Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Reasons not to blog.

I complain about puddles. I get the threat of lakes.
I mention that the girls are now MRSA-free, and now Little Fish's stoma is looking sorer and gooeyer than ever.
I blog about Little Fish's lunchbox; she spends today filing her food not only in that same lunchbox but also on the floor, the piano stool, between the cats' ears.

And the ultimate, I complain about Mog's Mondays, and today spend four solid hours trying to find a reason for her to be crying, trying to find the right comfort for her, the right balance of medication, just trying to help her to feel better. And realise that since posting about her Monday nights it has now been eight nights in a row that she has been more or less fine during the day but absolutely miserable to beyond any possibility of reasoning with her, starting at around 5 and ending long after she has exhausted herself when finally the painkillers and sedatives all kick in together.

I'm scared to think what else I have blogged about that might come back magnified - will the WoofCats turn into lions overnight? Little Fish's babies come to life?

Oh, and whilst we're talking about Little Fish and babies, tips on how to teach appropriate behaviour in school for her? She loves the boys. That's fine, on the whole boys tend to play with her and accept her as a friend whereas girls want to push her around and baby her. What's not fine is that the number of boys she has as kissing friends appears to have increased again and spilled over from church and preschool to nursery. So how do we teach her that being friendly is lovely but kissing isn't really appropriate? Alternatively, how do the rest of you teach me that it's fine for my three year old to be kissing all the boys? If she kissed the girls too I'd be less concerned. I think.


Monday, 29 September 2008

Of leaks and leaseholds.

I should not have complained about the puddles. We now have a lake.

I live in a 1960s ex-council flat. Sorry, maisonette - it has its own front door. Bear with me; that's relevant. I share a wall with my next door neighbours, and my ceiling is my upstairs neighbours' floor. Upstairs' front door is at the side of the house, and their staircase runs between two of our bedrooms, giving us a handy little cupboard and a burning desire to ban all footwear from our nocturnally active neighbours. A quicker way of saying this would perhaps be to explain that we have totally separate entrances, we are aware of each others' lives in a way only close neighbours can be, but we live completely separate lives. Hmm, mostly separate - their bathroom stack runs through my bathroom. They like showers. At 2AM.

It's a block of four council flats. The previous residents of this flat chose to use their right to buy* and I am not at all bitter about the fact that they bought it at a huge discount and then sold it to me for lots more money. Not even the slightest little bit . I don't know about the neighbours next door, but upstairs is still social housing. I am a leaseholder - I pay a mortgage instead of rent, but am technically only buying the inside 50% of the flat. Outside walls, roof, guttering, etcetera, all belong to the Housing Association, and are their responsibility to maintain and repair. Tenants (as opposed to leaseholders) are not responsible for any of the maintenance beyond minor repairs and lightbulb replacements.

Still with me? Phew! On Friday as the girls and I were tidying the front garden a little, a man came out from the upstairs flat and asked if we lived downstairs. Suppressing the urge to inform him that the girls and I were some kind of maintenance crew, I replied in the affirmative. He then informed me that there is a problem with my water tank; it is leaking and has leaked so badly that the ceiling upstairs is now collapsing. Marvellous.

He was quick to inform me that this wasn't a problem; I'd be without water for half a day at some point whilst they fixed it, but that was all. It is apparently two large tanks which hold the water for both upstairs and downstairs.

Filing away the fact that it might be sensible to keep on top of the laundry mountain incase half a day without hot water becomes several days, I carried on with our weekend. This morning the same maintenance man spent several minutes hammering on my front door (I was at the back of the house), and asked to come in and investigate my boiler. Not a problem. Or rather, it wouldn't have been. Except that he and his team had been informed that I have a combi boiler and therefore don't need a storage tank in the attic any more, and so it would be absolutely fine for him to just take it out. Thankfully he came to check before doing so, and I showed him our ancient but working Baxi Bermuda.

Much scratching of head. "This is number 45 isn't it?" Nope, this is number 335**. "Oh, I thought this was number 35". Silence, as I bite my lip to avoid asking why on earth number 45 would be under number 33, and avoid asking him whether he actually read the numbers on the door he was hammering so hard at just minutes before. "Oh well, good news then, you'll be getting a new boiler upgrade!". I allow myself to be pleased at this thought for just a few seconds, before mentioning that I am a leaseholder not a tenant.*** Silence. A deep silence. A deep "this is going to cost you lots of money but I'm not the person with the authority to inform you of it" silence.

And then he left.

I phoned the Housing Association who seemed completely flummoxed, and reassured me that nothing would happen immediately. Since they were basing that reassurance on the fact that my upstairs neighbour has now refused to allow them access to the flat to make the repairs, and since I have already been informed that the floor under the water tanks is on the point of collapse, with 2 tonnes of water waiting to fall through at any moment, this is not entirely reassuring.

Apparently because I'm not a tenant, they don't have a file on my flat, so can't put a note on the file asking for me to be kept informed about what's happening. Because I'm not a tenant, it is my responsibility not theirs. But because their tenant will not allow anyone in, it's not anything any of us can deal with right now. Meanwhile upstairs has gone silent, and I'm wondering where exactly in the roof these tanks are; which of our rooms are in the danger zone. Or whether there is in fact any danger at all.

Now when British Gas told me my boiler was dead, they quoted £4000 to replace it with a combi system. Since that quote included £75 per radiator for a new valve (a part available at B and Q for £10), I'm reasonably certain that others could do it more cheaply. But, until someone gets in and looks at the tanks, I'm not sure whether it's necessary or not, and if it is necessary, how on earth to go about beginning to get it sorted.

Or is it all a storm in a teacup, will fixing the leak and repairing the ceiling solve the problem? Will the housing association continue to believe that I live in a house 10 doors down, and have they in fact sent all kinds of information to that house instead of to me? Will anyone take action to sort this out, does it in fact need sorting out at all, and has anyone managed to get through this whole ramble without falling asleep?


*I'm aware of the fact this will mean virtually nothing to my non-UK readers. A very basic summary - it's housing which is generally built to a decent but basic standard, leased out on long term leases to families and individuals, many of whom are on low incomes. Cheaper rents than many private rentals, with the right to pass tenancies down through the generations, the right to decorate internally however the tenant wishes, and in some cases the right to purchase the house at a significantly lower than market rate after you have paid rent on it for a certain number of years. This bit in particular was a loopy policy; with a housing shortage it has neatly reduced supply even further, but it has benefitted me so I shouldn't complain too hard.

**all numbers changed to give me the illusion of privacy.

***did consider not telling him, but I suspect they might have noticed eventually.

Saturday, 27 September 2008


This morning I knocked a pot of water onto the floor, stepped in it in my socked feet, harrumphed about it and cleared it up.

Later on, Little Fish managed to upend a bowl of water whilst fighting over the syringe for her feed.

Fast forwards a few hours, the washing machine has finished but I think the door seal is going, there's a little damp trickle seeping across the floor.

I did the washing up, turned rapidly, and sent a saucepan full of water across the floor.

Little Fish then made off with a bottle of water, unscrewed the cap and drizzled it gently around the playroom.

Marching into the sunroom to grab another towel I tripped over the cats' water bowl sending a small tidal wave across the room. I then got the hoover out, which dislodged the litter tray revealing a puddle of slightly less clean and distinctly secondhand water underneath.

Muttering unmentionables under my breath I reached the sitting room, picked up the laptop and sent Little Fish's painting water flying.

Later again, I picked up a cup of water to rinse out the suction pump, raced over to vent Mog, and poured the water down my trousers.

Suction, nebulizer and feed pump all managed to knot themselves together in a rather spectacularly plaited fashion. Sorry to disappoint you but I did manage to untangle this without spilling any water anywhere*, and managed moreover to get Mog into bed without discovering more puddles hiding in her wheelchair.

Two girls finally peacefully asleep (and Mog did not go down without a fight, lots of coughing and choking, much twitching, and a long hour of screaming), I sat down with the laptop again. Moving it slightly to the right I managed to catch the table legs with the cables. There was a tedious sense of inevitability about the pot of syringes and water for flushes which tumbled, in slow motion, to the ground.

I'm going to bed.

*no milk either, sorry.

Friday, 26 September 2008


It's been a day of firsts. Little Fish managed her first (almost) solo button feed.It's hard work squeezing that syringe without spreading water everywhere.Especially when there's a kink in the hosepipe.

A first for the Woofcats too - after days of watching them do thisand begging, pleading, to be let outside, we decided the day was too good to miss. A quiet house so nothing scary to keep them from coming back in again, and a quiet garden, no lawnmowers or motorbikes outside to spook them. So we opened the back door. Goway was first out, and crept stealthily across the concrete keeping a close eye out for snipers scary things. He ran to the flowerbed and hid under the bushes for a while, before being seduced by the sight of sun-warmed concrete. This made him happy. Very happy. He basked, he rolled, he wiggled, he slept, he wiggled and rolled some more, and then he washed. Then he ran at the wall so fast that he climbed six foot high before falling over, but it would be undignified to mention that. Then he rested. (Above photo taken by Little Fish. She likes the rake.)

Comeback was less impressed. He stayed inside to begin with, then ran outside, hit the gate opposite the back door, and ran back into the house. Five minutes later, having waited long enough for us all to agree he had indeed meant to do that, he strolled out again.This time leaving us in no doubts at all that he was far too cool to get excited about anything at all. He did sadly lose his dignity by getting entangled in a clump of bindweed and needing to be rescued. Ah well. Then he went back inside to use the litter tray.

Meanwhile I put the slaves to work the girls and I did a spot of garden tidying. I did mention that Little Fish likes the rake, didn't I?
It's a shame she seems to be scared of the grass; hard to get much raking done when you won't move your chair off the deck. It's also hard to get the cats to come back inside when there's a small child whizzing around waving a long heavy spiky pole, but these things somehow happen anyway. Foil sachets of fish in gravy bribed the cats back in, they didn't have the same effect on the girls for some reason.

Mog and I collected the apples.
Little Fish scattered the apples over the grass again. I asked her why. Normally when I ask her why her response is either "why?" or "yes" or "that green car?" This time she said "I pick it up, I put it down, I pick it up, I put it down. I pick it up, I put it down, and oh dear". It's nice to know she's understanding the "why" now; and I think I understand her explanation - a longer winded version of "these things happen".


Thursday, 25 September 2008

Paulton's Park

Today we went on a big school trip. The big school trip, the annual outing to Paulton's Park.Lots of photos taken, but too many other people's children in most of them.

Mog's highlight was either this waterslide ride - she and I are in the middle here -
or the last rollercoaster we rode, no photos at all as everyone needed both hands to hold tight!

Little Fish was very taken with the tractor ride and absolutely convinced that she had been driving it all herself. No photo of that as she was in front of me.

A good day. A poorly child (for once not one of mine) who made a magical recovery as soon as he was placed on any of the rides. An excuse not to queue perhaps? Not really, genuinely poorly, but he enjoyed his rides inbetween his illness. Great to see.

One very happy Little Fish beetling about in her wheelchair rounding us all up and sending us on to the next ride, directing traffic, bossing us all about. Several smaller children running around pressing buttons and climbing on and off ride along toys. Staff, volunteers and parents all reasonably relaxed together. A lovely lunch (can still taste that cheesecake, I should probably clean my teeth), actual sun in the sky, some friendly park staff and some very obliging bus drivers.

One Mog doing what she always does at these things, sleeping as we walked between rides, opening her eyes to assess the situation every time we stopped somewhere, loving the wilder rides and snoozing through the quieter ones, saving her energy for her excitements.

One class teacher sadly off sick, R we missed you!

On our return home we found thisOne Woof Cat tapping his watch and asking "What time do you call this?"

And now one extremely tired Tia who is incapable of making this post into anything more coherent.

Thank you to everyone who made this day happen.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

It's been one of those days today.

I'm sure you know them all too well.

No, don't empty your sister's school bag.
No, leave the milk right where it is.
Close the 'fridge please.
Close the 'fridge right now.

No, we do not eat yoghurt with our fingers.
No, you may not eat my dinner, here is yours.
No, we do not use forks either.

Don't pull the woof cat's tail.
Leave my paperwork alone, please.
Put that back.

That was my foot, you must stop when I say stop.
Stop. STOP.
Right, out of the chair, please.

Please leave the water alone.
Leave the water alone
No, don't pull that
No, stop, ARGH OW OW OW!!

Sweetheart, I love you, you are very precious to me, but you need to just stop please. We'll find you something nice to do but NOT THAT.

Is it bed time yet?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Muggle Baiting

Someone has been indulging in a spot of muggle baiting.

No biting doorknobs and thankfully the toilet is behaving itself. My keys on the other hand...

My keys are not:

On the table in the hall.
In the hanging pockets in the hall.
In any of my pockets, in any of my clothes.
On the bathroom windowsill.
In the bath.
On the kitchen windowsill.
On the work surface.
In the fridge (stranger things have happened).
By the cat litter or next to the cat food.
In Little Fish's bed.
In the syringe drawers (which exert a strange fascination on Little Fish) in Mog's bedroom.
In Mog's wardrobe.
In my handbag.
In my purse.
In the bus.
Down the back of the settee or any of the arm chairs.
On the floor in the sitting room.
On the floor anywhere else.
In the bookcase.
On any shelves.
On top of the piano.
In the piano.
Behind the piano.
On the television.
Inside the video player.
On the kitchen table.
Under the kitchen table.
In the fish tank.
In the garden.
In the cooker.
In either of the girls' school bags.
Hanging off either girl's wheelchair.
In the drugs cupboard.
In the bathroom cabinet.
In the cloakroom.

We had plans today, plans involving leaving the house (difficult when you can't get back into it again), plans involving driving the bus (tricky when you can't open the door or turn the ignition. I last saw my keys on Saturday. Last night I used my spare keys. These have now also disappeared.

I want my keys!

Little Fish meanwhile has no idea why this might be a problem. She realises I have lost them, and her idea of help and support is to ask, approximately every 47 seconds, "got them now?" Argh.

Indulging in her own spot of mother baiting, I had the following conversation with Little Fish in the five minutes we did escape the house leaving the cats on guard. We are walking past a long line of parked cars.

LF "that green one"
Me "no, that's red"
LF "that green one"
Me "nope, that's blue"
LF "that green one"
Me "that's white"
LF "that green one?"
Me "that's white too"
LF "that green one"
Me "that's grey"
LF "that green one?"
Me "that's red"
LF "that green one?"
Me "that's black"
LF "that green one?"
Me "that's black too"
LF "that green one"
Me "that's red"
LF "that green one"
Me "that's blue"
LF "that blue one?"
Me "no, that's GREEN",

Bring me a wall please my head needs banging.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Mog the Malcontent.

I went to Guides tonight. Something I do every Monday night. We have a babysitter, the same sitter we've had for the past three years. I get the girls ready for bed, throw Little Fish into bed, draw up Mog's meds, and she can either go to bed or stay up with the sitter for a bit - her choice.

Every single week, Mog gets into a state, crying, fussing, stomach full of air, lots of seizures, big sobbing tears.

The same sitter comes on a Wednesday night so that I can get to Housegroup. Same set up, just an hour later, so Mog is settled in bed and nearly asleep by the time the sitter walks through the door. She settles down, she sleeps, only very occasionally does she rouse up and worry our sitter.

But every Monday Mog works herself up into a state. She's six, much too young to come to Guides with me - she goes to Rainbows, but she'll have to wait for Guides. If I put her to bed, unless she has fallen asleep before the sitter gets here (unlikely, our sitter arrives at quarter to seven), she will fuss and fret and fume and wriggle herself into truly horrible positions until she's unsafe in her bed, and has to be rescued. If she stays up, she's very happy to be read to and watch a bit of television with our sitter, she'll listen to music and giggle and grin, but then one hour into the sit, she'll be fussing and crying and full of spasm.

I don't understand this. She's used to me not being around for her all the time - she goes to school, and although she doesn't always love it, she does spend quite a lot of time being very happy there. She'll happily go and visit friends and family without me. She loves having our carers in to help her in the mornings. I prefer to settle her myself, but if I'm busy they'll put her to bed and she settles just fine. She settles fine on a Wednesday. But she will not sleep on a Monday until I get home, and she will not stay happy until I get back either.

Our sitter has come during the day and sat with her, and she has been absolutely fine. Full of fun, lots of laughter and giggles and grins. But Monday night swings around, the sitter comes, and eventually Mog sobs.

If there's a Monday without Guides, she settles fine. If the Guides meet here, she settles fine. If I go out on a different evening, she settles fine. If I go out to do something Guides-related on a different night, she settles fine. But she cannot get through a Monday night without a big moan and fuss.

Why? And what do we do about it?

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Upsy Daisy

Little Fish loves In the Night Garden. This surprises me somewhat, since we don't have CBeebies at home, so she has either fallen in love with it during sporadic hospital visits, or remembers it from living with her fostercarers half a lifetime ago. Anyway, for whatever reason, she loves it, and she knows the names of the characters in it, and talks about Upsy Daisy whenever she can.

She's now started having lunch at pre-school one day a week, and so when we saw an In the Night Garden lunchbox at Sainsbury's I decided that perhaps she ought to have something slightly more child-friendly than a tupperware cake tin she might like it.
She does like it. She loves it. She carries it around with her, and insists on having it with her at all mealtimes. She likes to stroke it as she eats, she practices with the zip, she shows it to her babies and guards it from the WoofCats.

Unfortunately, Little Fish's experiences of lunch boxes come from pre-school, where the other boys and girls have a nice clean finger-food style packed lunch - sandwiches, cheese wedges, carrot sticks, fruit.
Weetabix just isn't the same.


First a praise. The girls' swabs came back clear, no nasty growths whatsoever in any of the most growth promoting parts of their bodies (groin, armpit, stoma and nose). Hurrah. Two girls, officially MRSA free now - in Mog's case, this has taken a year so that is excellent news.
Now the dilemma. Since hearing that the girls were infected (or in Mog's case, still infected), our carers have been superbly brilliant at maintaining a hygienic environment. Gloves, aprons and alcohol gel have all been used freely in addition to handwashing, they have been washing hands when switching from one girl to another, and inbetween different parts of the girls' care, all the things we are all supposed to do all the time. They're doing this because they know the girls have nasty lurgies, and they do not want to carry them home to their families or pass them on to other vulnerable children.

If I tell them, the hygiene standards will drop. Aprons will disappear (to be fair, I'm not convinced how much protection is given by a plastic pinny anyway, but there we go), glove consumption will be dramatically reduced (again, I'm not certain that gloves need to be worn whilst spoon feeding, but I'd like them to continue to wear them for pad changes), and crucially, handwashing will become perfunctory and the many bottles of alcohol gel will start moving to the back of the shelves again.

If I don't tell them, they will continue with the barrier nursing, but they will also be worried about the risks of passing the nasties on to other vulnerable children and to their own children and grandchildren.

My peace of mind or theirs is what it comes down to I suppose? I have to tell them, I can't leave them worrying. So how to tell them in a way which will ensure that they keep up the good standards?

I'm now sidetracking but I wonder if cloth aprons on a boil wash would be as effective as the plastic ones? I know they don't like to wear the plastic ones as they are so sweaty - they have my sympathy there. But if I ran up half a dozen real aprons and kept them just for caring, with pockets for gloves and spray etc., and had them on a hook by the door, I wonder if I could train them into wearing those to save their clothes and still keep the clean thing going. Hmmmmm.


Saturday, 20 September 2008

Mixed bag

Here's a nice thing. The girls and I went into town today, a different town from usual, we fancied a nice breezy drive with a spot of shopping at the end of it. When we parked the bus, I set our parking disk and went to the back of the bus to fold out the ramps. As I was crawling around in the back of the bus unclamping wheelchairs and topping up feed pumps, I became aware of the fact that we were attracting a fair bit of attention. Gathering my defences and professional bright "yes-we-are-an-unusual-family-but-we-like-it-that-way-and-we're-a-family-not-a-children's-home-any-more-questions?" face, I turned around to make eye contact with the crowd, a group of young teenagers all flying their trousers at half mast and generally filling the pavement with their presence. Deep breath from me and "Do you need any help there, can we do anything?" from them. Oops and deflate and shame on me. Double shame actually; when we had finished our shopping and came to pay, I discovered that my purse was not in my bag*. I ran back to the car, deciding that my initial impressions had been right, and that the offer of help was simply to distract me as my purse was being lifted. And there was my purse, in full view, untouched, on the passenger's seat by an opened window. I get very tired of people's assumptions about us; I think I need to sort out my own assumptions about other people too.

So, paid for our purchases, eventually. For some reason my bank has decided that I shouldn't spend money, and has taken to refusing to process payments I attempt to make. It has done this with credit cards for so long that I have now given up even trying to use them - it now claims that attempts to spend on them is unusual activity on the account, and freezes the account. Whilst this does protect against fraud, it does not protect their employees who then have to face the wrath of Tia. And it doesn't exactly protect their profits, since surely their money is made when I spend, rather than when I save? So today paying was a lengthier than usual process, during which Little Fish managed to remove Mog's boots several times and I managed not to kill her.

Home James, where the WoofCats decided to stage an intervention. They are not pleased. Seven days ago they were removed from a shelter, and were given their own flat to share with just three human beings, rather than 150 cats, several dozen dogs, half a dozen sheep and goats and countless bunny rabbits. They lived ten cats to a bowl of superbargain basement catyuck, and used torn up newspaper in their litter trays.

They deigned to enter our house and tolerated life here for a few days. Yesterday the Whiskas and Eco-Pellet cat litter ran out, and they were introduced to the joys of supermarket own brand. The WoofCats are united in their disapproval. All food is now to be sniffed at and rejected, both cats then follow me out of the room making piteous "feed the starving WoofCat" noises. Purring and fussing has followed, together with a jump and run for the food bowls (individual raised china PDSA approved bowls, with a separate dish for dried food and another for fresh water), followed by a slow creep back into the room if I have failed to follow them with alternative food. Strangely, the food disappears after about half an hour despite both cats having apparently been desperately sad and disappointed, and at least one of them on my lap or in my hair the whole time.

Today instead I was greeted by the sight of two starving WoofCats having taken matters into their own hands. Food untouched, dried food casually scattered about the floor (ComeBack likes to eat with his paws, not just his jaws) and the sight of two cats not on the settee, nor on the fur rugs, but firmly back in their cat boxes. The implications clearly being "Take us home to the shelter, anything is better than this". Feeling the love here, guys! I am not altogether convinced though; GoWay's bald patches are growing fur again, and ComeBack has adopted the rocking chair as his usual hiding place, I suspect this is a guilt trip rather than anything else. They'll have to try harder next time.

I'd show you photographic evidence but something or someone appears to have eaten my camera cable. It is not on the floor, behind the settee, stuffed down the corners of the cushions, stacked on the bookcase in any of its customary hiding places - perhaps the WoofCats have taken it hostage.

And the odd news - there are slugs in my fridge. I suspect they came in with the milkbottles, we've been wiping an average of four mini slugs off each bottle before bringing it over the doorstep each morning. But some of them appear to have avoided the cull. **I would have thought that the cold would shut them down, but when I picked up the eggs this afternoon a little black sluglet made itself known to me. Shudder.


*US readers, by this I mean that my wallet was not in my purse.

**It's that or the WoofCats' evil plans are coming to fruition.

Update: I interrogated GoWayand he reluctantly agreed to return the camera cable, but only so I could show to you how sincere he was in his attempt to be shipped back to Stadhampton.
He's also very interested in the idea of sponsorship; should anyone wish to donate countless foil sachets of super luxury Whiska Cat Heaven stuff he'd be very grateful. Well, he'd condescend to eat it. I notice though that the Bargain Chunks have once again been consumed by the invisible bowl-clearer, so I'm not inclined to take him too seriously.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Dear Carer,

Dear carer,

Thank you for coming to work for us, thank you for choosing to share in our unglamourous life, and thank you for always being cheerful.

That said, when the bathroom bin is full, please let me know so that I can empty it for you. I don't expect you to empty it yourself, although should you wish to do so, I shan't complain. If you don't want to disturb me, please fel free to throw things away in a different bin - you know where the other ones are. I am sure there are other options too. Please don't simply throw the dirty nappy onto the floor, unwrapped, and leave it there for me to tread on. It's not a great start to the day for me.

I love the fact that you always bring happiness to our house and never come in a bad mood. However, when I'm in the bathroom, please only call me if it is an emergency. "I don't think Mog is breathing" is an emergency. "Little Fish reminds me so much of [random child]" is not, and could probably wait until I was finished.

It is great that you are taking such care to wash your hands after caring for each girl and when switching between girls. There are bottles of handwash, alcohol gel, and hand towels in the kitchen and the cloakroom. When I'm cleaning my teeth in the bathroom, please use one of these alternative locations rather than reaching over my shoulder to share my basin.

I'm pleased that you feel at home here, my girls love the continuity you provide and I appreciate the interest you take in their lives. Please remember though that although I try to make this a pleasant workplace, it is also my home. I'm not a colleague but a parent, and often rather a tired one at that.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter,

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Today I have

taken swabs to the GP to be checked for MRSA
taken small child to preschool, and picked her up again 5 hours later.
fed two small cats.
and again.
taken the rubbish out, put a clean bag in the bin, and promptly filled it with soiled cat litter.
made phonecalls on various legal and medical matters.
taken delivery of exclusive new handwash (if you're going to wash your hands a hundred times before lunchtime you might as well use something which smells and feels good)
And taken delivery of a new feeding pump.

I have made the discovery that the back up feeding pump (used for the first time three days ago) is malfunctioning.

argued with a small child over the advisability (or otherwise) of throwing mashed potato, and have scrubbed chicken soup and mashed potato off the floor, walls and sister's wheelchair.

answered emails and opened post and done several other bits of admin.

In addition, today
I have taken larger child to Rainbows and watched the leader realise for herself how to adapt a project so that she could take part. Yeah. I have helped Mog to participate and listened to her giggle with the other girls.

I have listened to a small girl's chatter about her day. I have watched her experiment and learn for herself that it is necessary to put the paintbrush into the water, then the paint, and only then onto the paper. I have shared her pleasure in noticing that her stoma is finally healing.

I have kissed two girls goodnight and listened as they have settled themselves to sleep without sedation. I have heard the younger girl's prayer and smiled as she insisted on praying for her big sister.

I have stroked two cats, listened to them purring, watched as they vied for my attention, and relaxed as they settled on my lap.

Today I have had several hours in a row where it has not been necessary to talk or even think particularly hard. And several hours where I have been actively busy enjoying my family. It's not a bad life.


Wednesday, 17 September 2008

One day maybe

But until then, I'll carry on getting up several times a night to turn one child, resettle another, feed a cat, or just ponder on the many things left undone. And during the day I'll continue to juggle too many medical appointments, fitting them inbetween too many other appointments.

I have 14 unread books. Tomorrow, unless one or other of the girls has a problem, I have a whole five hours to myself. My doorbell is not working. Callers may find my telephone temporarily defective too. I need an idle day and a no wake night.

I live in hope.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Making Friends

Comeback is getting brave. Goway is still a nervy little beastie; he spends his days in Little Fish's cupboard or under my duvet, venturing out at night to meep loudly until he gets food and fuss. But Comeback has decided that laps are good things, and has taken to seeking them out.

Little Fish is not sure about this.
I think that's called "how far away from this creature can I get whilst still remaining in contact with Mummy?" It is accompanied, entertainingly, by a small voice squeaking "Go away, Comeback". Comeback is cat. He is above such things
Little Fish is curious, desperately curious. And whispering about wanting to "Doke(stroke) de woofcat". I am encouraging this. For the past couple of days she has been reaching out, asking to cuggle or doke him, getting her fingers nearly to his fur, but then running away as soon as he takes an interest.
This afternoon she decided on a closer inspection.

And then decided to be very brave indeed
Talked about it lots, took lots of encouragement, reached out, and
"DOKE DE CAT!". Well done, Little Fish.

She wasn't impressed with the thought of him climbing onto her own lap, but once he'd moved to the other side, was perfectly happy with her new captive audienceand cuddled up to read him a story.

Mog came back from school shortly afterwards, and Comeback decided he needed a new cushion.He's a very friendly purrmonster/fluffball combination. But I worry that this picture gives a hint into his true mind
"I will rule them all, puny humans"


Monday, 15 September 2008

A-Googling we will go

Time for another googling round-up. I seem to be collecting sentences this time.

"Each child is different so every child will have a different reaction to being adopted". I think you're probably right. I'm not sure what you were looking for there though.

"Cerebral Palsy and screaming". Yep, it happens. Lots. With Mog they called it Cerebral Irritation, hours and weeks of crying and only stopping when the drugs kicked in. She doesn't do it as often now, so if your child is a baby then don't give up hope of them stopping. She's actually pretty happy most of the time now until bedtime when she turns into a screaming ball of fury again. If you're in the UK, Cerebra's a great place for help and support. Or come on over to Special Kids in the UK and join in the forum there. It might not stop your child from screaming but you will at least be in the company of other parents experiencing the same thing. It helps.

"Child's first sentence". I'd prefer to forget Little Fish's first sentence actually.

"Shuffle Trousers". Well it makes a change from Shuffle Trouder which made it to the last roundup. But I'm still no clearer on what they are. Please, Mr or Mrs Shuffle Trouser hunter, put me out of my misery, tell me what you're looking for.

"How to cope with breaking someone's heart". I'm probably not the best person to ask.

"Lissencephaly". Ask my friend Doorless.

"Trina and Jophie". You're looking for Jophie's Jungle. They're both alive, both out of hospital, and both very very busy. Trina's working on an exciting project right now and should be releasing details in the next few days. They will appreciate your prayers now and always.

"Uncaffeinated". Don't ask me - you don't want to meet me when I'm dangerously uncaffeinated.

"How to be a perfect hostess". Again, I'm really not the person to ask! Try Copperswife.

"Child sleeps on the floor instead of in bed". Are they comfortable? Warm? Safe? I honestly wouldn't worry if so. Cot sides might help if they're falling out though (or worried about falling out). A mattress on the floor might be a bit cosier than floorboards. And a sleeping bag might work better than sheets if they keep wriggling loose.

"Light in the sky in the middle of the day". It's called the sun. I know we haven't had much of it this summer, in fact most of the time it has been behind large grey soggy things full of leaks. They're called clouds, and the leaks are called rain. The sun though is a perfectly normal phenomenon and has been around for a good few (thousand) years now. It's nothing to worry about. Some years, you'll actually see it for several days in a row, sometimes even for several weeks in a row.

I hope that straightens things up for you. To the many readers who come here in search of Toblerone-related answers, yes it's suitable for vegetarians, no it isn't suitable for vegans, yes it has lots of calories, no, there isn't a low fat version. Yes, it makes very yummy brownies, and if you're trying to get rid of it do please feel free to send it my way (but only the original milk chocolate version, not the white or dark or any abomination with raisins in. Thank you)!

Good night.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Day in my Life

Thanks to Jenny over at Little Jenny Wren for hosting this once again. There should be a pretty little picture here from her site but it kept vanishing when I tried to post it, sorry. Hop on over and visit hers and you'll be able to see it - and see all the other Days people have posted about.

My day started far too early; Mog woke up at 3AM. I moved her around in her bed, put some music on quietly, and she settled until 4AM. I moved her around again, gave her some medicine, restarted her music, and then pottered about until I could hear she was asleep again. In all this I had my little shadow, Goway, who decided once the girls had gone to bed that he needed to see me at all times. He spent the afternoon happily ensconced in a cupboard, but come bedtime he cried whenever I went out of sight. So he spent the night curled at my feet, and got up to check on Mog with me each time.

The day proper started at 6.30. And properly properly when I dragged myself out of bed at 6.45 (aren't these details just thrilling to you all?). I staggeredslipped quietly into the kitchen and, as the kettle boiled, began to turn this
into a steak and kidney casserole for lunch. Yum. And practical; sling the lot into the oven and forget about it for the next four hours. We had a 'fridge full of milk and an oven already switched on for a few hours, so I threw together a nice rice pudding too. Complete with raisins and cinnamon.

By this time Comeback was making noises too, and insisting that there was a problem in the sunroom.
He was right, there was. A wall of stench hit me as I entered. One large puddle of vomit handily on the only rug in the room (why the rug? Lots of old towels for bedding, a litter tray, stacks of nice easy clean floor, and the cat vomits on the rug), and a litter tray in need of urgent attention. Both cats lined up staring at me willing to believe the other was responsible for the mess. Hmmm.

No photos (I did consider it, but realised that those non-carers amongst you might not actually appreciate them, aren't you grateful?), so instead enjoy the pleasingly scented lillies from our hallway which at least filtered the odour and prevented the rest of the neighbourhood complaining.
It is now a toss-up which is worse, stressed cat poo or antibiotic on a child's stomach poo. The jury's out.*

Mess cleaned up, litter tray and food bowls restocked, and the gratitude of the Woofcats was demonstrated by their sudden need to bat lumps of dried cat food across the floorloud purrs.

A knock at the door, and our carer was here.
She found Mog some smart clothes, made her obesiences to the Woofcats, and sorted her hair and teeth. I gave medicines, mixed Little Fish's breakfast up, and got myself ready for the day.

Little Fish did not wake up in a good mood.but cheered up after a bit of breakfast and the discovery that it was cold enough to wear a very pretty winter dress.

Three of us washed and dressed and more or less presentable, it was time to brave the fogto get to churchwhere it was my turn to help out with Little Fish's Sunday School class. The realisation that I was not leaving her helped chase away the last of Little Fish's blues, and by the time the service was over, she was much happier and more than ready to meet Grannie who had arrived early for her service in order to restock the church's several first aid kits.

A quick chat with several church friends, and time to race home to stir the casserole. The fog had lifted completely as we were in church, so a beautifully clear sunny morning as we came home. As I opened the door to the house the fog appeared to make a swift return, and instead of beautiful cooking scents the air was filled with an acrid stench. My poor creamy rice pudding! Thankfully the casserole was safe enough, beautifully tender in fact, so I sorted out the dumplings for that and then whipped up a pineapple upside down cake for pudding.

Grannie and Grandad arrived after their service, Grandad mended my strimmer (hurrah, my strimmer is fixed. Boo, I have no excuse not to finish strimming the garden tomorrow), and then we ate lunch. Here's the replacement pudding. See those brown drips on the top? That's steak and kidney casserole, that is. Not my finest hour as a cook. It tasted ok though!

We like Grannies. She made short work of thiswhilst I sorted the girls out ready for the afternoon.

This afternoon we went to "Fun in the Park", which I could describe in great detail but was essentially an afternoon devoted to just that! Candy Floss and children's old-fashioned fairground rides, a climbing tower, and dozens of stands from local organisations. An operatic group, a brass band, and a Scottish Dancing cluball giving exhibitions, a more modern dance clubalso went through their moves, and as we left more musical things were happening, watched by half the town and a few of our local policemenWe walked back through the Abbey Groundsand then through the town and home again.

Little Fish's good mood was running out by this time, not helped by a problem with her powerchair which kept slowing to a crawl, despite not being short of battery. Mog's feed pump kept up a shrill shriek informing us of an urgent need to be serviced, and we were gathering as much attention as the dancers as we finally left. Definitely time to go home!

Back home and more tears from Little Fish as Grannie and Grandad had to go back home. Cries of delight from the Woofcats leading to more tears from Little Fish. Instant supper (cheese, yoghurt, mashed banana) and bed for Little Fish; Mog and I stayed up to watch a bit of television before she too succumbed to the sleepies.

Now Mog's back up pump has just beeped to let me know it's empty, Little Fish's ventilator has begun the regular shuffle and wheeze which means she's dropped into a deep sleep and is letting it do every single bit of the whole breathing thing for her. I have come online to write this and check some other stuff, Goway appears to have stolen Comeback's bed in the sunroom, and Comeback is sitting botl upright on the settee glaring at me and insisting I go and speak to him about sharing. I should go and sort out the school bags ready for morning, but I am scared of waking the girls, so will get up early tomorrow morning and do it then instead.

The curtains are drawn, the kitchen is still radiating a gentle heat from its cookathon this morning, the house is a mess, and I am off to bed with a book,

One last photo from today - I just love how the tree has grown over the window like this,
a house we passed on our way home this afternoon. For a while I lived in a house with ivy growing over one of the windows and it gave such a beautiful green light to the room. And then the landlord's men came and chopped it all down, leaving naked brickwork, but it was pretty whilst it lasted.

*and pleading hard never to return.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Meet the Woof-Cats

Through the town and out into the country, past a village green and up a muddy track, inside a twelve foot high gate, and the cacophony of barks and loud radio mingled with the gentle aroma of sheep and goats and many furry beasties. It's the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, and after a long week's wait, we are finally here to collect the Woof Cats.

Little Fish has been hugely excited about this. By Thursday she had decided that Grannie and Grandad would both be coming with us, and that Grandad would be driving the bus. Her first words every morning have been "Woof Cats coming today?" and her last words at night "Woof Cats 'ere in the morning?". And at long last (note to self: one week is plenty, avoid telling her about Christmas ever), today arrived and we could go and pick them up.

First top the office, for the necessary paperwork.
As we waited we watched this cat do what cats are supposed to do best.
The long term residents came up to assess the transport for their friends who were leaving them this morning.
Time to find the cats. How many of them can you find on this roof?
How about this one?
Inside now, and beside these little beauties
we found these ones. Come Back and Go Away both handily together on a shelf.
So, we gathered medication (it's a suspected kidney problem, not a confirmed heart problem), gathered more advice on feeding and settling. and then stuffed settled the cats into their baskets and drove home.

I had sorted out the sunroom to provide a nice quiet hidey hole for them both, food and litter and bedding, nice dark corners, and most importantly, inaccessible to the Little Fish so somewhere for them to retreat to. They didn't stay there long though.GoWay was the first to come and join us - a surprise, since officially he's the nervous one.
He had a good explore, and identified several possible perching posts. And then ComeBack decided to join us too.

But only as long as we were suitably impressed by his condescension.

ComeBack is a beautiful cat; he's actually quite small but with huge quantities of hair. A messy eater (and a smelly excreter, good to know everything's working though!), full of burrs and knots but a lovely loud purr and keenness to be stroked and fussed and loved. GoWay meanwhile has been slinking around, sneaking up from behind to take a quick sniff and a scratch, then disappearing before anyone really pays attention to him.

Mog thinks they're great to watch, and was very pleased when ComeBack deigned to sit on her lap for a bit. Little Fish wants to know exactly where both of them are, all the time. She won't touch them, but thinks it's very exciting that they come to find her sometimes. I think they're beautiful beasties, but I shall be very thankful when their three week settling in period finishes and I can give the house some fresh air!



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