The festive period is fast approaching, and we are all looking forward to some well-earned rest and relaxation with our families at this special time. For military personnel and service families, time spent together is even more precious. Many military families have been separated for months, and reconnection as a family unit is a real necessity.
So at the start of the year the plan for this post was to list 40 amazing things we did... however we only did two things, so now this post will be much deeper and instead I will list 40 things, my 40th year on earth reinforced or taught me.
I won't always be here to do that. We know Mum's doctor says her epilepsy will get her one day. Fruit loops say Karma will. But either way, I wanted to write down a few things for you to remember as you get bigger.
Having illness and death enter my life grounded me with somewhat of a bump. In some ways, it has set me apart from most of my peers. I have this weird filter on things in life now; I'm all too aware of how fragile and temporary things are. It affects my life in many ways, some positive and some not so positive.
As a family we've had a tricky twelve months health wise and this Christmas it's made me reassess what is important. So in the spirit of bagging a bargain and getting what I want here is my own letter to Santa.
The pressure can mount ahead of the festive period, leading to arguments and stress and potentially relationship problems. Here are a few handy hints to help you survive the stress of Christmas.
Rather than ignoring the truth of what makes Christmas challenging for you, be brave, accept your limitations, face your frustrations and make a decision to approach things differently this year.
Over the past few years I've been fortunate enough to travel for work and to visit friends who have moved abroad. On some of the trips, I've found myself thrown in with some of the most diverse and unusual people, all of whom were trying to get along for the sake of everyone's enjoyment.
I want to share something I have written recently but have sat on, busy with life, busy with the children, busy trying to make time with my husband, and busy trying to set aside time for myself which is free from writing, reading, studying or worrying.
There are two main eating disorders that affect young people. These are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Although they're both very different, they do have one thing in common, namely that a young person suffering from either condition has an unnatural attitude to food.
Petty fights in the back of the car, temper tantrums over the possession of a favourite toy, irrational jealousy over who is the family favourite - squabbling brothers and sisters have infuriated parents for generations.
Cancer, illness, disease. It does change everything but when you finally stop and accept what is happening to your family, you can't help but reassess your priorities. Nothing else in life really matters in the face of something so huge. It's the patient who matters. It's the patient's family who matter. It's you who is important.
We are fostering again. Our home is filled with the sounds of children playing. Umpteen pairs of little shoes and wellies are piled around the front door, coats and jumpers are draped over stairs and chairs. There are toys in every room. Our foster children come in twos and threes, and sometimes it feels like being hit by a tornado.
The day I had my second son, I remember sitting in the hospital cafe - on a break from continually circumnavigating the building trying to get things moving - I tearfully asked my husband, 'What if I don't have enough love for this baby?' 'What if my heart is already full?'
These people can be of any age, ethnicity or gender. They always put someone else's needs and welfare before their own, often without recognition or praise. Many have little chance to socialise, which can lead to isolation; and they have an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Who am I talking about? The UK's 'hidden workforce' of unpaid carers.
A child's early years are vital to their chances later in life. Learning to walk and talk, starting to make friends and build relationships outside the immediate family and developing a desire for independence all happen in this period before school. Because this is such an important time, children and their parents need support.