Monthly Archives: July 2005

I’ve done it!

Well, I am sitting here feeling remarkably smug as my home is now in a fit state to leave to my visitors while we go swanning off for our annual pilgrimage to Sidmouth. OK, so I have to keep my fingers crossed that my friends don’t look in the garage or under the large blanket covering a mountain of bits and bobs in the bedroom.. and if they open any cupboards or drawers they may have to send for mountain rescue to retrieve them from under the avalanche which will ensue,… but the place looks clean (ish) and respectable and even the car is loaded already. In fact, once the washing machine stops in a minute, even the clothing we leave behind us will be clean and dry and ready for our return. I feel smug.

Smudgelet’s postcard collection is looking good already. He has three – Thank you Jack and Eutychus – most efficient I must say… although one other beat you to it. He’s also rather delighted because, three days after registering, he’s already half way through the library summer reading challenge and well into his second selection of three books. It’s lovely to see the pair of them sitting up on the top bunk in Tiddles’ new room, engrossed in their books. I furnished it with cushions and a spare duvet to make a little reading area in the hope it might prompt them to indulge a bit more in reading, and it seems to be working rather well, at least in Smudgelet’s case. He’s also amazed me by baking another Victoria Sponge – this one for his godmother’s birthday – without having to make any reference to the recipe at all!

Tiddles, meanwhile, has slaved away doing an assortment of jobs, including cleaning the outside of the car. It’s looking rather shiny – I don’t know how I’ll ever recognise it in the carpark as I’ve forgotten to look for a green car and generally keep an eye open for one that’s speckled and brown.

So, here I am all packed up and ready for my holiday.. and feeling almost as excited as the kids. I need this break and I plan to enjoy it to the full… despite the stress of leaving Dad to go to his appointment and awaiting the results. Be good while I’m gone! And don’t hold your breath for a postcard … Smudgelet has bagsed them all!

Come apart

It was quite funny, really. I took time out today from my frantic avoidance of doing anything practical towards going away to go to church. I’m finding it really hard at the moment to settle to doing anything and I think I’ll be finding the bottle of St John’s Wort to help keep my spirits on an even keel for a while.. which isn’t really ideal when you’ve got a whole bungalow to sort out and clean ready for visitors on Saturday, to say nothing of bags to pack for our holiday and children to organise. But it’s one of the monthly “creative prayer” days at church and they were serving lunches so I thought it a good idea to foray forth as a family and visit the church for lunch.

The day was based around the idea of holiday – the need to have periods of rest and recouperation within our hectic lives… and lovely it was too. Perfect timing. But I had to giggle when I saw the heading over the area where cushions and seats and beanbags were gathered and gentle music playing…. “Come apart and rest”. I commented to my friend M that at the moment I was having enough of a job keeping myself together, without starting to come apart 🙂

But maybe that was precisely what God was saying to me at that moment – I just didn’t realise it at the time. It was tonight, when a good friend phoned to see how I was and she told me simply to let go and cry, that she was there for me and I didn’t have to put on a brave face. And suddenly I realised. I don’t have to put on a brave face with God either – I can simply “come apart” in God’s presence and He will give me rest.


Thank you for your prayers – Not only did they get my mobile message at long last, but they did so at the one moment in the day when I was alone enough to talk (and sob) unobserved and early enough in the day to reduce my worrying somewhat. My wonderful sister has cut her holiday short by two days and is, as we speak, well on her way home to organise things so that she can stay here next week and take Dad to the hospital.

Both sisters have impressed upon me that I have a duty to go away on holiday and, temporarily, forget all about it and leave it in my sister’s hands… because Dad’s going to need me well relaxed and refreshed, and so are the Smudgelets. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful and supportive family.

Meanwhile I just need to summon up enough concentration on other things to get this bungalow sorted. Hmm.. a bit of a challenge, this one!!! Today I allowed myself to be diverted into helping Smudgelet with his latest project – contacting everyone he knows and asking them to send him a postcard of the place they live. He’s really quite excited with this little undertaking which should hopefully get him yet another badge for cubs. He’s already overtaken Tiddles on the badge race… hardly surprising as Tiddles can’t remember to ask the leader for the three badges he has outstanding! I had to laugh this morning as his private tutor was tearing her hair out… I didn’t know whether to despair at the waste of money having extra lessons for him when they go in one ear and out the other, or whether to rejoice that it isn’t just me! I tend towards the latter – it’s worth every penny to watch her struggle to stay patient 😀 (He’s not actually got learning difficulties – if he put as much effort into actually having a go at the task as he puts into avoiding engaging with it, he’d actually be quite bright!!!)


It’s hard to settle to anything today.. it’s that horrible feeling of trying to deal with an emergency and reaching a point where nothing more can be done for the moment.

The thing is, I seem to have mislaid my sister. This may seem a minor inconvenience, but it’s taking on mammoth proportions at the moment. With Dad’s appointment coming through for the middle of next week, we have to make some arrangements. Either I need to phone them to postpone it or I need to arrange for my sister to stay here with him and take him. Both scenarios are awful. We’re both on tenterhooks, he and I, waiting for the bad news and if it’s bad for me, it must be a million times worse for him. After ringing to blast them for making him wait (to which they replied that they can’t discuss patient information with a third party, even though it was only the date of the appointment I wished to discuss), I wonder how soon they’d make the appointment if I rang and asked them to postpone. There again, do I want him to go with someone else and for me to get the news while I’m away and alone and supposed to be enjoying myself? Neither, really.

So, it all depends on my sister – she’ll have to make the decision. But where is she? Somewhere in France and obviously out of mobile range as she hasn’t answered any of the numerous text messages we’ve sent. I finally managed to get through to the friends she was staying with for part of the holiday (after first my internet connection going down and me not able to call up their website, then difficulty phoning France).. only to discover that they left there yesterday and are meandering back through the French countryside to catch the ferry… next Wednesday evening!!! AAAAAGGGGHHHHH! And of course, Dad is worrying now about what I am going to do about the appointment. If you’re of a mind to pray, please pray that my sister will come within range of a mobile mast today.. in fact, before this evening would be nice… and get my message to ring me.

Meanwhile, I have to say I had a rather pleasant evening at Osborne House on Saturday night. Fantastic music, and a wonderful firework display. I was a little concerned that I may look slightly foolish, sitting with my blanket wrapped over my head (I’d forgotten my hat and it was a little chilly!) but was reassured to look out over the heads of the 6000 people there – most of whom seemed to have managed to sit between us and the stage – and see numerous people wearing flashing pink fluffy bunny ears without a qualm. And this year I’d remembered actually to put the food for the picnic in the picnic bag instead of just taking the bag and leaving the food in the fridge. I don’t think I’ll ever live that one down!!!

I also had the delight of doing part of my Local Preachers portfolio this weekend – writing a narrative sermon (not sure what I think of that) and doing a personal reflection on someone else’s service. I know what I think about that. It feels awful going to church and, instead of focussing on my worship of God, focussing on doing the equivalent to a lesson observation on an preacher who’s totally unaware of my intentions. Hard to hide behind the pew and scribble notes, too… especially as I kept absent-mindedly scratching my nose with my pen! Interesting, though, analysing someone’s preaching style, even though it does feel very wrong. It’ll be my turn next, mind, as apparently I have my trial service in September as they feel I’m ready to fly solo. Mmmm.. I’ll reserve judgement on that one!

Right, to work.. I can put it off no longer.

No letters

Having a letterless keyboard is fine when you can touch type. Not that I can type in the traditional ten fingered way, but my fingers automatically know where the keys are and sort out between themselves which one will hit the required key with minimum effort. That’s fine, until you find yourself minus a finger.. or minus the use of it, to be more anatomically precise… and you discover that you can’t hit the right keys for love nor money (not that I have any of the latter anyway).

In fact, everything is a little harder going today.. ever since I made the mistake of thinking of spending more family time this morning. That’ll teach me! I decided to take the Smudgelets out to the post office on their bikes and do a bit of on-road-cycling instruction. I walked because I had things to carry, and because it was up a steep hill to start with and down it again on the way back. And what happens? I am so intent on watching and advising the Smudgelet on his road techniques that I failed to see some loose gravel on the path, turned my ankle and went skidding down the hill on my stomach. I was surprised to find I wasn’t as badly hurt as I might have been – although it had the really quite funny effect of setting off my dermographia so that I looked as though I was grazed from head to toe, everywhere that had been in contact with the path turning red and angry! But as it is I’ve just badly bruised and grazed one finger and one knee.

Typical – just when I need to get the lounge and kitchen habitable for my babysitter and be able to walk a long distance carrying a bag and a deckchair this evening for the Osborne House concert!

In the picnic bag will be one rather flat looking Victoria Sponge. Yes, Smudgelet is delighted to announce that he was awarded his Cubs Chef badge at Cubs last night, along with his DIY badge for the construction of a rather lurid pink keyholder and a rather sophisticated looking bird box. I’m sure the sponge will be delicious, if a little… er…. compact.

Dad’s appointment has finally come through….. for the middle of our holiday next week! Hmm… a few phone calls to make on Monday, I think.


I had better explain. The comfort penguin is, indeed, a cuddly penguin that caught my eye in the gift shop. He’s a rather cute little rockhopper and bears a slight resemblence to Reggie, my avatar penguin. Being rather partial to these adorable little creatures (and, as I gain weight, resembling one more and more!!!!) I simply cannot resist buying one from time to time… and Wednesday was definitely the day.

That said, I am rather partial to the chocolate-coated variety too 😀

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

Thank you soooooo much for your kind and considerate offers of babysitting.. especially deeleea who’s prepared to rush and get here quickly and fit in an evening’s babysitting after her meeting the following morning. Hmm.. makes my mind bend just to think of it. But I’m delighted to inform you that I have found a mug.. er… I mean volunteer. A colleague is willing to do it, although she’s warned me that she’s not the strictest of people so she may have her work cut out!!!

I’ll appreciate the evening out, methinks. And it was fortunate that today was a school trip. I took some work along with me to do at the “checkpoint” where I sat with all the children’s bags while they ran off to explore the park. Did I do any? Did I heck as like…. I sat and drank coffee and ate bacon butties and nattered with the various other staff and went off on the “Time machine” ride twice and to explore the woodland centre. A wonderful and much needed relaxing time, made even better by the behaviour of the children.. none of whom needed a lift back to school in the Smudgemobile. And being the person who had their car there for that very person meant that I didn’t have to go to or from the park in the coach with a host of overexcited ten-year-olds and actually had a lie in in the morning as I didn’t have to meet them there until ten :D.

Just as well, really. Least said about Tiddles at this point, the better. Suffice to say, I have spent two hours this evening at his school. I started planning the next service I’m taking by reading the readings through this morning and suddenly the story of the Cyrene woman with the demon-possessed child hit home. Not sure how I’m going to prepare a sermon based on that – it feels far too close to home at the moment.

Still, I haven’t got moths or wasps and I bought myself a comfort-penguin at the park 😀

Struggling a little at the moment

But at least you can always comfort yourself that things could be worse.

My sister, for example. Just ten days before the guests start arriving from abroad for my nephew’s wedding, she discovers a wasp nest deep inside between the ceiling and the bedroom floorboards. The wasps will have to be killed, of course (not that she likes killing anything) but they are in such an awkward place that they will, apparently, moulder away and there will be a strong smell of putrifaction in the bedrooms.

I reassured her that it would be easily masked. This is because the installation of a new bathroom has gone somewhat awry. They haven’t been able to bath or shower for almost two weeks.. and the bathroom door has had to be removed so any ablutions at the sink are in full view of any passerby. At least she can blame the smell on the dying wasps…

Add to this her discovery this morning of an invasion of clothes moths. They seem to be a bit prevalent at the moment, don’t they, as another friend here on the Island has been massacring moths too, just as Jack has. I told my sister about the lavender oil.. which will have the added bonus of a) masking the smell of the dying wasps and sweaty unwashed bodies and b) relax the visitors into a deep sleep.

Of course, come the time a bit closer to the wedding, they’ll all be relocating anyway to the two cottages she’s booked for the week in the location of the big event. Except that by pure chance she’s discovered that the cottages which were advertised as sleeping six now actually turn out only to sleep four.. and that at a push. It’s going to be a really cosy family wedding !!!! We’ve had to offer for two people to stay in our cottage with us.. which means me sharing two single beds with my sons – Mr Talk-in-sleep and Mr Wriggle-a-lot.

Meanwhile, anyone available to babysit on Satuday night? I have a long awaited and much needed night out with my friend M planned – an open air concert at Osborne House, complete with fireworks – and can’t find a babysitter for love nor money. Having a lounge where it’s standing-room-only doesn’t help, of course… but I’m sure I could finish clearing it by the weekend if I had the right motivation! 🙂

Three days to go until the holidays. Work’s not a happy place at the moment. Add that to increasing problems with number-one-son and still hanging on this bad news coming for Dad, and all I can say is thank God for God! At the moment I’m hanging together on prayer, friends, and crumpled chocolate caramel koalas 😀

Pause for thought

My son locked himself in the lavatory today. He did indeed lock himself in, in the middle of a massive tantrum which began at my father’s house and resulted in me having to drag him out kicking and screaming before my Dad’s heart bore the consequences. Dad hadn’t been too well today anyway, what with the heat and having run out of his heart tablets, and I had visions of Tiddles’ tantrum and rudeness to my Dad pushing him over the edge. Tiddles decided to lock himself in the toilet as part of his grand performance and was rather perturbed to discover that he couldn’t open the bolt again.

It was rather a blessing, actually. He was in one of his more violent rages and so I decided just to leave him where he was until he calmed down and the shouting and swearing was replaced by the inevitable tears. It may sound cruel, but at least we were all safe and there was little harm he could come to in there.. apart from falling down the toilet and drowning, I suppose. One of the benefits of having a separate bathroom and toilet (he’s already broken the bathroom bolt in a tantrum, so that one doesn’t lock anyway)! A bit of a challenge getting him out, though, when he eventually calmed down an hour and a half later as there was no window apart from a small sealed window into the veranda and a ventilation fan which leads through the ceiling. The door is far more fragile than the frame and the bolt itself, so any attempt to force the issue was probably going to end in a smashed door – not ideal when you’re having visitors soon! It was then that I realised that all my friends are either unobtainable on a Friday evening or else not strong enough to be of assistance… apart from one hero who travelled the length of the Island to come to the rescue. I half expected him to arrive on his sturdy white charger, armour a-glistening in the evening sunlight. Three bent screwdrivers and one completely broken latch later and Tiddles was restored once more to his not particularly sympathetic mother.

If only we hadn’t a week to go until the summer holidays. I think we’re all ready for a holiday. I certainly don’t feel like finishing off the bedroom for them tonight – it’s all the special little finishing touches I was planning to do and they’re both in disgrace. At least I feel stronger again, now, for dealing with the tantrums, but they do put our relationship under a bit of a strain at times. I have to keep reminding myself that he could be far worse, and he’s a really sweet child the rest of the time.

News today, too, that yet another friend’s adoption has broken down – a friend who’s had her child even longer than I’ve had Tiddles and who’s shown incredible patience with this extremely difficult child. This means that of my adoption group, only two adoptions have been “successful”… and the other “success” experiences difficulties similar to the tantrum-seasons we have to cope with. I do so hope they tell prospective adopters these statistics, just to make sure people are really properly prepared for the impact which an emotionally-disturbed child can have on their family.

Still, he’s out… and he’s safe…. and I still love him (Honest I do!) … and at least I can go to the loo at last! 😉


I’m ready for a break.

I’ve just had a row with a friend. They say bad things come in threes, don’t they? Let’s hope this was the third thing because I still have a week and a day to go of school and I feel like curling up in a little ball under the duvet… if it wasn’t so hot!

I’m still shaken, I guess, from an incident yesterday where a driver in a hurry decided to run me off the road. He was coming straight at me down a road that’s not really wide enough for two vehicles to pass unless they’re going very very slowly and cooperating all the way. I’d passed the passing place by about a hundred yards – it’s a winding road so I hadn’t seen him any sooner – and slowed to assess whether we could manage to squeeze past or whether I should reverse. He had no such hesitation. I ended up with the hedge poking in through my nearside window and a completely smashed wing mirror… and of course, without a wing mirror, I didn’t get chance to take his registration down as he disappeared off round the next bend. I didn’t think to ring the police, seeing as I had nothing really concrete to report, but was advised to today and, when I rang up to report it, I got a telling off from the person at the other end for not reporting it sooner. So I had to organise cover at school while I returned home for my paperwork and hot-tailed it down to the police station, where I had a telling off for wasting their time with something so vague and minor. Well, not a telling off exactly, but the policeman certainly wasn’t very interested at all and told me nothing would come of it and what precisely did I want him to do? And here’s me, trying to drive without a wing mirror (which I use a lot) until I have time to go to Halfords for a new one.

At least parents’ evening this evening was pleasant and finished in time for me to see the children before bedtime.

The third bad thing is only a potential bad thing… but it’s hanging there fulltime at the back of my mind. You recall Dad was given the all clear on his bone scan by the cancer specialist, but his GP said it showed some damage to the hip and sent him for Xrays? Well, yesterday Dad phoned the doctor to make an appointment to see him and discuss the Xrays… and the doctor told him it’d been referred back to the cancer specialist who’d be ringing him sometime to call him in for an appointment. Hmmm… 2+2=?

And I STILL haven’t quite finished that bedroom 🙁