Back to work and Power Point

Having arrived home late on the Sunday night, it was straight back to work the next morning – though I had an odd day.

As you know, I am working towards my Microsoft Office Master qualification and it’s always difficult to book my tests on days that the IT team are at this site plus times when I don’t have a clinic to run. This first day back happened to be the first such time in months so I had booked it for my Power Point testing.

I had half an hour in my office to try and find my feet again, catch up on what was left from the previous week and organise the office and my workload ready for how I like to work. Then I went up to the IT training room and did a practise test to see if I thought I was ready for final testing. We decided that I was so I confirmed my booking for the actual test in the afternoon then went back to my office for an hour and a half to try and do some work. Having done just some of the essential work, I then returned and took my test – and a little to my surprise I passed! πŸ™‚

I am now a Power Point Specialist and have just one more bit to do for my Master qualification – that being Outlook. I was really pleased as I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to do it, especially straight after our holiday.

A mum who is everything…

A single white carnation represents the purity of a mother’s love

Today brings memories
of the love you’ve shown,
and of the happy moments
we’ve shared.

Mother’s Day means
looking back on all the times
your thoughtfulness
has really made a difference…

You have such a special way
of sharing your love
and doing so much for others…

…And so today’s the
perfect time to tell you,
you are appreciated
and loved more than
you’ll ever know.

This is the wording on the Mother’s Day card I chose for my mum this year and as usual, although I’m pleased to find some nice words, they just can’t quite express what I feel. My mum is, in my opinion, quite simply the most wonderful woman ever to walk the earth. She is my mum, my best friend and my sister all rolled in to one seamless, almost perfect person πŸ™‚

My earliest memories of my mum are of soft cuddles, security, happiness, contentedness and quite simply… love. If mum said everything was well, it was. If I had a problem, mum could always put it right or help me to do so. If something good happened mum was the one with whom I shared the pleasure. As a child I believed mum was always right – about everything! If there was a quiz show on TV I was sure all her answers were right (to be fair they probably were most of the time!) If I asked her about the likelihood of something happening and she said “I doubt it” that meant it definitely wouldn’t, and if she said “maybe” it probably would – she was my oracle. If I did something to disappoint her, I was devastated – she rarely needed to get cross with me as I always wanted to please her. She was the centre of my universe and my life’s barometer and she was everything a mum can and should be to a child. (If I was half the mum to my kids that she was (and is) to me, then I’d be delighted with that.)

As an adult, my relationship with mum has evolved and she really is my best friend too. We are fairly alike in many ways (in fact we laughingly pity anyone else spending time with the pair of us as it must be like having one person in stereo! πŸ˜‰ ) and yet we are also different in some ways – partly a generation thing, (albeit the gap between us is only 20 years) partly the other half of my genes, ( I do share a few traits with my dad) and partly the evolution of my own personality and opinions. Our likeness to each other means that we can laugh together (often without needing words), cry together, use each other as sounding boards for ideas, or just have a darned good moan about life, the world and the universe without having to worry about how it comes out. Our differences range from opinions on minor things to social/political issues – but we are quite happy to be different without a need to judge or preach, and often these differences can be cause for humour e.g. I just love teasing mum in the fruit/veg aisles of the supermarket πŸ˜‰ Although I admire mum, I haven’t put her on a pedestal so that she isn’t allowed to be human, but she IS my role model and my inspiration. She’s taught me, by example, to be strong yet caring and to be a lady.

We’ve shared so many good times, bad times and times in between and all have only brought us closer. So in no particular order, some of my memories of times shared with mum include:

  1. Moving to Chester – when dad left the army they bought an ex-army house in Chester and though I had left home, I enjoyed helping with the move. The house had been vandalised when mum and I arrived (as the advance party, going up on the train ahead of dad and the removals van) We shared the shock and horror then we sorted it out together so that when the van arrived order had largely been returned. I can still vividly recall sitting in the garden in the bright sunshine eating fish & chips from the takeaway round the corner. So though I never grew up in the house in Chester, it has always felt like home to me, and to the children it has always been their 2nd home.

  2. Swearing – mum doesn’t swear and neither do I. (Well, our swear words are: bloody; bug – ger (trying to avoid unwanted traffic via keyword bots here); and damn – very mild these days!) To be fair in fact, neither did dad at home so I grew up in a swear-free home and that is what I expect in my home too. There’s a time and a place and the home is not it! Mum instilled this in me and the one time I used a word, not realising it was not acceptable as an everyday word was when I was 13 and mum, Rick and I were walking home together one summer afternoon. I used the word c.r.a.p. The next thing I knew was that mum slapped the back of my bare legs and I was shocked! “What? It means “rubbish”” I said, much affronted. “I don’t care,” she replied, “You are not to say it!” and that was that. I still don’t use, or like, the word. Once when Rick and I were teenagers we were obviously irritating mum and she got annoyed and told us to “Stop………” she groped for the words she wanted, couldn’t find them and blustered “… fart-arsing around” It certainly had the effect of stopping us doing whatever it was (I don’t remember that bit) as we were so completely shocked that we just sat with mouths agape, speechless! πŸ˜€ (Both Fart and arsing are words she’d never used before (nor since I don’t think) and though I do now use the former occasionally, I don’t use the latter nor its noun. )

  3. When we were children, mum would always insist on a proper family breakfast and evening meal, and when we got older, though she worked full time, if she had a weekday off, she would buy something nice and cook us a meal at lunchtime and we’d go home and have a special lunch. (As an adult, I appreciate how much of her precious day off this used.) If it was unexpectedly raining, she’d come and meet us with a brolly or coat – which also reminds me of that very hot summer of 1976 when we went to school a 1.5 mile walk away and she’d bring cold drinks to us when she came to walk us home. When I’d left home but we were all still living in Sussex, mum would come and meet me for lunch sometimes if she had a day off and the mornings on those days dragged by yet I loved the anticipation of an hour with mum to break up the day/week and spending some quality time with her.

  4. Learning by watching – When the children were little and I was floundering round trying to get the hang of parenting, mum was there to offer a steadying hand, yet she never interfered. She didn’t tell me how I should be doing things, but I learned by watching her. In fact, I learned a lot by simply watching her as I grew up. I loved watching her do things. I loved watching her put on her make-up and felt this was my special time with her as naturally, neither dad nor Rick wanted to watch her do this so I got her all to myself for 5 minutes. I loved watching her cook – even the mundane stuff like preparing vegetables and once when we went to Sunday dinner with a friend of dad’s and his new young wife, she was trying to prepare sprouts and clearly hadn’t a clue what to do with them. Rick and I told her how mum did them and she gratefully did as we’d described so by watching mum we learned without realising it and were able to help someone else. I also learned how to bake by watching mum. She makes the best pastry of anyone I know and I remember making pastry at school once and being told off for making it the way mum makes it (even now I can’t see the problem, mum makes it the normal way as far as I can tell!) but since I KNEW mum’s pastry was better than the school recipe I carried on regardless πŸ™‚ I loved watching her sew dresses – she always made my school summer dresses and I was so proud of that, and sometimes she made us matching dresses. Sadly, I can’t sew to save my life, but when I was only about 4 or 5, I decided I was going to make Rick some trousers. I’m giggling as I type this but doubt I can adequately describe my creation. I had a piece of red tartan fabric big enough to cut out the shape of a pair of trousers, but not big enough for both back and front. So an old white sheet was used to form the back! I cut out the shape of trousers and hand stitched (remember I was 4 or 5!) all but the foot holes and waist, and I’d failed to add any extra material to go AROUND his legs, then presented my little brother with his gift! πŸ˜€ Another sewing memory of one Christmas when the children and I (in my single parenting days) had come to Chester to spend Christmas with mum and dad. They had (and still have) a stocking each and I had somehow managed to forget to bring them! Mum and I spent Christmas Eve sewing two stockings out of a couple of (yellow) pillow cases. πŸ™‚

  5. Helping each other through– When dad was ill (yes, single occasion – he never really got ill/ let on if he did) mum and I visited a couple of times a day, sometimes together, sometimes separately. As is the nature of the evil that is cancer, we got through one day at a time, never really knowing whether things would get better or worse and never getting any straight answers from the doctors. We intuitively knew that the prognosis was poor and together we did our own research, talked openly and honestly and literally laughed and cried together through the short weeks before the inevitable happened. We needed each other and we were there for each other. Along with Rick and Billy, we planned his funeral together, again laughing and crying, and we leaned on each other on the day itself. After the perfect send off, we decided we’d “do” St George’s Day for him every year and in the 8 years since, we have spent every St George’s Day together in memory of him. We’ve had the odd tear of course, but we’re not maudlin and we laugh a lot too. I love our SGD memories – you can share some of them here. We similarly got each other through when my beloved Nan, mum’s mum, was ill and then died> and as her birthday was April 22nd, we sort of combine memories of her with our SGD activities.

  6. Mum can kill with a look – well, she can turn back the tide and stop a man with a gun anyway πŸ˜€ Mum is pretty easy going and very selfless, but if she’s determined or annoyed, nothing will deter her (yes, I know! A trait I share! πŸ˜› ) When we flew to Hong Kong back in 1986 we had a brief stop for fuelling in Dubai and we were ushered off the plane by a Dubai guard with a gun. Mum gave him “the look” and muttered “don’t you point your gun at me!” A couple of years later when mum and I were were on one of our annual girly weekends away, we went for a walk along the seafront on a very blustery day and the sea was throwing up huge waves across our desired path on the prom. Mum glared at it fiercely before walking at HER own pace along the path, just daring a wave to hit her. It didn’t!

  7. Keeping a sense of humour – When mum had her hip replacement a couple of years ago I was really pleased to be in a position of being able to help her by staying with her at first and then visiting each week. Apart from the fact that she was recovering from a physically traumatic procedure, I loved our time together and still giggle at one of the many memories from that time – in fact I’ve just read it again here and am in fits. πŸ˜€ Again, we got through the post-op challenges by being able to be honest and by laughing together and the experience cemented our closeness.

  8. Loving cats – Mum and I (and all our family) share a love of cats. We’ve nearly always had cats, though the first I remember really is Tippy, a black cat we had when I was about 8 I think. When we went to live in Germany, my aunt and uncle took her for us and I remember being sad but trusting my cousin Keith when he promised they’d take good care of her. In Germany we had Tigger – part German wild cat – a big tabby with a wild streak. We lived on the top floor of a block of flats so we took him out on a lead for walks – HOW embarrassing Rick and I found that! And how entertaining too – cats go where they want, under cars, up trees and under bushes so many a time one of us was hanging on to the lead whilst the other had to try and retrieve a stubborn cat! Dad loved to tease and he played a bit too much one day and Tigger launched himself off dad’s lap rather too strongly – hurting dad somewhere a bit delicate! πŸ˜€ He gave us many memories including chasing Rick up the road (his leg still carries the scar), going off for a wander for days (once we were back in England and he could go out alone) and following us home through the woods once we’d tracked him down ( he offended many dogs and their owners along the way by swiping their noses with his claws when they got too inquisitive, despite our warnings that he might hurt their dogs!) As well as his wildness, he had his soft side and I remember crying in to his fur when I (wrongly) thought I’d broken mum’s new washing machine, and he had a soft spot for a neighbour’s somewhat neglected, almost permanently pregnant cat and he’d leave her some food in his bowl. We later adopted one of her kittens, Tiddles, and he accepted her in to the family. We lost him when he went AWOL one final time and never returned. Tiddles, though, had one litter of her own (gorgeous little things – one black, one white, one tabby and one silver tabby) and she moved to Chester with mum and dad and they had her many years before she died of old age after a fairly pampered life. Mum wasn’t quite ready for another cat but dad dived in and brought home Muffin, a beautiful mass of long black fur who really was daddy’s little boy and who shared the loss of dad and helped mum through. It was devastating when he too died. When she was ready, mum found another beautiful little puss who needed to be loved, and now Rocky is the lucky recipient of as much love and attention as his little furry heart could ever desire. I am honoured to have been there when mum got him and more so that this nervous little wussy cat enjoys my visits when I go to Chester. Mum has also shared my cats over the years too – Blackie, Jet, Toby, Garfie, Timmy, Tinker, Zeb and Zara – the welcoming in to the family and the upset when they leave. More memories that we can share and that bind us.

I have too many memories shared with mum to write, but as I hope the few examples show, it’s the bad times as well as the good that strengthen the bond between us. The tears are the binding that strengthens the laughter. My mum is the most thoughtful, caring, loving person I know and she is always there for me. She supports me in practical and emotional ways and I don’t have to pretend to be anything other than I am with her. She can read my blog entries and pick up on unspoken things which no-one else would because we are so alike and in tune. We have a telepathic connection and we just KNOW when something is not quite right even if we haven’t seen each other, or spoken, or even texted, anything to give any hint that this is the case. In fact we are an extension of each other and can make decisions and choices on behalf of each other because we know what the other would want.

She was a perfect mum when I was a child, and she is still a perfect mum now – nurturing me even though I have grown up children of my own. I also know she is one of the children’s favourite people in the world and just as she has done with me, mum has been a perfect caring, protective, guiding adult when they were little and a reassuring, non-interfering friendly presence now they are grown.

I adore my mum, she is everything the cards say on this day of the year…… but she is also more.

Happy Mother’s Day mum. I love you so very much and am so lucky to have you as my mum. I know you will have both laughed and cried at these few shared memories I have posted, and I know that there are a million more that I haven’t written. I’d like to add more in the future so maybe you can help me choose some. For now though, I just want you – and the world – to know that I look up to you as you are the perfect mum and that I am very grateful for everything you have done, and continue to do, for me.
With lots of love from YLD – X

Poor Nel.

Poor Nel hasn’t had much fun lately.

Her work escorting a child to school has been stressful lately as he has some issues which make life tricky – though at least there is now some help to try and address them, including her being sent on a course to give her some training in dealing with the specific problems. Her dog walking is enjoyable still, except that another dog-walking business has been pinching some of her existing and potential clients lately which is rather galling for her.

Then Lev, one of her Roborovski hamsters has died πŸ™ She just found him in his bed, though has no idea why. She did say she’d noticed he had been a bit hyperactive a couple of days before – and in hamsters this CAN be a sign that they are in pain – but you can’t assume every time they are running around they are in pain. We think he must have had an illness or disease that we could not detect, and his brother seems absolutely fine. Lev is now buried in a pot in the garden and we’ll buy a plant in the spring to commemorate his little life.

She then came down with a very heavy cold – I did wonder if it was flu as she was so poorly, and to top it off, this set off her nosebleeds. She had several bleeds, including one whilst in the bank when she had to grab some tissues and run for her bus to get to work, and then when I came home from work last Friday, she’d had a couple of bleeds including one that was still going after 30 minutes. Over the course of the day she’d got through a box of tissues, and one and a half loo rolls! I asked if she thought we ought to take her to casualty, which she didn’t much fancy as last time (8 years ago) they’d stuffed a giant tampon-like wedge up her nose, she’d almost passed out and we ended up being blue-lighted to Newcastle for clotting tests etc. The poor child had “merely” had flu, got dehydrated and had a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. Naturally she wanted to avoid a repeat if possible – so what did we do? We found a tampon that’s what! πŸ˜€ And it did the job. For a bit. At 7.00pm we ended up heading to casualty after all! πŸ™ Billy passed on my apologies to the darts team and I spent 2.5 hours waiting with Nel – whose nosebleed stopped as we arrived! Naturally! What was frustrating was that we waited all that time without knowing for what we were actually waiting! We didn’t know if it was to see if the bleeding resumed or stayed stopped, or to see a doctor, or what. No-one pointed out there were magazines in the corner of the room (we discovered them 10 minutes before we left!) or where to get a drink of water or find the loo. Eventually, a doctor who looked Stephen’s age (no disrespect to him though – it just made me feel ancient πŸ˜‰ ) arrived and looked at Nel, said that he could see some very fragile blood vessels in her nose, and told her how to stop nosebleeds by pinching her nose for 20 minutes. That was that and we came home! Very helpful!We were exhausted and both went straight to bed. When I called Billy to tell him, he was relieved all was OK, sorry for our wasted trip and said he’s pick up a box of tampons on his way home. Bless him! (And he did – they were in the bathroom when we got up in the morning.)

Poor Nel, she’s not been having a great time.

Birthday breakfast, cake, and Chinese.

Thursday was Nel’s birthday and she wanted me to have the day off work so I worked overtime on Wednesday and Friday this week, making it a strange week for me.

She wanted breakfast in bed at 6.30am (as she was working) so I agreed to do my best, but I don’t use an alarm to wake up, I just wake naturally. I woke up at 6.17am so I leapt up, ran downstairs and after feeding the cats, made Nel’s bacon sandwich and drink, arranged them nicely on a tray with serviette and presented it to her at 6.30am on the dot! πŸ™‚ I then left her to eat to open her cards and presents. We’d given her the “Thor” DVD as requested as well as her usual cash and she had a card and present from Mum, and cards from Rick and from an aunt.

When the children were little I always used to make them a birthday cake decorated with whatever character or picture they wanted. Over the years I’ve done everything from Power Rangers to Forever Friends and used to enjoy the challenge. As they’ve grown older, they haven’t wanted them any more, but this year Nel decided she DID and the picture she gave me to try and reproduce on a cake was this:


Well I had great fun and games trying to mix the right colours for the icing for a start! The red food colouring I used turned the white icing a peach colour instead of pink! So I tried again with the red gel food colour and thankfully this WAS pink, but I still couldn’t get the exact shades I wanted.


Eventually I started the design, and it was much harder than I remembered from when the children were little! I struggled resizing the picture, even allowing for overlapping the sides a little, and I wasn’t happy with the accuracy, but in the end decided I wasn’t going to achieve perfection and just did my best.


(The flash on the camera has drained much of the colour – the icing is pinker than it looks, and I used the peach colour as the background.)

I stuck with it and Nel came in to watch me finish it, just as I was bemoaning the lack of black icing colour – which she just happened to have upstairs having used it for her art occasionally πŸ™‚ To my utter frustration, when I tried to use the red gel colour to outline the mane, it looked dreadful and ran everywhere so I attempted to remove it – ruining the whole thing πŸ™ Nel remarked how we were similar in spending hours on something, wanting perfection and feeling like scrapping the whole thing when one of the finishing touches spoiled it. Well at least she understood, and could appreciate that I’d spent hours and done my best. (It tasted good anyway πŸ˜‰ )


In the evening, Nel, Billy and I enjoyed a Chinese takeaway and a bottle of win whilst watching “Captain America” (the last of the series of Avengers films out thus far which we had yet to see) It wasn’t bad but not the best of them (Thor was my favourite, and Nel’s too.)

The last bit of her birthday celebration was a sleepover at the weekend, but the day itself was over and I think Nel quite enjoyed it, which was the object of the exercise πŸ™‚ It’s hard to believe that my BABY is now 19!

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My Top 11 of 2011

Well it’s been a horrible year in the main. Every time I think we’ve hit the bottom and can start clawing our way to better – or even simply more stable – times, new depths are revealed. However, in true Pollyanna style, I thought I’d see if I could find some good things from 2011 and here they are:

#11. Nel’s diagnosis This was huge! It gave us a reason for all her little idiosynchracies and an insight into how her mind works differently to other people’s. I wasn’t a bad mother for not being able to work her out, in fact I’d done well over the years to help her cope without either of us knowing just what the difficulties were. Full story here.

#10. Friends’ Wedding An unexpected invitation to be a part of a very special couple’s big day led to a feeling of extra closeness to two lovely people whom I had met through a football web forum – mum’s club, not even mine – and a wonderful trip to London. Football and the internet have brought me some deep and long-lasting friendships and this event brought home to me just how lucky I am to have friends like these. Full story here.

# 9. A very Sick Swan In a horrible year for me personally, City have had a blinding year and have helped give me something to smile about. There have been a lot of highs for my club, but this was one of the best simply for the pure brilliant surreal-ness of beating THEM on THEIR turf, by such a huge margin πŸ™‚ Full story here.

# 8. Being led astray We have a wonderful circle of friends and this night just summed up all that makes them so great. Even though a few were missing on this occasion, there have obviously been other times with different combinations of friends and all of them are special. Full story here.

# 7. An afternoon exploring with Billy For a married couple we really don’t get much quality time together so I really enjoyed this little interlude. Full story here.

# 6. My son becoming a man – I absolutely love spending time with Stephen, even doing mundane things such as on this occasion here and I was both relieved and proud when he got himself a job too (here .)

# 5. Nel’s 18th Family trips are a rarity these days so I really enjoyed this weekend for Nel’s birthday – everything just fell into place nicely and it was well worth Billy and I pooling our Christmas present cash to fund it. Full story here.

# 4. A new laptop You’ll probably remember this as it was so recent, but never having had a brand new computer before this was a big thing for me πŸ™‚ Full story here.

# 3. A Family Christening This was a high for a few reasons – having time with Billy, having a bit of a holiday, and seeing members of the family whom we love to see. Full story here.

# 2. St George’s Day in Eastbourne A fantastic mini summer holiday in a heat wave, family tradition and time with my wonderful mum plus seeing my brother. Full story here and here.

# 1. FA Cup final An absolutely brilliant day – the stuff of dreams, of the whole range of emotions, of pride, tears, joy, friends, loved ones and a sheer sense of being a part of it all. One of the best days in my life for all those reasons and more and it’ll take some beating. Full story here.

Quiet Christmas at home.

When the children were small I used to have all the presents under the tree but they’d get a stocking from Father Christmas, which he delivered when they were asleep and which they were allowed to investigate when they woke up in the morning – before disturbing me at 6am πŸ˜‰ Of course, as they’ve got older they’ve stayed awake until their stockings arrived and opened them before even going to sleep. Now they’re older still and go to bed way after me, they open them before even going to bed! So I was rather pleased with myself this year when I came up with the cunning plan to leave their stockings in the morning when I woke up – before they were even thinking of waking up! πŸ˜€ But Nel was not amused! She begged, pleaded and finally threatened that I was messing with her autism! So I said “OK. Go and get me your stocking and I’ll fill it now then, as I don’t want to mess with that!” At which point she hesitated. And admitted she’d used it as an excuse. (I’d guessed that.) I said that nevertheless, if she wanted it now, she could have it. So she thought about it and came up with a compromise – since I always get up for the loo in the night, I could do the stockings then. That seemed workable so after she’d closed my door I filled the stockings – well, OK, stocking plus a small bag for Nel and a large gift bag for Stephen as his stocking went AWOL years ago. πŸ˜‰ When I got up at just gone midnight for the loo, I put them outside the kids’ doors – Stephen was out but Nel pounced on ehrs the second I shut my door so I laughed and called out “Merry Christmas” to her πŸ™‚

When I woke up properly at 6 am, I had a pounding headache and my ears were sore so before I had my breakfast and coffee, I took a large dose of herbs* to try and settle it so it wouldn’t spoil Christmas. It took an hour or so before it calmed enough for me to face the day and I had to take a couple more doses during the the morning but it receded enough to let me have my Christmas. Nel was up next and came in to say hello just as I was about to go for a nice bath. We had already agreed that she could open her presents on her own as it causes her a lot of stress opening them in front of other people ( a genuine autistic trait) so she opened them whilst I bathed.

When the men got up and joined us, we all sat together in the living room to open presents together – Nel had the cats’ and hamsters’ pile to open and she had her one from mum as mum had stipulated that we all had to open them together as they were themed. Mum had bought us all a watch each! What a lovely idea and all of them well chosen to suit the individual πŸ™‚

Nel gave the cats their treats and their “cosmic banana – Zara got it first and Nel left it wrapped but she didn’t take long to unwrap it:

The toy had come with a warning that cats go absolutely mad for it so it should be kept well hidden until Christmas and it seemed there had been no exaggeration. All the cats took turns with it, though Zara had had it the most and spent the rest of the day quite literally stoned!


We all did very well – we had fewer presents than in previous years but all of them were perfect and we were happy. Billy bought me a beautiful pair of sapphire earrings; Nel bought me a colour-changing candle, some rose bath salts and bath fizzes and a pretty purple wine glass; Raji bought me a gift set of my favourite perfume; and Stephen bought me a rather fantastic mug:

Stephen rather amusingly, thought he’d had just a key-ring gadget from us and a child’s Thorntons chocolate animal from Raji – we had to tell him he’d missed the money that was wrapped with them! πŸ˜€ Bless him! Billy did well as both kids got him an Amazon voucher which he could use together and get something from his Amazon wish list. One of Raji’s best presents was a huge mug from Nel so he now only has to make cups of tea half as many times whilst still feeding his tea addiction πŸ™‚

After a couple of phone calls to wish mum and Rick a Happy Christmas, we all sat together for Christmas dinner at 1pm – turkey and the trimmings (beef or pork for those who preferred it/wanted it as well as turkey), Christmas crackers (complete with naff jokes, paper hats and a game of charades), Christmas pudding (or syrup sponge pudding/mince pies for those who preferred) with cream or ice-cream, coffee and chocolates. For some reason Billy kept trying to get down from the table and Stephen couldn’t wait to get away either so after a couple of rounds of rather entertaining charades, I gave up and let them go. Nel and Stephen disappeared upstairs, Billy immediately flopped on to the sofa, and Raji helped clear the table. Guess who washed up?! (More herbs helped me through.)

Raji and I sat and watched the Queen’s speech (Billy disappeared for that bit) and I thought she got the tone just right. Well done Ma’am. πŸ™‚

Then at 4pm we all sat together again to watch the last Harry Potter film – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 – both the kids had seen it before, Billy and I had seen all the previous films and had read the book, but Raji had never seen any of the films – so at the end, Nel loaned him her boxed set so he could catch up πŸ™‚ Stephen fidgeted a bit and eventually disappeared, which was a bit disappointing as he knows I like to have the family together on Christmas Day, but otherwise I enjoyed the film and the day.

I was tiring fast but Nel wanted me to watch TV with her at 8pm so I went upstairs and got undressed and read a couple of magazines until then, but really could do without it – my headache was building up again and I felt like I could sleep for a week. I just about made it to 8pm but then Nel said she was too tired too and wasn’t going to watch TV after all. Hooray! Oh dear! She was upset at missing her programme though so I sent a text to mum to see if she’d record it for Nel to watch next day when we visited. That sorted, I collapsed thankfully into bed – and went out like a light.

Merry Christmas everyone. πŸ™‚

(* Herb mix was anti-inflammatory and lymph system boosting: Poke root/puke weed; white willow bark; meadowsweet; liquorice)

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Stephen’s key to the door.

Stephen was 21 years old on the 15th of this month. I can’t believe my beautiful little baby boy is now officially a man grown.

I had hoped to do something special with/for him to mark the occasion and the City v Newcastle match fell the following weekend so we’d hoped to go to this en famille. However, our plans fell apart when a) Stephen had no idea if he could get the day off work since he’d already had a week off to go to Spain, and he’d booked his actual birthday off already; and b) there were no tickets available in the away end.

We then thought of a party but he wasn’t keen on being stuck at one venue all night. He didn’t want a present as such – he wanted money towards a new computer.

So eventually we gave him money and left him to divide it up as he wanted for computer and going out.

Billy was away that week (working in Berwick) but I had the great idea to meet the children after work on the Tuesday (the actual day of his birthday) and treated them to a beer&burger at Whetherspoons. I reasoned that Stephen would need something to line his stomach before drinking, and we could spend an hour or so together as a family – and it worked out rather well with me enjoying their company and all of us enjoying the food.

Everyone had given Stephen money but mum had also managed to get him a present – she rather cleverly got him a special birthday bottle of Jack Daniels (this being his favourite tipple) so we were most impressed. She also sent him a text hoping he liked having the key to the door – which I had to explain to him πŸ˜€

Much later, during the night, I got up to the loo at half past midnight and Stephen came home – much to my surprise. When I spoke to him the next day he said he’d been too drunk to keep going so come home early πŸ˜€ Must be getting old πŸ˜‰

As I’d been working on the Tuesday, I spent the afternoon with Stephen on the Wednesday – watching DVD’s. He loves getting me hooked on various series so we watched the pilot of Psyche and then a couple of episodes of Chuck season 2. Very decadent, but also very pleasant – I enjoy watching these DVD’s anyway but also enjoy Stephen’s company.

As you may have gathered by now – I am very proud of my son and love him very much.

Time, money and children.

Well finally, after 6 months of overtime, I have finished helping the medical secretaries now that their colleague has returned from maternity leave. It feels such a novelty to only be working 2 days a week again – and I have such a huge list of things with which to catch up at home. Already I have done some of the extra cleaning that so desperately needs doing, which feels good, but I have also enjoyed more baking too. I really am a happy little domestic bird and the traditional gender roles suit me generally. Sadly, though, the extra money has helped us a lot the last few months and I could have done with it continuing a while. Still, I believe in fate so am sure there will be an opportunity somewhere along the line and I now have yet more strings to my bow.

This return of my days off coincided with the children having a holiday so I spent that first week helping them get ready, and the week they were away I tidied and aired their rooms, changed their bedding and suchlike so that it was all fresh for their return. It was so strange without them – this is the first time I haven’t had either of them around for 7 years! I loved having a clean tidy kitchen with empty washing-up baskets and the sides and equipment clean ready for me to bake whenever the mood took me. I also enjoyed the quiet at night – I slept rather well without hearing their nocturnal movements on ad off until 3am. I found that we didn’t get through nearly as much bread, butter, wine or loo rolls – and in fact needed to buy a fraction of the usual quantities of these. The living room floor stayed virtually crumb-free and the little TV dinner table didn’t get used once – so it didn’t need constantly folding up and putting away. I could also leave their bedroom doors open so that air and light could circulate upstairs. Billy and I managed to relax in front of the TV on a couple of occasions, and I watched football when I pleased without booking the TV.

I did miss their company though – and constantly thought of them, hoping they were having a good time. They had gone to Spain with their dad for the occasion of their grandparents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. Billy and I took them to Newcastle airport on the Wednesday night and saw them off on their way to Gatwick where they met their dad before flying on to Spain. We then went and picked them up from Newcastle airport a week later and I absolutely loved the look on Stephen’s face as his eyes met mine – his face lit up, though he was his usual laid back self a mili-second later. I’d seen that look though and my heart reciprocated – it’s one of those moments I’ve captured and stored forever. Nel has a far less expressive face but she is more vocal and she seemed equally pleased to see me and chattered away as we walked to the car. My babies were home and I was complete again – Mother Nature is so clever the way she ties those strings from our children to our hearts. πŸ™‚

Nel shared a couple of photos with me and said I could share with you:

My “extra time” this week will no doubt be spent catching up with the kids, sorting their post-holiday laundry and luggage etc, but eventually I may get a bit more time for me….

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