Monday, 30 September 2013

I'm officially the Mum of an adult, so...

... does this mean I have to grow up now?   On Saturday my eldest son Daniel turned 18.  I don't think the enormity of this has sunk in yet.  When it does, I will be as gutted as I was turning 30.  I mean really distraught.  Yet - I'll be 40 in three years and this doesn't bother me in the least.   Strange.

I was quite a young first time Mum, I had Daniel when I was 19 years old.   He's been quite the little fighter from being in the womb.   I was six days overdue when he was born, and I didn't go into labour, I had a placental abruption and had to be rushed to theatre for an emergency C Section.   I've never seen so much blood in my life, and didn't realise until I was much older just how dangerous that was.  Then when he was two years old he contracted Meningitis and Septicaemia and it was touch and go as to whether he would make it.  Little did I know that it would be my complete ineptitude as a Mother at that time that probably saved his life.  He was whiny and had a temperature, and guess who didn't have any liquid paracetamol?  This was in the days before 24 hour supermarkets.   As it became apparent that this wasn't just a fever, we phoned 999 and he was having seizures in the ambulance.  When we got him into Casualty, the consultant asked had we given him any paracetamol and I said no.  He told me I'd probably saved his life, because it would have masked the symptoms, and that he'd stake his career on it being Meningitis.  Would I give permission to treat for that instantly before doing all the tests, as Dan didn't have time for the results to come through.  Of course I said yes.  He was very poorly, in a coma, hooked up to all manner of wires and drips and machines bleeping.   When I asked the nurses and consultants if he would be ok, they either wouldn't answer, or they would say 'Touch and go' or '50/50'.   They did all the tests after he'd started treatment, and indeed it was Meningitis, but oddly enough it was a rare strain that hadn't been seen in the UK since the 1980's!   But the recovery he made was almost miraculous, for a child who was staring death in the face, he walked out of that hospital a week later.  It made me take stock of my own life, made me realise that we're really only here once and we should be happy.  I made some big decisions of my own as a consequence. 

Baby Dan and me

I won't inflict the horror of a recent photo of Dan and I together on you, let's just say it's nowhere near as pretty as the scene above... the years haven't been kind to me...

Dan also faced another big issue in his life, a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome when he was ten.   He handled that with a maturity I've never seen before in a child so young.   He almost collapsed with relief when I explained to him, and he told me that he knew he was different from everyone else, and now that he knew he wasn't imagining it, it was something that he could learn about and find ways to cope with it.   He has always been a joy to parent, whether he was a baby, child or teenager.  He doesn't bring trouble to my door.   He's intelligent, sarcastic (I don't know where he gets that from...), has a way with the written word (again... not a clue), polite, he asks for so little.  He has a group of wonderful friends who have always accepted him for him, and it's lovely to see him so comfortable with people that he is a complete equal, and he doesn't feel shy or awkward.  I'm really proud that he's my son.  Awwwwwwwwwww :-)

Dan wanted a house party for his birthday, but unforeseen circumstances cropped up, as they usually do in my life, so we're having the party this Saturday night instead.   Daniel opened his presents, he had a new laptop from Steve and I, and a lot of money gifted.  His father came down to take him out for a drink, and then in the evening, his friends came around for pizza and beers.  

Benn - who doesn't drink... drank more than anyone

I made a small birthday cake, and have ordered one from a local cakemaker for the party this weekend, to take some of the stress off me.  I always try to do too much and end up unable to enjoy the main event. 

So, as per usual with a house party due, we're making sure everywhere is clean and tidy and mowed and strimmed and wiped and rejigged and repainted... Yeah.  Meh.   I've got a few ideas for some nice desserts that I'll try and blog about.  One recipe has popped into my life three separate times this past week, so I have to take notice of what that's trying to tell me.   It involves Reese's Peanut Butter cups which should be enough to tell me it needs making!   So hopefully, come Saturday night I will be organised, stress free and able to actually relax and enjoy one of my parties.  What normally happens being, no matter how prepared I am, I am like a headless chicken, still cooking, red faced, sweaty, unshowered, in an apron and drunk by the time my guests arrive.  Will Saturday be the first time things go to plan?   Will I make it to the shower in time?   Will I be sober before the first guest arrives?  Tune in next Sunday to find out... ;-)

M x

Friday, 13 September 2013

And just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any worse...

2.5 kg of chicken breast has spoiled in my crappy, rubbish, good for nothing fridge.  I have had to scrape (and I MEAN scrape!  Bottom of the freezer 'barrel') tea together for five of us six, yes that's ME not eating, just in case you needed to ask.  I didn't fancy a bag of microwave steam veg.  Mr G like a zombie on the sofa because he's taken tablets that have rendered him practically useless, and unable to drive.  If he perks up at 8pm when the rugby comes on, I'm cancelling Sky Sports.  Oh and the minute the microwave pinged, it packed up completely.  Deadsville.  So even if I had fancied the steam veg, I was knackered.  It's about 4 months old.  Receipt?  Box?  Don't be silly.  This is me we're talking about here!

And the pi├Ęce de bloody r├ęsistance...

Adam:  (Runs in from school)  Mum!  Mum!  Great news!  I'm going to be learning how to play the trumpet!

Me:  *Gritted teeth and fake smile*  That's WONDERFUL Adam!  Now, has Mummy got any wine.  It's 5 o'clock somewhere...

But I have no wine.   Or milk.  But the wine part is killing me.  The milk part will kill me in the morning.  

That is all.  As you were.  This too shall pass...


FTSF 35 - My best summertime memory this year was...


The children going back to school.  No, I'm joking.  The holidays went by so quickly I could have done with an extra couple of weeks with them.   We had a lovely long holiday, many (expensive) days out, meals out, but there's one day that sticks out in my mind as being the best.   It was almost free, it wasn't the sort of thing I'd usually go for, but seeing as we'd doubled the length of our holiday this year, we had to look for things to do that were reasonably cheap or free.

A fun day, organised by the businesses around Palace Gardens in Paignton, Devon.  We packed a picnic and walked up.  We'd seen the flyers and posters around the town, and what had sparked my interest was that there was an Olly Murs tribute artist performing.    There was a stage set up, a Bays Beer beer tent (Mr G was in tears of joy...), free face painting, free bouncy castle, actors from the Palace Theatre dressed up as Pirates doing balloon modelling, and a gazebo where ladies from Child Friendly Matters had all manner of toys and circus-y type bits and bobs for the children to play with.

When we first arrived, there was a performer called Dan the Hat on, I don't know how to describe him really, he was a juggler, did tricks and was very funny.



Mr G found the beer tent...


Look at that smile...

We were serenaded by Karl Lewis aka 'Almost Olly' and he was absolutely fantastic.  We may have gone home earlier only the compere said that Karl would be back later to do another set - as himself.


Then came the special mystery guest, a Madonna tribute, Tasha Leaper, who was also amazing and got the crowd up and dancing.    And vogueing.  Except us.  We were sat down drinking beer.


The kids went off and queued for about an hour to get their faces painted...






And after Karl's last set rounding off the afternoon, Caitlin wanted a picture taken with him before we set off back to the apartment.  I wish I'd had a photo taken with him actually... he's a bit yummy and could have gone in the photoframe that Mr G has designated for Adam Woodyatt.  Meh, see previous post...


All in all a wonderful day, brilliant entertainment, not once did the children complain that they were bored, not once did they ask for any money, Mr G got his Bays Beer that he'd been craving for a whole year.  If we'd had more days like this this Summer, I'd be going into Autumn a lot richer than I am now!   Just goes to show that it's not always how much you spend that determines how good a time you'll have, doesn't it?

Thursday, 12 September 2013

I could scream...

But I won't, dear readers, instead I shall take all my frustrations out on this blog post.   There have been a few funny moments these last few days but I feel so overwhelmed that I could crawl under the duvet and just cry.

My whole house - the entire house - is wrecked.  Every single room.   I did skirt around the issue that we'd started stripping the hallway before my 'Autumn clean'.  Well, we reached the bottom of the stairs, and had to stop because of the double mattress that had been there, on it's side, since the end of July.  Caitlin had a high sleeper bed, but it was too high for her room, so we bought her a double bed.   Mr G decided we would dismantle the high sleeper, erect the double bed, and then we could continue with the paper stripping.  The thing is, putting a double bed into Cait's room - the smallest room in the house - means that she had to lose some of her furniture.   Which means she now has clothes everywhere and nowhere to put them.  And the boys room has a mattress, a wardrobe and a chest of drawers that doesn't belong to them.  So, yesterday morning I was making a good start on her room and Mr G decided it would be a good idea to decimate our bedroom too.  Incorporate the leftover furniture into our room.   And then he comes out with this.   And the sentiment behind it is a bit rude but... I'll keep it as clean as possible. 

Mr G:   (Fiddling around with headboard)  There you go.  Now when you're... erm... not underneath... you can look at a picture of Adam Woodyatt.

Now, I must explain.  Mr G had hung a photo frame slap bang in the middle of our headboard.   My British readers won't need an explanation as to who Adam Woodyatt is, possibly my overseas ones won't either.   He is the actor who plays Ian Beale in the soap Eastenders.   He is a brilliant actor, and when I've seen him on TV as himself, he comes across as a lovely guy.  But.  It's Ian Beale.  And to say I was mortified that my husband thought I wanted to look at a photo of him when... you know...  The look of abject horror on my face.

Me:  What.  The.  Absolute.  Eff word?

Mr G:  What?  You've got a big thing about him, haven't you?

Me:  Er, no?  Adam Woodyatt?  Seriously?   Have you been smoking crack?

Mr G:  Maroon 5?

Me:  That's Adam LEVINE.  LEVINE.

Mr G:  Who's Adam Woodyatt then?

Me:  IAN BLOODY BEALE!

Mr G:  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

*Edit - for the benefit of those who need the gravity of this explained with pictures...

Adam Levine

Adam Woodyatt


Mr G was already seriously pissed off with me yesterday, because I'd fallen asleep with my MP3 player on.  I try to listen to an hours guided meditation at night.  Unfortunately, it's a 4 beautiful gigabytes of meditations, mantras, affirmations, audiobooks.  Sounds of nature...   And I'd had a bottle of wine, on a school night.  So, I think I fell asleep 3 and a half minutes into the meditation.  At some point I'd woken up and just thrown the MP3 player on the floor, making a half hearted attempt to switch it off.  And failed.  So...

Mr G:  I didn't sleep last night.  That bloody MP3 player.  I couldn't switch it off.   Some bloody woman wailing.

Me:  That would be Maakaral Shivaya Namah mantra.  Yes she is a bit... shrill.  Why didn't you wake me?

Mr G:  I did!  You said 'Oh, sorry babe' turned over and went back to sleep.  I couldn't turn it off.

Me:  Well you should have woken me properly.   Taken it out of the room.  Taken it downstairs.  Put it in the bathroom.   Or, OR!  Here's a novel idea!   Take the bloody headphones out of the MP3!  Oooh look!  Silence!  *Sarcastically mime pulling headphone jack out of imaginary MP3*

Mr G:  Here's another novel idea!  *Sarcastically mimes wrapping headphone wire around imaginary neck and pulling tightly*

That would be my neck, yes...  Oh well, back to the clearing.   Meh.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Back to school - belatedly!

Trying desperately to catch up with my blog posts, I haven't done our holiday, we've been camping, days out and most importantly, the first day back at school.   Everything is displaced at the moment, there's clothes that haven't been kept from the holiday, there's bags of... crap - there's no other word for it - that the children brought back from holiday in my bedroom (where else?).  I usually like to spend the first week they're back at school cleaning up the mess they created in the previous six weeks.  But if you read my previous post, you'll see that the lovely Mr G had other plans for me.   So, on top of the absolute disgrace of a mess my house is in, it's now covered with flecks of 1960's wallpaper and flecks of snot green gloss.  And I can't find my bed.  This is going to take until at least Christmas.   Anyhoo, back to the matter at hand.

It was a big day for two of my four, especially for Cait, who was starting high school - the same school I started 26 years ago.  Thankfully - I don't think any of the teachers I tormented are still there... according to my brother his card was marked from his first day because of the, erm, grade A student sarcastic, stroppy, insolent nightmare that I was during my time there.   I had a distinctive maiden name.  There was no way he was getting away with it.   Adam was also taking the leap up into Juniors.  Dan went into Upper 6th, or year 13 as it's now called, and Ryan into year 5.

Caitlin ready and raring to go




My troops

In size order...


















Stripping and getting plastered - The Frazzled Shell way

Capture your attention?  Yeah, I know what you're thinking.  You naughty lot.  Tut tut.   First of all, a huge welcome to all my new blog followers, you really don't know what you've let yourselves in for, do you?   If you'd like a follow back just give me a shout out in the comments with your blog URL.  I'm up to my neck in it at the moment, so can't check your details manually as yet. 

Why, I hear you ask.  What on earth is the matter, Shell?  *Sigh*.  Well... we've lived in the 'new' house for nearly four and a half years.  We had a mad rush to get everywhere important decorated before we moved in.   Mr G wasn't in the best of health at that time, was having all manner of cardiac related tests, and I had one week to pack up the old house, with four children, husband in and out of hospital, decorate the new house, move out and move in.  We enlisted all our family and friends and to be fair, the amount of work we achieved in such a small time was pretty amazing.   We looked at the woodchip and the wallpapered ceiling of the hallway, stairs and landing (WHY?  For the love of God, why wallpaper the perfectly smooth ceilings?) and decided it would take too much time, and would have to wait.  So they just had a lick of paint.   It's quite a big job too.

Ohhhhhhh dear...

The kids went back to school on Tuesday, and at lunchtime Mr G said to me;   'Soooooo - when are we doing this hall, stairs and landing then?'   My heart sank.  I know this man inside and out, and I knew that what he actually meant was;  'Get some old clothes on, cocker, I'm going to the bottom shed to find the wallpaper scrapers'.  Why he doesn't just say what he means is another matter. 

Top layer - woodchip.  Not the nightmare you'd imagine, that was coming off with just a scraper.  Then underneath, as you can see from the above picture, a rather fetching... I don't even have the words for what that is, tartan?  Check?  At some points, down the stairs, there's two layers of that underneath, same colour, different pattern.  And then.  Oh.  When we get down to bare wall...

It was acceptable in the 50's?

The picture doesn't do it justice.  Two rather fetching shades of green.  Green GLOSS!  The wallpaper sticks to the dark green and it's melting under the heat of the stripper like chewing gum.   There are huge chunks of plaster falling off from around the windows.  I really, really don't want to wallpaper, I was praying for nice smooth walls, and maybe had whoever painted these walls not used a yardbrush and rake to do it, they might have been.  It's too much to rub down, so we need to have all the walls skimmed now.   Lord knows how much that is going to cost us, I'm dreading getting the quotes in for the work.   In my circle of family and friends, I have a curtainmaker.  Policewoman.  Teachers.  Counsellor.  Baker.  Plumber.  Computer expert.  Hairdresser and barber.  Florist.  Solicitor.  Electricians.  Gardener.  Cooks.  Mechanic.  You name it, I have a friend I can blag for 'Mates Rates' or barter with a curry and chocolate cake, but no bloody Plasterer to be seen anywhere.   So, I'm thinking  (and we all know how dangerous that is, and if you don't know, you'll learn quickly).  How hard can it be?  Plastering?  You can find guides to do anything on the internet, correct?   

Help!

I'll leave you guessing as to whether I'm serious or not ;-)