Two years

As of today we’ve been living out here, in Massachusetts, for two years!

I’d say I can’t believe it, but I can.

It still doesn’t feel quite like “home” but I’ll say it now feels more like home than not.

Apart from the people we left behind, I don’t honestly think I have any major regrets left.

There have been some very hard moments in the last 12 months. We had to deal with the first death in the family (on the hus-creature’s side) and some similarly hard news on my own and that was tough.

I suspect that if and when the next immediate family baby is born I will find that equally hard but at least that will be a good thing that has happened.

It’s the hard moments that really make you realise what you did once you emigrate.

We’ve been discussing longer term options once (please oh great Flying Spaghetti Monster) our green cards are confirmed, and it’s making me a bit antsy. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to my audience that I very much would like to move out of here as soon as is comfortably feasible.

We’ve definitely decided to stay in Melrose until TT finishes school, but then might move further into Massachusetts but we shall see.

I think it’s part of trying to handle the giant cloud of uncertainty that this process leaves over your life – planning for when it no longer will.

The children are flourishing here though. #1 Son had a birthday party yesterday that was “organised fun” and despite constant orders to

Pay attention

From the party organiser…


No the hus-creature wasn’t able to take them to one side and explain, which I find myself (probably unreasonably) annoyed by…


He was able to come home with a smile on his face and tell me that he had had fun.

We also celebrated 19 years together and 12 of them married last week.


It helps that there’s only 2 days difference I will admit πŸ€£πŸ˜‚


Due to difficulties with sitter availability we split the difference and the hus-creature took me out on a wonderful romantic dinner cruise on Thursday night ❀️πŸ₯°

We spent some quality 1 on 1 time together with food, and booze and fantabulous views and it was amazing.

I was very spoiled and felt very loved.

We are over halfway through #1 Son’s summer camp and he is still coming out with a smile on his face which is such a relief.

We’ve had some minor breakthroughs with eating but are back on the ups and downs there sadly.

(He has now decided he no longer likes peas).

Got about a month and a half to go til Second Grade, and I’m still praying he gets to keep last year’s teacher as a. She is completely amazing and b. A little bit of stability will do him good.

I’m attempting a doctor-recommended diet which we are describing as “Keto aligned” as when you tell the counter staff at Burger King that, they give you this for your lunch:

Which is surprisingly non-horrible. Basically in an attempt to get a handle on my pain I’m to give up:

  • All dairy 😰😰😰😰
  • Enriched processed food
  • All added sugar in everything (including natural sugars like honey, agave etc)

As those of you who know me in real life can probably guess, this has gone down like a lead balloon. He would also very strongly prefer that I go vegetarian, but I put my damn foot down there.

That may well be where this journey ends, but right now? No fucking way.

Tea with cashew milk is 80% tolerable I have discovered:

And one of the local sushi places does a DIY Poke Bowl for $17 which was surprisingly filling:

So all in all? I’m not at “wanting to stab things” level of anger and rage yet. Though mostly that’s down to the hus-creature who is embarking on this with me to support me. Have I mentioned how much I adore this man?

In closing? Two years has flown past.

From this:

To this:

The First Day of Summer Camp

Which is what we are calling the “Summer Learning Academy” which is a 6 week long, 4 day a week (except the week of Independence Day πŸ˜‚πŸ€£) for Elementary aged kiddos with IEPs.

#1 Son is enrolled and it started today.

Last year he was put on the fast track side for education. This year they will be focusing on the social side of it.


He’s actually got a specific slot every Tuesday for it, which is great!


That wasn’t too successful, as he resented having to redo Kindergarten work. Now today when I picked him up?

Came running out with a big smile 😍

Now, admittedly it’s only Day 1, and we’ve just had a pretty decent family vacation, but I’m taking that as a positive sign.

Also, given he read an entire story to his sister first thing this morning, and did a reasonable amount of additional reading in class today, he’s thrilled to be told he doesn’t have to do more today πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

So, since it’s being held 8-12 at the most local school, which is next to our usual playground, I’ve decided to let them both spend an hour or so (depending on weather) in said playground to burn off some energy.


You never know, it might help with the whole “herd of elephants” issue πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„

Apartment Life

Can suck. Suck utter balls.

We live on the first floor. The landlady lives above on the second floor.

Around December last year, after significant unpleasantness, new neighbours moved in downstairs on the ground floor.

I took down soup and apologised in advance as I have two children, one of whom is around full time.

Everything seemed fine.

While we were away, one of said neighbours complained to the landlady that:

The children run around so much it shakes the light fittings.

Now I admit, my children can be… boisterous… but no more so than any other 3 and 7 year old pair of siblings.

In fact, #1 Son, when left to his own devices, is perfectly happy snuggled in his room with his tablet.

So I was mortified. Since I thought we had dealt with this issue last year.


Apparently there were issues with doors slamming. We put large rubber bands over the relevant door handles and the problems went away


However, more information has just come to light. The landlady and her partner came to do some light maintenance (with about four hours notice this time πŸ™„) and the topic came up.


Side note: if you’ve never had kids do not try and discipline someone else’s thank you very much. Yes the landlady attempted to talk to TT and #1 Son about the excessive noise and, rather unsurprisingly, was ignored.


However, as it turns out, downstairs have set up a Meditation Room and have placed it under my kid’s bedrooms.

I’m more than willing to work with my neighbours, but that? That is taking the piss.

Fortunately, the landlady’s partner has grandchildren. He understands kids. She is child free, and kind of seems to view children as little aliens/a different species. Which is fair, but I am not hobbling my kids. They are entitled to live in their homes.

And though I would never put it like this – we were here first. They saw us all leaving the house en masse on the day they viewed the property. So they knowingly rented an apartment where they knew there were kids living upstairs.

So, there have been discussions of what can be done. The landlady and partner have suggested they will buy large Ikea rugs for the relevant rooms.


I’m not footing the bill for it. Rugs are a bastard to keep clean.


And I have suggested (and will follow through with) buying slippers for the kids. I have no problem with that.

But I have stated, on record, that while I will happily have “no running in the house” as a rule (indeed have been trying to institute that since we moved in) I am not stopping my kids from playing in the place where they live.

TT is in bed before 7pm, #1 Son before 8pm. That is not unreasonable. I am not putting their lives on hold for a Meditation Room.

I will not be shitty about it, we all need to live together, but I have my limits. I know my kids well, including their flaws, and they are not as bad as is being made out.

Mama Dinosaur mode has been engaged.

Summer is here!

Annnnnd it’s raining. Because of course it is.

Fortunately yesterday was the last day of school and it was a half day.

We have graduated from First Grade. From this:

To this:

And honestly I could just burst with pride. He’s come along so well. I’ve read his end of year school reports and nearly sobbed. This has been the best thing we could have done for the kiddos.

So, anyway once #1 Son was safely deposited and lunch consumed, I decided to take them to the park – as a quick check of the weather app on my phone pre-informed me of the utterly shocking weather we were due to have today.

They had such fun. #1 Son was playing appropriately with other kiddos, and TT was mostly following around after;

“playing with the other one childrens”

While I knitted.

Yes, while they played, I worked on finishing a project I’ve had on the needles for almost two years. ADHD is such fun when you’re a crafter πŸ₯Ί

Sadly it wasn’t all fun and games – when it came to going home for dinner, TT reminded me forcefully why going out is such a faff.


And that I should never, ever, forget (or choose not to use) the goddamn stroller πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„


I had to literally drag her home kicking and screaming – much to #1 Son’s chagrin. But it’s okay, we will work on that. After all, we go away for five days on Monday. I’m sure it will be absolutely fine….

Right? Right?

And, not to toot my own horn, but it’s Day 1 of the summer vacation and we’ve done all the “required reading”, ticked off four of the options for Summer Reading Bingo


Yes this is a thing, no I am not joking…


And made a start on the Math lessons – which are separate to the Summer Reading and Math logs…

I’ve got to wonder how long we will be able to keep that up…

MLK Day 2019

Well dear audience I’m back.

There’s been such a huge mental block for me with writing since October. It’s not that there weren’t things to write about, it’s that I just….

Couldn’t do it.

I just could not put pen to paper. Or words on a screen. Every time I tried I felt so anxious it was ridiculous.

And this is my escape from anxiety.

So, I’ve decided to just take the leap.

Today is Martin Luther King Day. So #1 Son is off school, and the hus-creature is off from work πŸ™€ so we decided to go into Boston and visit the New England Auto Show.

One teeny tiny issue? It’s -15/16C out there at the moment. And there’s a foot of frozen solid snow outside.

However, we have gone native. I merely shrugged it off and we all headed out. And it turns out that there was one more small issue. We had left TT’s stroller on the front porch. There’s been a major snow storm. Yep, it’s full of snow and frozen solid πŸ€­πŸ˜’πŸ˜€

So, may I present TT’s first official free range bus and T ride:

She loves her “bear hat” and it’s so damn cold out that I didn’t have to argue with her at least about bundling up.

#1 Son on the other hand? Well he made it the 10 feet to the bus stop before he was whimpering that his ears hurt from the cold. We had packed his hat because we knew this would happen. So yes, he wore that too.

So we got to the Conference Center and stripped off to ensure we wouldn’t freeze on the way out.

I think you can see that one child was enjoying life significantly more than the other bless them!

So, the Motor Show was… genuinely interesting. It was all about the new cars coming in 2019/2020 – and not all of them either. Kia for example did not have their next generation hybrid available. Which was most disappointing to the hus-creature, as we are looking into future replacements for our trusty Bolt, and Kia/Hyundai have some great options.

But because it was basically a “see what we’ve got coming up and buy buy buy” event, something magical became possible.

You could sit in the vehicles!!!!

Honestly, it was like we had taken TT to the best theme park ever.

Now, she was insisting on dividing her car choices by colour.  Or if they were a truck.  We were forced to sit in/stare at so many trucks.

THE BIGGER THE BETTER MOMMY!!!!

Honest to goodness, the sheer size differential was amazing – I’m still laughing!

Why yes, yes this is my daughter behind the wheel of an orange Camaro! I’ve never seen her so happy!

 

However, she was desperate to get her hands on “a purple one”. Except that there weren’t any.

Well, until we found the “super cars” section anyway:

Say it with me, “hubba hubba” why yes, yes I would very much like to sit in a purple Lamborghini thank you. Sadly both mine and TT’s hopes were cruelly dashed.

It’s sibling is retailing at over half a bar!!!!

But oh so pretty.

There were a few “classics” too:

And from a sheer interest perspective, a hydrogen fuel cell Honda:

Which is fascinating to both myself and the hus-creature, but sadly re-fuelling something like this in Massachusetts is… problematic.


All 38 refuelling Stations are only in California


At this point we had been wandering around for over two hours. #1 Son was bored out of his mind. TT on the other hand? If it wasn’t for the being exhausted due to no stroller? She would have happily kept going.

My girl is a complete petrol head!!!

Sadly, the journey home was not so easy. The Silver Line bus broke down in the tunnel so they had to send a shuttle bus.

However as they kept us waiting over 15 minutes and it was an over 15 minute bus trip to South Station? I lost my train fare. And I was pissed. It doesn’t matter that it’s “only” $2.75. That’s my $2.75 and they shouldn’t get to keep it.

Then we missed the connecting T. Then when we got back to Oak Grove we missed the next bus.

It was a cold wait. So when we got home it was hot chocolate for all – with a large dash of bourbon for the parents!

It was such a long day for TT that she did something she’s not done in over a year:

Passed out. On the T! Poor thing was exhausted. Hopefully she will sleep well tonight!

Stay tuned for the festivus look back. I’m hoping to get my mojo back.

It’s the differences that hurt

I started writing this post in late May this year. Mostly to quietly vent. I’m not sure if I ever intended to publish it. But I feel I should. It’s important to be honest, with myself as well as everyone else.


I’ve been ruminating on this post for a while, and I suspect that it will be a good few days in the writing before I hit the publish button to be honest.

We all know that I have my two kidlets:

And

And I love them both to death. I do. I would both die and kill for these two. I have been a mama lion for #1 Son over the last year or so, and will continue to be for as long as he needs or wants me to be. But, can I admit something?

I get so tired.

It’s so hard. So so hard. And half the time at least it’s just not his fault or anything to do with him as himself. He continues to be one of the kindest, funniest, sweetest boys that anyone would be lucky to know.

But it’s his condition. It’s his disability (and I bloody loathe that word).

He is not a standard child. And this world is set up for the standard. For the “normal”. And everyone else is left to sink or swim.

TT is growing up. Every day it seems she does something new.

And she is blowing right past him

I don’t mean like for like now, at almost six he still ahead of her, but at their comparative ages she’s miles ahead.

  • She plays with toys.
  • She has proper imaginative play.
  • She is capable of playing on her own.
  • She wants to play with her brother. She idolises him if truth be known.
  • Her language skills are amazing
  • She has concepts such as sharing down. Admittedly mostly when they benefit her but she’s got them.
  • Milestones such as crawling, walking etc she already blew past him with.

There are more, so many more, but these are the ones that stick in my head.

It’s almost daily that I will look at the hus-creature and say:

He was never like this.

Or

He never did this/that.

And I wonder if he has somehow been short changed by my just not knowing that he was non-standard.

How did I not know? Well for a premature child and a boy, he was hitting all the relevant milestones within the age-appropriate ranges.

We didn’t see a problem until he first started formal schooling.

I worry for him. I worry about him. If I, as his mother, can get upset and frustrated


And I do, believe me I do


Then how will the rest of the world cope? How will he cope with it?!?!?


And that is where I stopped. I couldn’t carry it on.

I think my pain, worry, fear is quite obvious no? But, I’m pleased to say, that things are once again on the upswing.

He’s had a few knocks since the start of the school year. For example he started leaving class again, particularly after we got back from England. However that was two weeks ago, and he’s getting better.

I still haven’t had to visit the new Principal (which is great) and he’s making great strides in his reading, writing and math.

I’m just so proud of this kid.

He’s a trooper. He’s my best boy. And I will continue to be the Mamasaurus that he needs me to be.

He got that star in his first week and we have also had another since.

Letting Go (in a good way)

Bonjour mes amies. I was planning on writing a long post about yesterday’s journey to the seaside, and I will, but I felt this was worth chronicling first.

Warning, hippy dippy potentially New Age-y shite incoming.

(Also swearing)

As many of my readers know, my kids are remarkably picky eaters. To the extent that I often wonder why they aren’t more skinny. In fact, whilst I think they are fine they certainly aren’t underweight.

You know that I’ve tried everything to get them to eat. To eat more, eat healthy(er), to eat variety.

It has, quite frankly, killed me. Both mentally and physically. There has been such an attempt made to:

But it has more often resulted in:

We all know about healthy eating. We know about food groups, vitamins, minerals, “5 a Day” but what do you do when, despite your best efforts, they just won’t?!?!?

Well, if you are me dear audience, you fret, and stress, cry, feel like a failure, and let it beat you down until it becomes (yet another) reason to push you back in your depression spiral/box.

But, the hus-creature loves me, and his kids, and hates to see us like this.

And he read a study on it. A study that showed that forcing picky eaters to eat outside of their comfort zone actually causes way more harm than good.

There was more to it of course, but it’s what it boiled down to.

That it is better that they are given what they will eat, rather than not.

So, that’s what I have been doing.

Peanut butter and jam sandwiches are now a daily meal staple. I sometimes vary it like the above, sometimes not.

And this is the result of careful theorising. I’m always left with a small amount of boxed macaroni and cheese after I make it for them.


Probably because I add the peas!!!


But it’s never enough for an additional two meals on its own.

Voila! Side dish. And yes, one child has broccoli (TT) and one child has cucumber (#1 Son) because of preferences. But I am working on that too. Do you see the tiny amount of each on the other’s plate? It works.

And no, they won’t accept home made macaroni and cheese sauce. I tried.

So yes, their diets are limited, bland and (to me) frankly appalling. But they are happy. They are eating. Meal times aren’t a battle anymore. No more tears.

They have a set “routine” of meals now:

  • Boxed mac ‘n cheese with added peas. At least it’s the organic kind.
  • PB&J
  • Hot dogs
  • Chicken nuggets (hidden veg brand whoo) with shaped potato of some kind.
  • Tinned spaghetti with meatballs – but that is significantly less successful than the boxed type.
  • Cheese quesadilla (again hidden veg) and that is #1 Son more than TT.

There might be more, but I forget.
Thankfully they do also eat:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Ham
  • Cheese
  • Grapes
  • Cucumber (more #1 Son)
  • Broccoli (TT)
  • Carrots (TT)

I’ve excluded the “junk food” they will have when we go out but even that is predetermined and a small list.

  • Cheese pizza (more #1 Son than TT)
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Chicken tenders

Rarely they will accede to a pasta dish.

But gummy multivitamins are aces, and now I’ve embraced my reality? I’m much calmer.

TT also likes to stand on the scales after we do once a week, so that allows me to keep track of her weight, and she’s fine. She even gained a little last week.

So to any haters out there I say, walk a mile in my shoes before you judge. And until then:

Summer update

Wow it’s been a while (again) hasn’t it?

The issue is that for us, summer rolls on and on and therefore nothing really changes on a daily or, even weekly, basis.

#1 Son finished his summer camps. The reading one keeps trying to coax us into a fall programme for a mere $199 but given how disruptive he was for a good period of the first one, I really can’t justify that.

The Summer Learning Academy was much more successful, and I really hope we can build on it from August 29 when he starts 1st Grade.

Don’t know who his teacher is yet, nor have the supplies lists been issued, so I await that with bated breath.

He is signed up for Education Stations (basically after school club) for one day a week – pending cashing of cheque as I let that little bit of house admin slip past me!

Which will give him a little socialisation outside of school hours with his peers. I’m hopeful about it. It coincides with knitting group as daddy needs to pick him up so that seemed smart.

The wonderful A has agreed to pick him up from school for the rest of the week for the foreseeable. Yes, I will get my MA licence – I’ve just been terrified. I’m actually considering learning to ride a bicycle instead. I mean, it’s good exercise, but it’s mostly because driving here scares the beejeebus outta me!

As for me? Well I’ve lost almost 20lb and can fit into dresses I was wearing four years ago! Admittedly those are merely a (U.K.) size 16 but hey it’s progress in the correct direction.

I have finally gone to the dark side of men’s sandals but goddamnit they are comfortable. And they don’t look too bad with the dress – which is actually loose in this picture as it’s (U.K.) 18 but I felt good.

I’ve been baking more and it’s nice to find my zen.

These are the stages of a butterscotch pie – so good. I will be baking that one again!

Next up this week is homemade lemon curd.

TT continues to amaze and amuse. Her language is coming on in leaps and bounds. She is such a determined funny little person. She seems to finally have accepted that daytime clothing is a good thing. Occasionally she even lets me brush her hair!!!

She has also rediscovered her love of baths and even occasionally asks for a hair washing!

We still haven’t made it up to the damn beach as every free weekend we’ve had, the weather has been shite.


Not unlike Old England really πŸ˜‚πŸ€£


So the current plan is for the hus-creature to take a midweek day off and we will either head up to the beach or to the local indoor water park we’ve found.

In less than a month we are heading back to the U.K. for about a week for the wedding of my gorgeous sister in law and her handsome soon-to-be husband and I cannot wait. I’ve missed them so much.

We will be crashing with my parents, so I get to see everyone which is awesome.

My best friend lives within short driving distance of mom and dad too, so we are going to pop and see them too before we head back. I need my bestie cuddles too.

It’s not long enough, but we can’t keep #1 Son out of school for longer than a week (including jet lag recovery time).

He has a doctor’s appointment today for a Polio shot (he’s going to hate me!) and an IEP update. He’s decided he wants his daddy to take him. Am I a little miffed? Well not really – it’s lovely that he feels able to state a preference for the parent he wants. Daddy is more practical and won’t weep so I get it. I’ll stay home with TT to keep her out of the way, and the boys will go for ice cream after, to deal with any residual trauma.

I have a checkup with my own doctor on the 27th for blood pressure things – maybe I can also get some anxiety meds but we will see.

I also have my six month post operative check up on the 22nd. Since I’ve lost 20lb (and there’s still a little time to shift more) since they last saw me, I’m hopeful I won’t get too big a lecture on not having completely broken up with dairy πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

I shall sign off now. There might be changes in post formats to try and encapsulate more stuff “as it happens” rather than trying to wait for enough to write an epic.

I leave you with a recent collage of my offspring. Because I’m bloody proud of them πŸ’—

It’s the 1st of July!

And summer is here! It’s so so hot. But the ever wonderful H, D and K assembled and filled two inflatable pools!!!

A big one (supposedly) for the three boys, and a little one for the two littler girls.


We are assisting simply by buying a new hose.

As H’s broke over the last summer and it’s replacement has mysteriously vanished – apparently there is no such thing as a cheap 100ft one left anywhere in Melrose! So we bought the premium luxury one from Job Lot. $37 well spent πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜ƒ


But, as you might expect, that did not happen. #1 Son got fed up of waiting, so once the hus-creature returned from the weekly shop, he retired upstairs with his daddy to play Minecraft together… no, daddy didn’t get much of a choice! πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

And the twins were significantly more interested in the new “baby” pool, than their “we had this one last summer” big pool god love them!

TT dived headfirst into the big pool (as it was the one that was filled first) but got scared by the “sharks” in it – the inside liner is decorated with fish, seaweed etc.

But she had so much fun playing in the little one:

Group play in the baby pool

Then because of the bigger boys playing in it a little roughly (just boys being boys, but they are, we think, a little bit too big for it) it needed reinflating…

Which is the background noise to this video

All in all, we stayed outside until over an hour past her bedtime. She didn’t eat any dinner – but she had had a big breakfast and lunch, plus her bedtime bottle so I’m not worried there.

All the kidlets (except #1 Son, but we will work on that) had an amazing time, and this is just the start of the summer…

Oh, this is the bath after I insisted my daughter bathe before bed:

Do not worry dear audience, I have cleaned it πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ‘πŸ»

I am in shock.

Total shock. I am stunned. I am speechless.

Tonight I made (another) soup.

  • Rainbow new potatoes – 1 bag
  • Rainbow carrots – 1 bag
  • 1 boneless pork chop
  • Acorn squash – roasted with olive oil and maple syrup (and I tipped the maple-y juice back into the pan)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 apples
  • A good handful of kale
  • Veggie stock from the last two soups
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Did the usual 6-7 hours in the slow cooker and blitzed it down:

#1 Son’s is on the top,TT’s is underneath.

I used some leftover baguette from yesterday’s lunch as the dippable item. TT yummed that up.

#1 Son was much more reticent, but that’s kind of standard and expected these days.

He actually dipped the bread though. And ate it. He told me “I don’t actually like it mom, but I want my sister to eat it, so I am saying how yummy it is”

I could have burst with pride.

And this was what was left:

The bowls are in the same order. Yes TT practically wiped hers out, which is great, but look.

He. Ate. Food.

Real food.

Food I cooked.

And, and and he asked to have it again tomorrow!!! I damn well nearly keeled over in shock.

And I may have been *this* close to crying tears of happiness and shock.