There’s a saying about buses – you wait all day for one and then three turn up at once.
And I suppose that’s pretty much an accurate assessment of my social life.
Like all mums, it can seem virtually impossible to get out and do anything that isn’t either work or baby related.
And given how the end of last year panned out for us, even eating and drinking was a luxury for me at times (I didn’t lose any weight though).
Somehow, however, January has turned out to be wonderfully, gloriously fantastic month.
With Mr S out of his morphine induced haze and no longer limping around in agony, he has been able to shoulder some of the childcare.
Which means…that I have been able to enjoy life again!!
So, while social media posts have been full of January being the longest month ever, seeming to last 476 days, it has actually been the best couple of weeks I’ve had in a long time.
Not even a bout of near fatal man flu last week really took the shine off it for me!
The New Year started off with lunches out, long walks on the beach and catching up with friends before they flew back to their lives around the UK.
Then, we finally got the chance to make use of a voucher I had given to Mr S for his birthday.
We booked a private pottery session at Elements Studio in Downhill for a day the kids were at the childminders and spent the morning learning the basics of pottery throwing.
The idea came after a pottery painting session at Center Parcs in Longford during the summer.
Ordinarily, Mr S is only interested in doing something if he is risking his life, however, he found the whole experience of painting pottery such a relaxing experience that he declared he would love to turn his hand at throwing some pottery.
I think he was hoping to channel his inner Patrick Swayze and while it didn’t turn out like that, he loved the lesson anyway.
In fact, we both did.
Situated at the foot the stunning Downhill cliffs and in the shadow of Mussendun Temple, I have no idea how I had never come across Elements Studio before, but what a find!
McCall was a brilliant tutor, she put us both at ease and really talked us through how to do everything properly.
No matter how many times my masterpiece collapsed at the last minute, she was there to pick up the pieces, until eventually we managed to make two mugs and a bowl.
I didn’t realise beforehand that we would get an opportunity to decorate our pieces as well, which was a chance for us to finish them off and now we’re waiting for them to be fired.
Of course, no trip to the North Coast is complete without a stop at the Ramore and we ate a whole meal, starter and main course, without having to get anyone a glass of water or cut up chicken nuggets.
It was bliss!
As if I wasn’t spoiled enough, my BFF also arranged for us to spend the day at the Galgorm that very same week.
I should say it was for my birthday, six months ago!
That’s how long it took us to arrange a day where we were both free and despite the freezing weather, we sucked it up long enough to get into one of the outdoor hot tubs and caught up on three years of gossip.
The last time it was just me and her, I was pregnant with Ethan.
It’s not that we haven’t seen each other since then, it’s just that the only time we speak to one another now is against a backdrop of a minimum of five children all going bonkers.
I still look back fondly to the afternoon where we hid on our hunkers behind the island in her kitchen with a cup of tea in one hand and a bit of chocolate in the other just so we could talk for a few minutes without interruption.
So, spending time together, just me and her had the potential to break the friendship, but it turns out that we still like each other after all these years!
We spent the morning moving from hot tub to steam room, back to the hot tub, into the pool, then onto the sauna and back to the hot tub, before our Celtic sauna infusion treatment.
After a shower, we rounded off our day in the River Room conservatory doing one of my favourite things – afternoon tea at the Galgorm.
And then, there was my first time back on a horse in as long as I can remember.
Over the years, I’ve longed to return to my childhood love, but I’ve been unable to find a yard where the instructor is friendly and the lessons are more than just mind-numbing walks around an arena.
However, a friend discovered Ballylagan Trail Rides and booked us in for a trek.
It was such a fantastic afternoon – we spent an hour and a half riding around the farm, learning about the history of the area – it was friendly, welcoming, and the experience was suited perfectly to our abilities.
I’m already looking forward to going back and taking Grace with me – sooner rather than later.
By some small miracle, in the middle of my packed social calendar, Mr S and I have also managed a few nights out for dinner.
The first was a meal at Deanes at Queens.
The last time we were there, I was pregnant with Grace (anyone else spotting a theme here).
I went completely wild and had a shower and did my hair and makeup before we went.
And this weekend, we got the bike out for the first time this year and took it for pizza in Belfast.
Mr S had his review appointment with the surgeon last week who gave him the green light to try and get his life back to normal.
I’m not entirely convinced.
Apparently, he told him it isn’t safe for him to be pushed for the rest of the year as it could damage his neck, but it is safe for him to skydive again in four weeks.
I wasn’t there during the appointment, so I only have the husband’s account of what happened.
However, I was there prior to the surgery where he told us he had no difficulty with us riding our Harley Davidson because, and I quote, “sure, they’re like an armchair”.
With that in mind, it was so fantastic that Mr S was able to get out for a ride.
Looking back on the past couple of months, I can’t believe how lucky we have been.
I know what could have been – if Mr S had landed in a different position, he would have smashed his legs, pelvis and back into pieces.
Given how he did land, and the fact that he walked around for six days before going to the hospital, he should be paralysed from the neck down.
My family knows that I have trouble seeing the bright side – it’s a joke among us that my response to mum that I should try and be positive was, ‘I’d be optimistic if I had anything to be optimistic about’.
However, for once, I can well and truly see the silver lining.
Someone said to us recently that if we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all, but I’ve decided to look at things differently.
Afterall, Mr S had a stroke and daily TIAs for a year before his heart surgery brought those to an end.
Quite simply, he should have been hideously disabled.
Then, look at the skydiving accident – by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a miracle that he’s still alive.
So, no, I’m not so sure we have bad luck.
Yes, awful things have happened that had been draining, devastating and challenging, but we’re profoundly, unbelievably, inconceivably lucky that we’re not just standing but loving life as well.