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’—

A year

We have been here, in America, for a year.

Wow.

My babies have grown and changed so much.

I think I have too. I never imagined being a full time stay at home parent.

It’s hard. It’s exhausting. But it’s also amazing.

I get to see my babies grow and change. I see every new skill they develop, and particularly in the case of TT, I know it’s mostly down to me.


Don’t get me wrong, nursery is, and was, great for both of them, but I know I’m teaching her things directly.


There’s still guilt – I’m only human, and there are times when I’m grumpy, or tired, or just missing the company of other adults. Even earning my own money. But that last one lessens slightly. As I keep the house ticking over.

I’m still bad at housework. I still don’t always see what needs doing at a useful point. But that is improving too.

It’s learning what needs doing vs what can wait. And what I can insist the kids do.

As it’s also my job to teach them how to become adults. Fully capable adults who will know this stuff.

Yes, they are 6 and 2. But they already know how to empty the dishwasher (within reason) and where dirty clothes go.

They are capable of putting toys away. Even if TT at least gets them out again immediately πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜­

It’s been a hell of a year, but it’s been a good one.

Here’s to the next one.

Career changes

I realised that yesterday was THE BIG DEADLINE for my former office.

Which made me blink in shock and reflect on the last few months. For the first time in a decade I was able to relax over the festive period.

I’m not working 12+ days and 40+ hours of overtime. I was able to visit (extended) family, spend time with my hus-creature and kidlets without feeling guilt.

It felt/feels amazing. My stress levels are much reduced, at least in one way. Yes, my blood pressure is still an issue, and I’ve had/have other stressors, but those are gradually reducing.

I’m happy. I’m missing work, but mostly in the “having my own money” arena and some occasional adult conversation.

I’m going to make a serious attempt at doing something with my yarn skills. I do have my knitting group for at least weekly human interaction, plus the lovely J and H when our schedules allow. I actually planned some colorways last night. I have a specific notebook and I’m writing things down. I also have the hus-creature asking me practical questions, which really helps, as I have a slight tendency to just think about the creative side πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

Six months!

(And two days πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ – but I was busy with MLK stuff on Monday!).

I can’t believe we’ve been on this crazy adventure for half a year!!!

Well it’s not quite as crazy anymore – unless you count the weather!

We’re settling down into something like a routine I think. It’s been a blast, but something resembling normalcy cannot be sneezed at.

So, the hus-creature is pretty settled in his job. He actively prefers being in an office, even with a sucky commute (certainly compared to what it was whilst we lived in Cambridge). He’s happy and stuff gets done, and he has a great work-home life balance, which means I don’t have to get the thumbscrews out.


I mean, if he chooses to work on a sudden brainstorm after I’ve gone to bed? No skin off my nose!


TT is happy. She’s got her toys, access to her favourite films, her brother after 3pm and me. And I come quite high up the list it seems actually – and not just in a “I am bored of this film parental unit, change it”

And it’s been amazing to watch her grow and change.


I do wish she would stop throwing her meal plates and bowls in the kitchen bin though. I know she believes she is helping, but I swear we have lost at least a few that way now!


It’s harder to quantify with #1 Son. He still has moments when he talks about missing England, his old house, his old school, his friends. But he’s getting there. He’s a special boy who needs extra support and he’s getting it. We still have bad school days, but the bad moments at home at least are much less. And the levels of bad at school are overall reduced. We have to remember to adjust our own expectations of him at times, yet the moments when he surpasses or blows right past them make it worthwhile. His therapy will help him, the school are supporting him, and we have documented proof that he’s bright.


I’ll turn cartwheels when he has his first birthday party or play date though.


The cat? She also seems happier overall. She’s eating more, has more places to hide and nest in, and still has human company as and when she desires it. I think this has been as good for her as it has for the children – unexpected bonus.

Me? Again hard to quantify. I’m doing well, I think. I’ve got my operation soon (eeeeep), the Mothership is coming to visit and look after me and the monkeys (love you Momma!). I’ve applied for my SSN, and got my work permit.

My knitting is coming along amazingly, and I have projects planned for recovery and convalescence.

I’m firmly heading down the path to setting up my own dyeing side business. The hus-creature is helping with the practical questions, as I’m still stuck on “what should I call it”. But I can’t put us in the hole to do this!

I’ve got time to sort it. I know I won’t be doing Advent Calendar boxes for 2018 at least.

I’m still going to knitting group – it’s going okay. They are helpful and lovely ladies. One of them bought me a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints cookies as (obviously) I have never had them before! And apparently I should expect casseroles etc to be left on my front porch post-surgery which is amazing.

I do still have bad days. I am still really bad at this domestic goddess malarkey, but I’m getting there. It’s becoming the new normal.

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.

Medical update

So, yesterday I toddled up to see my Primary Care Physician. Basically my new GP.

He is a lovely man.

He wanted to follow up on my blood pressure.

Which, after a week of medication clocked in at an acceptable 120/82

So yes, the losing weight thing will have to happen, but my headaches are now a thing of the past and I feel so much better overall.

And this was what greeted me on the way:

So that wasn’t as pretty as I’d hoped but then this:

Real icicles. Everywhere. They are just beautiful.

I’m really loving winter here so far.

I have no doubt that by the time spring comes around again I’ll be desperate for it, but I’m enjoying this at the moment.

And, in the most exciting news

My hysterectomy has been provisionally booked!!!!!

Yes ladies and gents, Monday 5th Feb is D-Day and I. Cannot. Wait.

Tomorrow I should have it confirmed. Please let it not be cancelled.

The (apparent) aftermath

I am unwell today.

I’ve had killer headaches off and on for over a month – a lot of that can most likely be attributed to my untreated hypertension (started my new medication yesterday – I am now on three pills a day πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜‚)

But at 3am this morning I was dragged awake with a screaming head – to the extent I actually woke the poor hus-creature by sobbing.

And I remained awake for at least an hour.

This beautiful creature kept me company though:

I’ve often said we have a dog-cat πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

Sadly kitty-snuggles were not sufficient and at 4am I was calling God on the porcelain telephone.


Note: American toilets are not comfy for doing this if you are used to British plumbing.


Oddly I felt better enough to then snuggle down with my furry companion and my cuddly hot water bottle (that would be the hus-creature) and basically pass out until the alarms went off.

I’ve pretty much been a zombie for the rest of the day though. Just mainlining stodge, carbs, sugar and caffeine to get through.

No it’s not healthy but lord has it helped.

My head is still pounding, and #1 Son has a half day today, but he’s being lovely and TT is also being reasonable.

A little Christmas present from me to me arrived today:

Which has helped.

I am so tired of feeling sick and tired. Endometriosis is a bastard, and all the other conditions can get in the sea as well.

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:

A TOTAL ABDOMINAL HYSTERECTOMY

WITH BILATERAL SALPINGO OOPHERECTOMY

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

I could have kissed Mr. Surgeon Man.

πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠ

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.

Not to be outdone

By her brother, TT was completely hysterical and inconsolable from 1-2am

I brought her into our bed to calm down but we got poked, slapped, pinched, “hello hello mommy/daddy” and “shhhhhhhhhh”‘d at until we gave up and put her back in the cot at 2.

She settled seemingly easily (I should have been more suspicious) and we got up at the normal time and I went in to get her up.

Only to be greeted by a scene from The Exorcist 🀒

So it’s been a double bath day for both kids. But honestly you would not know she’s been sick.

This was filmed at 09:09:

Hop the bunny

I didn’t know she knew that bunnies hopped!

Whilst I am following the normal sickness bug protocols just in case, I am mostly putting it down to irritated gut from all the screaming.

She has not been happy with following the BRAT diet all day.

I also introduced her to Simon’s Cat in an attempt to save my sanity today.

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There has since been a constant litany of “more cat”, “more kitty” or “more bunny”.

It’s been a long day.

I also had an appointment with my primary care doctor at 11:15. Ostensibly for a medication review.

I’m not certain he has prescribed me anything for my professed (and finally admitted) anxiety but he has definitely given me a prescription for blood pressure medication.

Yes, I have hypertension.

Deep joy.

I have been suffering from blinding headaches off and on for over a month and finally I admitted that the hus-creature was correct to nag me about it as it could not just be put down to “late Zoladex jab”

My lovely doctor man concurred with this, and I need to return at 09:45 on Monday December 11th to see if it’s improving.

I was still waiting for over an hour to see him though….

This is not the shining example that is being touted across the pond…

I mean it’s good, at least if you have insurance, don’t get me wrong, but it’s flaws are incredibly similar to those I have experienced within the NHS.

 

Also, the pharmacy did not have the required medicaments.Β  They offered to send it to another pharmacy, but I needed to get home so that the hus-creature could get into work for the afternoon.Β  Also, it was sent as an electronic prescription so I’m not certain I trust it to be sent along, and I’m not entirely sure where any other pharmacies are locally.

 

All good fun.

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)
  • JalapeΓ±o 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” πŸ’•πŸ’—πŸ’•πŸ’—

#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 πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡) opted to stay behind in the guesthouse with my knitting, tea and leftover turkey.

Totally generous of me wasn’t it? πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

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 πŸ™„πŸ˜πŸ™„πŸ˜

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 πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜˜