Wednesday, 31 October 2012

I can't believe my ears

I was thinking of those caught up in the storms in the USA.  It is a terrible time.  But I was shaken very suddenly from the sombre thoughts by an advert on Classic FM, on in the background.

I know that Christmas is getting earlier every year.  I know that no sooner are the Christmas decorations down than the Easter Bunnies are out - but really.  Today, October 31st, Halloween, Classic FM ran an advert for a special occasion concert - on Valentine's Day.  I shall be watching out for news of summer sales next!

(and still thinking of all those on the Eastern Seaboard)
Thinking of all caught in Hurricane Sandy and the storms around it - you are in my prayers

I need a new strategy

I can tell that little bear is coming down with something gruesome.  He will be green nosed and suffering probably just in time to get back to school.  One of the key clues is when he starts acting up outside the house.  He doesn't need an excuse with his nearest and dearest but (though I say so myself) his company manners are pretty good.

So we had battled through Asda at half term, and M&S at half term, and we were waiting for a bus and little bear was white faced, dark eyed and bouncing up and down yelling, 'Billy Bonkers! Billy Bonkers!' while I tried to hide behind a carrier bag.

Fortunately little bear was impeccable on the bus as the man sitting in front of me announced loudly how much he hated kids shouting and messing around and he blamed the parents.  However he got off the bus before us, nearly incandescent that he had not been able to complain about anything.  I was so relieved.

So I know little bear will come down with something soon, like a completely disgusting cold or cough, as is the nature of 5 year olds in October.  It is like taxes - there is no escape!  But I will be on pins, watching for it, only relaxing when it finally appears.  But nothing is likely to happen as a result of all that fretting.  I need to learn to chill until the green nose actually appears. 

I was doing the same with evil cat.  She is seriously scabby around the back of her neck.  And I know that that could mean problems grooming - and that is not good for cats.  On the other hand, I have been fretting about evil cat's health for years and she is doing very well, thank you.  I think I will just 'enjoy' her and wait and see what happens.  She doesn't seem too bothered, so I shall take a cue from her.

I cannot think of anything remotely useful about borrowing trouble.  So I will practice just dealing with what I have in front of me.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The only one in the house

I feel so special, because in this household I am the only person ever to be able to put a loo roll on the holder.  Not only that, I am even more special because I am the only person who can open the curtains.  We aren't overlooked but it is nice to close the curtains at night.  However I am the only person in the household who can open the downstairs curtains, and while darling father does open his curtains, all bets are off for any other window above the ground floor. 

I am also the only person in existence who can turn little bear's night light off, though plenty can turn it on, and if OH covers the night shift and I don't have a chance to check, it can stay lit until lunch time.  Next to the closed curtains that apparently only I can open.

Some things only I can close as well.  To my frustration, we do not have double glazing in the two small windows in the porch so the draught from there can be cruelly cold.  Of course if you shut the door between the porch and the living room then it is a great deal warmer - but apparently only special people can manage that.  Or in this case, me. 

And as we have our meals in the living room which is a flight of stairs away from the kitchen, OH helps bring the food up, but taking it down, well, that is left to the same person who does all the special jobs, and that of course includes washing up - although OH is enjoying the dishwasher.  Do not get me started about ironing.  And don't even talk about pairing up socks.

On the other hand, I do get huge quantities of cuddles, and  on the whole, I think I am the lucky one, I certainly wouldn't change it for the world, not if it meant losing the cuddles!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Little bear is a townie bear

Little bear was very cross yesterday.  We took him to Temple Newsam to see the farm.  Little bear was not impressed.  First of all it was very cold, and he could be playing minecraft in a nice, warm study.  Then it was extremely smelly (really, really smelly) and he could be playing minecraft in a nice warm, non-smelly study.  He didn't want to look at the piglets, he didn't think the sheep looked cute, he didn't care about the hens or the cows with the curly coats and to be honest the whole thing was a trial for him.  The only time he cheered up was on the adventure playground where, as usual, he terrified me by trying to climb things that he was really not big enough.

Evil cat has been considering sending a friendly tail wave of respect to the cat at Temple Newsam.  It was a huge all-black tom, that scrounged shameless cuddles from OH and then got straight under the feet of a busy farm worker who was getting ready for a Halloween display later and yowled in outrage (probably due to lack of cuddles).  Not only that, but it was obviously not focusing on the actual job of a farm cat as I noticed a mouse or young rat disappearing around one corner.  Still, it is a huge cat that has to cope with free ranging geese, which is probably a bit of a challenge. 

Little bear then proceeded to utterly lose the computer mouse while he was using the computer.  It took nearly an hour to find it - he had knocked it into a drawer which he had then shut while looking for it before he called anyone else in. 

I am a bit worried about how much time little bear is spending on minecraft.  Normally the first thing he says to me in the morning is not, 'Good Morning' but, 'Can I watch minecraft videos?'  The school half term is looming up ahead of me so I will be searching for all sorts of other things just to keep him off there.  I am not sure it is helpful.  On the other hand he is still looking a bit washed out and his throat has some seriously red patches that could turn to tonsillitis.  He definitely is in need of some quiet time. 

Like any mum, I will try and find some sort of balance.  I'll try and involve plenty of cuddles. 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Being brave

I have been trying to work on the sequel to Forgotten Village.  Yesterday I fought it to a near standstill, I am at 20,000 words.  However, knowing that the story was fighting back, I sat back and thought about the actual structure of what I had written. 

So I am going to junk the 20,000 words and start again.  It is really, really hard, but I would rather I wrote something good than something scratched together.  And there is a silver lining.  When I start again I can at least start with the formatting that Smashwords like which will save me a great deal of pain.  It's not much of a silver lining, but it is all I have at the moment, so I will take it. 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Taking my medicine

The doctor doesn't think I have angina, but I have some angina tablets anyway.  Just in case.  While 'we' rule things out.  The doctor is actually lovely, though, and she is a bit baffled as to why things aren't working.  The wonderful thing is, there is a symptom.  Something is wrong.  All I need to do now is find out why. 

I picked up the tablets yesterday, and I very foolishly read the insert.  All health professionals will tell you to read the insert, just in case.  I always try to avoid them, because the list of warnings terrifies me!  I am sitting here in a state of advanced anxiety waiting for something to happen.  Of course it won't, the chances of anything bad happening are actually really small.  The chances of me getting into a right state over imagined symptoms are a lot higher.  One possible symptom is that I will get numb hands and feet.  Well I can't feel my feet properly at the best of times so at least that is one symptom I won't notice!  As long as I can keep typing. 

I read the insert because I wanted to see what it said about alcohol.  I am not actually that fussed about having a drink, I have gone years between one alcoholic drink and another, so not having a drink is unimportant.  Darling father, however, is pressing me hard about have a drink and keeps buying me tipple.  As I need to lose weight urgently, I could do without the calories.  This also applies to the sweets he keeps buying me and getting upset that I don't eat - between telling me how much I need to lose weight. 

Fortunately I am let of the next round of drinks as I am currently on antibiotics for an infected cyst (it's all glamour with me), so at least I can stay sober for the next week.  I just need to think of strategies afterwards...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Email grumbles

Someone in the USA has a similar email address to me.  Or someone has just put down a random email address which actually belongs to me.  Or both.  Because I am getting so much spam from over the Atlantic that has nothing to do with me. 

What is even more irritating is that they seem to be having a nicer life than me.  They associate with firemen.  They subscribe and support their local museum.  They volunteer to help out at kiddies' parties and I have to email back saying things like, 'I hope this isn't urgent, as you have the wrong address...'

The latest one is a nice email from a dentist in Portland, Oregon, confirming an appointment.  I am a huge fan of Grimm, I love the look and feel of the setting of Portland.  However I don't think I could raise the vast sum of money just to get there, let alone the cost of any treatment.  And my (actually very lovely) dentist is still reluctant to treat me until my heart problems are sorted as she doesn't want me to expire on the premises.  I can see her point of view but I am still getting toothache.  The dentist in Portland had its attractions. 

And I probably wouldn't bump into Monroe, and that would be so disappointing.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Doctors again

I have had a hospital appointment.  There is something wrong, she is not sure what, but she has prescribed angina tablets.  Though she actually doesn't think that I have angina.  I am so grateful that she thinks I have something.  That way things may change. 

All I can say is that I am completely exhausted.  Tired doesn't even start to cover it.  Sigh.

So I have had a chest xray, I am going to be booked in for an ultrasound, and I am due back some day in December.  So obviously it isn't urgent. 

On the bright side, I wrote 2000 words yesterday, getting past a long standing block.  Some of them are bound to be in the right order!  If I don't have the energy to do much else, I am sure I can find the energy to write.

Monday, 22 October 2012


There is nothing I love more than grumbling about the weather.  I love complaining about it being too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy - thank goodness for the British weather, there is always something to grumble about. 

At the moment, outside the window, it is too dry for an umbrella but without one you get wet.  There is always a bright side, though, as darling father put in a lot of winter pansies over the weekend and I don't need to go and water them.

However I watched Countryfile last night and there were mutters about snow.  I hate snow.  I loathe and detest it.  I sort of tippytoe on snow, convinced at any second I am going to slip and damage myself.  To be fair, I have dislocated four shoulders so far, so I think I need to be realistic.  I will have to take little bear to school in the snow, and there is no way to get there that doesn't involve a steep slope, which irrationally terrifies me.  Last year I was affected one day, or perhaps two.  And despite the vague mutterings of snow, it is very unlikely to reach us before Christmas.  It doesn't mean that I look forward to the prospect, however.

Regardless, I can still find a bright side.  What a great opportunity to go through the cupboards and work out what you need to stock up on!  In my case, not a lot, but it is the principle that counts. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Stress? What Stress?

Evil cat is fine, she has been curled up on a pile of cleaned and ironed washing, sleeping soundly and shedding with vigour.  I shall have to shave little bear's trousers before he wears them.  I am still recovering from sitting on her yesterday.  She said such a rude word, I blushed while I was shaking and hanging on to the arm of the chair in shock.  The trouble is, evil cat believes that not only is she about four times her actual size but also that she has the first claim on any spot in the house.  She also likes to climb under blankets, duvets and throws - like the throw that was on my chair last night.  I am surprised she hasn't yet been utterly squashed.  I think it is the size of her personality that protects her.

I am also waiting to see what happens with my washing machine.  I have a huge grey, slightly padded sort of taffeta type throw/eiderdown I got extremely inexpensively from TKMaxx.  It is a lovely thing, I got it for OH's bed to top up the warmth in winter.  It got pushed in a heap to the floor at the bottom of the bed - where it got mildew remover on it.  I have managed to fit it into the washing machine (just) and put it on a extra long wash (at a low temperature!).  If it survives the experience I am claiming it for myself - as long as it is free of mildew remover.  It looks like it may have rotted the fabric and I will have to bin it, though I will see. 

And I have just tried uploading the Forgotten Village to Smashwords.  I used to format documents regularly, I worked as a secretary, I could make word processing programmes do anything I wanted.  I could insert and twist and play with the spaces and have a lot of fun.  It is supposed to take two hours to format.  I took a lot longer.  And I said some words that made evil cat blush (perhaps that was why she was hiding under the throw instead of just lurking there undercover to plot evil).  But it is up, and fingers crossed it looks okay.  I didn't get a chance to preview. 

So I am grumbling and tensing and muttering (especially about page breaks in the Smashwords Edition) and really - it's nothing.  If this is the extent of the stress then I am very lucky.  And I am very lucky and it is time for me to remember my blessings.  

Friday, 19 October 2012

Little bear's sense of timing

Little bear is in a split class.  It is composed of the older of the year one and the younger of the year two.  I had no qualms about little bear in that environment.  Warning - proud mum boast!  The teacher said that it was not unusual for the more able of year one pupils to catch up with the less able of year two pupils by the end of the year.  However she said it was not impossible that little bear would catch up with the more able of year two pupils, the ones a year older.  OH and I assured the teacher we were very proud and happy to encourage but we didn't want to be overly pushy.  Then we floated smugly home. 

This morning little bear insisted on taking The Wonders of the Universe by Brian Cox in to school.  It's actually OH's book, and it has lovely illustrations.  Little bear has been looking through it.  Bless him, he has even been trying to read it.  While I think he can have a good go at the words, I don't know how much solar science little bear can absorb as he is not yet six.  Little bear, of course, is adamant that he likes reading the book, thank you so much, and will continue to do so.

We are going to look like pushy parents.  It is immaculate timing from little bear - again.

It could have been worse.  Little bear used to enjoy looking at the page numbers of a Victorian book of household hints, and I am really glad he didn't take that into school. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Parents Evening

The teacher is another victim to little bear's charm. 

And he is doing well, his work is excellent, he is calm, progressing above average, confident, hard working, generally keeping the teacher happy. 

All is good. 

I forgot to ask about friends, but that seems to be going okay, and I forgot to ask about PE, but that also appears to be okay, and in general, little bear is excelling - especially at the charm.  It's the smile. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Little bear is literal

Little bear has far too many angles, and I do worry about keeping up with him.  Also I worry about other people keeping up with him.

Today was piano lesson day.  Little bear is resisting piano lessons.  First of all he complained that he didn't want to go ever again (I said firmly that he was going), then he insisted that I promised that this would be the last lesson (I said he was continuing to go) and then he complained bitterly about the pain in his leg making it impossible to make it as far as the bus stop (but it didn't stop him thirty seconds earlier hurtling round the playground on the way out of school).

The trouble is that little bear doesn't want to do piano lessons because he can't be bothered.  It is the only activity apart from martial arts' grading that he can't walk to in ten minutes, and OH takes him in the car for the grading.  So he has to walk yards to the bus stop, then yards to the piano teacher's house, and then I usually force him to do shopping after that.  And not only that, but he can't just do the piano.  It is not coming effortlessly to him.  He has to work at it and practice - and that is not fair!

When we got to the piano teacher's house, I asked the (really lovely) piano teacher about teaching little bear the melody for 'London's Burning' as that is a song they are learning at school.  'Would you like to learn that?' asked the teacher.  'No, thank you.' Little bear replied politely.  The piano teacher blinked, but carried on with the planned lesson.

A little later the piano teacher was showing little bear a new tune.  'Would you like to play that for me now?' She asked little bear.  'No, thank you,' said little bear firmly.  However he did not have the option this time. 

And then the teacher turned over a page, showed him a tune that he had never seen before and little bear did a really good job of picking out the tune.  He is still at the stage where he is learning to read music, and how to play the notes and he has just graduated to using his left hand and his right hand, although not together.  And he was brilliant, working things out and figuring out a note that he had never seen before.  He is picking things up really well, remembers the information forever and soaks up what he needs to know like a sponge.  However, he doesn't want to be bothered.  I am determined that he will learn how to persevere.  I may break first.

My head hurts

I have discovered Smashwords.  They also publish online, for free.  It does look very promising and they also distribute to Apple itunes etc. 

However I am now hip deep in legal jargon, tax implications and trying to work out what I can publish where.  I have a headache.  I worked in the fringes of the legal profession for years and had no problem with application of theory and processing the actual bits of paper.  The reason why I didn't go into the legal profession is because the law books make my brain dribble out of my ears. 

So I am going to be checking my agreement with Kindle, checking what is allowed with whom and then, if possible, reformatting to publish on Smashwords as well.  The formatting appears quite strict - rules about indents and trailing paragraphs and font size and such - easy stuff if you have played with wordprocessing programmes as much as I have.  I may eat my words later, but I am determined to get just a little bit further. 

So posts on here may be sparse, but I will be back and update. 

And also, THANK YOU!!!!! for all the help and support and encouragement from everyone here.  It is very much appreciated. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Not surprised

Second Asda order delivered.  It will all keep apart from a quantity of milk, and I will have a spare iron, but that is my budget blown entirely out of the water.  On top of which I think Eon will be taking a chunk because I am switching from them and I think there is a shortfall - this cold summer has meant a lot more spent on power. 

However apart from this, Asda have been brilliant, and I cannot complain.  All the second load will help and I will just be careful not to over order.  It is just the milk that needs to be used up quickly.

Tonight for dinner I can see Angel Delight and milkshakes...

He's worth it

This morning I battled through wind and rain to the local church to attend little bear's school festival.  I sat through a very flat harvest festival feeling very unfestive and then cross with myself.  And then I stood, aching, waiting for a chance to see little bear file out. 

When he saw me he smiled all over.  It was wonderful.  All the wind, rain, self pity and flatness just were nothing, melted away.  I sort of floated home through the hurricane.  And the rain had stopped. 

I love my little bear, and if turning up at the harvest festival means he is happy, then I will be there every time.  

Monday, 15 October 2012

Not a brilliant day

Little bear is still a bit run down after the tonsillitis, which he himself has forgotten.  This morning he was still asleep at 7am.  I wasn't.  I was woken up by a text telling me when the dishwasher was going to be delivered - between 3pm and 7pm.  I sighed and turned over to go back to sleep.  I nearly jumped out of my skin when the phone went at 7.15.  That was the automated phone call telling me that the dishwasher would be delivered between 3pm and 7pm.  I sighed and got up. 

Of course, I panicked again when the phone went at 8am - but that was when the delivery driver who was delivering the dishwasher rang to let me know that while I had been told 3pm to 7pm, all bets were off as the van had broken down. 

I trudged over to the GP, who seemed happy that I was going in the right direction.  Then I trudged out to B&Q to get the widget to plumb in the dishwasher.  Nice Mr Next Door said he would help with that.  I then 'accidentally' walked into the Aldi next to B&Q and came out with some non-need goodies (which will keep and will be rationed), a ball of yarn that was a lot more than I expected and that I definitely didn't need and two sets of scissors, which actually I could do with.  Although given their price I should have scraped together four or five times their combined cost and got a decent pair.  I use scissors a lot in the kitchen. 

None of the buses wanted to play going to and from B&Q.  I spent more time waiting for buses than was reasonable.  It would be a bit of a stretch to walk to Aldi from our house, but doable if I didn't have to cross stonking great motorway slip roads.  It was a frustration to me that I spent £2.50 on bus fares when theoretically, if it wasn't for the risk of huge lorries at 70mph, I could have eventually walked it.  That is, for the same journey, £1.50 there, £1 back.  I have no idea why, I just smiled and paid. 

By the time I got home I realised why I couldn't have walked it even if the slip roads were not there - I was just about at the point of collapse.  However there was a space cleared for the dishwasher and I had little bear's lunch supplies coming in an Asda delivery before 3pm.  Darling father wasn't well, and he went off to get a sleep.

At 2.55pm I rang Asda customer services (who were very polite) and explained that my order hadn't arrived yet, and if it didn't arrive in the next fifteen minutes I would have to go out to pick my little bear up from school.  The lady was lovely, but it took her a long time to find me, I had to spell out everything to her (definitely my accent at fault, it is very mixed up and hard to follow on a bad connection).  I checked the time on my mobile as I hung up (15.07), putting my coat on as I flew out the door, asking Nice Mr Next Door But One to sign for anything that arrived. 

Of course the van had arrived when I was out.  I had a clear view of my road for at least five minutes before I actually got into the door and rang the number on the delivery card three times before I checked the computer which had the time (recently synchronised due to age) at 15.26 to get the customer service number again.  I didn't mind (much) that the van driver hadn't allowed Nice Mr Next Door to sign for the groceries.  He didn't know that my neighbours are lovely.  What I did mind is that he had put on the card that he had been sat patiently outside our house from 15.02 to 15.17.  I know it was only finessing a few minutes, but it was so needless.  He was probably there 15.10 to 15.15 at the outside.

I rang back to Asda customer services who were, once again, lovely, and I did something I have never, ever done before to a customer service rep.  I burst into tears.  I never cry, not when I am in pain, not when giving birth, not at all.  I think I am still a bit poorly.  I felt dreadful for the poor customer service lady and apologised through sobs.  She gave me a free delivery and a £10 credit (which made me feel very guilty) and promised that she would do what she could.

Actually someone probably called the van driver who came and dropped the stuff off at 6.30pm.  He was apologetic, unloaded everything and zoomed off.  I didn't have the strength to find out if the re-booked order due to be delivered between 12-2pm tomorrow is still going to happen.  If it does, the budget will be even more hammered, but all but the milk will keep.  

The dishwasher did arrive, on time, in one piece, and it looks far too big for the space on the counter, although OH did measure and it should be fine.  Tea was home cooked and tasty (inexpensive beef from a farm shop, with lots and lots of fresh veggies, tinned tomatoes and some sneaky red lentils in there for some healthy protein boost.  I served with herby dumplings and it was very pleasant, and inexpensive).  The day ended well. 

I can't wait for tomorrow.  Hopefully the dishwasher will be plumbed in and I can start using dishwasher tablets, and I shall be on pins seeing if Asda deliver again.  And hopefully I shall have a few less tears. I am still baffled about that.

More money gone

Broke the iron last night.  I pulled the ironing board to get to something, the iron fell and there was this gruesome 'craaaack'.

I did try using it, but it leaked. 

I think I need to focus on saving more money

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The computer does not have a virus

The computer that has gone to the very nice repair man has not got a virus, it just refuses to switch on once it has been switched off.  It has become worse and worse and now it flatly refuses to co-operate. 

On the other hand, I was told I had had a virus, little bear is showing signs of being desperately under the weather (he slept for twelve hours last night!), OH is definitely not well and darling father is feeling poorly.  So while the computer may be virus free, everyone else isn't.  Even evil cat is a bit under the weather and didn't take advantage of her usual cuddles with Nice Mr Next Door. 

The computer I am working on probably is too old to catch a virus.  However I did manage to get some writing done last night, despite the siren call of some games that I used to love playing but are too creaky to run on the current system.

There is always a bright side.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Computer still absent

I am typing this excrutiatingly slowly on a spare computer that is very elderly, very temperamental and grumbles about all this newfangled stuff like 'blogs', when it was a micro chip there were none of these things around, people stuck to what they knew...

I am waiting until we have a fully functional computer before starting to do a proper, figures written down type budget, but I am considering a lot of things, including the best way to save money. 

On the bright side - I can see the adverts and I am enjoying them a great deal.  On a more serious note, this elderly box is one I used years and years ago, and it has a copy of Sword Searcher on, which is a computerised concordance, and lets me search for all sorts of quotes from the Bible.  This is research and important for an upcoming bit of writing I hope to publish in the New Year.  I hope to get some time in working on that - saving it in Google Documents (if the computer recognises that!) for when we switch back to a current machine. 

As an aside - I think I need to make my writing a part of my job description as well.  If I do it right, it may actually end up as a job description.  A timetable for when publication should happen, and a target of x number of words per day should be the minimum I should include. 

And on a less serious note, I am able to play some computer games that are so old and creaky (like me) that they will no longer run on current machines. 

I confess to worrying about all the bills and expenses on the horizons, but at the moment, there is plenty of silver lining.  

Friday, 12 October 2012


There may be something of a pause as the main pc has just failed.  I am typing this on a *&%@ netbook & struggle with the keyboard and the settings, and the cursor has to be carefully placed or it self clicks and I have ended up in all sorts of places.

I think we will need a new pc, this one is older than little bear.  This is on top of the new freezer, fridge, washer etc so asap I will need to budget.

Also, have lost most of the first twenty thousand words of sequel to Forgotten Village if pc can't be retrieved. 

updates may be sparse

Thursday, 11 October 2012

warm hands, warm heart

Little bear sweet talked me into buying him a pair of gloves yesterday with skeleton bones printed on the back of them. 

He wore them all night, keeping his hands lovely and toasty - unlike the rest of him.  I had a bad night and so spent a large proportion of it putting the blankets back on him.  The gloves, however, were there to stay.

Food for thought

Here is Morgan's comment, which has provoked a great deal of thought in me.

'Read my post today for some ideas that might suit you for record keeping - or at least give you food for thought whilst you sort out your own methods. This whole keeping track thing is vitally important - even if you blow the budget, you need to know by how much it is blown!!'

I am starting to treat my housewifery as a job (currently on sick leave) with targets, timetables, job plans, etc.  I remember writing up job descriptions in old jobs, and I am using a lot of the old terminology.  'Timely manner' is creeping in a lot.   I never really managed a budget, but I was around enough people who did to get the idea.  I also loved doing the book work, despite hating sums.  I loved getting the sense of order. 

For the housewifery I have sat down with Google calendar and just put down jobs that I think need to be doing, some every four weeks, some every week, some every quarter, and using the calendar overview to make sure I spread the load.  I have written down morning and evening routines (thank you, flylady) in a 'job description style' and set some objectives.  As soon as I have done that, of course, everything has gone wrong.  This is normal. 

But I can keep coming back to it, chipping away at it, and things are getting better.  For example - meal planning.  Every time I have tried meal planning, life has happened instead.  There have been illnesses, interruptions, panics, complications and just lack of will.  However over the last few months I have been a lot more aware of approaching meals.  I have been sort of juggling things in my mind's eye.  I have also been looking at the calendar where everything is on.  So I know on Tuesdays I will be better off with a casserole as little bear has martial arts and I am usually too busy negotiating piano practice to spend long on a meal.  We always get a Kentucky on Wednesdays as I will have dragged little bear to piano practice, then to Morrisons, then around Morrisons, and I will be at that point completely on my knees!  The Kentucky is the sweetener for little bear and OH for the supermarket trip and I am aiming for it to be the only takeaway in a week.  Eventually I hope for the Kentucky to be much more occasional, casserole Wednesdays and something quick on Tuesdays.  On the 18th October we are having casserole because that is little bear's parent's evening and the timing means that we shall be eating at different times.  Normally, Thursdays mean fish as we will have bought fresh fish from the Morrisons Fish Counter the day before.

Of course, as soon as I sort of got a rhythm going the freezer door with most of the protein component jammed and I need to use up as much as I can of the absolutely stuffed freezer before defrosting the dratted thing and trying to get it all to work.  But I am aware of that rhythm, I am aware of the shape of the days coming up, and I have ghosts of awareness of what is in stock.  That is the next step - the stock take - when I am feeling better. 

The housewifery and meal planning have failed badly in the past.  They are not perfect now, not by any means.  But they are getting closer.  So perhaps it is time to look at Budgeting again. My fridge, freezer and washer are all looking iffy.  Food is going up, fuel is going up, little bear has a lot coming up - I need to work out how to best use our resources.  It is looking less and less likely that I will be getting work outside the home any time soon. 

Thank you, Morgan.  I think that your comment is perfect timing. 

Tracking the pennies

Last year little bear's school required @ £150 for 'asks'.  That is, non uniform days, sponsorship, book days, school photos, trips etc.  This year I am keeping a running tally on my blog. 

Last year we were first stung by the 'design the Christmas card at home and then pay to have them printed for you' game.  That was around £15.  This year little bear just said he didn't want to.  He was not interested in doing it, not at all.  I decided not to fight this battle.  Now the Harvest Festival is looming, so I have bought a large bag of pasta for little bear's contribution.  The donations go to a homeless shelter which also supports vulnerable adults.  Pasta is easy to cook, easy to store, can cover a multitude of sins and most people can eat it - so it was an easy choice.  Then the school supports another school for the disabled in Vietnam.  So a 'voluntary' donation is required for that.  There will also be a collection at the service and of course I am going!

I begrudge none of these expenses.  We are so very, very blessed.  I do feel that the least we can do is give a little back.  I do begrudge the insidious drag of a pound here, 50p there, etc.  Which reminds me - I need to find the sheet to subscribe to little bear's school newspaper - only £3.00.  Except that it does become another £3.00.

And to put it into context, I have just gritted my teeth and booked little bear a party at softplay.  He asked and asked for it, so he is getting it, on his birthday, just next to Christmas, in the most inconvenient local soft play but the one with the biggest slide (size matters).  The last party cost around £150.  I suspect that though this party is cheaper per head than last time, there will be a lot more coming.  Little bear, however, will love it, and we are lucky enough to be able to spare the money.  No matter how much I grumble, we are blessed.

I should also add that there will be the carol service which will need a donation, almost certainly some presents for the staff, I have already paid £25 (really gritted teeth) to attend the martial arts Christmas party, then there is the two parties little bear is due to attend in the next month, and so on and so forth.  It still we be a small fraction of the party and presents for little bear.

On top of that we did pass the MOT, but need two new tyres, I have just paid out for a dishwasher (woohoo!!!  £175, and worth every penny!) and I can see my fridge and freezer may need replacing very soon. 

I have lost count of the number of times I have tried to work out budgets and then wandered off away with the fairies.  I have lost count of the number of times I have been determined to cut down and then splurged.  However I do seem to be getting a little better, I think I need to do a proper, serious, budget - and stick to it.  After all, little bear is not going to get any cheaper to keep!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Still here

I am still here, grumbling mainly about a massive pain in my hip, but doing anything is really tough atm. 

However I have ordered a dishwasher.  I have put this off and off and off.  But OH can't wash up, I definitely don't trust little bear, and I don't like darling father on the steps down to the kitchen.  From next Monday we shall be a dishwasher household.  It is going to be a tiny, table top one, but it is at least a help. 

I am also trying to get ahead with the ironing.  Every time I go downstairs to the kitchen for any reason I iron something.  If I feel like it, I carry on.  If I don't feel like it, I stop.  But hopefully it will get me a bit further along. 

I now need to work out how to get the house as minimalist as possible in my current condition, and once it is there I need to work out strategies to keep it that way.  Some people manage this without thinking.  I envy them.  However I can at least aim to get there. 

Looking back over my blog, this is a recurring theme.  However in my defence I would say that the house now has a lot less in it, quite a lot less.  Many places are far more organised and easy to use.  I have made informed decisions about what to keep and what to throw - and gone with it.  My lack of energy is letting me down, and I focus less than I should, but I will get there. 

My mindset is currently changing.  More and more I am refusing to buy things 'because' (not always, but getting there), and when I was browsing yarn in a low moment yesterday, I couldn't bring myself to buy any.  This is a really good step forward. 

I am feeling cautiously optimistic. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

No need to Panic

Yesterday morning I went to see my GP with chest pains.  He said if it got worse to go to hospital.  Yesterday evening I went to hospital as I was feeling so sick and shaky.  Apparently a virus has infected cartilage near my heart which accounts for the chest pains and the sick, shaky feeling.  Came home feeling a bit embarrassed.  And also really poorly, but at least virus poorly. 

OH has been a star

Today is officially a duvet day. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Little bear at a party

Little bear went to a party this morning.  He was not too keen initially.  On one hand there were going to be a lot of girls, and little bear is growing up to be very much a boy who plays with boys.  He is fine with girls, but he plays games that involve superheros and aliens and monsters.  He is not keen on the whole 'princess' stuff.  On the other hand it was not going to be at a soft play centre, and was therefore the first time he had been to a party that wasn't at a soft play.  The little girl's parents had very bravely hired a hall.  However, we managed to get him there. 

First there was zumba.  Little bear had never done zumba.  He was obviously sceptical.  But he joined in the completely age appropriate moves, sliding and waving and having a great time.  The parents had got a professional in and she was really good.  Then there was the food, which little bear graciously ate quantities of.  Then there was pass the parcel and he quite enjoyed that, it was arranged that all the kids got a small packet of sweeties in the layers of the wrapping paper, it was great fun.  Then it was 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey'.

Little bear didn't want to do it.  He was not impressed, he was not joining the line, he was going to eat the sweets he got from pass the parcel and stay near mum.  He watched carefully as the other kids too their turn in the nearest line (there were two lines going) and in the end, when the little girl's mummy asked him if he was sure that he didn't want a turn, little bear decided that upon reflection that he would have a go at this Donkey business.

What actually had happened was that little bear had carefully observed all the other children taking part, worked out how to do it to the best advantage and then squinted through the eye-mask.  He won - a small bag of sweeties, but a tactical triumph. 

I would like to add that I completely admire the little girl's parents who did a marvellous job and all the kids had a great time.  For little bear's next birthday, I have considered what they went through and I am resolved - definitely soft play!

Crop Circles

I have just watched a programme about Crop Circles (research - perhaps one can appear near the Forgotten Village) and while I was fascinated by all the people.  One man who broadcast a taped confession that he had faked something which many Crop Circle specialists still believe is real, and they believe that the confession is more fake (human nature is very odd and I keep an open mind, but you have to wonder).  There were people talking about UFO's and energies and radiation.  There were people who created crop circles.  There were psychologists who studied those who believed in crop circles.  One thing struck me. 

At no point did any farmer come on and say the words, 'criminal damage'.  It was alluded to as those people who go out and create crop circles admit that but never claim a particular circle.  Possibly to maintain a mystique, possibly to avoid appearing before a magistrate.  In the documentary they created an amazingly complicated and incredibly beautiful crop circle in a very short time - in a field where there was permission from the farmer!  It sounded more like the exception than the rule. 

After all the bad weather we have been having, and all the problems with feeding the world, I look at those circles and I wonder - can those parts of the field be harvested?  Can they be salvaged?  If they can't, how much money lost to the farmer is represented in those designs?  How many loaves of bread could be made?  I like to take things to the concrete. 

I shall be doing further research. 


Eighteen months after I first put adverts in my blog I am likely to receive my first payout.  It isn't guaranteed and I have no idea which account I set it up to as it was so long ago. 

I really, really, really, really DON'T want anyone to click on an advert unless they actually are interested.  There were one or two I was interested in, but I couldn't click on them (breaks the rules and would guarantee no payout) so I would copy and paste the linky, or google for it.  And I like that they had a bit of colour as a I am rubbish at putting pictures in.  I also loved seeing what adverts followed which post.  Some had real irony in them. 

But OH has set the computer up so that I can't see the adverts in my blog.  This has been depressing me for a while.  It took away a lot of low grade fun in my life.  And I don't like the idea of asking friends for money, and I think of the people reading this as friends.  Making money because of your clicks can feel uncomfortable.  Although if you find it useful getting you to places that are helpful, that's okay.  I also don't want to put people off from reading. 

But while the payout isn't huge, it will cover a huge chunk of Christmas present for little bear.  At the moment I aim for around £30-50 for a 'big' present for little bear for Christmas and his birthday which are ridiculously close together.  The payout will cover one of those. 

At the moment I don't know if the adverts will stay or go.  Thank you for anyone who has clicked, I hope you found it really helpful.  And I hope you could find some of those advert/post contrasts as humorous as I could. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Tyrannical mother

Little bear has become very attached to minecraft, playing it with OH and watching it on YouTube.  Today I have been happy to let him.  It is an inset day and little bear is sooooooooo tired that I am happy to let him get away with lots of computer time.  Okay he has had breaks and a little walk, and he has finished all his homework but he has clocked up quite a bit chunk of computer time today. 

As I have been hovering (little bear has been on the computer, of course I have been hovering), and a fruity bit of language came on.  I shrieked, 'Don't you dare say anything like that!'  Little bear just gave me a Look.  He has probably heard a lot worse in the playground.  Thinking about it, he has probably heard a lot worse from OH who doesn't actually swear that much.  However I decided to follow up that Some Words are Not Said in front of Parents. 
'If you say anything like that, I will get a big bar of green soap and I will wash your mouth out, right to the back teeth.'  I said firmly.  Darling father was there, and he had used a similar threat years ago to me when I was the same age.  He backed me up to the hilt, 'They have special soap for boys who say rude words and it tastes awful.'

For a split second little bear considered my disciplinary record, my level of strictness and how exacting I could be, then he fell about laughing.  He has got me completely worked out.  The world's softest mum.   I have no chance. 

(and no, of course I wouldn't wash his mouth out with soap, but his computer time would vanish to nothing!)

Laundry disaster

Ironing not entirely successful.

I shall just salvage what I can, bin what I can't (or rather, pass to next door to use as rags for mechanicking) and grit my teeth and try and think of it as an opportunity.

Actually, I can probably get away without replacing any, as the shirts are from OH and little bear who both have (or had) a surplus.  So I suppose I could try and spin it to make it seem a clutterbust.  No matter how I look at it, though, I am really fed up with myself. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Is it only me?

As far as I can tell from local over-the-fence type talk, I am the only one who uses all of the settings on the washing machine.  Okay, perhaps not every single one every single day.  I have only used the setting for silk once or twice (hand crocheted blankets) and I very rarely use 'mini wash' as I tend to either get a decent wash together or I want the small amount of washing to have a good swish. 

It may not seem it, after the disasters I have recounted on here, but I like to take a pride in my washing.  I carefully consider the balance of washing programme and temperature together with washing powder, stain remover and white vinegar, to try and get the best out of my bottom of the range Hotpoint.  I have actually had surprisingly few disasters considering I actively go looking for washing and even if something has only been worn briefly it still tends to go into the wash.  And I very rarely (honest, despite what I have written in the past) have a problem with grey whites, stains or marks.  I suspect it is because I use a relatively expensive powder (on offer) but also I tend to go for longer washes at lower temperatures and avoid tumble drying.  I have been told, and believe, that the greatest energy cost with a washing machine is heating the water.  That is why the dial is usually firmly set at 30 degrees unless it is for a particular purpose, like towels or sheets - or if I put on a 'boil' wash at top temperature with an empty drum to 'flush out' the washing machine.  I did this last weekend. 

The few washes I have done since have been low temperature ones anyway - the trusty 40 degrees synthetic wash that covers a lot of ground.  However today I put in a load of white shirts for little bear and OH and put it on a '1' wash which is cotton 90 degrees, extrawash wash.  I usually do this at 30 degrees with an extra shot of stain remover, just to tackle the odd bit of staining.  Today I forgot to check the temperature dial. 

I have checked one of OH's shirts on him, and it hasn't shrunk, so that is okay.  And all of little bear's shirts have plenty of 'growing' in them so as long as they haven't shrunk much then they should be okay.  I also suspect that the heating element on the washer is a bit suspect.  The 'ready to wear' setting which is supposed to wash and dry within an hour (and even tumble dries if you have the drier function set to zero so if I want a really quick wash I have to use Quick Wash at 50 degrees, which is a bit longer and not quite as thorough) doesn't tumble dry any more.  However I have yet to try ironing them. I really don't want to try that.  It could all have gone horribly, expensively wrong if they are now permacreased to be as crumpled as cornflakes. 

When I get my courage up to iron them, I will update. 

Miracle Recovery

Little bear is still a bit under the weather.  It is at a level of 'mum worries' and not 'doctor notices' but he is still that bit tired, that bit run down.  Last night I dragged him to piano lessons (not going well, this will not hurt him), then we did the supermarket shop which was trying as little bear was away with the fairies and needed steering all the time, and then home.  Then bless him he bounced and jumped and kicked and punched (as in, practicing martial arts, he was as loving as usual to us) and fell over shot all the way through the bed time routine.  He was asleep in record time. 

Until 11pm.  I heard a bit of a cry over the intercom as I was getting ready for bed and went upstairs to check.  Little bear was just surfacing but in five minutes he was sobbing in pain.  Poor little mite, he was clutching at his ankle and crying out, it hurt so much.  I dosed him with calpol, gave him massive cuddles, checked his ankle as best as I could and went and got OH as little bear was now crying for his daddy. 

We cuddled and fussed and checked the ankle.  There was no swelling or redness and it seemed to be moving fine, as much as little bear could bear us to touch and move it.  He was absolutely beside himself, telling us he had twisted his ankle in morning playtime.  He was suffering so much he could barely sit still.  In the end OH carried him downstairs so he could sleep on the sofa, near me.  Once there I cuddled and fussed and joked and gently calmed him down.  He cuddled down to sleep again around midnight.

About half an hour later he bounced in, happy to wake me up to tell me that his ankle was fine.  This morning he was fine going to school.  Not a problem, the ankle was doing great.  So now I know I need to watch out for cramp in the ankle. 

As a over fussing mum, he is still quite run down and I will be encouraging him to take it really easy tomorrow as he is off on a training day.  Not too easy - he will be helping darling father in the garden, and there should be at least one little walk.  But he is still clingy, for him, and wanting lots of cuddles.  I can manage that. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Do not Diagnose

My darling uncle is lovely, really lovely.  He is a man with a heart the size of Wales and out for all he can give.  I love him to bits, I really do. 

Unfortunately I came very close to snapping at him today.  I have intermittent heart failure.  It has been diagnosed by blood tests, it makes a lot of sense of previous symptoms and the current big symptom of massively swollen hands and feet due to water retention (though fortunately no pain).  I see the consultant in November.  I had to go back to my GP and I am on water tablets to try and clear fluid from my lungs and they have allowed me to breathe a little better.  So, definite test results, symptoms consistent with test results, referral consistent with test results.  And I had had a nightmare last night about all the problems that were stacking up. 

Darling uncle was explaining to me that actually it probably wasn't heart failure, it was gout.  I changed the subject.

But gout??!

I could take to drink, I really could.  Mind you, then I probably would get gout. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Nice Next Door/Next Door But One (it's complicated, the son of Nice Mr Next Door has moved out of next door and into next door but one and they are all brilliant neighbours) has a dog.  She is just coming out of puppy hood with all ears and paws and bounce.  She is pure bred working sheep dog, so not a pure border collie (I think) but a large amount of border collie and I suspect some lurcher, together with a set of springs as the dog is taller than the average border collie, and seems to be permanently mid bounce. 

Little bear is very nervous around her.  She bounces and barks and runs up and down behind the garden wall when little bear was near and once pushed him quite hard when he had his back to a gap in her fence.  When she rears up she is taller than him, with rough hard claws and did I mention the bounce?  She makes Tigger look like he had just taken sleeping pills.  And I think by the end of the week the 'nervous' is going to be up to 'terrified'. 

There isn't a bad bone in the dog's body.  She is a lovely, giddy, bouncy, jumping, mouthing, barking, cuddle stealing puppy.  And while she has been able to jump out of the garden for a bit, she hasn't realised it.  Until today, when I went to collect little bear from school and she was outside our gate.  Fortunately she is good tempered and I just cuddled her into her garden and called her owners, before dashing off for little bear.  That is a dog that will do almost anything for a cuddle.  Unfortunately that 'almost' doesn't include 'stay still and don't bounce'.  I have no chance of getting little bear to stroke her as she will certainly bounce, bark, jump up and generally terrify little bear.  I find her rough and uncomfortable, and she isn't bigger than me.  Little bear is also now a bit too timid to offer her treats, and besides, being offered treats means that she bounces, barks, jumps up, etc, etc, etc...

So not only do we now have to keep an eye out for the ginger gentleman when we let out evil cat, but also Bouncing Dog, who does see cats (except her own cats which are obviously part of the pack) as legitimate targets.  I can see Bouncing Dog bouncing at the postman (and our postie is lovely) and random passers by and cars and the ginger gentleman's days of sauntering along our street to beat up the resident tom on the way to the next bit of food are definitely numbered.  Bouncing Dog will definitely bounce at little bear as she has chased up and down after him as he ran past her one side of the wall as she was in her garden.  

I believe the fence is going to get bigger.  I just hope it will be big enough. 

Shopping fail

My feet are too swollen for socks.  There are not many types of shoes that I can wear.  I sent off for some from my friend ebay, and when they came the photo had been misleading.  They didn't even have proper laces, nor a tongue, you just slipped your foot in.  Which is fine, if you don't have swollen feet. 

I could cry.  I didn't even feel well enough to get them out of the box last week, I finally feel well enough and there they are - of no use at all to me.  And it is too late to send them back. 

I just feel so fed up.  I have been trying to watch my spending, I have been postponing or not doing - but here I am, wasting £15.  In the grand scheme of things £15 is not too bad, but it is a day's groceries.  It is a piano lesson for little bear, it is a bundle of books for Christmas, it is a nice joint of beef. 

Off to try and work out what to do about the trainers.  I think I know someone who may be able to use them, so they won't be wasted.  At least that is something. 

Autumn Cleaning?

For some reason I always feel like having a really good clean in autumn.  I have no idea why, it just is when it seems to work for me.  So I need to update the side bar - Operation Clutterbust is on the go! 

Yesterday I happened in the kitchen.  Today I hope to happen a little in the study. 

I have felt a little down at times, with a 'where do I start!' feeling, but I have learned by long experience that just starting somewhere, even in the middle, is better than not starting at all. 

I also have to do some in the study as darling father is about to paint the windows. 

So, over two days I have cleared out eight binsacks above and beyond the normal rubbish, so that is something.  I have just about scratched the surface, so I had better get a move on!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Take the opportunity

I am taking a rare moment on the computer today.  Little bear is still off poorly.  This means that he is currently hogging the computer watching you tube tutorials for minecraft. 

I am forcing him to take regular breaks and he will probably be fine tomorrow, but it is actually giving me an unexpected opportunity.  It is an opportunity to catch up.  I have finished sewing the second cushion for the living room (to match the waste paper bin) and I have plans to finish off a knitting project if possible.  And I am also taking the opportunity to get a few bits sorted. 

For example, I have cleared out a cupboard and had almost finished a part of the worktop that had been mounded up with stuff.  I am throwing a lot of stuff out.  For example, I have got rid of a Christmas cake that darling father brought in this time last year.  I don't particularly care for it, neither does OH, nor darling father, nor little bear.  That Christmas cake has squatted on my worktop and stared at me for a year.  It is now gone.  I've rearranged a few bits, sorted a few bobs, and I am well into my second bin sack.

On one level the amount of stuff going out that was once edible is biting at me.  It is an awful waste.  On the other hand there is less than there has been, and also I am saying, 'I have made a mistake, it is okay, pick up the pieces and keep going, just like in everything else'. 

Actually admitting I have made a mistake and that I won't be superwoman and use up all the stuff is so liberating, I feel quite giddy!  Now for the hardest trick - learning from my mistake.  That means being careful what I order from Approved Food, being careful what I order from the supermarket, and being meticulous in getting items used up.  And forgiving myself mistakes!