Category Archives: family

Jewellery for LimbBo Foundation

Those of you who know me well are used to seeing me ‘play’ with a variety of creative ideas. I love trying anything new be it making baby shoes or freezing flowers, I’ll give it a go. My latest addiction is ‘Acrylic pouring’ – this is so so messy and so amazingly therapeutic. You can’t completely control your result and you never know what you are going to get.

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I was introduced to this art form by a wonderful friend Pamela Sanders – check out her page – she is way out of my league as an artist but she’s a great teacher (Kingstone friends she’s also Sharon’s sister!)

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My other loves are my gorgeous grandchildren (Tommy, LJ and Joseph just make me smile). Again, if you follow me you will know that Tommy is the inspiration behind  the  LimbBo Foundation which we formed to raise awareness of limb differences and support these children and their families. In an attempt to combine my loves I’m making jewellery using acrylic pouring and hoping to sell these necklaces and bracelets to donate the profits   to Limbbo. Some of my friends were kind enough to say they might be interested – hence this post.

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Each necklace is completely unique (I couldn’t make two the same even if I tried!)

They are £10 each plus £1 postage but I can reduce the price if you buy more than one. There are various ‘colour ranges’, Earth tones, Black and white, brights, pink and grey … all come with a soft suede type fastening/string  in a variety of colours – I just add which colour I think works but am happy to add a specific colour if you wish.

If you are one of my Barnsley friends, I’ll throw in a free coffee and biscuit if you want to come and have a look 🙂

Please message me if you are interested either on here or via twitter/instagram @janeh271

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I gave the limbBo mums one of these at our meet up last week – thanks to Bianca for allowing me to use her photo.

Her’s my amazing Tommy D making his own painting which has pride of place on my kitchen wall.

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Hope to chat to some of you soon. x

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LimbBo Foundation meet up

museumMy eyes won’t stop dripping – is the phrase Tommy uses to explain to me why he’s crying. Well my eyes have been really dripping this week. I am so proud of my little inspiration and his sister ( his parents make me cry too!). A group of limb different children and their families showed us what positive thinking, love, and a bit of ingenuity can do. Watching two 4 year olds high five one another with their ‘little arms’, seeing children with one hand swinging on apparatus, watching fireman bend down and hold hoses so these children can do it themselves. Laughter, friendships formed, questions asked, hopes and fears shared. People giving up their time to share their experiences, genuine smiles from complete strangers as opposed to the stares we sometimes get. We were loud, proud and not easy to miss. These children had ‘found their tribe’ and it showed in the beams on their faces.
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Reading feedback on the day led to even more eye dripping.
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We thanked blue watch at Parkway @syfr for making our children feel special, for playing with them ( not to mention all thoughtful touches – a fire engine from the emergency museuem in Sheffield driven by a volunteer – Bob, so they could have a ride in a real fire engine, sweets to take with them to see Paw Patrol, not to mention the bag of doughnuts and cookies that appeared in the middle of the afternoon ( think that was Ljs favourite bit) ) for making them giggle, just priceless to watch.
All of this captured on video by Josh from Walnut Creative who have supported us since we formed LimbBo.

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My overriding feeling from the day was just the sheer kindness we were shown by everyone. It is so important for these limb different child and their siblings to realise that yes they are different but differences can be celebrated and not just seen as a problem. Tommy’s favourite saying is ‘I can do it’ and do you know what – he can.
LimbBo will continue us to grow, we will continue to spread our message – our book is available from our website, we continue to create 3 D printed arms, with support from Team Unlimbited and there will be more get togethers ( no Katie I still won’t go camping).
I’m making jewellery to raise funds – quick preview here and I’ll blog about that later this week – think Christmas presents everyone 😃its been an amazing 5 months so a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us so far x
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Life lessons from a 2 year old

My granddaughter LJ is my inspiration. She meets life head on and on her own terms. This morning we went to a pottery painting session. (Thank you @lescadeauxgifts )

The paints were a wonderful array of pastel colours in a circular palette. LJ started with one colour then decided that she wanted to use them all at once. She dipped her paint brush in each one and mixed – the resulting muddy brown may not have been my first choice but she was beaming. Covered her ‘bunny rabbit’ in it, clapped her hands and wandered off in search of another bun.

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I want to be #morelikeLJ

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My aims for this summer are:

  • Stop saying sorry
  • Remember I am not responsible for other people – I can support but ultimately they are responsible for themsleves
  • If I’m happy with something and I’ve done my best I’m not going to worry about what others might think.
  • I will plan my goals according to what I want to do (I’m 60 soon – surely almost ready for ‘I shall wear purple’)
  • Be kind – my grandmother taught me that and I aim to leave the same legacy to my 3 grandchildren.
  • If all else fails I will go and get another bun

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So this Summer I WILL be #morelikeLJ 

 

FINALLY …

Tommy can use a camera by himself. For a couple of years I’ve been campaigning -aka ‘banging on’ and moaning about the fact that there is no such thing as a left handed camera.  (You will find several blog posts on here 🙂 ) None of the major camera companies could help – they suggested remote releases or apps …and whilst I know these work Tommy is 3 and wants to run around and snap what he sees not set up a studio type shot.

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My son (obviously fed up of my moaning ) decided to sort it out for Tommy. With help and advice from friends, a 3D printer, lots of patience and a determination that #Tommycan take photos – the ‘LimbBo Cam buddy’ was created.

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Tommy can hold it easily in his left hand and still press the shutter – he literally squealed when he used it in a cafe and saw what he’d taken. So much so that people came to talk to us and ask what he was using.

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We can now have mama and Tommy camera sessions and he’s so proud of his shots. If you know any child who would benefit from this please contact https://www.limbbofoundation.co.uk/ and we can point you to the design which Adam has made ‘Open source’  . If you don’t have a 3D printer but have a child with a limb difference that would benefit then please get in touch.

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Just goes to show there ‘is always another way’ (@ITLWorldwide) and we can celebrate what #Tommycan do 

30 years on – tread softly …

Do you ever drive somewhere and when you arrive just literally shake your head as you have no idea how you got there? I was having this discussion with an old friend and we both feel like that about our lives – how did we get here? We are pushing  sixty our children are grown up, married, parents. Our own parents are in their 80s and some have died. Life has quite a surreal quality at the minute. This week it Is 30 years since my eldest son died and I want to mark it in some way. He died when he was 8 weeks old and I will never forget how soft his skin felt when he was first born. 

Do I see him as a 30 year old? No he’s my baby, he will always be my baby and I can’t imagine him as a grown up. I think about him, the hurt has faded and I know he would have suffered if he’d lived. Has he left a gap, changed my life … hell yes! When he was 21 – I bought a watch which I have worn everyday since. I take flowers to his grave, I talk to him there. The anger has gone – you can’t be angry for 30 years, the pain has lessened, the memories though as sharp as ever. The sounds and smells of the intensive care unit imprinted on your subconscious. 

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As Matthew only lived for 8 weeks, his birth and death are all intertwined in my memories – I wrote this last year but never posted it.

Certain days are etched on your memory. The sounds, the weather, the emotions. One of my worst days was 29 years ago today. My baby son died in my arms. He lived for 8 weeks and 2 days. I’d  held him up to the hospital window to show him the world he would never get to experience. I’d cried and begged him to let go, I could see he was suffering. The fear, the sheer terror accompanied by the steady hum and beeps of hospital monitors. Death isn’t peaceful it’s drawn out and rasping breaths getting further apart mark life’s end. 

The silence when it comes is all invasive and the need to run or scream or curl up in a ball take turns at overwhelming you.  Nervous expressions, kindly smiles but no one knows what to say. You are offered a Polaroid once all the tubes are removed but I can’t look at it.

The uncomfortable silences, the forms, the formalities and then you go home without your cherished son who has been your focus every single hour of his short life. Emptiness,sadness, bitterness, rage – every emotion you can think of and suddenly it’s 29 years ago. You are divorced from his dad, you have a younger son who has his own children, the floral tributes now include one to ‘uncle Matthew’. Life goes on, the hurt is buried deeper, the scars fade but nothing can take away the memories.

So here I am 30 years on, blessed with two amazing grandchildren- no idea how I got here but I’m going to enjoy it and honour the memory of my beloved Matthew by looking after his namesake Thomas Matthew, and his little sister Layla Jane

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‘Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.’ WB Yeats

It’s the little things that matter …

I have been horrible this weekend. Bad tempered, snappy and irritable. Why? I’ve no idea – I just know I’ve been difficult to live with. You know those times when you can hear yourself and know you need to shut up but can’t – yep one of those days!

Two things made me stop and think about what mattered this morning both tiny little things but they made me stop and smile. I have lots of virtual friends on twitter – many of whom I’ve now met in ‘real life’ but this morning one of the ones I haven’t met yet  tweeted about my photos of wildlife and my grandchildren – it’s so lovely when people appreciate your work and what you are trying to share. Kathy typifies many of my followers – supportive, always caring and ready to share. Thank you for pulling me up short Kathy!

The second tiny thing was when I got to Tesco I realised that I hadn’t put my necklace on!

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I wear it all the time – it was a Christmas present from my two lovelies – it has their names, DOB and fingerprints and as my Daughter in law said ‘it’s so you can hold their hands even if they aren’t with you’. 

Strop over, irritation gone, I know how lucky I am and if I forget I can just hold their hands and remember 🙂

If you are interested the necklace was from pickle and pumpkin 

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.

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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. 

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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

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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.