. 


It doesn’t have to cost a fortune – I bought a pack of 10 books in TKMaxx this morning that had a RRP of over £60 for £12.99. I add a couple of Christmas books but many of the classic children’s books too. There is a special one for Christmas Eve, I included  a personalised one and a beautifully illustrated one from YSP last year. 

Ps there are ideas on Pinterest if you want an alternate to using a sack.

Share your ideas for what books would be great in an advent sack?

 I love the ‘Feel Brave‘ series by  Avril McDonald


This is hopefully going to be a family tradition that we do every year, I love being a grandma!

2nd Aug just for fun

The 1st of August is Tommy’s birthday – proper little Yorkshire man. Where there’s a birthday there has to be cake. My granddaughter Layla-Jane loves food and the glee on her face when we just let them have the cake was priceless. Hence today’s prompt – ‘sometimes the only answer is …’

Just as a heads up – I’m off on holiday on Saturday so won’t be posting a challenge as I’m not sure how reliable wifi will be – happy for anyone to take over 😃

Nearly a year

Nearly a year on from mum’s death and we are learning how to cope. Lots of tears, skirting around issues, trying not to say the wrong thing. Dad has a huge gaping hole where mum was and is fragile but strong. Mum’s shoes have finally been moved from the front door, he’s cleaning out wardrobes ( so that I don’t have to do it when he dies). When we are out he cries if anyone mentions mum but is sad if no one does. He worries about sending birthday cards just from him so we’ve talked and for now he still signs them from him and mum. He is still convinced that it’s his fault she died the guilt of having no option but to place your loved one into care. 

He has aged so much this year, he shuffles, he’s had so many ailments (although a highlight was winning a £500 M and S voucher as a result of booking a hearing test). I’m so proud of him, he’s kept going and taught himself new skills, he asks for help with practical tasks ( well he does now I’ve banned him from climbing into the loft.)

It would have been my eldest son’s birthday this weekend – 29 – how can that be when I still see him as a baby? If you are around someone who is grieving remember that the sadness never fully goes away. It’s 29 years and I can still feel the softness of Matthew’s cheek so no, you never get over it you just learn how to live with it.

Northern Rocks this weekend brought back a flood of memories – mum was terminally ill, Debbie and I had recently been to Kakuma and my emotions were all over the place But and it’s a big but – I was surrounded by friends who propped me up ( literally at times).

At the moment I’m recharging with a week in the Dales, dad is in charge of my greenhouse and happy to have a focus for a week, my Tommy and LJ are on standby for hugs this weekend and life is good – the sadness is part of us and makes us what we are. 

Nurture 2015/2016

2015 has seen some amazing highs. Watching Tommy develop and grow into a confident and loving toddler, the birth of my beautiful granddaughter Layla-Jane, the visit to Kakuma and the support which followed, the final publication of the den book to name but a few. However, the whole year is tinged with sadness due to mum’s death at the end of June so I can’t write a ‘traditional nurture post’ whatever that is.

Instead I will use photos (what else?) to say thank you to many of the people who have supported me this year. Apologies if I have missed anyone – I know I will have and that many of my ‘virtual friends’ aren’t here as I don’t have your photos.


To all of you on here who have shown your love and support in hundreds of ways – a huge thank you and I hope 2016 is all you want it to be

J x


Today would have been mum’s birthday- the horrendous months of May and June seem a lifetime away and life has moved on. It hasn’t moved on for dad who is struggling without her. I still think ‘I’ll just ring mum’ then remember I can’t. Ive just had a text from my cousin saying ‘thinking of you’ – it’s these little things that matter. We all support each other. We are going together to take flowers but having Tommy with us will help. Mum never met Layla- jane but I’m sure she’s smiling at both her and Tommy. A strange day but time to think about what is important- off to take my gorgeous Tommy D out for breakfast now x

I ordered some brilliant postcards from Moo – love the quality – and this postcard was at the front – kind of sums up Tommy x


Happy tears

Yesterday was nerve wracking. My daughter in law was in labour and we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Tommy’s sister Layla Jane  We distracted ourselves at the farm, met reindeers, had coffee and checked my phone every few minutes.JMH_1688

Layla was born at 10.20 last night – Tommy was ready with his big brother t shirt and his present for Layla this morning. We have had messages of love and support all day. Some people are missing and it makes it bitter sweet but we know that we are blessed. These two are loved so much and are safe others aren’t so lucky. Today we are counting our blessings and crying happy tears.


T and LJI cannot tell you the joy that being a grandmother brings – what an amazing day x

Write a letter to your loved ones

None of us know what the future holds. None of us know how our lives will pan out. I’m sure there are times when you look back and say ‘if only’. Mum’s dementia caused lots of ‘if only’ moments. ‘If only she could have told us how she felt, if she understood why we had to have her placed into care, if she forgave us, if only. We agonised about her treatment and even after her death we all had to cope with varying degrees of confusion and guilt.

Then dad found a letter that mum had written in 1996 to myself and my brother just after her own mum had to go into care. I cannot begin to tell you how powerful that letter was. Not least because it was my real mum talking and not the empty shell that had been created by the dementia. She loved us, she told us when her time came that she knew we would do the right thing and all that she asked was that we stay close to one another.

It put so much into perspective and although lots of tears have been shed it has helped to begin the healing process. So I will write to my son and my grandson and put the letters somewhere safe. I don’t want them to think ‘if only’. x

family notice board

This is just a snapshot of the board behind my desk – it has mum in the middle and my family around – I just hadn’t realised x

The best laid plans…

Today was a Tommy day. It was also bright sunshine and a beautiful autumnal day. I had this clear shot in my head of Tommy wrapped in a big woolly jumper with his new wellies playing in the leaves.

Playing in Autumn Leaves
Cannon Hall
  • The wellies that I bought for Tommy were three sizes too big and fell off when I carried him across to the leaves
  • The leaves were crunchy and made a noise which Tommy didn’t like so he refused to be put down and just clung to my leg.
  • My husband tried to coax him by throwing leaves in the air – Tommy’s look of disgust was comical
  • Plan B was a walk in his pushchair to see if he became more settled with his surroundings – he fell asleep!
  • Plan C was home, food and try again – well the food worked!


In the end it didn’t matter I just let him play – we read books for half an hour, snuggled and shared some burnt toast. He is so adorable he just puts everything into perspective just by being there. He is inquisitive, he is starting to copy sounds and is growing up so quickly. So today I learnt to not stress if things don’t go the way I want them to, to enjoy the little things and improvise!

JMH_9297a   JMH_9390a    JMH_9369a

Finding your place

The last few weeks have seen a lot of reflective thought. Mum’s dementia and death have made us all stop and re evaluate what is important.
What is important? What is It that defines us and makes us what we are? The values we hold now are rooted in our childhood and the values our children and grandchildren will have are rooted within us.
My grandson Tommy has been my inspiration this year. His constant smile and perseverance have spurred me on. I talk to him and promise that I will support him and make sure he is the best he can be. He makes me smile. I’m in awe of the fact that if he can’t reach something with his little arm he will use his feet. At only a year old he has learnt to cope with only one hand, he crawls, pulls himself up, balances objects and literally makes my heart melt when he strokes my arm with his little arm. He is fascinated by people and when out with him it takes me twice as long to do anything as he beams at complete strangers who then come to talk to us.

PicMonkey Collage
If you ask anyone about what makes a person special they will talk about personality and character  – why then do we still judge by appearances, why are so many of us on diets bemoaning our shape and our cellulite?
My own grandmother always said ‘ a little bit of help is worth a lot of pity’ that from a women bringing up 7 children in a 3 bed roomed terraced house with no bathroom and an outdoor toilet – oh and her bitter, jilted great uncle living with them too ( he taught us all to swear, took up residence by the open fire, smoked a pipe and never ever removed his flat cap). No wonder she judged people by their response to and care for others. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard since her funeral when all 7 of her ‘children’ (then in their 60’s and 70’s) recounted tales of bath night and teasing dad who as the eldest got first go in the tin bath in front of the fire. When the lads talked of arguing who’s turn it was to empty uncle Ernest’s chamber pot (apparently one of his skills was to fill it to within a millimetre of the rim) tears were running down their faces as they laughed and remembered their childhood.
Values are talked about frequently in education. What values do we need to encourage and develop.
The Dalai Lama said ‘I have no religion, my religion is kindness’. We encountered such kindness during mum’s last week. It didn’t take much, a cup of coffee, a hug, a listening ear, an e mail, a regular text – all served as reminders that we weren’t on our own.
Today feels significant as it’s the first home match of the season. For the last couple of years that meant that either I or my brother had to go and sit with mum. If I’m painfully honest I dreaded it. It was like being stuck in mum’s frightening and frustrating world for several hours. The last time I did this was the week before I went to Kakuma which now feels a lifetime away. Dad is still struggling, life is very surreal at times – a phone call from my uncle with a message from mum via a medium, a first birthday party, the planning of holidays, taking flowers to a whole range of graves as mum’s ashes are in the same village cemetery as my son, her sister and her mum…and life goes on. Sunday is the anniversary of my eldest son’s death 28 years ago. At the time I couldn’t see a way forward and felt that I would never be happy again. I have friends who are suffering the loss of people close to them, I have friends who are celebrating- all I know is that kindness helps and we should never underestimate the power of friendship.