Sunday, 28 October 2012

Haunted cakes and gingerbread skeletons

We threw Small a Hallowe'en party. Just a small one, but still the prep took me all week and left me shattered! Don't think I'll be doing this again once I'm back working full time. Worth it though -

Small had a blast, but is now slightly confused and thinks it's his birthday. Sweetly, he seems to associate birthdays with parties, but not presents. The spider costume he chose a few weeks ago and has worn intermittently since sadly only lasted five minutes before he was hauling it off again but hey ho, he's two and it's his prerogative.

I've spent today being largely immobile and extremely lazy so that we can enjoy our half-term holiday as fully as possible. As well as the trip to the zoo that Big is determined to fit in, I'd like to get some serious housework done and some clutter junked in readiness for the reduced amount of time I'm going to have keeping the house nice come December. I want that, but I also want to have a lovely break with my wonderful men.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Panda Wednesday

This is a very relaxed looking panda. I hope you're all as chilled. Happy Wednesday.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

My so called life.

I have begun work on my most adventurous cake yet. A small two tier castle cake with witches flying on broomsticks around it. I had meant to get the witch figures done tonight so they had the week to dry but the first step is the broomsticks and they haven't dried enough to build the rest of the figure around them yet so I'll have to try to find the time tomorrow. I have done the door, all six broomsticks, a cauldron and covered the cake board though so that's a pretty good start. 

Wow, the banality! Sadly, I have nothing more interesting to talk about at the moment. My entire life is preparing for my return to full time work and doing stuff for Small's hallowe'en party. I have a lot of very cute ideas and no real idea where the time is going to come from to do it all! Story of my life.
So that, apart from watching Strictly Come Dancing, is that for me. Perhaps I need to stop trying to make an entry every single day - I'm just not that interesting!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Panda Wednesday

Mama said there'd be days like this. 

I haz a headache, but nothing gets in the way of Panda Wednesday.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A flicker of light in the tunnel

Did I mention that I went for my appointment at Endocrinology?
I was so happy to get the referral, then so disappointed to be met with the same indifference I've come up against so many times with GP's. Even so, the consultant did agree to send me for the one remaining blood test that hadn't been done, although she didn't expect anything other than a normal result.

As it turned out, the result was 'indeterminate' and required more testing to be sure. I got a letter last week to let me know that the other hospital (over in Halifax) which does those tests would be in touch. Of course I almost immediately hit the internet to explore cortisol tests and what on earth might the problem. Sadly, although I have the result of my tests, all the Google-fu in the world can't help me determine if my cortisol is higher or lower than it should be. I just can't make sense of what info I can find. Wikipedia, naturally was as unhelpful as general google results but with the added dimension of giving me various diseases and syndromes to pour over and compare symptoms with until I'd decided I was suffering from almost all of them. Nothing for it then, I'd just have to be dull and wait for my next appointment to ask someone qualified. Boo.

The initial appointment had come through pretty quickly, I think it took about a month. I had no idea how long it would be to get the next one. In fact, they phoned me yesterday, 3 business days after I got the letter from the Endocrinology consultant. and invited me to come for my test next week, Monday or Tuesday - my choice. I chose Monday. I'm delighted it's going to be so fast!
My hopes are rising again, maybe I don't have CFS/ME, maybe there's something wrong with me that they can fix! Maybe I'm just round the corner from getting well! Oh what dangerous, seductive dreams are these. No matter how many times my hopes are dashed they still get entranced and fetched away by the spectre of future health.
But you never know, maybe this time it's true.

Monday, 15 October 2012

It's all coming together

We checked out the nursery today, Small and I.
It's lovely. Everything I expected from my visit to their sister-nursery in the spring. I really liked it.

More importantly, Small just rocked in and headed straight for the first room he could see, sat down and started playing. We herded him up to the pre-school area he'll actually be attending eventually and again, unfazed by all the other strange adults and children he just got stuck in. He came looking for me once, but only to clipe on some other kid 'snatching' and I'm not even sure that was true, he has been to known to cry 'snatch' when anyone goes near a toy he wants to play with. Other than that, his only moment of unhappiness was when we had to go.
I'm so proud of him, it bodes really well for when he starts going properly.
Happily, they have enough space for him on the days and hours that we need too. The only real drawback in all this is that, at least until Easter when his 15 hours of funding kicks in, I'll be mostly working to pay for childcare and commuting fares. All this to be around £100 per month net better off. For all that though, it's £100 we need.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Yeah, we three watched this happen live. Of course we did.

Ok, so Small found Peppa Pig infinitely more interesting than the ascent and the checks but we were all watching avidly by the fall. I confess, I think the guy is insane but it was incredible to witness.

Something else too, was a joy to witness. This -
A moment where all three of us were absolutely together, sharing the same emotion, the same excitement. Of course we share events every day, from the mundane to the amazing but it's harder than you might think for all three of us to feel the same at the same time. Small is so young, his emotions are so intense and most experiences are so new, two thirty-somethings are very rarely able to get anywhere near the same feeling. Tonight, watching someone step out of a capsule 24 miles above the planet with only a pressure suit and a parachute to get him back down safely... we got there.
I love my family.

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Yeah, I failed to blog yesterday. There are really only two things in my head at present and one of them is a good friend in a painful situation that I can't fix for her and have no business discussing here and the other, well yesterday the other was just too much.

Regular readers (I assume there must be at least one) will know that I've been looking to change jobs. And that I'm very worried about the implications of doing that. I'm also worried about the implications of not doing it to be frank but I've now reached a point where I can see drawbacks in every road I could take and now I think I have chosen the way to go.

I do a dumb job at the moment but it wasn't always so. I've worked hard over seven years and through performance related pay I've worked up to quite a decent salary. For the work I currently do, it's more than decent. The last couple of months of job hunting have shown me that even if I discount the cost of commuting out to Leeds, I can't pull in the same money doing a similar job here. Also, because all my recent experience is in the monkey job, it's hard to prove my worth when applying for higher level jobs. So that's one thing.

Then there's the fact that my mortgage is tied to my current employer at a good rate. Yes, I have a tax penalty to go with that but it still better than we'd be without it.
Where I am now, I can pick my hours - more or less - and they're reasonable about making changes when necessary.
I have the fatigue to consider too. I've got job security where I am, as much as that exists these days. If I took a new job, full time, and then had an attack like I had earlier this year? I'd be out on my ear in a heartbeat. In addition (my tests came back and I need more tests on my cortisol) I know my current employer will accomodate hospital appointments but can't rely on that with anyone new.
My current employer does childcare vouchers, not all employers do.

I don't particularly want to work full time but I know we can't go on indefinitely on this income. It's a struggle at the moment and I worry constantly about affording things. When I first lit the fire under me to change jobs, I sold myself on the full time thing. I knew that finding a job in a smaller town, at the same salary AND the same hours was going to be impossible. We had a wonderful holiday this summer, with the best will in the world I know we could in no way give Small another one and keep me working two days a week. With the way essentials keep rising in price, it's doubtful we'd even be able to afford to heat the house!

Then there's Small. I think he'd benefit amazingly from nursery. He's nearly 3 and won't be accepted by the nursery attached to our local junior school until next September. It's too long for him to wait. He's a bright, funny, sociable boy and would really thrive among other children. I do my very best to keep him active and teach him through play and all these things but... well, I certainly don't get the variety of things done that a good nursery can. I've found a good nursery too. One that does forest school, outdoor play in all weathers, adventurous and healthy foods - hell they even get the kids growing food and then eating the crop! Ofsted love them, they're wonderful. We have a visit scheduled for Monday to look around it but I've been around one of their sister sites a few months ago and was so impressed. I really hope they have space for him.

So yeah, I'm going to go back to work full time, where I already work. It's the best thing I can do at the moment and Big and I can really make it work. I feel horribly guilty for planning to spend less time with Small, but we need this and it's going to be so good for him too. I get to find out if I can work full time without burning all my bridges and there's nothing stopping me from changing jobs later if I still really need to.
Oh but my baby boy. The guilt.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Thursday Holding Page

Oooh look, tiny little piglet!
I shall love him and hug him and call him Wilbur.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Feeling so inspired!

I love Great British Bake Off.
I hate Brendan, but judging from the reactions of everyone else I know who watches it, this is quite normal.

But I do watch it painfully aware of my own shortcomings. I love baking and turn out a pretty good selection of treats when I have a mind to but I'm by no means up to anywhere near this standard. There are so many baking staples I've never even tried. Probably because I've never seen my Mum or Granny make them either and all I know of baking, I learned from them.

It's way past time to branch out though. I should try to make choux pastry at least. I should try to make creme patisserie. I should make better bread, more varieties of biscuits, I should not be so frightened of pastry (really I shouldn't be, I've never done badly any time I've made it from scratch, I just very rarely want to risk it)

Of course, funds are limited and experimenting can be costly and wasteful if you don't get it right. I also tend to bake only when I have a reason to do so and when you have a good reason to bake, you don't want to cock it up and be left with nothing. But I should just do it, I will.

I will.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Rant Ahoy, on crimes and punishments.

As I sit here, a candle burns in my window, as requested by the parents of April Jones to mark a week since she disappeared. I have literally shed tears over the fate of this little girl.

That said, I will not be joining the social media clamour for Mark Bridger's hide, nor for the reinstatement of the death penalty.
Mark Bridger, for one thing, has not been tried let alone convicted. He cried before magistrates today when he appeared in court to have his charges put to him. Was he crying out of remorse for what he did? Out of fear of those gathered to hurl abuse at the prison van? Out of the desperation of an innocent man who's terrified he's going to jail for something he didn't do? A cynical ploy to throw people off? Self-pity? I don't know. Only he really knows. Only he knows if he's guilty too, at this point.
As for the death penalty, well to quote Neil Gaiman -
[I believe]  that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I'm 36 years old. I have served on two juries in my life, once in Scotland and once in England. Both cases were serious but in totally different spheres, one was GBH and firearms offences and the other was a child abuse case. Here's the thing about trials. Your job is not to judge the defendant, your job is to evaluate the evidence and jump whichever way seems most convincing. But people are people and they do judge the defendant. You watch them in the dock while key evidence is heard to see if you can catch a clue in their expression, you are swayed by emotional witnesses, if one of the lawyers isn't very likeable, that goes into the pot too. In both juries I've sat on, about one third were convinced going in that the defendant wouldn't be in the dock if they weren't guilty, another third have no trust in the police and are aching to find a reason to let the defendant go and the other third is made up of people who just want to go home, or who want to impress all the other jurors with their detective skills, or will just go along with the loudest voices because they don't like confrontation. Oh, and one who was convinced she was Demi Moore and someone would be coming round to threaten her into finding the defendant Not Guilty any moment now and therefore wouldn't be a part of any decision.
While I'm fairly confident that we reached the right conclusion in both cases, I wouldn't want to bet a life on it, would you?
No, I'm afraid I side very much with Blackstone in that I do believe it's better than 10 guilty men escape than one innocent should suffer.

And besides, look at all the countries with the death penalty in place. People are no less murdered, families are no less devastated, society is no less debased, justice is no more served.

What of the cost to the Taxpayer? That's often trotted out, why should The Taxpayer fund the incarceration of those convicted of terrible crimes? As one of The Taxpayers, I think I have as much right to answer that as anyone.
Prisons are not fun. They are not holiday camps. They may well feature TVs and games consoles, toilet blocks even! But they are not fun. That's why they have to lock the doors to keep people in there. Yes, it's not the 19th Century any more and we don't brutalise or mentally torture prisoners any more. Can't say I think that's a bad thing. Call me a wet liberal do-gooder if you like but I find it hard enough living in a world where people who commit such crimes exist, without demanding my home state behaves in an equally pathologically inhuman way. For one thing, if you start allowing the state to abuse it's captives, what's to stop them turning the same attitude to everyone else?
We as a society are supposed to be better than the people who break our laws. Or what's the point?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Winding up.

It was a beautiful day today. Sunny, clear skies, warm even. In a feat of unparalleled personal discipline, Big and I totally resisted the temptation to go running off to the park or somewhere and instead did the household task we knew we had to do and had agreed to do. This has never happened before, it's almost like we're grown-ups.

As a result of this miraculous determination, we have parted with more junk from the garage which has made room for the garden furniture, barbecue and Small's outdoor toys like his sandpit. All things that really shouldn't be left out all winter, but usually are.
I also cleared some weeds, pruned the fruit trees and cut back the herb garden. Maybe, just maybe I won't spend this winter looking regretfully out the back window at all the things that I should have sorted out before it got too cold and damp to want to venture out there.

I've also changed our quilt over to the winter one so I'm really, properly facing up to the oncoming season. Any minute now I'm going to agree to Big turning the central heating on, sparking our eternal winter battle over the thermostat.
Big likes to heat the whole house to upwards of 22C and will open windows when he feels a bit too warm. I myself believe that anyone who behaves in such a way warrants instant forfeiture of their lives. The thermostat is placed where we both walk past it several times a day and so I turn it down, he turns it up and we both roll eyes and mutter about each other. All winter long.

Bring it.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Are they conspiring against me?

Just a short one tonight.

I'm beginning to suspect that Big and Small are in cahoots together against me.

Whenever I ask Big to do some chore, suddenly Small either does something cute and distracting or chucks a wobbly until I've forgotten I asked him to do it. Well, if not exactly whenever then certainly very often.
Not just that either, every weekend we go and do the supermarket shop. Every weekend Small starts fairly well then begins playing up when he is restrained from "helping". Almost without fail it is necessary to remove him from the process and take him back to the car before we get to the checkout. As the only responsible adult in the area, it's always me who has to finish the shopping (because I know what we need) then heave it all onto the conveyor belt and pack it at the end, pay and haul it back to the car, while those two are having fun playing with the wipers and listening to ZZ Top on the radio. Even on the occasions when Small doesn't need removing, Big is so consumed with what he calls "wrangling" that he can't possibly assist me with the unloading/reloading/paying scenario.

I'm being taken for a mug here aren't I?

Friday, 5 October 2012

Recovered at the last minute!

Today I had to go and do a thing. I couldn't take Small with me so arranged for his grandparents to take him from about 11am until Big could go pick him up after work. Then the thing had to take place earlier than expected and for less time than expected and I ended up with a whole 4 hours to myself.
No child, not even sleeping.
No husband with things to do and places to go.
I wasn't even at work.

So with a elegant sufficiency of options open to me, where I could have tried to cadge a last minute hair appointment, or got nails done, or just gone window shopping - I nipped to the supermarket and went home.

Seriously. I didn't even curl up in bed with Game of Thrones for a couple of hours despite how tempting it was. No, I put on laundry. I hoovered. I baked some empire biscuits. I made the tea. I tidied up toys. 

Total Me-Time Fail. 

(I will capitalise whatever like, I will structure sentences however I like. This is my blog, get over it)

Still, I've pulled it back tonight. It's DJ night for Big so the evening was my own as soon as Small was in bed. I practiced piping icing on my empire biscuits and learned that I really, really don't do well just snipping off a very small end of a disposable piping bag and need to get a proper fine nozzle. After I'd finished that, oh ho, into pj's, cup of tea and a biscuit all ready just in time for Strictly Come Dancing! Cheese, sequins, nervous celebs and Craig Revel Horwood's Panto Villain criticisms to the sound of the panto-sheep audience. What could be better?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Thursday Holding Page

I will spare you jokes about being a little hoarse. Especially as it's a zebra.
But isn't he gorgeous?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Panda Wednesday.

I'm thinking of April Jones a lot today. Please bring her home to her own mother's arms soon.
Bring all lost children back to their families.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


I'm looking to change jobs. There are very many reasons for me to do so. I accepted that the change would necessitate my going back to full time work and I'm mostly resolved that this is a good thing, both for me and Small. I've worked where I do for seven years, the entire time I've lived in Yorkshire. In mostly the same department with mostly the same people, although the job itself has changed dramatically in that time.

It's been more than a month since I started applying for stuff and I'm mainly applying through agencies. I'm beginning to get call backs and my details putting forward to employers now so it's all beginning to get a bit real. I may actually do this.
For all that this is a good thing for me to do for all three of us, it's a big change and a scary change. The easy thing would be to keep things as they are. Keep spending the majority of my time with D and keep just about ticking along financially. It would be secure (ish) and safe. Just probably not right.

It's so tricky to know what the right decision is, if I turn it over in my head enough I can convince myself of anything. It's not about money exactly, at least for the first few months of any new job I take at the moment I would struggle to end up with much more than I currently do even working part time, because of childcare. But there are more things to think about that just the wage. Yet I still have a major case of collywobbles when I think of all the consequences of this change. Of course, I have yet to gain an interview, let alone a job offer so I'm probably jumping the gun a little...


Monday, 1 October 2012

Projects, always with the projects

I've taken it into my head to make Small a Wolf Suit, akin to Max's in Where The Wild Things Are. Small loves that book so I think he'll get a kick out of it. I'm no seamstress of any sort, I've made clothes before but not well and not with any form of skill.
To make it easier on myself I'm trying to source a white, fluffy onesie to use as a base, then I'll add ears, claws and tail. Oh and crown. Because it seems nigh on impossible to source a toy crown either online or in shops around here, today I bought a metre of gold lame fabric. I'll get some wadding and make a template and see how I get on. Really, how hard can it be?

It doesn't have to be achieved by hallowe'en if I can't manage it, Small found himself a spider costume in Sainsburys at the weekend that was on special offer so he can use that if need be. Although he has already been wearing it and climbing through his play tunnel singing about Incy Wincy Spider.

Something that does rather have to be achieved by hallowe'en is my other project. I've decided that as I'm throwing Small a hallowe'en party, I will grab with both hands the excuse to make one of those fancy cakes I've been itching to try out since I bought the damn book. I've chosen a moderate design, a castle with witches flying round it to base my cake on and off I shall go! Yes, on top of all the other things to be done when throwing a party. Yes, I am insane, but at least it's the creative, harmless sort instead of the 'take all edged weapons and edge-able items out of her reach' sort.