Follow me if you will as I try to navigate through the ups and downs of my world.
I'm writing this blog to help me make sense of all that has happened - from my diagnosis with non-Hodgkins lymphoma while pregnant with my third child in May 2008, through to my reflections on chaotic family life as I try to pick up the pieces of my life again.
The kids are so small, and I'm working hard to keep us all safe and to stay in remission.
Stay with me - it won't be all doom and gloom I promise!
Oh oh oh the rain in Wales. We put the tent up in TORRENTIAL rain on Friday lunch-time which didn't stop until Saturday evening. We were so wet - the tent was wet before it was up, and wet inside when it was up. The kids were dripping, I was wet through to my underwear despite big waterproof coat and wellies. Because it continued to rain - nothing dried, so we continued to be wet.....for a long long time.
I must confess to having several rather large sense of humour failures - and would have packed up and come home at several points over the weekend was the car not parked a 30 minute walk from the tent, and had we not had so much (wet) kit that it needed at least 4 journeys to get it all back again.
And the festival? It was great. It would have been more fun and less totally knackering without an increasingly overtired 2 year old, and without the rain and without the mud. I've never seen mud like it although I gather that festival old-timers are well used to such a phenomenon.
I was all set to see the Unthanks and the Flaming Lips on Saturday night. It had (finally) stopped raining and all I needed to do was get Hattie to sleep in her buggy rather than her soggy bed in the tent. Ed and Martha had been promised a reasonably late night and were buzzing with excitement, and even I was feeling the festival vibe just a little bit.
And would she sleep? Not a bit of it. We pushed her here, we pushed here there - and she just squealed more and twisted more and showed no signs of slumber. By 8.30 pm I gave up, took her back to the tent on my own where she immediately fell into a deep and happy sleep and I sat reading a book by dwindling light with the sounds of happy music fans in the distance. Rog came back a while later, we put the others to bed and then off he went again to listen to the Flaming Lips stumbling back in again at 1.30 am. To be fair, he did offer to stay so that I could go but I was in too much of a grump by then.
And by all accounts that night was the best night ever at the Green Man Festival.
By Sunday, all was blue sky and sunshine as we packed away, and with the bloody car full of all the soggy, muddy kit - I began to feel a sneaking fondness for the whole dirty, smelly festival experience. None of us had had a shower since Friday, the toilet facilities left much to be desired especially with small kids in tow - but somehow I realised I was just a little bit sad to leave. And I even might just consider going again. Not until Hattie is at least four though - or maybe three. That's next year... I need to learn my Green Man lesson!
And now we're home after a long long drive in the car on Saturday with a two year old who managed to stay awake, with only a 20 minute window in the morning, until 10.30 pm when we finally got back.
Arriving with 3 sleepy and cross kids - we'd dropped my step-son at his mum's on the way - a car-full (and I mean full) of stuff, with a boot we couldn't open until we'd taken all the bikes off, was not the best of fun. Also the cats had left us a few 'presents' - need I say more - around the kitchen, some quite old and unpleasant. The teenage neighbour we were paying to feed them and let them in and out (early-ish every morning, and late-ish every night) hadn't taken her job as seriously as we'd have liked. So once the kid were in bed, we spent a (happy!!) hour scrubbing and cleaning before sinking into bed. It's a cattery next time we go away longer for a weekend I think!
A big trip to the supermarket yesterday and piles of washing to be done compounded the 'back home' feeling. But we're off to Wales for the weekend camping at the festival - I say 'but' as if that's a cheery thought, in fact, with the weather helpfully dreadful as only English summer weather can be, camping is seeming a little daunting.
Will I be relieved when school starts again? Yes and no. We are having a good time really - and we're lucky that Rog being a teacher means we have lots of time off together. So things are ok really. And I've finished my article - give or take a little tweaking, so I'm pleased about that too.
It's raining and raining and raining up here in Scotland. It's the kind of rain that you'd take a deep breath to go out in even waterproofed from head to toe. So we've kind of been cooped up today. Consequently I cooked - and now we've all eaten far too much spaghetti bolognese and apple and strawberry crumble. Strange combination know but hey we're in the middle of nowhere you know and I had to use the fruit I had. It tasted good.
Now Roger's making me watch a programme on the Normans - actually it's quite interesting but after the fuss I made about it I'm determined not to admit that.
I think we'll have to do some exercise tomorrow whatever the weather. Or maybe I'll just get stuck into my book for a while longer.
We're having a lovely time up here in the Highlands after a rather inauspicious start. Inauspicious as the kids were being monstrous and I couldn't imagine enjoying spending large quantities of time with them (I love them.... but you know!!!). But things seemed to have settled. Or rather Ed has settled down which has helped us all to settle. And he has quite a lot to cope with - giving him his regular treatment for his haemophilia has, for the past couple of weeks, been awful. I haven't been able to find a vein and the resultant poking and re-positioning of the needle has meant that Ed got very stressed. Not to mention his mother. Tonight he has the most enormous bruise wrapped around his shin and calf and his knuckles on one hand are black with a new bruise and his hand swollen and puffy. We're trying again tomorrow -it should have been tonight but he was vehement in his determination not to have the treatment. So we compromised, trying to give him some sense of control over his condition. But if I can't do it tomorrow morning we'll have to make the 4 hour round trip to Inverness where the nearest hospital is, so wish me luck.
But back to Scotland. We have been for a picnic bike ride and been on several long walks and I have achieved something which I have always wanted to do since long before I was ill. A couple of days ago, while my mum (who was up here for a few days) looked after the children for us, Roger and I climbed a mountain near the house called Stac Pollaidh. It's not the highest mountain in the world (607 metres) but it signified to me a return to good health and reasonable fitness which nothing else quite could have done for me in the same way. It was hard going and the last part was a real scramble but reaching the top was such a kick.
We had coffee from our flask up there on the top of the mountain surrounded by nature at its most fabulous and powerful - and I felt literally and figuratively on top of the world. I've taken pictures and when I'm home I'll post them on the blog because I want to show you what I did. In our family I've always been known as the bookworm who'd rather stay behind and read than stir myself in any strenuous way. But if my illness has changed me in any fundemental way I think it is that I value my body, its health and fitness and what it can do, much more highly than I ever did before. I still want to lose weight but I'm less focussed on that now. I'm enjoying being active and eating well - not a bad way to live I reckon.
Talking of books - I've just finished Audrey Niffenegger's book, 'Her Fearful Symmetry' which I really enjoyed. I didn't think I'd found it scary until I had a night of terrifying dreams at least ostensibly connected with it. Now I'm reading Penelope Lively's latest novel, 'Family Albumn'. I love Lively's writing - I read her children's books avidly when I was a kid: 'The Ghost of Thomas Kempe', 'The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy' - and her books for adults are beautiful with her intricate and unsettling characters.
And I have a real, proper deadline by which I have to send my piece to the magazine I mentioned before. It's going to go in the Christmas edition of this upmarket and glossy magazine. And I'm going to be paid! Proper money! And a reasonable amount too. I'm totally excited and totally terrified and have major writer's block. The deadline is August 25th - so I'd better get moving. Suddenly it seems an impossible task. But I do really hope it might be the start of something for me so I want it to be the absolute best it can be. No pressure then. And writing it while trying to have a family holiday is certainly not easy as I'm discovering.
We're here until next Saturday and then home for a few days to prepare the camping gear, before we head off to Wales for The Green Man Festival. I'm kind of looking forward to it and dreading it in equal measures. It's that obstreperous 2 year-old again putting a spanner in the works. But when she talks about Incy Wincy 'pider climbing up the pout - all is forgiven. Oh the folly of parenthood.
I'm a mother with three kids under eight whose demands, squabbles and general existence take up unimaginable swathes of time. I've also secretly always fancied myself as a bit of a writer - though not with much evidence to show for it - so maybe writing this will prod me in the right direction. We'll see.