Coming Last

Today is cross country day for DD2 and she will most probably come last.

We’ve had years of this, so have given up pretending that it won’t happen.  Platitudes don’t help. Her aim for today is to try not to cry but she’s taking tissues anyhow.

I have to hand it to my daughter; she has a tough time with the physical stuff but she is usually still quite enthusiastic about PE. She likes moving her body, even though it doesn’t work the way most people’s do.

PE lessons and PE staff seem to have moved on from when I was at school. I hated PE and often refused to take part. Looking back I’m pretty sure I had/have the same sort of issues DD2 does; hypermobility, poor muscle tone and dyspraxia leading to co ordination and propriceptive difficulties.  But PE teachers were much less understanding back in those days. I was often told that I just wasn’t trying hard enough. DD’s teacher seem to be kind and encouraging, and have even enrolled her in a programme for children who need a little more help with sports.

Anyone watching DD2 run or play sport can tell she’s trying as hard as she can. But this is one of those times where effort is not necessarily rewarded. And running is different from team sports. When she runs she’s out there alone for all the world to see how she struggles. She simply can’t make her legs move faster or work harder and can do nothing but keep plodding on while everyone passes her.

She especially hates the way everyone crowds around after they have finished to watch her complete the course and cheer her on. They think they are being supportive, she just finds it humiliating. They say Well Done, whereas she knows she is rubbish.

But she is not rubbish. I’m very proud of her for her efforts. It must be easy enough to take part in this race when you are reasonably sporty and in the middle of the pack. It might even be pleasant if you are among the fastest- I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been there. But to keep on going when everyone else has finished and is watching you lumber your way to the finishing line, even if you can hardly see where you are going because of the tears spilling out of your eyes; that takes determination and sheer guts.

It’s hard for an autistic 12 year old to see this, all she can see is people’s faces patronising and laughing at her and when I pick her up tonight, she is going to be tired, grumpy and in pain.

This kind of thing is one of the worst bits of parenting. Seeing DD upset hurts me as well. I feel terrible that I can’t help her in some way and even offered to write her a note, but she turned me down.

Her reply was that she wants to do today’s cross country, she just doesn’t want to come last.

I know it’s a bad thing to hope that this year there is at least one child that is slower than her, but I can’t help but have everything crossed.


My Sunday Photo

This week I bought my dogs pyjamas.

Actually, they aren’t pyjamas. The company that makes them calls them jumpers, but they are more like a onesie and are perfect for putting on wet, muddy dogs after long winter walks.

You load them up in the car all dirty and soaking wet, and by the time you get home they are clean and dry and your car isn’t too messy either. The jumpers need a wash of course, but they are much easier to wash than the dogs are.

Our older dog is fine with his but our younger one just froze in place when we tried his on. Look at that face, he’s wondering what on earth I’ve done to him!

farley onesie

My Sunday Photo

My Sunday Photo

On Friday morning, my eldest daughter went into the kids’ bathroom to get ready for school.

I knew there was something wrong when the door opened again almost immediately. She normally takes at least 15 minutes in there.

‘There’s a magpie in the bathroom’, she screamed, as she vacated the area. It was a very effective way of getting everyone out of bed.

I hate to admit it, but I didn’t really believe her until I saw it for myself. It was only a small magpie, but it was one indeed. I took a photo of it, and then I pushed it off the shower pipe with a broom. ( I couldn’t reach it otherwise)

As I stood there with the poor bird flying around my head, I was glad that I didn’t have the fear of flappy things. Luckily I caught it and wrapped it in a towel before it flew down the toilet.

Small tip: When trying to catch a bird flying around your house, ALWAYS put down all the toilet seats.

He/she was fine btw and flew off to the nearest tree to get his bearings as soon as I released him.

I have no proof of how he got into our bathroom but I suspect one of our cats may have been responsible.

Bathroom magpie

My Sunday Photo


Televisions In Bedrooms. Yes Or No?

We’ve always been against the idea of TVs in bedrooms.

‘Bedrooms are for sleeping’, we’ve always said. As well as for playing in, reading in and getting dressed in, of course. The kids aren’t allowed to take phones or any type of screens upstairs anyhow, so that has naturally included television.

We have two big TVs downstairs in our through- lounge, so our children have plenty of opportunity to watch their programs. Once homework and music practice has been done, of course.

And we like to keep an eye on what they are watching. We don’t often have to tell them they can’t watch something but it’s good to be able to know what they are picking up from the programs they like at the moment.

At the moment, even though our older two are are 12 and 13, they still spend a lot of time down stairs ‘with the family’. If we put TVs in their rooms, I don’t think we would see them at all. Except maybe for meals.  I also think TVs would also be an unwelcome distraction for ours when they were supposed to be sleeping or studying.

However, despite not liking the idea of the kids having TVs in their rooms, this year we are considering it. But not for the kids; for us!

We have reached that stage in our family’s life where the kids are wanting sleepovers for their birthdays and their bedrooms are not really big enough for guests. So to facilitate these requests, DH and I will have to retreat from the lounge to our bedroom. A small TV that allowed us to watch our favourite shows would make everything much more bearable.

Is this is a good plan? Or will we just end up with the kids taking over our bedroom and watching TV there on a daily basis?

Watching 3D TV

My Sunday Photo

If you have children aged over 7 years, who are allowed to play minecraft and watch YouTube videos of other people playing minecraft, then the chances are good that they will know who the adult in this photo is.

The two children are my youngest DD and DS, aged 7 and 9. The adult is Joseph ‘Stampy Cat’ Garrett (@stampylongnose on Twitter)  and the kids love him. Now I know that we all warn our kids about strange men on the internet, but you don’t have to worry about this guy. His laugh may be distinctive, but his videos are non violent and curse free and are apparently hilarious.

On Thursday we stood in line at Waterstones in Piccadilly for 3 hours for the chance to meet the man himself. The kids were over the moon and although we were very near the end of the line and Stampy must have been knackered, he was lovely with them. He didn’t try rushing anyone, had a little chat with both DS and DD and posed cheerfully for photos too.

If you only manage to take your child to meet one YouTuber, I’d recommend this one. Just wear comfy shoes.

Stampy Cat

First Times

As soon as you conceive, you are on a journey of Firsts.

First Missed Period, First Blue Line, First Midwife Appointment, First Scan. And so on until your First Signs of Labour and your First Look at the little human you have grown.

Once your baby has been born, the Firsts come thick and fast. First Smile, First Night Slept Through, First Roll, First Steps.

First Christmas. First Birthday. First Family Holiday.

There are too many to name, but the big ones after this include First Day at School and First Lost Tooth.

These days Firsts usually involve getting the camera out so you and your family have some record of these memories.

You might put something up on social media so that family and friends can see what’s going on and it’s nice to have reminders of when your kids were small and cute, for when they grow bigger and opinionated. Because even self-centred teenagers enjoy looking at baby photos and videos of themselves.

As your children grow from children to tweens to teens, they don’t stop having Firsts.

First Mobile Phone, First Day at Secondary School, First School Run without you.

There are not so many photo opportunities at this point, but it’s worth getting them if you can.

Today I had another First. Today is the First Time one of my children is going to fly anywhere without me. DD1 is going to Spain for a school trip and the plane will leave in about 10 minutes time.

She was nervous so I had to be upbeat about the trip, but my reptile brain is going ‘Nooooo, don’t leave me. The world is dangerous and you can’t cope without me.’

Of course I know she will fine, so when we arrived at the airport and her classmates and teacher were already there, I gave her a quick hug and said goodbye sensibly.

Then I trudged back to the car and drove home. I didn’t even get a photo.

Now I’m  glued to Flightradar24. I don’t think it’s doing much for my anxiety levels but at least it’s only a 90 minute flight. God knows what I’ll be like when my kids grow up properly and decide to visit the Southern Hemisphere on their gap years.




My Sunday Photo

This is DD1. She is 13, going on 14 and has spent all her pocket money for this month.

It’s no fun being a teenager with no money, so if my older two want extra money I can always find something for them to do around the house. I’m good like that.

There is plenty that needs doing. The car can always do with a wash and hoover, the garden always needs a clean up, the dogs need walking- I’m sure you get the idea.

This week’s task was sock sorting. With six people living in the house, we have a lot of socks. I think it’s safe to say that DD didn’t find this task fun. As you can see she is giving me ‘The Look’.

But she stuck with it and I now have four baskets of matched socks and one of unsorted and she has some extra money. Result! All I have to do now is keep them sorted and make sure no one muddles up the different trugs.

BTW, it’s not so cold in our house that my children have to wear hats. It’s just that DH is trying to head off DS’s liking for Chelsea football team by buying him a Liverpool kit. So far, it seems to be working.

Sock sorting


My Sunday Photo

Why You Should Always Have A Current CV

Curriculum vitae written on typewriter

It’s been over 12 years since I worked for someone else. What have I been doing in that time? That’s a good question, I sometimes wonder myself.

But the truth is I’ve been raising and managing a family. DH helps of course, but he works full time, so during the day when the kids were young, or now when they are sick, or go to activities or need ferrying around, then it’s usually up to me. We have four children, and no family support, so working for someone else hasn’t really been an option. The childcare issues have just been too costly and have seemed insurmountable. I am a vet by profession, and it’s not a very family friendly job if you are a woman. The hours often go beyond the remit of most childminders and there are not many nannies who want to take on a household as busy as ours. We have looked into it on occasion, but once we’ve done the maths it just doesn’t seem worth the worry and stress.

So I’ve worked for myself,  doing bits and pieces, as and when. I haven’t earned a lot and I’m forever working around the school run and after school activities. But I’m hoping it won’t always be like this.

DD1 is nearly 14 and  DD2 is 12. In a few more years the younger two will also be at secondary school and I will be free to explore more employment options. But in the mean time I’m trying to find a bit more non-clinic work and a couple of weeks ago I saw a link to a job that I could do from home, during hours that could suit me.

I pulled up the application form and began filling it in, feeling excited and optimistic. Then I came to the last ‘question’. ‘Please attach a current CV’, it said.

My heart sunk. My CV was anything but current.  In fact, I believe the word I was looking for is ‘defunct’. I didn’t even have a copy of it, as it was last seen on the computer before the one I had before the one I have now.

In desperation, I turned to DH who showed me his CV but he works with computers so that was no help at all. Some of my friends have been in the same boat as me, returning to work after years off, and one directed me to this site. It gave me detailed instructions on how to put together a CV after over a decade out of work, and outlined ways to minimise the gap in my employment history, explained how to put together a personal statement and suggested alternatives to standard employer referees.

I won’t lie, it took me days to piece together my long-ago employment history. I wish I had had a copy of my old CV for this purpose alone. But I got there in the end.

So now I have a CV. I’ve sent off the application but it’s been a couple of weeks now, so I guess this time it’s a no. *Sad face* as my kids would say.

But all is not lost. I still have the work I do for myself, so I’ll soldier on with that and keep an eye out for anything else that could suit. But this time I will have a CV ready to go. I am prepared.

So if you are at home, and are not working for anyone else while looking after children, then see if you can take a moment to put together the bare bones of a CV. Type up your previous employment history at least.

Because you never know when it might come in handy.