The mysterious case of the missing yellow Sports Mixture

I love yellow Sports Mix, in fact the pineapple ones are the only reason I ever buy a pack of Sport Mixture.  I take out all the yellow ones and then share the rest between the family, but they never, ever get a yellow one.

Over the last couple of months neither have I.  All the yellow Sports Mixture have disappeared.  It was very frustrating, but I just stopped buying them.  My mum bought me a box of Sports Mixture for my birthday in the hope that the box might have some of the illusive yellow ones in.  Well I opened the box after her death and guess what, not one yellow sweet was to be found.

So one night in my sleep deprived state I emailed Cadbury about the lack of pineapple sweets in Sports Mixture and then put it out of my mind.

Imagine my delight when I opened a letter this morning from Cadbury explaining that they gave had some minor flavour issues with the pineapple flavour and it has not been included in recent pack or boxes of Sports Mixture, however, they have now resolved this issue and I should see the reintroduction of my beloved pineapple in the coming weeks.  Along with a letter they included a voucher for £3.50 so I could buy some more.

So hats off to Cadbury for taking the time and effort to listen to my sleep deprived e-mail and then respond so promptly even over the festive season.

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A little light entertainment

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How Dare You

You carry on as though nothing is wrong in your world, you drop the children to school and you all chat banally about what presents you got for Christmas and what you bought in the January Sales, don't you know I am dying inside. The children run around the playground delighted to see each other again after the Christmas break and I want to curl up and hide, don't you know I am hurting inside. The cars jostle for parking spaces on the high street and the delivery lorries double park, more fodder for the consumers.  Don't they know the last thing I want is any more stuff, I am small and insignificant. HOW DARE YOU! How dare you all go on with your every day life, don't you know my mum is dead? Don't you know that I have changed, that I can never be the person I was ever again. My world will never be the same, it is missing two of the most important people in my life, they shaped me in to the person I am today and now I am an orphan.
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The Last Christmas

Today my wonderful sister in law Deb and I took down all the Christmas Decorations at mums house.  It will be the last Christmas that they adorn her tree or the walls of the family home.    No more will the lights twinkle in the window to welcome me as I pull up outside, or the sounds of silent night great me as I open the glass door.

I shed silent tears as we removed the ornaments from the tree, each one bought with love and put them into one of two boxes, one for me and one for my brother.  My box holds the threadbare white teddies that I remember from my childhood and the cross stitch stocking that I made as a young child.  The stocking is filled with chocolate coins that are over 30 years old and we had a chuckle at the fact my niece has attempted to eat one the week before, to my mums horror.  I have brought home the angel that was proudly displayed at the top of mums tree.

It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done and I wish I had a house large enough to take all the ornaments and decorations home with me, but that just wouldn't be practical.  Neither myself of my sister in law could bear to throw anything away, instead we have decided to give a bag full to charity and then divide the rest between us and also use some of them in the social club next year.

The boys at Grandma's 2009

The tree decided that this too would be it's last year in the house and the tears rolled down my face as I placed it next to the bin.  Somehow it seemed fitting that is wasn't going to light up anymore Christmases.

I have brought home the cushion covers that I always found tacky but the boys adore, the light up train and the porcelain father Christmas of my childhood.    With me too are the decorations I collected for mum, a tree from Boston and a beaded decoration from South Africa.  Christmas 2011 they will join my ornaments on my tree and I will tell the boys the story of each and every one of them.  I will tell them they reawakened Grandma's love of Christmas and how she was so much looking forward to watching them open the presents she bought them.  I will make sure that they know how much she loved them.

Today I accepted that the family home had its last Christmas and over the coming month or so, it will stop being a home and gradually and painfully as we start to remove and clear it of mums belongings it will return to just a house.  Home is where the heart is and at the moment mine and my brothers hearts are torn in two and we are going to take some time to let then heal, without expectations and without pressure.



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How did we do with our 2010 resolutions?

I know many people would be saying blooming good riddance to 2010 and hello 2011, but in some ways that seems to be doing the year a major disservice, especially as it has been a quarter of Mini's life to date.  So I am going to just focus on the fact the lows are what makes the highs so spectacular and also say a quiet good bye to lost loved ones.
Cuddle Mummy in the night if I get scared -Maxi
Learn to write my name – Mini
Be a footballer – Maxi
Learn to write mummy’s name – Maxi
Spend less time on the PC – Me
Dance more with a smile on my face – MadDad
Give up my dummies – Mini
Swim a length without armbands – Maxi
Go to swimming lessons – Mini
Learn to Knit – Me
Share and eat lots of chocolate – Maxi
Learn to crochet – Me
Have a weekly family games evening after dinner – all
I have to say I am pretty impressed with the things we managed.  The only ones that we didn't are the crochet (I tried, I went on a day course and it just hasn't gone in), the knitting and the dummy.  But hey, I am not going to worry about those at the moment! So for 2011 The eating chocolate is still on Maxi list - Maxi Cuddle Mummy on a morning when she wakes up - Maxi Spend more quality time with my family once January's out of the way - MadDad Give up my dummy - Mini Learn to control my temper - Mini Be nice to each other - All Not to shout as much - Me To focus on me without feeling guilty - Me I don't believe that January is the right time for making big changes or resolutions.  Spring seems to be the natural time for bringing in the new to me.  So the more serious and thoughtful changes, goals and aims will be made around Easter time.
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To my Darling Boys

Each year I write a letter to you both, talking about what we have done during the past year and all the things that I want to tell you.  It has been really tough writing this one, as your dearest Grandma was found dead by Uncle C on Christmas Day.  I know that you were scared of Mummy's screaming and tears, but you both were really good boys and went to Nana and Grandads and have been a tower of strength to be in the last week or so.

You have both been so lucky to have spent time with your Grandma, who loved you so much and really enjoyed her two boys.  She will always love you and be proud of you no matter what.

It has been a busy and exciting year for both you boys.  Mini you started full time school this September and have settled in like a dream.  Your teacher told Mummy and Daddy you where such a happy little boys, who was a joy to have in the classroom and that you are a wonderful and talented reader.  You really enjoy spending time reading with Mrs H and your favorite place in the classroom is the construction area.

School has been a big transition for you this year Maxi, Year one has had its up and downs and we are all learning that you need to be challenged and have been moved in to an advanced mathematics and literacy group with the year 5 children.  You do more like being board and so want to learn.  You are full of questions.

You are both still really enjoying going to swimming lessons and have so much fun in the water, in fact you would stay in as long as possible.  It makes me happy that you both love swimming as much as mummy even in the ice cold North Sea, which is why we bought you wet suits again and even using them your lips sometimes turn blue!

You also both go to football on a Saturday.  Maxi you have moved on to Saturday Club and relish the challenge that games with the older boys bring and are really looking forward to being allowed in a team after your birthday in March.  It is also wonderful seeing how you often stay and help with the tots, that Mini plays with.  Mini is much happier when there is a larger group of children at the tots and your being with him is a real boost.  Mini Daddy said you are a great dribble and when you put your mind to it you are a fab footballer.

We have seen some fantastic things this year as a family and been on some super trips.  Mini you especially loved our time in London and are still fascinated by Big Ben and the workings of parliament and Westminster, whilst Maxi I think that the London Eye was your favorite part of the trip, followed by your trip to the Natural History Museum.

We have been to Butlins at Bognor and you both agreed that the water park was wonderful.  We have also had some great trips to Legoland, Thomasland, Flamingoland and Drayton Manner and you both enjoy going on all the rides and seeing the animals.  We even celebrated Mini's birthday with The Wiggles!

As a family we have made great use of our English Heritage pass and been to lots of local attractions including Whitby Abbey, Bishop Auckland Castle and many, many more.  We always pack and picnic and you boys have so much fun exploring and playing hide and seek together.  We went on an Easter Egg hunt at Ormesby hall and  you both had a go at washing clothes in the old fashions laundry.

We have spend wonderful weekends at our hidden place on the moors, paddling in the beck, playing football, picnicking and flying the kites, but most of all enjoying each others company.

Our beloved cat Mr Smudge died and you were both so amazing about this, insisting that Daddy buried him and in some ways I do feel that this has meant that you both understand a little more about the fact that Grandma isn't coming back.

You have both been very understanding of the times I have had to go into hospital and have come with me for numerous blood tests and visits.

All in all 2010 has been a great year, yes it has had its challenges for all of us, but together we have managed them and we are all growing and developing as a family.  I for one know for certain how proud I am to be your Mummy and I am looking forward to next year and all that it brings.

So thank you boys, for lighting up my life.  I love you both.

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And the beat goes on

I would love to think that my mothers life was so precious that time stood still or even blurred in to the slow motion that you get in films, where every second lasted more than a minute.  I would like to say that we are mourning her in the old fashioned way, but with two boys aged four and five and Christmas things have had to carry on with some semblance or normality.  Not that I haven't grieved, I have and still am and will be for a long time yet.  I am sad in front of the boys and they both know it is OK to be sad too and that Mummy and Daddy are missing Grandma and we are happy to talk about her or explain things as best we can.


The boys had Christmas lunch with my MIL and FIL, but insisted on coming home for Christmas Dinner on the evening, so we had the works and set a place for mum.  We have also been saying a prayer for her each evening too. We spent a quiet boxing day at home, playing playmobil Dragons and Knights and cuddling in front of the television. We also went to the Social Clubs annual Christmas children's party (although I spent most of it in the house with my brother), the boys had a whale of a time with their cousin (who we fear is channeling mum and is currently known as Mini Marge, due to her headstrongness and temper) and danced the night away. We also made sure that we had a get together on Wednesday at my house (which was planned for mums), in fact I went and collected the steaks she had bought for the event and I had far too many Irish coffees with baileys, but it was so nice to spend time with my brother and his family. But how are we?  I am not sure, we are coping as a unit, but it is hard.  For one I think I am still in shock.  I need to start organising things and get the funeral sorted.  The boys are missing Gran, but we are talking about it.  Maxi has started to have nightmares, so we are dealing with that.  I have ordered the books suggested from Amazon and am looking forward to them coming. We have also received some chinese lanterns that we are going to launch after the funeral, to which both the boys want to come (although I am not keen on having them come to the cemetery).  We are meeting with the funeral director on Monday, but are aware that there is likely to be at least a two week wait for a funeral. I am so glad I have the boys and my darling husband to keep me strong.  I do hope you all had a good Christmas and have a blessed New Year.
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RIP Margaret Elizabeth – my mum

Mum with Maxi (16 March 2005)

Margaret Elizabeth

26 September 1943 to 24/25 December 2010

Tragically my brother found my mum dead on Christmas morning.  It appears she died not long after talking to me on Christmas Eve at 9.45pm.  She was making a cup of tea in the kitchen to take to bed with her. Dearest Mum I wish I could gather my thoughts together enough to provide the words I need to say how much I am missing you already. My heart is breaking at the thought of never speaking to you again, but I am so glad our last words were I love you and our last conversation filled with the anticipation of Christmas. But more painful than my loss is the knowledge that my boys and niece have lost the most wonderful Gran in the whole wide world. Now I am both you and Dad's echo and you live on in your children and wonderful grandchildren. We love you mum and we always will.

Mum with Mini (25/06/2006)

From a practical perspective, we will not have any idea what has or will happen until at least Wednesday.  I would really welcome some ideas on how to help the children through this, as we have told them both that Grandma's heart stopped working and she has died, so they will not be seeing her again.  We also told then that Mummy and Daddy are sad and we have and will be crying, but it is OK to be sad and that they can ask any questions at all.


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So why all the traditions?

I guess people may wonder why I am such a big fan of traditions and why we have so many as a family?

This is hard to write, but I think putting in down in writing may lay aside some old worries and ghosts of times past.

I worry that this time next year or the year after that I may not be here with my wonderful family.  I know that may sound trite, but it isn't.  Yes I don't have any cancer now, but even after all the precautions I have taken, I am still at more of a risk than most people of dying of a cancer related to by BRCA 1 spelling mistake in my genes. So I thought it would be a good thing to have our own traditions, to help hold on to the precious memories for MadDad and the boys.  Something that in the years to come they can think about and might evoke a thought about a special time.  Like the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg in the Christmas Pudding could make them think of our Stir it up Sundays or remembering where a particular tree ornament came from. I hope they grow up to understand that advent is all about family, not the chocolates from the calender and cherish that the fun and togetherness we had reading the Christmas story each meal time.  I long for them to have advent activities with their children and tell them that where they originated from, for them to walk and look at the Christmas lights with their own family too. I have traditions that are carried down from my parents, the first footing that we do on New Years Eve, when some one with  go out the back door and walk round to the front and be the first person in the front door.  With them they carry  a  coin, bread, salt and a piece of coal to represent prosperity, food, flavour and warmth.  This takes the emphasis of staying awake till midnight until the morning and then we always have a special breakfast of home made pancakes. We also have traditions that we have created to make our life easier like the Christmas Eve Elves, who bring things to keep the boys occupied too. So there you have it.  I love traditions as they reinforce the memories.  They might not remember a specific time, but over years the times will melt and blur in to one and the tradition will hold true and hopefully when they think back they will realise that as with everything I do for them I do it with love.
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Baked gifts given with love


Each year we make Mini Christmas cakes for loved ones and special friends.  I do try and make them all edible and as the boys are getting older, I have two special helpers (which can leave finger marks in the icing like above).


I like to think that these cakes are baked and fashion with the love that we feel for the people we give them too.  We also gave them to the teachers and teaching assistants at the school, as yes I am angry at the school receptionists, but the teachers are wonderful people, who I entrust my most precious people too.


These two are for my mum and her best friend (who is like another Gran to the boys).  I still have our cake and the cake for my FIL to make and bake, so wish me luck.  Mini is still unwell and we had a foot or snow yesterday! I also have all the wrapping to do for the big day too! What do you have left to do for Christmas?
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