Lifestyle

Lifestyle news and stories.

Need a Little Help: Half MoonIt’s week two of the Easter holidays for one half of the Sofa Stories team and the other half has a lovely birthday coming up. Here’s how I’m spending my week.

Monday: Pirates and Princesses: Crook Hall & Gardens, Frankland Lane, Sidegate, Durham, DH1 5SZ

Visitors are invited to follow a quest for treasure around the gardens and join in swashbuckling activities led by the Crook Hall Pirate. There will be treasure hunts, pirate games and pirate ship designing.

Tuesday: Need A Little Help: Northern Stage,  Barras Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE1 7RH *

Joe and Ella are a great team – they make each other laugh, help each other out and tackle all the chores their busy lives throw at them. But one morning things begin to change when Joe gets all tangled up and Ella has to do things alone. What will Ella do now? Will she be able to continue as before, or will it all get too much? If only she had a little help.

Wednesday: Surprise date with Momar Red for Emily and work hat for mummy (yes I’ve returned from maternity leave and yes I hate it!!!!)

Thursday: Hall Hill FarmLanchester, Durham, DH7 0TA

We have an annual pass for Hall Hill farm which was £106. It’s a great way to spend the day, petting animals, tractor rides, donkey rides, indoor play barn, crazy gold and bouncy castle too.

WWT

Friday: Washington Wetland Centre , Pattinson, Washington, Tyne and Wear, NE38 8LE

We are going to head to the WWC to take a look at The LEGO® brick animal trail. The awesome models include a gigantic otter, super-sized crane and humongous goose and will form a fun trail for children (and big kids!) to take part in; inspiring them to build a better future for nature.

Discover just how many LEGO bricks have been used to make the massive creatures and enter a competition to win your very own LEGO kit.

Saturday: Miss Nicola Little’s birthday celebrations possibly at Wheelbirks or just at her delightful love filled home!

Sunday: No plans yet.

Suz x

*Reviewing for Northern Stage Newcastle

Image: Kit Haigh
Date day with daughter we headed to the theatre for a production of ‘Snow White’.

Rewind to 2010 and Emily and I were involved with Northern Stage’s anniversary project #40babies where a living book was created and captured from bump to three years old so Northern Stage Newcastle always holds fond memories.

Fast forward to 2016, When I asked Emily if she’d like to go and see a ballet and that it was Snow White she bounced around the room shouting, ‘yes please mummy’.

Image: Bill Cooper

The production is by balletLORENT a leading UK contemporary dance company based in Newcastle upon Tyne, which regularly tours the UK. This version of was very far removed from the Disney version Emily is used to and akin to the darker side of the tale by Brothers Grimm which I’ve always preferred. So it was familiar to one of us but completely foreign to the other which led to lots of questions.

The set was simply beautiful and yet simplistic and was so adaptable throughout the whole production and was moved this way and that with what seemed like ease. The words by ‘Poet Laureate’ Carol Ann Duffy and a score by Murray Gold accompanied by balletLorent dancers and children from local primary schools took us to a magical place throughout the show. The score moved me lots and really hooked the emotion and the narration was fitting, dark in some parts and light and funny in others.

Here’s a snapshot of the story;

The Queen (Caroline Reece) creates a doll and she wanted to make a child in it’s likeness and the King was happy to oblige and baby Snow White is born (first divination from Disney as the Queen in Snow White’s Disney is ‘Evil Stepmother’ rather then Snow Whites mother). Children and adults alike come and greet the child. Alas soon after the King dies. The beautifully vain Queen is deeply saddened as well as the rest of the kingdom.

As the child turns from a baby (depicted by a doll) into a little girl (we loved how this was shown in the set but don’t want to give it away) then into a young woman (Natalie Trewinnard) the Queen shows her daughter the good things in life until she starts to see that the beauty of her daughter is now over taking her own. The modern dialogue mentioning hair dye and facelift made Emily and I laugh lots.

Here enters the magic mirror depicted by an exceptionally flexible dancer (Gwen Berwick) mirroring every move and told the Queen that her daughter was more beautiful. Her vanity could not cope with this at all and even though she had brought her daughter up in love she now could not bare for her to be on the planet.

The huntsman was sent to kill Snow White, the Queen is shown to eat what she thought to be heart of Snow White was a little intense.

No dwarfs but seven ‘stunted’ miners who like the dwarfs where in play and disliked the presence of Snow White at first but grew to love her.   With many more twists and turns along the way this is definitely a story worth telling.

Caroline Reece had me captivated and conveyed the part of a withering beauty with aplomb where as Emily loved Natalie (Snow White) although she was less than impressed that she ended up with the Huntsman and not, ‘a handsome prince’, whoops maybe I shouldn’t have said that?

The main actors where perfect but my eyes were continually drawn to one of the female dancers named Giulia Coti Zelati and the young girl partnered with her, their connection was lovely and it reminded me of Emily and I which made me smile on the inside.

We really enjoyed our our time and can’t wait to see what is next in store with  balletLORENT and Northern Stage.

Over the years we have seen many fabulous productions and can’t wait to see many more in the future too, infact our next visit is on Tuesday 5 April to see ‘Need A Little Help’.

 

 

 

 

Cardnest

Is there anything nicer than a handwritten card? In this very most digital age, there’s something extra special and lovely about taking the time to write a little note to someone you care about, and of course they’re wonderful to receive.

Suzanne has always loved to leave little notes and messages. I still have a couple from over a decade ago in my memories box which always make me smile. And that’s the point.

The selection above were sent to us from the rather wonderfully named Cardnest (the name makes me feel all homely) and should you wish, you can sign up for a monthly subscription and you’ll get a pack sent out to you.

Happy Couple by David Robinson There are an eclectic mix of designers which are dotted around the world, each bringing their own style and influence to this monthly subscription. We are loving the You Tube Light Rust Studio Hand Lettering Tutorial . One of the founder members has even dabbled with a fab ‘Happy Couple’ design.

For £7.50 each month (when we clicked on if you joined the mailing list you get 50 percent off the first order), you’ll receive three cards from independent designers helping you create a perfect card library for every occasion.

So slow down, take note and let people know you care!

 

Suzanne pregnant Jan 2010

Where was I? Oh yes, Emily was born with Erbs Palsy and I was feeling guilty. Because everything was my fault. 

I did what I thought I should and attended the baby groups as it was the right thing for my daughter. Apparently, there’s always the need to have bonds with other mummy’s and I agree with this if they are people you’d want to spend time with outside of mummyhood. I didn’t attend national childbirth trust (N.C.T) or have any friends who had recently had babies so I was swimming alone. And I only have a 25m badge at the best of times!

People who know me, know that I don’t sugar coat anything. I am black and white with no shades of grey. And mostly, I believe what people say, why would they lie? These baby groups had me on my knees, I felt useless! Perfect feeding, perfect routines, perfectly polished! Me on the other hand rarely slept (it’s currently 02:57 – history isn’t repeating itself but because I’m so emotionally involved in this post I have to keep stopping to catch my breath and have a cuppa and compose), my diet was poor, I saw myself as a bad mother.

I seemingly hid this so well from not only my family but myself (but not my best friend). The post natal depression questionnaire presented to me by my health visitor asks;

  • During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
  • During the past month, have you often taken little or no pleasure in doing things that normally make you happy?

I answered ‘no’ with tears welling in my eyes but the health visitor didn’t push me on it, it seemed a form filling exercise. Now I realise that by admitting I had PND was akin to admitting failure and who wants to embrace failure? I kick myself now for not being brave enough to put my hand up and say, please can I have some help. But then, how could I ask? I couldn’t even fill the form in.

The words  were three words that existed in other people’s lives, not mine. I was a strong woman, a woman who would give up my life for anyone, a woman who hated to be labelled. However, throughout my past, when things got tough, I always hid away and throughout 2010 and 2011, I did this a lot.

I muddled through the first year in a haze of pea soup and escaping wherever I could. I went back to work as a H&S officer when Emily was 10 months old and before that, I often put work and blogging first before my family. It was the place I escaped to when I couldn’t face the real world. The world I created.

I started to see light around Emily’s first birthday, then BOOM one of the shining lights of my world my Uncle Bill died (24.03.2011). He was such a non-judgemental person, but I hadn’t even shared my pain with him as he had suffered a stroke and was trying to mend himself. Another year of fuzz and a redundancy, I simply didn’t feel like me and hid behind a broken smile.

The feeling of uselessness only seemed to get greater but then one day, and for no real reason, the fog seemed to lift and I saw light.

Still I certainly wasn’t ready for baby two. What if it happened again? Potentially losing another two years or even more to PND? When we became pregnant, I told EVERY health professional that would listen about my undiagnosed episode.

What I do find strange is, even through I readily passed this information on and told my current health visitor the PND form was useless, I have received absolutely NO monitoring at all. In fact, I’ve just realised the severity of this; I actually think in this regard that as a health trust they have failed me.

Thankfully, even though Luke came at 35 weeks I don’t believe I have PND this time. (Nothing is easy; my waters broke, I suffered a prolapsed umbilical cord, was rushed from home to hospital for an emergency c section and 59 minutes later, Luke arrived!).

My life revolves around this new tiny creature and instead of being scared,  he is teaching me how to be a better mummy to both him and his big sister. I don’t put my computer on and create posts if he wants me I am his 100 percent. Hmm, sometimes around 95 percent, as I may tweet whilst he’s in my arms.!

I am giving him the mother that Emily deserved but didn’t get (I was a good mum to Emily but I think part of me blamed her for my lady bits NEVER being the same again, even though I know she was absolutely not to blame).

Whilst I have been writing this, I have fed Luke and also been shouted for by Emily who needed the toilet. When I held her hand and guided her back to bed, she asked me to stay with her and stroke her hand and watch her sleep. At that moment I felt so very, very lucky and privileged.

Now it’s time to sleep.

Hold up! The reason I wrote these posts was to say that 2015 was going to be the year of me. Now, it’s going to be 2016. So there! Project 4.1 (stands for my 41st year) starts now. No sports car, but a wedding and a trip to NYC are on the cards. I’m looking at health, fitness, sleep, mental health and finance.

Project 4.1 – 42lb to go!

Suzanne x mummy of two and master of me.

If you’d like to be part of Project 4.1 please pop your details below. [contact-form]

This drawer now functions as it should. And days are much calmer. At home, I’m not known for my exemplary tidying skills.  I’ve read that creative people have a tendency towards clutter, which as excuses go is OK but my whole life has been spent searching for that THING I need. I was yearning for a solution to get tidy.

Enter Marie Kondo. She didn’t literally come to my home (although I’d love her to), no, it was enough to read an article all about ‘The Goddess of Folded Things’ in Red Magazine. The article shared Marie’s desire to calm the world starting with folded jumpers. An award winning author, Marie has just published Spark Joy, An Illustrated Master Class On The Art Of Organizing And Tidying Up.

Really? Marie is flying around the world demonstrating how to fold clothes and tidy up! And she is loved!

With my usual lack of patience, I set about watching one of Marie’s YouTube videos, wondered if this was another ridiculous way of wasting time and then stared at my underwear in dismay. A dark, winter morning never starts well when rifling through an underwear drawer only to keep finding ‘summer size’ pants. I needed a system where I could easily find what I was looking for and not be reminded that I needed to lose a pound or twelve.

Determined, I tipped everything out onto the bed, and sorted everything into sizes and colours. Sitting on the bed, it took about 30 minutes to fold everything out of the three drawers and replace them in an orderly style.

Here’s the thing; repetitively folding pants, is just so calming, your mind just switches off! And the difference was incredible – I fitted the contents of three drawers into one!

Because I created so much space, everything that had been piling up under the bed, now fit into the drawers. A small tidy realisation went off in my head and I spent the next two hours on a mission. The wardrobe was cleared out and returned all colour blocked, belts and bags are in my Grandad’s old suitcase, scarves have their own basket, towels are stored, the drawers in the office are sorted and I even folded all my tights! My tights!

I started the Tidy-Up-Myself project on 13 January and amazingly, two weeks later, the drawers are still as neat as in the photos above. Every morning starts with a sense of peace because my things are easily accessible. Today, I stood ironing pillow cases and sheets for the bed. This has never happened in all my life. Something has changed. The fold-and-stay-calm revolution is quietly seeping into my brain. And it is very welcome.

Nic x