Saturday, 29 August 2009

My baby girl

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My baby boy

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: all boy
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Thursday, 2 July 2009

It’s a Girl Thing

Now it’s Daughter’s turn to go on a school trip… France beckons, her first visit abroad on her own. I am absolutely terrified… she of course is jittery with excitement, as the countdown begins.
In contrast to No. 1 Son and his packing fiasco, this countdown is a well orchestrated, detailed and precisely planned event, which begins at least 3 weeks before the date of departure…

“The countdown”, as far as I can see, is documented by lists. Not lists given by the school, you understand, oh no. In fact, I don’t know that we actually get to see those…. No, these are Daughter’s own Priority Lists.

The first list, the PPL (Provisional Packing List) almost immediately necessitates the construction of the ISL (Initial Shopping List).
The PPL, you see, contained a plethora of vital clothing components that do not currently reside in daughter’s wardrobe… A quick example… swimming costume for water park daytrip, swimming costume for beach daytrip, sarong, flip flops, sunglasses, new denim shorts, 3 or 4 new T shirts, New Hoodie (in case it’s cold), new summer nightwear, camera case……
Apparently the current swimming costumes are a bit small (I’ll accept that), and she has to have two, because they need to perform specific functions don't they, mum, one is for swimming and water rides, the other for the beach, of course they have to be different….and the t shirts… well, after all she is going for 4 whole days, and as you'd expect, the myriad selection she currently owns are just not fit for purpose.
Anyway, List 2, The Initial Shopping list is born. I am shown this list briefly, asked for a financial contribution… and off she goes with her friends.
She returns from town laden with packages representing a selection of items on the list.. namely the swim wear. She also discovered lots of cute little dinky travel toiletries that she really does need, Mum, aren’t they sooooo sweet, these little bottles, just right to pack. And look at this belt…. Oh… by the way, I spent all the money so I couldn’t get the camera case or T shirts, but I did see one I reaaallllly need for £15 instead of the £3.99 from Primark so I didn’t have enough…oh, couldn’t get the denim shorts either (were they on the ISL….? No, but I just realised I need them) so we’ll just have to go shopping again…..

The next trip, it’s the two of us. Before we set off she admits endearingly that she loves going shopping with her Mum…. Ahhhhhhh, maternal heart melts with a sigh….. cos she always gets bought lots of extra stuff …. Back to earth with a bang!
Anyway, here we are, armed with List 3 RSL, The Revised Shopping List. This list contains the (expensive) T shirt she really wants, one or two other T shirts, camera case, socks, suntan lotion…. Basically most of the stuff she didn’t get last time!
We do have a good time together, and this time she does come home with all the necessary items from the list, oh and also a dress and some make up and an extra pair of shorts and some new cute white pumps not on the list….

The following day the Edibles to Buy for Journey list is handed to me to get with the food shopping… it contains orders for snacks, biscuits, drinks and sucky sweets for the journey, with the catch all phrase “anything else you think I’d like” tacked on the end.

Now the date approaches…. She is due to travel on Wednesday, so on Saturday the PPL (Practice Packing List) not to be confused with the PPL (Provisional Packing list) is created. This PPL differs from the earlier PPL as although it still appears to be a complete inventory of her entire wardrobe it does this time include all recent additions. The PPL is put in to action, as she selects the case she will take. We have those sets of 3 different sized cases stacked inside each other, so Hubby brought the entire set down, assuming she would unpack them all to get out the smallest to use….. I’m sure the Mums out there will be shaking their heads in disbelief at this sweet male naivety!!
Daughter spends Saturday evening happily packing her case entirely, right down to the toothpaste, socks and jewellery.

Jewellery: Let me tell you about the jewellery! Now, as I make semi precious gemstone jewellery, daughter does have rather a lot of crystal bracelets, pendants, necklaces and ear rings. In fact 3 whole jewellery boxes full. Because she doesn’t know what she will be wearing on a particular day, and she doesn’t know how she will be feeling, she is taking her entire collection! That works out to 3 make up bags full of jewellery, for 4 days, bless her!

After completely packing everything, she takes it all out and puts it away again (I use that term rather loosely in the case of the items she leaves lying around on the floor) ready for the final packing, to take place on Tuesday evening.

So now we get on to the subsidiary lists..
The day bag list, the Handbag list and the Toilet Bags List (I kid you not)
We have numerous different Toilet Bags.. one for hair: shampoo, conditioner, products etc, one for shower, one for body lotions and sprays… not to mention the actual make up bags and the make up bags of jewellery.

Finally, on Monday evening, it is the time to consult the relevant lists and pack the Day bag and Journey Essentials. And to create the FPL, Final Packing List. This list even has little boxes by the side of each item so they can be ticked off as they are put in to the case when she packs on Tuesday evening.

The Day Bag is packed with entertainment for the journey… I pod, Nintendo, book(s), notebook and pens, magazine, camera, the handbag contains the Euros, Passport, Money etc…….
All done. Mmmmm.
She can contain herself no longer, she just cannot wait until Tuesday, she has to do the packing now! She can't wait a minute longer (“Cos there might be something I’ve forgotten and if I pack the night before it’ll be too late Mum…” You mean something that hasn’t made it onto any of the lists?? How likely is that! Anyway I want an early night tomorrow so I’m ready for the journey….).

So…ooo, Monday evening, she brings the suitcase into my room, followed by numerous trips carrying armloads of clothing, bags, shoes and so on. Right, is that the lot…let’s check the FPL.
We have lost the FPL!!!! Oh no…. what can we do. Panic and near tears ensue. A mini whirlind races through the house, overturning cushions and small furry animals, looking under and over every bit of furniture!! What did it look like? what was it… was it a scrap of paper? No, it was in my notebook…. Notebook …. Didn’t you just pack your notebook……? Phew!

So, everything packed and correct, the night before at long last arrives. Daughter announces she intends to have an early night… and by early I mean quarter to 8!!! Normally, she goes to bed between 9.30 and 10, often reading for a while…..tonight in her PJs with teeth cleaned by 7.30.

8.30: Can’t sleep Mum. Read your book (sheepishly) I’ve packed it…. Will you do me a guided meditation, that usually helps me to sleep.
Don’t know about her, but I dozed off whilst I was paddling my feet in the clear tinkling stream……

Finally Wednesday Morning dawns. All too quickly for me.
And now she’s waved goodbye to me, and has gone off on the coach, quivering with excited giggles, squealing with her friends, comparing luggage: a host of over excited 13 year olds, lookout France!

Monday, 4 May 2009

We interrupt this Blog….

Well folks, I apologise for my long absence and lack of new blogs… I think I’d better explain.
Please excuse me if this blog is a bit of a wet blanket, I’m not quite up to my usual take on things at the moment, for reasons which will become apparent.
As many may know, I have been having ongoing pain and problems with my hips. It had been hoped that the 7th operation earlier in February this year might sort things out for good and all. Sadly it did not, and last week after a visit to my Consultant and then the Occupational Health Doctor, the future was spelled out to me.
Health: In September I will have my hip permanently removed, what is called a Girdlestone Procedure. This is because I have been suffering a recurrence of incredible pain for the past 18 months; in fact I only had 6 months free from pain after the previous operation to remove a bone infection! I have been on high dose morphine for nearly a year (Doesn't really make the world look that rosy, believe me!). Having also been plagued with infections around the prosthesis, it was believed that another infection was the cause of the current pain and lack of mobility. This however has now been (more or less) ruled out, and the medical professionals are stumped. They do not know what exactly is happening to cause this chronic pain, but feel that I might even actually be allergic to the implants entirely. The only option to reduce pain is to remove it completely (Oh, and they will also have to break the femur to get the darn thing out!!! to quote my Consultant "Well, at least we know the pain's not caused because it's come loose!")
Obviously this will have a tremendous impact on mobility for the rest of my life.
Career: My Head teacher was about to dismiss me on the grounds of ill health at the end of this month. However now my Unions are requesting ill health retirement instead. Either way, I will never teach in an infant classroom again.

So, that's the update. I'm sure I'll bounce back to my normal self soon, but just at the moment I'm not really there yet....
Watch this space!

Monday, 30 March 2009

That’s my Boy!

Well, tomorrow number one son (nearly 15) is off to Belgium on a school trip to the battlefields.
Of course, being a model child, he raced home from school tonight to get his packing done… well, ok, he finally sauntered in the house, casually threw his coat and bag in the general direction of the cupboard, kicked one shoe off under the sofa and the other half way down the hall where it met the dog, and ambled into the kitchen in search of nourishment. Mouth finally stuffed full of cereal bar, banana and what I suspect was one of my secret stash of hobnobs, he mumbled something incomprehensible at me, and stomped off upstairs to The Pit.

The Pit: if you are not the mother of a teenage boy, simply put, The Pit is a living entity similar to a black hole, sucking in and retaining all manner of rotting matter. Cups, glasses, plates, crisp packets, smuggled contraband such as chocolate wrappers are magnetically drawn into this deep chasm, and scattered around in various stages of decomposition. The Pit also extends its effect onto various garments... crunchy socks, inside-out jeans with pants still attached, screwed up T shirts, sweaty sportswear, muddy trainers all mysteriously gravitate together creating a mountain of mouldering decay on the floor of the Pit.
It is dark inside the Pit, for few dare to venture within. The curtains are never drawn, and the rarefied atmosphere would not tolerate the opening of the window. There are sporadic attempts to lighten the claustrophobic, foetid air with the spraying of underarm deodorant, a futile gesture intended to banish the “Smell of Boy” (An apt and accurate description observed with disgust by said Boy’s sister, "Euwwww, this room smells of BOY!").

To resume. Number one is ensconced in The Pit, gazing at flickering images on the Computer Screen (“Em-ess-en”, I believe, or some other teen communication device… I’m not sure how it works, cos the screen is always turned away from me when I walk in…)
“D’you want to think about packing for tomorrow then?” I suggest, casually leaning on the doorframe, peering into the gloom of The Pit, and wondering how long I can continue to speak without breathing in.
“Nah” is the concise reply.
“Let me put it another way, please collect all the stuff you want to take and bring it into my room” I declare, then race to the pure air of the landing, where I can breathe again.

Now, I know I should just give him a bag and tell him to get on with it, I mean he should be old enough…..but I did make that mistake in the past. After a wet and muddy week in the lakes with one pair of trainers, 1 pair of jeans and 2 T shirts, I have learned my lesson. Added to which, we don’t have a decontamination Unit big enough any more, so I’m not risking it again this time.

Half an hour later, I come in with a hold all, ready to throw the stuff in and check it off my mental tick list.
“Errr… where’s the stuff you're taking?” I call to Number One.
“On your bed, ”he calls back, then adds proudly “I put in an extra T shirt just in case” Yes, there they are, 5 T shirts on my bed, he’s going for 4 days, forward planning indeed, maybe he IS growing up, becoming a little more responsible…
Ye…ees, there are the T shirts, now (looking round) … errr, there are the T shirts and that’s it…
“Are you sure you’ve got together everything you want to take?” I ask tentatively
“Yeah, it’s all on your bed…” Look around, lift the corner of the duvet and peek underneath, just in case. Nope....
“Well, where’s your jeans?”
“I’m wearing them”
“Pants? Or are you wearing those too?”
“Errr… I forgot them”
“Wash bag and towel?”

Finally, with much grumbling and groaning he collects the necessary (as far as mothers are concerned) items and throws them in a jumble into the bag.
“Right then, is that it son? Can you think of anything else you want?”
“No, that’s it. Oh except the camera.”
“What camera?”
“The disposable camera”
At the risk of repeating myself I enquire,“What disposable camera?”
“The one I meant to ask Dad to get for me”
I take a deep breath “And did you ask him?”
“Errr, not yet….”
Well, bearing in mind we are less than 12 hours before Lift Off (or more accurately “Coach Off”, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?) I am left wondering just when he WAS going to get round to asking…

Now, I wonder if I should put his gloves on a string through his sleeves and safety pin his Passport into his coat.....

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Letting the Cat out of the Craft Bag....

It ALWAYS seems to happen this way...

I suddenly get the overwhelming urge to be creative, so decide I'm going to get on with a bit of card making or scrapbooking. Yep, I'll make a Mothers Day Card for Mum, it's coming up next week....

Now, I have to admit I'm the sad sort who gets weak kneed at the very smell of fresh paper and craft supplies, so going into Staples or HobbyCraft is a semi orgasmic experience for me. Consequently I have a rather large stash of bits and bobs dotted all around the house. Every drawer or cupboard, in fact. You can imagine the amount of time it takes to round up all these goodies when I feel the urge to create.... but (typically) I digress.....

Eventually, having gathered together all of the necessary scraps, sequins, sellotape and sticky stuff, I am sitting in the middle of the room raring to go, surrounded by aforementioned offcuts of pretty paper, card, ribbons, punches, jewels and flowers, reverently stroking long forgotten treasures that have once again seen the light of day... exquisite embellishments that are just too beautiful to actually use!

This is when my four legged helper comes onto the scene. Sniffing around, stalking the fluttering corners of the hand made paper.
"Gerroff with the muddy paws you monstrous creature.." I growl threateningly.
She growls back even more threateningly, so I feign sudden interest in the contents of a box of stickers whilst she carries on her investigations.

After a brief tussle over the ownership of a bag of delicate organza ribbon that I had fancied using, I decide to let her have it - it doesn't somehow look so fresh and pristine any more.

Right... now let's get something done... I start trimming and cutting, imagination working overtime, fingers in a frenzy. Just need to stick this precisely cut bit of posh, pricey paper onto the card.... Darn, where's the sellotape gone...?
"Hey cat....?" She's sitting by the sofa, leg straight up in the air whilst she vigorously licks it clean, blinking one eye in my direction then ignoring me. I stand up to look all around... still no double sided sticky..... but as I stand up I manage to dislodge a pot of embossing powder from my lap, a new and full pot whose lid was not terribly secure... (For those saner people not into all this craft stuff, embossing powder has the distribution properties of very fine glitter, with the mess potential of talcum powder or cornflour.) And it's a dazzling holographic, shiny and pearly white embossing powder. And my clothing is matte black.

Cat sniggers impolitely at the sight, before getting up and stalking away from the sofa, revealing the roll of sticky tape peering out from underneath. I make a hurried swipe for it, and return to grab the paper to stick down onto the card. Only to discover the feline monster now pretending to be kittenish, attempting a cute performance of batting a scrap of paper around, with chocolate box sweetness and big eyes. Only the "scrap of paper" is in fact that previously painstakingly measured and precision trimmed piece of really expensive double sided handmade-by-the-heir-to-the-throne-of-a-small-independent-kingdom ... you get the idea.

Reclaiming said paper earns me several deep lacerations on the back of my hand, which bleed profusely, dripping over the snowy white card base I was about the stick this soggy, dusty, crumpled and pierced piece of expensive....

Ah forget it, I'll pop into Hallmark!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Home sweet home.... for better or worse!

Oh boy, is dear ole hubby regretting it and thinking it's for the worse.... Can't even get him on the old wedding vows clause, cos our registry office version didn't make those promises!!!

Firstly, the boring medical details...They didn't find the cause of pain, but consultant suggests I just go home, take it easy, and we'll consider the next step when surgery and wound are completely recovered.

So meanwhile, still have district nurse coming in daily to inject me with an anti coagulant.
"Got to do it into a fatty bit..." she declares brightly, brandishing a wicked looking needle. Well, I offered up the acreage of the post baby tummy (well, post as in 13 and 15 years ago, but the effects are still there!) and she swoops in with glee.... Ooooh, and don't you believe her with that "sharp scratch" nonsense... It b****y well hurts, and is bruised the next day too! And the next day after she does it again, and the next, and the next....It's Groundhog day all over again (Imbolc for us lot, but doesn't quite convey the recurrent monotony!!).

Back to poor hubby. As I have to walk with two sticks, and am not allowed to bend, lift, twist etc, pretty much any useful activity apart from navel contemplation is out of the question......
First of all, there's the actual getting out of bed bit..... did anyone see the news some time ago when there was that beached whale they were trying to get back to sea..... well it's a twice daily routine here in Reading! Now, it gets even more interesting if I decide I need a shower.....Hubby trails after me carrying bath robe, sets up the bathroom with my oils and ungents within reach, then installs the bath board. This is a nifty bit of kit that lies across the bath, so that the showeree can slide on, then remain seated whilst being showered. Fabulous idea... in theory!!!!
Once dear hubby has set it up, shower is turned on to get temperature up...Husband becomes drenched, because bath board stops shower door from shutting. Quickly decide we will take shower head out of holder and lay it in the bath whilst water is warming up, I prepare to get into position. Now I had practised this delicate manoeuvre in hospital. You sit at right angles to the bath, slide yourself back until you have your back to the wall, then walk/swing your legs around until you are sitting facing the shower and tap end of the bath. I had been really good at it with the occupational therapist. But it was a bit different in reality. Previously I had slid effortlessly along and to the back of the bath board, helped no doubt by the trousers I was wearing....naked on a dry bath board (it was the only thing in the bathroom that HADN'T got soaked!) it was a totally different matter. Buttocks sticking to the board in a most unglamorous squeaking motion, not gently gliding as I had fondly imagined, the whole operation (wince) was farcical. Unfortunately for poor husband, he happened to snigger at the spectacle just at the moment I got the shower head in my hand...... did I mention he somehow got incredibly wet again..?
After completing my ablutions (Doesn't that word sound like it should be a fat cartoon character?) and getting dressed with the aid of my "helping hand" (Oh the joy of getting knickers on with this implement, has to be seen to be believed. I'm negotiating a film deal as we speak!!)....I am ready to go downstairs.
Once installed in the living what do I do..... bearing in mind I move in a lumbering fashion with a stick in each hand, rendering performing most activities impossible without help. Even the relatively simple...I mean I could make myself a cup of coffee, but then couldn't carry it into the living room to drink..... "Paul....can you just...." or dropping my book or magazine ..."Paul....can you just...." then there's lifting laptop onto lap ..."Paul....can you just...." ooh, let's watch a bit of TV ..."Paul....can you just...."
So, here I am, in front of the laptop, doing the only thing I can manage without a pathetic pleading "err, could I just have a little help to....".... So I do apologise to you all, as now you're bearing the brunt of it!!!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Can you believe they chucked me out after 5 days..???

Well..... they did!!!
There I was, coming round from surgery on Thursday night.... oh help, I can't feel my legs, what have they done...My legs, oh no!!!! My legs....Are they still there????
I want to look under the sheet to check both are present and correct, but can't lift itup as I have a drip in one arm and blood going into the other....
Nurse....What's happened to my legs.... ? ....oh, it's an epidural, Aaaaah. okay.


Wake up in Recovery the following morning..... repeat the previous routine, as I'd forgotten all about going through it last night..... and it's also at this point they inform me they didn't take the joint out or find an infection, oh, and by the way you went into anaphylactic shock on the operating table.......

Consultant comes around, repeat the above.....

Finally get back to the ward.... only they've moved me. I am now in a different bay on a different ward...All of my stuff lovingly unpacked by hubby is still waiting forlornly in the locker in the bone infection unit, but I have been cast out from there now.

Nurse comes along... "Good Morning, shall we get our own nightie on instead of this gown then?"
"Dunno about you, but I'd like mine please... it's still on the other ward...."
"Oh, I'll get your stuff brought down...."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Lunch comes and goes.
"You still not washed and in your own nightie dear? Surely you want to freshen up a bit?"
"Yes PLEASE!!! Could I have my book to read too..?"
"Mmmmm... well I don't know, you might knock your drips out of both hands... just sit still for a minute. I'll get your stuff brought down and help you wash..."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, as the day moves on, I am getting really narked.... I'm hurting and sore, still in the blooming hospital gown, and haven't cleaned my teeth for a decade or two. Not to mention BORED. I had carefully thought of things to bring in to do, but wasn't taking into account the NHS hiding it all from me!!!!
Afternoon tea is served. Nurse comes round to tell me she's changing shifts..
"You decided you didn't fancy getting your own clothes on after all then? Ah well, see you tomorrow..."

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Welsh Witch Disrupts the Ward!!!

Well, by the time this appears, I'll have just done it all again, driven the medical profession up the wall!!

Thing is, I'm not a terribly patient patient. In fact, I'm not a terribly patient anything. So to be confined to a narrow hospital bed for 3 whole weeks is going to leave me a demented quivering wreck!

As a veteran of 7 hip ops, I always try to take lots of things to do.... I have tried cross stitch and card making.... oh but just how many times can you ring the "Call nurse" button cos you've dropped your scissors or can't thread your needle. Not a popular move, believe me!

Then I tried puzzles and crosswords... now we all know that pens and pencils escape to a magical country down the back of the sofa...... well, I'll let you into a secret, there is also a magical land in a hospital bed! Pencils (particularly those with a nicely sharpened point) have a natural ability to turn themselves invisible just as you need to write in an answer. They are able to levitate and transport themselves into another dimension when you are searching frantically through the sheets and pillows to find them. You finally hurl your puzzle book down in defeat (you've forgotten the answer already anyway) so decide to catch up on your missing sleep... (Why do they always wake you with such urgency at 6 am in hospital?? I mean, who has an overwhelming need to be up at this hour, when you spend all day in bed anyway??)...
No sooner have you snuggled down, when ...
"OUCH!, what the ***insert expletive as required*** was that??"
Yup... you've finally got the point... inserted into a particularly delicate part of your anatomy, usually the one that's just been cut out and stitched up!! You clutch at or shake the appropriate body part in an attempt to remove the embedded pencil without bloodshed, and decide to read a book instead....

Last time I was only in for 2 weeks, and I drove the nurses mad... I got a collection of the cardboard vomit bowls (unused, I hasten to add!!) and begged multi coloured markers that the nurses used to write on the noticeboards, negotiated my chocolate biscuits in return for micro pore tape and scissors from the Vampires (the ones who come round to take your blood... they have to fill in all the punctures they make with cotton wool and micro pore!), then I spent hours decorating the bowls for use by my fellow patients as fruit bowls. They looked so delightful filled with grapes and apples... honest! When everyone in the ward was in posession of a genuine Witchy original fruit bowl, I branched out and extended my repertoire to include portable shower vanity cases. It's tricky to keep your soap and toothpaste etc together when you trek to the bathroom, so what could be handier than a nifty container to keep them all in? (Have I not heard of toilet bags?? No, what are they then....?) Had to use the bed pan liners for making those (bigger you see). Have to point out at this stage that they weren't THAT waterproof in the wet room, as we discovered...So let that be a warning to you should you need a bedpan....

Within a week an assortment of Blue Peter type mobiles were hanging form every bed ..... The spiders made from the cardboard pill pots and straws were particularly popular. The nurses however weren't keen on giving me the straws, as they didn't have many, and kept them for patients who needed them in their beakers to drink. Hence the abundance of 4 legged spiders....

All the staff guessed what day job I do very early on!!!!!! They were , I'm sure, quite relieved to see the back of me tho!!!! Do you think I should warn them about tomorrow?????
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