Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Down But Not Out

Well howdy friends!

It's been such a long time since I've written I'm wondering if I'm even allowed to call myself a Blogger any more!  2018 seems to have launched itself at us relentlessly and is the unwanted gift that keeps on giving ๐Ÿ˜„  Still, thankfully we have that gift and many are denied it, so we keep on keeping on x

This year has seen a lot of changes for us.  Good & um...... interesting shall we say? ๐Ÿ˜Š

All is good on the health front, for me at least. Gone into this new year with a bang. Even have the iron count of a just-approaching-the-normal-range-for-a-functioning-human-being!  So that in itself is cause for celebration.

Things on the Home Ed front have not been so easy.  Due to time, circumstance, friendship issues and various friends returning to school it has been something of a 'lean' time these past 6 months.  I also stepped down from the groups I was running, which broke my heart a little, but I needed to devote my time & energy closer to home for the moment.  It was the right decision but we miss our groups terribly, especially our little Geography Club.

Meanwhile not much has risen to take it's place.  Several fantastic, amazing Home Edders I know are also suffering a bit with 'Organisation Fatigue' and are a bit 'peopled out' so the number and range of activities available in our area has dropped quite dramatically over the last 6-9 months.

This, and other factors, have led us to make the decision for DD to return to school.  She had always said she wanted to try Secondary but did not want to return to Primary.  However, in the absence of a lot of friends her own age (I know it's not the only important thing, but right now this is what she wants) she has been talking about this more and more this year so we decided to go and look at schools.  My goodness it is hard to find school places around here! There is absolutely no way she could return to our local school, it would not be appropriate at all, so any school we picked meant a drive which is a shame but a necessary evil for the time being.  Perhaps if we move..... but that's a whole other ball game!

So anyway, we found a school we both really, really liked - with a great Art & Sports programme - and they had just one place in her year! So she starts in 2 weeks! 

DS will remain Home Ed.  He has no desire to return to school.  It would not be the right thing for him and the prospect terrifies him still.  But what I do think will be good is having more 1-2-1 time with him, and I'm hopeful I can assist him in joining in a few more activities if it is just the two of us.

Meanwhile my GP has intervened (welcomely!) and said he agrees it is time to pursue more intervention, and more indepth diagnoses for DS.  Like me, he agrees Autism is not the whole story.  He undoubtedly has ADHD, probably elements of Dyspraxia, although it's possible his Hypermobility may actually be EDS and there's probably Dyslexia also in the mix.   Either way, at last some one is listening and ready to march back into the fray with us. 

So, besides this, life is continuing with it's relentless bills, flat tyres, repairs, home improvements, the rat, paperwork, admin, etc etc  I'd love to say we're getting there but it feels largely one step forward, four or five steps back.  Looking through soup or swimming through mud I'd say surmises this year for me so far.

But...... and this is the thing, the But!  But I am still here. I feel tired. I feel overwhelmed.  At times I feel lost & lonely and like all of this is a bit too big for me.  But that's adulting isn't it?  We all of us feel like frauds at times, 5 year olds dressed in our Grown Up clothes ๐Ÿ˜Š

So I am still smiling (just!) and By Golly I will not go quietly into that good night ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

I was reminded recently that I am not a giver-upper ๐Ÿ˜Š  Like us all, I have had my share of knocks.  A life time of being told I can't.  Ha ha, I am quite a shy sparrow in many ways but I am not one to be told I can't ๐Ÿ˜Š 

When I was a kiddie I was told I couldn't be in the choir because I couldn't sing.  In actual fact, the choir mistress hated my Mum.  A later piano teacher and a number of distinctions in the oral exams showed me I can sing.  I'm nothing special, but I can hold a tune.

Later on I was told I couldn't sing out front in the church choir, because I didn't 'look right'.  I was fat & I wasn't pretty.  The minister's wife told me this. 

So I sang on the stage at Alexandra Palace, to a packed venue.  Shy old me who hates even speaking in public!  Because no I'm not pretty and yes I was very fat but that's sooooooo not the point.  I am also brave.  Especially when it comes to injustice.  I will force myself to do something, if I believe in my heart it is right.

Later on again, I wanted to go back to college to do Beauty Therapy.  I was told no because I didn't look right for it.  I wouldn't get a job at the end of it because no one would want their treatments from someone looking like me apparently.  I signed up anyway, and paid the course fees myself.  They cancelled the course! I kid you not.

Last year I was offered a contract to promote a Make Up brand, personally.  I turned it down because it's not me.  But I was flattered to be asked and it made me smile how things go full circle.

There are many more things I was told I wouldn't or couldn't do.  Without exception I think I have done them all ๐Ÿ˜Š

I'm not quite sure where the fire came from that told me I can.  My Pa perhaps.  I watched the world try and beat that man down, over and over, but he always smiled, he always rose, he always forgave and he always loved. So while there are a lot of opportunities I haven't had, I've had that ❤ 

And he wasn't perfect, by any means.  None of the best people are ๐Ÿ˜‰  He battled his demons & I'm happy to say he won ๐Ÿ˜Š

So what I am reminded of today, and every day, is that I am broken but not beaten.  Down but not out ๐Ÿ˜‰

So keep going my friends.  Though it feels like an uphill battle, you're winning - just keep walking xxx

Friday, 12 January 2018

2018 The Story So Far

Well hey there gang!  A slightly belated Happy New Year to you all.

I fully intended to do the usual New Years Resolutions post, then that turned into a positive affirmations kind of a post, then my laptop temporarily comatosed itself!

I took the hint, and shelved those posts ๐Ÿ˜„

Meanwhile, 2018 waits for no man, woman or rebellious PC!

So here we are, almost 2 weeks in.  How's it going so far?

Personally speaking I'm sorry to say that thus far it has been an absolute shower of ......... I can't say rainbows.  I almost wanna say lemonade - sticky, sour & stings your eyes!

I had fun plans for New Year's Eve - a party at a friends house with a number of very good friends & their kids and neighbours.  Sadly, Life (grrrrrr!) had other plans and a post-op infection meant I ended up seeing the old year out (Ta-ra!) and the new year in, home alone.  Never before in all my years have I done that.  Even when I had a bottom wisdom tooth out one New Years Eve, when I was about 18, I went out to the pub anyway, numb face & drooling!! Lol x

But it was good I think for me to do that.  A time of reflection, the last of all the firsts. Done. Ticked off, survived.  Onwards & upwards........

But Life (grrrr again) seems to have had other plans.....

Since the start of 2018 there has been the usual January-ness.  Listless post-Christmas kids, tired, emotional meltdowns, too many things costing money, longing for sunshine, warmth & not feeling you have to fight through every day..

And then all the other stuff.  The pets have both needed expensive stuff, straight into the new year with over a hundred pounds just on essentials for them....  This on the same day my laptop decided to die an unceremonious death.  Return to carpark to find someone has gifted me the present of driving into my car & driving off. No CCTV, no witnesses...... Grrrrrrrr.

So, that was Monday.

The rest of the week hasn't fared much better.  Hugely difficult week for the kids - sensory-wise this grey oppressive weather is just awful for them.  We had some other unpleasantness to deal with, personally speaking, which led me to uncharacteristically burst into tears on an almost stranger at the kids horse riding lesson!  Not only was this rubbish, but I was shock & mortified at myself for doing it. But I'll be honest, it is hard to go against the grain and to stand your ground against an outpouring of judgement & hate that frankly you've done nothing to warrant.  And in that moment, one little last straw send me over and the tears just came. Thankfully, she could not have been kinder about it & I think we now have a new friend ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š  Infact we are going ice skating next week!

Then Thursday, and another act of kindness from a friend who reached out to us & arranged an inclusive activity for my daughter, who was also feeling very sad about the unpleasantness.  So we had a fun morning at a book group with lots of friends.  Feeling buoyed by this happy experience, I forgot for a moment that Life was still on my tail, but it reminded me by sending a crazy wood pigeon to fly unavoidably into the windscreen of my car as I was driving to my daughter's gymnastics session!  I am an animal lover & not a happy driver.  This was not a happy experience, particularly then to control the car, continue safely with 2 very upset children and a cracked windscreen on to our destination, complete the gym class, get us safely home.  Where I could make a nice cup of tea in the new kettle that I had to buy to replace the old one that exploded earlier this week.

And the TV still doesn't work, I need to change broadband providers because that cost me three figures last month due to ANOTHER provider issue! Oh and the tumble dryer is not working intermittently.  And there's a crack in the front step and the outside of the house needs painting.

Adulting is hard! Fact.

In the meantime, I have had to make about a million phone calls this week. Change solicitors because I simply refuse to wait any longer than the current 6 1/2 weeks for a man who charges 3 figures plus VAT an hour to return my calls & Emails! 
Oh and sort out a mountain of other paperwork & life things, you know how it is. And squeeze in Home Educating two autistic children at the same time.

And the personal icing on the cake for me was that I have gained 2lbs this week.  Despite having re-started my exercise regime.  And I feel bloated as a beach ball and just generally a bit rubbish!  I know I will have lost it again by next week, that's just the way my body is, but right now just ๐Ÿ˜ก

And now it is Friday.  Thank flippety gibbert it is!

And it's a Dad weekend this weekend.  So that means all the pets need to be done, beds changed & kids rooms tidied and them packed ready to go by tea time.  

So, all things considered it's been something of a mixed bag so far!

On the plus side, because there is always a plus side, always, there have been good friends & kindnesses peppered along the way too ๐Ÿ’—  Sometimes, I won't lie, it does seem that life is relentlessly determined to bring me to my knees.  I am relentlessly determined not to let it. 

Thankfully the universe sends me little reminders along the way that actually I can do this, it is on my side, there are people that do see me, we are not on our own. And I'm so grateful for this because, try as I might, I'm not actually that brave and I'm not actually that strong. I am just here, being me, and doing the best I can.

And right now 2018, what I could really do with is few days off for good behavior, a cuddle & maybe a cup of tea.......  Oh well, 1 out of 3 isn't bad I suppose ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thursday, 28 December 2017

A Year in Words & Pictures

So guys it's that time.......  I've had a few tags in the last couple of days asking what my New Year's Resolutions will be, and I've been thinking about it.

It's a tough one. 

But before I write about that, in another post I think, can I just say 2017 has been a crazy old year.  Let me re-cap.

I started out the year like this -

And that was the start of this -

So I went from this -

To this -

And from this -

To this -

And some of this happened -

And so learning this lesson happened -

And along the way there's been lots of -

And a little bit of this ๐Ÿ˜Š

Which has led to the year end looking something like this -

Thanks to all who've stuck with us and joined us on this journey xxx

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Mummy is scared..

So how's everyone's Christmas preparations coming along?  We're pleasantly ahead of the game this year.  Christmas cards written & posted, including abroad cards & any postable presents to far away relatives (only a couple). 

We put the tree up on 1st December - partly because we just wanted to, but also because we had friends and family coming last weekend for early Christmases so we thought it would be nice to be festive.

Christmas presents virtually all bought and wrapped, ready.  Only one outstanding I think.  And this includes DS's forth coming 9th birthday - eeeeek!  Only one more year after this & both my babies will be in double figures!  Yikes!  Where did that time go?

And it's been a helluva year one way & another.  In many ways I cannot wait to see the back of it. 

And now one final hurdle, before we can wave this year good bye.

Some of you will remember my 'On this day' post earlier this year, when I wrote about some particularly unpleasant emergency surgery I had 14 years ago, on the first anniversary of my Dad's death. It was a horribly difficult time, and I lost a lot, not only that day but in the 18 months or so afterwards that it took for me to make a full physical recovery (the emotional one is always going to be a work in progress I think).

And this year hasn't been the best for me, healthwise.  Now I'm facing surgery again.  On Saturday.  Which would've been my Dad's birthday. And I'm trying to write about it here. In the hopes it will make me feel less anxious, less afraid.  But I'm struggling to be honest, to find the words......

I think I am ready, as ready as I can be.  We are Christmas ready, the chores are all done, cupboards, freezer & bathroom all stocked up. Bag packed. Childcare sorted until Wednesday at least. 

So there's nothing else to say really.  Except that I'm scared......

I originally met with a consultant months ago, who said they wanted to do this surgery.  I said no, no and thrice no!  And then no, followed by a lot more no's.

This was a Friday. 

5am the following Monday I was hospitalized with the pain.  Because God thinks it is funny to give me lessons like this..

So I had a CT scan, bloods, was prepped for theatre, lines put in, nil by mouth (always fun with diabetes....) but tbh I wouldn't have kept anything down anyway. 

And I waited, for about 10 hours with my friend (another friend looking after my kids) and there was no theatre space, so I went home. I was meant to be called back but they lost my notes, so my GP had to re-refer and I had to wait at the bottom again.

Finally saw another consultant, who was lovely. He had the nicest letter from my GP, which was so nice he read it out to me!  Then he talked with me through all my no's.  Offered, promised to do the surgery himself. Offered me a weekend slot.  Arranged for me to be first on the list so no waiting on the day.  I couldn't have asked or hoped for more.

But still I am scared.  And I don't really know what else to say about that except that I am xx

Friday, 24 November 2017

Product Review - Letterbox Lab

Back in September (to my enormous shame) our friends at Letterbox Lab were kind enough to send us another box of their lovely experiments.

Fate & time have transpired against us but at last we have managed to get stuck in and have some super STEM fun.

We received their Investigate Box number 2 - Science up your Sleeve.

Packed with hands on experiments, with fast results, and everything you need included. Even the instructions this time were part of the fun, written on dissolvable paper!

Now one of the things we LOVE about Letterbox Lab - besides the fact the do everything for you, it fits through your Letterbox, the packaging is cool........ - is that the instruction book is clear, bright, engaging & manageable for the children to work through by themselves.  All I am needed for is a little supervision, which is great for their independence and holding their interest -

The kids had fun making their own magic wand - first levitating feathers with a balloon - then levitating Meg & Pico (tracing paper versions!) with their magic wand.

In total there are 8 experiments in the box. We enjoyed Writing with Light and Disappearing Water.  Pico in a Cage & Blooming Flower were also good fun.  But DD's favourite by far was Vanishing Flame -

The instructions re-cap every stage, explaining and reinforcing what you have just learned and asking questions to promote further investigation.

We loved that even when some of the experiments didn't go according to plan, there was still something to learn from the results. Which promotes resilience and inquisitiveness in children, and is great for their confidence as there is no feeling of failure, simply to look further into why you think the experiment didn't go as you expected, and whether or not that can be rectified.

It really is a great product, with everything you need to get stuck straight in, learning & having fun.

Find out more here -

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Support for 'Accepting Yourself'

I originally 'soft published' the post 'Accepting Yourself - You Are Good Enough' to under 100 Facebook followers, as I wanted to gauge people's reactions and also stall a bit lol while I decided whether or not I was ready to publish it.

I was overwhelmed by the support. 

Here are a handful of the messages and comments I received.  I have collated and published them here, because I hope they will help anyone else in any kind of similar situation, because we are all warriors. We are all ALL of these things xxxx

Hayley - Beautiful, you are one of the most sincere, holistic, kind, thoughtful and inspiring people I know and I totally admire you for everything you do! So many could learn so much from you, your life, your choices and you absolutely should be talking to the world. I don’t know how you get through every day but I do know that right now I just want to give you a big squeeze and say never change! those who judge are insecure in their own choices and really not worth the give so much to so many and I ❤️you!

Emma -  I honestly couldn't have worded it better. Beautifully written. We love you x

Terrie - You're one tough lady, you always pick up and move on. Give yourself some love. Hugs girly x

Angie -  I don’t know what surgery you had done but it was obviously very serious and clearly has left you traumatised to this day. All I know is when I look at you I see before me a beautiful soul with a huge heart. I know what it’s like to always be apologising - but you have nothing to apologise for. Just carry on doing what you do, which is being awesome. I’m blessed to have you as a friend xxx

Debbie -  Omg ๐Ÿ˜ฎ How unprofessional! Don't let anyone ever make you feel like that again , you're beautiful inside and out and I’m so, so proud of how far you have come, you should be patting yourself on the back for all you have achieved, I love you so much xxxx

Sue - When we go through very traumatic things, they can leave there mark. But it can also make you very strong and appreciate what you have.
Look ahead to your wonderful life, with its natural ups and downs.
Feel proud of who you are, and what you have accomplished.
Plus your two wonderful children, that you have brought up with a lot of love in their hearts. Which is plainly obvious to see, by the caring way they acted after your visit to the hospital.
People can say some really hurtful things, but no matter how hurtful it is leave the nasty words with them. Don’t take it on board, it may have made her feel better about herself, but you can close your mind to her words.
It’s her thoughts, it doesn’t have to be yours.
Love yourself and all that is you.
Thank you for sharing, your words can have a Big positive change to others that are going through something that’s very hard for them.
Love and best wishes beautiful lady, inside and out

Kim - You are kind, and brave, and beautiful. Don't ever forget that. Also, it's totally OK to feel sorry for oneself from time to time, and it really doesn't matter that other people have it "worse". You are entitled to feel however you feel, in any given moment, about your own situation. I'm proud of you for living your truth, and doing what you need to do to take care of yourself xx

Kara - Beautifully written it seems to me that this whilst painful is a beautiful growth of character and bringing clarity to yourself to know your self better, these are the tears of freedom. For the record you are amazing, your children will not grow and think anything other than you were an amazing mum, the mum who was always there for them no matter what. You have this amazing strength, broken though you are, to just stand and be there holding the gap for others. Keep doing what you do and never change you are brilliant you amaze and inspire me x

Julie -  Beautiful post, plenty of food for thought for myself there as well. I'm not a confident person, I apologise far to much, and I do my best to conform, to society's expectations. Your talent with words and expressing your thoughts, is amazing. Don't change for anyone, your perfect just as you are.

Susan -  Just wanted to say that I think you're amazing. I personally enjoy reading your Blog, your posts are always honest and refreshingly real.  I'm sure this will be helpful to others xx

Hannah - You're a strong and brave lady, don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Accepting Yourself - You're Good Enough

So today I am going to write a very personal post and then decide afterwards whether or not I am going to publish it!

Life is trundling on.  I'll admit September & October were not the easiest to get through. Change of routine, a birthday, transitions and bad weather left tempers high and spirits low and it was largely a case of simply getting through the days.  We seem to have ridden through that and are now looking forward to Christmas and all the fun stuff we have planned until then.

Home Ed wise we are more unstructured than ever!  Sometimes I worry that I am not 'doing enough'.  The devil on my shoulder is constantly whispering that DS should be doing more formal learning, and would DD achieve even more if I pushed her?  I already know the answers, I saw it with my own eyes when they were in school.  What we do is right for them.  They will, hopefully, not have to unpick a life of damaged self esteem, bad decisions and poor mental health because they were pushed into holes they didn't fit in.  I have to remind myself constantly that this, above all else, is our goal.  Anything else can be learned as we go, when needed.  Quality of life and their mental health is by far the most important thing to me.

But, as I have shared before, we are judged. Constantly.  On our choice of lifestyle.  Undoubtedly by those who are unhappy with theirs.  The ' What's she got to be so happy about?' crowd....

Well, do you know what, no more than you to be honest.  But I choose all the clichรฉs, to see the glass half full, to look at the stars.  Because I tried it the other way.  The comparisons, the judging and criticizing others, the discontent. The carrying everyone else and never even knowing or acknowledging my own needs.  All of it.  And it was miserable.  Dreadful.  And slowly but surely it was killing me - metaphorically and in a very actual real way.  My health suffered, I was always ill.  There is only so much negativity you can absorb, only so long you can stay in the shadows before it starts to take it's toll.

I've also shared before that I completely lost my sense of self.  It was a big part of why I added my name, my actual real life name, recently on Twitter.  Because although I am fiercely protective of my children & their privacy - we discuss everything I share & I hope we are careful always - it was important for me to step out of the shadows and own who I am.  Be a person again.  Not just Mama.  (Not that there is any such thing as 'just' Mama).

I shared this quote this morning -

And it resonated with me because I know I have been apologizing my whole entire life.  I am still apologizing.  For being too big, too tall, too ginger, too outspoken, too sarcastic, too socially awkward, too opinionated, too clever, too quick, too slow, too capable, too strong, too female, too successful, too emotional, too much.  Always trying to fit other people's molds and apologizing endlessly when I don't - even when my only 'failure' has been that my wings cracked their mold because they wanted to fly.....

This week I had a horrible experience that unceremoniously transported me to my darkest place.  The place I don't like to visit but I accept is there.  Sadly I do visit, more frequently than I would like but in my life I have been blessed with The Most Amazing friends that pull me back.  I have friends that have been with me my whole life long, others 30 years, 20, 10 and they keep on coming.  Beautiful, wonderful, special souls that see into your heart and laugh and cry with you and love you fiercely. And I cannot ever put in to words how very grateful I am to each and every one of them because I know I am unutterably blessed.

But, anyway, back to the sad bit... I had to pop to the hospital for an assessment this week.  I did not want to talk about this but unfortunately it is relevant to what follows. So yes I hate hospitals blah-de-blah and because of the infection control guidelines now, I had to be swabbed even though my last surgery was 14 years ago - and I've written about that horrifically traumatic debacle previously.  I wasn't expecting this.  But more so I was not expecting the nurse to gasp at my scarring, ask 'what is it?' and 'is that what we are 'fixing' when you come in?' .........  It's not.  That's just my life that I have to live with now.  But thanks SO much for asking!

She regained her composure, while I fought to regain mine, she was over-compensatingly nice to the kids (because yes, of course, my kids are always there....) and then I took them off the McDonalds as a treat for them while I stared at the ceiling willing myself not to cry into my coffee & DD asked me a thousand times if I was ok.  'Your face isn't ok Mummy' she kept saying 'I'm sorry I'm fussing you but your face isn't ok.'

So Mummy laughed a little and said things about feeling a bit tired this morning, and not particularly enjoying going to the hospital and how silly that was of Mummy because hospitals are good places....

And we went home, and I settled them in to their activities in other parts of the house, and retreated for a private cry.  Well, lets call it a sob, a real broken wave of sobs.  Because that nurse's reaction was everything I fear and everything I feel and everything I chastise myself about daily.  I know all the things to tell myself.  That it doesn't matter. That I lived. That it doesn't change who I am as a person.  That people all over the world have so very much worse to deal with and are brave and beautiful and strong. That there are people who would give anything, anything for my life in comparison with theirs.  And I know all these things are Truths.

And ok we could talk about her lack of professionalism in that moment and be all blamey but that's really not the point either.

And so I reached out and talked to a friend. Because I couldn't pick myself up. I wanted to lock my door and never leave the house again. And of course that is not reality.  I had the day to get on with, my kids be there for, so I couldn't let these feelings settle over me.  And I knew this friend would understand, and she did. She said all the right words, and more. Everything I would have said to someone else and so very much more.  And left me smiling, and sniffing, and ready as I would ever be to carry on my day.

But still it sat perched on my shoulder, will always sit on my shoulder. My proverbial parrot.

And so it occurred to me, when I shared that quote this morning that this is yet another thing I shouldn't feel I have to be apologizing for.  I am not Wrong.  I spend my life telling my kids they are Not Wrong, to embrace all their wondrous quirks and magnificence and throw love and kindness out into the world as if they were the only lights in the darkness.  And then there's Mummy, apologizing for what?  Surviving?  Not having a beautiful body?  Oh the irony!

So this is why I am blogging this morning about something that makes me feel I want to hide and die of shame. 
Because there should be no shame. 
14 years ago I had very traumatic emergency surgery that changed my life and saved my life.  Why am I sorry?
I think it's time now to let that go, or if not 'go' then at least let it out and hopefully be a little less afraid, a little more brave and be a bit more Emma Jane.

Thanks for reading x