Being Quiet Is Okay, Isn’t It? 

By | October 23, 2018

I know I haven’t blogged much about school life for D and T recently but something said at D’s parents evening at her SN school last week has stuck with me.

Our girl is doing okay, more than okay at the moment, she’s started a GCSE course (we are so proud) in a subject which she enjoys (more of that in another post) and is coping – on the whole – with the challenges this new school year has brought.

D is kind and polite in school, she will happily say “Good Morning” as she goes in after our walk and has been described as a “role model” by her Head Teacher, which is wonderful! She is most definitely in the right setting for her.

Monday’s though, present a challenge as the curriculum has a “carousel”, which according to D means they go into different classes and it’s all a bit unexpected.  She doesn’t look forward to Mondays and my hand is always gripped soooooooo tight on the walk but it’s part of preparing her for beyond school, I guess.

Back to the parents evening, it was all going really well until we came to this point:

  

This was raised as an issue, as during “choosing time” (which means they can CHOOSE what they’d like to do), D prefers to read a book and not socialise.

They also said that they would like D not to read during “Choosing Time” but talk to her classmates.

Well, apart from the fact that D has chosen to read and enjoys reading, it calms her and I don’t feel anyone should be discouraged from reading, there is the very obvious point that why should she be forced to make conversation when she’s meant to be self-regulating?

What is wrong with being quiet? She’s not a “hello, I’m here!” person, nor am I but, she will sing on stage after gentle encouragement and preparation.  

Why be forced outside her comfort zone and  start a conversation  (and they didn’t have an answer for this) when it is very likely that any response to her questions would be “closed” answers? (her classmates are all SN too)

I know she has to be prepared for life beyond school but FGS  if she is in a period of “choosing time” and she chooses to spend that time reading and self-regulating, let her!! 

Today, being Tuesday, was crochet group for me.  I asked D if we could go and she answered politely whenever spoken to.  She was the lovely polite young teen that she is, when she wanted to, she choose to sit and read and that was fine by me. 

It meant that she could tolerate being in a library where there were quite a few crying children.  

It meant she tolerated the bus journey home with various smells that she very quickly picked up on, there was no way I was going to force her to start conversations if it meant she wasn’t comfortable.

So, just what is wrong with choosing to be quiet?  Wouldn’t life be boring and really quite exhausting if we were all extrovert?

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Me And My Inner Princess 

By | October 21, 2018

Have I ever mentioned how much I love going to Windsor?

We’re about half an hour away by train and, as the little two carriage shuttle train from Slough pulls in (runs every ten minutes) I always have a little surge of excitement as I see Windsor Castle come into view from the windows, there’s no escaping it, the town seems to be built around the castle after all!

  
I guess it’s my childhood inner Princess bursting out and after the two Royal weddings held there this year, I can imagine the town has been absolutely be-decked in bunting.

Windsor is very proud of its Royal connections, of course there is an element of souvenir shops, which hilariously sell waving Mr Bean figures right alongside those of our Queen and there are also a fair amount of tea cloths, commemorative crockery and slogan baseball caps.

The shops nearest to the Castle cater mostly for touristy bits and little tea shops but venture further down one of the many side streets and you’ll find the usual High Street chain stores, the difference being that there will invariably be a flag or bunting outside.

But back to my childhood Princess leanings for a moment, which have been topped up quite nicely by the two Royal Weddings this year, both managing to generate the pomp of such an occasion, but also at times, feeling very intimate with the joining of two people who are in love.

Because that’s what a wedding comes down to, isn’t it? The bride and groom/groom and groom/bride and bride. Two people pledging their love for each other will mean the same, however large or small the congregation or the venue is and of course, the majority don’t have the added pressure of dress analysis, tv cameras and a world-wide audience!

If we’re talking dresses by the way, I much preferred Eugenie’s, the classic lines suited her very well and the fact she celebrated her scoliosis scars as opposed to hiding them must have been a great boost to others affected by the condition.

  
(I did have one objection to both events though, in these budget-conscious times, that the bill for policing both events was huge and should have been met by the Royal Family and not tax payers, i doubt any of the Windsor roads on both carriage routes had any potholes in either!)

As the “big day” should be purely about the happy couple, the venue shouldn’t really make too much of a difference – unless you do have the pressures of the afore-mentioned worldwide tv audience (!) and the vows made will mean just as much said in a Bijou Weddings setting as those promised in a castle chapel!

We are very lucky in Berkshire and bordering Surrey and Hampshire to have many potential large and smaller venues for ceremonies, some offering a historical backdrop, others are more modern, all having great photo opportunities. 

Oh well, I’d better confine my Princess leanings towards these, quick and easy to make and a lot more durable!! 

  

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My Scheepjes Whirl Hexagon cardigan – tah dah!! @scheepjes

By | October 21, 2018

Occasionally my crochet and autism pages collide, they’re bound to as crochet helps my wellbeing so much, both from a parenting and a post foot operation complications viewpoint.

One particular pattern has been my go-to for cardigans made in chunky, super chunky, double knit yarns and now in a Scheepjes Whirl.

If you haven’t heard of Scheepjes Whirls before, they are 1000m of loveliness! Similar to 4ply but it’s the subtle colour-changing aspect that made these so, so wonderful to use.

Just look at these colours 😍

  
So, I thought I’d combine the Whirl with the Hexagon cardigan (pattern here) to see how I got on.  The Whirls I choose (one for each side) were Woolly Whirls in Sugar Sizzle.

I’m a tight crocheter apparently, so used a 3.5mm hook.  The beauty of this pattern is that the cardigan is made in two halves, working from the under arm out and you then simply sew the halves together along the back seam and the top seam, the pattern does the rest.  Also, the pattern can be made as large or small as you wish, just make sure you finish on the same row number! 

Each half of the cardigan took a week to make and here’s some progress pictures: 

A teeny mouse-sized start!  
Reaching that first proper colour change:  
 First side done with a tiny bit left over! 
When both sides were finished, it was button shopping time, I found these in John Lewis which complement the greens and purples in the Whirl beautifully:  
And the finished and blocked cardigan:

The front:  
The back, the vertical line down the middle is where the two sides meet:

  
And showing off those fab colour changes:

  
I have plans to make another one or two as they are so lovely as well as child-sized ones in DK to go into my crochet page’s shop.  The link to my page if anyone would like to visit and give me a like/follow, is a click here.

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Guest Post – Borderline Personality Disorder and Me

By | October 21, 2018

I’m very pleased to be hosting this guest post from Sarah and hope it helps to raise some awareness around Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD.

“BPD – Borderline Personality Disorder, also sometimes known as EUPD – Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.

I’m not sure which name I like better, borderline just makes me think they have no idea what’s going on while emotionally unstable makes me think I can’t control my emotions.. OK that’s true at times.

I was young when my brain started doing strange things, so young I don’t remember it being any other way.

I remember at a very young age laying in my bedroom crying as I thought my parents bought me something to make me think they wouldn’t get rid of me – HELLO ABANDONMENT ISSUES!

I remember in primary school thinking the others implanted things in my head so they could know what I was thinking. I remember running the bath taps, so I couldn’t be heard crying, while my brain wondered why am I me? Why this brain, why this body.

Looking back, I was dissociating.
However, I never told a soul. As those abandonment issues, well they made me think that if I told people they would leave me.

If the people who conceived me didn’t want me, the people who were meant to love you unconditionally, why would someone else? Especially when I was broken.

Of course, now I realise that love was there. That’s why I was put up for adoption. However, a child’s brain doesn’t understand that.

It wasn’t until my teens people realised something was awfully wrong with me.

We had moved, I’d lost that support system, the people at school to the mickey out of the way I spoke and dressed, instead of being a smiling welcoming force.

I lost myself even more, trying to fit in.

I remember a Scottish girl moving to our class, she was placed with the same group of people I was. People would giggle if I was off as she would ask where I was.

Looking back, she got the same treatment as I did, they giggled at the way she spoke, she retaliated telling them first to stop and later, giving them a slight kick under the table. In the end her Mum moved her schools.

Unlike me who kept it all inside, didn’t tell a soul and instead tried to reinvent myself, change my accent, no longer wear those clothes.

In year 9 things came to a head, I came down with the flu and tonsillitis a combination which lasted from October until the following Summer when I had a tonsillectomy. In this time, I was started on anti-depressants and had begun to self-harm.

However, I returned to school for the first part of year 10.

I have never coped with winter, it is my worst time of year and by the January I was frequently trying to take my own life.

An act that should have worked on more than one occasion, but by some miracle didn’t.

My original psychologist told my parents not to worry about these attempts, I was obviously getting better, or I wouldn’t bother trying to take my own life.

The hospitals psychologist felt different a third opinion was sought and I was placed in an adolescent mental health unit where I spent the next year.

I don’t think anyone ever worked out if it helped me, it perhaps saved me as I was unable to continue with attempts on my life. However, being around others who were having mental health issues made me worse in some ways.

It wasn’t until I was 18 I had my diagnosis confirmed to me. Perhaps as BPD is a one they don’t like making, it is controversial, and I don’t think doctors like dealing with it. Perhaps as it isn’t easy to treat.

There is no pill you can give someone to ease the symptoms. Though they can be given for co-existing issues, for me I take them for my depression and anxiety.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Mentalisation-Based Therapy (MBT) are the most commonly offered therapies for anyone suffering with BPD.

However, personally I’ve never found any type of therapy to work, bar art therapy where I could work out my feelings into a creative outlet. I don’t do talking.

I guess for me I’ve learnt to live with my BPD, yes have up days and down days. Yes, sometimes I feel like I’m well someone else, who is somewhere else.

However, I try and talk to myself and my partner, we talk it through, we distract, we survive.

I often think I will never stop some form of self-harm, I will always have some sort of destructive behaviour inside me and I will always fear loss and abandonment. 

My emotions have a mind of their own and if people around me are feeling negatively I often will too. 

Sometimes I zone off into my own place and feel as if the world is passing by without me. Yes, all those BPD factors are still there, better controlled, better understood, not quite as in your face, but still there.

But that’s just me now, BPD has in many ways shaped me into who I am, helped me in some ways become stronger, helped me look at life in different ways.

Of course, I wish I didn’t have to deal with it. But as a disorder I will live with for the rest of my life, I can only try and make it easier on myself and those I love.

And hopefully help those who fear those with BPD due to the media realise, we are human, we just want to be loved, but our emotions aren’t quite wired the way they should be, and we have a very prominent self-destruct button.

We are more likely to harm ourselves, than anyone else.

So please be our friend, laugh with us and hold us when we cry. We need support and understanding, not popping into a box.”

   

Author Bio: 

Sarah is the creator behind Life In A Breakdown, UK Bloggers and Simply Saving and one half of the duo behind UK Lifestyle Hub.  She suffers from a number of chronic health conditions and is often found cuddled up on the sofa with a movie and her pets. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram too!

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My Tips For A Thrifty Christmas 

By | October 20, 2018

Yep, we’re in October and we can’t ignore it, Christmas is coming! If your local shops arent be-decked out with decorations yet, they will be!

I must admit, I do love seeing all-things Christmas arrive in John Lewis, I always take D to see their Christmas department and always love how they sort their display shelves by theme, with a tree fully decorated at the end of each.

But, “the most wonderful time of the year” can be a worry if you’re on a budget, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on a thrifty Christmas:

  
1. Food: there is always the temptation to over-stock, I’m guilty of that. 

 The 25th December is one day out of many and whilst the shops will have many offers on biscuit tins, chocolate and selection boxes, don’t be swayed by the offers and only buy what you realistically envisage will be eaten or use some as teachers gifts (for example). 

 These items will also have a long “use by” date so you can always add one or two to the weekly shop, without making too much of a dent in the budget.

Consider items that can be frozen too and buy in advance, desserts, sausage rolls etc and tinned goods like custard, soup and – for Boxing Day and beyond – rice etc for those turkey leftovers! 

2. Wrapping paper and cards: Sometimes it helps not to be too organised with these, as in the week or so before Christmas, many retailers will reduce the prices of these. Alternatively stock up on them in the post-Christmas sales.

You could always  opt for wrapping paper that can be used for both Christmas and birthday presents and keep that supply stocked up all year round.

Labels don’t have to match the wrapping paper or even be “proper” labels, if you’ve kept any written cards from last year, cut out the picture, stick it onto the parcel, make a fold and use the plain area at the back for writing on.

Another alternative is brown parcel paper and get the children to draw a Christmas picture/use stickers and hand write the message, this latter option is more recycle-friendly too.

3. Presents: The main outlay and one which can cause most worry.

Many stores offer a “3 for 2” about this time, sometimes it can mean money-saving but check that the prices haven’t been artificially inflated for the offer (Argos have been found to do this) and that what you’re buying will actually be used/played with.

If you have a specific present in mind, keep an eye on local selling sites and online sites where you might find the brand new (or nearly new) item that someone has been craving.  

If such a item becomes available and you haven’t the funds at the time, see if you can temporarily borrow from a family member/friend or a short term lending site (for an example, click here) but if you go for the latter, be aware of the terms and conditions and aim to make repayment promptly.

Also, think about restricting presents within the immediate and wider family to the children only or bake gifts, for example star-shaped shortbread in a jar would look lovely and be well received or craft something, a portrait made by the children, or a knitted or crocheted item.

I made crochet mandalas for D’s teachers at the end of the summer term this year, which were very well received and they were no doubt a change from the norm.

  
4. Party outfits: if an invitation comes through or you like to dress up on Christmas Day, keep an eye out for offers, the closer the shops get to December 25th, the more desperate they’ll be to shift stock. 

Alternatively give an existing dress (for example) a new lease of life by altering (for example), the length or changing the buttons or adding a trim to it, everyone will think it’s a new outfit but and you can always save the money for…

5. The post-Christmas sale: many stores start their sales online on Christmas Day so, if there’s something in particular you wanted to buy and the recipient/you are happy to wait for a few days, then wait until you see it reduced.

Another option would be to give or request gift vouchers if there is something specific in mind and that way you’ll know that your hard-earned money will be spent on something that will be used.

Also, consider buying in the sales for next year, for example, clothes for children that they could grow into, toys or books. 

Above all, don’t panic! It’s one day out of many in the year and the majority of us will be making New Year’s resolutions come January 1st!! Another good reason not to have too many chocolates/biscuits/cakes still around!

*This is a collaborative post 

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My Foodie Experiences Of London

By | October 19, 2018

When I was a teen, London was the place to be.

I’d already decided that I was going to be a backing singer and marry my favourite pop star and we’d live in Kensington, we can dream, can’t we?

I’d get the coach to London every Saturday with my friend, I realise now that that could potentially sound a bit stalker-ish but it was the whole Kensington vibe that I loved (and still do). 

There were the markets full of wonderfully weird clothes, the shops that sold obscure items you couldn’t find anywhere else, the record shops where I’d spend my hard-earned money from an after school job (because it felt nicer to buy them from there and not the local Smiths) and the museums, not to forget the Spud-U-Like just up the road in Notting Hill where it seemed decadent to buy a baked potato.

So, a few years later, when an opportunity came up during an office relocation to work in London, I jumped at the chance! 

Of course, I saw London from a different side once I was a commuter, my day consisted of get up-catch a coach in the dark-try and snooze and hope there wouldn’t be delays-get to the office-work-catch a coach-get home in the dark-go to bed ….and repeat. I worked opposite the Tower of London which was a really stunning view from the office window.

The second opportunity brought with it rail commuting as the coach service had stopped. I’d pay a huuuuge amount in rail fares with no guarantee of a seat and my view from the window wouldn’t be scenic, just fast.  

Lunch would be a quick sandwich from a sandwich bar as I was invariably too disorganised/tired to bring something from home.

It wasn’t all bad though, if you’ve ever worked in a city, you’ll know that there comes a point in the evening when the atmosphere changes from one of hustle and bustle and the night life starts.

I had some fantastic dining experiences after hours during my two separate working spells in London, a couple that spring to mind are a meal in the Windows bar which had amazing views across the capital, coupled with fantastic cuisine, a piano bar very near to the Bank of England and an excellent Mexican restaurant where I first tried tequila!

  
The beauty of dining within the Square Mile as the City of London is also known by, is that there is a variety of worldwide cuisine experiences, literally on the doorstep as this online guide from squaremeal illustrates. 

Other memories from London dining were trying oysters (just yuck!) and my first encounter with Port after a Christmas meal (really nice at the time but I suffered the next day, big time!) 

I went to London for a bloggers event a couple of years ago and the little surge of excitement I felt as a teen, was still there when I got off the tube at High Street Kensington. 

Some things don’t change, do they?

*This is a collaborative post 

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How @circusstarr promotes inclusivity and positive body imagery 

By | October 16, 2018

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blogs, you’ll be aware that we look forward to the annual show that Circus Starr brings to town.

Circus Starr are a not-for-profit organisation, relying on local donations from the towns that they visit so that they can put on a fantastically, inclusive show for disabled and disadvantaged children in the local community.

It’s something that we always look forward to and this year’s visit was much anticipated as, due to those feet operations I keep having (not by choice!) we hadn’t been since November 2015.

So, we took our seats and as you can see, D was very excited!

  

It was absolutely lovely to be back, waiting for the performance to start, looking around and seeing masses of happy, excited faces, all feeling included.  Circus Starr have a Changing Places toilet this year, which is a great addition to their convoy.

Onto the performances and as ever, we were spellbound, transfixed as the artistes performed either high up in the podium on silks, on a trapeze or acrobatics on the floor, interjected as ever with clown performances, very slapstick but very funny.

I only took a couple of photos as I wanted to enjoy the acts:

  
  
The show ended all too soon with a signed sing-a-long to a version of “Reach For The Stars” and the lyrics matched perfectly the very positive atmosphere.

Another positive was the chat D and I had on the way home, I am all too aware that at 14 she is growing up and am grateful that she is comfy in her body.  We were talking about the athleticism of the performers and how much training they must do to enable them to perform their acts.

Then came a question “do you think my bottom is big?”

If we hadn’t just been at the performance, I may not have known what to answer, but drawing on what we’d seen, I could reply to D that whilst big (artificially enhanced) bottoms and BBL’s may be fashionable, the muscly, toned performers we’d just seen were a great example of being happy in their bodies and achieving what they did because they trained and ate well.  

So, because of the sports D does, our school walks and the fact she regulates herself by skipping in our garden, she was just right, which she accepted.

Which is how I’d like her to stay, happy in herself and not at all swayed by weekly gossip magazines or social media imagery.

Thanks to Circus Starr for a great evening, fingers crossed, we’ll see you next year! 

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Yesterday 

By | October 13, 2018

This post would have been different yesterday, 12th October.  It wouldn’t have been positive, in fact I doubt I’d have completed it.

Yesterday marks two years since my first both feet operation and it’s fair to say that I’ve lost my way since then, finding that the tools which used to be so handy for my wellbeing diminish (yes, blog, I’m talking about you!)

It’s also been a time when you find out that those who are interested in seeing how we are, stay interested and those who don’t…well don’t.

But, let’s turn things around with some positivity:

I was terrified going into that operation two years ago, absolutely petrified.  Stressed to the eyeballs that transport to and from her SN school hadn’t been sorted out for D and the feeling that I’d let her down.

I was also so scared I wouldn’t wake up, having not had an operation under a general anaesthetic before and cried walking down to the small ante room and cried in there, they were probably glad to put me to sleep!

The positives of having had two operations since then are that the general anaesthetics don’t worry me now!

 I went into the second and third ones smiling and feeling positive and tried counting down to see if I’d still be counting when I came around from operation number 2 (I didn’t) and with operation number 3 I tried having a song in my head, I came around from that one to being told to drink cold water and my blood pressure was too low – no singing there.

There may be another operation next Spring on my left foot as it hasn’t healed and set back as wonderfully as the right one and getting any sort of shoe/boot on is painful and challenging.  The toe which got pinned is floating around like a spare part and doesn’t touch the ground when I walk, which has pain implications and it’s likely that the tendon will need breaking and re-attaching, if another operation goes ahead.

So, operation number 4 will be met with “yes, this will work” and doing as I’m told with regard to resting afterwards and most definitely not running (hahaha) before I can walk, as the saying goes. Once any home-school transport is sorted, that is.

I’ve also learnt that things take time.  I could compare my operations to my little crochet projects, I wasn’t ready to make a full-size complicated throw when I started learning to crochet, I wasn’t ready, I had to learn the basics.  I’m challenging myself with these beautiful but intense patterns now, 2.5 years later, because I feel ready.

  
The cardigan above is a very good example.  I’d watch variations being made at crochet group and think “nope, no way can I ever make that!”, this summer I had a go and that’s the result, I’m so proud of it!

As well as feeling more positive in myself about the prospect of another operation, my family know exactly what the upheaval will be afterwards, we are well practised in it!  I’m so so pleased that D finally has her much-wanted bunnies and that we aren’t saying “well, we’ll have to wait another year because…”, she tucks them in at night and absolutely loves them.

  
They’ve grown a bit!

I’m also grateful that support can be found in unexpected quarters.  I had a cry yesterday morning and Messenger messages kept me going, put things into perspective and stopped that self-pitying post being written.  It could be a lot worse.

Which brings me onto my last positive pojnt, that my surgeon hasn’t discharged me and my foot, that I’m going back in January to talk next steps (good choice of words!), that maybe, just maybe it will be fourth time lucky!

Fingers crossed! Xx 

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Why are manners disappearing from our Society?

By | October 1, 2018

It’s something I’ve been wondering over the last few weeks/months, why some people seem not to have any manners anymore.

I’m talking about basic manners, a “thank you” if a door is held open or a smile always makes someone feel appreciated doesn’t it? 

But there doesn’t seem to be any of that, an “excuse me” if you have to get past somebody would be nice, instead of just shoving through; a “thank you” to the cashier after you’ve finished (that one can be lacking in two way) and if you get told “enjoy your day” or asked “how are you?”, pay it forward and ask back, how someone is.  It’s not difficult.

Here’s a few examples we’ve experienced recently:

In MaccyD’s, someone picked up the chair at our table. No “excuse me, can I take this?” Just took it.

D regularly holds doors open when we leave Costa for others to pass through, she’ll get a smile and a “thank you” half the time.  This is when I feel for her, she’s a lovely, polite young lady and she’s fast growing up in a Society where people don’t seem to acknowledge others, let alone care.

Manners cost nothing.  

And this one really took me aback,  a SN staff member looked right through me today when I smiled and said “hello”.  They taught D for two years! Granted it wasn’t in school and maybe they felt I’d exchange in conversation but…. it is obviously just a job.

      

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Smile – Weds 5th September 2018

By | September 5, 2018

It’s been a day of smiles today.

  
Smiles for D as she headed back to school into a class with her teachers from last year and knowing who her classmates will be  – which is so important when it comes to preparing her for the new school year.

Smiles as she and T headed back to the routine of school after a summer where it’s always so evident that they need and crave that routine.

Smiles also because today was the first time since April 2017 that I’ve done the school walk, due to those pesky foot operations, we picked blackberries for the bunnies on the way home (they didn’t like them!) and I’ve really missed that pointing-out-cats/plants/birds time that our walk brings and smiles that, for the first time in two years, we are not building up to operations and all the upheaval that brings.

  
Smiles from me too as I did the walk after dropping D off and the walk to collect her, with my earworms in, listening to my “walking tunes” playlist.  I really, really miss listening to music during the school holidays and my wellbeing always crashes, music is an immense relaxation tool for me.

And smiles that I’m blogging after a sporadic absence, hopefully more frequently now.

But if I stop and think about it, that smile fades as I realise with T coming up to 16 in a couple of months and with D 18 months behind, that the transition to adult social care will be looming and I don’t think it will be straightforward or without its angst.

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