Back to normality

Well mostly. Tomorrow is a half day for #1 Son. I don’t know why. Just because I think.

He also gets Monday off next week because it’s Martin Luther King Day.

But the school system here has much shorter holidays and no “half terms” so I don’t begrudge the random days. It’s part of the reason I’m not rushing the work stuff.

While I still doubt my domestic goddessing skills, it is pleasant being home with the kids. I’m actually watching TT grow, and know I can take credit for her development rather than feeling guilt.

I do miss working, but I’m makes tentative steps to earn some pennies at home – but I’m still blocked by not having an SSN, which I can’t apply for until my permit is actually in my hands. We did however have confirmation today that this is actually in the post now!!!

W00t w00t!!!!

Yesterday #1 Son came home with this:

REACH Star? Wahey ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

“Pirate mask”? ๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿ˜ซ

He did not appreciate the bath and face (and chest) scrubbing he received in a vain attempt to remove them. He believed he was face painting. And apparently we cannot convince him that scented colouring markers are not the same as face paints ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„

Today wasn’t as good. Apparently he refused to leave school (I know right? ๐Ÿ™€๐Ÿ™„) so our lovely J went in to get him.

His teacher believes that it is because he loves to play in the snow, but refuses to wear his boots, therefore his socks get wet. We are to provide either snow boots or spare socks.

He is convinced there are “bugs” in his current Wellington boots, and we cannot convince him otherwise.


I have been known to complain about the speed of USPS in comparison to good old Royal Mail. This was underlined today, when my Christmas present from my lovely sister in law (you may pick a blog nickname if you like lovely ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ) finally arrived.

Worth. The. Wait.

A wonderful alpaca yarn sock knitting kit. With pattern, and new (wooden) needles and pettable, snuggleable alpaca yarn.

I was actually able to sit on the sofa and knit tonight. I am braving the hedgehog that is knitting in the round with double pointed needles to do this.

I think someone was jealous of my pettable yarn – she doesn’t normally sit on my lap like that ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚

It knits up so fast too ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

My other pair of socks has had to be shelved for now until I can replace the circular needle I was using – an unknown child snapped one of the needles ๐Ÿ™„

This pair of bloody socks is cursed I swear!

So at least I have a non-shawl project for tomorrow’s knitting class.

And TT? Well she has re-discovered crayons. And walls. Green crayon comes off of painted walls much easier than red or yellow.

Ask me how I know.

Bright side? Yellow is much harder to see at least ๐Ÿ˜ข

Oh, and she found her pretty cloth nappies, which I hadn’t used since we moved, as they arrived by sea crate and I presumed she had outgrown them but couldn’t bear to part with them…

Well, she filled her bed with them, then waved one at me and insisted I put it on her.

Cue much running around the house shouting “Nappy. Yay”

So we will try them again during the day at least – she pees far too much at night!

After all, what else can you do with a sock and trouser refusing toddler?

Dresses and ruffled nappies!

I need a new diaper pail though.

Having a meal out

Is not easy. We’ve mostly taken to having the kid’s tablets with us wherever we go.

In the main, this means that we can eat out, as they keep the children occupied. But, as previously documented, TT managed to shatter the screen of hers (๐Ÿ™„)

Therefore we are back to one tablet between two children and, rather unsurprisingly, #1 Son is more than a tad miffed that he is having to share.

So, we took them out for their first trip to Wendy’s sans tablets.

I am very impressed with Wendy’s I admit. For all it’s being a fast food burger joint (and for its burgers to not be a patch on Wayback) it’s more tasty than Mc Donald’s or Burger King.

It has pretty good kids meal options – with no pickle on them ๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคฎ๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคฎ๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคฎ and, most importantly – you can replace fries with a baked potato.

I have occasional cravings for a good old jacket – especially as the hus-creature apparently does not like them ๐Ÿ™€๐Ÿ™€๐Ÿ™€

As well as:

  • Blueberries
  • Rice pudding
  • Fruit in pop tarts/toaster pastries generally
  • Hot Pots
  • Stews with dumplings

In fact, anything that could be termed “Boring British” in cuisine terms.

He will eat roast dinners but hates cooking them (a fair cop guv’nor) and loves Yorkshire puddings.

So it’s a treat for me to get one when we go out, especially if they replace fries.

So the kiddies both have cheeseburgers. #1 Son chose apple pieces instead of fries (and he actually ate them) and so did the hus-creature. TT ate some of her brother’s apple and some of her fries.

The lack of tablets caused a few issues I admit. Firstly, TT wanted to sit on a chair at a 2-person table and would not move. Then #1 Son could not be persuaded to sit still. And, perhaps more importantly when finally corralled into place, began pulling his t-shirt (long sleeved) over his head.

So, bearing everything in mind, we settled on the following:

  • Only walking around our table
  • Leaving his sister alone
  • Keeping his clothes in place

You would think that these were neither difficult nor unreasonable requests.



Ah well. This is why we don’t go out often. #1 Son is hard to contain, TT then feeds off of his energy, and I’m meant to be watching my stress levels and my blood pressure.

Oh, and it is -13C out there right now.

Even the small furnace that is my son is starting to complain of the cold.

Not that he will wear a winter coat – the best we manage is a winter-suitable-for-the-UK one. It is at least fleece lined though.

Yep these were all taken today on the way for lunch. Welcome to New England.

It’s like Old England but on steroids.

But, you know what? For all my complaints and dread, the two of them are at least capable of some cute moments.

And there was the moment where TT demanded “Nanoo KISS”

Where I just about died of the adorable. Despite the fights (which get louder and more physical much quicker these days) these kids do adore each other.

I also let her play with crayons today. Both regular and bath type.

She completely covered several sheets of paper (both sides) and while in the bath declared that several independent and separate drawings were “dinosaurs”.

So I’m a proud mom tonight.

(There was also no poop ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Battling the Hordes

Well, two children anyway.

TT isn’t bad when she’s away from her brother – she will eat pretty much anything I have. And usually off of my plate at that.

(Well admittedly she discovered yesterday that as yet she doesn’t like Camembert ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚) #sorrynotsorry

But when she’s with #1 Son? Oh lord she’s as bad as he is.

And he is bad. I’ve resorted to something my smug, pre-parent, child-free self (and lord do I want to go back in time and smack her around the head with a clue-by-four) swore that she would never do that is: hidden vegetable food.

There’s a brand of kids-only ready meals here that so far include:

  • Cheese pasta
  • Cheesy quesadillas
  • Chicken sticks

And they all contain hidden vegetables! The two cheese based ones contain purรฉed carrots and the chicken sticks contain cauliflower and onions!!!

And tonight #1 Son cleared his plate!!!

TT only ate half of her portion (each child had 5 chicken sticks and 5 potato smiley faces) but she came toddling through announcing “mmmmmmmmm nummy chikkin” so I count it as a win.

Yes both children do take a daily gummy multi vitamin (as do we actually) but it’s not the same.

However other things are currently more of a trial with TT at the moment.

Teeth Brushing:

For example, did you know that fluoridated toothpaste is not a standard thing over here?

Or mint flavoured toothpaste?

Well for children at least – adults apparently have to lump it.

But this leads me to ponder – the transition from sweet/fruity flavoured toothpaste to harsh mint flavoured ones must totally shock the system. I know it did for me, and it’s why, whilst in the UK, I never bought the children the fruity flavoured ones – I didn’t want to deal with that.

However, we’ve now run out of appropriate-aged mint toothpastes for them.

As it turned out, when the hus-creature realised this, the only open supermarket was Whole Paycheck* and so the only fluoridated (because organic hippies) toothpaste was a $12 WildBerry thing.

Which #1 Son loves but has wasted a fair amount of. It’s also way too fluoridated for TT to use.

So last week he picked up a basic BubbleFruit one from Colgate for her.

And yes it is what it sounds like – bubblegum plus artificial fruit flavour

And it would seem that TT concurs with me, as every night this week we have had screams of “no teeth, no teeth” and sobbing, flailing tantrums.

We will be trying something else this week coming, because I cannot deal with it, and am terrified that she will get a complex.

Nap time:

She had been trying to drop naps before we got rid of the baby jail. Now she can get out at will?

Which would be fine, if she wasn’t awake by 7am (and I’m being generous there) and therefore total demon-spawn-hell-beast by 3pm if she does not nap.

So I am trying a very mature approach.

Bribery and corruption.

I’m putting her in her room, in her bed, with a bottle of milk… and a tablet! She dozes off reasonably quickly and stays asleep for about an hour.

However, my evil genius membership forms are yet to be sent off, because her tablet has been.

Sent back to Amazon I mean. Because she shattered the screen.

So she’s borrowing #1 Son’s at the moment.

World War has yet to break out…

Watch this space.

*Ahem, sorry Whole Foods

Is it Autism or is it ADHD?

And overall does it matter?

This is of course in reference to #1 Son.

The answer is not straightforward. I want to say no, of course it doesn’t.

But you see, it does.

It affects the services he has access to, the support provided, and of course, his future.

So it matters.

As his mom, I don’t care – he’s my amazing boy and I’m proud of him and I love him and I don’t want to change him.

But as a human? As a parent? I know he is struggling and he needs help.

I can’t see him struggle day by day. Which is why he now has fortnightly counselling sessions. Of which we had the first one this week.

And it was interesting.

His assigned counsellor is expert in both fields, and after only one full session, she is querying if he is autistic.

We’ve been wondering ourselves for a while, as he just isn’t ticking all the boxes and the ones he does it’s either inconsistently or not in the right way.

The initial things she has raised are:

  • Eye contact – yes he prefers not to, but he can be directed back and made to keep focus.
  • Conversations – he talks emotively and well.
  • Affection – he shows emotions appropriately.

She also pointed out that he’s young and a boy, and that ADHD in young children, especially boys, is often mis-diagnosed as Aspergers/high functioning autism.

Fortunately this therapist is medication averse, so even if it is ADHD, she won’t immediately throw him into Adderall.

Which is good. He’s too young. The hus-creature has stayed Switzerland through this whole thing, as he feels it’s not his remit. He also (like me) is reluctant to medicate a young child. However he has much more experience within his working field of adults with ADHD and within his own circle Adderall has been touted as a miracle. Some quotes given have included

It lifts the fog from my brain


If it’s a choice between eating this month and affording the co-pay for my pills, I am not eating this month.

Side note: hurrah American health care where that is a bloody choice you have to make.

So if it comes down to it, I am reassured that medication could help. But the optimum word there is could. I (we) will not be throwing pills at our boy any time soon.

But if you gave me the choice between the disorders? In my heart of hearts I would prefer it to be ADHD – because it would be easier for him to fit into a “normal” mould.

But it is whatever it is, and whatever that is, we will deal with it.

Because this kid? He’s bloody awesome.

Tears and Tribulations

So, USA annual leave is not the most generous ever. So the hus-creature has to work.

And I am full of a rotten cold and as such am barely holding down the fort. For eg none of the new toys are put away. I’ve barely managed throwing away the paper. The rest of my (meagre) energy has been expended keeping the smalls from fratricide.

So #1 Son has not (yet) been able to build his main Lego set present – a giant Star Wars ship thing.

We told him we would help him this evening. Not good enough. He fixated on that bloody thing.

To the extent he decided to do it himself. Which would have been fine. Except he didn’t ask for help clearing a space and somehow set it up in a puddle – we assume he knocked his own cup of water over.

So all of the decoration stickers are drenched and therefore no longer adhesive in nature. So have been binned. Cue one devastated boy.

He also decided to get into one of his “adult supervision” Santa gifts – a make your own bouncy ball kit.

Which I discovered by finding a suspicious pile of red sand/grit in the kitchen.

After blaming TT (I apologised profusely) I noticed #1 Son shuffling in with something under his top. Which turned out to be a ripped open red and pink pack of the ball mix.

Which he had decided just to rip into and play with.

This child refuses to read.

So how he expected to be able to do this is beyond me.

So. One emergency shower for a shower-phobic small boy and the red and pink packets in the bin because they weren’t salvageable.

He’s distraught. We are stressed and within an hour he will have forgotten any useful lesson from it.

I’m tired. Daddy is building with him now, and I’m snuggling down with a nap-refusing TT and watching Zootopia. I fully expect she will have said nap now.

Of Therapists and friendly gestures

Today we had our initial booking assessment for counselling for #1 Son.

It’s to assist with his IEP – the psychologist referred us and I would be stupid to refuse the help. In my view anything that helps him handle the world and his place in it is a bonus.

Information will be shared between the counsellor, the school and his Primary Care Physician. Again, this just seems smart and sensible – it limits the risks of triangulation and keeps everyone on the same page.

The counsellor seems lovely, and I hope will be dubbed another Feelings Lady. We start fortnightly sessions on Tuesday from 02 January.

This is a very positive step.

Yesterday I had my nails done again

I’ve switched to a more local salon which is half the cost of the one based in Cambridge.

I’m learning the value of shopping around though, as the wonderful H (from downstairs) and her daughter were still shocked at the $30 price tag attached to these festive lovelies.

So, she has suggested that I go with her in the New Year and we get them done together. And I’m really happy to do that.

Last week I popped down with a pretty hamper of goodies to say thank you and merry Christmas, as I firmly believe in kind gestures (and we all know I really want to make friends here)!

She was shocked speechless but in a good way

Last night she came up with a beautiful plate of hand baked cookies on a “Giving Plate” which we are to in some way inscribe our names on and pass on.

I’ve already scoffed about half the cookies (yes I let the kids help), asked for the recipes and offered knitting lessons in return.

I’m so grateful for the offer of friendship. She seems so nice, we seem to get on well and heck she lives downstairs.

Long may this continue.

5 months and a Christmas Concert

So as of today we’ve been here five months.

I got all excited yesterday thinking it had been half a year, but I just can’t count ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ

Yesterday #1 Son earned this:

Which is the first one this month. I suspect it’s because yesterday he had an amazing day compared to three very hard ones.

I am certain that the bar is lower for him than some of his classmates and that’s okay I’m happy that the school are being so amazing for him. It’s giving him the boost he so desperately needs.

We walked home and it was blasted cold. TT refused to wear gloves so I tried this:

She continued taking them off. Repeatedly. Whilst screaming for a “duddle”. So I put them back on and we kept walking for about half a mile. It was biting. Several people told me that “she really should be wearing gloves”

Really? Should she? HAVE YOU EVER MET A TODDLER?! After a while she began screaming in earnest. And within the shouting I could make out “owwwwww” so I stopped, put my (warm, they had been on my hands) gloves over hers.

Got a “ta mommy”. I won’t say she’s learned, but she kept them on until we got home.

We had Snickerdoodle hot cocoa when we got home though.

Cheered everyone up, because I was not stopping for ice cream!!!!

Today was the Third Annual Christmas Concert.

Some readers may remember that at his previous school’s Nativity #1 Son was meant to be a wise man but refused to actually participate until the 11th hour.

He did the same with the concert.

Given that it is a school-wide performance they split it by alphabet A-L then M-Z which made the difference between 08:30 and 10:30 performances.

However yesterday I received an email from the Guidance Counsellor telling me that they felt that since he had been struggling so much, they would prefer if we could attend the earlier performance and he could then not undertake the later one.

We were happy to oblige (the hus-creature had his big office move today, so the earlier he could get into the office the better) so we went up early.

He performed and reasonably well (though not happily). There are no photos because other people’s children.

At the end, they brought him round the front of the stage slowly, and I deduced (correctly) that they wanted him to see me and know we had been there. So I made my way to the front, gave him a huge cuddle and told him how proud I was of him, and that he didn’t have to do it again.

I watched his whole body relax bless him.

Which made it even more amazing that when the lovely J brought him home that she had a message for me from his teacher that he had performed the second time.

My heart could have burst with pride honestly.

It was a very good day.

An incredibly successful day

For both #1 Son and myself.

At 09:00 this morning I strode off to school suited and booted for #1 Son’s initial evaluation meeting for Special Education Provision.

I’ve been both dreading and looking forward to this by turns.

He had to meet certain specific criteria to qualify for an IEP – which is an Individualised Education Programme.

Basically it was to see whether or not he could be statemented.

I spent a year working in the SEN department of Oxfordshire County Council, so I knew how hard getting one of these could be, at least without a metric tone of supporting documentation and medical backup.

And the autism assessment process is stalled a bit. It’s just so slow.

So I had reports from:

  • An Educational Psychologist.
  • An Occupational Therapist.
  • A Speech and Language Therapist
  • The School’s own SENCO

Which came home on Friday, which I read, re-read, highlighted and annotated.

I went up to this meeting agreeing with the reports, but prepared for battle if needed. I knew they wanted to help him, but criteria are criteria and he had to meet them to get the extra help.

At the meeting were:

  • Myself – daddy stayed at home with TT
  • The Principal
  • His class teacher
  • The school nurse
  • Head of SEN services for the district as meeting co-ordinator
  • The school Counsellor – who #1 Son has dubbed “The Feelings Lady”
  • The SENCO
  • The Occupational Therapist
  • The Speech and Language Therapist
  • The Educational Psychologist

It was a full meeting. I was completely drained both physically and emotionally after it. He’s not the only one in this household who can get overwhelmed.

So he couldn’t be registered with a disability due to autism, as the school cannot diagnose that.

He couldn’t get the IEP on cognitive ability because the reports proved he is average to above average in almost all areas.

So what’s left? Well, a few things but the main one is Developmental Delay.

That is a blanket term that covers a lot of things, but the one that covers him best is social, emotional or adaptive functioning.

I don’t disagree. He has severe sensory issues, cannot relate to his peers (but is great with much older and much younger children), confidence issues and is struggling generally.

I just feel a massive sense of relief.

Within 10 school days we will get a copy of the IEP and once we read it, sign it and return it, it becomes “activated” and off we go.

There will be more meetings, more reviews. This is not a one-off thing, but the main hurdle has been jumped and he will get more help.

And now for the second good thing of the day.

I went for a pre-operative assessment with the surgeon who would perform my hysterectomy if agreed to.

Well, take a shufty at this ladies and gentlemen:

For those in the audience who cannot read doctor handwriting (it’s a skill), he had agreed, without any hesitation, to perform:



They are taking Every. Single. Thing. Out!!!!

I could have kissed Mr. Surgeon Man.


I’ve been warned that because they will go in through the belly it’s going to be the full six weeks recovery time for the procedure alone, coupled with six months to feel myself and back to normal again.

That’s fine.

The Thanksgiving Break

It’s taken me a little while to write this as I am missing everyone like crazy so it’s been tough to get things written down.

It was wonderful.

We stayed for three days in the company of family (on the hus-creature’s side) in their stunning guest apartment.

I got to know a number of my lovely in-laws a lot better, which was really something special.

We had the turkey. And the hus-creature and I most generously offered to save everyone from the dreaded dark meat.

Honestly we truly prefer it.

Let me see if I can list the culinary delights:

  • Turkey – of course
  • Mac and cheese (delicious)
  • Jalapeรฑo cheddar corn bread (I need the recipe for this wonder)
  • Sweet potato bourbon maple mash (oh so good)
  • Green beans
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry sauce

Then there was pie. Oh so much pie.

  • Chocolate peanut butter
  • Apple
  • Pumpkin
  • There were two more but I forgot.

Apart from the apple briefly going missing, it was all delicious.

The kids were remarkably well behaved.

TT ate actual food:

#1 Son… did not. But I didn’t really expect that he would.

They had loads of fun outside in the gorgeous grounds of the main house.

TT made daddy take her for a ride in the cart:

There was much happy shouting of “wheee” and “MORE” ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’—

#1 Son just ran about a LOT.

There was a brief moment of panic. Do you see the large body of water? There was a moment when Daddy could not find him. He had wandered in to tell me about his “club house” and wandered off again. He meant the guest apartment, which is where he had gone.

Without telling us that he was going there!!!

So no, he had not drowned himself, but we all panicked. He was most confused as to why.

On Friday, almost everyone else took the train to visit New York and do the tour of Lady Liberty.

We opted not to attempt to drag the offspring up 200+ steps. Granddad also decided not to go. So there was brief discussion on how to entertain said childer-beasts, and we decided to go to the nearby aquarium, and leave granddad to rest.

However he decided that he would like to join, which was lovely. However there wasn’t room for five people in our car, lovely though it is.

Therefore, rather than take a Lyft on a very busy day, I selflessly (honestly, see the halo ๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡) opted to stay behind in the guesthouse with my knitting, tea and leftover turkey.

Totally generous of me wasn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ

They had a lot of fun:

Right until they found a soft play area. Whereupon #1 Son had a full on meltdown, including trying to escape from granddad, because other children wanted to play with the things he was building an invention out of.

How very dare they ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜

And so the trip was cut short and they all came home.

All in all it was a lovely visit with family with many moments of happy.

The drive home was much less eventful than the trek up, we managed it on a full ‘tank’.

However upon our return we discovered that when, in his haste, the hus-creature had dropped the car charger to the ground before we embarked, it had gone kaput.

Which, in my humble opinion, makes it entirely unfit for purpose. Sadly it is still busted over a week later but the company are working on it. Stand by for that update.

So yes, that was our Thanksgiving Break. Many thanks are extended to Domi et al for putting us up and for inviting us up for Christmas.

We are very much looking forward to it ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ˜˜

Parent-Teacher Conference

We had our first one for #1 Son last night.

I would be lying if I hadn’t been approaching it with at least a modicum of trepidation.

But honestly? It was amazing.

They have kept such good notes on his progress, both educationally and behaviourally.

He is improving. Slowly, gradually, but it’s visible and it’s there.

Perhaps the most important takeaway?



Honestly? I didn’t think he could. I knew he knew his letters, but stringing them into words (at least at home) is something he apparently couldn’t do. I now know it’s wouldn’t.

Busted kiddo ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ

He is getting a lot of 1:1 support with the paras during centres, and when that happens he does well. But at the moment he doesn’t have one of his own and he’s one in a class of twenty. So they are trying, gradually, to scale back and seeing what he can cope with.

Basically it’s data gathering to bolster their bid for extra support for him. That will either start or happen next Tuesday at the Special Education meeting.

I am behind them 100% and fully intend to say so. Apparently having parental agreement and support really helps.

I would walk through fire to get him the help he needs, so let’s hope that the relevant professionals are on the sensible side and that I don’t have to go full on mama bear rage mode on them.

Or worse. Be British at them ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ

His teacher also said that cognitively he is exactly where he needs to be. That he’s smart and funny. That he’s kind hearted. He’s also a perfectionist and sensitive.

She’s a true angel she really is.