I hate winter. I hate the short days, the cold rain and the fact my eldest's breathing problems in the wind mean we don't get outside at all most days. But the end of February marks the end of winter for me. The first of March brings with it a promise of the season to come, a warmth to the sun (when it makes a rare appearance) and it's still light at the end of dinner time each evening. Roll on June and 11pm dusk!
Despite the fact this winter has felt long, I actually am surprised by the fact it's March!
So, onwards and upwards - glad to see the back of this winter, here's what I've been up to in February:
My trip to America allowed me to read two whole books in a week thanks to a few plane and train journeys. Incredible! I've decided to alternate Christian living books (which I read frequently enough - normally get through one every few weeks) with some light chick-lit. Last year I had a target to get through twelve classic fiction books - most would be re-reads for me - but to be honest, I've decided light and easy to read in between my more serious reads! And maybe by the end of the year I’ll be in the more respectable reads. What have you been reading this month?
Online I loved this blog post by Tsh Oxenreider at Art of Simple about self care during difficult periods politically. Not just in the U.S. but here in the UK, even more specifically in Northern Ireland with our second election in ten months happening tomorrow, there is some really helpful advice here. I really like the one about picking a few causes to focus on and becoming passionate about them. We can't fight every cause or support every charity, and it's far better to become knowledgeable and passionate about a couple and supporting them well and campaigning well.
I’ve learnt a lot this month! From new medical conditions, medications, reading up on abortion law and the proposals to change the law here in Northern Ireland to include abortion for fatal foetal abnormalities (I tried to write a blog post but got quite depressed! Will definitely come back to share my thoughts!) but I think the biggest learning experience was a bad one with estate agents. (Does anyone have positive estate agent stories?!).
But we're not moving house now and I am so happy about this! Good to get confirmation you're doing the right thing, and when you feel that peace when you make a decision it is the most wonderful feeling.
I am not a big TV watcher, even less so serial dramas and films. I could go months without watching either but this month I watched Bridget Jones’ Baby on the return flight to London and started watching a new drama series. And this month has been about that series - it's only on Netflix - The Crown. Has anyone else watched it? It is a fabulous drama about the Queen's ascension and first years on the throne. I even stayed up late two nights to watch a second episode! Very well acted and for those of a sensitive nature like me, there's no violence or blood.
Our bathroom finally has some storage in it (yes, we did it up in 2012 as part of our big renovation project - does anyone else have things on the to-do list that just always seem to be put off?) after I built this unit last weekend. I'm so pleased to finally have somewhere to put my glasses when I'm having a shower and that the cleaning stuff will no longer be sitting loose around the toilet!
The boys ride at the donkey sanctuary every fortnight as part of the donkey therapy they offer children with disabilities and their siblings. (Rory has been riding since last summer but as of today it'll only be the disabled child that gets to ride, unfortunately) and a few weeks ago we had a rare slot in the Saturday club. The bags were packed, snacks and drinks in - remembering allergy free snacks for Rory and thickened liquids for Daniel every time we leave the house can be difficult - coats in, spare changes of clothes. We were cutting it fine for our 10am arrival but made it and as we pulled into the car park, twenty five minutes drive from home, I realised Daniel's shoes weren't in the car.
I knew he had to wear shoes to ride, but hoped they'd have some spare wellies lying around. But no, nothing. Well, a left foot size 5 pink welly. But no match.
So I had to drive as quick as I could to Ballyclare, a good ten-fifteen minute drive away to buy shoes. Asda don't sell kids shoes. The B&M home store had closed. Or maybe I just couldn't work out how to get into it.
It ended with me running (not a pretty sight) across the town square, into a charity shop and grabbing a pair of shoes closest to Daniel in size (three sizes too big!) for £1 and legging it back to the sanctuary. I arrived as they were calling their names for the last ride in their time slot and poor Daniel had to plod around in his clown feet shoes the rest of the morning! I won't make that mistake again!
I had a great weekend in America at my writing retreat and enjoyed spending time with other Christian women that I didn't know, yet we all had plenty to talk about. I was struck by the stories everyone had and how willingly and quickly people shared them. And it's made me realise how as Christians we should use our stories as a means of sharing our faith. We believe that the Bible is one big story about God, weaving lots of other stories throughout it. And Jesus when he came used stories to explain how we should live and treat each other, and how God sees us (the valuable lost sheep, the precious coin). So I'm coming to realise that we're meant to be using our stories to share life genuinely with each other. Life isn't meant to be superficial. And everyone's life gives them their own individual tapestry of stories woven together that make them them. Beautiful!
I know that for me, as I share various points of my story I can't help but point to the hope I had throughout hard times, or the peace I had in times of waiting. I'd like to encourage you to open up and share your stories too.
What has been helping you through February?