Stop thinking about blogging Helen and just jump back in!

Trying a new format to get me to write something – anything…

Health: Horrendous. Very very fed up with getting one cold after another, coughing constantly, trying all sorts of different mixtures and potions and being filled with snot and yuk. I know I’m not looking after myself properly. There just isn’t time. Will try to do better…

Work: Good. Despite feeling absolutely crap every morning and coughing constantly, I usually manage to feel mostly ok when I get there and quite enjoy it. I love what I do and I have awesome colleagues. It may be incredibly hard getting up and out each morning and not being here to do the myriad parent things I need to, but as I have to work, I’m very very fortunate to enjoy it so much. I don’t take one single bit of it for granted.

Appointments: Monday – College Open Evening. One has now filled out her enrolment form for the A Levels she wants to do. We had a good chat with the Learning Support services who will hopefully help her to access her college education when it is time. Tuesday – GP appt with One having had her ME/CFS confirmed at the hospital last week. She came out with three different prescriptions (none to do with the ME/CFS – it was a bit of a multi-faceted appointment!) Thursday – review meeting at school which I couldn’t go to because it was scheduled for when I was at work and ‘couldn’t’ be changed… that was quite useful apparently. She was very assertive and insisted the next one is after school so I can go. I’m very proud of her! Friday – Catch up music session for One to try to get her GCSE music work in the bag since she can’t get into actual lessons. I sat in the corner and knitted. Same again next Friday.

House: Absolute tip due to all of the three above reasons. Must try harder! (Yeah right). No heating or hot water. This is an ongoing situation. I can’t tell you how fed up I am about it. We’re being assessed for a free boiler next Saturday. We need an entire new heating system, not just a free boiler. Will wait and see what they say.

Knitting: Keeping me sane (just), one stitch at a time. Currently knitting a Mini Mania scarf. No photo yet as I haven’t taken one. It’s knitted in linen stitch out of spare sock yarn oddments, lengthways – so I have cast on 350 stitches – each row takes an age! I’m loving watching it emerge though and as each row is a different colour it is going to be very bright and cheerful!

Reading: Some random romance downloaded from Amazon when it was free. Not a clue what it’s called or who it’s by. I started off rolling my eyes at it then sort of got into it without meaning to. For the next post, I’ll try to be reading something a bit more worthy and impressive sounding… *grin*

Listening to: The CD of live worship from New Wine Newark in the summer, which arrived this week. Great songs and lovely memories.

Watching: Masterchef Professionals – first time we’ve watched Masterchef and quite enjoying it – very different from Great British Bake Off which we recently enjoyed. Significantly less weeping on Masterchef for a start!

Looking forward to: Going to the local theatre next week with One to watch Paul Merton’s Impro Chums. It was a bit of an impulse ticket purchase and we’re both really excited about it!

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Still here!

It’s not that I don’t want to post – just that my blog hasn’t actually been working for what seems to have been the entirety of the summer holidays! Not sure what is up with WordPress but it just wouldn’t load, and has been having great difficulty showing me other people’s WordPress based blogs as well. Don’t know for sure if this will work but having managed to finally pin it down I thought I’d better jump up and down and shout to let any readers I have left know that I haven’t abandoned my blog – it just seems to have abandoned me!

We’ve had a fabulous summer. The weather has been pretty much perfect – after the longest, wettest, darkest bleakest feeling winter I remember for ages, and the two previous summers not really happening weather-wise at all, it’s been like an amazing gift to have actual prolonged periods of sunshine and warmth. I have not taken one single bit of it for granted! We went away, the four of us, to the New Wine North and East Summer Conference at the Newark & Notts Showground (basically thousands of Christians living and worshipping together for a week in a field), and then the younger two went off with their dad for a fortnight and I took One and my mum off down to Dartmoor for a week’s camping. Two very different holidays, both fabulous, and I’m intending to post about both of those once my blog becomes more reliable and stable again.

Back to school and work next week for us all! We have a period of uncertainty ahead as we wait to find out when Two will be leaving us for pastures new living with his dad in Manchester – it all depends on school places and a house move before he can go. This is the most difficult thing I have faced as a parent so far, and the only thing reconciling me to the whole thing at all is that Two desperately wants to go, and at 13 he is old enough to make his own decisions about where he lives. He knows how much he will be missed and that the door is always open for him to come back if it doesn’t work out. The thing that’s affecting me most at the moment is the uncertainty – once we have a date I will feel at once far worse about the whole thing, but also far better as I can begin to come to terms with it all. Meh. That’s enough about that for now. 😦

Between now and Monday I need to coordinate finding out what they all need for school and purchasing it at the cheapest price possible. Prices of everything everywhere are going up, and incomes everywhere are staying exactly the same, or going down. I’m having to be frugal with everything at the moment, and I know it’s the same for the majority. Of course going on two holidays hasn’t helped, but we’ve made some excellent memories this summer and I can put up with being extra careful for the next couple of months to make up for that. 🙂

Better post this before it all decides to refuse to work again. If you’re reading this, then it worked! I hope to be back with posts about our camping holidays before the week is out…

Sanity walks

I watched Casualty on Saturday night. One of the characters was a woman who was caring for her severely autistic teenage son and not getting much in the way of breaks from the full on nature of it all. She ended up abandoning him in the city centre. He got run over and she got drunk and fell down a flight of stairs. When she arrived in A&E she claimed to be a single woman until she was found out.

I have no intention of abandoning my children and pretending they don’t exist! I have no intention of getting drunk and falling down a flight of stairs either. But what stopped me in my tracks somewhat is the feeling of total identification I found I had with this woman. I found myself finishing her sentences for her. Nodding in total empathy. So much so that One, afterwards, said in a worried voice ‘You’re not going to run away from us, are you?’

No. No, I’m not.

I’m a very introverted person, ideally needing frequent alone time to recharge my batteries. In our current situation, that is simply impossible. I don’t mind at all, it’s just the way it is, and I love work and I love being with my children, caring for their various quirks and needs. But with a complete lack of the alone time my personality craves, coupled with a long series of late nights trying to do all the essentials to run a household, and never ever catching up, I can feel myself starting to break.

Last night I dreamed that I ran completely out of cope and had a breakdown. And I woke up feeling slightly wistful. Time for some serious insanity prevention!

I’m not sure how much I can feasibly do about the late nights at the moment. There really aren’t enough hours in the day to fit everything in. When I do finally fall into bed, head busy and full of the conversations I’ve just been having, worry about children, money, home, everything, feeling stressed and annoyed with myself that I still haven’t washed up, or made the next day’s lunches, and knowing I’ll have it all to do the next morning, and the alarm is going off at 5.30 and it’s already midnight, I can’t sleep straight away and let myself drift off playing games on my phone with podcasts in my ears. It’s often well after midnight by the time I go properly to sleep. I know I’m (mal)functioning on far too little rest.

However, I’ve come up with a cunning plan for the alone time. On Sunday afternoon I was so, so stressed, shouting at everyone, almost in tears over the state of the house, which as usual was a metaphor for the state of my mind, that I took matters into my own hands, took charge of myself and sent myself out for a walk. All by myself. I walked three miles, listening to the podcasts I usually only get chance to listen to at bedtime, putting one foot in front of the other in the fresh air.

Exercise, endorphins and alone time. Talking to nobody. Walking where I wanted to walk, in control of where I wanted to take myself.

It did me so much good.

After tea tonight I went out again. This time I did a much shorter route. I was out for 20 minutes and walked just over a mile. That’s something I can make time for most evenings, I reckon. In that space of time the children barely noticed I was gone, yet I had the much needed space my mind is desperate for, as well as the exercise my body is craving (I’ve never been so inactive since I started work. I drive everywhere now, because there is never time to walk. I’m putting on weight quickly at the moment and my knees are protesting even more than usual. And my clothes don’t fit. However, I’m far more bothered about my mental health than my physical health just now – any physical benefits are just an added bonus!).

Having blogged, I now see it is 9.15pm. Now I need to wash up the tea pots, make tomorrow’s lunches, do a quick audit of what we already have in the cupboards and freezer, and complete the supermarket order online to collect it tomorrow evening while I’m out taking kids to and from youth club. I have promised someone I’ll scan in some documents and email them, so that has to be done before bed too. I will fall into bed, mind racing, and wake up with the ridiculously early alarm tomorrow morning, mind racing immediately, to start all over again.

The prospect of another 20 minutes out of the house after tea tomorrow, pounding the pavements with my trainers, listening to my own choice of podcasts in my ears, and speaking to absolutely nobody, is already filling me with a tiny bit of hope.

I hope I can make this a regular part of every day. I’ll let you know when I start feeling the benefits! Till then, I can’t quite imagine when I will next have time to blog…

Two more get ups…

…until half term! I can’t believe how quickly it has gone, or that it is almost three weeks since I last blogged.

I’m not even going to try to catch up. I will just cover the past three weeks with the following words:

Exhausting. Rewarding. Steep learning curve. Proud. Drained. Tired. Busy. Happy. Humbled. Inspired.

I love having a job. After being on Jobseekers’ Allowance for so long, I don’t take one single bit of what I have now for granted. It really is hard work and some days I don’t feel equal to the task, but over and over again I discover what a lovely supportive environment I’m working in. I’m definitely in exactly the right place.

Last weekend I managed to get away and stay with J, to help him with a very prolonged and tricky house move. I know my practical assistance and moral support was hugely appreciated, and I’m ever so glad I went.

It has, however, knocked all the routines I have been carefully constructing over the past five weeks completely off track. One weekend away has led to a whole week of chaos at home! This evening I have had to do two whole days’ worth of washing up before I was able to use the kitchen to cook our evening meal. This means that the evening meal will be late and Three will be late for youth club. I’ve also just set a wash load going for the second time; it already got washed on Sunday night but has been festering in the machine ever since as I never got around to hanging it out. There is mess everywhere and I can’t find any of the forms I need to fill in by Friday. Urgh.

As well as that, I’m physically dropping to bits as well. Carting heavy boxes about over the weekend took its toll on me – thankfully my knees and back have stopped hurting mostly now, but my hands and wrists are in a very bad state and only seem to be getting worse rather than better. This morning I woke unable to close my hands into a fist; they were totally numb and horribly painful all at the same time. They’ve improved quite a lot through the day but the numbness has persisted and I couldn’t write for long periods as I normally do. If they follow the usual pattern, they will worsen again through the evening and be hideous by the time I wake up. I’m slightly scared this has nothing to do with carrying heavy boxes and that I might have sudden onset arthritis or something! (Yes I am a closet hypochondriac *grin*). I have suffered intermittently with mild Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my right hand since I was pregnant with Three, but this is in both hands/wrists and is a thousand times worse. I’m seriously considering bandaging them both up really tightly when I go to bed tonight to see if that helps in the morning.

I’ve been wanting to pick my neglected knitting up again and finish my poor abandoned cardigan over half term, but that is out of the question at the moment. 😦 Even typing this isn’t doing my hands any good!

Right. No more whinging. Life is good, and fulfilling. I’m off the antidepressants completely now. When the low moments come (which they still do, of course they do), I’m able to talk myself through them rationally, which I was not even slightly able to do this time last year. Though I have done my share of crying myself to sleep recently, I have no burning desire to hide under a duvet for days on end and not come out. Despite the fact the house is a mess and my routines are currently shot to pieces, I don’t feel like a failure as a person. This is all wonderful, and massively positive!

For now, that will do.

Hello poor neglected blog!

Um… Happy New Year to anyone who is still hanging around wondering if I’m ever going to post anything ever again!

I appear to have been all consumed with Life, The Universe and Everything – which can mostly be summed up by Three Children and New Job.

I’ve now completed my first week of the new term, doing my role ‘properly’ now the chaos of Christmas in school is over. It was incredibly exhausting. I loved it but there is so much to do, so much to remember and working with a child with ASD is an extremely unpredictable science!

I have spent quite a bit of time sitting on the floor chatting with him to calm him down; some time having insults hurled at me (I don’t take any of them even slightly personally and they whoosh over my head!) and some time actually getting some work done with him. And a lot of time having the most delightful conversations and laughter – he is fab. School is a very difficult place for him and I am still learning how to best help him.

Everything that happens, throughout each day, I scribble down on post it notes and then write it all up in an exercise book. It’s a useful record of learning and behaviour, and a good reflection for me; often as I’m writing I can look at the day more objectively.

I am absolutely loving the challenge. But all last week I was so completely consumed by the newness of it all that I couldn’t quite cope with the rest of life when I got home, and just wanted to sleep! I had a permanent headache. I know that it will get easier.

Today ‘my’ child, X, was not in school, so I had an unexpected day of planning and making resources; extremely helpful as usually my working hours are so taken up with supporting X that I don’t have time to get ahead of myself; I’m constantly thinking on my feet and running to catch up.

As for home, I’m trying and mostly failing to keep on top of tidying and laundry, trying and entirely failing to speak to the person I need to speak to at school about the child who is unable to attend school at the moment due to severe depression, making a slightly better stab at filling in bits of essential paperwork, at least some of the time, and being slightly unable to process the fact that Three is going off for her first school residential, for 2 nights, on Wednesday!

Since going back to school I feel rather as though I’m floundering in deeper water than I’m used to; not doing anything as clever as swimming – but at least not entirely drowning either. I am confident it will all get easier. And I’m saying that, feeling that confidence, on a continued halved dose of antidepressants. Hurrah! I’m starting to look forward to a time when I am doing without them altogether. 🙂

Getting up at 6am on weekdays is becoming second nature now. It makes the lie ins at the weekends feel even more decadent than ever before!

Today it rained at home but snowed at work. They get real snow in the next county to ours! It was like a winter wonderland! Coming out of school I drove past a fabulous snowman outside a house just down the road. I wanted to stop and take a photo but it is a narrow road and there was someone driving towards me.

I want to post more often. I’m missing blogging.

Blogger’s block

I seem to be suffering from a definite blogging slump at the moment. It isn’t that there isn’t plenty to write about; it’s more that I have a combination of lack of time to sit and type, and lack of confidence – I can’t quite bring myself to believe that anything I have to say is interesting enough to put out there for the internet to read!

I was listening to one of Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre podcasts a couple of days ago, in which Charlie Higson said something along the lines of ‘when you are a writer, you absolutely have to have an attitude of total self belief and confidence’. That made me think about how I’ve been letting my blog languish a little, as total self belief has given way to doubt over the past few months.

I’ve been pondering NaBloPoMo (committing to a blog post per day for the month of November), but I know myself well enough that making a public commitment to do almost anything is a fairly sure way of setting myself up for failure. So I’m not going to do that.

I am, however, making a statement here and now that I do believe I have a writing voice worth listening to. That my blog doesn’t have to fit into an obvious genre or niche. That I choose to post about whatever is important to me, without holding myself back worrying about what anyone else will think*. From the entirely trivial right through to the deepest matters on my heart, this is my blog and I won’t be ashamed.

So as and when I find the time and have the inspiration, I’m going to stamp on the unconfidence demons and just write. For me. I have a feeling I’ll be a better blogger again once I stop trying to please the hypothetical critical readers living inside my head.

*Mostly, if I’m honest, I assume people are thinking ‘bloody hell, this is tedious…’

140 characters

– Busy week. Tough in places. Fabulous in other places. Blog suffering. Facebook suffering. Twitter not suffering as 140 characters achievable

– Have felt like a terrible parent and a wonderful parent at times this week in approx. equal measure. Shouting and hugging have both featured

– Went to GCSE ‘Raising Aspirations’ evening at high school. Motivational speaker superb but maybe not best for child already ill with anxiety

– Fell fast asleep on sofa by accident on Tuesday and Two cooked and served up the entirety of our evening meal for us all. What a total star.

– Tuesday & Wednesday volunteering in year 2 and year 5 were excellent & a great boost to my self esteem. I needed that this week! Want a JOB!

– Went to bed last night knowing I was knackered but not expecting to end up staying in bed till 10 to 2 this afternoon. Must have needed that

– Put a loaf of bread in the freezer & sliced my middle finger on a packet of frozen beef mince, making it bleed (the finger, not the mince).

– Life is so much calmer than this time last year. Doesn’t say much for this time last year! Situation’s not changed much but my attitude has.

– Blogging alongside all my parenting roles seems impossible at the moment. Follow me on Twitter for life’s minutiae 140 characters at a time!