Little Sparkles


I love October half term, it’s a mix of holidays, Halloween and family birthdays which make it a lovely little holiday. This week we have been preparing for Mr S’ big birthday celebrations, decorating for Halloween and paying a visit to my parents for a few days, a very busy time and a lot of lists for the planning! This week my made section is bursting and the creative tasks have definitely dominated my time in preparation for party time at the weekend.


All my free time this week has been devoted to my makes so I have read very little. However, The Girl on the Train I ordered from the library is ready for me and I am looking forward to some quiet reading and relaxing next week.


I do have a bit of a girl crush on Zoe Ball, she’s fabulous on ITT Strictly and she’s been doing the mid morning show on Radio 2 this week. I like listening to her she’s fun, witty and in the nicest possible way remarkably ordinary. I also listened to Desert Island Discs with Keith Richards, I discovered he’s far from his rock star character / persona and was really taken by his passion and knowledge of music from all genres.



This may seem a bit arty but at Bristol Museum I watched an ‘art installation’ called Erdkunde. It was a short film but so much more. It’s difficult to describe in words, but it encouraged you to look, create and be imaginative with your environment. It was very simple and the children enjoyed and interacted with it too.


There’s been a lot of makes this week, so here are a few highlights. On Tuesday afternoon when we were at Bristol docks we came across a wild life project which was part of Bristol’s green year. We made hedgehog and snail wild flower seed pods, you shaped clay and then rolled with seeds ready to plant in your garden and also made bee hotels with bamboo sticks and cardboard. It was a lovely session and we all learnt a lot about our environment and how to make it animal friendly.

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As its Mr S’ big birthday celebrations over this weekend including going out for dinner on Halloween, we are not going for the full monty with Halloween this year. The little ones will be dressing up on Saturday afternoon and doing a few fun activities but we don’t have the sweet treats and Halloween specialities this year. This hasn’t stopped us decorating the house and carving our pumpkin. It would be rude not to! Little Man helped me this year, by looking on the internet for inspiration and then with some careful hands, he helped to carve the pumpkin. We’re both proud of our work.

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Finally, I have been working on table decorations for the birthday dinner. This is to take place in a very nice hotel in a neighbouring village so I need something tasteful to complement the balloons I have ordered. I have played around with old photos and reduced the size to enable me to create a centre piece. I have taken the photos, laminated them and then stuck them back to back onto straws to be grouped together to give the impression of an explosion of photos and memories. The photos are brilliant and will cause amusement to all at the dinner as all are featured in the photos too, there are some fantastic 70s and 80s fashions!



Clothes have been a bit of an obsession this week, trying to get everyone ready for the afore mentioned dinner. There is a smart dress code and purchases have been made accordingly. However I have been stuck, I scoured the shops in Bristol, ordered a few dresses from Next, browsed my Mum’s wardrobe (LK Bennet, Jigsaw, Hobbs – when did she become this stylish?) but could not find ‘the’ outfit so have finally decided on an old favourite, a wrap over dress and my strappy sandals. My problem is I never do smart and feel at odds with the delicate, elegant clothes I’m trying to wear, I want to wear the clothes not the other way.


Memory Boxes

Last Sunday was one of those stay in and be cosy afternoons and the ideal opportunity to explore the children’s memory boxes which they have been keen to explore since I told them all about the special memories contained within. The boxes are our memories of the children’s time with us, whilst social services and the foster carers were able to provide a few photos of the children’s first years we have no memorabilia from these early days. I find this sad but unfortunately there is nothing we can do; we just fill the boxes with special memories so they don’t notice the missing first toys, Babygro or new born wristband. The children do have a few toys which they brought to us but these are very precious and used on a daily basis so not suitable for the memory boxes yet. The memory boxes contain the items I can’t bear to throw out.

Little Miss’ Memory box


  1.  Pink Cardigan.  My Mum knitted this cardigan and it was one of Little Miss’ first gifts.  She looked gorgeous in it and I loved that it had been hand made with so much love.  Our parents were just as excited by their new grandchildren and made sure that they were welcomed into the family.
  2. Pink Scrap Book.  This is not a scrap book but a very carefully made book welcoming Little Miss to our family and introduced by her dolly, her first present from us.  I loved making this, I took some fun photos of dolly around our house and town and wrote simple captions.  It took a lot of work but I am so proud of it and it is a lovely welcome to our family.  It was given and read to Little Miss in the days before she met us for the first time and we presented her with dolly on our first meeting with her.
  3. Union Jack boppers.  Little Miss wore these when the Olympic torch came through our town and we dressed up in red, white and blue.  It was a really special day and so much fun.  To me it was such a poignant and happy day.  The saddest day of my life was the closing ceremony in Beijing in 2008.  I was in hospital after a tragic loss, numb with pain and grief and I remember watching bits of the closing ceremony and the flame being passed to London.  Admist all the hurt and confusion, it provided a brief moment of clarity and determination that when the Olympics came to London, we would have our happy ever after.  It happened and seeing the flame pass by was very emotional and life affirming!
  4. Mr Bear books.  Little Miss’ early bedtime routine was reading her this set of books, they are so lovely with such strong themes of being loved and cared for.  I could read her any book but she always wanted to finish with these.
  5. Santa letters.  This is another Grandma tradition in which she arranges via the NSPCC charity letters from Santa.  They are personalised so give a little reminder of the friends and toys from over the years.

Also in the boxes but hidden in the photos are Little Miss’ artwork and early stories, her reading records and home school communication books, certificates from school and hobbies, special cards etc…



  1.  The hat.  The monster hat seemed to sum up Little Man he was a monster of fun and his personality suited this hat so well, everyone would smile at him in it.
  2. The Blue jumper.  Like Little Miss, Little Man’s jumper was knitted with love by Grandma and also had a matching pompom hat.  He was so gorgeous in this and we wore it until he could no longer squeeze into it.  I have a fantastic photo from last week when he held it up against himself, it’s amazing how much he’s grown and his little quizzical face questioning if he really used to fit into it is priceless.
  3. The Butterfly Talking photo Album.  Again this was created to help introduce Little Man to his new family.  As he was only 1, he needed something very simple.  This is a series of photographs of us, our dog and parents and as you turn each page we say the names of everyone.  Even after moving to us, he used to like this book and would read it and listen for the twinkle as he turned a page.

As with Little Miss, Little Man’s box is also full of Art work, certificates, homemade cards, stickers and communication books and diaries.  The children’s boxes also contain special family letters written on the anniversary of their arrival to our family by my Mum and myself telling them all the amazing things they have done that year and why they are so special.

These are the first few years of our memory boxes and hopefully they will be filled with lots of sparkly memories over the years. The children loved looking through them and piecing their memories with mine. I love these boxes too as they contain all little things which remind us of our beautiful daughter and son and our lives together.

Little Sparkles

It was an odd week this week, I was really looking forward to a week off work but I never really got into the groove. I’ve done a lot of things which were needed but generally felt quite shattered and may have sneaked in a couple of cheeky afternoon naps!

Firstly, a photo of another stunning stately home in gorgeous sunshine. I have been visiting some rather stunning places this month and promise none of the photos have been altered, the weather really has been this good. This was the venue of the conference I attended on Tuesday, a very interesting and worthwhile professional development day.



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I popped to the county town today and picked up the Christmas M&S and Waitrose catalogues. I love the preparation for Christmas and have been flicking through and circling some ideas this evening. Whilst I do browse websites, nothing beats a Christmas catalogue to flick through whilst cuddled up on a sofa with a cup of tea.


On Tuesday morning, Little Man and I watched the full trailer of the Star Wars film and both got very excited about it. We still have a few months to wait for the film’s release but it looks fantastic. Little Man’s new door sign arrived this week to complement his Star Wars themed bedroom. He is very funny and when he approaches his room now he either acts out being shot by the storm trooper or shoots at him!

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By chance Mr S and I also watched parts of the BBC Live programme on car production at the mini factory. It was fascinating and put me in awe of the manufacturing work in the UK and the skilled workers.


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Little Miss’ guitar lessons continue to go well and her music this week was the Bruno Mars song Count on Me so we listened to it on my Iphone and then she strummed along on the guitar whilst singing. It was beautiful.


I had hoped to be creative this week but just felt too tired to experiment. I have made some nice dinners but nothing madly exciting. I did manage to play with a few photo apps and made a few collages with some old photos but my creativity is limited this week.


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I tried to dress nicely this week as I had appointments every day. I’ve stuck mainly to my winter uniform of short skirts, wooly jumpers and thick tights with boots and a few cute accessories..I did treat myself to this new jumper in the Crew sale and was chuffed to get it for less than half price.  I am also loving my new Benefit lipstick it’s a great shade, a little pinker and brighter than I’m used to but it has brightened my complexion and mood.


Next week is bursting with special activities and I have my little ones on holiday too which will make me a lot happier and busier, I did miss not having them at home with me this week. Mr S also has a few days off next week so I’m looking forward to new little adventures.

Being Mama Bear


This week is National Adoption week and consequently my Twitter feed has been full of tweets and comments. There is so much I could say but in all honesty this week I’m tired and all my energies have gone into caring and protecting my little ones. There is a level of security you are always aware of, an awareness of issues that other parents can’t imagine, even this week I found a photo of Little Miss posted by error online, an errant comment which caused upset and that’s before all the day to day little dramas.   I have been into the children’s school this week to discuss the extra grant the school receives for our children and how this can be best spent to provide support for staff and my children.  We are extremely fortunate that the children’s school does take a proactive and positive approach and they are a model example.  Our aim this week was how to create a safe school and in our discussions it was apparent that so many of the strategies would benefit other pupils too.  We looked at the school environment, how to create a safe place and a special person to listen and respond to their worries, the need for sensory integration, resources for the curriculum to represent all types of families, help on getting organised, training for staff on attachment and other issues adopted children are vulnerable to etc..  The list was long. The meeting had been planned but it’s need became more apparent this week when Little Miss had got upset that some of her peers had said Little Man was not her real brother. I don’t believe it was said maliciously just mixed up and confused thoughts from a small child but for someone who so desperately needs to belong Little Miss was upset and lots of conselling was required.  Perhaps that’s what makes an adopted Mum’s role different, it seems there’s lots of  actions to be taken and little battles to be vanquished in the shadows so your children can be happy and content.

A Letter to Grandma x


Dear Grandma

This time of year is one when I think of you often, those lovely half terms spent with you and Gramps as a child and then the anniversary of your death nine years ago. I was sorting out some old photos with Little Miss this week, how I wish you could have met my children, and I found some stunning images of you, from carefree days with your friend Ina, cuddled up to Gramps and then as a Mum.

I loved you as a Grandma, you bought me my first Sindy doll, taught me how to bake and always looked after us so well when we stayed with you in Scotland, my memories are of lovely home cooking, trips out, daily Mass and treats. You were a warm and loving Grandma. As I got older and went to university and started my adult life, my trips to see you still continued. We had a different relationship, you were wise and encouraging and seemed to understand all the pressures of being a young woman. You were a revelation when a Uni friend and I stayed with you for a few days, so funny and contemporary, you were the coolest Grandma and understood, counselled and encouraged us to be strong, intelligent women. On reflection, I wish I had asked more about your experiences at our age. When I got to be in my midtwenties, your dementia developed, sometimes you were a bit confused or forgetful, other times lucid. However you got to know Mr S on our visits to Scotland and whilst you never visited our house, I remember showing you all the details of our new house and your delight in our home. This meant a lot to me. When I didn’t see you I used to write to you, when I came up to Scotland for your funeral it was comforting to find my last card sent a few days before your death on the side, it had been read to you so I know you had all my news and knew how much I loved you.

As time and your dementia progressed, I was no longer your granddaughter but your sister and you used to talk to me about school days and your parents. I know this upset some family, but you were happy and relaxed when you spoke and I was happy to be in a happy place with you. My Mum, your daughter was in New York, when I got the phone call that you were very ill and slipping away. Sadly, we were both too far away to get to be with you. I remember being in tears to your local florist, asking them to find the most beautiful and sweet smelling flowers and to deliver them to you as quickly as possible(they did) so that you had the simple sensory pleasures of beautiful, fresh flowers as you were dying, you loved flowers. As a devout Catholic I took great comfort in that you knew you were going somewhere special and safe.

You are not forgotten. I often wear my gold cross and necklace and the photo of me, you and Mum at a family wedding is one of my favourite photos. I love baking and your cherry scone recipe cannot be matched! My faith is also very important to me. I hope you would be proud of me, I miss you but know you are looking over me.

Lots of Love

Your granddaughter xx

Half Term Happiness

I’m a little demob happy this afternoon as I started my two week half term today!  As a Special Needs school we appreciate that 7 weeks’ Summer holidays can be really tough for our students and their parents and carers so we shortened ours and added another week to half term.  I think this works really well for all parties and would like to see other schools do similar.  For my little ones, we’ve a lot to fit in to their one holiday week and a few extra days would be more relaxing.  It’s been a long tough half term for my children and in the holidays they need time to relax, have fun and be refreshed for an even busier half term.  I’m not sure one week is sufficient for this.

However for the present, I have a week of me time, well between the hours of 9 and 3!  I am going on a work conference on Tuesday but it’s on something I’m really interested in and have waited for ages to find the right course content.  I have chosen time in lieu so perhaps I can creatively use my day off later in the year.  The rest of the week is devoted to little jobs, creative projects and coffee and lunch with friends, real adult conversations in child free environments!   I sometimes think that when I meet with friends our chats are like machine gun fire, fast, short bursts of news before we get interrupted by a child.  I’m looking forward to relaxed and measured conversation!

I have always loved half term in October, we have lots of family birthdays and as a child it was always spent with grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins in Scotland.  It’s a holiday of Hallowe’en fun, crisp, bright walks, the novelty of dark nights and wearing hats and scarves but without the pressures and busyness of Christmas.  It’s one of my favourite holidays of the year and the two week break is perfect timing.  Vive les vacances!

Little Sparkles

With the exception of the mock Ofsted visit, my work life balance has been working really smoothly this academic year and I do feel that I am able to do so much more in my free time. This time last year, I was very busy (and stressed) with Little Man’s EHCP process and there were lots of letters, meetings, telephone calls etc.. to occupy my time. This year, I am using my time to be more creative and focus on our home life and it’s rather lovely! This week I’ve finished my first module in the Jenny Maizel’s Sketchbook club, made some cakes, been to a craft fayre at a local castle, visited a vintage shop I’ve been meaning to go to for ages and just enjoyed pottering around.

The Craft Fayre Venue, what a September sky!
The Craft Fayre Venue, what an October sky!


I’ve been busy making rather than reading this week although I am enjoying reading Mrs Pepperpot with Little Miss at bedtime. I’ve been rather struck by the cultural differences in some of the stories and it’s nice to read a book set in Norway and the little mentions of traditions and daily life. Little Miss was impressed that the children were skiing to school and a little disappointed that we can’t do this in the U.K.


I know I rate Woman’s Hour most weeks but it really is a superb programme full of such interesting topics, people and conversation. Now, I have my iPhone it’s even more accessible and I’ve been listening to the podcast at lunchtime or walking to school in the afternoon. This week there has been such diversity the story of a SOE heroine form WW2, the breakup of the steel industry and the effect on the community, Nigella cooking and an interview with the Bake Off’s Nadiah who is just wonderful. She inspired me to quickly make some citrus and white chocolate cakes this week and they were still warm as we tasted them after school. Bonus Mummy points gained here!

Another brilliant listen was Desert Island Discs with the poet, Lemn Sissay whom I have to admit is someone I was not familiar with. His voice just sung with a melody of beautiful words and his story was heart breaking, adopted against his mother’s will and then rejected at 12 by his adopted family and placed in Care. He is a remarkable man, so thoughtful and positive and whose work enriches the lives of many.


Oh Jay! The highlight of the week was Jay’s Jive in Strictly Come Dancing, Pulp Fiction at its best. I’m also watching the Apprentice as I write this, it’s quite worrying to think these are our entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future.


I am enjoying the focus on homemade and wholesome food and have spent some time researching some different vegetarian main courses. The ingredients are coming tomorrow but there have been more new meals this week, the tastiest were the basics, an onion and potato mash to go with sausage and peas and a simple cheese and tomato omelette.


I have also ‘made’ my Jenny Maizels’ picture. I have been working on it for a couple of weeks, as it’s a project I’ve needed to do when I’m alone, otherwise my lovely new materials might be borrowed by my little people. My art box is hidden away, sometimes I need something that is just mine.  I can’t believe I did this picture, I didn’t have the confidence or skills at school and was advised to do Physics GCSE instead of Art so to be able to produce a picture has made me proud.


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It’s been fresh in the mornings so the hats and scarves have been washed and used on the school run. The problem is that it’s been quite warm and nice in the afternoons so it’s a quick check to ensure that they are in the bags and not lost in week 1!


Oh yes, I completed every slide!

Today I am aching all over from a strenuous work out yesterday. It wasn’t a run, a gym session or a fitness DVD but a morning at the local Splash centre where we ran up steps, pushed through slides and swam against currents. It was a great morning and reminded me of similar childhood visits to the Oasis pool in Swindon, hopefully today’s outing will help the children create their own happy memories too.

The trip was another example of the type of activities we’re able to do with the children now that they are that little bit older. They were both tall enough for all the rides and wanted to do them there was no fear just a need for speed, excitement and challenge. Mr S has a bad back so he wasn’t able to do all the slides but as the children and I ran up the steps he was at the bottom of the slides ready to fish us out! The Splash centre is an impressive site with a variety of slides, steep, windy, short and long, some you float down whilst others are tackled with a rubber ring. We wore a smart arm band to tell us when we could go down the slide and it also recorded all your stats for a certificate at the end. I was a bit reluctant to pay for the certificate but am proud in the knowledge that I did every slide enthusiastically! Strangely what struck me on the visit was that whilst the children on the slides were boys and girls in equal numbers there were very few women in the pool, far more were watching on the side. I was proud that in the words of a current campaign to encourage women into sport ‘this girl can’

Yesterday was another fab family day full of encouragement, fun and celebration. I’m sure we’ll be back again for more and are thinking of similar new challenges to do together.

Little Sparkles

There has been a real autumnal feel to this week, the colours, chill and events of the season are evident everywhere. We spent a lovely Sunday at the local nature reserve, walking through the woods among the crispy fallen leaves and looking out for deer and  today I’ve been to the children’s harvest festival hearing all the old harvest favourites with a few new songs added to the mix too. With my new phone there are few photos for this week’s post, lots are still on my old phone. However there should be enough to give a feel of the week.

My first play on the iPhone and Layout app.
My first play on the iPhone and Layout app.


As well as the blogs I follow, the only reading I have done this week is my magazine, The Simple Things. I really like this magazine with its focus on seasonality and simplicity and quality writing and illustrations, its refreshing not to wade through pages of glossy designer clothes sections, tacky free gifts etc..


I very proudly listened to the children singing at their harvest festival. Little Man sang a number song about acorns and squirrels and Little Miss performed a rock and roll harvest, complete with sunglasses and hand jiving! The older children spoke about poverty in this country and their statistics were shocking, 20% of the school’s population could be affected by poverty. The food collection this year was for our local food bank, a sad indication of the state of our nation and the growing disparity between rich and poor.

Little Miss has also started guitar lessons and has been diligently practising so I have heard the tune Falling leaves many time s this week.

I have also listened to a beautiful song I wasn’t Expecting that by Jamie Lawson.  Its a real tear jerker of a song, with a heart breaking story running through it.  (Post script, I’ve just seen this video for the first time, so original and if possible even sadder than the song!)


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I saw the final of the Great British Bake Off and loved that the winner was Nadiya, she was sassy, bright and extremely talented. Whilst I haven’t watched every episode this series, 8pm is a bit early to settle down and watch tv, I have been following it on Twitter and in the papers. It is such a quintessential British programme and a delight to watch. I also though Nadiya’s words following her win were brilliant.

On Saturday afternoon, whilst Mr S was painting the hallway, I cuddled up on the sofa with the children to watch the Book of Life, this film was fantastic, a great story with wonderful animations.

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I have also watched the Jenny Maizel tutorial for her first module of #Sketchbookclub, a project on houses. It was very informative and inspiring and I have started the project, so far I have done the pencil drawing and am currently doing all the detailing with a fine liner pen. Next is the painting which I’m a little nervous about but I am loving doing something artistic, normally I’m a crafter so drawing is a new skill to develop.


Lots more home cooking this week, an autumn vegetable crumble, mushroom stroganoff, a variety of soups and a chestnut and vegetable pie. I love chestnuts but seem to use them simply in Christmas meals so it was a real treat to have them in this week’s shopping. I also made a lovely rich bread and butter pudding with left overs. My new meal planning and fortnightly shopping is having a really positive effect on our meals and cost.


The coats, hats and scarves have started to emerge this week. I’m very grateful for hats, I’m trying to keep off the hair dye until my next appointment to improve the condition of my hair but its getting very grey now. Part of me is liberated by not having the monthly hairdresser appointments to hide my roots and is tempted to reveal the real me the other part is feeling quite old and frumpy with the colour, its 12 days until my next appointment when hopefully we’ll be trying a more natural dye, the dilemma is to go light or back to my natural brown.

And lastly

I have had an odd week this week as my bank card was cloned and tried to be used fraudulently. My bank HSBC have been excellent, they noticed odd activity, contacted me and sorted it efficiently. They had declined all the fraudulent payments from my account so the only inconvenience was not having a bank card for two days. Since the incident, I have been busy updating security on my computer, but the bank don’t know how the card was cloned. I had a couple of odd experiences at the end of last week in a shop and at a cashpoint, so perhaps it happened here. However it is all sorted but was a cautionary tale of how easily fraud could have happened. One of the first apps on my iPhone was my bank app to keep a careful check on my account.

My new phone, the apple of my eye!!


Today, I have finally become the owner of an iPhone. Whilst this probably makes me sound like a real luddite, I should say I am very digital savvy and coordinate ICT at work so have the skills and knowledge.  However I do feel like I’m one of the last people on earth to have an iPhone, even my parents have them and my old phone gets me some disbelieving looks.

I think the reasons for not having an iPhone have been twofold, firstly financial, I did not feel I could justify the monthly price plan as for me the mobile phone had the simple functions of making and receiving calls and texting. And secondly, a reaction to the hype and power of the iPhone, I didn’t want to be overly attached to my phone, it is a device. Over the lifetime of my past contract, I have noticed how much more I have used the phone, it’s been my key means of using email and Twitter and perhaps most important as a camera. I love to take photos and a phone is so accessible, albeit with a few technical compromises. One of my main motivations for choosing the iPhone was the camera and the apps which are more accessible to work with the photos. I have taken a more expensive contract for the benefits of the iPhone and after just an afternoon of playing and personalising my phone I am blown away by its features and ease of use. I am accepting that a phone is simply not for calls and texts but my life hub. It was special today to make my first Face Time call to my dad so Little Man could sing him Happy Birthday and show him his blue tongue from the sweetie he was eating. I could highlight so many little details I am loving about the phone I really think it could simplify my life, of course I just need to stop getting distracted by its other features, it is a phone which will be in my bag rather than in my hands. However tonight, I am very excited and pleased with my new purchase!