Linear Thinking in Seventeen and a Half Dimensions

Otherwise known as Trying To Get My Kids To Cooperate.

This morning saw HUGE meltdowns/tantrums/behavioural stuff from both boys. 

Jay is being bullied at school and Moo is…I don’t know. Bored? Having problems with his teacher? Fed up with pretending to be a human being? All of the above? Anyway, neither of them wanted to go to school. Both started self-harming (scratching, hitting their heads, in Moo’s case headbutting a door) so I decided to keep them off again.

This is not ideal. 

Firstly, because they need an education.

Secondly, I will eventually get into trouble with the school.

Thirdly, I need space.

They agreed to do school at home and I spent 45 minutes using their homework books to rough out ‘lessons’ for the day.

Time they spent working = 3-ish minutes.

Time they spent complaining = 25 minutes.

I thought that I’d found a fairly straightforward solution to a slightly knotty problem. But no.

I’ve looked into homeschooling previously, but I honestly don’t think I can do it (not being massively academic myself, plus Moo runs rings around me). In an ideal world I would, because neither of the boys deals well with the real world, and because I could teach at their pace. But I can’t.

So I looked at moving schools. The nearest school is over subscribed, and there’s no point going to a school which is even further away, because the commute is one of the stress triggers. So that’s out.

Next up was running away (one of my favourite back-up plans) but running away never solved anything… Apparently.

Net result of today: two hours on the phone to my sister (thanks, Kris!) not crying, but using Creative Anglo-Saxonisms to express my feelings, and the vague feeling that, yet again, I’ve effed this all up.

There is a solution to this problem. I will find it. I will support, encourage, defend and occasionally kick the butts of my kids. They will get the chances they need and the love they deserve.

And I will eat junk and sublimate my feelings because…Just because. πŸ˜„


No Plans

I hate plans.

I have tried many (many, many) times over the forty years I’ve been on the planet to write myself timetables on order to better manage my days, and after many (many, many, many) frustrating and fruitless attempts, I finally – yesterday, aged 40 years, one month and eleven days* – realised something key:

I do not function well with order. Structure makes me rebel. The feeling I have to do something means I will dedicate stupid amounts of time and energy to procrastination and avoidance. Net result: tasks left undone, feelings of guilt and anger, 200g of Dairymilk mysteriously vanished. Oh noes!

If my mum reads this, she will by this point have rolled her eyes hard enough to strain her optic nerve (sorry mum).

Anyway, over the last week I have been trying a new style of household management which I am calling The Benevolent and Chaotic Dictatorship. I wake up each day with a rough idea of what needs to be done, and by and large it’s getting done! I am (mostly) kindly bullying Paul and the kids into cooperating with me – the rule is, I don’t mind doing everything, but they will jolly well butt out and let me do it my way. And it works!

It’s quite difficult to mesh the needs of five people at the best of times, but when one of the five is a fluffy, aimless, squirrel-brained maΓ±ana-queen, and the other four are order freaks in need of excessive amounts of regulation and structure, it’s nigh-impossible…But me being a little tugboat towing the Good Ship Bruce about somewhat haphazardly works**.

I mean, humans being what they are, it may not be working this time next week, but hey ho. I’ve had a week (and counting) of efficiency*** and calm and feeling like I can actually Do The Thing, and that’s priceless…Right?

*Lessons worth learning take time. Or something. Oh, shush πŸ˜›

**This mental image amuses me; I just need to stop giggling long enough to watch out for hazards in the water.

***For a given and somewhat…Flexible value of ‘efficient’.

A new start

I’m doing new things in 2017; whether it’s due to turning 40 and feeling more mortal (need to start living more!), or simply because the time is right, I don’t know. But I’m making changes to me, to my surroundings, to my perceptions.
I decided last night (so technically on the first of the month) that I’m going to try and keep my blog updated regularly. Ideally daily, but life happens, so no pressure. And, so it’s not just me moaning on, I’m going to use journal prompts I found on Pinterest.

Here’s February’s…I’m starting with the 1st (ooh, rebel), mostly because the prompt for the 2nd will require Serious Thoughts and it’s not yet 6am… 

My favourite place.

I grew up in Ilford, Essex. We lived two roads away from my grandparents in a house built near the turn of the 20th century (we still had an Anderson shelter from WW2 in the back garden, but were never allowed in it: it did, however make a wonderful shelf to enable my sister and I to lean over and talk to the kids over the back fence and trade toys with them…The story of the Great Barbie Fiasco is for another time…)

Five minutes’ walk from our house was the imaginatively titled South Park (ermagerd, they killed Kenny!), a square-sided, late-Victorian public park with two playgrounds, a bandstand, a cricket pavilion, a HUGE field, a long, narrow duckpond, and (I remember vaguely from the verrrrrrry early 80’s) two little kiosk-shops selling pop, ice-cream and crisps.

South Park also had the most wonderful trees.

According to my mother, as a tiny baby being pushed round the park in the pram, I’d always wake up if the shadow from one particular lime tree crossed my face. I remember as a five- or six-year-old collecting the big, faintly sticky leaves to try and stick them together and make clothes like Adam and Eve had on on the big bible Aunty Iris had.

There was also The Spaceship: a fir or pine, I think, with a strong, straight trunk and low, curved branches. The way the foliage grew meant that inside the tree were big spaces where we could sit astride the branches or climb without being poked and scratched at by the branches. I’m not sure if it got dubbed The Spaceship due to the faintly spaceship-shape way trees of that type grow, or because spaceships was the game we always played there…

Past The Spaceship and just over a little rise, down the path past the bandstand (a forbidden territory due to the steps having caved in) and on the left was My Tree. Capitals totally justified, IMO. I think My Tree was a chestnut, although I haven’t sat under it for half my lifetime, and I may remember wrongly…But, regardless of species, this tree was special. 

I was an unhappy teenager, being weird, poor, not particularly pretty and naturally inclined to lonerishness. What I now know as depression was – in retrospect – present in me from quite a young age, and when life got too much, I’d grab a book, or a sketch pad, or my Walkman, and head for My Tree. I’d sit on the grass, back against the trunk, and get lost with Garion and Polgara or Simon and Binabik for an afternoon, or draw little cartoons and strange, ugly creatures, or listen to decidedly uncool music. And My Tree would help me (this is because trees are magic. There’s no other word for it). I’d sit down angry and afraid and lonely, and get back up contented and more certain of myself. 

I miss My Tree.

South Park also had gigantic spider plants (probably actually huge ornamental grasses or something) big enough to hide in and jump out at people; a massive, man-made hill with an oak at the top; holes in the perimeter fence which meant I didn’t have to walk to the gates…And memories along every path.

By the grotty tennis ‘courts’ was the best place for conkering with Grandad.

I had my first ever panic attack aged four, stood on the top step of the slide.

Walking the dog with Mum past the back of the cricket pavilion, and her in fits of giggles because no matter how I tried, I couldn’t say ‘feather’.

The long, straight path from the South Park Drive gate to the South Park Crescent gate where I learned to skate on those rattly, adjustable skates which laced over my shoes, and were not glittery disco roller boots, no matter how much I pretended.

Long, complicated games of pirates/astronauts/dinosaurs/princesses with Kristen and Amelia on the long hump of earth by The Spaceship (there was a bench in the middle where mum would sit and read, but could still see and hear us, so we were allowed free range).

Walking Dill, and later Sam, round the pond while they barked at the uppity Canada Geese; accidentally walking through a cricket match because I was reading; getting my chin cut open because I walked out of the bushes behind the swings without paying attention, and got clipped by someone swinging (three stitches, and I’ve still got a scar); my Nan, pockets full of little bags and a pair of secateurs, unashamedly taking clippings as we walked; falling through the ice on the pond one winter; never being allowed a ‘popeye’ from the ice cream van because they were too dear; and so on and so on…

It’s all changed now, obviously. Time and health and safety have worked their cruel magic, and when I looked it up on Google, it wasn’t the place I remember. But it’ll be that place for another kid in this generation, and in generations to come.
Which is kinda cool, isn’t it?

A Follow Up Blog

Bet you’re all agog now, right? No? Just nod and smile – I’ll go away faster that way.


I blogged on Monday about the lignocaine/lidocaine infusion procedure I was going for, and how I’d only read negative things about it and I was worried, etc., etc…

Well. Here’s the contrasting 5* TripAdvisor review:

OMG. Seriously, OMG.

I arrived at the hospital, got gowned up (wasn’t expecting that, or I’d have worn the ‘accidentally-flashing-my-bum’ Posh Undies), and was shown to a bed in the anaesthesia/recovery part of the hospital. Nurse Kim introduced herself and said she’d be sat with me for the whole thing. Sister Kim (two Kims for the price of one!) managed to put the venflon in one the second go, but that’s because my veins like to collapse, not because she wasn’t good at it. During this Nurse Kim had to squeeze my arm to keep my veins kind of inflated, which made me giggle.

I had ECG stickies attached and the first set of obs done – I was normal, so there’s a first! After which point Doctor Subramani arrived and did the bit where the lignocaine goes into an automatic dispensing gidget and then into me via the venflon.

And then two hours of chatting to Nurse Kim about all sorts, and occasionally complaining I had a headache or felt a bit dizzy. When that happened she’d take my blood pressure and get the infusion slowed…apparently, if given too fast, lignocaine can cause death, but I stayed away from the light for the entire procedure. Go, me!

(At one point my blood pressure dropped to 90/70 which was exciting, and made me giggly, but it bounced back quickly.)

I had to sit in recovery for 9omin to make sure I wasn’t going to accidentally die (I didn’t. Turns out I’m very good at not dying), then I was allowed home. For the next three hours I was hyperactive as a three year old on skittles, then I conked out. I think I woke up before the following morning, but TBH I can’t remember. Twitter will probably show if I did, and I’m sorry for anything I said/did/spent.

Enough of the travelogue! 

Ok, no need to shout.

Has it worked?!?

I’m getting to that bit; hush up a minute.

So. Tuesday was a bit of a washout. I felt nauseous, had a horrible headache, and all my aches and pains were worse. Bummer, right?

Yesterday (Wednesday), I had this bonkers rush of energy. I still needed my trusty stick to walk, but I went miles.  

What’s more, I negotiated both Boyspawns to a *new* optician, sorted out dinner, did bedtimes, and didn’t got to bed early OR nap during the day. I know, right?!? I went to sleep after midnight and woke easily just before six. I made gluten-free muffins without a proper recipe (and without a panic attack at my lack of recipe), packed lunches, did hugs, walked to school, came home, had shower, and even as I type this I am waiting for a bus to go to pain management physiotherapy – somewhere I’ve not been before, and I haven’t a clue whatll happen when I get there, but I’m going and I’m not panicking or ducking out.

Ok, I still have the usual pain: my back is as useless as ever, and my wrists, shoulders, pelvis and ankles disapprove of my actually doing stuff…but the constant, low-grade background pain isn’t there. 

My mood is massively better. Probably because I’m not on the hamster wheel of pain/tiredness/frustration/repeat, but I’ll take it for whatever reason. I feel optimistic and slightly more in control. Huzzah!

For some inexplicable reason, not only has the non-stop itching gone away, but the odd lizard skin has too. Weird or what?

I feel like I have my ‘me’ back: the optimistic, silly, cuddly, enthusiastic me who’s been MIA for longer than I realised.

I don’t know how long this will last. They’re giving me a follow-up call in three months, so let’s see. But whether this is three months or three days, it’s such a joy to feel like this again.

Oscar Moment:

I’d like to thank my family, for putting up with the worst and still loving me;

Kris especially for the FibroGoddessing;

My tweeps, who keep me straight and are there 24/7;

Andrea. Being my bestie is a hard job, and she is magnificent;

And Dr.S, Sister Kim, Sister Helen, Nurse Kim and Mo of the George Eliot Chronic Pain Unit. You guys have made me feel like I’m a person again. Thank you.

Jet Girl. I want this as a tattoo. ‘Adjust’ is my new motto πŸ™‚

Woo/eeeeek!/argh, etc…

Morning, my little apple dumplings.
In 90minutes I’ll be at the day unit at the local hospital waiting patiently (ha, I’m funny…no?) to have a lignocaine infusion.

This should, theoretically, do something to reset my pain receptors, and if it’s successful I may be able to come off the gabapentin (woo!) and do stuff like laundry or shopping or dancing while cooking without all of my spoons getting used up.

However, two things worry me:

First that I am noticeably crap at pain relief. I ended up going to hospital to have my teeth out because after twelve injections in my jaw, I could still feel the dentist working, so I needed the industrial-grade local anaesthetic. Also, stuff like pethidine (makes me actually howl like a dog) and morphine (earnest discussion with Hubby about smiling tigers on the ceiling) make me a bit, well, bonkers(-er than usual). What will whole-body lignocaine do? (Tune in next week, sports fans!)

And then…well, I need to make a confession…

I asked Google.

Apparently, nobody who talks on the internet has ever had a good/lasting/effective result from this procedure. Everrrrrrrr. The side-effects are weird and wonderful; the efficacy ranges from nothing to ‘meh’; and O.M.G, the escalation from this to basically smoking morphine patches while bathing in cannabis bubble bath (I may be exaggerating. You can’t get cannabis bubble bath.) is freakin’ inevitable. So what if it doesn’t work?!?!?

Well, being basically an optimist, I’ve decided to view this as a bit of a TripAdvisor thing: the reason people haven’t reported the good stuff is because they’re far too busy using their sudden influx of spoons to be glued to their web forums anymore. *Nods decisively* So there. My infusion (makes me feel like a teabag) will go great, and I will feel better. So there again.

So. *Pulls Big Girl Panties right up tight like I’m a Dedicated Follower of Fashion or something – no charge for the earworm*. I’m ready.

And I’ll see you on the other side. 

A recipe for pancakes

Yesterday @agnesbookbinder posted her recipe on Twitter for pizza dough. It inspired me (fast, fairly low-cost, filling nosh) and this morning I made Good Mum Pancakes for the Boyspawns. 

Pancakes (these are American-style, and my mum calls them Drop Scones) are easy, cheap and 95% of the time get eaten (an unparalleled success rate for ANY food in my house). The recipe I use is a tweaked and gussied-up version of the basic 4ingredients one, which I give now:

1cup flour

1cup milk


Mix until thick and smooth. Heat a frying pan, oil (I use spray oil) and drop in tbsps of the mixture, well apart. When the surface starts to bubble, carefully use a spatula/fish slice/not your fingers to flip them and cook the other side. When the underneath is done, transfer to a plate to keep warm and repeat until all the mix is used up. Top with whatever you like.

That’s the basic, idiot-proof recipe. It is, however, a bit bland and boring, and (more importantly) I get bored doing the same thing over again, so…

This morning I went tropical. I used a jug to measure – the important thing is having the same quantity of flour and liquid, sometimes I use a small mug, whatever, it works πŸ™‚ – and decided to fancy it up a bit.

SR Flour, up to the 200ml mark

two coconut actimel yoghurt drinks, topped up with milk to the same mark on the jug

1 egg

1tsp mixed spice

1 overripe banana, mushed up to a squishy mess

Best thing is, if you’re feeling lazy, this can all just go in the bowl in one go and you mix like a loopy thing until it’s a fairly even consistency (apart from random banana-lumps). Cook as above.

These came out a lot bouncier than usual, I think it’s the self-raising plus the floofing effect of the yoghurt. We like them with a little spread of Nutella on top.

According to Freckles, they taste of summer and ‘You going all weird with yoghurt didn’t ruin them!’ so there you go…

So, as long as you use 1 egg + equal quantities of flour and liquid, this should work. If I can cook it and get edible results every time, it’s genuinely idiot-proof.


On the flip side

I am now going to attempt to balance out the negativity of my previous thread with something happy. *Puts on happy face*

Have I told you what a feckin’ fantastic support network I have?

In the ‘real’ (as in ‘have actually met them’/’am related to them’) corner I have my family: Paul and the Kids, my parents, Kris and her hubby (and Da Boys), Amelia (sis from another miss) and Andrea (parallel lives, hers is better organised!). Between them, this group of totes amazeballers (*snork*) lift me up, sit me down, offer shoulders, tissues, cake and do so much to keep me…sane. Ish.

And in the other corner there’s my Twitter family.

People I interact with almost daily – hourly, in some cases – and who make such a massive difference to my life. 

My tweeps have seen me through the good and the bad and everything in between. I have made friends for life (they just happen to live in my phone) and found, finally, people who actually get me. 

You guys; family, friends, people both actual and virtual…thank you. You make my life so much better. You give me reasons to carry on. You make me laugh, let me cry, show me love, and I love you all to bits.

Here’s to you πŸ™‚

Oh. My. God.

(I’m now writing the rest of this post in the voice of Janice from F.R.I.E.N.D.S…just kidding! Well, i might be.)

I ‘came to faith’ in the mid-80s; a glorious time to be embracing Christianity, especially because I distantly remember everything from Queen albums to Garbage Pail Kids stickers to Dungeons and Dragons being held up as Things to Imperil Your Mortal Soul and in addition to the regular Ten Commandments plus Jesus’s Big Two (see Matthew 22:37-40) there were about a million and two other rules to remember. 

(It’s a shame about the extra rules, because these two alone are fairly awesome, don’t cha think?)

Despite the hysteria of the time, I loved church, and my church especially (we had brass band! Woohoo!) and aged ten I responded to what felt like a pretty clear ‘call’, and offered my life to God: in the Salvation Army, this meant I was saying I wanted to become a full-time minister. And I was certain this was my calling. Obviously, ten-year olds lack the maturity for ministry, so I was given some bonus rules regarding my deportment (“Show you’re serious!”) and told to wait. Fair do. I knuckled down to proving myself earnest and got on with being an awkward, ugly, Jesus-loving freak in the real world outside church. It was fun.

Aged seventeen, I offered again. Sadly at that point I was poor, scruffy and loud, so although there was more acceptance of my offer based on my age, there were…yeah, a couple more rules. Including being told I must wear full uniform – including my bonnet – when travelling to church on the bus, despite travelling alone and having been verbally harassed more than once. But who cares about a vulnerable teenage girl being shouted at and propositioned by drunk men? Jesus wanted me to wear my bonnet! And because I wanted to serve, because I wanted to prove myself, because I wanted to be accepted, I wore the damn bonnet.

(Klinger wore it better than me, and probably got less catcalls…)

Aged nineteen I got engaged to the man who is now my husband and we offered ourselves to God and the church as a unit. And (bet you can’t guess!) More rules turned up.

What followed then were sixteen years of the same pattern: hearing God’s call, responding, and being politely but firmly told that His leaders, those with their ears and hearts more firmly in line with His will, just…disagreed with Him. “Yes, God does certainly call people for ministry, and yes, He has called you, but…sort yourselves/your finances/your house/your lives out.” Did we read our Bibles enough? We should probably take some distance-learning courses to make sure. There were all sorts of jobs needed doing at church – everything from prayer ministry leadership to door-to-door collecting – which we, as prospective leaders, should be racing to do. Oh, by the way, you know how your house is a tip? Cleanliness really is next to godliness, ergo, you’re not holy enough to serve. We went on courses, led meetings, preached, served, obeyed, and got no damn closer to being accepted.

Finally, about four years ago, and following a glorious humdinger of a rejection from our then minister, my husband and I sort of drifted away from church. I’ve spent most of the intervening four years in a quasi-Catholic state of guilt, and wrestling with my many demons: acceptance, rejection, conforming, being different, not being loved, never being wanted. It’s been so painful for me. All I wanted was to serve. To give back. To fit in. And all I got back was criticism, conditions, and ultimately, rejection. It felt so good…whaddaya mean, ‘sarcasm’?

I’ve argued loudly for people’s right to have a faith over the years, but equally important is the right to not have a faith (freedom goes both ways. Revolutionary concept.) but despite my liberal stance of faith and belief and religious freedoms, oh my god, the guilt. Because I’ve spent thirty years being told how to believe. How to act. How to make sure I’m acceptable and loved. And I’ve…walked away. Who even am I anymore? Do I still have identity, or worth? 

God may or may not exist. He may or may not be interested in my life.

(If he *is* interested, I feel it’s more like this)

But if I’m going to find God again, it’s not going to be in a church. It’s not going to be by being controlled and put down and hurt and rejected in so many ways. It’s not going to be through being hit over the head with scripture…because I’m such a failure and a sinner.

These days I find myself leaning more towards Buddhism or some of the pagan religions because they make more sense (as much as religion can). You don’t know how scary this is, after thirty years of brainwashing. At the back of my head is an endless loop of sermons: I’m going to hell!!!! But if “All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23), I may as well sin my way…

Point made. Sadly.

It’s ten to nine.

I was meant to be meeting my MP in ten minutes to talk about Autism provision in our Borough, but instead I’m in the kitchen, angrily spreading marmite on toast which has gone cold and slightly wangy waiting for my attention because I’ve been having a cry where nobody can hear me then panic because I’m crying and start a crying train (like a vomit train, but less…obviously spewy).

I was meant to be meeting my MP, but I’m not,because this morning my husband is so paralysed with depression and a screaming sense of wrong that he is unable to get out of bed. At all. It took fifteen minutes nagging to get him up to go for a wee and an hour until he could speak clearly.

I was meant to be meeting my MP, but because he couldn’t give me the term-time appointment I requested, and because my mum already has Kezziah (diarrhoea quarantine, lovely) and can’t have the boys, I won’t be going because I have nobody to babysit for thirty bloody minutes.

I was meant to be talking to my MP.

An adult.

Outside of my house.

I was meant to be going out.

And now I must stop crying and whinging at cyberspace and attempt to get the spawns to eat this unappealing, cold, rubbery, slightly mangled toast of emotional displacement.

Wish me luck! (send donuts)