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!


How the mighty have fallen (in which I am rescued by Batman, Robin and a Gingerbread Man)

There are probably all sorts of witty ways I could begin this post, but they all escape me this evening. The bare facts are as follows:

– On Tuesday evening I came home from work, cooked and ate tea with One then collected Three from her after school club as usual.
– We got out of the car at home.
– I walked round the car to the pavement, somehow stumbled and turned my ankle over and ended up sprawled inelegantly on the pavement right outside my house.
– After laughing and reassuring Three I was perfectly okay, I realised I couldn’t get up.
– I crawled into the house and was met by One and her crutches to help me get to the sofa.
– After panicking loudly on facebook, I followed my friends’ advice and called 111.
– They sent me an ambulance, with blue flashing lights and everything.
– The paramedics looked at my foot and said ‘it’s going to be a trip to Leighton, isn’t it?’ (local hospital)
– They took me for an ambulance ride, gave me ibuprofen on the way, booked me in and left me in a wheelchair in A&E to await my fate.
– After about an hour I was called through to Minors. Had to shout very loudly to ask the receptionist to wheel me round there as I couldn’t move!
– Foot prodded. I squeaked loudly at very localised pain. Sent for X ray. I was NOT brave and whinged a lot to the X ray people as they asked me to put my foot into positions it preferred not to adopt.
– I’ve broken my fifth metatarsal.
– I got double tubigrip, a pair of crutches, and an appointment at the fracture clinic 6 days’ from then.
– A very kind friend came to my rescue to give me a lift home (thank GOODNESS for facebook!).

Since then I’ve been existing on painkillers, self pity, chocolate, tea and an occasional dose of necessary sense of humour.

I’m learning to ask for help. A bit. Sometimes. As I am Ms Bloody-Stubborn-And-Fiercely-Independent it is a very humbling experience being completely and utterly helpless.

– I can put no weight on my foot at all, and daren’t try until the fracture clinic tell me what’s what on Monday afternoon.
– I crawl up the stairs at night on my good foot and my other knee, and slide down them on my bottom in the morning. Other than that, I don’t use the stairs at all.
– I have a survival bag with painkillers, kindle, phone-and-charger, hairbrush and anything else I need on a daily basis which sits next to me at all times and I get a child to carry up and down the stairs for me when I go.
– My knitting sits next to the sofa at my feet at all times though I haven’t been doing much of it yet as I still feel guilty for doing leisure activities when I’m supposed to be at work.
– One certain friend has been particularly wonderful; turning up on the first morning saying ‘I knew if I offered help on facebook you’d say no, so I’ve just come anyway’, bearing teabags and chocolate, and being an absolute mine of genius ideas and practical help.
– I’ve been bowled over by the kindness and willingness of so many other people too. My faith in the basic loveliness of humanity has been boosted tremendously.

I have absolutely no clue at the moment when I will be able to drive again or when I’ll be able to get back to work. I’ve gone from absolute mayhem hectic busyness which I was struggling to sustain without a nervous breakdown to barely being able to move or do anything at all. A very tiny part of me thinks this might have been the only way to get me to slow down enough to save my mental health from falling to pieces. The rest of me is just massively annoyed and stressed at the myriad logistical problems this has now created.

Winning the prize for farcical events so far is the trip to Tesco with my friend this afternoon, so I could do some grocery shopping. J pushed me in the wheelchair we recently purchased for One; we attached a trolley to it and trundled around the store crossing items off my list. Lots of easy-prepare food as cooking is impossible for me right now. We noticed that today must be Christmas dressing up day for the Tesco staff as we wheeled past a rather tall Oompa Loompa!

We heard a sireny sound as we shopped, idly chatted about whether it was the fire alarm, but as everyone else seemed to be ignoring it, we just carried on shopping. By the tortilla chips, we heard a tannoy announcement informing us all that it was indeed the fire alarm and we should all leave the store immediately.

We joined a stream of shoppers heading towards the entrance, escorted by various dressed up staff including Batman, Robin, and Superman. My wheelchair pushing was taken over by a Gingerbread man, who made sure our trolley was left safely and then said ‘we’re not allowed to use the lift in a fire alarm, but we’ll have to get you downstairs somehow…’

The end result was that I was wheeled backwards onto the travelator and held still on there until we got to the bottom, by a Gingerbread man! As the travelator began to slope I squeaked ‘I don’t LIKE this!’ but managed to become stoic again and get to the bottom without tears or trauma!

We all stood (sat, in my case) outside for about ten minutes, with no sign of any fire engines to add to the excitement. Once we were let back in, the Gingerbread Man appeared again out of nowhere and wheeled me expertly to the lift. I asked him if he worked in the bakery – apparently not! Shame…

I have no clear idea how this injury and the recovery time is going to pan out yet, only that my vain hope I might be back at work the next day was a ridiculous notion. I’m veering wildly between the depths of despair and resigned acceptance. Sometimes back and forth between the two several times an hour.

Watch this space. I may need to blog myself sane over the next few days/weeks!

Could this be the laziest blog post I’ve ever done?

Tricky week. Can’t think properly let alone compose a coherent blog post. So I thought I’d let a silly facebook app do the work for me – something called ‘What Would I Say’ which generates statuses based on a jumble of things you have posted to facebook in the past, so that it sounds like you. I had a bit of a play with it last night and here are my favourite things the ‘HelenBot’ came up with (the last one is my personal favourite!):

– Just after a crazy fortnight and I am a huge mug of tea

– is now working in my own cake tin and am in deep denial

– Thank you Jackie, but it’s a sudden burst of mugs of tea

– I really DID

– They are ridiculously cute. Hurrah for tomorrow’s camping trip this

– Thanks but I’m going to sleep

– I really can’t understand why they lick your mobile number

– has found the germs and packing plenty of my research study and the drugs helped keep the plus chips. Mississippi mud pie, You’ve got nothing, Mummy

– Could we have got any CLEAN trousers? I do

– Bother. Sudafed and paracetamol don’t remember it

– Jury is nearly at an end, or I will be messaging you a cold.

– Feeling really low about my holidays are STARVING when we arrived and the sheep themselves are quite a sensible chap…

– Lists, lists, lists, lists, lists, and chocolate

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!

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…

7. QI: The Noticeably Stouter Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson

[Paid For section of my Kindle]

This was the very first book I paid for for my Kindle, soon after I purchased the Kindle itself. It was on a very cheap offer on Amazon if I remember correctly.

The book is a compilation of a great number of very short chapters, the titles of which are a variety of questions which have been asked in the TV show QI (a great favourite of mine). The answers range from about 2-4 pages long, of ‘Quite Interesting’ information. Every few chapters there is a short excerpt quoted from when the same question was asked on the show.

It’s the sort of book you don’t read from cover to cover all in one sitting, but dip into every now and again, which might explain why it’s taken me 18 months to finish it! I found each individual chapter interesting, but taken as a whole it was a bit tedious without the banter we’re normally used to on the television. I’m not sorry I’ve finally moved it to my ‘Read’ folder. I do like the fact it has a hyper linked index at the back, meaning I can look up particular subjects if I want to in the future, without having to plough through the whole thing again!