Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I'm applying for the job I've been doing for the last 11 months on a permanent basis - application form (as yet not finished) to be in by Friday so fingers crossed that my good luck holds!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Anyway, this style clearly works for her. If Paul and I stand about 10 - 12 feet apart in the pool, she can now happily swim between us. All in one big breath. I'm reluctant to encourage her try much further, until she has learnt to come up for air!
It really reminds me of when she first started walking - watching her toddle between us. I held my breath then, waiting until she made if safely into our arms. And I hold it now whilst she is swimming - even though it's not me under the water! So wierd!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I will post it soon. But for now, I just wanted to let you know that the thought was there. Now, I'm off to bed with a glass of wine and a book. Technology - hah!
Thursday, August 09, 2007
It's not that I've been completely removed from the internet - I use it daily at work (but at work I struggle to make time to eat my sandwich, I can't imagine finding time to write a post - although I've stolen a couple of minutes to read other blogs whilst munching my lunch).
It's made me realise though, how much I take for granted access to friends through blogs and email, how often I use the 'net to look up a phone number or address for a business, or to find out more about something.
I'd to reflect on my netless time and realise that I have rediscovered face to face social contact, opportunties and time to take up new crafts - but actually, I already did that, and being netless hasn't really altered it....
But anyway, I'm back now. And I realised that I missed posting. So often, I thought I want to post about that (partly to share with you all, and partly just to record and capture something for my own benefit). So maybe my posts will be a little more regular from now on.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
The conversation would run thus;
"Ellie, are you coming downstairs"
"One minute Mummy, I'm just making my bed pretty"
"Well done Ellie, you've made you bed"
"Yes I've made it pretty, haven't I?"
"Yes you've made it very well Ellie"
"Very pretty, Mummy"
You know - she's right. She's not made the bed - some carpenter employed by Mothercare did that and Daddy assembled it. She's transformed it from being covered with rumbled duvet and made it pretty.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
On Thursday, we were contacted out of the blue by Ellie's godfather's parents. (And if that sounds a bit of a tenous connection, it is.) They said that they had been asked by a neighbour to help take down a climbing frame and slide as it was not longer needed. It was in good condition and it upset them to think it would just be thrown away. Then they thought of their son's goddaughter and that she might like it, and so they rang us.
Not only did they dismantle the frame, and bring it round to us, they even spend 2 hours today ( a miserable cold day, with rain threatening) helping Paul assemble it for us - along with the kind of assistance only an excited 3 year old can provide.
It's wonderful when good things happen - and it's even better when you weren't expecting them!
Do you want to see what an excited 3 year old on a climbing frame with slide looks like?
Here's Ellie at the very top. I was convinced she would take a little while to build up the courage, as it's quite high - but as you can see I was wrong.
Approaching the descent - (it really is as high as it looks!)
And coming down the slide...
She went down it 3 times in the 5 minutes immediately after it was built - and were it not for the heavy rain which appeared as soon as it was finished, she'd probably still be on it now.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
(I'll wait a moment whilst any other parents who might read this, pick themselves up from rolling around on the floor laughing).
I was, of course, wrong. It's not exactly that it gets harder and harder, it's more that everytime you find a solution to a difficulty, another one (or two, or ten) quandries appear to replace it!
We live on a relatively quiet cul-de-sac. There is a small group of approx 4 children who regularly play out on the street without visible parental supervision (although I am sure that they are being kept an eye on, but mum/dad isn't sat in the front garden). They are all at least 2 or 3 years older than Ellie, and live near each other at the other end of the street. It's a nice street - everyone says hi to each other, and smiles on passing, but you don't really have conversations with people other than your next door neighbour. (unless there is some big 'crisis' occuring). Ellie's friend Evie also lives on a cul-de-sac, but the grown ups there appear to be more sociable, and I get the impression that they chat together, or take turns to be 'supervising adult' whilst the children play.
I'd quite like Ellie to be able to play out on the street with the others, but a) I think she's a little young to be out on the road yet and b) we've not made friends with the other children yet. So, I put this problem to one side until she is older.
However, recently a 9 yr old, who I do not recognise from the street has been coming round to see our cat (ie we keep finding her sat/standing in our front garden stroking or holding our cat). This has developed quite rapidly into her coming into our back garden when we are there (I hope not, when we are not) and even into our house - chasing after our poor cat, encouraged by Ellie. I had hoped that she might play with Ellie, but if we point out that the cat is now hiding and looking very stressed and perhaps should be left alone, then she gets on her bike (literally) and heads off. Conscious that our back garden is very private, I make a point of asking if her parents know where she is when she comes into our garden. To which, she says 'yes' - although I doubt the accuracy of this.
Short of insisting that she takes me back to her house to meet her parents, I am unsure what do about her prescence in our garden, and what her parents might make of her being hidden out of sight in our back garden. And, I'm not even sure I want her round at all, if she is going to upset Ellie by dashing off as soon as the cat is unavailable without even saying goodbye, when Ellie was really enjoying spending time with the 'big girl'.
maybe it's because I swam in the hotel pool late yesterday evening and also again early this morning (and I love the virtue of exercise combined with the rhythmic mediative quality of gently swimming)
maybe it's because I spent the day at a conference on housing options for people with learning disabilities (and I was able to drop some of my prejudices and concerns about what was achievable)
But, today, I feel switched on and excited about my role at work. I see possibilities and opportunities to make a difference - to how we work and to people's lives. I am glad that I work in the industry that I do - and whether it is in my current role as project manager or in my substantive role as community team manager, I can see how I can make a difference.
(I hope I still feel like this tomorrrow!)
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The last couple of months there has been a major restructure going on at work - an occupational hazard of working in local government I now realise. Because my current secondment is the result of a domino effect of people moving around and acting up to cover vacancies, some of which may have been filled in the reshuffled and some deleted, it was not very clear how secure my post might be. Several of the projects I was working on had reached 'sticky' bits - which needed some complex problem solving with specialist knowledge, or a few risks to be taken, or close working with people who were quite resistant to the project - and with my feeling of 'newness' I didn't feel very confident about my skills in tackling them which dented my confidence overall. Given that during the same period Paul was having his work contract terminated, and my main post is only a jobshare, none of this helped me feel particularly secure at work.
The last couple of weeks have been really hard. There is still no clear news about the security of my post. Unconsciously, I had taken my 'eye off the ball' on a few projects, and suddenly there is a backlog of work - people demanding answers and progress, and I haven't even written up the minutes of the last meeting let alone acted on most of them! Several of the risk issues came to a head, and I could only really wait with sweaty palms to see if they turned out OK. I still have so much to learn, but people cut me less slack now because, after all, I have been in post since before Christmas. And on top of it all, I finally have an (long awaited) assistant who will take a lot of the pressure off my workload but, of course, at the start I need to invest time and energy in skilling her up on her role and the projects we are working on and I had precious little of either of those things!
This week though I turned a corner. I realised that I can't just put things on hold whilst I wait to find out about my post. After all, it's been 7 weeks now. (I knew this, I'd advised other people to do this early on, I just had failed to act on it myself). The only solution is to take a pragmatic approach of getting on with it until someone tells me any different. Getting on with things I had been putting off, and feeling that I am starting to catchup with myself, and suddenly the workload is still hard and heavy, but maybe it might become manageable. I realised that the tasks which felt like they were taking all my time, in fact needed very little time. I actually needed to do very little work, but was expending enormous amounts of mental energy being anxious about doing them. Hardly a productive use of time! I spoke with my supervisor (and mentor). She pointed out that I had skills and knowledge; that I was capable of doing the job. She told me that it is a difficult job; the things I struggle with, I struggle with because they are difficult. The bit that I am not getting right is around having enough confidence. Which leads to a paradox for me. My confidence comes from getting things (at least approximately) right, from feeling capable in a task. So, I need to feel I am doing better at work, to increase my confidence. But, now I've been told, increasing my confidence is the way to get better at what I am doing. Hmm.
But the only real way though this is just to get on with it. So I'm going to. It's a relatively small decision, so how surprising that my shoulders feel so much lighter now that I have made it!
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Ellie has taken it all rather well. He was clearly ill the night before, gasping and floating listlessly. We mentioned that George looked ill to Ellie, who said "When I get back from nursery tomorrow George will be dead". She stroked George's lifeless body goodbye before going to nursery the next morning. Paul buried George as he could not face the traditional toilet cremation.
On the positive side, we have found some excellent fish care websites, which includes one who will email a helpful and sympathetic response as to why your fish has probably died and what you can do to avoid it next time. So, the future George 2 (or princess tinkerbell as Ellie is suggesting) may do much better....
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
No instead, I shall introduce you to George the goldfish. (and maybe in the future I'll post some pictures of the birthday girl....)
Ellie's nana has given a fish tank (a stylish biorb) to Ellie for her birthday. We set it up, waited the absolute minimum of 24 hours and then went to buy a goldfish... Pets at home's fish expert was very very helpful, and gave us lots of advice about, for example, putting the plastic bag with the fish in the tank so it can adjust temperature before letting the fish into the bowl. On the drive home, I wondered aloud whether the bag would float. "It does in Nemo" said Paul. We clearly have so much expertise in goldfish between us!!!! Hm.
Welcome to your new home George the goldfish (and Good Luck - you might need it!)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Yes, Spring must be here...
Monday, March 26, 2007
|Your Personality is the Rarest (INFJ)|
Your personality type is introspective, principled, self critical, and sensitive.
Only about 2% of all people have your personality - including 3% of all women and around 1% of all men.
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging.
Good news! I do still have a personality! Frustratingly, I did this test in a more detailed way a few years ago, but cannot remember how I came out in that one - I don't recall them being graded on 'rarity' though!
1) Since Ellie was born nearly 3 years ago, I have spent 1 night away from home (when Paul and I went to a wedding. Last night, I stayed in a hotel near Newcastle so I could be bright eyed and bushy tailed for a training course today. Alone. No Ellie. No Paul. Kingsize bed all to myself. Very strange. And I missed them both - dreadfully. That's not to say I wouldn't stay away again if I needed to... but... it was much much harder than I'd expected.
2) Today, Paul needed to get yet another sicknote from the GP - to tie up the loose ends of his job termination, and so that he can get on with sorting out some incapacity benefit to replace his work (statutory) sick pay. He ended up with a phone appt with the GP, who not only gave Paul a thorough verbal check over, but also asked how Paul's illness was affecting family life, myself and Ellie - on the grounds that we were all registered with the practice. Clearly the days of 'family doctors' are not gone!
Friday, March 09, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
I re-read my first post (and a few subsequent ones) and it made me realise just how much things have changed in the last year. Oh there's all the stuff I've already posted about Paul's illness and job, there's all the bits about my changing job - which you probably got fed up of reading about at the time. Then there are the things I'd not thought about much - how when I went with Ellie to Wacky Warehouse a year ago, I used to lift her up between the sections, and come down the slides with her. Now she does it all by herself (once we've taken her there!).
I'm not sure that I've used this blog as much as I'd hoped as a reflective or creative space - although there have been elements of that. I've veered between posting frequently (NaBloPoMo in November certainly contributed significantly to my year's total of 78 posts) and posting occasionally.
The blog also quickly became valuable as a way of sharing pictures of Ellie with family and friends, and with updating people on my/our situation when I was too busy, or events had left me too bruised to want to keep discussing them - but needed and wanted to let people know what was happening.
What I hadn't expected was that my blog would open the way to reading other blogs - stranger's blogs - with whom I would find an shared interest, an affinity if you will. Checking bloglines and realising that someone has posted - it's almost as good as getting a real letter (not a bill!) through the post.
So, having made it to here - my next goal is to reach my 100th post, to make a little more time in my day to think about what to post, and to actually post it (at least semi-regularly!) and to make a little more time occasionally to visit those other blogs out there. To meet more of those strangers who might yet become cyber-friends.
Friday, March 02, 2007
I mentioned in my last post that generally I don't think of Paul being ill. I know that Paul has momentary absences, memory loss (currently about 50%) from one day to the next, and functioning/processing difficulties which make it difficult for him to absorb and apply new information.
But, on the whole, we have found coping mechanisms for most of the difficulties; little systems which you might do anyway, but which have added use when memories aren't going to be carried from one day to the next. Having a shopping list which you add to as things are used up or about to run out, for example. And these systems allow us to maintain that screen of 'alrightness' because we rarely have to directly face the fact that parts of his brain, at the moment, simply don't work as they are supposed to do.
But sometimes this fails us, because our lovely screen means we miss the obvious!
We're on a fairly tight budget for our food shopping, but on a 'good' week (not too many impulse buys) it's easily sufficient. We also have our wonderful weekly organic food box which we pay for separately. However, for several weeks in a row we just kept overspending...
I should also add that we went up to using a second freezer at Christmas time, but by mid February both freezers were packed with food...
And, that the fridge was always crammed full of food too - with some of it reaching use by dates and going off....
Eventually it struck me - could this have anything to do with the fact that Paul, since he was doing the bulk of the cooking, had also by default been left in charge of shopping lists and menu planning? Erm, that would be tasks which really relied upon remembering what food is left half open in the back of the fridge (or hiding in the freezer) and processing information about what food needed using up most urgently, and planning combinations of food to cook/buy using these bits of information. Not to mention remembering to defrost food we needed
In fact, expecting Paul to do all the tasks he was least able to do, every day. And then wondering why things weren't running quite as smoothly as they might!
Maybe it's not just Paul's brain that isn't working properly!!!
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
A few weeks later, and it became clearer that 'temporary' meant months rather than weeks, and that recovery wasn't just around the corner (but was most definitely still there on the horizon). We adjusted into better routines - Paul starting to take care of Ellie one day a week, me working full time. But there were also new challenges to take on board, not just adjustments to Paul's 'absences' and memory loss but Paul's work moving him to a no pay situation, and the possibility of losing his job if he didn't recover soon.
In my work life, I deal with change management quite a lot - using theories and beliefs about how change is hard to accept and how people resist it, particularly when it is imposed with no choice. But all this happening at home has reinforced to me that whilst it is not always easy to change, in fact adaptability is a great human strength. Once you have accepted that something has changed, it quickly becomes normal; what you are used to.
It felt like a huge upheaval at first - and it was. But now, I know that Paul does not always remember things, I know that Paul has to walk or take the bus, that if we go in the car I will be driving, that we have no spare money to buy non-essentials, and Ellie knows that her Daddy will look after her while Mummy goes to work (instead of the other way round) and that if she goes out to the local shop or nearby playground with just Daddy she has to sit in the buggy. I don't usually even consciously recognise that these things are changes, or that they are linked to Paul's illness - in fact, I rarely even think that Paul is ill. After all it's not like he's confined to bed, or taking medication. On the whole, this blase acceptance works fine just occasionally it's counter productive - but that's a post for another time.
Today, however, has had a combination of events which have reinforced that Paul is ill. Not that he is any different from his (now) usual self, but external events have tapped on the glass frame of 'alrightness' that we have placed around ourselves.
This morning Paul had a 2 hour EEG to check the functioning of his electrical brainwaves (or something like that) - frustratingly he had a cluster of 3 absences on the journey there, and one on the journey back, but none at all whilst wired up. The EEG didn't show anything. Which on one hand is good, as it means he definitely has not got epilepsy or anything permanent; of course, on the other hand, it means we still don't know exactly why he is having them, or if there is anything apart from time which could correct it. There's something about a hospital test which reinforces in a very strong way that someone is ill, and raises concerns and anxieties about them, even when you rationally know that these are unnecessary.
For good measure, Paul also had his final sickness review for work this afternoon. Since Christmas he's been to see the Occupational Health Unit, had reports written by his consultant, had various meetings with his manager and the Human Resources person. The outcome of all of this (not at all unexpectedly by this stage) is that since no-one can say with any certainty when Paul will be better (although they can say that it won't be next week, or even next month) then Paul's contract is going to be terminated at the end of March. Financially, it doesn't make a significant difference to us - they've not been paying him anything other than state sick pay since November. Emotionally, we had been bracing ourselves for this - reframing Paul's role from 'off sick from work' to 'stay at home dad'. But still.
One at a time I think we could have shrugged off, ignored, these events. From behind that protective glass screen of 'alrightness', we could have looked upon them with a calm detachment. But together, they made me realise that my husband is ill. They made Paul realise that he is ill. They made us both recognise that our life is, and has been, shaped by Paul's illness. That we are here making the best of a difficult situation, rather than being somewhere that we have chosen. It's been a tough day.
But now, writing and reflecting, I realise - although I have just written that we are not somewhere that we have chosen - that it is not entirely true. Some of our choices have been taken away from us. Yet being forced to rethink our assumptions about our lives and our roles (and our finances) has enabled us to see options and paths which we had not noticed before. Obviously I wish Paul were well, but being here - where we are right now - is not such a bad place to be.
This lack of balance has also been evident in my approach to blogging. You will possibly have noticed that my posts have been, shall we say, sporadic this year. For weeks I've been too busy, and preoccupied with other things to get further in my thought process than " I really ought to post". Ideas for things to post about - pretty much nil. Then the last few days, I've had more ideas for posts than I know what to do with - far too many to actually narrow down to writing just one, and no time for writing more than that.
Still. I have remembered the word balance. I have added the word order to my vocabulary too, as I think this may help achieve balance. I find it hard to be balanced in a world of chaos. (I'll make that my more advanced resolution for when I have basic, bog standard, balance sorted!).
Sunday, February 11, 2007
It's clear that despite my increased gardening effort in the last year, the previous 2 years of neglect (or at best minimal input) has left a less than showcase garden. We've removed the plants we disliked most, but have since been overwhelmed by weeds (which had presumably been put off by the previous garden inhabitants).
Anyway, this year - I'm going to make a garden in which
1)I can relax in the evenings with pretty flowers rather than weeds, and with a Pimms (or maybe a Kir or maybe a glass of chilled white wine - well you get the idea)
2) We can all have fun and play on weekends (and Paul and Ellie can during the week too)
And to make this a real challenge, not only shall I be hampered by my minimal gardening skills, but I shall also have only a maximum budget of £50. (Although, this excludes the money we need to find for a new shed - the other one is at best unstable and falling to bits, and at worst verging on dangerous!)
But before you are driven to comment " You fool, why try to achieve the impossible" . Remember that gardens always look at their worst in winter, not to mention it's amazing how pretty a glass of Pimms can make anywhere look! Besides, we're already pretty much there with aim No 2... we had a lovely 'party' outside today.
By which time...
I couldn't help but ask Ellie why she had put cream all over the window - she's usually such a logical child. Her response? "The window was a bit sore". Anyway, she helped Paul and me to clean it up, and little more was said about it.
Which was probably an error - as I realised over lunch, when I casually asked her what she should do if the window was sore again. "Put cream on it" she replied promptly. We chatted for a bit about this, and she now fully understands that it would be much better to tell Mummy or Daddy.
And the cream has been moved to where it should have been in the first place - far, far out of reach!
Monday, February 05, 2007
Today, though, was exciting*. Today was Ellie's first trip to the theatre. And she loved it, which I think is pretty good for a 2 year old. It probably helped that we took her to see a play of the book The Gruffalo's Child. It was really good fun, cleverly staged with just 3 actors and minimal scenery and some catchy songs too. Ellie sat enthralled for the first 30 minutes, and easily managed the last 25 minutes with a few little prompt to sit still and watch.
And, the play answered the question which has occassionally crossed my mind during numerous bedtime readings - why do the animals tell the Gruffalo's child where the big bad mouse is, when he doesn't exist?! The answer, of course, is self preservation when they realise they are face to face with a gruffalo (albeit a small one!).
Ellie really loves this book (this, Winnie the Witch stories and Toot and Puddle are constant bedtime choices). And I have to say I like it too. The story is a good sequel to The Gruffalo, but I like the way that it plays against traditional stereotypes. The only parent in the book is The Gruffalo - who is "Dad". No sign of Gruffalo mum, and in my experience of pre-school books there aren't many single parent men represented. (Indeed there aren't all that many stories where the Dad takes on a key role as carer - something I've become more aware of now that it seems very likely that Paul will be a stay at home dad). Similarly, I appreciate that the adventurous, brave, exploring child is a girl - I remember reading it for the first time and feeling a moment of surprise (and pleasure) as I read that "she tiptoed out of the gruffalo cave".
And to think, that without a child I would have missed out on all of this - it almost makes those 5.30 am starts every day worth it!
* and that's without the additional excitement for me of having a 1.30pm performance in York, and at 11.50 am finding that my car that has decided (very uncharacteristically) not to start when I am trying to leave work in Wakefield 35 miles away....!
Saturday, January 13, 2007
It had a dramatic start, but soon settled into a pattern of about 15 -20 abscence-type moments during the day (he will 'freeze' for about 5 seconds, then 'come to' with a slight jolt). This is accompanied by short term memory loss - he's fine on the day itself (as much as anyone is!) but only remembers about half of what has happened the day before (and this memory so far has remained lost). I should point out that this is the current situation and a definite improvement on when it all started in October -then he remembered little, if anything, of the day before and sometimes even lost memory from the same day.
I don't think that I'm unusual in that I've pretty much adjusted to this now. The absences obviously have a day to day effect in that he can't drive, but don't affect most of his general day to day ability to do things. The memory loss often doesn't feel too prominent - he doesn't know what he's forgotten, I don't realise he's forgotten it unless I ask or make reference to something and anyway, we've always been big on writing lists. The biggest effect is financial in that he's only on Statutory Sick Pay at work, and that he is likely to lose his job.
Yet despite this, I am often surprised by coming across evidence of what he remembers and what he doesn't. The other day I taught Paul to play cribbage. We did this in the knowledge that he finds it hard to take on new information, and that he might not remember any of it the next day. That same day, we received a belated Christmas card from a friend, with some beautiful magnetic pictures - we both admired them, and later that day he stuck them on the fridge.
The next day, Paul remembered enough about cribbage to beat me - thoughts about his memory loss moved to the back of my mind. In a break in playing, we made drinks and Paul went to get milk from the fridge.
"Those are lovely pictures on the fridge" he said "where have they come from?"
In particular I want to work on finding that elusive balance between being an individual and being a mother. And to find the necessary balance between work and home (I'd sorted that quite well, but now life has moved on and I need to re-find that balance). I want to find balance in my new job -between trying hard to be efficient, effective and achieving results, yet not straying into the territory of being a bossy know it all. And back to the purpose of this blog - I need to find the balance between this modern world's need to multi-task, and my need to take things 'one thing at a time'. Because let's face it - all of these pursuits without balance are far less rewarding than they could be.
Wish me luck.
My teeth- never the strongest part of me - started to hurt over new year. So, I ignored it. I thought of the £15 or £40 it would cost to go to the dentist, I thought of needing to take time off work when I was busy, I thought of how maybe it would just settle down by itself.
Of course it didn't.
So I ended up with an emergency dental appt on Monday. And a course of antibiotics to be taken 4 times a day on an empty stomach. Plus painkillers every 4 hours.
By Wednesday, more swelling, more pain. another emergency appt. Diagnosis of an abscess. More antibiotics - to be taken 3 times a day, with a meal.
Yes, that is 7 separate doses of antibiotics. Plus painkillers.
Is it any wonder my brain had no time to spare on remembering to blog?
Anyway, swelling is reduced (almost gone). Pain is much less. Only one more day of antibiotics then a course of dental treatment still to come.
Time to return to normal!