Thursday, 27 May 2010

Ready to go!

The kitchen 6 months ago.

The kitchen yesterday. See the suntan lotion has moved.

I'm ready to go. Inventory complete. One-way tickets booked. Removal men coming next week. Trampoline on eBay. Nowhere to live at the other end. Woo hoo!!!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Are we nearly there yet?

I explained to Orla that we were going to live in a new place called Berlin. The only thing up until now that I told her about Berlin is that when we get there she'll be able to start ballet. Anyway, I thought it was about time to tell her that we're going. So I told her that we'd be living in a nice new house, but that we'd be taking all her toys and all our things with us and it would be great. I also had to break the bad news that we wouldn't be able to take our trampoline, or the little pink plastic house or the swings. "Ok," she said "Can you leave your 'puter too?".

Really? Am I on the internet that much?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Less haste, more speed

It's the one at the bottom of the pile. See? Right there...on the right.

I could tell you what fantastic progress we are making towards the move. I could tell you that we're bang on track for getting everything sold in time for the move to Berlin. I could tell you that I'm making real headway with all the form filling-out and the inventory.

But I am fed up of it all. The place is a mess. We have a sofa on the patio that never made it to the dump today, and the rest of the house is just strewn with a seemingly endless mix of items that defy simple inventory.

On the positive side, I finally saw proof of one of my mother's favourite sayings this evening. How does it go? "Less haste, more speed"? I think that's it. Stevie was rushing me to place adverts for the car on various websites just before he raced out to the pub, moaning all the while about how slow I was being. I wasn't. It's just that he was desperate to get down to watch the football though you would have thought he had something utterly vital to get to.

So, I was hurrying as best I could, and as soon as we finished we simultaneously realised that we forgot to put a price for the car in the adverts. I've been left to fix them but the database hasn't registered them yet so maybe it'll be tomorrow. Anyway, I have lost momentum now. I just want to swipe a pile of things off the remaining sofa in here and watch Ashes To Ashes again. I was too busy working on the inventory last night to really grasp what was going on.

Anyway, here's a photo of the canvas I have completed (and stuck in a pile) for my neice. Making a 'to do' list is top of my mental 'to do' list.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

3 weeks and counting...

I'd like to be more prepared than this, but really, I'm not

We had our meeting at RR on Tuesday and finally got told that the secondment paperwork was mostly all sorted and that we are good to go. They wanted us there for the 1st June, but we have put it back a week, primarily because of my eye appointment. So we leave a few days later!

I should be scared and quite frankly worried by the fact that it seems that we have done nothing much to prepare for this move, but it seems that it'll all be taken care of. They asked whether we would like a trip to Berlin next week to go on the scouting tour and see where the shops, doctors, schools, parks etc are and to try and secure an apartment, but there seems no point when we will be moving there just the following week. An odd thing to say perhaps but we have the option of moving into a serviced apartment for 2 weeks and doing the tour and apartment search then.

So the reason for starting this blog has finally arrived and yet now it's here I'm not really allowed to talk about it. The deal is really quite good and I am really happy that a lot of the worry has been taken out of things for us. We'll get a lot of help once we get there, so it should be a pretty smooth transition. Mind you, I always say things like that and of course it's a mess.

So since Tuesday we have arranged medicals, sold the garden swings and toys, read a lot of documentation, each had a sleepless night, sat and watched a whole evening of tv when afterwards we both felt we should have been doing something, had letting agents round to visit, got the car cleaned and ready for sale, and been to Woburn Safari Park.

The trip to Woburn today was great. We took ages getting there because i missed a signpost and we ended up about 20 miles away, and once we got there we had to scoot round as fast as we could so that we could race back for the first letting agent. No hanging around and taking photos from the front seat for us! Especially not as I left the camera in the boot and then couldn't get out of the car to get it in case I got mauled.

But it was great, and we got tickets for £1 each as it was their 40th Anniversary, so I am pleased that we didn't spend £52. The kids weren't too pleased about the whole being in the car thing. they had already sat for 2 hours and it didn't seem like fun sitting in it even with giraffes walking past. So kind and creative parents that we are, once we scooted out of the safari park with no stopping, we headed back on to the M1 and took them to the services and let them have a little stroll round WH Smith. I even let them both touch a Turkish Delight, and then it was back in the car and just back in time.

Tonight I am planning on retiring to my bed to read a folder full of boring Word documents and attempting to put them in some order of critical priority. There are forms which should have been with the removal company 4 weeks ago. Ah well. All this though after I start going through things for anything that we can take to the dump. We chose our container size (1000 cubic ft) and I didn't think till later that that's just 10 ft x 10 ft x 10 ft. Stevie thought it was adequate, but I don't think he knows how much stuff I have stashed in every corner of the house.

Goodbye curtain finials that I never used, goodbye lots of towels and bedding that I would have got rid of eventually, goodbye lots of Stevie's stuff that he'll never notice...

Monday, 17 May 2010

love, Disgusted from Derbyshire

Dear Childline,

My mum and dad turned my cotbed into a bed the other night after I threatened to hurl myself over the edge into the abyss. Not exactly a suicide attempt, just a call for help, well a request really, or maybe a demand to get into Mummy's bed. Things haven't really panned out in my favour though. I am being punished. Terribly. They gave me the freedom to roam my room but have shifted the stair gate from the top of the stairs to my bedroom doorway. If I knew some bad words I'd be using them. What will they do next?: Bars on the window? I have shown them my feelings on this by slamming the door in their faces every time I am put to bed.

I don't think they like me. Despite all their kisses and cuddles and words of affection; they just don't understand me. I never get to do anything I want. And just because I nearly gassed them in their beds, well that was an accident. Doesn't mean that my every move has to be monitored. Not my fault that they didn't check that I'd been turning the gas hob on before bed. And it was someone else I am sure that left the oven on all night and the freezer door just opens itself about 3 times every day. I'd send it back.

And I'm only being helpful when I turn your 30 degree wash up to 90 degrees somewhere through the cycle. Knitwear can never be too small. But it might have been me that tore open a big box of Cheerios, and put an open bag of flour into your handbag. Admittedly, I was covered in evidence. But it could have been my sister. I think it must have been her that pulled all the toilet roll out Andrex puppy style.

But it definitely couldn't have been me that emptied a big cup of juice into a little tiny tub on the coffee table, soaking my mum's new Elle Decoration and probably making it unreadable, and then letting it overflow on to the floor, because I've been busy typing this, haven't I?

Friday, 14 May 2010

Not that great that you need to steal it

Have you looked at the photos? After reading a few blog posts which mentioned Google Stats and the strange search terms that have led people to various blogs I thought I'd look into it.And then I googled my own blog and found this scoundrel!

A strange post to decide to copy I think. I am intrigued by the translation into another language and obviously back into English. But I am really shocked that they have even posted the picture of Hamish. It's just all a bit odd. What is the point in this? What's the purpose?

I left a message and a complaint.

The original post

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Where's Tony Hart's Gallery when you need it?

An Elephant

A Parrot (side view)

A Pig (with tail)

A(nother) Pig

Drawing seems to have clicked in with Orla. One day it's all random scribbles, the next we have a lovely selection of animals. I think they're great, but I may be just the tiniest bit biased.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

An offer you can refuse quite easily

Stevie, in case you haven't already realised, was raised by wolves and in his early 20's was discovered in a sunny glade by his 'parents' while out enjoying a picnic. There are many reasons why I believe this to be fact, and the more years I spend with him, the more convinced I am. While I don't want to publicly embarrass him I shall briefly list just a few key examples that have had me wondering...

  1. S: "Where does leather come from?", F: "Where do you think leather comes from?", S: "I don't know? Monkey hands?".
  2. Doing one of these word puzzles with a picture question in the centre: S: "What is this big rat thing?" F: "A badger"

Actually, there are many more examples but I think these two cover it pretty accurately. I love him to bits but I wonder how someone can get to 35 without ever having seen a badger, even on TV. He explains it by saying that as a child he wasn't interested in TV and didn't read much and really only wanted to play football. But it always seems odd to me that you can avoid just learning things by osmosis.

Apart from an all-encompassing lack of general knowledge, Stevie also seems to have a bit of a blank when it comes to etiquette or the general way that people do things. I find it harder to think of examples as our conversations on why people just do it that way tend to end up with me being very frustrated and arguing "that's just the way it is!". Sometimes the fact that he questions convention is a good thing, but mostly it's just odd.

So following the great bike robbery at the weekend Stevie has embraced the internet and has started looking on eBay for a new bike. I think he was looking for his actual bike, but then he found that there was a wealth of choice and exciting new bikes that he hadn't previously considered. I loaned him my username and password and let him bid away on whatever took his fancy. Except that's not what he's been doing. The Stevie way to eBay is to find what you're after and then contact the seller and offer them £100 less than their starting price.

Maybe I've been doing it all wrong.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

too much time

Having too much time on my hands is not something that I struggle with very often. But Day 2 in the Scarlet Fever house and I'm bored of everything. I even turned to housework yesterday, which is just not like me. It must have sparked a thought in my subconcious that I must be coming down with something, for today in the little moments between seeing to Orla and prising Hamish off the back of the sofa, I started thinking about whether or not I might be suffering from a brain tumour.

I then:
1. Mulled over whether I could wait till my eye client appointment and ask if they could see any inflammation which might suggest a tumour.
2. Allowed myself to check out the symptoms on NHS Direct.
3. Unsatisfied with their vagueness, looked on a juicier, less reliable site.
4. Discovered I didn't have a brain tumour.
5. Remembered that I'd had my blood pressure medication changed and checked out the common side effects.
6. Bingo!

I did say I might go a bit mental being stuck in the house, but I didn't expect it to happen quite so quickly. So, we went for a drive. And I feel much better!

Monday, 10 May 2010

scarlet fever/cabin fever

Watch out for the symptoms of madness coming through this blog this week. Orla picked up scarlet fever from nursery on Thursday (these free nursery places for 3 year olds are a double-edged sword I tell ye!) and we've had a lovely weekend of vomit and feeling awful. It's not often that Orla is properly ill but this is the kind of thing that has her lying on the sofa and wailing "I just not feeling very well".

My trip to the out-of-hours GP on Sunday morning was extremely fruitful. We came back empty handed as Orla still hadn't got the rash, but every other symptom, and that's not enough for them to give her the antibiotic. So back home we went with 'suspected scarlet fever' to find in the 35 minutes we'd been away the shed had been broken into and Stevie's bike pinched.

The rotters! They left mine! It seems the robbers of today are a walking version of 'GoCompare' and can tell at a glance that my bike is worth about half of Stevie's despite the fact that mine is in sparkling, barely-used condition compared to his mud-splattered used-every-day one. We phoned the police so we could get a crime number for the insurance as Stevie needs to replace his bike for work as soon as possible. I didn't expect the police to come round for about 2 weeks, but seems Sunday morning is a slow time for crime in Derby and they came round just 20 minutes later.

Today Stevie is off to work on my bike and I took Orla round to our GP with a nice bowl to be sick in. Don't they do home visits anymore? I could feel the stares as people looked at the poor child being dragged to the doctor carrying a sick bowl, and I had to ask one woman to keep her baby away from us which was nice. I felt like the kind of irresponsible parent that sends her child to nursery with scarlet fever (not that I'm annoyed, or anything!).

So we are house-bound for at least a few days until the antibiotic kicks in, and already I have cabin fever. Please post survival kits to us. Oh and dinner too, because I haven't got anything in for tonight. And I promise we won't breathe on you...

(especially if you nick my bike as you leave)

Friday, 7 May 2010

A letter arrives

I am woken by Orla having a tantrum in the night. I go quietly from the room and sit with her until she feels calm and then I lay her down in her little bed and tuck her in. I creep back through to bed and as I settle a warm body shuffles closer until we are touching. As I run through some thoughts from the day trying to get back to sleep I remember the letter. Anxiety floods back into me and with it jolts memories of last year and the year before, of when I couldn't see. And this is how it was.

I wake in the morning before it is really light, and minutes before my baby. Before I open my eyes I check out the situation from behind closed lids, and there it is - I can see a bleed. Quickly I work out which eye and watch the blood spread like in one of those slow motion films of ink in water. Still with eyes closed I shift my pupils from left to right, and up and down and watch it spread and move around. I do this for a minute maybe more, some days this is what I do as I fall asleep, sometimes throwing in a turn from one side to the other and then I watch a whole slosh of blood slowly slide from one side of my eye to the other. But this day, only a minute, as the baby by my side has woken up and is demanding a feed. And now I open my eyes to get the full picture for the day. Can I see the spotlights in the ceiling today? Not quite. Ok. I turn to Hamish, scoop him up, and head downstairs.

Feed over, I get his nappy changed using what little sight I have to make out any 'dark shapes' that need wiping, but mostly using my now acute sense of smell to make sure he is clean. On good days when the blood is clearing I can get an hour maybe 2 of what I class as reasonable sight. I do my best to maintain it: I don't bend over, I don't move my head around too much, and I try not to shift my gaze around as this all causes my sight to deteriorate. I liken it to having a bucket of water with sand in the bottom, except really it's more like a gel. Nudge the bucket, stir up the sand, and all of a sudden it's a misty, murky mess.

I hear Orla cry as she wakes up. Stevie is in the shower already, so I quickly swaddle Hamish and place him in the travel cot to keep him safe while I go and get Orla. She holds out her arms from her little bed and I can make out her shape as I lean down for her. I select her clothes from the wardrobe. Maybe because I can't see it's important to me that her clothes don't clash; that she looks as though she has been dressed by someone that has not just grabbed the first things that come to hand. So I use my sense of touch to remember what's what. I recognise items by their buttons, embroidered details, and luckily I still have that skill picked up from Uni of being able to tell the fibre make-up of a fabric by feel. But there's not much in the way of 60/40 cotton/polyester mixes in her wardrobe but I am sure that being able to do this helps me in some way.

I carry my 16 month old Orla down the stairs and into the dining room and get her into the highchair ready for her breakfast. I dash back to the living room to check on Hamish. Stop, and listen. He's asleep. I place my hand into the bassinette and gently run it round his shoulders and head. It doesn't take long to discover he's been sick. I take the wet muslin out from under him and wipe his cheek. There's a little on the blanket but that can wait. I need to hurry now to get Orla's breakfast ready. It doesn't take long. I have pre-measured out little tubs of porridge and just need to select one and add milk. I probably spill the milk, but what does it matter?

Feeding Orla takes time. I can make out her mouth if she has it wide open and I can see the darkness of her open mouth against the paleness of her little face. This gives me something to aim for. But she does this maybe only a couple of times so the spooning in of porridge is a hit and miss affair. I get better with practice, and some days are better than others. So we get the job done, get her cleaned up, and get her nappy changed and dressed. During this long-winded process Stevie comes downstairs, racing around, getting ready for work. "How are your eyes today?". "Fine", I say "Manageable". "Really?" he asks, not really believing. "Better than yesterday anyway". Yesterday was hard work. Changing nappies all day long with sight similar to looking through heavily frosted glass held a foot in front of you with the baby behind it. My hands are dry and cracked from my blossoming obsessive hand washing habit. He shouts that he can't find his cycling gloves. "They're in the cupboard above the sink in the utility room beside Orla's puddlesuit, but they might be underneath some reigns and another pair of gloves now". "And where is my security pass?"- "Orla is wearing it". I hear its familiar smack off the wooden floor. I have memorised the location of pretty much everything in this house. Don't ask me on a quiz team because I have had to shove out about 20 years worth of general knowledge to make room for my mental household inventory.

Stevie goes to work, and the day continues. I switch on the tv. BBC 1. Always BBC1. I can't even see the tv set from across the room never mind watch the programmes, but it is my method of telling the time. 9:15 Breakfast news ends; Hospital trauma documentary or Animals being tortured 24/7 (glad I can't see that) - that's on until 10am. Then a slew of property programmes until Bargain Hunt starts at 12:15 which tells me it's lunchtime. I could listen to the radio, but I like to strain my eyes trying to make out Belfast sinks and new double glazing on Homes Under the Hammer whenever I can.

I get my own breakfast and Stevie has made me some coffee. You don't make tea and coffee much in my situation unless you have a certain apathy towards scalding yourself. Afterwards I get my insulin and work out which is the long acting one and which is fast-acting and silently listen to the clicks of the dial that I turn on the end of the pen until I get the right number of units. Orla is playing and I play with her until it's apparent that she is tired and needs her morning nap. Off we go upstairs and I quickly get a shower and get dressed. Most days I try and do this before Stevie has to go to work. I like to get my make-up on and have him check it so I don't look an idiot when I go out. Today though I do my make-up and hope for the best, though this is one of the things that really frustrates me about this whole thing.

Time for the next feed, puke, and change for Hamish. This time he has been sick on me. I know he has got my top, but hadn't realised that I had sick down my leg, so later I go out with dodgy make-up and sick on my trousers. As Stevie says, 'What does it matter?'. I guess it doesn't. I have lowered my standards significantly, but I worry that having reached new lows in my 'look', that when things improve I won't be bothered to up the standards again. In a kind of 'If you've seen me covered head to toe in sick, with next to no make-up, and generally unable to present myself in a decent way, does it really matter to make an effort in front of you ever again?'. Why bother? And that's what worries me. And that is why it is so important to me to have make-up on at the very least and have Stevie check it, even though he thinks this is completely pointless and ridiculous. (and unsaid "when there are more important things you have to worry about").

Orla wakes from her nap and we head out. I love where we live now because I can get everywhere I need to go by foot. I no longer drive, obviously, though strangely I could if I chose to as none of my doctors or consultants inform the DVLA that I wouldn't be safe on the road as I can't see an object clearly 30 cm from my face or when it is bouncing off the bonnet of my car. It's one thing I feel quite strongly about. There are lots of people on the road who shouldn't be driving, particularly the very elderly, and they have doctors and GP's and eye consultants who know they shouldn't be driving, but as long as they don't have a health condition such as diabetes or epilepsy or something else (I can no longer remember all the other ailments) then they are not required to be checked for fitness to drive every few years. My license lasts 3 years and then I have to reapply. But I am not fussed that I can't drive anymore. It's a bind in that I can't go to friends houses and I can't meet up with them at play places in other towns and parks in far away places. But it drives Stevie nuts. If I need to go somewhere or we need something big or heavy from an out of town retail park then he complains that he always has to take me and if I could see then I could just do it by myself and he wouldn't have to get involved. He is more frustrated than me. I have made my peace with the driving thing.

Back to the day. We go to Tesco. I go pretty much every day. In a similar manner to how they advise you to get out and about after you have a baby to try and avoid post-natal depression, I go out to stop myself from not going out at all. Some friends laugh at how good my children are about supermarket shopping. Some of them don't take their kids there for fear of the meltdowns that might ensue. And here mine are, every single day. But what choice do I have? I have 2 children in a pram and can't carry more than a day or twos' shopping at a time. I can't do my shopping on the internet, because I can't use the internet cause I can't see anything usually on the screen. On the very good days I can read some of the text, but I just can't see the cursor. We would starve before I completed my list. So shopping we go. I have the shop memorised, I know the colour difference between smoked and unsmoked bacon packaging even if I don't know what the discernible difference between the two is.

We shop, we pay cash (I can't rely on getting the buttons right on the chip and pin), we navigate the crossing of the busy road and we go home. I've bought meat but I don't know how to cook it. I phone my dad and ask him. "What weight is it?" he asks. "I don't know. I can't read it". "Well, what size is it?". "Ummm....It's about the size of Orla's head. Maybe a bit bigger". He tells me how long to cook it and what temperature to set the oven at. 1, 2, 3, 4, soft clicks to the right and the oven is on. The temperature is a different matter. Its a smooth turning dial. With numbers I can't read. I have it left at 180 degrees. It turns out there's not much you can't cook at this temperature - roast potatoes and things that require a 220 degree temp just need more time, and you can use that time to lower the expectations of your taste buds. With the microwave I have a similar theory. 3 and a half minutes. Does everything. And nobody died or got food poisoning during these dark, culinary times.

I miss reading. I miss magazines. I miss books. I even miss reading (or should that be mis-read) food packaging. I miss reading to Orla. That makes me feel lacking as a parent. But I tell her the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar every night at bed time and I use my own words and then it is our story. But, this gap in normal parenting is filled by Stevie who traditionally was not a reader. It helps to improve his reading tenfold and this is an added bonus. But most of all I miss seeing my children's faces. Faces that are changing and little bodies that are growing and doing new things every day. This is the hardest part of the whole thing. There is the worry that this won't get better and I won't see them and know what they look like. I don't allow myself to think about it. I just don't. Instead I just take lots of photos, dreadful photos, some just with the tops of heads, some with only part of my child and a whole lot of space, and lots of a complete stranger and his son at Water Babies who I thought was Stevie and Orla.

But it doesn't matter. We get by and we get on with looking after our two babies. The evenings are simple. Stevie helps me with the kids and makes sure that they are clean, and I always have him change evening nappies to ensure clean bums. We are at the peak of our bulk buying phase. Nappies and wipes, we have mountains of both. We go through loads anyway so it makes financial sense, but with my eyes the way they are I use 20 wipes where you might use 5, so the wipes mountain is constantly being depleted and restocked and we have our finger on the pulse of where the best wipes and nappies deals are on any given week. Once both kids are in bed we watch tv, or I sit and listen and ask questions where things aren't clear. But my eyes are tired from trying all day, and mostly I just go to bed early to get some sleep before the next feed. I climb into bed beside Hamish and relax next to his tiny snores.

We never bothered with a moses basket for him as Orla hated hers with passion. We decided instead to put him straight into his cot bed and luckily our room is big enough to have it at the end of the bed. But pretty soon I was having to dive up to get him when he woke for feeds to stop him from waking Orla and every time I got up to get him my eyes would hemorrhage. So now we're both happy. He sleeps longer and feeds less in the night and my eyes bleed less. So get off your high horses co-sleeping disapprovers!

So the days pass and the weeks and the months. Looking back it seems that this went on for a long, long time. Orla was 6 months when this started and I was just pregnant with Hamish. But some times wouldn't be as bad as others and sometimes I would have good sight in one eye. I was told that it could resolve itself and there was certainly no way I was having the operation while I was pregnant. And then I didn't want the operation when Hamish was just a newborn and I feeding all the time. So it went on and it went on and it didn't get any better, and Stevie started to threaten that we would need to move back home to Scotland where we could get help from family. I didn't have my children though to have other people looking after them. My job; my responsibility; my babies, and also I'm not very good at accepting help. So eventually I agreed to the operation. A big step for me who in case you don't know has an eye phobia so strong that I have to take diazepam just to make it through the normal eye clinic appointments.

I booked in to get it done under a general anaesthetic though you can get it done with a local. But my eye consultant thought it best also. I chose the worst eye and tried not to think of the chances of things going wrong. 3% chance of going blind. And all you can think of is the 97 successful cases before you. I turned up on the day, negotiated my way to the top of the list with the anaesthetist (hey, I'm diabetic -there's got to be some benefits!), easy enough as I hadn't eaten since the night before. And was operated on and ready to go home by 10:30am. So I could get back to the kids. Euphoric at surviving, I asked how soon I could get the other one done. Technically, they could do it the next day was the answer, but best to wait and see how this one healed first. I won't tell you about the operation. You can google it - vitrectomy - there you go. Eyes are the one thing I can't google. I don't need to know all the things that can go wrong. Time will no doubt reveal fresh horrors to me. The difference was remarkable. At the time I think I might have said it was the best operation you could have, to go from no sight to sight. I wanted to strike while the iron was hot, while I was holding positive thoughts towards surgery. But it was a few months later. And I was kind of of the opinion that with sight in one eye, well we could just put a patch over the other one and forget about it.

But I did it. And I had follow up appointments and everything has been ok. I worried about dots that I could see in one eye that was kind of like what you see after looking at a light, but that turned out to be some laser surgery I had had previously. But then they gave me a nice long gap between appointments and this was nice cause I felt I needed a bit of a break from the whole diabetes, eyes, obstetrics constant whirlwind of appointments, but the longer the gap the more you worry that something will have gone wrong in the intervening period.

And so, the letter. It came yesterday, and I am scared and it's going to keep me awake and terrified in the night until the appointment arrives. June the 3rd. We should be in Berlin, but I don't think we will be, so I know I don't need to rearrange it. I just have to get on with it.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Hamish and the Elephants

Ta-da! I finished a little picture for Hamish last night. I was in the mood for trying out something different and thought I might as well do something for his room. I did a nice sketch of this and I think I probably prefer the sketch: it seems to have more life about it, but I still quite like this.

I think the trouble with it is that it was only getting about half my concentration as I was learning German at the same time. Something's got to give, and usually it's the German that i don't take in, but I am trying to catch up with Stevie who's been at it every evening.

He's managed to sook me back into it again through the medium of his bad pronounciation. All of a sudden it's as if the more he learns, the worse his pronounciation of the early words he learned is. This is probably a reflection of just how thrilling our lives are at the moment but for the past two nights we've had massive debates on the correct pronounciation of "zu". I could wring his neck if he calls me over to listen 3mm from the laptop one more time. He just can't hear it right, but thinks he can. (And that girl from Brooklyn with the bad German ain't helping).

I look forward to saying goodbye to Michel Thomas...and then, ha, ha, hello intensive German lessons!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Warning: Frankie says Reflux!

Say nothing, and she probably won't notice

I've been left behind today. The rest of my little family are out having fun and picking up germs at some play place. I have been deemed too sick to be off licking the balls in the ball-pit. After my day of boredom/frustration/whatever I ended up with food poisoning and woke up at 2am with my stomach cramping up and that hideously feeling that you can't move or you'll be sick. I moved.

We are no strangers to sickness in this household. If I could go back in time to that fateful night I met Stevie, I would change my opening line to him from 'Are you Scottish?' to 'Were you a projectile vomiter as a baby?'. And then, perhaps I would have run off with that nice basketball player...but oh, maybe not, after all I do now have my lovely Orla and Hamish.

So Stevie was a projectile vomiter as a baby and according to his mum could hit a target a couple of feet away. I was a momentous projectile vomiter and could hit you sat across the other side of the room. What we never knew before we had children is that it's not a great combination if you don't want to pass that particular skill on to your children. When we had Orla I think we had a couple of days (possibly) before it all started. And it just never seemed to stop. I would change my clothes many times in a day, change Orla all day long, be forever with a muslin on my shoulder and at least another 2 close at hand. I would fear going to other people's houses, give warnings to those who wanted to hold her, then when they handed her back a second later covered in sick mop them, her, the floor, the table, chair, etc with the never-ending supply of wipes I was required to carry. We went to a wedding where Orla wore 3 outfits in the space of a couple of hours and each of those had been protected by innumerable bibs. We went for a short break and Orla wore and soaked 30 bibs and I resorted to buying disposable ones by the end of the holiday.

I became used to the pattern of when it would happen (all the time, particularly after feeds, when changed, when dressed, when lifted up, when put down, when touched by even the lightest touch, when spoken to, when looked at). Looking back I am surprised that I picked up in her first few weeks that she had a urinary tract infection. The symptom to look for: being sick. In Orla's case she was just sick with a greater intensity.

I remember asking my mum one time on the phone how long Orla's reflux would go on for. "Oh not that long really. You're making more of a big deal of it than you need to". So I asked how long I had had reflux for "Hmmm....maybe just about 7 months". Seven months? Of non-stop puking?? Not what I wanted to hear. We had already taken Orla to the GP where she was prescribed Gaviscon for children. It only made her sick thicker and gave her something to chew on, so we stopped that pretty quickly. The health visitor suggested we wean her earlier than 6 months as perhaps solid foods would stay down. They didn't - they just made the sick more colourful.

Eventually after our carpets were ruined and our sofas wiped within an inch of being threadbare, it stopped. 10 months it lasted, and then just 5 months later I had Hamish and it started all over again. Not quite as long with Hamish, but just as wonderfully.

I wonder whether either of them will develop travel sickness to match my own. My sister recounts many tales of us in the back of the car, her holding the bag open. Once we hadn't driven more than 500 yards before I was sick, but my favourite time was being sick out of the car window as we drove all the way round a town square in Italy.

Now who's for something to eat?

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Bored waiting for Berlin

'hang in there'

It's difficult to write a blog when it feels like there is nothing happening in your life. Even my comments say it all. Last blog post: 'What a bore'. Exactly. It kind of summarises the general mood in this house at the moment. Everybody keeps asking for an update on where we are with the move to Berlin, and the reality is that nothing is happening. Still. Daily. Nothing seems to happen.

We've been told that it'll now be the beginning of June. Yeah. I'll believe that when I see it. I am now so fed up of the whole thing I am practically at the point where I almost wish we hadn't bothered with this whole move. I've also started slacking on my German. Stevie is now ahead of me and I am in no rush to catch up.

Of course there are other things happening in our lives but I've also discovered that I don't quite feel I have the freedom to write about everything I thought I would when I first started this blog. It's quite hard not to write about friends and family, but I'd rather keep friends and not cause huge rifts in the family. So there you go - what a bore.

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