First of all, one of my earliest childhood memories where I first experienced "sisterly love" was when my sister was admitted into hospital with severe gastroenteritis in 1977.  She was two years old and I would have been five years old.  I can remember my parents being frantic with worry, my grandparents looking after me for a few days and that I wasn't allowed to see my sister as she was on an isolation ward.  I have a vivid memory of going to visit but only being allowed to stand outside on the gravel path and wave at her through a window.  I can remember being totally distraught about her not being at home and wondering if I was ever going to be able to give her a hug again.  Upon her return home a week later, she sung only one song and was word perfect because it had been played constantly on the hospital radio (see below).  I remember wishing her back into the hospital quite soon after because she was getting on my nerves!!

"From Sir, With Love"

My next memory is of a man who was the most fabulous teacher you could possibly have.  He taught me in Junior 2 and Junior 4 (now known as Yr 4 and Yr 6) and his name was Mr Halstead but everyone knew him as "Sir".  He was firm but fair and he had an amazing vision for music and drama and, as you can see from this picture, didn't mind mucking in at the school fete.  When we were in our last year at primary school he applied for special permission from the Bishop and wrote a Nativity and Passion Play to be performed in our local church.  We rehearsed for weeks and it was perfect.  No word, just actions - all accompanied by the musical score from Jesus of Nazareth  with the "Jesus" speech on the cross mouthed to the exact words from the film (here from 1m30s).  One of the songs that he taught us was "Windmills" by Alan Bell.

He enjoyed (bloody hell, I'm talking about him like he's dead - he's not!!!) performing with the local AmDram group (his Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz and his Fagin in Oliver! are legendary and I found out after I left high school that he'd been a childhood friend of my mother.  He turned up to my mum's funeral in 2004 and was visibly upset at her death.  He passed a card to my sister and I, gave us a hug each and wished us well.  Inside the card was written a very personal message and he finished "With Love, Sir".

Living with A.D.H.D.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Order) has been a big part of our family life for almost 11 years and I was prompted to comment on a blog post from Vicki at I Love My Mad Life when she mentioned she was going to watch a television programme that considered Ritalin as a possible control measure for ADHD.  Following on from this, we have exchanged a couple of emails about young children being diagnosed with ADHD and I've written a similar post about my experiences here today.  I don't know of what "help" this can be to my readers because we tend to muddle along in our own little way, whether that's right or "acceptable"  or what.  It's our life and we'll do what suits us.  I hate the fact that I sometimes feel as though I've got to "excuse" Jake's behaviour but, mainly, people are understanding.

Jake's sleep pattern was a little strange from being born, so we knew that something wasn't quite right.  If he'd have been the first child (he was our third) we'd have brushed it off and thought that we were just suffering from the curse of a sleepless baby.  From him being six months old he never slept for more than 2 hours at a time and then proceeded to stay awake for 8 hours.  We had to take it in turns staying up with him... Disney films and Tweenies on a loop, eyes on matchsticks.  He never slept in his cot, but seemed to settle in his pushchair so we took that up to our bedroom on a couple of occasions.

Our GP was really helpful and we tried all sorts of of "techniques" but it was more than that - you just know as a parent, don't you?  Jake was walking at 9 months old, he seemed to have no concentration span but was really quick at picking up things.  My Health Visitor was as much use as a chocolate teapot.  On many occasions she was patronising and accused me of "not sticking to a routine" and "being firm".  Honestly, with three children under the age of 8 you have to have a routine, don't you?  And, lets face it - I wasn't exactly new to this parenting lark.  We tried Jake on a small dose of Phenergan once but that had such drastic results (he cried solidly for 4 hours and then slept for 12 hours!!!) that we decided the un-naturalness of it all wasn't worth it for any of us.

The crux of it all was when he went to pre-school.  His nursery teacher took me to one side one day and more or less said that she thought my concerns were justified - in her professional opinion she thought he had ADHD traits and this fitted in with everything I'd said, as we'd discussed his behaviour at length on many occasions.

After a referral to and many meetings with a paediatrician Jake was put onto Ritalin when he was 5 (he was in Yr 1 by this time).  He had half a tablet in the morning before school and half a tablet at lunch time.  It calmed it down but it calmed him down too much.  And his teacher said that she could see the half tablet wearing off - she said his attention span would shorten and that he'd start "fiddling" with stuff or wandering around.  I never liked him on the Ritalin because of what seemed like mood swings.  He was up and down and up and down and he wasn't "our" bouncy little boy any more.  

The time this hit home was when his support worker (like a special educational needs teacher) came to me and said that she was glad that Jake was coping better at school but she had noticed that his personality seemed a little repressed.  She said that she could usually spot Jake in a sea of uniforms because he had a "skip" in his step and that had all stopped since he'd started the Ritalin.  That was what I needed.  He came off the Ritalin there and then and we make another appointment to see the paed.  He agreed that Ritalin doesn't suit every child although it can be fantastic for some kids - usually older though.  We agreed to keep regular appointments with him and kept a diet diary.

His triggers are orange juice (funnily enough,  Morrisons own was great and Robinsons was the worst), any orange flavoured sweets and a whole bunch of other sugary foods  Now, he's a lot better because he can sort of self-manage and we allow a little of everything, in moderation.  We can see when he's getting "hyper" because he rocks from side to side and we can remind him to calm down (he's 10 years old now).  He does gymnastics to help him rein himself in and he loves swimming.  He has hardly any sense of fear, which is what scares me so much - he'll try anything and he'll show off to his friends sometimes.

One time he said to me that he hates his ADHD because his head tells him that some things are wrong but his body won't stop doing it.  That upset me but it also helped me to understand a little bit more - and it helped the way in which we "control" him.  We also have to use LOTS of praise when he does something good or he's been especially well behaved somewhere but we don't "spoil" him - that wouldn't have been fair on the other two.  I'm dreading the teen years because I've heard and read the experience of parents with hormonal children with ADHD and it's not a fun time!  But forewarned is forearmed.

I never wanted to "label" any of my children but I know what a bloody lonely world it is out there for parents with kids on the spectrum.  Sometimes you feel like you're screaming into space and that no-one can hear you.


Because, sometimes, 140 characters IS enough.

I suppose this blog post is an extension of my Twitter "Follow Friday" recommendations.  It's important (to me) that I write this post as I have decided that this year is going to be the year of changes for me.  I intend to really knuckle down with the studying for my degree with the Open University and I'm going to try and write a lot more - and that includes promoting myself a bit.

Social Networking (which I've written about before) - mainly Twitter - is the ideal platform for this because it allows you to show off your talents to a wider audience, most of whom you probably wouldn't meet in your every day life.  It also allows your Twitter followers to pass on any writing links that you tweet - therefore extending your audience even further.

Anyway, enough beating around the bush.  In the past six months, I've been lucky to connect with a number of fabulous people via the "follow friday" hastag (#ff or #followfriday) on Twitter.  This basically means that you tweet a list of all the people you think are worth following - they gain followers, they reciprocate, you gain followers and so the experience of Twitter is enhanced for everyone.  Also, I've joined a couple of writing groups (Judiths Room and British Mummy Bloggers) via links and recommendations on Twitter and widened my reading audience far further than I thought possible before Christmas.

From this, I've met a number of fabulous people who have enriched my life, they've put up with my drunken tweets on a Friday night and allowed me to bombard them with blog links and YouTube links.  Two people that spring to mind are Jaqui (@wonkynana) and Paula (@peabee72).  They "get" me - they understand my sense of humour and happily act as my Personal Assistant, touting my blog around cyberspace. 

Whoever said that 140 characters wasn't enough to get to know someone was totally wrong.  But I think you have to accept Twitter for what it is; and it is what you make it.  I laugh on there, I cry on there,  I get drunk on there, I discuss reality TV on there but, most of all, I have friends on there.  Real friends.

Note to self: DO NOT make lunch box up BEFORE drinking the morning cuppa

Yesterday I was in a bit of a rush - you know those mornings where you get up at the usual time but nothing seems to go to plan?  Well, on Tuesday morning, that was me and I had to forego my usual morning brew.

I flew downstairs and started making son #2's lunch.  I stared bleary-eyed into the cupboard and the fridge, realised I had not a thing to fill a sandwiches with so it would have to be that good old safety net - JAM BUTTIES.  I threw together a jam sandwich, wrapped it up in greaseproof paper, put into his lunch box with a cake bar, piece of fruit and some juice, hurled it at him and hurried him out of the door.

Wednesday morning arrives (this morning) and I open the fridge again to search for inspiration.  A voice behind me says,
"Mum, you know that jam you used yesterday?  Well, it was quite nice but please can I not have it again?  What is it?  It tasted unusual."
I opened the pantry cupboard and, yes, you've guessed it... I'd made a Cranberry Jelly Butty!!!


I've started to notice that the amount of "newsletters" that appear in my email account has increased somewhat over the past few months - mainly because, when I visit a website, I feel obliged to sign up to their newsletter, especially if I've read something interesting on the website or they've I'm promised a "special offer".

The problem is that once I've digested that piece of information or bagged myself a bargain, I forget that I subscribed to their newsletter until they drop into my inbox full of their useless information.  This is not "junk mail" though because, at some point, I chose to receive these emails.

So, tonight I made it my mission to unsubscribe from a few of these mailing lists.  However, these websites must love me because they really don't want me to leave...

I scroll down the "newsletter", past all the flashing images inviting me to enter their monthly competition, past the 'latest information', right down to the bottom where there is a link that says "Unsubscribe".  It's easy to miss because it is in a font size so small that it is not available on a Word document.  I click the link and think "wow, that was easy".  Not so!

I am directed to the website I want to forget and a single sentence flashes up on the screen: "Are you sure you want to unsubscribe from this website?"  Yes, I'm sure.  You know I'm sure.  That's why you have created this page.  It's especially for people who don't want to receive your newsletter any more.  I click the button - surely that's it?  Oh no, another page.  This time I am confronted with the question "Why do you want to unsubscribe from our newsletter".  It's starting to feel a little like the Spanish Inquisition and I'm waiting for someone to shine a light in my eyes.  Will they come round and kneecap me if I don't follow their instructions?

I  pick an option, any option, from the drop down list ("Irrelevant Content", "Too Frequent", "Privacy Concerns") and another question appears - "Are you sure?" YES YES YES I'M BLOODY POSITIVE!!!  JUST LET ME GO!!!  I click "Yes" and breathe a sigh of relief - I've unsubscribed.  HOORAY!!  

But that's not quite it. 

The "ping" signalling a new email rings out from my laptop.  I click the envelope icon and navigate to my inbox.  AARRGGHHH, another email from them has landed with the guilt ridden "We are sorry to lose you.  If you have been unsubscribed in error you can always subscribe again by clicking this link..."

One down, twelve to go.  I may be some time!

Your Life In Music

So, here's how it works:
1. Open your music library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...just type it!

Copy & Paste the list below and leave your answers as a comment on this blog post.

a compilation cd of some kind...
Opening Credits:
Waking Up:
First Day At School:
Falling In Love:
Losing Virginity:
Fight Song:
Breaking Up:
Mental Breakdown:
Getting Back Together:
Birth of Child:
Final Battle:
Death Scene:
Funeral Song:

Here's mine.....

Opening Credits:
Something Inside So Strong - Marcia Griffiths

Waking Up:
You Spin Me Round - Dead Or Alive

First Day At School:
Goody Two Shoes - Adam And The Ants

Falling In Love:
I Get The Sweetest Feeling - Jackie Wilson

Losing Virginity:
I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do - Abba
*cue more sniggering*

Fight Song:
You Can Have It All - Kaiser Chiefs

Breaking Up:
Turning Japanese - Vapours

Without Me - Eminiem

Like It Or Not - Madonna

Mental Breakdown:
Baby I Don't Care - Transvision Vamp

Break My Stride - Matthew Wilder

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go - Wham

Getting Back Together:
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me - Dusty Springfield

Never Tear Us Apart - Tom Jones (Reloaded)

Birth of Child:
Push It - Salt 'n' Pepa

Final Battle:
It's A Sin - Pet Shop Boys

Death Scene:
1999 - Prince

Funeral Song:
Wisemen - James Blunt

Breath Of Life - Erasure

Shiny Happy People Meme - my first tag.

First of all, let me tell you how EXCITED I am to be tagged in this Shiny Happy People Meme.  It's my first tag EVER and now I'm very nervous as to what to choose because there have been so many good Shiny Happy People meme's before this one.

For my readers who don't know what a "meme" is, I'll try to explain.  Well, Wikipedia explains that it is pronounced "/ mi:m/" (to rhyme with 'cream' - although this is wildly disputed in Blogland, isn't it Paula?!) and it's like a game of "Tig".  Someone posts a short blog and chooses a subject.  They then "tag" (or name) five other people to post their own short blog post within the theme.

So, onto the meme in question.  Paula at "Battling On..." tagged me for this one.  It was originally started by Rosie Scribble and the rules are:
1.  Name a song that makes you happy - a song you would listen to if you needed a sudden injection of happiness;
2.  Post an image that makes you smile.  It can be anything - a silly photo, an image taken from the internet, anything at all that puts a smile on your face (and isn't too rude!).

As I've already mentioned, I'm rather excited because (a) I'm quite new to this blogging lark and (b) I've been dying to join in with this one because I've really enjoyed seeing everyone's photos and listening to the music that they've chosen.  However, now it's come to actually choosing my picture and music I realise that there's so much I could post and it's all a bit personal.

Here is the picture that makes me smile:

This is a portion of fish and chips from the best chippy in Lancashire - Bispham Kitchen (14 Red Bank Road, Bispham - at the end of the Illuminations).  This chip shop has been open for years and, when I was a child, we always bought chips from here after driving through Blackpool Illuminations.  My sister and I would wind our car window down slightly and hold the chips out of the window to cool them down.  I've now carried this tradition on with my children although we use any excuse for a day trip out to Blackpool just so that we can go and buy fish and chips.

Here are my songs:

First is Kissing With Confidence by Will Powers from 1983.  This used to be a favourite of mine oh so many moons ago and it was played on the radio recently.  I knew every single word even though I hadn't heard the song for ages.

Second (yes, I'm having two because I'm greedy) is the Flash Mob organised by Oprah last year for her 24th Anniversary.  It features the Black Eyed Peas and their song "I Gotta Feeling" and a lot of dancing.  This video never fails to make me smile.

To carry on this meme on I tag:



Child #3 has always been a little bit more "advanced" than the other two, purely because of his inquisitive nature, but also because of what he half-hears through not concentrating very much and his ADHD. He also has a special bond with his father because Kev has been the at-home parent for the majority of Jake's life and I think that Kev now appreciates how bloody hard it is to raise children and all the hard work I put in with the older two. Anyway, they are as bad as each other for taking things at face value, as I attempt to prove here:


From Jake's Literacy book, read on Parent's Evening:
Henry VIII has six wives but only wanted a son so he had six problems.


After hearing a news item about AIDS he asked the obvious question and his dad did a fairly good job of explaining, in age appropriate language. that AIDS is a blood-related illness and that it's usually contracted through sexual contact. He didn't want to go into too much detail because he is still quite young (but has done "the birds and the bees" at school already). So... there's a bit of thinking time.... and he says...

"So does mum have AIDS?"

Kev replies with "*splutter* No, mate, she doesn't. Why do you ask."

Jake says, "Well, she's had sex three times to have us so she's got a good chance, hasn't she?"

Back to the drawing board with the explanation of that one, I think.


One day I was walking down the stairs and there he was. lying on the stairs, really close to the wall. In fact, I almost stood on his head. I asked him what he was doing.

He said "trying to camoflauge!"


Out of the blue he came out with "Dad, what's a 'hooker'?"

Erm.... well, son, it's another name for a prostitute. Do you remember when we were talking about that lady on the news the other day who was hurt by the horrible man?


Ah, um.... er..... no..... ha ha ha.... Your teacher might be right, love....... soooooooooo you're doing rugby in PE, yeah?


And finally, when father and son were walking home one afternoon from the doctors surgery Jake recognised the area that they were walking through and talked his dad into taking a short-cut home that he'd been shown once or twice.

"Come this way, Dad. I know a short cut"


"Remember when Rachel took me to the park. She took me back through Gally" (an area of town nearby)

"Ok, then. Up here?"

So they trekked through the park (slightly muddy, but clothes wash, don't they?) and got to the "short cut".

"Right, Dad. You just have to crouch down here and climb through."


"Look, Dad. Just breathe in and wriggle, like me. It works."

Kev managed to fit ONLY his head through the "short cut" so Jake gave in and they decided to walk back to the road and go the "long way round".

My Flip-Flops don't work!

For the sake of argument, lets call my right foot/shoe "FLIP" and my left foot/shoe "FLOP".

During the summer I bought a new pair of flip-flop type sandals for work.  I ended up not wearing them for work because of their "fault" and now use them in the house.  The right one will "FLIP" but the left one will not "FLOP".  This doesn't happen with any other slip-on shoes I have (so it's not the shape/flatness of my feet).

I like the FLIP-FLOP sound that flip-flops make but I don't like FLIP-
silence-FLIP-silence-FLIP..... it doesn't sound right.

So.... what do I do? Make the sound myself like a ventriloquist or just ignore it and hope that no-one else notices?


You know that programme that used to be on BBC2, "Can't Cook, Won't Cook"?  I'm sure that was named with me in mind.

My mother was seriously hampered by her asthmatic condition but always wanted to fulfil her role of "homemaker" to the max by doing as much as she could, then asking for help.  Suffice to say, my sister and I did the "heavy jobs" (the hoovering, the dusting, cleaning the inside of the car) to earn our pocket money and mum carried on doing what she was good at.

When I left home, in a blaze of glory, at the age of 18, I didn't know I couldn't cook until it came to actually feeding myself and not actually buying the food from a take-away or having it placed in front of me ready plated.  On the other hand, my boyfriend (now my long-suffering husband) was a dab hand in the kitchen.  He and his brother used to come home from school and start preparing the evening meal for when their parents came home from work.

The day we moved into our little flat in Blackpool was where we both made the startling discovery that I could not cookk.  The conversation went a little something like this:

"So, Nic, what shall we make for tea?"
"Oh I don't know, love.  How about a fried egg butty?"
*I faff about in the kitchen for about 10 minutes*
"Kev, how do you switch the cooker on?"
"Why, love?  Isn't it working?"
"No.  I can't see where the little flames would come from"
"What little flames?  It's an electric cooker!"
"Oh!  Erm..."
"Huh?  Can't you cook?"
"What did you make at home?"
"Nothing.  Mum always used to make the tea."
"Well, what sort of cooker did you have?"

So, that sort of set the precedent for the coming weeks.  I would watch whilst he would cobble something together and eventually I learnt how to cook the basics.  Now, my Yorkshire Puddings are legendary and I've managed keep my family alive for the past 18 years or so.  I've not killed anyone.  Yet!

Kev also completed a basic chefs course at college in the mid 1990's and now makes the most fabulous pastry!!  In his role as the at-home parent, he always has a meal waiting for me on my return from work from Monday to Thursday (Friday is usually take-away day).  I'm quite happy for him to have control of the kitchen as I still detest the science of cooking but I enjoy preparing and serving a Sunday roast each week.  My daughter had cooking lessons as part of her accommodation contract when she lived in the hostel so she's fairly competent now, son #1 is, shamefully, following in my footsteps - he would happily live off beans on toast and cereal for the rest of his life - whereas son #2 loves baking and has progressed onto making scrambled eggs for everyone when we have sausage and bacon. 

Does everyone in your house join in with the cooking or has someone marked their territory?

The Cough

I hung my work overall up, closed the locker door, clicked the padlock shut and walked though the empty, dimly lit shop with the manager, mentally visualising the brown wage packet that was in my handbag.  The Saturday job didn't pay much but at least I could afford a trip to the cinema with friends that evening.  Once outside, I bid the manager goodbye and, as I strode off across the square, I glanced over my shoulder to see him pocket the bunch of keys and turn towards the car park.  

At the bus stop I checked the timetable and saw that I had about seven minutes before the next bus to my village.  I pulled my mobile phone from my handbag but remembered that I hadn't topped up the credit yet.  I ran across the road and entered the phone box.  I dialled a number from memory and spoke to my friend, arranging to meet her in an hour's time.

I replaced the receiver on the hook in the phone box, pushed the door open and then.... nothing.

a strange noise; it sounded like a siren
voices I didn't recognise, words I didn't understand
a stinging sensation at the top of my head
a pain in my leg - a pain like I'd never felt before
lying down on a hard surface
the flash of lights overhead as I was wheeled down a corridor
plastic curtains
the sound of choking and a voice shouting urgently

I panicked and tried to sit up but couldn't.  Every time I attempted to open my eyes I felt a blinding pain across the top of my head.  I could hear someone calling for help in the distance and the urgent movements of people bustling around.  Fragmented conversations wafted towards me, then I heard more retching and the sound of liquid being poured into a bucket.  I called out but it was only a whisper.  

I felt a presence next to me and tried to turn to see who or what it was.  That blinding pain shot across the front of my head again.  I heard soothing words from a softly spoken person with an Irish lilt,
"It's OK, don't be frightened, you're in hospital.  You've been knocked over by a car.  Your parents are on their way.  I'm just going to have your head and leg x-rayed here.  Try not to panic."
I attempted to open my mouth to speak but she patted my hand and hushed me, telling me to try and relax.  I was confused.

A portable x-ray machine was set up next to me and all the time the nurse carried on talking to me, telling me what she was doing.  Her comforting voice mollified me and I drifted in and out of sleep.  An unusual whirring sound woke me from my slumber and I opened my eyes.  Above me was what looked like a rectangular screen with a white cross.  I saw a face and cried out in fright.  It was distorted, swollen, scraped, bleeding, lop-sided and it had an enormous lump on the forehead.  I raised my hand to touch the screen and heard someone shout "NO!  STAY STILL PLEASE!"  I lowered my hand and looked at the screen, trying to work out why I was being shown this image.

I shifted my head slightly to the left.  The image in front of me did the same.  I blinked and looked again.  I twisted my head to the right.  The image copied, mimicking my movements.  I then realised I was looking at a reflection of myself in the plate of the x-ray machine and I burst into tears.  How could that be me?  Had I really been knocked over?  How had this happened?  The salt from my tears ran into the cuts on my face and made me cry out more.

And then I heard a familiar sound.

Echoing down the corridor was the sound of an asthmatic cough that could only belong to my mum.  She was here!  Finally, something that was recognisable and someone who could make it better.  I heard more talking in hushed tones and the swish of plastic curtains.  I heard the stifled, throaty gulp of someone attempting to stop themselves from weeping.  The x-ray machine was removed from above me and my mum's face came into view.  I stared into her eyes, willing her to scoop me up and kiss everything better.  She gently held my hand and stroked the uninjured side of my face.

Poetry In Motion

I recently read a poem by fellow blogger and friend, Rachel and, whilst I recognised quality writing, I have to admit that I've never understood the concept of poetry.  This is probably because my only experience of poetry is the very basic 8/6/8/6 rhyming poetry that we read and learnt by repetition at school and I found that quite boring.  And it is.

Rachel has a different style of writing poetry - it's very short piece of  intense writing and it's not really the staccato way in which she writes that draws you in but the subject matter and her descriptive tone in just a few lines of words.

The only thing I have to compare this to is motorbikes.  An unusual analogy, you might think, but let me explain...

My whole family is motorbike-mad: my dad, my sister, my husband and my children.  I, on the other hand, have never ridden a motorbike in my life (apart from riding pillion).  Because I have never ridden one, I do not know how to control it.  I can drive a car therefore have never had the inclination to get from A to B without a metal shell protecting my body.  I have no idea how to change gear on a motorbike, how to hold the accelerator on, nor even how to "lean into a corner" *imagines all motorbike riders cringing*, therefore I fear motorbikes and their appeal.    

It's the same with poetry.  My lack of understanding is my fear.  I can admire it and I can spot good writing when I see it but I definitely cannot write it. Does this make me ignorant and  how do I solve this?  Do I take the bull by the horns and throw myself in a the deep end, churning out crap that no-one wants to read?  Do I read more and more and try and emulate the poetry styles that I enjoy?  Or do I leave it to the experts? 

For the time being, I think I'll stick to the third option.

Swimming With The Big Fishes

Jake has never been an average child - he never slept for a start.  I spent the first two years of his life, in the small hours normally put aside for owls and late-night clubbers, alternating between my own bed and the settee with my eyes on matchsticks and Disney films on a loop.  I was once very proud of the fact that I could quote Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs verbatim however that particular talent doesn't appear on my C.V. these days.  He was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at the age of four.  

Having older siblings - a sister (8 years older) and a brother (6 years older) - meant that he was always trying to be like them - he followed them as far as he could but I always tried to define the boundaries so that the older children got some time on their own with their peers.  Even to this day, he always tries to "hang" with his brother's friends because they are so much older (15 and 16) and cooler.  I've tried to explain that it's a form of flattery but the teenagers don't quite understand that, but they tolerate him.

Anyway, he's now 10 years old, in the top class at his primary school, is a pleasant boy (most of the time), tries to control his ADHD and is desperate for a bit of "freedom".

Tonight I have allowed him to go swimming, ON HIS OWN, with two friends. FOR THE FIRST TIME!  He's been with his big brother previously or with the family but never without supervision!!!  He phoned me at work about two minutes after getting home from school, had his bag packed three minutes later and had rounded up two friends for me to taxi to the leisure centre.  I dropped him at the door with STRICT instructions - (1) Stay Together (2) If you're going on the "Alien Slide" Stay Together (3) If ANYONE gets kicked out, phone me IMMEDIATELY and Stay Together (4) DO NOT talk to ANYONE in the changing rooms, DO NOT run around the changing rooms and Stay Together.  I think I may have got the message across because he slammed the car door, waved me off and ran, excitedly with his friends, to queue up.  He has money for hot chocolate afterwards and I've to pick him up at nine o'clock.

It was all I could do not to hover around, in disguise, and keep an eye on him.  He's my "baby" - my youngest one.  This is the last one to take all these "first steps" and also the last time I'll see one of my children take these "first steps".  He's never been one for being mollycoddled and has always been up for a bit of adventure but I didn't expect to feel this emotional.... or nervous, excited, a little bit sick, and watching the clock ready for 8.45pm when I have to set off to pick him up.

In the words of Lady Bracknell.... " A HANDBAG?"

Most women (and some men) use a handbag of some description - it's a handy receptacle to carry a whole load of junk around; junk that you might just need one day.  

I recently tipped my handbag out and found the following:

My Filofax (how retro), OU study book, OU assignment book, study note-book, a sheaf of papers that I deemed "important" at some point but have currently no relevance to my life, a copy of the electric bill (why?  I have no idea - I pay by direct debit), an apple, office keys, car keys, house keys, 2 open packets of Polo's, a blister pack of headache tablets, a pair of sunglasses (!), 2 plasters, comb, mirror, lip plumper, lipstick, lip gloss, aloe vera lip salve (but also good for cuts, burns, etc), highlighter pen (in green), a fountain pen, a tiny figure of an angel that was a present from a close friend, pair of gloves, a crystal (that is supposed to warn off drunkness!!!), my purse (which also houses a whole load more crap) and my mobile phone (which is also my mp3 player).

This is the stuff I cart around every single day.  I can say that I do use most of it but I'm sure I should be carrying less.  However, this isn't a patch on what I used to lug around with me when the children were ankle-biters - there was the odd nappy, change of clothes for each child, a bottle or sippy cup, snacks, spare 20p's for the ride outside the supermarket, more gloves (kiddie size)... you name it, it was in the "survival kit".  I have no idea how I've not got a curvature of the spine from dragging that bag along for 10 years.

And this brings me to the burning question of this blog entry... Do you use a handbag? If so, what is in your bag?  Do you use it all or do you just carry the bare necessities?

A woman's mind is as complex as the contents of her handbag; even when you get to the bottom of it, there is ALWAYS something at the bottom to surprise you!

Billy Connelly

Edit 11.02.10:  Related post:
Photo from "bbaunach" on Flickr

I'm still writing '09

How long should it take before you automatically write the new year at the end of a date?  We're two weeks into the new year, I have to write the date a number of times a day almost every single day of the week and still I'm writing '09 or 2009.

I had the same problem when I got married (all those many years ago).  I'd practised my new signature over and over again, making sure that there wasn't too much of a "flourish", yet on the first occasion I had to sign something I signed it with my maiden name.

Is this a mental block?  Are you having the same problem?  I think it's going to be another week or so before it finally sinks in.

Photo from "Optical Illusion" on Flickr 

Very Superstitious...

Whilst walking back from the local deli at lunch time I spotted a lone magpie.  I furtively looked around to make sure no-one was watching me, I saluted the magpie and muttered under my breath "Good afternoon Mr Magpie".  No sooner had the words left my lips when another magpie flew into view and I heaved a sigh of relief... one for sorrow, two for joy.

It then dawned on me that I must be a bit daft - a sensible, grown woman like me (ok, you can stop laughing now), muttering away to herself, dodging the cracks in the pavement, avoiding walking under ladders, chucking salt over her left shoulder (or should it be the right shoulder?) at every available opportunity and saluting magpies in broad daylight must look a right sight.

So why do we do it?  We cross our fingers for good luck and then assume, when the good fortune is bestowed upon us, that it was solely because we crossed our fingers - nothing to do with coincidence at all, is it...?  It's the same as when we throw a ball or take a shot in a game of pool; after the shot has been taken we swerve our body to try and encourage the ball to take the desired course, congratulating ourselves when it meets its target.

So are superstitions a way of positive thinking?  If we cancel as much negativity out of our lives as possible then there is more room for fortuity.  If that is so then I'm all for not passing someone on the stairs (there isn't actually room for that on our stairs so I'm safe there), not opening umbrellas indoors and running down the street so that a black cat can walk across my path and hope that people won't think that I'm a little strange.  Touch wood.


Am I right to be encouraging my son to join the Armed Forces?

He's 16, in his final year at high school, is an "average" student and has no future plans for work or college.  He feels that he doesn't excel in anything apart from being utterly brilliant at Call Of Duty (all versions) on the X-Box 360!

He's mentioned on a number of occasions that he'd like to join the Armed Forces, currently favouring the Royal Air Force over the Army, but should I be actively encouraging this decision?

It was always my dream to join the RAF but a change in life plan meant that I had to forego that dream.  I don't want him to live my dream for me but I think it would be a wonderful chance both for the opportunities and the experiences.  However, we hear, almost on a weekly basis, about the soldiers - young and old - that are killed in action in the warring countries, the ones who did follow their dream.  And some of them are still only teenagers.  Is this what I want for my son?  Of course not!  But, in the same respect, I don't want to repress the small glimmers of hope he has for his future.

The recent reports of another young solider being killed brings back memories of this song.  When it was originally released I was 13 years old and it held no emotional connection.  Now, it just seems that history is repeating itself.



Over the next few weeks you may notice a couple of changes here.  I'm going to give my blog a bit of a new look and I'd love to know whether you like it or not.

Also, I've recently I've joined a couple of blogging networks.  My application to join British Mummy Bloggers was accepted (YIPPEE) and I've joined a brand new blogging network for women writers called Judith's Room.  These two networks can only encourage me to write more, to try out new ideas and, of course, to increase my contacts across the world of writing.  I've also had a piece accepted for publication on The Pygmy Giant website which I'm completely and utterly chuffed to bits with.  

It feels like the start of a new chapter for me with regards my writing; like an epiphany of sorts.  Does that sound a bit wanky because it's not meant to.  This is the route I've always wanted to take but never felt confident enough.  The only issue I have now is how I'm going to fit it all in - work, study (OU), writing, the abandoned cross-stitch projects, the tap dancing, the much needed weight-loss...

So, dear reader, please keep visiting the blog and leaving your comments - I love to hear what you think and please don't be afraid to say if you don't like anything - after all, I only write it - I'm putting it on here for your enjoyment.

Photo from Marcus Rodder on Flickr
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