One more sleep till Christmas

Yes, we will be singing along to Muppet Christmas Carol a little later on – our time honoured family Christmas Eve tradition (though every other year when the children are with their dad, we move Christmas Eve (and day) to a time which suits!).

Foot update: huge improvement in the past week. As of today I can shuffle around the house on flat surfaces unaided by airboot or crutches – though I am using the airboot when I have to actually do anything useful at any speed! Yesterday One and I went into town on the bus, and with one crutch plus the boot I completed the rest of the Christmas present shopping. We celebrated this major achievement with a Black Forest hot chocolate each in a certain chain coffee shop in the centre of town, before getting the bus home again! In the afternoon I walked, with boot and crutch, to the supermarket, put the crutch in a trolley, negotiated food buying, and then had a lift home from a lovely friend.

I am still doing everything at snail’s pace, but at least I can do pretty much everything again now, and being forced to go slowly is actually very good for me. It’s not my natural way to do things and I know I miss so much by rushing around all the time.

No idea yet when I’ll be able to drive again but I can now see that possibility on the horizon and I’m still hoping to be back at work at the beginning of next term.

Something amazing happened over the weekend. We have been without central heating since last February (when a local, horrified, plumber came and told us we needed an entire new system as it is all out of the ark), and the immersion heater died at the beginning of October, leaving us with no hot water either. We have attempted to get on the new boiler scheme, but were deemed unsuitable by the company we applied to as our system is too old and unreliable and they couldn’t risk putting a new boiler onto a system which might die. That was a very low moment. My mum came to the rescue with the offer of funding and I contacted a different local plumber who had been recommended. He is massively busy at the moment and can’t replace the boiler till January, but after a few weeks of trying to find a second hand pump for a temporary patch up, he turned up out of the blue brandishing said pump on Saturday afternoon and managed to get the radiators on. We were amazed and delighted, which turned to despair when after an hour and a half the boiler died again. On Sunday the plumber returned, drained all the air out of the system and since then, so far, everything has worked as it should.

It is truly amazing having radiators that come on and warm up, and hot water coming directly out of a tap instead of a kettle. My first bath in nearly three months was indescribably wonderful.

We still need a new boiler, at least, and the plumber is hoping we might not need new pipes or radiators, but he says it’s very difficult to tell until he starts the work. A wonderful lady at CAMHS who works with one of my children is currently looking into the possibility of finding grants for funding which might help save my mum from having to pay out quite so much. There is some hope of a warmer, more efficient house for 2014! And at least we’re getting a warm Christmas!

After such a busy day out and about yesterday, I have no intention of getting dressed at all today. So far, we have had my mum round for a cuppa and a chat, and watched the 2000 version of The Railway Children (I cried and cried at ‘Oh Daddy, my Daddy’, and all of my children laughed at me… heartless wretches). In half an hour or so it will be time to close the blinds and get Michael Caine and the Muppets into the DVD player.

All three children are here and we are snug and warm. Everything is ready and Christmas can begin. I feel relaxed and hugely grateful for a gradually mending foot and warm radiators.

I wish all of my readers and friends a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and hopeful New Year. If I had any sort of resolution it would be to continue to try to live my life one day at a time, and looking for joy in the small things. Some days that is very far from reality, but all I can do is continue to try!


Day 8

Just a quick post tonight as bedtime is looming!

Today I managed to use the airboot and the crutches to walk to a local shop a few streets away to buy crisps and nuts for our sofachurch Christmas get together tomorrow night. One came with me as far as the shop, helped carry the items and stashed them in the rucksack on my back once I’d paid for them. She then went in the other direction for an appointment and I walked home all by myself!

Amazing how something so simple now takes so much organising and working up to. I was really nervous about being out by myself, though of course it was fine. As I got in the front door, my phone rang. I stood in the hall behind the door talking to the caller for a few minutes and as we were wrapping the conversation up there was a knock on the door! I was really glad I hadn’t just settled back down on the sofa again so it was all rather useful timing! (It was delivery of a Christmas present from ebay – hurrah!).

Talking of Christmas presents, I’ve done a load more online shopping today, making lists as I went, making sure I stuck rigidly to my budget, and now I only have a very few presents to get in ‘real life’ so to speak. I’m hoping I might make it into town at some point in the next week as I begin to be more mobile; there’s a bus which stops almost opposite our house so that might be a possibility if I feel up to it. I’m relieved to have got things a bit more organised – it’s been preying on my mind and tomorrow I might pick up my knitting again.

As for today, my walk, which was probably about quarter of a mile altogether, if that, pretty much knocked me out and I sank into an accidental and very deep sleep on the sofa for an hour and a half when I got back! Since breaking my foot I seem to be weeping, and sleeping, at the drop of a hat – two side effects I really wasn’t expecting! Everything makes me cry (most ridiculous example so far was the Christmas Bake Off episode last night when Mary Berry put a little tea light into her gingerbread house and all the boiled-sweet windows glowed *sob*) and I keep falling asleep at random! Hopefully all part of the healing process…

Conversation just now:
One: How are you feeling?
Me: My foot hurts. How are you feeling?
One: The side of my mouth hurts.
Me: Maybe if I kick you in the mouth with my bad foot, the two pains will cancel each other out and we’ll both be absolutely fine…
One: YES! Let’s DO that!

The tragic thing is that, for us, that’s a perfectly normal conversation!

(Spoiler alert: we didn’t do that…)

In which I stamp my good foot and demand to be in full health immediately

Day Five (in the Broken Foot House). And I am still unable to put my foot to the floor or even move it much without squeaking. This situation is currently causing me to be sulky and stroppy and behave in the manner of a three year old.

How is it possible that I can stumble and fall on Tuesday evening, and at Sunday lunchtime still be in a position where I am planning down to every miniscule detail how I am going to manage to wash my hair and be clean and presentable enough to leave the house for our church carol service this afternoon?

It is a very steep learning curve to acceptance when all your plans are turned upside down like this! Part of me still thinks I’ll be walking about by the middle of next week. That’s the same part of me that thought, on Tuesday evening, that I’d be back to work by the end of this week, and perfectly okay by today. Bah!

Maybe the fracture clinic tomorrow afternoon will give me some concrete information and help me come to terms with what the next few weeks will hold. I am not enjoying this feeling of being in limbo at all.

I keep thinking about the different aspects of Christmas that are going to be affected by this. The whole hiding-and-wrapping-and-stashing of presents. The filling of stockings on Christmas Eve. I fear that One is going to have to be my elf (and indeed she has offered) – but what about her presents? She may be a mature and sensible 15 and a half but she needs some surprises too! What about Christmas Day itself? We were planning to go round to Mum’s house (and take roast potatoes with us). If Mum comes here instead, lovely, but the prospect of cooking seems impossible in my current state! I’m hoping by then I’ll have a little bit more mobility. We’ll work it all out and it will be fine, I know, but I want this to be a true record of my grumbles and worries and fears.

This is my blog, so please allow me this moment of whinging. In a minute I’ll pick up my knitting and do another row of scarf. And find my sense of humour and perspective again.

Christmas is coming


Today has involved:
– Welcoming Two back from his dad’s house for the weekend (I normally meet him off the train but today he had to walk home by himself)
– Watching two films on Lovefilm with all three children: Nativity 2 Danger in the Manger (first time of watching, absolutely superb) and The Iron Giant (we used to have it on VHS video and have watched it numerous times but not for many years. Lovely revisit of an old favourite)
– Mobilising all three children, from my sofa, to tidy up the living room and put up the tree and decorations. See the above photo. They did a fab job.
– Sitting with tears of pride running down my face as I heard all three children washing up and drying up about three days’ worth of pots in the kitchen (yes the broken foot is making me more emotional than usual…)
– Finding out soon afterwards that they had moaned and bickered throughout and that Two’s back was now hurting from standing up for so long… (and yet I am unmoved. It’s about time they found out what I do for them on a daily basis *grin*)
– Eating tea which was ready meals warmed up by One in the oven. Yum!
– Being reminded via social media of the 2006 infant school performance of The Christmas Postmen (in which Two was one of the Postmen). Persuading the children to dig out the dvd and making them all sit through the whole thing. It was great and most amusing pointing out the tiny little cute children who are all great big hulking Year 9s now!
– Discovering that watching people break their leg on Casualty when you have a fractured foot is vicariously far more painful than usual!
– Knitting three more rows of my 350 stitch sock yarn scarf. Three rows of sock yarn weight makes no discernible difference to the scarf’s progress and takes all evening. I will persevere however because it’s going to be absolutely gorgeous when it’s done.

Foot hurts no less than it did yesterday and is turning an interesting shade of blue. We’re going to our church carol service tomorrow afternoon. I’m alternately really looking forward to it and absolutely dreading having to leave the house again on these bloody crutches!

Disconnected Christmas snippets

– My mum bought me a gorgeous pair of ultra soft fleecy pyjamas for Christmas. On opening them yesterday, I declared that a) I would wear them all day on Boxing Day, and b) As the top is white, I was almost certain to throw tea down them.

– Both of these predictions have come true.

– It feels both immensely strange and immensely freeing to be properly ‘on holiday’ from work (not really a holiday when your hours are term time only, but still), and for my free time to be entirely my own without the daily obligation of filling in the jobsearch booklet for the job centre.

– The children have spent Christmas with their dad this year as it is his turn. It’s the first time I haven’t seen them at all on Christmas Day. We had our family Christmas together on Friday before they left, with presents and Christmas dinner. It was lovely. Yesterday I spent with my mum, and that was lovely too. I’ve been making the most of the peace and aloneness, indulging my inner hermit happily.  I can’t pretend I haven’t missed the children immensely though. One returns home tomorrow; Two and Three on Saturday. Normal happy chaos will resume. 🙂

– My phone died on Saturday morning. I woke up and it was completely lifeless, inexplicably. A perusal of the internet showed me that I’m not alone – eek! It’s now gone off for repair but won’t be back till sometime in January.

– J (who came to stay for a pre Christmas visit) and I went over to Stoke to take the phone to the Samsung repair shop. While we waited for them to assess it, we decided on a whim to go and have our feet nibbled by fish in the shop next door! I didn’t know what I would make of it, but I loved it and would definitely go again. Very relaxing, even for someone as ticklish as me! We both found that our feet felt lovely and tingly for several hours afterwards.

– I lasted for one day without my phone before deciding to buy myself an Android tablet as a Christmas/New Job present! I’ve got a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and am very pleased with it. I’m the first to admit it’s a bit of an indulgence and was definitely a ‘want’ rather than a ‘need’… but I’m cutting myself a bit of slack on this one. 😉

– I haven’t watched much TV over Christmas, despite thinking it would be on constantly. I loved Call the Midwife, half watched Downton Abbey with Mum (despite having never seen it before!) and am going to watch Miranda now.


Full Thursday

Yesterday: steep learning curve at work and a different sort of a day. Felt challenged, a bit daunted, but glad to witness the most difficult part of the job first hand and observe experts at work. Christmas chaos at school and a change of staff all at once are very tricky for children with ASD. I feel very much for X and just hope that I can learn to do everything I can for him to help him cope with school life and move his learning on. And the staff at the school are amazing. Patient, tolerant and supportive. I’m a very lucky newbie indeed. 🙂

Last night was Taxi Service Wednesday again. Big drawings and glitter glue were on the menu at youth club. When I collected Three from the junior session, as we were getting out of the car at home and I was gathering up her pictures, I uttered words I have never uttered before and probably never will again: ‘Oops, I just put my finger in Rudolf’s eye’. (The purple glitter glue came off under the tap but probably still hasn’t set solid on the actual picture even 24 hours later!).

Also coming out of youth club with Three, we heard the Rotary Santa sleigh in the distance. We went on a Santa hunt and followed him slowly down the road for a few hundred yards – Three was too shy to get out of the car but we enjoyed watching!

As for today, I had the day off work – us new starters were allowed to be a bit flexible about our hours for the first couple of weeks, and I needed to get the car MOTed and watch Three in her school Christmas performance, among other things on a list as long as my arm!

The Christmas performance was fabulous; years 4, 5 and 6 did themselves proud and Three was amazing in her role as an African mum – she had been terrified before she went on stage but you’d never have guessed and she sounded clear, loud and confident. When I think back to last year when she was a narrator, and mumbled her short line at her feet, she was like a different child today. So proud of her!

After the play I nipped in to school itself to see the 2 teachers I’ve been volunteering with for the past two and a bit years. The year 5 class said goodbye to me and gave me three cheers, which almost made me cry – I’ve known these fabulous children since they were six and have watched them all grow up into the strapping 9 and 10 year olds they are now. I’m going to miss them so much! The year 2 class had gone home by the time I got to their classroom but I had a good chat with the teacher who is one of my favourite people in the world.

As for the MOT: it is never good news when the garage phone you and ask you if you are sitting down! The ABS system is broken and the parts are not cheap. It’s lucky I now have a job, plus a little bit in the savings account which will help. I can have the car back tomorrow afternoon but need to take it in again on Monday after work to be finished off and retested. In order to get to work tomorrow I’ve nipped to the hire centre up the road and hired a little car for 24 hours – slightly amusing being given the keys and then driving about 50 yards with it then stopping outside my house!

Intersperse the above with school runs, visits to the GP surgery to try to organise a prescription for One, phoning the surgery late afternoon to see if it’s sorted (answer: no; try again tomorrow), wrapping all the presents ready for our family ‘Christmas Day’ a week tomorrow, working through a long list remembering everything I needed to ask / tell my mum, doing a supermarket nip in the unfamiliar car, cooking and feeding everyone at teatime, being a diplomat… truly I am five times as tired tonight after a ‘day off’ as I have been after a day at work the past couple of days! I used to joke about ‘going to work for a rest’ – now I am discovering the full truth of that statement!

Joking apart, there is something very good about the 40 minute commute twice a day – having that enforced space between home and work, both time and distance, helps me to fully distinguish the difference between my home self and my professional self. I would find it more difficult to separate the two, I think, if I was working on the doorstep.

My eyes keep closing as I’m typing, and I need to wash up and make a packed lunch. Must move myself before I fall asleep here and wake up at 3am with a messy kitchen and a guilty conscience!

Verging on the ridiculous now…

Since gaining employment last Thursday, I have received two further offers of interviews from other schools I recently applied to, which I have of course turned down.

Today on leaving work I checked my voicemail to discover a message from a third school asking me to come for a ‘pre-interview chat’ this Thursday! I’ve been sending off variations of identical application forms and covering letters for months and months, so have no idea what has sparked this sudden surge of interest!

Really good day today. I spent more time with X (my child, whose name does not begin with X but I’m keeping everything as anonymous as possible as this is a public blog! Will not be saying where I’m working either) and did some 1:1 work with him which went quite well. I do feel I’ve been very lucky so far, behaviour wise, and have yet to deal with anything too extreme! At the end of the afternoon I spent some time covering for a colleague in the Reception class which was fab – I haven’t been in Foundation Stage for a long, long time and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I now have an induction timetable running up to Christmas and feel more organised and glad to know what should be happening each day! This morning we were given a whistle stop training tour of phonics and handwriting – I need to learn the cursive style as my volunteering school didn’t use that method!

Three did her first breakfast and after school stints at the Out of School club attached to her school. It was very odd dropping her off at 7.30 and not picking her up again till 5.30! Thankfully she had a fabulous time and can’t wait to go again tomorrow. 🙂

Two and Three are currently being let loose with the Christmas decorations. Two just came in to me and said ‘Mum, our plan is to seriously over-decorate the Christmas tree. So far it’s going quite well…’ Good job I have no illusions that Christmas and taste go hand in hand! 😉

I’m so much less tired today, even though I have actually had more child-contact than yesterday. I think a much better night’s sleep helped tremendously. By Friday though I am sure I will be utterly drained – and instead of a quiet weekend recovering, One and I are off to Manchester on Saturday to see the Saw Doctors! Hurrah!