Monthly Archives: September 2016

These boots (Converse) were made for walking….

….and that’s just what I’ll do.

Well, something like that anyway.

Today the kids have an occasional day off from school. Last night was Open Evening where prospective new students and their parents are able to come and look around the school, guided by current students like A. So today, they have the day off while staff get the school back to normal. I always find Open Evening a bit of a puzzle. I understand that it is important for the school to show off and hopefully attract as many students as possible but I also think that for prospective students/parents it would be far more beneficial to see the school “warts and all” with lessons going on as usual and noise in the canteen – surely this gives the newcomers a far more realistic idea of the school. Of course, tours can be organised during the school day which is fine, and obviously the school can’t have hordes and hordes of people traipsing around during a normal school day as this would be far too disruptive. But this whole putting on a show thing is a bit daft.

Anyway, getting back to the reason for the blog. Where was I? Oh yes, both the kids are off. For the past three years we have had the situation where one is off and the other is at school for inset and occasional days (not sure what the difference is…anyone?) as these never seem to coincide across the whole of the schools. And it’s sometimes been quite nice to have a day on my own with one of them. On the other hand it’s a pain to have to get one, usually narky because they have to go to school, child up while the other languishes in bed. It seemed a bit unfair really. Especially if the child going to school catches a sniff of the plans for fun with the other child while they are at school. See? Not really fair. So I have been looking forward to them both having the same schedule and same holidays. and today has proved me right. Lie-ins all round (well apart from K but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles), watching Bake Off in bed with A. All Very Relaxing. I have made them make use of the time to get up to date with homework (boo, hiss) and I have been to Aldi to do the weekly shop with A. To be fair, if T wasn’t still incapacitated (he hates that word but there is really no better one) we would probably have done something a bit more fun with our time, but he is incapacitated so we haven’t. Anyway,  back to the reason for the blog.

Since both the kids are off, I have been able to escape for half an hour for a walk. Yes, a walk! For the first time in around 10 weeks I have been out, on my own, for a walk. Just me and my ear buds. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk with Mrs F last week and it was a good long old walk that made me really feel like I had done some good, and obviously we laughed more than I do on my own. But it is nice to be back in my old routine of my half hour daily walk. I think the fact that I have some cracking new tunes on my playlist really helps. There is some bloody excellent music out at the moment and I don’t think that it is coincidence that it all seems to be by old bands that are making a comeback. I’ve got Deacon Blue on there (who remembers Real Gone Kid from the Eighties?) and there’s some Kaiser Chiefs (brilliant) and Travis. Travis! Bloody love Travis and they are just as good as ever. Best one of all has to be Tom Chaplin (he of baby face fame from Keane) who has written the most beautiful and poignant song to his small daughter. He tells her “If you crash land in the quicksand I will pick up up, I’ll pull you out. And if the world shakes, your brittle heart breaks, we will patch it up, we’ll work it out”. Just perfect.

So I’ve been back pounding the pavements, with a big old silly smile on my face and probably panting quite heavily as I can’t hear myself breathing when I have my ear buds in and subsequently don’t know that I am panting – apart from my chest heaving. That sort of gives me a clue. Hopefully, if I manage to get into a new routine and manage my five sessions a week I will be panting less fairly soon.Need to stop A baking though – just came in to the smell of salted caramel cupcakes baking in the oven and the sight of chocolate shards cooling in the fridge! Yumm, but not good for the big bum!

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Progress and plans

We are making progress. The leg has been given the thumbs up from the clinic and a new shorter cast has been put on, with another appointment in 4 weeks to hopefully say goodbye to the cast (and the clinic) for good! I cannot tell you how relieved I am for T and for our family as a whole.

The new cast is a big improvement. T has a painful knee and is being nagged by me and K to keep bending it to get the movement back into it, but understandably it is not pleasant for T and he is making slow progress with it. He can bear his weigh on it and is being encouraged to walk on it – with his crutches; he’s got a VERY skinny left leg – his thigh is like jelly and very thin but already showing signs of improvement. But, crucially, he is much more mobile and can sit in the front of the car rather than being stretched out across the entire back seat. This also means that the planned car share with my friend E can now begin as was intended at the start of the new term.

But even more importantly than that, we can make plans. We can actually plan stuff and – all being well – we will be able to see them through to fruition. Our first plan is to have a short break (hate using that word now, with it’s far different connotations) and we have booked a few nights in a cottage in Suffolk for part of October half term. We don’t care if it rains all day. We will sit in our cottage with the wood-burner going and we will RELAX. We will eat fish and chips and take very, very slow strolls on the beach. We’ve found somewhere with a downstairs loo and a walk in shower so T will be accommodated for brilliantly. It is inevitable that he will have a very stiff, painful ankle when the cast eventually comes off for good and will undoubtedly need physio to get it moving so we are not expecting long walks or cycling for some time. But it will be fab just to be away and not think about anything other than what to eat for tea (fish and chips of course!).

I cannot speak highly enough of the 2 lovely men in the Plaster Room at the clinic. They remembered T from our first visit when he had his cast completed and lengthened and who can forget “the handle”? They made him comfortable, talked him through the whole process, what to expect, etc. They stopped when he was in pain, they joked and laughed with him and put him at ease and were generally just bloody brilliant. In all of this pretty bloody awful situation I am still overwhelmed by how caring and reassuring the majority of the hospital staff that we have had contact with have been. Heroes, every one of them. But particularly Ade and Dave – the Plaster Guys.

In other news:-

K and I are now officially Great-Uncle and Great-Aunt. Our niece, E, had a gorgeous baby boy last week and both are doing well. We are planning to visit just as soon as T can make the long journey.

A had her first visit to her new friends house on Friday followed by the school year 7 disco. She had a fab time and the friend is coming to ours on Tuesday. I am so pleased that she has made new friends. We have been saying for so long that life will be different when she starts secondary school and so far we have not been wrong. Long may it continue.

I managed to hit 10,000 steps for the first time in months on Thursday after an impromptu walk with Mrs F in the evening. She had passed her Ofsted inspection and is allowed to continue childminding (never any doubt about that but great to be made official) and I was feeling done in by the euphoria of the cast news so we went for a walk to catch up. It was so dark by the time we were halfway home along the country lanes at the back of the village but we were brave bunnies and didn’t call for backup. Proud.

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Celebrations, camping expeditions and new additions

On Saturday it was G&G’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. Fifty years! That sounds such a long time. It IS a long time. We had a lovely lunch out at a local restaurant where we were able to use their private dining room. (Just as well as the kids are LOUD. Why do children have to talk so loudly? My poor ears were very sore by the end of the lunch so thank god we didn’t subject all of the other diners to it!!) G&G seemed to enjoy the meal and they also seemed pleased with the gift of tickers to see Sunny Afternoon – a musical celebrating the era and music of The Kinks – and an up to date framed photo of the grandchildren.G&G are not ones for big fusses and parties so the lunch was the perfect compromise. I am in awe of the longevity of their marriage and can only hope that K and I are such best friends and so caring of each other as G&G are after another 35 years.

Yesterday,  A went off on her first trip with RPS. It is a Bushcraft “experience” billed as Camp Wilderness. As you probably know, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time or know me at all, we are not a family of campers. We will “glamp” on occasion and we are not averse to the great outdoors, but we’re not into mud or getting soaked. Or sleeping on thin mats in an inadequate sleeping bag under a flimsy material covering. So, with some trepidation we packed her up with the warmest sleeping bag that we had (which in fact should be fab as it is so big for her she can double it up and be very toasty) a roll mat and the most camping-suitable clothes that she has. Walking boots were not a problem and she has T’s old wellies. She should be fine. It has been raining for most of the night so I am not sure how well she will have slept. Hopefully they will all be so knackered that they will sleep through anything! The itinerary sounds packed and she will like the camp fires in the evening – we like a nice fire! We will find out all about it when she gets back tomorrow. Unless she is so tired that she just wants a bath and bed!

On Thursday we are back at the fracture clinic with T to see if a change of cast is in order and to hopefully get some sort of time frame as to how much longer he will be in plaster for. He’s still managing brilliantly (even managed the very steep and curved stairs up to the dining room at the restaurant on Sunday) but if he is able to get a lighter and potentially shorter cast on Thursday then life will be easier for him.

In other news, my middle niece E (K’s brothers middle daughter) has gone into labour today. I am willing her an easy time of it. She’s just turned 18 but she’s still a baby in my eyes and I think she’s been incredibly brave and admire her immensely for going through with the unplanned and wholly unexpected pregnancy. I am slightly perturbed at the idea of being a great-aunt at the age of 44 but it’s exciting to think we will have another little addition to the family very soon.

 

 

 

Music to my ears

I took a phone call on my mobile whilst in the office today. I don’t normally answer when I get calls with Unknown Number on the screen but I have had a couple of calls over the last week from T’s head of year about the leg thing and they have been Unknown so I have had to stop my habit of simply not answering – if it’s important they’ll leave a message surely?) Unfortunately, this means that I have to take all unsolicited calls and so fully expecting another call from the Audi showroom in Cardiff about my Q3 (I don’t have a Q3, or in fact an Audi of any description and we live nowhere near Wales so figure that one out) I answered with some reservations.

“Mrs Beddoe?”.

“Yes…..”

“This is Mrs Gray from Roundwood Park”

“Hello…..” (racking my brains for some idea on subject…..come on ….subject surely I should know this stuff?)

“I’m ringing to talk to you about A.” (oh dear god…..)

“OK…..”

“I’m her music teacher and have taught her for the first time today and each day I choose a student to be my Student of the Day.”

“Right….?” (music? did I hear her right?)

“And A has been absolutely brilliant today – enthusiastic, involved, interested and just generally really great. And I like to call to tell parents when their child has been particularly noteworthy”.

“Oh, thank you that’s lovely” (Music? Music?)

“No problem, that was all I wanted really, nice to speak to you”.

“OK thanks. Bye!” (I’ve only uttered less than 10 words but yes, lovely to speak to you too.)

Who knew that they did this? Is it just this teacher? T had a couple of postcards from the Language Department over the course of 3 years saying he was doing well, etc. But a phone call? Never. (Not comparing the children at all here. I just didn’t know that schools did this!)

But blimey, what a lovely call and I will definitely try and be less cagey next time I get an Unknown Caller. Until I hear that they have a Welsh accent.

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New routines and old friends

We’ve got through the first week of A starting secondary school and T going in with his leg cast. It’s been hard going. I don’t embrace change (unless it’s a new coat or pair of shoes) and hate changes to my routine so it’s been a bit of a battle in my own head to get through the first week.

A is very organised (as I suspected she would be) and I don’t (yet) have to supervise her packing her bag like is did with T when he first started. I suspect when she has more and more books then she may need some assistance getting everything she needs sorted for the next day but so far she is on it and it hasn’t even occurred to her to ask me to check. The hard part for me is not asking dozens of questions. The first 2 days she was full of beans when she came home and told us every minute detail of her day and her lessons without any prompting. This tapered off as the week went on as I think she was so tired that she didn’t have the energy to relive it all. I’ve had to stop myself asking about who she had lunch with, who she sits next to, who she likes and who she isn’t sure of yet. She’s not a bottler upper and she will tell me if she has any worries. She was tired on Thursday night and a bit teary so we had a long cuddle and I told her that I know it’s a lot to take in and that it’s tough having to be super organised and attentive in lessons and taking it all in is knackering. She seemed reassured that it was OK to feel knackered and a bit anxious but that it would soon be second nature. She’s still a bit tetchy but that’s pretty normal for her (that sounds horrible but she is a bundle of hormones and pre-pre- menstrual tension) so I am trying to keep a lid on it and play it down.

T has been coping on his crutches OK. He has insisted each day when I pick him up that he’s been “fine, completely fine”. He admitted on Saturday that he had some pain in is leg when he was getting up to standing position. I suspect that this is due to spending lots of time on his crutches as opposed to just using them in the house to get around (and it’s not a big house!). He’s rested up as much as possible this weekend and has promised me that he will use the wheelchair at school if he feels the pain returning during the course of the day. His next appointment is still a week and a half away and it seems like months. I will be relieved to see another x-ray and (hopefully) be told that all is still progressing well. It’s a big worry, but again I am trying to play it down and keep it to myself.

K is being brilliant, helping with the new early morning routine, getting breakfasts made and making me tea so that I can get them out the house for 7.40am. And the kids are fine, they are managing OK and having good days. I’ll soon have my head straight and will soon be used to the new way of doing things and the plaster cast will be off before we know it and life will return to normal. But at the moment I am feeling shattered and a bit overwhelmed.

Yesterday, I was buying a loaf of bread when I saw a lady that looked very like someone that I used to work with over 16 years ago at Douwe Egberts. I wasn’t 100% certain that it was her but A persuaded me to go and loiter near her in the off chance that she would look up and perhaps recognise me. She did and I was so pleased that I had listened to my wise young daughter. We chatted for ages and it was so lovely to see her. She seemed equally pleased and we have agreed to try and meet up with another mutual friend for a proper catch up. It made me think about how different all our lives are and what a lot we will have to talk about (them more than me as my life is relatively uneventful – just the way I like it – whereas they are both in new relationships and have had lots of stuff going on).

And then today I nipped to the card shop after dropping the kids at school and bumped into another old friend that I haven’t seen for a very long time. She used to live next door to my parents and we became friends – we were both pregnant quite close together (her eldest is about 8 months younger than T) and we used to see each other fairly regularly. She had a late-term still birth when I was pregnant with A and our friendship floundered in the aftermath. She was naturally devastated and I knew I would just compound her grief with my big pregnant tummy and then my new-born little girl (her baby was a girl too). I felt (and still feel) an overwhelming guilt that I couldn’t help her or comfort her through her terrible sadness – I could see how hard she found it to be around me and I couldn’t do anything to change it. They moved house soon after and I saw her a few times, but it was always quite hard, even after the birth of her son a couple of  years later, and we lost touch. Today, she couldn’t have been happier to see me or me her. We chatted for ages and have agreed to meet up when she has moved house (again) in a few weeks time and hopefully we can build on it and be in touch again.

 

 

 

 

All change

The first day went well. I collected A and her car-share companion B, along with young Master Lovely and they were full of beans, chatting about which teachers they liked and about which kids in their forms were potential recipients of the first consequence.

I don’t know if it is just me, but A already seems more grown up. I remember T starting secondary school and he did seem to grow up overnight. A has always been a bit of an “old soul” and I have never really worried about her organisation skills (she is her mother’s daughter after all) but she is remarkably well prepared and decisive.

Today is the first day with the rest of the school in attendance. Yesterday was orientation day and year 7 had the school to themselves. So this morning, for the first time in 3 years, T and A were both up at the same time for breakfast and using the bathroom. I am not sure how well this would have gone if T was not in his current incapacitated state, but it all seemed to go pretty smoothly. Luckily, K was on hand this morning to assist so tomorrow may be a different story altogether.

It was all change for me too, as I am no longer seeing them both off from the door and waiting for them to return in the afternoon. I am now driving them both in each day and collecting them, along with B&W our car-share friends. The car-share won’t be able to start until T is out of plaster so in the interim I am taking and collecting each day. I haven’t run the gauntlet of rush hour traffic for about 15 years. And this morning was not pretty. I picked B&W up and then sat waiting for 5 minutes to rejoin the high street and then another 15 minutes to actually leave the village. Not really the best start to an already stressful morning (no-one else was stressed, just me wondering where I would park to get T and his wheelchair out; how he will get on today on crutches as he is insisting he doesn’t want to us the wheelchair; how A will get on again today). Hopefully, tomorrow will be less busy?  Who the hell am I kidding?

So, today has been a bit different. I am home alone all day, with no-one to provide food for or make drinks for or help downstairs or talk to. It’s all a bit quiet and boring really. Tomorrow, the office beckons for the first time since the end of May so that will be another change to the routine, and actually quite a welcome one. My quiet, untroubled little world has been thrown off course in the last month and I am ready to get back into a routine of sorts, albeit a different one to the one I have been used to for a few years. They say a change is as good as a rest. I could do with a good nights’ sleep but maybe this will be just as beneficial?

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Small steps and new beginnings

The last 2 weeks have gone by with tiny steps of progress. T is now getting up and down the stairs almost entirely unaided and we have even had some trips out. A had a sleepover at G&G’s for 2 nights so with our new “have-wheelchair-will-travel” attitude T and I went to the cinema together after a quick bacon roll at the local farm shop cafe. He’s managing small walks on his crutches with no trouble, but for longer or more tricky endeavours like shopping (trainers and school bag, etc. for A) he has been, reluctantly, using the wheelchair. I say reluctantly, he doesn’t mind it if he thinks there is no danger of him being seen by anyone that he knows. He doesn’t want to “draw attention to himself”. I replied that the massive bloody blue plaster cast on his leg kind of does that all by itself, but in all truthfulness I do get his point. He is adamant that he doesn’t want to use the chair at school but I think that is something we will have to negotiate on when we speak with his head of year, hopefully today.

School. Yes, that time has come already. A starts tomorrow – the day before the rest of the school returns, giving year 7 a chance to get themselves used to being there without hordes of bigger students pushing past them in the corridors. We have bought her uniform, shoes, bag, trainers, hair ties, earrings….the list is endless. She has had the remnants of the colour cut out of her hair; she has tidied her room so that it is befitting of a new year 7 grown up student who will have homework to do and text books to store. She has met up with her new friends a few times and appeared to be excited. Then she had a wobble. One night late last week she went to bed in a rather subdued mood (K and I had been out for our anniversary for an early dinner while G&G stayed with the kids, and I wondered if she was just a bit over-tired). For the first time in over 6 months she asked me if I would sing her bedtime song. It transpired that she was feeling anxious about school and the impending ‘Bushcraft’ trip that she is due to go on 2 weeks after she starts. She told me that she doesn’t feel grown up enough to be going to secondary school and really doesn’t want to sleep “in the wild”. We had a good chat and a prolonged cuddle and I sang the song and I promised her that within a couple of weeks of starting at school she will feel like a different person, but that it was OK to be worried. I couldn’t allay her fears over the trip, as I don’t really know what it involves until we have a meeting at school about it next week. Hopefully the assurance from our lovely neighbour that her daughter, who went last year, loved it and made lots of new friends during the 3 days will be of some help.

As much as I have tried not to over-focus on T, I do fear that A has been sidelined a little in the last few weeks. She has had some lovely times with G&G and we had our day trip to London to see Wicked that we had been looking forward to for a month or so. But in the day to day scheme of things she has taken a bit of a backseat in terms of our attention. Tomorrow she starts at secondary school and, if the first year of T being there is anything to go by, it will be next summer in seemingly a matter of months and all this will be a distant (sometimes painful) memory that we will look back on and say, “well that was all a bit shit but we got through it“. She is nervous, she is excited, she is going to be fine. In some ways it is a bonus that she starts a day early as the focus tomorrow morning can be all on her and we can take the obligatory first day photo by the front door while her brother is still in bed with his big heavy leg.

My little girl is going to change before my very eyes in the next few weeks and months. But whenever she is feeling small and worried I will sing her song and let her feel little again, no matter what.