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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Bye Bye 2014


So it's the last day of 2014. I sat last night scribbling a list of all the good things 2014 contained and was gratified to find it incredibly easy. 2014 contained more than a few amazing experiences.

Of course it wasn't long before I found something to feel guilty about. Default setting. Why didn't I blog about more of these things?

So on the last day of the old year I'm leaving behind all the guilt. I'm going to make sure 2015 is bigger, better and bloggier.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Acts of Wisdom

Way back in the pre t'interweb days all the cool kids read Smash Hits. Well all the cool kids in my incredibly rural and backward primary school containing only 38 pupils did.

Smash Hits contained posters to adorn my room with Bros, Jason Donovan and Madonna, song lyrics so that I could torture my family even when I was listening to my walkman and celebrity interviews asking a lot of pop stars about cheese.


In one Pulitzer worthy article I read all about the healthy teeth of Kylie and Jason. It left quite an impression. I made a solemn promise that like Kylie I would have such healthy teeth I would never need a filling. Cue a life long obsession with teeth brushing and a competitive streak that it appears is absent in all other walks of my life.

I was doing pretty well with my pledge until my wisdom teeth. Three of the pesky blighters needed to be pulled in my late teens and early twenties because there just wasn't room for them in my mouth and teeth growing in side ways is less than pleasant. But my top right one grew in straight and since there was room for it the dentist decided that he had tortured me enough, it could stay.

What I had neglected to tell him was my new tooth was so far back that I either gagged when trying to brush it or rammed the toothbrush into the side of my mouth giving myself mouth ulcers. Unfortunately, my dastardly plan was foiled when, within a couple of years of it's appearance it was decaying and needed a filling.

I was properly distraught, I had failed my 8 year old self. I got the filling and pretended that I didn't want to invent a time machine so that I could go back and never read the article and make a promise that was destined to be broken. 

So when last month at my check up the dentist said that there was more decay on the same already fillinged tooth and that they were going to need to redo it I was stoic, it still only counted as one failure right? It takes ages to get an appointment for my dentist so I had ages to sulk before I was due back. Sulk and plot.

What is the point of getting fillings on a tooth that I can't keep clean? Surely it would be better off just being pulled? It's not like anyone will ever see the gap. If they are going to have to give me the horrific anaesthetic jags I'd rather it was for something that was going to be permanent.

So I went yesterday and much to my dentists surprise and the dental nurses utter horror asked them to just pull the tooth. The dentist admitted that it made a fair bit of sense and was probably easier than a filling anyway. Needless to say that I didn't tell him all about Kylie and Jason interviews in Smash Hits, I wanted a tooth pulled not a stay in a psychiatric ward!

So today I can proudly say that I have no fillings at all in any of my teeth. Or I could if my face, mouth and head didn't hurt so much that I just want to curl in my duvet nest forever.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Slow days



I was so excited to be able to instagram a photo of me holding our baby girl's hand way back on the 19th of September. I was confident I'd be blogging about meeting her and settling her in within days, if not hours.

I certainly didn't think it would be weeks later. I had forgotten parenting small people makes time speed up to dizzying proportions. Before you can blink it's been 7 days since you've washed your hair. Thank you dry shampoo. Adult conversation on topics other than feeding or poo begin to take on a mythical quality. And downtime is for collapsing on the sofa knackered but in my case still grinning manically. 

The last four weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of meets and greets, laundry, long walks with a buggy and a sulking dog, laundry, early nights and early rises, more laundry and of course getting to know our newest girl.

Puff, for that is her nickname, is an absolute delight. She has possibly the chubbiest cheeks I have ever encountered, this is saying something given the set I see checking my reflection. She is alert and interested in anything and everything. A terrifying prospect now she is beginning to master directional rolling, the cats most of all view this with deep mistrust and have, for now, eschewed sleeping on anything below waist height.

Smudge is well and truly smitten. From day one of the introductions it was clear who Puff favoured and being able to identify herself as the favourite has done wonders for smudge's ability to bond, trust and welcome her wee sister. I am not in the least ashamed to say that the sight of my 2 girls giggling at each other has and still does reduce me to a sobbing, snotty mess.  It's bloody marvellous.



Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Purple - a love story


In case it isn't startlingly obvious, this is purple cat. I made him on a playgroup trip in 1984. I know that he isn't purple anymore, 30 years sitting in the sun will do that to a mog. But I still love him. I think I remember making him, daubing violet paint onto his tummy. But I never completely trust those early, vague, foggy memories.

What I am convinced of is that his colour was no accident. Purple has always been my favourite and it was only as I cycled down to the shops that I realised that I am less than subtle about declaring my love.

The reason cycling made me realise this is that the duchess, yep my bike has a name, is purple. She matches my hair. Which matches the DM boots that will be surgically attached to my feet until spring. The DM's match my purse. This was all quite amusing. Then I wrote about it. In a purple notebook using a pen filled with purple ink.

It gets worse. In preparation for no2's arrival we have chosen this buggy


and this car seat



If I wasn't so utterly delighted by all the lovely purple I'd be thinking of getting help. Instead I'm considering redecorating - what do you think?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Air Heads

Crafting with smudge can be hit or miss. Her attention needs to be grabbed. If an activity doesn't do this then I can expect a peaceful crafting session while smudge is off doing something else. When I saw the Air Head balloon animals I wondered if I should bother. They were on Achica for £5 and loving a bargain I was unable to resist. For once I am really pleased I have no will power in the face of perceived money saving.


With g working a back shift and smudge under the weather, Sunday afternoon was the ideal time to create. The kit contains everything you need, all the paper shapes are perforated so we didn't even need to find the interesting place smudge had hidden her scissors and the double sided sticky dots made sticking the appendages to the animals easy. By easy I of course mean that I didn't teach smudge any new swear words fighting with the sticky tape.

I was concerned why this had an 8+ age recommendation but would say this was pretty accurate as smudge needed a fair bit of assistance. Folding some of the paper noses, horns and ears was fiddly and not something she had the patience or dexterity for. Also I've yet to meet a child who can tie a balloon knot. That said I had smudge in fits of giggles fighting with an incredibly inflexible grey rhino balloon trying to tie a knot.

Doing this together was all part of the fun and meant we had a really good afternoon sat on the living room floor making up silly voices for the animals and trying to pick a favourite. The only downside to these is that I now I have a vase of balloon animals on my dining table. I'd much rather have flowers!



Thursday, 11 September 2014

Seeing Clearly

I'm proud of the way we have built and are extending our family through adoption. I am happy to stand up and shout about the massive difference adoption has made to someone who desperately needed and wanted a family. I'm talking about me. I was made whole by adopting.

While I remain happy talking about our family's less than conventional start, I am beginning to notice a change in smudge. With friends and family she is proud that we chose her. I've heard her shouting down another child with "my mummy and daddy chose me. Your mum had to take you." But with strangers and when she is less sure of herself she just wants to be the same as all the other 8 year old girls.



Going for an eye test really hit this home. Part of the form that the Optician was working through asked about family history. As I explained that we didn't know about her grandparent's, or even really her biological parents, ocular health as smudge is adopted I watched my confident girl shrink into the chair, her smile faltering.

Smudge wobbled her way through the eye test. No longer self assured enough to trust her instincts. Needing lots of reminding that she was doing brilliantly and that there are no right and wrong answers. My heart was fit to break. My words had done this.

What compounded the misery was my turn. G was on hand to take smudge off for sugar based compensation. Yes, she wanted specs and was not impressed with her near perfect vision. So I was on my own to have my eye test in peace.  At which point the Optician decided that my daughter's history was suitable small talk and even asked what her story is. This is what people say when they are really asking me to shock them with the horror of my daughter's early years.

The tragedy of reasons my daughter needed to be removed from her birth family and placed into the care system is not something I discuss with my nearest and oldest friends. I will not be sharing incredibly private and revealing aspects of smudge's story to satisfy anyone's nosiness.  

I left with a clean bill of eye health feeling wrung out. Filled with guilt that my need to be polite and answer all the questions left smudge hurting. Angry that people believe they have any right to smudge's story. Wondering how I align my feelings of pride that we are a family created by adoption with a genuine desire for normality, acceptance and not to be left feeling like a circus sideshow freak. 

I remain happy to shout about our experiences with adoption. I will not treat it like a dirty secret. This does not mean that I will share sensitive information with nosy strangers. I'm a Mum, my first instinct is to protect my child.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Growing Pains

Whilst I don't have any grand plans to embrace the Good Life and aim for self sufficiency, I do like eating the fruits of my labour. With this in mind I've been gradually incorporating more edibles into our garden. This year adding a herb garden and a couple of fruit bushes.

The herb garden, grown mainly from seed is a roaring success. I've made a mojito cake flavoured with homegrown mint. Smudge was incredibly impressed to be eating homemade pesto with basil she helped grow on the kitchen windowsill. I really must find recipes calling for massive quantities of parsley as it's about to take over the whole patch.


But the fruit isn't as big a success, abject failure might be a better description. My strawberries might not be too tasty given their still green colour.


The plum tree has been in for a couple of years now and has produced fruit. But I'm not getting excited about 1 plum buried so deep in the leaves that it too is failing to ripen. 

Our bargain from Aldi, blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes are looking lovely and healthy. Unfortunately, one naughty starling ate the entire crop. Given that the crop consisted of 3 blackcurrants I wasn't too cross.

The apple tree we picked up at Overton Farm's  apple fair last autumn didn't even bother to blossom so  no fruit from it either. Again it has grown and is looking healthy enough.


I'm planning on working lots of pot ash through the soil to see if this makes any difference. While I'm doing that I'm going to be offering thanks that we live in a time where I can just nip to the shops. It appears that the alternative for me would be starvation, or at least scurvy!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Leibster Award

I've been nominated for a Liebster Award by the fantabulous Nomad Seeks Home.


Now before you all get carried away, like I did, thinking of glittering award ceremonies, cocktail dresses and gushing speeches this is more of a chain letter linking to lots of other blogs. But it involves listing and nosiness so I am in!

The deal is:
  • post 11 facts about you.
  • Answer the 11 questions set my your nominator.
  • Nominate and link to 11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers. Like Nomad Seeks Home I've gone by Bloglovin followers. 
  • Set 11 questions for your nominees.
  • And an important one for me - remember to let your nominees know you've tagged them
11 facts about moi
  1. Caffeine is my friend. And also the reason that I am able to function at all before 11am.
  2. I am a complete night owl and hate getting up every single morning. Ideally I would sleep until noon and not go to bed until 5am. Unfortunately, the school run clashes with this way of life.
  3. I can't spell for tofie toffy toffee and still have to repeat b, bat then ball or d, drum then stick if I'm tired.
  4. Despite my crappy spelling and dyslexic tendencies I'm a passionate hand-writer. All my blog posts are drafted in a notebook. I can't think properly at a computer screen and am far too easily distracted by twitter and pintrest
  5. I am the proud owner of a scary long term memory. I have crystal clear memories right back to getting a scooter for my 3rd birthday. Short term is not so reliable and names never stick.
  6. Still searching for spirituality. I've explored Christianity, Paganism and Buddhism. Still looking.
  7. I have tried (several times) to have serious apocalypse planning discussions with g. His refusal to contribute means he's is an integral part of my plan - zombie bait!
  8.  Despite making tonnes of them I hate cup cakes. I have an alternative name that I probably shouldn't tell you here, but it starts with the same first 2 letters!
  9. Oh I swear like a sailor. Most of the time I reign it in for the sake of children and my mum. But when I get excited, cross, nervous, etc the air goes a bit blue.
  10. I am a champion level procrastinator.
  11. I hate coconut. I can tolerate coconut milk, but desiccated coconut is, as far as I'm concerned, the devil's dandruff. The smell of coconut, especially hair products makes me nauseous. 
Nomad Seeks Home's questions answered
  1. What's number 1 on your bucket list?
    I don't really have a bucket list as such but I really want to do Christmas in New York. Elf style.
  2. Why did you start blogging?
    I've always written. Blogging is about pushing me out of my comfort zone and seeing if anyone can make sense of my ramblings.
  3. What's the most beautiful location you've ever found yourself in?
    Last year we holidayed on the Isles of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebridies. It was spectacular, see below...
  4. Who dropped the screw in the tuna? If you can't answer this then your not around my age, ha ha.
    Google to the rescue. Kenan and Kel. I am obviously an auld bird, because I still have no idea what this is all about.
  5. What is your perfect snack?
    Maltesers
  6. Sweet or savoury?
    Sweet. I keep trying to quit sugar and falling of the wagon into a packet of maltesers.
  7. What is your dream job?
    Published writer.
  8. Celebrity crush?
    They haven't changed in nearly 20 years! Johnny Depp and Ewan McGregor.
  9. Vintage or new clothes?
    I love the idea of vintage but never find anything fabulous. I compromise with new vintage Lindy Bop or Tiger Milly are current favourites.
  10. What is your favourite book?
    Witch Light by Susan Fletcher
  11. Have you been to any blogger events?
    Nope, am a newbie and finding my feet first.

My nominees are

Bead it and Weep
Cupcake Mumma
Duck in a Dress
Flat Out Glasgow
Foodie Historian
Glasgow Dragonfly
Glasgow Mummy
Hungry Squirrels
Olive Dragonfly
Plastic Rosaries
Smart Creative

My 11 questions are

  1. What was your proudest moment?
  2. When was the last time you cried and why?
  3. What are you currently raving about?
  4. What is your favourite/spirit animal?
  5. What's your guiltiest pleasure?
  6. What would make it as your weirdest superstition or ritual?
  7. Excluding people or pets what would you rescue if your house was on fire?
  8. If you don't recognise the number how you answer the phone? Do you have a posh phone voice?
  9. What was your last google search for?
  10. Where do you write?
  11. Lets get materialistic, what have you spent a fortune on and never regretted even one shiny penny of it?

Monday, 25 August 2014

Mine's a latte

I am an incredibly open person - I know I bet you'd never have guessed! I don't really keep much hidden. I am comfortable talking to anyone about really personal and delicate subjects. 

So it strikes me as very weird the relationship I have with alcohol.  I don't really drink anymore but I avoid telling people this. To join in with conversations I will even create the impression that I like a glass of wine or 6. I make convoluted excuses about having the car or needing to be up early for smudge the next morning. Even some of my nearest and dearest don't know that nowadays I am practically tee total.  

I used to love a few wines with the girls, a g&t before Sunday dinner, a few vodkas before making an eejit of myself on the dance floor or if the sun was shining well that's Kopparberg elderflower and lime time. Then the depression hit and one of the quirks was that even one glass of alcohol made me violently ill. I was struggling with near crippling social anxiety and it would have been easy to use alcohol as a crutch. Did my body protect me by employing projectile vomiting as an anti-drinking measure? 

I can't really explain why I'm not drinking anymore. It doesn't make me ill to have a few drinks. I just don't want to. I just wish I knew why it was so difficult for me to be honest. I'd rather have a coffee.



Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Dragon Loves Penguin

Jocelyn over at the Reading Residence reviewed Dragon Loves Penguin a wee while back and I liked what I read enough to pick up a copy when I was in my favourite book shop.  

We are already Debi Gliori fans. No Matter What has been a post meltdown favourite for a long time. Read so often I now know it off by heart. We've also been reading Witch Baby and Me together, which is turning out to be a spectacularly bad choice in the run up to smudge becoming a big sister. She is going to be so upset when her little sister can't transform her into a slug or levitate the fridge.

So I was looking forward to a beautifully illustrated wee story about a dragon and a penguin. I got rather more than I expected.

Unfortunately, so did smudge. Despite her protestations that she is far to big for 'that' kind of story, she was snuggled in beside me as I was unable to read due to crying all the tears at the poor dragon with no egg.



I was/am the dragon and oh the sobs when I learnt that smudge is my penguin.

This book perfectly summed up infertility, my becoming a parent and parenting a child with additional needs. It does it gently, kindly and with the most gorgeous illustrations.

It lead to a great discussion. 'Why didn't dragon have an egg?' 'Like your broken tummy?'. 'Where  has the penguin that laid the egg gone? ' 'Do you think my birth mum got eaten by an Orca?' 

Smudge knows all these things but it can't be a bad thing to keep the lines of communication open and this marvellous book provides an easy way in. 

It's already a firm favourite in this house and I have a sneaking suspicion it will remain so for quite some time. It turns out even terribly grown up penguins like a wee snuggle with a dragon for a story.



Sunday, 10 August 2014

Buy all the things - NOW

I have gone into meltdown. G unfortunately knows the warning signs and has already hidden not only the plastic cards but also all statements - yeah you can totally get the card numbers off them for internet shopping. If you have the foresight to memorise a couple of end dates and pesky security codes.

The reason for the meltdown and manic need to buy all the things is that Social Work have come through. Yep after months of, not so patient, waiting our Social Worker phoned us on Wednesday with the news that they have found us number 2.

On Thursday morning we met with our social worker and the child's social worker to talk through the next stages and I can't see me getting many 'I hate waiting' moaning blog posts written in the meantime. 

Our second child is a wee girl who has just turned 4 months old and it looks like she might be home by October. Or sooner - hence the meltdown!

At the moment I am fixated on the big items: buggies, car seats, cots and highchairs. Mainly because I want to get these out the way so that I can start planning her wardrobe. Although it has to be said that I am already aware that this is a minefield.  Smudge has very firm views on what her little sister will and will not be wearing - although I'm not exactly going to complain too loudly when this is what smudge is obsessing over.


Monday, 4 August 2014

A boring business envelope

I love receiving mail. Today the postman brought something even better than a stickered and washi taped envelope from a #postcircle friend. Today's envelope was a white windowed DL. This boring business envelope was from the doctor.

It was about the mole that had changed. The one they prodded, photographed and pulled out with a piece of equipment they describe as an apple corer. The mole that was was waking me up in the middle of the night to spend dark and lonely hours trying to convince myself that everything was going to be alright.

Well it turns out that yes the mole was misbehaving but not in a cancerous way. 

The hole in my leg is as far as this adventure goes.

I can go to sleep tonight without a 3am panic. Well actually I'll probably find something else to have a 3am panic about but at least it won't be cancer.




Friday, 18 July 2014

Morris Dancing with a Tea Towel

I've spoken before about my motivational woes. The Guilt that I seem to be achieving nothing and doing even less. Never is this worse than during the summer holidays. 

Smudge is an early riser and as she gets older and less likely to burn down the house making toast, has been really enjoying getting the downstairs to herself of a morning. Who am I to grumble about a child who wants me to stay in bed?

So staying in bed I have been. I'm usually awake and reading, one ear cocked for the first bleep of the smoke alarm. But I'm not putting my feet on the floor until after 9 most mornings. By the time that I've showered, dressed, tidied the crumb explosions, made and drunk coffee, bullied smudge into proper clothes 'yes we have to wear knickers every day in the summer holidays too' and walked the dog it's lunchtime.


I'm spending my days glancing at the clock marvelling that it can't be that time already. I'm constantly playing catch up. Something will always drop off the end of the never-ending to do list and normally it's my writing.

Tonight I'm going to be brave and set the alarm for 6 and smudge will just have to make toast for 2 tomorrow morning. At least I'll be closer to the smoke alarm for my morris dancing with the tea towel duties.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Pause



Life feels like someone has hit the pause button. As a family we're biding our time as we wait for Social Work to find us a second child. A sibling for smudge. Much wanted by us but desperately wished for by her.

But wait is all we can do.

The bedroom is as ready as we can make it, without knowing their age.

Smudge has been included and kept informed throughout the process. More time has been spent reigning her in and managing her expectations than seeking her involvement. There was never any need for us to find out if this was what she wanted. This is the child who wrote to Santa asking for a baby sister!

I left work when we adopted smudge. She still needs the reassurance of it being me who drops her off and picks her up from school. So there is no worry about me having to give months of notice to my employer.

So why are we still waiting 7 months after the panel approved us as adoptive parents?

What is taking Social Work so long?

How much longer?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Lucky 13

Yesterday was my 13th wedding anniversary.  Oops, our 13th wedding anniversary. Definitely one of those must remember g things. 

It all only seems like last week. Not just the wedding, the whole marriage. How can it be 13 years? But look, we haven't changed a bit. Well if the lighting is really complimentary and you ignore the fact that my hair has miraculously turned blonde.


The best bit about celebrating our anniversaries is looking back and trying to decipher why we work. We have nothing in common. No seriously nothing! 

G is sporty and active,  it's clear I'm part sloth. I'm a bookworm, g very rarely reads. He is an incredibly fussy eater, I'm a foodie. I'm a night owl, g's a morning person. He's a saver, I'm a scatter cash. I could continue.

It doesn't matter. We might never agree on a mutually acceptable breakfast or bedtime but we work. He is the yang to my yin and I'm looking forward to continuing the search for something we have in common. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Guilt

I've been reading up a storm the last couple of days and am just a little proud of my progress. As I headed through to the kitchen to tidy up before bed I was for once not beating myself up. G is on backshift and instead of my usual brain dead evening in front of mindless TV I read a book. And not just any book. A classic. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Even typing Steinbeck makes me feel good. Admittedly, it isn't a very long book but nonetheless an improvement on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


In the kitchen I was pottering; washing the dishes, listening to Today in Parliament, treating devil puss to milk and trying to decide what to read next. By the time I switched off the light I was no longer proud of myself. The Guilt had returned. As a self confessed procrastinator I am familiar with that small nagging voice asking me when exactly I plan to get started with whatever I'm putting off. The Guilt is not that friendly voice.

The Guilt is mean. Harsh, cutting and horribly astute. Tonight Guilt started when looking at the mess of the kitchen windowsill. The problem with the Guilt is that it doesn't stop with a gentle reminder to clear off, wipe down and tidy up my greenhouse/gallery/dumping ground of a kitchen windowsill. No the Guilt continues to remind me that I didn't hang the washing out or hoover or mop or do any of the other mundane but essential jobs that I had mentally listed for today.

But still the Guilt keeps on at me. If I haven't been bothering to tidy or clean the house I should have at least been doing something productive. A glance at the kitchen calendar notifies the Guilt that my plans to menu plan and online shop have also come to naught - thanks Steinbeck!

I try to defend myself. I was reading, it's really important to read if I want my writing to sing. Stephen King told me. The Guilt laughs. "Write? When did you last pick up a pen?"


Well you know what Guilt you're right. I am a lousy housewife and proud that my life is too interesting to care about a pristine show-home. But I care about writing. I delayed my plans for bed and wrote. Now I'm off to make a to do list for tomorrow.

I'm fed up having to listen to your nagging so it looks like I might have to get organised, a little more productive and make you shut the hell up. 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Green thumbs

I'm a fair weather gardener. g will bemoan the fact that I don't really weed. Digging, hoeing and mowing just aren't my bag. I feel guilty when pruning. 

What I like is planting. Especially seeing tender fresh green shoots poking out of compost. My kitchen window is perfect for a few reasons: Sunny, warm and most importantly I remember to water things when I'm elbow deep in dish water staring at dry soil.

I mentioned on Monday's post that I've just planted out my chives, thyme and parsley. So all that's left on my window sill are 2 trays of dill, coriander, basil and rosemary, my massive mango plant, 2 nectarine stones and an avocado. Oh yeah, what I like best is growing things that I have enjoyed eating.

My favourite is when everybody tells me it won't work. Meet the cherry stones that will never grow...



3 weeks ago I was over the moon that my mango stone had sprouted. Now I'm wondering where the hell I'm going to keep it if it keeps growing at this rate.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Published

Hemihelp are a charity supporting young people and their families with a hemiplegia.  Smudge was diagnosed with hemiplegic cerebral palsy when she was 2.  Her case is mild. We don't for a second take for granted that she is so very lucky compared to many of the children who share this diagnosis. However, smudge does have a body that doesn't always do what she wants it to. What her friends can do. She fights to keep up and because she's 8 we all bear the brunt of this fight.

Hemihelp asked if I would like to write an article on coping with stress. It took me an age. Possibly because I never feel that I actually manage to cope with stress. Most days I feel like I'm riding a wave. Some days I'm on a surf board channeling Point Break. Then others I'm caught in a rip tide struggling to stand up and snorting sea water out of both nostrils. 

Despite this I managed to write and they published:-



Looking after yourself

Finding time for oneself in the stress and challenges of daily life is not always easy. After taking a moment to think about her own needs, Sarah Macpherson feels better prepared to deal with her daughter's sometimes challenging behaviour.

With all the physical issues hemiplegia raises I sometimes forget that it is caused by brain injury and as such can have an impact on behaviour. My daughter's physical issues are relatively mild but her temper is not. It is hard to admit that my funny, kind, lovely wee girl flips and behaves horribly.

She tends to keep her most spectacularly impressive displays for just her dad and me. She can hold it together to function at school, has wonderful relationships with her doting grandparents and is a credit to us when we take her out and about. However, at home, where she feels able to let go, things can get a little stressful. 

We have found that getting her to drink through a straw when she is mid meltdown has a magic effect, instantly calming her. Although we can't have her wandering around with a straw permanently stuck between her lips.

Her reactions to seemingly innocent requests or instructions and resulting behaviours are part of her condition. Like with her affected hand and foot, there isn't going to be a magic pill to make it better. So I need to deal with it. I need to not react to her demands for a fight, to refuse to let the rudeness or cheekiness get to me and to keep reminding her that she is loved no matter what her hemiplegia throws at her and us.

I keep a mental score card in my head. When I keep my calm and don't rise to the bait I win, when she elicits a reaction my daughter wins. I still lose too many points, but I win overall and this helps me feel a little better when she gains a point.

To keep doing this I need to be on top form, I need to be strong. I need to find ways of managing the stress and to always remember that sometimes in order to best look after my child I need to take the time to look after myself and enable my husband to do the same.

I'm not pretending that this is easy, in fact it seems to get harder the more challenging her behaviour is. When she is particularly adrift I struggle to muster the energy for anything other than slobbing on the sofa watching mindless TV. But when I look after myself it helps, I feel more capable, energised and more determined not to let her win even a single point.

I have tried to find the answers at the bottom of a packet of Maltesers but unfortunately I know that eating healthily has a positive impact and that if I want to have the energy to remain calm I need to fuel myself properly. Happily, I've worked out that if I'm pinny clad in the kitchen I get peace. Even my incredibly stubborn 8-year-old can't argue with the logic of me being busy when I'm stirring a risotto, she's permanently hungry so letting me cook might be accused of selfishness.

Then there's the sleep issue. My first reaction to stress is to completely lose the ability to fall asleep, which then turns me into a wreck running the gauntlet of my emotions. I try to make time to go to a weekly yoga class and have been dipping my toe in the water with mindfulness, a type of meditation using the Mindspace app on my phone. It takes only 10 minutes and that quiet time makes my head a calmer and sleepier place at bedtime.

My husband and I both take the time to focus on our hobbies. I work in some time to read and to write; it might not sound like much but I need that brain activity to keep me sane in a world of packed lunches, lost socks and menu planning. It's hard to have the discipline and the self-control to walk away from the chaos of family life; but what a difference it makes.

For my husband it means taking his beloved bike out for a 50 odd mile cycle. When he works shifts, and isn't always about at weekends, it can be hard to remember that he needs this as much as we need him. When he arrives home sweaty and disgusting, with a massive smile on his face, all reservations about him losing quality family time are lost.

Quailty family times means that both parents need to be in a place where they can appreciate it, and for us this means remembering that occasionally we have to put our own needs first.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Weekend Perfection

I'm starting this week basking in the glow of a weekend well lived. What with getting g back for a weekend, sunshine, a solstice and the impending summer holidays. Life is pretty damn good.

Saturday was a lazy day. I spent the day pottering; reading, planting and cooking. My herb garden is in and looking so lovely.


This spot under the kitchen window is perfect for a wee herb garden. It's sunny, sheltered and now that it's been dug out and filled with compost and bark the perfect place for tasty herbs. I've been growing herbs from seed on the kitchen windowsill. So the chives and thyme are pathetically weedy.


Previous experience has taught me that they won't stay like this for long. With this in mind, I've done the sneaky with the mint. I've left it in the pot and planted it like this. I'm hoping that this contains the roots so that it doesn't completely take over. My first herb garden ended up a mint patch and this bad boy will be closely monitored.

Sunday morning was beautiful and sunny. I got to admire Saturday's efforts while drinking coffee in the garden for breakfast. I love that sat on my patio no-one can see me. I can drink coffee in the garden in my jammies. Well I can on the 4/5 days a year that I wouldn't drown or catch hypothermia.

After a long and leisurely breakfast it was time to beautify and titivate for the Cushion and Cake Tea Dance.



An excuse to put on a posh frock is always appreciated.

The tea dance was lovely. Afternoon tea and dancing with my favourite girl. What more could I ask for? I managed to be very well behaved and didn't just stand in the middle of the dance floor spinning and swishing my petticoats. Tempting as it was. I do love to twirl...



Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Malteser justification

Missing - one mojo. If found please return to the human sloth slumped in 'her' armchair, binge watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and probably snacking.


I was doing so well with cutting out sugar. I was loving writing lots and blogging away. I'd even been reading up a storm, powering through the books.

Then I stopped. 

I didn't get distracted and move on to something new. I've just entered a semi-comatose state.

I blame g. He's buggered off on holiday without me. He's actually on an intensive training course down near that London. But let's face it anywhere with food you don't have to cook yourself and no children is a holiday camp.

Me, bitter? I have no idea what you are talking about.

So while he is having a lovely time sending me what's apps of white deer in the grounds of the spectacular estate he is slumming it in. I am keeping the home fires burning. Keeping our child alive, dog walking, house stuff and the vain attempt to stop devil puss decimating the local sparrow population. Sometimes all at once.

This morning I went into the kitchen to get smudge breakfast. It ended in multi-tasking. 

I prepared a nutritionally balanced breakfast for my child - yep opened the box of frosties poured into a bowl and added milk, whilst educating her on avian biology using the sparrow remains on the door mat as a learning aid. I disinfected the floor, made a packed lunch, set the washing machine to wash the door mat - again! And combined washing the other bits of dead sparrow off the dog, who rolls in the bodies, with giving the garden a water. 

I didn't get any breakfast. I made myself a smoothie to drink on the way to work but forgot to take it with me and it spent the day making a lovely dark ring mark on my TV unit.

Is it any wonder I'm not feeling particularly energised or invigorated? These maltesers aren't a snack they're medication. I'd still be sugar free if I could buy valium in Asda!


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Love

The Reading Residence

This weekend my sister had her first baby. A beautiful, healthy wee boy. She was over the moon to be pregnant and Alexander has been loved since he was a line on a pregnancy test stick. Shona will never be able to tell you the moment she fell in love with her son. Her love grew, as he did, in her.

Adoption is different.

When we were readying ourselves for parenthood I read everything I could get my hands on. From dry, technical essays on attachment disorder to tear jerky adoption stories on the user boards of Adoption UK. One thing I read over and over again was that it takes time to fall in love. Not to expect to feel a bond immediately. It could take weeks or even months and that this was ok.

We met smudge for the first time at her foster home. Social Work had scheduled a week of introductions for us to get to know each other before she came to live with us. The first day we were to spend a couple of hours with her. When I walked into that poorly lit, stuffy living room I was prepared to not feel very much.

I was completely unprepared for the way I instantly felt for the cheeky faced, tatty haired wee monkey. She was sat on the floor and turned to grin at us as we walked through the door. With that grin I was lost.

We only had a couple of hours with her that day. I got into the car and sobbed. Already she was my daughter. Why was I leaving my daughter?

I've loved her a little bit more every day since then. She is rude, cheeky, stubborn and stroppy. But love is blind so I only see my funny, cuddly, kind, warm, compassionate and beautiful daughter. My favourite, just don't tell her Daddy!


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Review - Clan of the Cave Bear

Clan of the Cave Bear is the first of the Earth's Children series of books.  They've been on my to read list for ages, but then which book isn't?  I liked the idea of pre-historic fiction and had heard that Jean M Auel brings our very early ancestors to life. 



So why was this such a difficult book to review? 

I enjoyed it. I liked the story. Ayla is orphaned by an earthquake at 5 and found close to death by a neanderthal medicine woman and adopted. The book follows her childhood with the neanderthal clan of the cave bear struggling to adapt and survive as an outsider. Ayla is Cro-Magnon so looks, thinks and behaves very differently from her family.

In the pursuit of 'what happens next' I can forgive most things. But that is not to say that they don't bother me. My main irk was the overly long and frequent descriptions of plants. Sometimes gathered for food, sometimes for medicinal purposes. I couldn't help but feel that this was Auel's need to show just how much research had been done. I am now quite confident that should I ever fall into a wormhole and end up in the Ice Age I at least won't go hungry.

I am in no position to judge how accurately she has portrayed day to day neanderthal life. I'm a little ashamed to admit that the sum of my knowledge may have been gleaned from the Friends episode where Ross and Rachel 'sleep over' at the museum.


But I was often left wondering how such complicated 'conversations' could be taking place without words only using hand gestures. But if you can suspend belief for a wee while and enjoy the ride it is good fun. 

I took it back to the library feeling glad that I had read this one but with no great desire to read any more in the series. And then left the library with The Valley of the Horses the 2nd book in the Earth's Children series because my need to know what happens next is just too damn strong!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Singing in the rain

I live in the West of Scotland. There are loads of benefits including friendly people, Glasgow shopping eating and outing, house prices that negate the selling soul to the devil deal. But one of my love to hate things about living here has to be the rain.


This morning at school run time it was biblical. If frogs had started bouncing off my umbrella I wouldn't have even raised an eyebrow. But I was cheery enough. Despite the logistical issues of carrying an umbrella, holding a dogs lead attached to the pulliest most disobedient dog ever and dragging a very dozy 8 year old to school without her walking through every puddle en route.

Cheery enough to merit the catty comment of one of the other school run Mums - there is no creature more evil to her contemporaries than a yummy mummy. Her ire appeared to have been provoked by my not entering a depressive state when seeing it was raining. As I squelched up the field with the dog it got me to thinking that I like rainy days. 

Despite smudge's firm belief, I am not the Wicked Witch of the West. I won't melt on contact with water. But just incase my daughter knows something I don't I do take some precautions.

Good wellies are absolute must. Especially if you intend to take full advantage of those puddles, I know I can't resist a splash. As I have the calves of an East German shot-put champion I am a big fan of the Hunter shorts. I got mine mega cheap in TK Maxx but would happily pay full price for them. They are comfy, strong and unless you decide to wade across a stream which is deeper than it looks very watertight.


I get bored carrying umbrellas but have yet to find a properly waterproof coat that I don't detest on sight. So in order to alleviate the boredom of carrying it there has to be an added benefit to my umbrella. This morning it was bright orange to counter the grey skies. I'd really like a rainbow one but until I can grow out of leaving them on buses, trains and in cafes I'm going to stick with my free ikea one!


But THE most important thing to remember to keep happy in the rain is to leave your eyeliner flicks and mascara for a drier day. Lets face it when your umbrella blows inside out and the stupid dog is feigning deafness again do you really want to look like this?


Friday, 30 May 2014

Talents - What makes me awesome?

I'm pretty sure that I'm not unusual in that when faced with this prompt from #BEDM I baulked and immediately started thinking of all the things I consider myself to be utterly crap at. This list includes:-

  • deadlines
  • knitting
  • victory rolls
  • exercise
  • resisting the urge to eat all the maltesers
  • graciously accepting compliments
But then I thought sod it. It's ok to shout about your talents. I will always shout a little bit louder about my failures than my successes, its just the way I am. But I'm not going to pretend I'm not proud of my baking. I make no apologies for the fact that my carrot cake stands head and shoulders above any other carrot cake I have eaten. Trust me this is extensively tested.


My milkshake might not be anything to write home about but my cupcakes well, they will bring all the boys to the yard. Girls are welcome too. 


So ignore the above list. No-one cares if I'm running late with my hair looking like a bird has nested in it. I'm brining cake with me and am well worth waiting for. Well my cake is.



Thursday, 29 May 2014

Wish list

I'm a list maker. I use wunderlist on my tech, but my favourite is obviously a pen and papery list. Bulleted with little stars, beautifully handwritten and space for a big tick when the task is complete. Making me far happier than it really should.


I list everything. From things that area already overdue to books I want to read. Last night in the midst of a healthy eating wobble rather than heading to the kitchen to binge on smudge's left over easter eggs I wrote a list. A muckle long list of all the food I wanted.

It was actually a really useful exercise. It was fun admitting I wanted maltesers, chip butties and jammy donuts. Especially without the guilt of actually eating them.

I use lists to calm me. During Tuesday's pity party listing featured. Two great big lists. One of things that make me smile, one of things that make me cry. The smile list was lots easier to write so I took comfort from that. But mainly I took comfort from the scratchy noise of my pen on the paper and the sense of achievement I always feel filling a page.

Since I'm a list maker extraordinaire it won't come as a surprise to learn I've used goal setting lists for a long time. I love looking back months down the line to see that normally I've done pretty well. At least with the realistic ones!

If writing in a notebook is powerful then maybe putting that writing out into cyberspace will make it supercharged. So my current goals are:-

  • Celebrating Christmas with 2 children this year.
  • Reading 50 books in 2014.
  • Spending my birthday comfortably wearing the size 12 jeans hanging in my wardrobe. 
  • Getting paid for my writing. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Share the love

Whilst I'm aware that I'm still in the first flush of blogging I am coming to the conclusion that this has the potential to take over my life. In fairness, I am a bit of a pro at obsessions. The reason I don't drink or gamble is my spectacularly addictive personality. So the obsession de jour is blogging. Less spendy than the shoe obsession of '03-'04 but not so good if I'm expected to stop reading and actually live a life.


Making time for the writing is not an issue. I have been scribbling almost everyday for a while. But the reading, how do I make time to read ALL the blogs?

Rather than merrily linking to my entire bloglovin' follow list I thought I'd list just two favourite new finds.

An Armchair By the Sea - Home of the Ninja Book Swap which I am excited to have just signed up for. Bex's seems to have very similar reading tastes to me so I'm looking forward to finding some new favourite books through her. Although I haven't picked up a book in days, what with all my time being spent reading blogs!

Nick King's World -  Adoptive Dad who writes spectacularly about family life. His 3 year old reminds me so much of smudge at that age. Although smudge has never flooded the house with a hose through a cat flap, why do I feel that this sentence needs a yet?

Although I do feel really sad that I haven't mentioned several other blogs. It's making me think that a new page might need to be added with lots of listing...


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Pity Party


I cancelled today. Due to my need to cry at the slightest provocation. I know enough about the tangled mess of my brain to know when to rest. 

So today has mainly consisted of me curled in "my" armchair watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on netflicks. I did some writing. I did some thinking. I mostly did some nothing.

I was working hard. Repairing the sore bits of my brain. Healing.

Tomorrow will be a better day. Tomorrow is a new day.



Monday, 26 May 2014

Bank Holiday Fun

Since smudge learnt to ride her bike we're always on the hunt for decent family cycles. Unfortunately, cycling from home is tough as there are lots of hills in every direction. Canal paths are billiant and when we worked out we could combine a cycle with a trip to the Kelpies all we were waiting for was for the weather and g's shifts to coincide and co-operate.

We parked at the Falkirk Wheel. Thankfully g was driving and he remembered we had the bikes on the roof and didn't attempt to get under the 2m barriers. This post may have been slightly different had I been at the wheel.

The canal paths are really well maintained and great to cycle along.  The canal is obviously thriving as we spotted heron, nesting swans and lots of different types of ducks. Unfortunately, we didn't spot any otters.  Possibly because they heard our approach and ran to escape the din of smudge singing Frozen songs - for 4 miles!


The Kelpies are spectacular. Nothing I have read or watched about them prepared me for the scale of these sculptures. Not only are they huge, they are beautiful. Even on a dull day the panels of steel shine. But when the sun keeked out from behind the clouds, briefly, they glimmered and sparkled in the sun - Twilight Kelpies!


There is plenty of space to walk around and admire them from different angles. So now all I need to do is come back on a beautifully sunny day to see them properly shine and I'd love to see them against a really stormy black sky.

The site has ample bike parking and a coffee & cake and burger stalls.  We didn't have burgers, they did look amazing. But I had a decent coffee and by the speed it was devoured I can only assume that smudge's ice cream worked for her. There appears to be some sort of building going up. So maybe next time we go there'll be a visitor centre or cafe to shelter in if the weather isn't as kind next time.

After a wander and posing for some pictures we got back on our bikes and raced back to the Falkirk Wheel. Why is it that smudge cycles twice as fast on the way home?


One day we might get a photo with all of us in it at the same time!