#Littleloves: Funny Creatures, Fortitude and Fitbit!

Happy Friday lovely people!

It’s been a few weeks since I joined in with Morgana at Butwhymummywhy and shared my #littleloves for the week. The days are whizzing by and it’s nearly the summer holidays. We’re getting very excited about the end of term!

Anyway, before I drift off into a daydream, here are my littleloves:

Read:

StumbleUpon! I love this site / app. It’s such a great way to tailor what you read and look at (websites, articles, photos, videos, images) across the net based on your own interests. No more wading through all the rubbish, you can get straight to what you want to see. I’ve saved this for some rainy summer holiday activities:

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2XtH44/:IwOQ3LzV:mUT8!3YF/homesthetics.net/top-31-amazing-diy-paintings-for-your-blank-walls

You can save interesting pieces into your account and you can also upload things too – here’s one of my uploads!

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1JNUas/polly-walker/parenting-models_b_6620164.html

Watched: 

We’ve recently ploughed through the first series of Fortitude. I’m really torn about whether I enjoyed or endured this one! The story is based around a tight knit community living in the town of Fortitude in the Arctic, which is shaken to the core following a violent and mysterious crime. Whilst the snowy landscape is beautiful, there were times when I felt shivery just watching the bleak, cold environment, and there are many brutal and bloody scenes that had me cowering behind a cushion. It’s not one to watch whilst eating your dinner that’s for sure! Echoes of ‘The X Files’ are what kept me going alongside the strange relationships and dynamics between members of the cast.  Hubby enjoyed it but when the next series is released I think I could take it or leave it. I’d love to know what you thought of it?

document1-copy3Wore: 

Since my weird ‘illness / injury’ – you can read about what happened to me here – I obviously have been taking life very slowly which means that I haven’t done any major exercise in months. So in a bid to keep me moving, albeit gently, I’ve invested in a Fitbit. A few months ago I may have dismissed this as being a bit ‘gimmicky’, but I now realise it’s value for those of us who want to keep moving but can’t go and pound the trails for an hour or jump about energetically in the gym – for the time being at least! It’s great to give you a nudge in the right direction to stay motivated and active, to walk the school run instead of jumping in the car etc.

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Made: 

We’re a wee bit addicted to Silk Clay in the Walker house! It’s like plasticine but feels and smells like Silly Putty. Anyway, it’s air drying, so once you’ve made your lovely creation, leave it for a couple of days to dry and voila! you have a permanent model. I bought some goggly eyes too which worked brilliantly for some of our little creatures! You can buy Silk Clay from good arts and crafts shops and also on Amazon. You can also get Foam Clay which is the bobbly stuff in the pictures.

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Cakes!

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Paige’s slug. Bless her.

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E & I made creatures!

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Some more wriggly creatures.

Heard: 

Last Saturday hubby was out for the evening and the biggest ironing pile in the whole world ever was beckoning. So I poured myself a glass of wine, got the ironing board out and stuck some random tunes on to get me through my very wild and crazy evening. Well, one tune led to another and before I knew it I’d worked my way through a fabulous medley of De La Soul, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill and En Vogue… taking me right back through several decades of my life. Before I knew it the ironing was done and I was still bopping around singing to myself and pretending that I can rap : )

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And finally…. 

We’re excited to be spending the weekend with good friends by the seaside. Can’t wait! Happy weekend everyone! xxx

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littleloves

Thank you for reading!

If you enjoyed this, why not head over to Amazon and check out my children’s book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1906954801

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You can also check out my book news and latest artworks at:

www.facebook.com/pollymwalker

and

Twitter: @pollymwalker

 

The Power of the Worksheet!

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Picture this: a sunny family walk through the woods, the girls are cheerful and utterly enthralled by the nature around them… occasionally they pause to identify an animal track whilst clutching a collection of interesting sticks, leaves and maybe even a fossil: treasures retained to add to a collection for further investigation. And Mum and Dad? We’re positively beaming with pride at how eager our little loves are to learn about their world.

That’s how it looks in my mind but the reality of a family stroll in the countryside tends to play out a little differently! IMG_2848Until this day, trips to the woods always feel a bit (a lot) forced on my part. Whilst I’m pointing out a heart-shaped unfurling fern in the hope of catching their attention the girls are more concerned with whether they can watch the telly when they get home. Hubby reluctantly scoops little one up as she pleads to be carried, her grubby boots smear his jeans and coat with mud – it is mud isn’t it?! – Whilst big sis brushes against a stinger and stumbles, scraping her hand on a fallen branch. Her cries seem to echo through the trees for miles, and they go on and on and on. Then the rain starts to pour, someone’s hungry, someone else needs a poo, patience is wearing thin, why didn’t anyone think to bring a plaster?!…. Once again our outing is abandoned and we hurry back to the safety of the visitor centre where we all breathe a sigh of relief because the ice cream van is here.

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I hate to think I’m forcing our daughter’s pastimes or interests (pushy mum alert!) BUT when we live on the edge of miles of beautiful Chiltern countryside I refuse to ignore the opportunities our natural environment presents: For educational purposes, yes of course, but overall for good old-fashioned fun! Messy adventures, explorations, discoveries, so many possibilities for them to become immersed in. Believe me, there’s no doubt in my mind that whatever the weather, we should be stumbling over tree roots and splashing in muddy puddles rather than breathing the stuffy, sweaty air of a soft play area whilst the girls hurl themselves at a grubby foam filled object. I’m sure they’d agree, wouldn’t they?! Hey, I’ve got Mother Nature fighting my corner here. We just haven’t found our groove yet. Or so I thought, until the emergence of our secret weapon. THE WORKSHEET.

Rewind a few years (well, ok, rewind 15+ years) to my teaching degree and throughout my early days in the classroom. It didn’t take me long to learn that the worksheet was an absolute ‘no no’ – kinesthetic learning was the way forward, and whilst it always required a great deal more planning and preparation, it reaped greater rewards. The worksheet was a lazy resource for educating children and should only be relied upon in emergencies or as a desperate fall back option. So when Elodee returned from school a few weeks back with a ‘leaf identification’ worksheet my inner primary school teacher shook her head in dismay. But I was outwardly delighted! Woohoo! The perfect opportunity for some purposeful time in the great outdoors, and what’s that if it’s not kinesthetic learning? The easy option would have been to head to the garden but the woods beckoned: The sun was shining, the cuckoos calling, the bluebells carpeting the woodland floor in all their splendour… So off we went with makeshift clipboard in hand ready to spot leaves, me holding my breath, ready to patiently tackle the first round of complaining. But it never came!

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The power of that little leaf identification worksheet has really transformed our outings and carrying a worksheet or a scavenger hunt is now something of the norm for us when we head out. Now the girls clutch their little cardboard clipboards as we pile out of the car into the trees, they seem to suddenly have such purpose and a newfound fascination in their surroundings. The spring in their step is obvious as they hunt under logs and leaves for the next item on their list and we all feel that the ice cream and the bit of ‘telly time’ has been well and truly earned. That primary teacher inside me is now cowering with shame – how on earth had we overlooked these activities until now I will never know. The dreaded worksheet has helped the girls to really open their eyes to what’s around them, and it has reminded me to open my own eyes to each and every opportunity that might help my job as a parent, especially those that I’d previously rejected or shunned.

So I guess I’d better give the soft play another chance. Maybe I need a worksheet to get me through it….IMG_20150603_0001

You can find some fab worksheets at: http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/ under downloads, but none relate to soft play! And of course there are loads on Pinterest.

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Thank you again for reading!

Polly x

If you enjoyed this, why not head over to Amazon and check out my children’s book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1906954801

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 12.31.28

You can also check out my book news and latest artworks at:

www.facebook.com/pollymwalker

and

Twitter: @pollymwalker

 

 

 

 

Doing My Bit!

Hello lovely people!

Some of you may know that back in March I suffered from a spinal fluid leak. It is believed that it was as a result of a particularly hard-core sports massage, during which, something in my neck was ruptured and I started to leak Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF).

CSF protects our brains by keeping them in a cushioned or buoyant state. A leak can occur as a result of a trauma – in some cases something as seemingly trivial as a golf swing, a violent cough or a sneeze, a twist or a stretch, – or as a result of surgery or an epidural or spinal tap. They can also occur spontaneously.

The result of this ‘leak’ was that my brain was no longer supported and was displaced – basically my brain ‘sagged’ to where it shouldn’t be sitting. Paul and I joked about me having a ‘saggy brain’ but humour aside, it’s been a pretty turbulent few months. This condition can cause all sorts of neurological symptoms, the main one being the most SEVERE AND HORRENDOUS AND DEBILITATING HEADACHE THAT IS ONLY RELIEVED BY LYING DOWN. (In capitals because this is the major defining symptom of this condition – spreading awareness and all that!).

Yes, ok, some of us would give anything for a lie down for an extended period, but I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Really. I have given birth, naturally, twice, and I can honestly say that was relaxing in comparison to a low CSF pressure headache. After all, my brain was basically bumping against the top of my spine and stretching all the nerves around it at the same time. To top it off, other symptoms can include:

Nausea; Vomiting; Dizziness; Double Vision / blurry vision and pain behind / in eyes; Neck and Back Pain; Tinnitus and pressure in the ears / hearing loss; Sinus pressure; Facial numbness; Cognitive decline.

Pretty sh*t really when you have to function – you have a life to lead, responsibilities, a job to do, children to look after… and you can’t get out of bed. It’s not necessarily a life threatening condition (but it can be) and not necessarily a lifelong condition (but it can be), but it’s very much under diagnosed. I was repeatedly told that I had a sinus infection, a migraine, a tension headache: ‘Mrs Walker, why don’t you go for a run to relax?’…’Eeerrrrm, because I’m currently crawling to the toilet because the pain in my head is so severe when I stand up’…. etc. I’ve always broadcasted my support for the NHS, and I stand by that. But this condition is rare and it needs to be known about so that it can be recognised and treated quickly and appropriately!

While I’m being so honest, I’ll tell you that this experience has shaken me to the core. BUT, I seem to have been one of the lucky ones. My ‘leak’ appears to have healed itself. I’ve been left with some lingering symptoms which I’m waiting for a further brain MRI to suss out and also a deep, nagging anxiety that ‘THAT headache might come back’. I’ve cancelled numerous commitments over the last few months, I didn’t work for weeks and I was a crap Mummy, I’ve let people down, I haven’t been great to be around, I’ve stopped running and my life has slowed down considerably – those who know how busy and active I was previously will pay testament to that. However, I seem to be one of the lucky ones. For some people and for different reasons, these leaks don’t heal spontaneously, and ongoing and increasing invasive surgical procedures are needed. And because this condition is rare, appropriate treatment often isn’t available in the UK and many –  too many – need to travel to the States to receive the treatment they need at HUGE cost.

If you’d like to know more or to donate to the CSF Leak charity that is in the process of being launched to raise awareness and funds to support those suffering, the link is:

http://www.csfleak.info/

This charity is in the process of being set up by a couple from Scotland – Cerian and David – and others, for a very good reason.

David is like us – a young, active guy, living life to the full. Until his CSF Leak struck whilst kayaking in the Scottish highlands. After 2 years of this nightmare agony, David is currently in the States receiving treatment from a CSF Leak specialist. David has been through two major spinal operations over the last month, yet his and Cerian’s strength and positivity is unrelenting.

So. I’m writing this blog to raise awareness of this horrible, debilitating condition, but also to highlight David and Cerian’s on-going journey to find a resolution and to return to the normality that so many of us take for granted. I always thought I was grateful for my health, for my fortunate life. And then my CSF leak struck and I realised how much I really did take for granted.

Here’s some reading about CSF Leaks in the media:

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/health/sufferers-of-rare-spinal-disorder-to-launch-charity-after-michelle-watt-tragedy.131075242

http://www.today.com/id/9546086/ns/today-entertainment/t/george-clooney-considered-killing-himself/#.VZpZ1FVVhHw

http://www.ross-shirejournal.co.uk/News/Plea-for-USA-treatment-to-be-offered-in-Britain-as-Ross-man-recovers-from-second-surgery-15072015.htm

And here’s the link to David and Cerian’s page if you’d like to follow their story:

https://www.facebook.com/findandfixdavidbaldwinscsfleak

And finally, an interesting clip about CSF Leaks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1Ena01hL7g&feature=youtu.be

Thank you again for reading. I promise a more cheery blog next time!

Polly

xxx