Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Goodbye my Friend

Dear Lee,

I still can't believe you're gone. That I will never see you again, speak to you again. The past few days have been difficult as I try to come to terms with the fact that I will never see you, speak to you again. But you're no longer in pain, you're no longer suffering, no longer being betrayed by a body that is failing you whilst your mind, your beautiful smart mind, remained unaffected, alert and aware.

However I can't stop the regret, regret that it has been so long since I last saw you, last spoke to you! The regret that I never made the effort to get your telephone number or address from your family after my phone died and I lost them. Four years have passed since I last visited London, but I'm glad I made visiting you the priority and I have the memories of that visit, that I was able to introduce you to hubby and to 4 of the children. All of them say that the highlight of that holiday wasn't having a ride on the London Eye, or spending the day at Lollybop, it was the walk along the Thames back to your house, it was sitting in your garden chatting till the kids started falling asleep, it was being with you again, just like it always used to be!

I remember the day we first met. I was 11 years old and I had just started secondary school. I didn't know anyone in my year, I didn't know anyone in the whole school, except my brother in his final year. Whilst the rest of the kids in my primary school had gone to one of two secondary schools, I had chosen a different one a few miles away. I loved my new school but making friends was hard, even harder when you're shy and to make matters worse, I had an hour wait after school had finished to wait for the train home, alone.

One day one of my classmates said she was waiting for the train home as well and did I want to hang out with her, so I did and when we finally reached the train station she introduced me to her family. Your mum was pregnant with your baby sister and you had all joined her for her appointment. In the ten minutes waiting for the train I knew you were going to be my best friend. You ignored how socially awkward and shy I was and you put me at ease. You had the ability to make friends fast and you were such a special person that it just shone out of you and I knew you were going to be the best friend I would ever have. The hard part was the fact you were only 9 and I had to wait two whole years until it was your turn to start secondary.

Before you started I heard a rumour. Someone was talking about your sister and saying it was a shame that one of her brothers would leave secondary school in a wheelchair. I didn't know which brother they meant, you or your younger brother, I hoped it wasn't you, but it was. We never really discussed your illness, you were just Lee to me. Your illness didn't define you, it was just part of you. You had a degenerative illness where your nervous system was slowly dying, you knew that it would shorten your life span and it would mean you would end up in a wheelchair, but you were determined to live life to the fullest, no matter what the future brought.

I have so many wonderful memories of you Lee, memories I will treasure for the rest of my life. My last three years at secondary school were better because of our friendship. You would often wait with me for the train home, so many wonderful memories of riding around town with you on the crossbar of my bike, or sometimes I would go home with you to wait. Every morning as soon as the train arrived at your stop, you would come and find me and we'd sit there chatting, lunch time and break time was the same.

Even when I left school we stayed in touch and I would often pop over on the train. The day I passed my driving test, your house was the first place I drove to alone to show you. You were too busy laughing at me and my 30-point-turn after I got my dad's car stuck in your cul-de-sac to be impressed. Being able to drive certainly made it easier for us to be friends and we'd often pop out for the day shopping or to the cinema.

I had never been out of the country so with your mum's help and along with another friend, we soon changed that and when I was 19 we went to Spain for a week on a coach trip. You quickly made friends with all the "elderly" as my daughter calls them. It was an amazing week and even the fact you needed a wheelchair by now, you didn't let it stop you and our favourite days were the water parks and the theme park. A few years later I joined your whole family on holiday for your sister's honeymoon. For some reason the hotel had messed up and had us down as a married couple, which we found hilarious and spent the week calling each other husband and wife.

Yet there was never any romantic interest in our friendship, I loved you as though you were my little brother. There was also the small matter of your sexuality, it never made a difference to me, but we never spoke about it, you never actually came out and told me you were gay, but I soon worked it out. It didn't matter to me though, you were still Lee, my best friend, and nothing would ever change that. I do wish we had spoken about it though, I wish I had told you it didn't bother me and I hope that you knew that. You knew I had a Christian upbringing and called myself a Christian and now I wonder if you ever worried I would judge you. I didn't, all I wanted was for you to be happy, no matter who you were with.

Then came the sad day you told me you were moving away to London and I was heartbroken. London was so far away and I worried I would never see you again. Part of me wanted you to stay, but I knew it was better for you if you went to London. London gave you more opportunities to see and do things, more hospitals for your care and the chance to go to university and learn, since you were too weak to get a job, you decided to learn instead and exercise that brain of yours.

I will never forget the week I spent with you in London, we had an amazing time. I remember being stood with you in your chair outside the cinema when Star Wars Episode 1 premiered, you knew I was obsessed with Star Wars (and Star Trek) so you made sure I could be there. The rude people in front of us made me mad when they wouldn't let you to the front of the fence, but you took it was your usual easy grace and spent the time on my shoulders instead, just like old times! My best memory of the week, aside from finally getting to watch Star Wars, was the day I took you to the Trocadero. Back then (I don't know what it's like now as I haven't been there since that day) there was only escalators, and the only way to go down, was to go all the way up first, and of course you're not supposed to take wheelchairs on the escalator. But we were young, we didn't think of the consequences, only that they were stopping you from going where you wanted to go, so we ignored the warnings and went up them. However a security guard saw us and chased us, up the escalators all the way to the top floor and then back down again. By the time we escaped the building we collapsed in a heap of laughter!

Memories like that Lee, they are what will keep me going. My memories of you and your brightly coloured hair which had my toddler nephew amazed, so amazed he couldn't take his eyes of you! My visits with you, whether it was your mum's, abroad or London. The days we would just up and leave for the day, wherever we wanted to go. It was always you and I together.

Of course, you moving to London changed our friendship. I settled down and started a family and you were living your own life in London and jetting around the world! You fought so hard to enjoy life, you never let your failing health stop you from doing what you wanted.

You taught me so much Lee, you taught me to live life to the fullest and not to let a debilitating illness get in the way of doing what you wanted, because you never did. You opened my eyes Lee, if it hadn't been for you I would never have flown in a plane, never have left this country, never have learnt that an illness doesn't define you, that you can still be whoever and whatever you want, still go wherever you want, because nothing can hold you back except you.

Your sense of humour and your outlook on life were amazing and you never let anything or anyone stop you from doing what you wanted to do. That is the lesson you taught me and that is what I will remember most, that and all the good times we had together.

I love you Lee and I will never forget my little brother from another mother!!!

Sleep tight Lee and shine like the star you always were!

5 Things About Me

Being a new blogger I decided to write a small post with 5 unknown facts about myself.

  1.  The name "My Crazy Brood" came from 11 year old Betty. We were at a family fun day during the summer holidays and Betty was asked to take part in a game and was asked who she was with, she answered "That crazy family over there!" When I decided to start the blog, the name seemed perfect but sadly My Crazy Family was taken so I used My Crazy Brood instead

  2.  To protect the children and their identities, I don't use their real names, instead I use either a nickname or their middle name. What ever you write on the internet can be saved for eternity so to protect them when they are older, I use different names

  3. We live in North Wales near the sea. I was born in England and moved to Wales when I was 6 but hubby is born and bread Wales.

  4.  Although I've lived in Wales since I was 6, I can only speak a little Welsh. When I left primary at 11 I was fluent, but living with English speaking families in an English speaking tourist town and attending a secondary school which allowed me to get away with doing all my work in English and even speaking English in my Welsh class meant I had forgotten most of it when I left school. I do try for the kids sake and when I worked in a well-known supermarket in a nearby Welsh speaking tourist town I did my best to speak Welsh to the customers I heard speaking Welsh. 

  5.  I suffer from anxiety, low self esteem and I can be a recluse. Choosing to spend my time alone, but then I get jealous when I see my friends having fun and hanging out together, even if they asked me to join them and I was the one who declined. Even my hobbies are lonely hobbies, such as reading and researching my family tree. 

If you have any other questions or anything you'd like to know. Comment down below. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Last of the Firsts

On Monday, my youngest Emma started school. She's only just turned 3 and is starting in the nursery class.

Walking home without her it suddenly dawned on me that this was the last time one of my babies would be starting school for the very first time! It also got me thinking about all the other first's that I will never see again.

The last first cry
The last first smile
The last first laugh
The last first tooth
The last first step
The last first word
The last first day at playschool
The last first day at primary school

I will never see those again.

One day I put down each of my children down and I never picked them up again! I never realised at the time that it would be the last time I would hold them. If I had, I would have hugged them a little longer and a little tighter, I don't think I would ever have been able to put them down.

The same with bedtime stories. Never again would I sit there reading "A Squash and a Squeeze", instead I was replaced by books of their own or tablets and youtube.

Never again will I give them a bath and laugh as they splash and get me wet as I tried to wash their hair. Instead, I was replaced by a shower and music which they sing along to.

Never again will I sit there and brush their hair, pulling it into bunches or a plait. Now I'm replaced by a hairdryer, straighteners, and a mirror.

As they gain in independence I suddenly become redundant. This is the way it should be, but it doesn't stop you feeling sad when you realise all those things you no longer do and how much you wish you could do them again.

All the firsts which became last,

Time passes so quickly and we're so busy being tired and stressed that we miss them. We need to slow down, take a deep breath, stop a minute and hug them tight. Remember they (and you) will never be as young as they are right now again so cherish every moment.

There is a wonderful poem by Rebekah Knight which sums this all up completely

Slow Down Mummy
by Rebekah Knight

Slow down mummy, there is no need to rush,
slow down mummy, what is all the fuss?
Slow down mummy, make yourself a cup of tea.
Slow down mummy, come and spend some time with me.

Slow down mummy, let’s put our boots on and go out for a walk,
let’s kick at piles of leaves, and smile and laugh and talk.
Slow down mummy, you look ever so tired,
come sit and snuggle under the duvet and rest with me a while.

Slow down mummy, those dirty dishes can wait,
slow down mummy, let's have some fun, let's bake a cake!
Slow down mummy I know you work a lot,
but sometimes mummy, it's nice when you just stop.

Sit with us a minute,
& listen to our day,
spend a cherished moment,
because our childhood is not here to stay!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Girls Can Like Superman too

Whilst most girls are into princesses, Emma is a little different. Emma LOVES Superman, not just any Superman though, it has to be Dean Cain from Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

Her favourite outfits are her Supergirl costume, and she was heartbroken when daddy washed it and ruined the shield emblem. When he came home from work she kept telling him "You boke my duperman!" and wouldn't say anything else to him, she really made him feel bad, so bad that he immediately went on eBay and bought her another one!

She'll sit for hours watching Lois and Clark on my tablet and you'll sometimes hear "Poor duperman!" (usually when he's being attacked by Kryptonite).

The sad thing is, there aren't many toys of Superman. Even with the release of the Batman Vs Superman movie or the Supergirl TV show. Everything seems to be Batman! Even the Batman Vs Superman movie seemed to be more about Batman than Superman, with the latter just seeming to mope around on screen. In fact, I describe the movie as Batman, featuring Wonder Woman with special guest star Superman. Me personally, I  would have rather seen more of Superman than Batman! I just hope League of Justice is better. Robbie's favourite TV show is The Flash starring Grant Gustin as The Flash but, in the movies, The Flash is played by Ezra Miller and Robbie is undecided at the moment whether he wants to watch it.

Last week it was Emma's 3rd birthday and thanks to an online friend from America I found a beautiful Supergirl swimming costume that I knew Emma would love, but sadly they wanted £30 to send a £7 swimsuit from America to the UK. I even asked my friend to send me one if she found one, but sadly she couldn't find one, even though she would have gladly sent one if she had found one.

If we lived in America there would be more Superman/Supergirl items, but sadly they're harder to find in the UK. I did manage to buy her a Supergirl Barbie doll, but even that was expensive at £19.99

Her other present was a Superman teddy from Build-a-Bear with a supergirl costume from Betty, as well as a Sky teddy (from Paw Patrol) with an outfit (also from Build-A-Bear) Nanny and granddad got her a Paw Patrol bedding as we couldn't find any Superman.

She even had a birthday tweet from Dean Cain himself! (@really_rach was my old twitter name)

This was her birthday card from us from Moonpig

So, child toy developers, please remember that girls can like Superman as well and they would rather the Superman colours than pink!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Escaping the Decorating

Today I was supposed to be painting the girls bedroom. Their new bunk beds are arriving on Wednesday, their new wardrobes are already in their boxes waiting to be assembled, all waiting for the painting to be finished.

I went in, put headphones on so I could blast my music. Betty was downstairs watching Emma (was was engrossed in Paw Patrol) and I put paint on the roller ready to start when my phone rang!

I had completely forgotten that Robbie was supposed to be somewhere today! Because of issues at school and his anxiety, he is under CAMHS (Child and Adult Mental Health Services) and the Trac 11-24 Project at school, which supports young children aged 11-24 who are struggling in school to try and encourage them and to get them interested in learning again. Trac 11-24 had arranged several activities at Glan Llyn and today was his first day and I had forgotten all about it!

After a mad rush I managed to get Robbie organised and three of the girls in the car along with Robbie and Sox, Betty decided she would go to "work" with Nanny at the shop instead. I even managed to remember to change out of my painting clothes and into something more appropriate!

Paddling in Bala Lake
Paddling at Bala aka Bale

After dropping Robbie off at Glan Llyn,  we decided to have an ice cream by the lake but sadly the ice cream van wasn't there today so the girls had to settle for paddling instead! After about half an hour we headed home to collect Betty and as we left Gina shouted, "Look mum it's still Bale instead of Bala!" (Bala changed its name to Bale to celebrate the success of the Welsh football team during Euro 2016.

The new sign at Bala showing the change of name to Bale
The new sign at Bala showing the change of name to Bale

Finally, we arrived home and I managed to get one coat of paint on the walls, but the big question is, can I get more done tomorrow?

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Barmouth Lifeboat Open Day - Helping the #RNLI keep #SavingLivesAtSea

This week has been a difficult week for our nearest beach and lifeboat station and it has had a huge impact on the community of Barmouth.

RNLI Barmouth ALB Lifeboat Moira Barrie on the beach
RNLI Barmouth ALB Lifeboat Moira Barrie on the beach

Last weekend two teenagers from Birmingham, 14-year-old Yahye Omar Mohamed and 15-year-old Waseem Muflahi were tragically pulled out to sea and despite a frantic search involving both Barmouth lifeboats, the ALB Moira Barrie and the ILB Rotarian Clive Tanner, the Aberdyfi ILB, SARS rescue helicopter, Wales Air Ambulance, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Mid and North Wales Coastguard, North Wales Police, Welsh Ambulance service and Barmouth Beach Wardens which lasted for two days, the boys were lost. A 3rd victim was pulled from the sea by the very brave actions of the Barmouth Beach Wardens.

This tragedy has had a huge impact on the town, and the whole community pulled together to support the rescue services and also the family of the two boys.

The members of the RNLI are heroes, each and every one of them, from the shoreline crew who work tirelessly behind the scenes to those who put their lives on the line to go out to sea regardless of the weather. Volunteers each and every one of them, they will get up and spend hours on the water, until the early hours and then get up in the morning to go to work! I sometimes see them going out or coming in late at night when I'm warm and snug in my bed listening to the wind and rain.

RNLI Barmouth Lifeboat Station Fun Day

This afternoon Barmouth lifeboat held an open day to raise money (they managed to raise an impressive £3, 000) and I wandered over with Betty, Clare and Emma. Emma, in particular, loves watching the lifeboat from our living room window! The girls all enjoyed having a go on some games, eating some cakes, throwing a sponge at the coxwain and seeing the Moira Barrie, The only part they didn't enjoy was meeting Stormy Stan, but he reassured me he was used to that reaction even though it made him sad as he loves meeting everyone.

So next time you see a bucket or charity box for the RNLI, pop your change in and help the RNLI keep going to help those in peril on the sea.

Is that Mummy's Friend?

Last weekend we went to a local fun day and they had an entertainer to entertain the children. Betty was thrilled to be called up to take part in a game (spoiler alert - she won!) and whilst "meeting the contestants" the entertainer made comments about the size of our family, even going as far to ask if daddy was "mummy's friend". 

The conversation went like this;
Entertainer: Lets see who we've got on this side over here. Someone who's looking very flowery. Hello
Betty: My name's Betty
E: Hello Betty and how old is Betty?
B: Eleven
E: Eleven oh you're at that age where you really don't want to be here but your mum says you're not to be home on your own (Betty nods) Ok you're eleven years old and who are you here with today?
B: Urm that crazy family over there
E: That crazy family over there. Is that mum filming you over there, there's mum and is that your dad in the Man Utd top there or is that mummy's friend? Cos you get a lot of mummy's friends around here. All right so that's good and then are they all your brothers and sisters then are they? 
B: Urm the one with the pink dress
E: So that's your sister yeah and the other two are your friends?
B: The grey dress and the baby
E: So they're all your brothers and sisters?
B: No just my sisters duh!
E: Oh sorry, they're all your sisters?
B:  Yes
E: All them are your sisters?
B: Yeah
E: You've not got a telly in your house

Having a large family means you sometimes get looked down on. People assume you're on benefits and keep popping them out to get you more money (we don't, hubby works hard to provide for us), or that you don't have any other form of entertainment or know how to use contraception. People even assume that they don't all have the same parents. Some of the things I have heard have been downright rude!

 Things I have heard;
  • You sure have your hands full 
  • Rather you than me 
  • I don't know how you do it 
  • Have you found out what causes it yet? 
  • When are you having another one? 
  • Are you done yet? 
  •  Bout time you got your TV fixed 
  • Are they all yours? 
  • Do they all have the same mum/dad?
  • Why don't you try getting a job?
 Most days they don't bother me, I laugh along and say I've found out what causes it now or that I've gotten the TV fixed.

I've even had comments about having four girls, especially if my son isn't with us, something along the lines of "Have you given up trying for a boy yet?" or after finding out I do actually have a son"Oh you finally got your boy then?" ("No, he came first!")

I'll admit some days I regret having so many and I feel more like a bouncer than a mum, but these thoughts are short-lived. As soon as I try to imagine being without any of them I realise I couldn't! I love all my children and wouldn't be without a single one, even with all the chaos and mayhem they cause.  My heart and my arms are certainly overflowing!

Children are a gift from God and I treasure all my children, of course that doesn't mean I don't have bad days when I want to hide away from them, especially when they're fighting over who gets to sit by me and shouts of "She's my mummy too!" On those days I am so tempted to do what it says on the Aspirin box and "Take 2 and keep away from children"

 I always wanted a large family and I'm thrilled to have five healthy, beautiful children and whilst most days the comments don't bother me, it would make me so much happier to have positive comments instead.