Monday, 28 February 2011

Parenting fail number 31678

Get up, get girls up, watch as porridge boils over in the microwave. Clear up (ish), find drinks, get dressed. Find school bags, write in school books, brush assorted hair, fur and teeth, using mostly the right brushes for each. Coats on, non-school supplies extracted from bags, all ready for the bus.

Bus comes, two girls kissed and loaded. One empty, blissfully peaceful, house. And one beautiful empty day to enjoy. One computer all my own, all emails read, happy surfing without needing to defend the mouse from would-be CBeeBee-watcher. A little catching up, a little drifting, a cheese scone buttered. And just thinking about that perfect solitary drink, and pleasantly dithering between tea and coffee, knowing that both will be possible over the course of the day, potentially more than once.

A distant beeping; a delivery truck which sounds a little like the school bus. No parcels due; must be for someone else. And then a knock at the door. Oo, has that book made it from the States, or is it maybe medical supplies again? Hope it's the book, how perfect would that be for this wonderful empty day?

One bus driver, hacked off, and one small child, dejected. INSET day, no school for Little Fish. Oops!

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. Excuse me; I'm writing this on the phone as my computer is no longer my own. And we are apparently off out to choose new paint for bedroom walls.

Tia

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Whisper

The bus is going to take the girls to school tomorrow, school tomorrow, school tomorrow.
The bus is going to take the girls to school tomorrow, they can stay all day.

They're going back to school, school, school,
It is so cool, cool, cool,
They're going back to school, school, school.



Half term is over, we've all survived. Three separate sets of visitors all with late Christmas presents and all equally welcome. One child with a UTI; an excellent excuse to do even less than the little we had semi-planned. Lots of colouring, glueing, sticking, cooking, writing, screeching and constant, endless, hoisting.

New curtains for a small one, a new story book for the longer one, and an ever-increasing list of things to do once they've gone back. But for now - tomorrow is a blissfully empty day. Alright, we've seven appointments packed into the rest of the week, but tomorrow, there might just be some silent daylight hours. I can live with that.

Tia

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

I like


Talking to a Friend when she's punch-drunk after a long night shift.

The smell of another sourdough loaf, steaming gently in the kitchen.

Mog using her talking book to tell me she is bored.

The fact that hoisting Little Fish is apparently so exciting she is now nagging me to do her personal care every ninety minutes rather than running away every three hours.

That, when I ask LF what she wants to do today, she tells me she needs to make chocolate pudding cake. And, when I asked her what she wanted to do yesterday, she told me she needed to make chocolate pudding cake. And, both times, once we had made them, she refused to eat them and insisted I did.

That Mog's idea of high excitement is going to post a letter, and that she has decided she wants to buy new stories tomorrow. Not new clothes (think that's very nearly a first).

Radio 4 on a wet afternoon.

Not having carpets so spilled drinks aren't quite as rage inducing as they might otherwise be.

Police who turned up today and put warning notices on all the cars parked illegally blocking access to our cul de sac.

Having carers, one of whom will turn up shortly to put Mog to bed.

That, although LF is not happy about her bed's new position (we have had to rotate it 90 degrees so it is now under the hoist), she is settling to sleep faster than ever and comforted by the family photos stitched to her quilt.

That, in addition to being hoistable-from, LF's new bed position means I can now turn on the kitchen light without waking her up in the night.

That we have overhead tracking where we need it, slings which fit the girls, and time to use them.

Friend is coming to visit over the weekend.

The cats have agreed to eat their new super-duper-mightily-expensive cat food which should reduce the need to take Gotcha to the vet for pruning.

A week without timetables, with enough to do but no rushing anywhere.

A pump company who sent a replacement pump within an hour, and who have finally agreed to issue a spare.

A certain small child, whispering "Father God, thank you for my Mummy" as she sits on the potty.


But I do not like
The fact that LF is now big enough and heavy enough to need hoisting, and has somehow not learnt how to transfer herself instead as hoped. Nor that the hoists are of a design which means she can't hoist herself with them. Nor that the feed pump broke yet again, less than a month after the last replacement.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Mr Postman

Little Fish has a new game
Knock knock, rattle, rattle. "Hello, your postman is here. I need to you pay me, you must pay me for your post. Now, can I come in and have a sleep over? You need to pay me to sleep over too. You always pay the man to sleep over don't you Mummy?"

So I am, naturally, now considering moving house - any one know anywhere nice? And up a long and soundproofed drive?

Tia

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Believe and Trust in Him.

A Confirmation and Baptism service at church today. We're a good Anglican church; we have Baptisms by full immersion and by sprinklings of Holy water. We have affirmations of Baptismal vows both underwater and on dry land. We have adults and teenagers Confirming their faith in Christ, and at other times we have infants Baptised or Dedicated or left to make their own choice later.

It's easy to mock this our muddled church. But, the thing is, it's not about who's right and who's wrong, about what I did as opposed to what she did or what he did and what they say. It's about obedience. It's about the willingness to stand up in front of the congregation, to make a declaration of faith, to reject evil and to turn to Christ. And to believe and trust in God and in no other.

There's a picture on my parents' dressing table. Or there was; it's been a while since I left home and longer still since I was in their bedroom. My father in a smart suit, my mother in a smart set of clothing, and myself as a tiny baby in a beautiful white Christening Gown. Standing as a family outside this my church. And, well, it's been a while since we discussed it, but if I remember things correctly, the Christening played a part in bringing my parents into the church.

And so I grew up, obviously not remembering any part of my Christening, but knowing that I was a child of God, and a child of Christchurch. Sunday mornings spent making fans out of the order of service sheet and leafing through to find page 49 of the mysterious green booklet which had so many pages missing. "And we have sinned against You, in thought, in word, in deed. Through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry, and repent of all our sins." And knowing forgiveness, and hoping not to sin again until next week, and then skipping through to various Sunday Schools and "For You gave me a heart, and You gave me a smile. You gave me Jesus and You made me Your child. And I just thank You, Father for making me, me." And pennies in the collection for Tear Fund, and endless colouring in of sheet after sheet of whatever this week's story might have been, and learning that you don't have to close your eyes if you're going to pray in the school playground so the bullies don't see.

And then Pathfinders, and CYFA, and summer camps in wet fields in Windermere with green porridge and collapsing latrine tents and "At the name of Jesus" sung to beyond the point of insanity. And the realisation of the need to make a personal decision, to take this faith and this knowledge and this Jesus and stand firm for myself, not relying on the faith of others to see me through it. It's not about believing - I believe in God as firmly as I believe in mountains and sea and sky, family and friends and the internet. But making the decision to stand up and be counted, to put my trust where my belief already lay.

And so to being Confirmed, at a service which happened to be on my 15th Birthday, and so spending my birthday with the multitude of relatives who had come to see the service, and eating a cake with frosted grapes on the top - elegant but disgusting - and speeding through the day to the evening, to the moment where Bishop Bones would lay his hands on my head, and I would be filled with the Holy Spirit and all would be wondrous and magical and somehow super holy and wise.

Or... to the moment where I would kneel in front of the Bishop, he would lay his hands on my head, and pray, I would whisper my Amen, and feel nothing. No new wisdom pouring in, no conscious realisation of these Companion and Helper and Comforter and Comer-alongside who was supposed to have met with me at this point of Confirmation (and not before). Just the same old God, and me with the same old prayers, the same old faith, but now allegedly a "proper" Christian and entitled to take Communion.

And, setting aside the silliness of teenagers kneeling around a man in a dress, there is such comfort in that Communion. Taking the bread and the wine, as others have done for two thousand years, remembering Jesus and welcoming Him again. And a weekly cleansing from all sin, and renewing a right spirit within us. And knowing that it is indeed right, our duty and our joy, at all times and in all places, to join with angels and archangels and with all the company of Heaven, forever praising You and singing Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, God of Power and Might. Praying, and having prayers answered, receiving pictures and later walking into the landscapes I've dreamed. But feeling like a dry river bed, not a mountain stream. Cracked and parched, and wanting more.

So on to college. A Christian Union, meeting Christians who were actually Christians and not necessarily Anglicans. And realising the two are not the same. Attending a Baptist church, and being taught that only a Believer's Baptism counts. And wondering if this is it, this is what I've been missing out on. Stepping into he Baptistry, and being Baptised once again in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And knowing that once again, that wasn't quite right, that there was still something missing.

Visiting the Pentecostals. And learning that all believers speak in tongues; therefore, if I do not speak in tongues, I cannot call myself a Christian. Wondering what I am, if not a Christian, but willing to give it a go.

And speaking to my Saviour, Lord God, in English and in tongues, praying and praising, but knowing this is also no different somehow to the relationship we have had all along.

Moving again, and picking a church by the timing of the morning service, knowing I must start my shift at noon on a Sunday. A brief fling with the United Reform Church, long enough to be visited at work (in a boarding school) by the minister, thus ensuring 18 small boys would run up to let me know a man in a dress was looking for me.

A new job, a new location, back to the Baptists and some lovely women's fellowships, and bowling nights and beautiful services and genuine Godly friendship at difficult times.

And then home, back to Abingdon, and back to Christchurch, but to a church which seems to have transformed itself in the years I was away. New friends, new relationships, new orders of service, altered liturgy and a new ministry team. And the same old reliable, faithful, trusty, God, still present, still waiting. And God who speaks, through His word, through friends, through the church. And God who maps out my life so much better than I could. And me, still pushing, still searching.

And God who is there when my children arrive, and God who is there when my daughter dies, and somehow sees me through it. And God who is there as I give evidence at the inquest, and God who is there as we hear the court verdict, three long years after her death. And me, dry.

And another daughter ill. And me knowing and believing absolutely that there is no safer place for her than to be under God's wing. And yet the realisation that I could not leave her there, that actually I quite liked my plans for her life and I was afraid God's might be different. And an impasse.

And then, New Wine. And a friend who was able to listen, and who, in a very brief conversation, was able to move on from "this was not your fault" to "then you need to forgive yourself". And a change of heart. And then God. And a seminar, and a "please come forwards for prayer" and a pressing forwards for prayer - and then too many people coming forwards for prayer and not enough time, and yet another missed encounter and more disappointment. And then God. And more prayer. And come forwards not in a nice small safe little side tent full of strangers, but press forwards past everyone you've ever met. And watch as the woman next to you is clearly filled with the Holy Spirit and taking three pray-ers to contain her and keep her safe, and feel that you've been missed out again - and another stranger grabbing an arm and saying "Stay."

And staying. And standing. And feeling very silly, standing and standing, with someone coming back every wee while and repeating "Stay." And then a woman with a big long love letter from the Lord, reaching out through the clutter and the contempt and getting to the heart of things, speaking into my fears and my frustrations and not just breaking down the barriers but removing them completely. And then surrender, and the hand of God on my shoulder, pushing me down so gently. And I stay down, and I know that this, this is what it is all about. Not anything I can do - I can at this point do absolutely nothing. But about finally accepting there is nothing I can do.That all my own efforts count for nothing, and that it is all God. And I go to get up, and the hand on my shoulder tells me to Stay Down. And so I rest for a while, and then stumble back to my feet. And write down what I can remember, and wobble back to the tent with a friend who has waited. And I haven't had the words to explain it until now, but maybe she's reading and it'll make a little more sense. Or not.

I could leave it there. On top of the world, at the foot of the cross, and pretend it's all been bliss and simplicity ever since. But in the interests of honestly, let me say I'm a failure. I'm rubbish at this. Thankfully, God is not. And I don't have to wait until Sunday, and say the right words (which is just as well, because they've changed again and I stumble over them), and I can trip over a hundred times in an hour and need forgiveness another hundred times. And that's ok. Well, obviously it'd be better if I didn't stumble and fall at all, but I'm still working on that. Some days go better than others.

Tonight I watched my friend's son stand up and make a public declaration. I watched him enter the Baptismal pool, I watched the Vicar and the Bishop Baptise him, and then I watched him drench the Curate as he climbed out of the pool. Because God has a sense of humour too, and just loves to cut through the solemnity at times. And I remembered my Confirmation, and I remembered my Baptism, and I remembered all the pushing and the running around and the dry times. And I remembered that peaceful, quiet surrender, in the midst of the rumble and thunder of a rattling good Praise and Worship session,and I know that it was all planned out that way.

And so when the Bishop invited the congregation to reaffirm their own Baptismal vows I dipped my fingers into the water and asked Jesus once again to rule my hands, my heart, my head. And I know I'm not perfect, and I know I rely on His Grace and Mercy every moment of every day. But tonight I'm just thankful for His love. And praying that all those who stood up for Him this evening will remain under His protection all the days of their lives.

I believe and trust in Him.
Tia

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Slow Food

Take a cup of flour and a cup of water, stir them together, and wait. Once a day, tip half of it away, and add another half a cup of flour and half a cup of warm water. And after about three days, you might have something like this.
Which you may decide is nicely bubbly and frothy, and so could just be the sourdough starter you have been waiting for. So, you add a full cup of flour and another one of warm water, and pour it into a bowl.
And wait overnight, until it gets all frothy again, at which point you can take two cups of it, add flour, oil, salt and sugar, and have your very own sourdough loaf. Ideally, you keep the remaining cup as your next sourdough starter. In reality, the bowl tips upside down, spreading fermented flour and water across your kitchen floor, you mutter very rude words, and hope the loaf turns out nicely.
The four day brewed loaf tastes a little bricklike, so you decide you didn't leave it long enough. And you start again, with another cup of flour and another cup of water.
And you tip half of it away, and feed it daily with half a cup of water and half a cup of flour. And you stir in the evil smelling liquid on the top, and put it away for another day. And then suddenly after a week, you discover this
And decide THAT's the frothy effect you were aiming for last time and didn't quite get. So you grow a sponge, which takes another full day. And then you add flour, salt, sugar, olive oil, and leave it to prove. And for the next 18 hours it sits in a small round solid lump doing nothing. So you go to bed, and in the morning, 24 hours after you started kneading it, you discover it has doubled in size and actually looks as though it might be a loaf some time.

So you bake it
And, ten days after you started, you have a perfect sourdough loaf. Abingdon sourdough - I'm sure it doesn't compare with San Francisco, but it tastes pretty good to me!

Tia

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Mog's Q and A time.

I've not been ignoring your questions - it's taken a while to find an awake and alert Mog without her sister (who is currently safely out at Rainbows). So, Mog decided to use a combination of wellying her switch until I fetched her book, the book itself, and then a note from school, to tell me she really enjoyed watching the panto Aladdin at school this afternoon - apparently they sang, and everyone shouted "Oh No it isn't!" and it was good fun. And then used her book to tell me she wanted to lie down, which is why the following video is horizontal. So I decided she might finally be awake enough to respond to an interview. I haven't posted the clips inbetween these three where the seizures took over.
video


video
The canned "Hello"s are coming from Mog's switch - she's kicking it out of camera shot.

video
And in a bonus, Mog decided to demonstrate how she uses her talking book. Book itself is behind the scenes; I couldn't hold it and the video. But she is now sitting beside me, with her cardigan off, wellying her switch again and telling me she'd like to get ready for bed.
video
So, I'd better go.

You have however made Mog very excited about the idea of using her switch with the computer. I can see I'm going to have to get to grips with our Crick Box and work out what she can do with just one switch.
Tia

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Feeling my age

Little Fish has a Birthday coming up in the not too distant future. And after that, she begins a mammoth run of medical bits and pieces. Two investigations under GA (which unfortunately cannot be combined), one overnight sleep study (which can't be combined with either of them), and following on from the investigations, at least one piece of surgery which will either be fairly major or not quite so major. There's potential for at least one more reasonably big op and then the prospect of repeat "procedures" under GA every six months forever, depending on how the results go. Not much fun, and meanwhile certain other bits of her life are getting a little bit harder (the bits she doesn't want me blogging about, sorry).

Which is a long-winded way of saying, she wants a party for her Birthday, and I'm inclined to give her what she wants.

So far, so fine. She's had a fair few party invitations over the past couple of years, and has even attended a reasonable number of parties now that she no longer dissolves into tears at the thought of it all. We've had Princess and Pirate parties, discos, Craft Parties, party parties, and soft play parties (which we did have to decline, it not being terribly accessible). We've had parents checking that everything is alright for LF, only for LF to melt down at the last minute and refuse to go. We've had ramps and space for me to stay, we've had more and more "just give me your phone number and go away" parties, and she's loved each and every one of them.

I've learnt to stop insisting she wears her pretty party dresses and let her be happy in smart jeans and a snappy top. She's learning it's polite not to charge in and snatch a party bag, and that actually the party itself is sometimes more fun than getting the bag at the end of it. And she's pretty brilliant at just telling people she doesn't play with balloons and that she doesn't want a drink, thanks. It's a beautiful thing to watch her growing independence.

Today's party combined a bouncy castle (something she can't do) with a disco, (something they decided to have so LF could join in, seeing how much she enjoyed it at someone else's party). Apparently, it also involved karaoke - I'm told LF does a fine Mamma Mia, and is also pretty good at leading everyone else in The Conga.

Which brings me to feeling my age. See, Little Fish says she wants a party. She can't think of anything at all she'd like as a present - waiting 7 months for her perfect Christmas present has apparently not left her any unmet wishes in that department. She wants a party "with party food, and with all my children, and with floaty balloons I can touch, and everyone to sing and a chocolate cake, and games." Sounds pretty good to me. Except that in my extreme old age, I had assumed games meant pass the parcel, musical statues, squeak piggy squeak, pin the tail on the animal of your choice, in and out the dusky bluebells, that kind of thing. Not Karaoke and the Macarena. They sang "McDonald" - I assumed "Old McDonald had a farm" but no, "A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut".

I'm ruling out a theme; Little Fish would, if asked, choose Peppa Pig and I suspect her classmates are a little beyond that. We're vetting the invitation list; LF believes that if a child knows her name they are her best best friend, and doesn't understand that not all name calling is nice.

Floaty balloons she can touch (foil and helium) we can do, no problem. Party food is I assume still reasonably similar; take out the jelly and add in fruit and veg and watch it all get ignored and scattered across the floor anyway. Cake - of course. And singing. But games? Am I dooming her to a lifetime of ridicule and humiliation if we go for the more traditional (and by the way fairly inclusive) party games of my childhood? Can children these days actually sing the Hokey Cokey without musical sound track? Will she be scarred for life if there isn't a man in a silly hat waving a microphone and teaching the groovy moves? And does anyone want to come and do this for me, since I'm clearly far too ancient and out of touch to manage it myself?

Tia

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Still here

We haven't gone anywhere.

Mog has outgrown her school uniform, and since the school aren't doing a re-order any time soon I'm busy knitting cardigans in regulation colours.

Collecting new rounds of appointments for both girls; nothing major, just plodding on.

Planning Guide camp and trying to find someone to come and run a creche since we are likely to have quite a few under 8s with us this year.

And Little Fish has asked me to stop telling everyone about bits of her life, so I'm trying to work out what's fair to share and what isn't.

Tia

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