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What’s Good To Do – An honest review!

Image: www.whatsgoodtodo.com

Ivy And The Rock Book By Jess Childs Review

This book melted my heart for so many reasons. The author of this lovely book is Jess Childs and has been brilliantly illustrated by Heather May Williams who wrote the story for her 2 children to help them understand why her own Dad is no longer with them and how her Dad was her rock.   The story and illustrations are both lovingly heartfelt and written in such a beautiful and simple way; that helps and covers the subjects of love and the loss when loosing someone.  So much so, that it is much more comforting to young children.  It reaches out and really does touch your heart, along with your mind and soul.  Even if your child has not experienced the loss of a loved one as yet, this is a great story to read as it will help them to understand and even talk about.

My granddaughter has recently lost her great nanna on her mums side and whilst she’s 7.5 years old, she has struggled to understand why someone she loves so much is no longer around.  Since her loss, she has been very confused and everyone around her has been there for her, no matter how many questions she has asked.  After reading this book, she now understands her thoughts and feelings so much more now and talks about her great Nanna in such a different way.  The book has helped her parents and myself to explain her loss in a way we never thought of.

THE STORY

It is about a beautiful little girl named Ivy Jones who walks the path on a journey of adventure and most importantly, self discovery.  With the security from a rock she adores and loves so much, it gives her a lot of security, safety, trust and confidence.

Ivy has gorgeous blonde hair, dressed in a blue and white polka dot top, and a pink dress, along with brown bootie shoes.  She has gorgeous brown eyes, rosy red cheeks, a really cute button nose and her hair has a cute bun on the top of her head which is tied up in a bobble with green leaves and berries. 

The rock is beautifully illustrated with so many dazzling colours such as yellow, teal, purple and pink.  The way it is drawn even looks like it is sparkling.  Such lovely art work.

The story also makes reference and illustrates flowers such as pansies, snowdrops, hollyhocks, hibiscus and roses.  These played a very important part of the story for my granddaughter as now, when out walking, she says to me ‘look Nana, flowers, flowers like Ivy has and their roots will keep growing and look beautiful, just like great Nanna’. This melted my heart and naturally made me cry. I was so proud and uplifted by her own take on her loss and how she has taken the story of Ivy and the rock and made it a positive one.  She likes to draw the rock and calls it ‘great Nanna’s heart’. She even has her own drawing of it up on her bedroom wall and every day she says ‘good morning/good night great Nanna, I love you so much and I will always love you’.  Just some of the words she has taken from the story and uses herself.

I would absolutely and most definitely recommend this book for all the reasons I have covered above.

You can see the full review live here: https://whatsgoodtodo.com/ivy-and-the-rock-book-by-jess-childs-review/#

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12 Picture Books to tackle grief and death

Image: www.bookswithbaby.com

A really amazing line up here of children’s picture books to help little people deal with bereavement and grief in a variety of scenarios. Ivy is massively privileged to be included in this incredible line up from bookswithbaby.com.

Julia Donaldson’s ‘Paper Dolls’, Michael Rosen’s ‘Sad Book’ and Judith Kerr’s ‘Goodbye Mog’ take their place alongside lesser known titles broaching the subject of death with little ones, including ‘Ivy and the Rock’.

For Ivy’s part, the reviewer surmises that: “A parent is like a rock, giving a child solid support as they grow and a reliable place to return to. But losing them is a sad inevitability of life.  This is the experience of Ivy Jones, whose colourful stone is her companion in the Wildest Wood, helping her to explore the flowers and venture further afield.

So what do you do when your rock is no longer there? The moral of this gentle rhyming book is that beneath the rock are the roots of everything you are and the love that linked you.”

You can see the full review and other suggestions for books which might be helpful to you, or someone you know with little ones who are grieving, here: https://bookswithbaby.com/2021/11/16/picture-books-about-grief-and-death/

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Blog

Into The Wild

I went back to my regular exercise class of choice for the first time in almost two years this weekend. It’s called Poundfit and can best be described as over enthusiastically smacking the floor a lot with fancy drumsticks whilst listening to music. It’s great for burning fat, toning your muscles and releasing all those feelings brought about by the impending/repeated loss in life of people that you really love.

In my pre pandemic days, Poundfit was my twice weekly church of choice when it came to letting my emotions out and welcoming my true self back in. Every Sunday and Thursday, as I steadily beat the fear, sorrow and anger out of me, I would feel the endorphins come and take their place, and with them my sanity return too.

Sometimes the music would empower me to approach my life challenges akin to some kind of Amazonian warrior woman, and other times I would have to fight back the tears as I thought about the people we had lost, or how on earth it would ever be possible to live without the ones I was preparing to lose.

So, when I found myself back in that same hall this week, staring at the same wall, beating out that same rhythm, I found myself holding back the tears again. Tears for the outrageous situations we had found ourselves in and for the heartache we had experienced as a family in the time I had been parted from that wall. Tears for how life can be all the same matter of routine, and yet so different in the space of a breath it feels.

In a couple of weeks’ time, we will have spent an entire year trying to live the same old life, carry out the work we have always been assigned to do, and complete the same daily chores we have always had to, but as significantly different people.

It struck me as I pounded out to my favourite wind down track – ‘Into The Wild’ by LP – that routine beyond trauma has the power to both ground you when you need it the most and, at times, to make you want to scream as recklessly as is humanly possible. It brings with it the realisation that life goes on, whether we like it or not.

Some days the ‘routine’ can be hugely welcome and, on others, you wonder how on earth it is even possible that you could still be standing there, in the same old exercise class, beating out the same old rhythms and staring at the same old wall, when so much has gone between.

It has the power to make you feel like a fraud even for trying to live some kind of normal life when you know that suffering and sadness in the world is always only ever a heartbeat away.

Into The Wild is a great song if you haven’t heard it. In many ways, I can’t help but feel like living a parentless life at a relatively young age is what LP is singing about. My favourite lines:  

Are we so lost in the dark of our hearts
That there’s no light of day?
No

How do we not fade away?

Into the wild




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West Wales Family Life

Source: West Wales Family Life

Read the full review here: https://www.westwalesfamilylife.co.uk/latest-news/review-ivy-and-the-rock

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Routine at heart

My kids went back to school this week, my youngest for her first proper full day. I took the rudimentary school uniform picture in front of the blackboard in our kitchen and posted it to our family WhatsApp group. I sent it to their Nanny and the girls’ dad, who had already left for work. I ignored the ache in me which said the first person apart from their dad I would have sent it to, had she not been in here in person, would have been their Grandma.

I put the girls in the car and took them to school. They skipped in together holding hands and I watched them go, proud if a teensy bit heart sore, and set about distracting myself on my first full school day of freedom (I don’t work on Mondays).

I had a meeting at 10am about some Big Issues for Little People related bits and pieces (more to come on that later) and while I was online, a missed call from my other half. He had just called to see how the girls had got on going into school, but it was so much more than that. This isn’t something that used to happen as much when Mum was still here – not through a lack of caring about his daughters but in knowing that any angst or fears I may have had would have most likely been used up on her.

I have become an anxious Mum and wife in the 10 months since Mum died, more anxious than I would like to be – and certainly hope to be in the long run . So, I’m lucky that my other half has worked to understand this, and understand the new me, just as he always has in light of the various significant life changes we have dealt with in our time together.

It got me thinking about how many phases and reincarnations we live through as couples. Nobody really knows what the impact of a bereavement is going to be on the relationship that you rely on the most, and tend to assume, will almost certainly get you through it. Nobody tells you that with every significant loss you effectively become a new person to be understood and loved all over again by those around you.

It also led to the following words, which fell into my mind while my other half was putting our girls to bed one evening, and which I thought I would share as a little update here with you. Because it’s been a while, to be fair!

Routine at heart

Falling in love is easy to do

Because I know how to do it with you

We’ve been at it for years, on and off

(for different reasons and with more to tow)

And the return journey grows even more perilous

Until we make it back again, which we usually do

And I get to love the feelings again, the reasons, the view

Which all those years ago

First led me to you

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Wales Online

Source: Wales Online

Full story here: https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/suicide-cancer-jess-childs-covid-21015223

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Ivy and…the Duchess of York

I almost fell off my chair when the Duchess of York’s office emailed to say she would be reading Ivy and the Rock on her YouTube channel. It was a surreal moment for many reasons, not least because we happened to be staying in London right around the corner from Buckingham Palace at the time (alright, I know she doesn’t actually live there, but still).

It was a glorious secret I managed to keep from just about everyone apart from my husband for the next five days, and one which allowed me a little wry smile to myself as we walked down the Mall, past the Palace and through Hyde Park back to the train station the following day.

The Duchess (well her office, I suppose) has been very complimentary about the story of Ivy and it’s given me a massive boost when it comes to helping Big Issues For Little People continue to grow.

Before then it had been a funny (not ha ha) few months, where the predictable post book launch slump had left me with a hefty dose of fatigue when it came to promoting Ivy, and thinking about how to get her next story off the ground.

It was also the run up to me entering a new decade, which this time round somehow felt more monumental than the three times I’d done it before. It doesn’t take a genius to work out why I suppose and, no, it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it was going to be in the end and, yes, I was absolutely spoiled rotten (see aforementioned trip to the big smoke). And then, The Duchess of York read the book I WROTE on the internet to thousands of people.

So, in short, I’ve had worse birthdays – even if it does mean I’m officially in my 40s now.

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Pieces of You

I realise I’ve been quiet on here for a while. My heart has maybe been quietened a bit too – not for good, just for now.

I’ve allowed myself to be sad, given myself space and permission not to be voicing my experiences, but simply to experience them instead. It’s been a busy six months without Mum, but it’s only now I’m trying to get used to what that really means.

After losing my Dad, a part of me naively thought I knew what to expect this time around, how to handle it. But I realise now that every time we experience the death of someone close, it will be different to anything we have experienced before.

I understand that grief doesn’t always take you the way you thought it would, because the relationships and the people we are mourning are unique, just as we are and our children too. So for the first time since she left us, just as Ivy does in my book, I’ve been really thinking about what the crater Mum left behind means to me.

This is the poem that came out.

Pieces of You

I put your smile in a plastic bag today, with the crinkles at the corners of your eyes and some of your scarves too.

We sorted through the times we kitchen danced and kept one or two of the best ones, along with a couple of your favourite CDs.

The black bags in the hallway have got all the times you sang my children to sleep and some of the bedtime books you liked to read in them too.

Your home cooking and the meals we shared are in boxes on the draining board, along with your recipe books and 40 years or more of family Christmas dinners.

We found every single one of the Coronation Street episodes that you watched lying underneath your bed, next to the missing remote control.

I’ve kept your favourite lipstick to use until it is gone, and so we had to let your loving kisses go too.

A lady in the village took your linen blouses and expensive shirts for her charity container, and the warmth of your embrace went with them.

A man bought your car for his wife and it wasn’t until he drove it away that I realised, all the times you came when we needed you were still hiding in the boot.

Your wellies are still by the door, but they don’t want to fit anyone else’s feet. The fire is in, but the house is cold. The grass is growing, the roots are not.

The marks that you made have been covered in gloss. The windows have been wiped clean, your fingerprints are gone.

The way that you laughed and the love that you gave. All packed up or thrown away.

We have no choice but to let them go.

Pieces of you.

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That’s Life!

Source: That’s Life! Magazine
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Tenby Observer

Source: Tenby Observer

Full story here: https://www.tenby-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=130972&headline=Pembrokeshire+children%E2%80%99s+charity+and+author+join+forces+to+support+rising+numbers+of+bereaved+young+people&searchyear=2021