Our Altered Life, a sparkly ring and cricket #littleloves


Last week I wrote my post up to Saturday evening, so this is a shorter #littleloves of 5 days. It’s been a lovely, quiet and relaxed week, it started with a christening on Sunday, movie night at home last night with our first Christmas film and the hairdressers today, she is also my neighbour so we talk about a lot! Here’s what I’ve been loving this week….



I discovered Charlie Beswick @ouralteredlife on Twitter when she was protesting about Instagram removing a picture of her son who has a facial disfigurement, I liked what I read on her blog and also downloaded her book onto my Kindle.  It’s a great read, a refreshing honest account of being a special needs mum, the guilt, grief, joy and perspective she shares makes for an ‘unputdownable’ read.



I’m a huge Strictly fan and the Blackpool show is one of my favourites, I love the big routine in the show and the extra sparkle of this week.  I was sad to see Johnnie leave, he’s been a big hit in the Sparkles household but I thought his leaving speech was so dignified and lovely, its just made us love him that little bit more. I am Strictly obsessed and Mr S is bemused how I am able to watch a little bit of Strictly everyday whether it be the programme or It Takes Two with Zoe, I even have it series linked so I don’t miss an episode.

img_5378Nothing of any real note in my makes this week, the weekends tend to be my creative time in the kitchen and I hope to be trying a new recipe from Nigel Slater this weekend.

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It was really nice on Sunday afternoon to get dressed up for a christening.  I wore a favourite embroidered skirt above with a simple blouse and silk cardigan.  I also wore the amethyst ring, which was given to me by my mum.  I love jewellery which has a special meaning and this ring was a 21st present to my mum from all her siblings.  When I wear it, it just seems to connect me to my mum and my aunts and uncles.



I am a big cricket fan and for those unfamiliar with the sport, the biggest Test match series is Australia / England (the Ashes) which began last night.  I’ve been lucky enough to have gone on two Ashes holidays with Mr S, who is the biggest fan and has willingly taught me all I know.  I was really excited by the start of the Ashes, so when I awoke during the night  I tuned in to Test Match Special to listen to the match, the atmosphere crackles through the airwaves and its such an entertaining programme, not simply about cricket but life.

img_5386I am so pleased that for the first time since it came out we have a free weekend day and can go and see Paddington 2.  We’ve booked our tickets, so we’re off to enjoy my favourite bear’s adventures and then to potter around the county town and look at all things Christmassy.

Thanks to Morgana for hosting the link and all the other #LittleLoves contributors.






Christmas Chronicles, Children In Need and Ice Skating #littleloves


I’m a little late in writing this week’s #littleloves as all our lovely plans got scuppered through illness last weekend and I’ve been doing some very serious ‘adulting’ at work.  It can be quite scary when you’re involved in a very serious matter and think sh**, I’ve 20+ years experience, relevant training and I really am that grown up person needed in this situation. The combination of both;  sickness and work demands made the first part of the week not quite the background for #littlelove entries.  However, I am now over the sickness bug and I managed to make the most of my day off on Friday so I feel that I have a little more to write on now.


img_0239I really enjoy Nigel Slater’s books, I have The Kitchen Diaries 3 and like not only his recipes but the prose which accompanies the recipes, observations on nature, seasonality, ingredients etc..  I managed to get his new book ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ in Sainsbury’s for half price and have been busy reading it since.  It is superb, again similar reflections as above but with added customs and Christmas thoughts.  A perfect read at this time of year and I have many recipes already marked to try.  I think this could be become our family’s Christmas cookbook and am planning in on pencilling a few thoughts as we try the recipes.

img_5379I’ve watched far more television that I normally do this week, I think that I was so exhausted from the sickness bug and the intensity of work that TV was an ideal distraction.  I enjoyed The Boy With the Top Knot on BBC2 on Monday, a powerful drama about family secrets, mental health and cultural differences.  I also enjoyed the A word, although I was a bit eagle eyed about the special needs school in it this week, I can’t escape work!  We watched the Apprentice but its not a series I’m enjoying as much as previous ones, there’s too much arguing, bitching and rubbish ideas, I’ve not yet found someone who wows me.  Following my listen below, I watched Kay Mellor’s new drama about registrars which was just right for a Thursday evening. I do like the lead, Ashley Jensen and think this series could develop nicely each week.  Finally I watched some of Children In Need on Friday and found it very emotional and humbling.  I sobbed my way up to bed last night!


I made my daughter very happy this week by helping her get ready for the Children In Need disco at her school.  She and her friends were all very excited as it was an evening disco, well a 6.15 pm start and I allowed her to colour her hair with coloured hair spray and to have painted nails (my brand new Essie varnish) She had a brilliant time and was so happy it was just gorgeous to see.  We were so busy doing the hair, it had to be perfect that I didn’t have time to take a photo as I had to dash out and pick up Little Man from another party, it was one of those nights in our house! The pink and blue looked beautiful in her blonde hair.



Today I have worn ice skates, as Little Man and I went ice skating as part of our mummy and son day out.  His sister is out on a Brownie day and Mr S had a few appointments so the two of us went through to big town for some time together.  I am so wobbly on the ice but was very proud I didn’t fall over today.  Its somewhat ironic that I used to work at an ice rink (my part time student jobs were all great) yet I never learnt to skate.  Little Man had a great time, he started holding onto the polar bear but managed a few circuits on his own too.


As I was getting recovering from my bug, I caught up on some Desert Island podcasts.  Kay Mellor’s session is a brilliant listen, an amazing story of how she went from 16, married and pregnant to the writer she is today, inspirational.


I also listened to Prof Phil Scraton who was heavily involved in the Hillsborough campaign and its a superb episode too.  I do love DID for sharing some stories which we might not have heard before with added music too.


Even with parties, discos, Brownie days out and ice skating this weekend isn’t done yet as we have a christening to look forward to tomorrow.  I am having a slight panic over what to wear for a Sunday afternoon service, smart but warm and how to keep my son amused in the church.  However there’s a party after so there may be room for a little negotiation  bribery.

Thanks to Morgana and all the #littleloves crew


Fireworks, playlists and our marvellous NHS #littleloves


So my big #littIelove of this week has been fireworks! I do like the tradition of Bonfire Night although after watching a bit of Gunpowder, it’s a lot more gruesome than I realised. We had a lovely night out for fireworks, but as our town does fireworks during the summer we had to travel a little further for the display on Saturday night. Fireworks were definitely the highlight of the week, which has seen a quiet return to work and minor surgery. However there are always sparkles in our week for #littleloves



I have loved my book this week, it’s made me laugh and cry and try to remember how we got through a similar journey too. The book is Emma Sutton’s ‘And then there were four’ and is about her and her husband’s adoption journey. Her glossary and description of terms is just brilliant and if you ever want to know what happens in adoption then this is a superb and honest book. Fortunately it’s funny too!



On Saturday we got to watch fireworks at the rugby club in our county town. It was a great display and the evening was lovely, big crowds, lots of tasty treats to eat and drink, sparkler area and stalls and rides to enjoy. The weather was remarkably mild, although that could have been my layers of clothes! The whole evening was wonderful and it made me smile for the whole Britishness of it, everyone wrapped up in scarves and hats, wearing wellies in a muddy field, oohing and aahhing at the colours in the sky.


A little bit of a tenuous link for makes, but I made a trip to hospital this week for minor surgery. Fortunately I got an appointment in our town’s hospital which is a hop, skip and jump from home and the service was unbelievable. I arrived early, was seen immediately and had the loveliest 3 ladies looking after me. I’ve had a little discomfort this week and am awaiting some results but I really was super impressed by our NHS and our amazing cottage hospital. I did return to work the next day but made sure it was a quiet week both at home and work.


My winter clothes are creeping in to my wardrobe now, woolly jumpers and polo necks. I think I may need to inject a little more colour in my jumpers, they all seem to be black or navy, practical but a splash of colour just adds a little bit of zest to an outfit.


I do like to make a mix tape and now I have Spotify it is so much easier to create something for every occasion. Whilst everyone was busy on Saturday afternoon, I had a little play to create a playlist for our car journey to the fireworks. It had the obvious Firework by Katy Perry but the theme just lent itself to some fun choices, My Guy, November rain, She Bangs, True Colours etc.. I started the playlist with Bjork’s Its oh so quiet which is a little favourite of mine. I really enjoyed making the list and then playing it in the car for us all to enjoy.


We’ll be welcoming my parents this weekend for a visit, I have a few possible trips out pencilled in but we’ll wait to see how the weather is before we finalise the plans. On Sunday, we’ll walk down to the Remembrance parade in town and pay our respects. The diary looks quite quiet next week so I may do a little Christmas planning in the evenings. I hope everyone has a week full of sparkles and #littleloves.


I’m joining in with Morgana for #littleloves

Are you a hero in our village? 


Last night I read this post by Carrie Grant and I cried a few tears. I’m sad to say that I can relate to this post, the fear and ignorance shown by some parents towards adopted children is simply heartbreaking. I cannot explain how awful it is to watch a child desperately want to be invited to tea or to a birthday party and to be ignored each time. Every year my children have a birthday party and invite friends, one of my children is always invited to parties and play dates, the other none and it hurts.  On Halloween many of the class tricked and treated together, it was a big deal and the talk of class. It was sad for my child not to be invited but even worse was that they came around to our house. I can’t believe parents would be so hurtful to a young child, however I’ve come to realise that they are sob focused on their own child not mine. I also to have remind myself it’s not just me there’s lots of internal rifts too! 

My children go to the same school, one class of parents are warm, friendly and so encouraging to all children, I couldn’t ask for my child to be in a kinder or more supportive class.  The other class of parents is very different. My child is bright and talented ( this is not a boastful claim ) and I’m beginning to think that in a class where competitive parenting rules this simply doesn’t fit into the poor adopted child stereotype they would feel comfortable with. There are some parents who appear to expect the worse in adopted children.  A few weeks ago my child was accused of stealing by a supply teacher (a parent of another child in the same class) Whilst nothing had been reported as being stolen, the teacher suggested that my child had acted suspiciously by another’s desk and had their bag searched. I raised this with the Head but the damage has been done, other parents watched in the playground as my child had to open their bag and prove they hadn’t any stolen items in it. My pertinent question to the Head was would the teacher have done that to any other child in the class? 

I was quite emotional today after Carrie’s post and the comments posted back and spoke about it to a good and wise friend. She reassured me and I’m hoping that secondary school will allow my child to find their ‘tribe’ and experience true friendships not based on parental vetting. 

I agree with Carrie that it does take a village to raise a child and though there are a small minority of parents who are ignorant and unkind, we do have the support of many wonderful people, friends, neighbours and fellow parents to help support our children. I am proud to have these people in our lives and know that our children’s lives will be enriched by their kindness. 


I’ve now completed #blogtober17. I’m so chuffed I managed to publish a post a day in October on themes given to us by Mandi @hexmum 


I’ve  never written so regularly on my blog and I even wrote a few posts in advance and scheduled them so I wouldn’t miss a day.  I know real bloggers do this but it was new to me! I really enjoyed the challenge, the creativity it inspired and being taken out of my comfort zone by the topics, some posts I really enjoyed writing whilst others were tougher. The prompts on social media also made me realise that I need to do a bit of homework on the etiquette and tools of these mediums.  The challenge also introduced me to some new bloggers and this was a real highlight of the project.  

I am now looking for a new blog challenge, I’m pondering a 12 days of Christmas theme, the A – Z of my life etc… @bucketsoftea has written a great post on ideas too https://bucketsoftea.co.uk/blogging/25-blog-post-ideas-for-lifestyle-bloggers/

I would like to thank Mandi for a great project and all her hard work in creating and driving #blogtober17. Same time, same place next year? 

The Two Week Half Term holiday

Today is the end of my two week half term. This is something my school has had long before I started in 2005 but this year it seems that more schools are adopting the idea too. Our school has always had the additional week to reduce the long summer holiday. We are a specialist special needs school and for our students and families the long summer holiday can be challenging with changes in routine, respite care etc.. and our shorter holiday does help.

I have always liked this two week holiday, before children we often went on sunny holidays or visited family and then I would have time to potter and relax. Now the first week of the holiday is spent en famille and the second week gives me some very rare me time as the children return to school. It is a week I really look forward to, I start my Christmas planning, do any little jobs I’ve been meaning to do in the house, meet friends, do a few trail runs if the weather allows and enjoy simple pleasures, a trip to the cinema, reading etc.. It is lovely to have that me time and although the week in summer takes a little organising, it’s workable in our family, particularly with my part time hours.

However, I was thinking what if my children had a two week holiday in October and less in the summer? Whilst it works for me, I’m not too sure it would work for the children. The summer holiday should be sunny and warm and it is easy and cheap to keep the children amused on the beach or in the park. There are long days and evenings, lots of time to be outside, to play, to swim, to relax. At the end of October, there are fewer opportunities for outdoor activities, days are shorter and it would be costly to fill a two week holiday with trips to the cinema, indoor skate park, swimming and other sports. More school in July would mean hot and stuffy classrooms, lots of distractions and very tired children. Our school’s curriculum in the summer is specifically designed for our students, with lots of outdoor activities, enrichment and project work to compensate for the later finish, generally our formal learning finishes at the start of July.

Whilst I like my two week holiday, I would prefer that my children have a week half term and continue to have the traditional long summer holiday with time for summer adventures at the beach and to enjoy the warmer weather outside. It’s an interesting debate on how to distribute the thirteen weeks school holidays to best suit pupils, staff and families.

Halloween, The Invisible Child and Breathe #littleloves

Well hello #Littleloves lovelies, sorry it’s been a long time but I’ve been busy with #Blogtober17 for the past month. I have been reading all your posts on my feed and many have given me inspiration and ideas.

This week is busy in our little family, with my Mum’s birthday, Halloween and Mr S birthday all falling within a few days. Fortunately, I have a two week half term so it’s not been as crazy as it could have been with work too. My extra week holiday has also given me the time to focus on Christmas and I have done a little shopping and lots of lists.


#Blogtober17 led to some serious discipline with writing every evening, so my reading reduced. I have really enjoyed The Break by one of my favourite authors, Marian Keyes. The break in the title refers to a 6 month period in which the main character’s husband wants to go travelling and have an open relationship for the time. It’s a great read and Marian has created a stellar cast of characters in her book and a few questions for everyone’s relationship.


I have also read the Invisible Child, a Moomin story republished by Oxfam to raise funds and awareness for women’s rights and empowerment in the world. It’s a very clever little story, which Little Miss understood but has so many levels it is a thoughtful read for adults too. The Little Girl in the story is invisible and it is only when she is shown love, kindness and learns to play that she starts to become visible to everyone. The book is available in Oxfam and is worth every penny for the story and project.


I’ve been to the cinema twice this week, this never happens but I really wanted to see the film Breathe. I took a bit of self-care time and combined an early Christmas shopping trip with a trip to the cinema so I could see it, to me an afternoon on my own at the cinema is a real luxury. Breathe is a wonderful film, based on the true story of a young man, Robin Cavendish who contracts polio and is paralysed from the neck down and on a respirator for the rest of his life. It’s a film about hope, love and determination. I did have a little cry in the film, not for the sadness but the positive messages it shared. Breathe more than made up for our family trip to see Lego Ninjago, its unusual that I don’t like a children’s film but this one just didn’t rock my boat.

img_5378img_0064It’s been a busy week for makes all inspired by Halloween. On Monday, the children and I had a baking session using the pumpkin from our carvings on Saturday, we made pumpkin and orange muffins and pumpkin and cheese biscuits. As it was back to school on Halloween, I made special lunches for the children, their lunch boxes were decorated with Halloween stickers and contained sandwiches cut into scary shapes, skull shaped cheese biscuits, pumpkin cakes, a little satsuma with a pumpkin face drawn on and a sensory toy spider. It was all a surprise for the children and it’s these little things which I love to do.


It’s that time of the year, when my hats and scarves come out, I love cosying up in my warm knits on the school run. There’s definelty a nip in the air now and the dark nights inspire a little hygge!img_5380I do love a bit of a theme so I made a Spotify Halloween playlist for our Halloween day on Monday, Ghostbusters, Thriller, the Monster Mash etc.. nothing beats a kitchen disco.


Mr S is busy decorating our dining room this week, so the weekend may be spent making the finishing touches. I am back to work on Monday but do have an appointment for minor surgery in the afternoon, I have a really busy week so I am hoping there’s little recovery time needed.

Thank you to Morgana for being the host of #littleloves, hope everyone has a fabulous week.



Halloween 2017

img_0081Halloween was unusual this year as it did not fall in our half term and the children were back at school.   Fortunately the day before was an Inset day for us and with Brownie and Beaver themed activities on Monday night too, Monday felt more like Halloween than the day itself!

I decorated our kitchen with my Halloween decorations and finally got to use the Halloween wreath which I had got in a sale in John Lewis last January, I loved it and it was well worth the wait to display it. The little tree has now been used as a centre piece for Easter, Halloween and Christmas, it’s a really useful decoration, thus making it great value! I still love the little felt decorations which were hanging from it, the witch’s hat and stocking, ghost and bat. I would love to add more to my collection but haven’t seen anything similar this year. One thing missing is some nice fabric Halloween bunting, I have seen some paper versions but would prefer a cotton design.


We had a little family pumpkin carve off, the girls used a template whilst the boys went free style so as we had both taken different approaches both were declared winners. The small plants next to the pumpkins were a present from our neighbours to the children for Halloween, the scarecrows are a nice fun feature and the plants themselves have tiny orange and grey balls, looking like baby pumpkins.


On Monday, the children and I did some Halloween baking, of course with a Halloween soundtrack. We used the pumpkin from the carving in some recipes, we made pumpkin and orange cakes and cheese and pumpkin cheese biscuits. Both were adaptations of simple recipes. The biscuits were cut into bat and skull shapes and decorated with raisins. Whilst we had some on Monday, they were also used in a Halloween themed school packed lunch on Tuesday, in which I cut the sandwiches into bat shapes and decorated a little satsuma as a pumpkin, it’s the little things which make life sparkle.

The children both had Halloween themed activities on Monday night. The Beavers went to a local castle where they all dressed up and did a haunted walk, whilst the Brownies celebrated a Day of the Dead party. I was quietly pleased (and relieved) with our effort at face painting, Little Miss only had 40 minutes to have tea and get ready after ballet (Monday is manic in our household) but we managed a simple Day of the Dead make up design, a white base, black eyes and lips, squiggles and a few brightly coloured flowers and hearts drawn on the face.

After all the fun of Monday, Tuesday with the return to school was a lot quieter and it is also a difficult day as Little Man is genuinely scared of Halloween night. I had to contact his teacher to ask her not to read any spooky stories at school, especially about witches, his real fear and its for the same reason that we avoid  trick and treating too. I was surprised how well Little Man had coped at the Beavers walk, for which we had a contingency plan. However, Tuesday night was different, even with the slightest strange noise, he was afraid and when there were trick and treaters at the door, he cried and screamed. Mr S set up Little Man’s bedroom with all that was required to keep him safe, a glass of water to ward off witches, his toys lined up to guard him, the radio up loud and all the lights on bright. Fortunately it did work and he had a good night’s sleep.

Halloween could be difficult in our household, so we focus on the decorations, baking and pumpkin carving, all these help create happy and warm family times and memories. The magic of family times is making the celebration work for you.