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!
A belated Happy Christmas to everyone and lots of good good wishes for the new year. I've been woefully inadequate in my posting and my reading of my favourite blogs. But full action will be resumed in the new year. It's just been a lovely - but full on - Christmas. Hattie has chicken pox - the first spots appeared on Christmas Day(!) and the others have variations of a sick/flu bug which is going around. But, still lovely despite all of this: the right combination of being at home and seeing all the family. And there's still the new year knees-up to come! Exhausting.
It'll be turkey on Christmas Day - I'm making chestnut and sausage stuffing, my lovely roast potatoes (I hope they'll be lovely!), lots of other bits and pieces and chocolate prune and armangnac pudding with rum butter. It's my first Christmas Day in my own home with just us and the kids. My first Christmas day where I'm in charge instead of my mother. And I'm excited. I want it to be perfect.
We're off to stay with my mum, my brother and sister, their partners and my four small nephews on Boxing Day - and that'll be lovely too. The kids all adore each other; seven cousins aged between 7 and 6 months, with another coming in March, will certainly make for chaos. Proper family chaos that's for sure!
Due to my German heritage, Christmas Eve is important to us too. We exchange our presents entirely on Christmas Eve around a tree festooned with lit candles (try buying the tree candle holders anywhere in this country..... I've had to resort to ebay!), and we eat bockwurst and potato salad with rollmops. I'm not making the Stollen though - that's still the domain of my mum who makes perfect batches - I hope enough to take one home for us. We have a magical Christmas angel who comes to light the candles on the tree when it gets dark while the kids outside the room press their ears to the door to see if they can hear her speak or catch a glimpse of her out of a window as she flies away. When I was a child, Father Christmas didn't figure at all in our Christmas, he was always a mystery to me really; but for my kids I've had to build him into the story -without Father Christmas things are too complicated at school and with their friends, so now he comes and leaves the stockings later on Christmas Eve. In that way we can leave a mince pie and a glass of whisky for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer.... and attempt to amalgamate the two traditions. I'm always confused though and have to remind myself who does what - when I was a child the Angel came back to leave the stocking!
I'm coming up to two years in remission. This year I'm going to a New Year's Eve party. I haven't felt able to since the diagnosis. Two years ago at Christmas I was going through radiotherapy -and due to my poor prognosis I had very little confidence that I would be around for the next Christmas. Last Christmas I was still hounded by profound anxiety and ill health. This Christmas I think I believe I might just be here for the next. That's progress for me. I think I can face this New Year with new optimism. Life's a scary business that's for sure.
My mother is having the kids this weekend. I'm picking them up from school and driving them up the snowy - but thawing - A1 into Northumberland. And then I'm driving home without them. The joy! Two mornings without being woken at the crack of dawn, two evenings when we can act like relaxed, sane people - the world will be our oyster!
I don't think we have plans to do much really, and we're too skint for anything too glamorous. But, we can read the papers from cover to cover without interruption. We can watch more than one episode of our beloved Mad Men box-set without falling asleep because it's so late. We can please ourselves. A little light lunch in town? Yes please. An afternoon trip to the cinema? Quite possibly.
We've all been on top of each other during these past couple of weeks - and I've been getting quite stressed and more shouty than I've wanted to be. This weekend is coming at just the right time. Thanks, Mum.
It's so cold! It was -11 when we set off on the school run this morning. It took me the best part of half an hour to de-ice the car and get it vaguely driveable.
Because our backyard - where we usually park the car - and the back lane too, is like a snow-covered ice-rink, the car was parked about a ten minute walk away from the house on the main road. So the de-icing happened with the kids and Hattie in tow. Suffice to say Hattie did not enjoy the experience - and lets face it, neither did I.
And then we got stuck pulling away onto the road. Cue lots of wheel spinning and snow flying. We have a big heavy car which is not 4-wheel drive. And don't I know it? We're not equipped here in England for this kind of thing. Even up here in the north.
So - even the most everyday tasks become major deals. I suppose there is a sense of achievement which goes along with getting the kids in through the school doors. Hmmmm.
I've got lots to do - it's Christmas soon - hurry up and melt, snow. Enough already.
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.