untangling this thing we call life…

Monthly Archives: October 2012


I live with this word, serendipity.  I love its sound, I love the way it looks on a page.  I love its meaning, the world of possibilities it carries with it.  I love its fleeting and almost shy nature.  I love that its existence relies on each individual’s ability to be open to it.  I find it in my life almost daily.

In seeking to improve my writing, to ignite inspiration, to stretch the muscle of my imagination and expression, I have turned tonight to a rather lovely link on WordPress: The Daily Post Prompt.  Here, a writer at a loss for words can find a spark to ignite that trail of gunpowder and hopefully fizz it to life speeding to an explosion of “voice”

Today, the prompt suggested I type a random word into Google images, and pick the eleventh image as a prompt for my writing.  I admit my word was not random.  As I said at the beginning, I have an affinity with this word, serendipity, which cannot be denied and this request for a word allowed my word to rise again.  Serendipity…

And so, this is the eleventh picture thrown out by google images when my word is offered.

I love the peace that this image evokes.  Although serendipity can come with a variety of emotions attached to it, from effervescent excitement, to quiet contemplation, I always sense peace in it.  So I love this image… the possibility of a new day, or the end of a day full of new discoveries; the horizon which promises unimagined new lands, or unexpected familiarities; the colours…

The verse is more controversial, but there is much in it that I love.

I need to say at the start that I do not like the implication in the verse that Divine Presence is the fundamental.  But I’m willing to let that be just now!!  I need and want to revel in the wonder and magic of serendipity.

Our hearts have been understood…

Nothing is as real as a healthy dose of magic which restores our spirits…

Deep satisfaction and peace have very few words to offer and are surprisingly difficult to express on a page…

In learning a little more about this lovely word, I discovered that it is a remarkably recent word, and one which can be traced back to its origin.  How lovely!  Most words I know of have roots from ancient languages… I’ve always enjoyed the etymology of words, but I find it refreshing and beautifully fitting that “serendipity” should be a word created by an Englishman in the mid 1700s.

Horace Walpole, a politician with the Whig party and also an art historian and something of a writer created this word based on a Persian fairy tale.  In this story, The Three Princes of Serendip, these three young men face adventures which they solve thanks to their education, wisdom and a good dose of luck.  “Happy accidents”… “Serendipity”.  What I love is that without the wisdom (or sagacity – another lovely word) to notice these accidents, happy endings would be far fewer.

Serendip, it seems, is simply the old Arabic name for Sri Lanka.  And so we find a rather mundane, earthy root to a word plucked from the imagination of a storyteller and the audacity of an Englishman hundred of years later.  I have the vision of a beautiful, ephemeral thread growing from the land and floating into the sky and clouds.

Serendipity is in all things small and hardly noticeable; in the Facebook post from a friend across the Atlantic ocean talking with beautiful simplicity about just the emotion I am wrestling with; in the happy accident of finding a missed friend at the swimming pool when neither of us had planned to be there.

Serendipity is also in the vast and wondrous things of life; in finding myself living with the man I met on first starting university and living thus in rather perfect synchronicity; in finding the right school for my Sweet Girl almost on our doorstep (hard work and tenacity now take over to ensure she can benefit from their knowledge and compassion); in so many patterns that we notice and attach meaning to.

Serendipity is a human construct.  It is entirely reliant on our desire to see patterns, to assign meaning to events which in the most part are completely unrelated.

Serendipity is… magic.

Serendipity leaves me glowing with that magic, the wonder of life, of our ability as humans to make and create patterns that link all these strange concurrent events, and it leaves me with a great sense of peace.

So I will leave you with my happy accident of choosing to click on the Daily Post Prompt and finding myself writing about serendipity.  But I will also ask you:  what happy accident happened to you today?  Where did you encounter serendipity?  Did it pass you by?  Did you savour it?  Will you share it with me?…

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I find myself once more on the precipice of Education.  At two other times in my life I have found myself here, at a Crossroads.  The path well travelled points to school.  It is one which most take without even being aware of other paths; one which most take with a sense of righteousness; one which few take without question.  Then there are other paths into the forest, some barely distinguishable from the undergrowth.  Some of those paths are those taken by special schools who cater for children who simply cannot learn in a one size fits all environment.  Other paths see parents finding schools who have explored alternative learning approaches: Montessori schools, Steiner schools, small independent and extremely individual schools.  Choosing a school for religious reasons seems more and more common and in itself is forging a new and visible path through the forest.

Another path open to parents, but little publicised is that of home educating, or homeschooling. Home educating is not exactly one path as each family undertaking this journey will do so in their own fashion.  The choices are endless, and not so long ago I did a vast amount of research on the matter.  From paid curriculums which provide you with the course material, a tutor for help or advice and marking independently, to “unschooling” which to the uninformed seems much the same as leaving children to their own devices, the variety of approaches is almost infinite.

In June of 2006, Darling Man and I came to the inescapable conclusion that we could not continue sending Eldest to the local school.  He was six years old at the time, had recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and was in a terrible state.  His fear and confusion each school day was a horror to behold, and he was begging me to kill him on a daily basis.  In moments of lucidity, he would sob his heart out asking why he couldn’t be like the other children.  Despite all of this, the then special needs teacher could give us no help.  His intelligence was a barrier to getting a statement and the help he desperately needed, and the best she could offer was that any statementing process would take at least two years.  Zack did not have two years in the state he was in.  We could not afford private schooling, nor could I find any school that would be able to meet his needs. Faced with this  situation, I decided to bring him home.

This was a decision that was taken over the course of about nine months and was not taken lightly.  I was incredibly fortunate to have the utter backing of Darling Man, but I have to stress that the choice to home educate was no choice at all.  It was a decision that came from desperation teamed with the knowledge that I am (possibly more than anything else) a teacher.  I knew that I could teach him, and I knew that he needed to be with Mummy.  His emotional development seems to have hit the “bonding with Mum” stage – about five and a half years late!!  His need to be close to me, together with his utter devastation when in school made the conclusion inescapable for us.

It was very hard work.  During the first year Eldest was home, I focussed hugely on his mental well being.  We did a lot of art, working on BIG canvasses, using clay, playing music.  We went ice skating and climbing because this once fearless little boy had become terrified of everything.  We worked a little on handwriting by copying poems (this took away the fear of finding words), though I eventually decided to remove writing from his curriculum, preferring to scribe for him.  After a while, he began to write for himself, but I still think that this would have taken much longer if I had persisted with forcing him to write.  We worked on maths without worrying that he did not remember his number bonds to ten… he could easily do long multiplication and division and we worked on weird and wonderful ways of working around his difficulties with rote learning.  We “adopted” a tree on the common and worked out how old it was, what creatures lived in and around it and tracked its progress through the year.  We learned all the countries of Africa and drew some beautiful maps.  We flattened a globe to work out how maps are drawn.  We read, aloud, together.

By the end of our first year, I had my boy back.  I also had a little boy who clearly had some considerable difficulties.  I made referrals to occupational therapy, and sought help from the local autistic school.  They were very helpful, and offered him a place on a specialised speech and language therapy group.  Social skills were very very difficult to work on.  Zack was so terribly afraid of children his age that any effort at group play was failing.  I eventually chose to make him a part of the local community rather than to try and force him into a peer group that was simply non-existent.  We want so much for children to be with their chronological peers, but Zack had nothing in common with other six and seven year olds.  So we went to coffee shops and grocers, bakers and butchers.  Zack learned to place an order, pay and get change.  He learned to say hello and in turn, the shopkeepers learned his name.  Not only was he beginning to be a part of our larger community, but I was gaining a sense of support.  Eldest had and has a tendency to run away when angry, upset or confused.  Slowly, I was beginning to feel that if he ran, I could count on community support to notice and act should they see him. Home education was in many ways a huge success.  For then, for us, for that particular situation.

But there was one thing I had not foreseen: as I was busy trying to keep my little boy from plummeting off a cliff, I was also supporting Sweet Girl in her first year at school (all the while trying to make some sense of Zack’s situation for her), and I was keeping Little Man going (he had started pre school, but only part time, and his health concerns were as time consuming as ever).  While I understood the need to look after myself, I lost sight of that emotionally. In late 2008, it became clear that things would have to change.  Eldest was becoming violent and both Little Man and I were at risk.

By January 2009 I knew that we would have to look at some kind of residential schooling and began the excruciating process to get him an educational statement and preparing myself, Darling Man and Eldest for a major change.  The paperwork went in on February 3rd 2009.  On the morning of March 24th, I broke.  There followed six months of awful pain, uncertainty and upheaval for all the family.  Most of that is documented in my older blog, The Goings on of my Little Life and is not for here or today.  The important thing is that we got through it, and on October 2nd, Eldest changed paths once again, and found one ideally suited to him.  I’m thrilled to say that he is doing incredibly well at a very specialised school.

Now I am poised. Waiting and ready to make a similar decision IF  it becomes necessary.

Sweet Girl simply will not manage mainstream secondary school.  She finds it such a struggle to go into her primary school, one which she has been a part of since she started school.  Her anxiety level is sky high and she experiences fierce panic attacks.  She notices the slightest change of smell, and finds it almost impossible to adjust to that change.  At times she cannot tolerate the feel of shoes on her feet.  People… crowds are her worst nightmare.  She feels hemmed in, watched and crowded to the point where her brain shuts down all “unnecessary” functions and operates purely at a primal level: fight or flight.  The very idea that she might in less than a year be capable of approaching a brand new building, with brand new staff, brand new children (and far more of them), new smells and sounds and a completely different structure to the day, different teaching methods and expectations is laughable.  And putting her into that situation is not something I am willing to do.

As much as I understand the need to follow processes, and “play” the system, I do so with enormous awareness of the impact on my daughter.  She is in school in spite of her fragile mental health, because the “system” requires her to be.  In going along with this, I hope to precipitate the statement that will give her access to an education that she can access.  Last year, I reached my line; she was so extremely distressed that she was making herself physically ill.  Each morning saw a physical struggle to get her to let me go, and one morning her fierce need to flee resulted in her hand being caught in a door as a member of staff tried desperately to keep her safely indoors.  That day I said no more.  No more physical restraint, no more closing doors behind me, no more carrying her off screaming.  This is no way to treat a young girl of ten who is so distressed that she cannot control her behaviour more than that.

So far this year, school and I have worked within the constraints of the system and within the boundaries of Sweet Girl’s dignity and health.  The various agencies that become involved when children are not in school sufficiently also seem to be understanding that she is not truanting, nor is she a school refuser (they haven’t actually worked that one out yet, but they do acknowledge her anxiety).  And so I have hope that we will achieve the goal I have in mind: that she access a school where she will feel safe and nurtured enough to allow her to learn.  In her case (and each is absolutely and compellingly unique) this has to be a special school.  Luckily, fortunately, there is a school not far from home which I believe suits her ideally.

My fear is that the wheels and cogs of the system turn very slowly.  Because of this, I am “supposed” to apply for secondary schools this week at the latest.  Mainstream only since she does not currently have a statement.  Rather than ignore the system, I have written a candid letter explaining the reasons which prohibit me from applying to such schools.  I also have the backing of paediatricians and psychiatrists.  In an email, the system (nameless) urges me to apply for fear of becoming a “late applicant”.  This is mentioned with a considerable dread – though I feel they missed my point that I have no preferred choice of school given that none of the available schools would be able in any way to meet Sweet Girl’s needs.

So I have made a decision.  I abhor uncertainty; it fills me with nameless fear, opens the floodgates to panic and generally makes me jittery.  IN order to avoid a year of such uncertainty I needed to have a back up option for next September.  Having discussed the options with Darling Man (Sweet Girl need not know any of this at the moment), I have decided that I will home educate Kesia in September if we have not yet obtained the right placement for her.  I will not stop fighting for her, and I will probably ask the doctor’s help (I would rather not remove her from the school system officially – these are details that I only need to deal with IF the situation occurs).  But I will not place her in the dragon’s jaws, and I will not allow her to drown.  She must maintain an anchor of safety and stability and mainstream secondary school would cut her off from that.

In a later post I’m hoping to explore the myriad ways in which one can home educate.  It is a wonderful and frightening world of possibility – exciting and fabulous, heavy with responsibility and also potential.  It is one in which I have already dipped my toes, and though I fear its necessity, I also hold a glimmer of exhilaration at the thought of exploring learning with my Sweet Girl…



Trudy is really quite special.  For those of you not yet in the know, each family has a named Tooth Fairy.  She is responsible for collecting and grading baby teeth, and leaving a small reward for each loss.

As a mother, I have the privilege of knowing our Tooth Fairy’s name, and having access to her email address.  Until recent years, my communication with her was through my wardrobe (this also gives me access to Santa’s elves and emergency access to the Special Toys division – a necessary tool when Blue was lost temporarily as it allowed me to give Eldest Blue’s twin, LB… Loving Bear), but the Tooth Fairies are nothing if not technologically advanced, so Trudy and I communicate by email.

Now, much as I love Trudy and appreciate her work, she is in all honesty a bit of a flake.  I have three children, all of whom fall under her care, and I believe I’m right in saying that she has never, not once, arrived in time.  Most children lose a tooth during the day, and find a toy or coin under their pillow on the following morning…  Not mine.  Trudy’s best timing has been to arrive a few days late.  This summer, however, saw her beat all of her past lateness records.

Sweet Girl lost a tooth at the end of July.  It was a big one, a molar and she was very excited, as her tooth loss rate has radically slowed with age.  Kesia has a rather good relationship with Trudy through letters written by both and left under her pillow.  For though Trudy is often late, she has a lovely soft heart and usually writes a letter to explain her tardiness and apologise for it.  Sweet Girl has a soft spot for her teeth, and finds it quite disturbing to think that her teeth are somewhere unknown, so she had previously asked Trudy to leave her tooth and written her a letter to that effect in which she candidly admitted that though she would like her customary coin she understood that this might not be possible.

The following week, when Trudy had finally managed a visit to our house (on that occasion, I believe her wand had broken down and she had found herself stranded at the office), not only did she leave a coin for Kesia, but also left the tooth and a note explaining that she had obtained special dispensation from her boss, Prunella, to leave the tooth in situ.  She does have to visit in order to leave a coin and grade the tooth, but it seems that with this dispensation she is still able to transfer enough magic from the tooth to her wand to warrant leaving payment.

Sweet Girl is very aware of Trudy’s kindness, but also her flaws.  She, along with her brothers,  never expects Trudy to come on time; not does she expect Trudy to remember much from one visit to the next.  So when she lost this tooth in July, she prepared it by putting it her special “lost tooth” pillow together with another letter reiterating her desire to keep her teeth, but also to receive a coin…

A week passed, then another.  Sweet Girl patiently waited.  Another few days, and she let me know that Trudy had not been.  I duly promised to send an email as a reminder to our sweet but absent minded Tooth Fairy.  No reply!  And I have to admit I then forgot entirely about this tooth.  Sweet Girl did not…

August passed with no visit from Trudy.  This was quite a record, and I became a little concerned for her.  She had never been quite this late before.  I sent another email, and copied Prunella in.  Immediately, a reply from Prunella came through:

Trudy has been out of TFHQ contact for several weeks now.  We have teams scouring the Earth and FairyLand for her and will inform all her families when we have further news.  Should you hear from her, please let me know.  In the even that you cannot reach me, please ensure that you inform the Duty Tooth Fairy Manager at TFHQ.

As you can see, Prunella is not to be trifled with.  To be quite honest, I find her a daunting person; though she gets the job done and is phenomenally efficient, I have to admit I prefer Trudy.  With all her flakiness she is lovely and sweet and always makes me smile.

There followed some nervous days and weeks.  Each morning, Sweet Girl would check her pillow, and her face was a little sadder with each passing day.  We were all quite concerned about Trudy’s fate; after all the job of a Tooth Fairy can be quite precarious.  Flying all over the world, assigned families with varying beliefs and customs can lead a fairy into quite treacherous ground at times.

Mid September, and Little Man lost a tooth.  We all held our breaths!  Now Trudy had two teeth to collect from our house… would she make it?  Would this extra tooth call to her and lead her out of this unknown exile?

Would you believe it, but the following morning, not only had Little Man’s tooth gone, but two coins had been delivered along with two letters from Trudy!

I did not capture the joy on those two little faces in the morning, nor Sweet Girl’s relief that her Tooth Fairy was alive and well.  Let me simply say that we had a truly magical morning.

And here is the marvel of Trudy, our Tooth Fairy.  She knows of the children’s abilities ever so well, and has always written them letters that they are able to read themselves.  So Tom’s letter was a beautiful, and simple one:

I especially love the personalised notepaper, the tiny letter, and the fact that she has chosen an orange font!  Somehow she knows Tom’s favourite colour!  (She also knows that Eldest is “above” such things as fairies, and has not bothered him or his teeth for the last couple of years…)

Kesia, on the other hand, already has a rather established relationship with Trudy.  An explanation for her prolonged absence was duly required, and given…

 

Dear, dear Kesia,

Oh my goodness, what has happened?  There I was, on my way to your house last August, because my bell rang letting me know you had lost another tooth. Now, I do know that you would like to keep your teeth, and Prunella has given special permission that you may do so, but I still need (and want) to visit you.  One of the reasons for this is that I must measure your tooth for our records.

Anyway, there I was flying over the English Channel, when I got swept up in a timey-wimey cloud (strangely enough, it was slightly purple).  Next thing I know, I’m in the bedroom of Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, Beatrice.  I remember her very well, because I used to be her Tooth Fairy too.  Her mum always used to call her “Baby”.

Unfortunately, my wand (as you know it does tend to break down quite a lot) chose this moment to go on the blink.  It simply would not communicate with Head Office, so I couldn’t tell Prunella where (or when) I was.  Baby is luckily a bright little girl, and when she saw what a desperate plight I was in, called her mother. Being the Queen, Victoria has special dispensation to see fairies face to face, and she arranged for a special visit to the Victorian Tooth Fairy Minister who eventually (after a lot of paperwork) managed to send me to the correct time.  Time travel is rarely a precise thing, however, and I arrived yesterday – having missed two whole months!!!

So here I am… I’m very impressed with your tooth, it holds a remarkable potential of fairy magic in it.  Keep it safe and it will give you strength when you need it most.

All my love, your tooth fairy,

Trudy

Trudy may well be a flake, and she may be responsible for any patience my children have developed… but she has a wonderful heart, and I wouldn’t change her for the world.

In a life of tangles, the simple pleasures of tooth fairies and other magical creatures are a joy!

 

 



Eldest is home for half term.  It’s going remarkably well.

Now… as a mother, my expectations are not high with him during holidays.  I have made a list of expected tasks (colour coded, rotas included, and laminated!!  With a check list on the back) which includes getting up by 8am weekdays, 9am weekends, getting dressed, applying deodorant, having breakfast.  There is a big part of me that feels that I am not setting standards too high for a twelve year old.

But… these are things that he really struggles with, and for him to comply with any rules and routines is remarkable.  My check list is full of ticks!!  There have been shouting matches, and some nasty confrontations, but they’ve been resolved really rather well.  We’ve even had some very good late night chats (by which I really mean therapy sessions – always with the late night heartfelts…).

Eldest LOVES his laptop.  And I have to say, he’s spent most of his time on it this week.  Which normally makes me feels deeply uneasy.  We have got out of the house at least once a day which helps, and his compliance with our few rules makes all the difference.

What is new, however, is that laptop gaming has now turned into a social activity!  Thanks to Minecraft and Skype, I now feel as though there are two or three nearly teenage boys in my house!!  It’s a strange and slightly freaky experience, but also rather lovely to witness my Aspie playing with his friends.  For those of you familiar with The Big Bang Theory, the scene is extraordinarily reminiscent of THIS clip. (Embedded videos, I suspect, only come when one pays WordPress).  of course, in my house, I only have one geek sat at his laptop – the friends being in their respective homes somewhere in the UK (I think it’s only boys from school at the moment… oh the joys of the internet).

Later in the evening, I do insist on him coming downstairs, if only to avoid the fight that comes at bedtime… the plus side being that his communication then turns to typing rather than talking – excellent for his typing skills I think!!

And so, I got to thinking…

Parents of children with Asperger’s syndrome are often found to talk of their love/hate relationship with all things technological.  Our children are often extremely at ease with computers, happy only when in front of a screen and “reliant” on such devices as DS’s, playstations etc…  Of course, when we mean reliant, we usually mean that we rely on said devices.  They provide what is often the only moment of peace and respite in the day.  They also allow us to see progress, hope and potential in our children which in daily life is most usually missing.

And yet, we hate them.  Because our children are obsessive by nature.  This means that, although we love the peace that a computer provides, we hate the conflict that the same machine causes.  Eldest has almost no sense of time.  So whether he has been on his computer for ten minutes or several hours, the wrench he experiences when it is time to stop is equal, and dreadful.  The ensuing emotional outburst can be extraordinary.

When I see the animations that Zack has programmed on Scratch, or the creations he builds on Minecraft, I am bowled over by his talent and his ability.  And yet I hate the machine deeply for turning him into a bolshy, aggressive recluse.

In the last few days, I have witnessed a group of these young boys demonstrating very typical social behaviour.  That they do so at miles from each other, using computers and games is really beside the point.  The technology gives them a platform to do so, in contrast to the “real” world in which they struggle so much to form and maintain relationships.

And it struck me that the very thing that we parents love and hate has been created by our children.  Over generations, these quite amazing people have devised, engineered and built a world in which they can thrive.  The rest of us reap the benefits of computers, the internet, ever-evolving software etc…  But actually, I’m beginning to think that Aspies are taking over the world!  And in creating a world which suits them, they are far better able to communicate, socialise,and … well, live!

I was discussing this with Darling Man earlier this evening (another wonderful Aspie, who also lives very much through his laptop) and our thoughts very quickly turned to “how did Aspies cope without all of this?”.  We each ended up feeling that they probably fell into two groups:  those who were doing the creating, the building, the engineering; the scientists, philosophers, engineers.  And the drop-outs.  Those who simply could not cope with society and did not have the means (social, financial, intellectual) to be among the first group.  I dread to think how many prisons were filled with people like Eldest, how many of the homeless in the cities shared his difficulties with social convention and expectation.

How glad I am, we are, to live in our time, and our place.  To have the means, intellectual, financial, social, to provide Eldest with possibility.  Right now, that means playing silly computer games with friends miles and miles away.  But tomorrow?…  Who knows!



Four little words I hear a lot.  Or variants thereof.  And my answer is often dissatisfying.  I’m generally on top of this knot of yarn I call my life, and the thing I crave more than anything else is continuity…  for one day to be more or less exactly as the same as the one preceding it, and similar enough to cause confusion to the one that follows.  That gives me control, or at least the illusion of control; in turn that gives me a sense of peace.

But there are things that help.  A cup of tea is always salutary.  The occasional invitation to tea after school for an impromptu pizza or pasta for the kids is a real blessing.  Those home cooked meals that were put in my freezer when my lovely Maman was over for a week – just perfect for those evenings when exhaustion takes over.

One of the favourite things in my life is Post Pals.  A little, locally run charity that defies easy definition, but that provides moments of joy and happiness to families all over the UK who are struggling with chronic illness or disability.  Their tag line?

Brightening the lives of sick children

A parcel day from Post Pals…

Post Pals have a number of off shoots now, with various projects to ensure their “Pals” get regular post, or gifts, but the basic concept is the one I love most.  Each Pal registered with them has a page describing their likes, dislikes, siblings and parents, and a brief summary of their difficulties.  Parents are asked to update once a month.  That’s it.  Plus an address.

Eldest… for those not in the know, this is a wonderful expression of calm and happiness. I love it!

Anyone, from anywhere can pick up a pen and send that child or their siblings a card, or letter.  And believe it or not, my favourites are often the bright postcards that simply shout out “Hi Tom”.  Each and every time my children hear the thump of post landing on the doormat, they rush to find out if they are lucky that day.  More often than not, there is a card or letter for one or other of them.  Smiles follow.

That’s all…

Smiles follow.

Concentration, anticipation… and soon the fizz of HAPPY!

Just from the act of sending the tiniest note, a child smiles.  And that smile has an enormous knock-on effect.  Any sibling fights tend to fizzle out, Mummy smiles and breathes and remembers that however bad things are just now, it’s only a moment.  Just as the smile is only a moment.  Except that a smile is far more powerful than any fight, and a smiley moment shines into the next and into the next… And all of a sudden, that little note has lifted an entire family, often for an entire day!

Little Man engrossed in a gift that several days later he has still not put down!

So the next time you wonder, “how can I help?”…

The next time you find yourself at a loss to what to do…

The next time you want to make a difference…

Go and visit postpals.co.uk

Find a Pal, learn a little about them and send them a card.

Make one, buy one, send one through Moonpig.com

For the price of a little time and a stamp you can and you will make a difference, and make a whole family handle their tangles a little more easily.



Imagine my surprise, all you who are new to the world of blogging, upon finding in my “reader” a lovely post from a blogger I follow avidly.  Cafe Casey had won an award!!  Now, I’m extremely new to this sort of thing and I was thrilled for her – her writing is engaging and informative, and I love her view of the world, teaching and just living.  The name of the award is “One Lovely Blog” and comes attached with a few rules:

1. Thank your nominator

2. Add the badge to your site

3. Share seven things about yourself

4. Pass on the award to 15 nominees

5. Inform the nominees by commenting on their wall

How heart warming is that?  An award that keeps on giving!  I don’t know its origin and the more I think about it, the more charming I find the whole thing.  As I read on some little wonderful facts about Cafe Casey, I was looking forward to discovering new blogs through her list (see step 4).  And boy, were there plenty!!  My Reader is getting fuller, and I now have to factor in “blog reading” time… which by the way, I’m loving.

And then…

Out of the blue…

There I am… Simple Tangles… With the most humbling and lovely comment on my ramblings.

So here I am now… still weepy around the eyes… awarded!  The One Lovely Blog Award.  I shall treasure it always, and must now comply with its equally wonderful rules.

Seven things about myself…

1. I don’t edit.  Ever. And I feel a bit guilty about it.  I can’t help feeling that the “proper” way of writing involves plans, and drafts, and final copies, and editing.  So what stops me?  Partly the fact that for me, blogging is an open heart procedure.  What spills out on to the page is raw “me”, and in part acts as therapy.  When I’ve tried to edit, I find I don’t know where to start.  My bitty sentences?  I actually rather love them.  The  brutal truth?  Well… if it weren’t there nor would this blog be.  So there.  I don’t edit.

2. I’m a bodger… or a “have a go”-er Again, there’s some guilt associated with that.  But if one of the kids needs a skirt or a costume, I’ll slap some fabric in the sewing machine according to some vague guide in my head and hope for the best.  With my knitting, I can’t face undoing – I “incorporate into the design”.  Cake decorating?  This summer was my first go and I loved it – but do I have the patience to refine a new art?  Not so much… I love doing too many things too much.  Some projects are massive successes, others not so much!!  But I keep having a go!

3. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up I’m fairly sure I started old.  Since I was little I looked after and taught people.  Add in some music, and I became a music teacher.  In my journey as a mum of special kids, I’ve slowly learned to grow down.  But now I have in my sights a time when I will have to think about what to do with “my” life.  I’ve no idea!!!  This is new and not entirely comfortable for me, but I’m learning to embrace the unknown a little.

4. I hate pyjamas and I love dresses  especially mad girly ones full of colour… I’m working up to making my own clothes but I’m still a bit scared.  In the meantime I occasionally find clothes which make me smile, then wear them for years and years.

5. Although I write mostly for me, I do want others to read me   I’m not sure what that’s about…. exhibitionism?  A need to reach out, see if anyone recognises what I’m living?  Simple attention seeking?  No idea, but I get a fabulous thrill every time someone reads one of my posts, a massive buzz when I get  “like” and I hit the stratosphere when I get a comment 🙂 

6. I love being a mum, but I’m yearning to find “me” again  My experience of motherhood has been orders of magnitude harder than I thought it would be (and I never expected a walk in the park), and orders of magnitude more fulfilling… life in the fast and bright lane.  In being the mother my kids needed, I lost myself.  I’ve been working on rebuilding that “me” in the past three years, and part of that involves moving forward – I don’t want to be who I was thirteen years ago… Sometimes, I do resent the demands my “job” places on me.  And shhhh…. I don’t really want to be a grandmother.  If I become one I’m sure it will be lovely, but there is a big worry at the thought of my special ones having to deal with parenthood (which would most likely involve special kids of their own), and I fear their hardship and the possibility that they might need me to shoulder some of that.  Clearly, I have plenty of “selfish” left to build me…

[What I said about editing… The last sentence stays in, in spite of my big big fear of putting it out there… it’s the truth of me, at least for now.  But I also know it may change…]

7. Turns out I love writing!   That may seem strange in a blog.  I never kept a journal or a diary – hated them.  I didn’t enjoy creative writing and I never thought my writing was good.  But since starting blogging, I find I love it.  I find my inner voice more on this screen, in this little box than in almost anything else I do, and I love it.  Every now and again it seems my words (unedited as they are) strike a chord, and reach somebody’s heart… and that’s the best feeling in the world…

And now the best part… I get to nominate!!!  Now please bear in mind that I’m new to the world of blogging, that I take this nomination thing VERY seriously, and that my Reader is not yet as full as it might be.  Fifteen is a big number!!!

First:    A lady I met at our local children’s hospice about eight years ago… Our lives have strangely parallel threads and she is an inspiration to me:  Was this in the plan?

2 The Orchestra Director’s Wife  She drew me in with her chickens, but I love the diversity of her posts, her thoughts on life and simple living… A joy to read!

Mindi the Magnificent  A little like Stephanie of Was this in the Plan, Mindi and I have shared journeys of cancer and autism.  She has a unique voice and though she lives on the other side of the world, her writing makes her feel like a kindred spirit – I consider her one of my best friends, and cherish her words.

This next blog is new to me, and I’m loving the rhythm of it.  As a latecomer to England and English (I’m French – oh, another new thing about me!!, and only moved here when I was seven) I enjoy the perspective of someone who view culture and society slightly from the outside.  M E Foley’s Anglo American Experience Blog not only has a wonderful name, but is just that!  I’ve linked to a post about the Shipping Forecast on Radio 4 that fills me with inner peace and joy every time I hear it – regardless of the fact that I know nothing about sailing, am not at all interested in weather and understand none of it!

Yvonne, over at Adventures with Breast Cancer is a friend.  I know her in the outside world, and she is a force of nature, both strong and vulnerable.  Her blog is beautiful, heart breaking and welcoming to all.  Another heart on sleeve blog that I follow with utter passion.

Thanks to Freshly Pressed, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering blogs I’d never have found otherwise (I’m not so good at exploring the “blogosphere”… I get lost and overwhelmed, so Freshly Pressed is helpful fo me!)  What do I love about The Good Greatsby?  The writing, the fact that this is a male author (I’m often in the female world), the names he gives the kids, the lovely references to his wife, the diversity of his posts… just lovely.

Another real world friend whose blog I recently discovered.  I know her as a knitter, she blogs as a cook and I’ve not long found out she’s life coach (not surprising given her calm demeanour, acceptance of all manner of life stuff and wonderful smile).  The Joyful Cook is a celebration of simple, delicious recipes.

Fear No Weebles… I don’t know how to describe this one… funny, interesting, absolutely compelling, and I’m learning a little day by day of what seems to be a community of blogs… I also love the header picture!

Did you Know?  is a lovely simple blog by a high school student.  You’ll simply find interesting facts you probably didn’t know.  The visuals are really nice, and I love reading a young author.

10 The kind of mum I dreamed of being… then special needs to the power of three happened.  I’m revelling in reading of projects that I’d love to tackle, and looking forward to trying some of her tutorials!  Joy and Woe is a joy!

11 I can’t escape it… my life revolves around my children and the fact that they have disabilities… so I find others who live in a similar world.  Here is a lady who is awe-inspiring.  Her family is mostly adopted, and she clearly is a tower of strength – along with the weaknesses that make her a wonderful mother and writer.  She will melt your heart and give you a kick up the behind on those days when getting out of bed feels too hard!  Raising 5 kids with disabilities

12 I love to read things which challenge my view of the world.  I first came across Radical Neurodivergence Speaking through a “share” on Facebook, with some truly useful tips on how to live with Asperger’s syndrome – day to day life tips, not theoretical nonsense.  Don’t visit if you can’t take a quite brutal kind of honesty and opinion.  I go there as often as I see new posts.  It’s refreshing, true and often very informative.

13 Life is not fair.  Stop thinking it should be. Alice is a teenager, has been fighting for cancer for years, and according to doctors it’s winning.  Since “accepting” that, Alice has started a blog, made a bucket list of things she’d like to achieve, become an internet sensation, started one if not a few charities, and already ticked off a good number of things on her list.  Life is not fair, but Alice is kicking its butt and LIVING.  Amazing and wonderful girl! Alice’s Bucket List

14 As I mentioned, I’m new to this world, and I’ve just hit 14!!  So I’m nominating blogs that are new to me!!  This writer reached out to something deep down inside of me and pulled and pulled… and made me laugh out loud.  Interview with a semi-colon not only had me in stitches, but also taught me how to use one of these lovelies; with amazingly beautiful examples! Tom Gething… go learn!

15 Nominating Le Clown feels like introducing someone everyone knows… there’s something incredibly compelling and mad and wonderful about this blog.  I’m still trying to get my head around it, and probably never will – but every time I read it I learn something more about blogging and I smile!

There it is!  My list!  Now I’m off to the best job ever – to write on each of these amazing authors’ walls and let them know that from my little corner of the world, I think their blogs are just lovely!



Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum

Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Eldest is home.

 

And I, and we are happy!

 

There is still an element of surprise at the wonderful, incredible fact that we look forward to seeing him.  Which looks and sounds awful, of course.  You must understand, that there has never been a moment, not a fraction of a fractured second when we did not love him, when my heart did not pull towards him and want to tug him back and envelop him with all the love in the world.  And yet, there was a time even not so long ago when the act of being together, of living with each other brought nothing but pain to us all.  The anticipation of that pain meant that each homecoming from his very special school was a sharp mixture of happiness and deep, deep concern at what might happen.

 

Eldest has Asperger’s syndrome.  He feels profoundly, and each emotion stands alone as it is felt… often unmoderated by other feelings that might in others be present.  He loves deeply, but when he is angry any love he feels is irrelevant.  So although he and I have a very close bond, there have been times (far more than I would like) when anger has been so intense that he has become physically violent – with no restrictions brought on by social taboo.  When a blow is released, the full force of that blow lands.  The same goes for words.  Although he is learning (slowly) that social convention dictates that he must moderate what he says to others and about others, in the heat of frustration or confusion or anger, social convention has no role.  And he has a breathtaking ability to instinctively hone in on his “opponent’s” weak spot, the Achilles heel.  I have always found it fascinating that a child who is so self-oriented and has such inability to put himself into others’ shoes can at such times have a deep knowledge of another…

 

He is a quite wonderful boy.  His brain works in mysterious ways, some of which are remarkable and light up his future with a myriad stars of hope and potential.  There are also a vast number of black holes in there, with the potential to block his stars’ progress.

 

And then there is his quite wonderful school.

 

It took a long time to find a school, and a battle to gain his entry.  All of that is lived in my older blog, The goings-on of my little world and this post is actually not about those dark days.

 

Although…

 

You see, I have a friend.  A wonderful, amazing, inspiring lady that Facebook has given me the privilege of meeting.  Her words of peace and love and acceptance are filled with a wisdom that I feel honoured to witness.  Yet she writes tantalising little things about hope, and seems to find it… frustrating?  Something does not sit well with her when thinking of hope.  I may of course be wrong, and I look forward to reading more of her words, but she has made me think long and hard about hope because it has become something I treasure.

 

I have a very specific relationship with hope, and it began with the dark days, weeks and months before Eldest went to his very special school.

 

It began with a total loss of any hope at all.  I was living at home with a little boy for whom I could see no future.  That is to say, the only paths I could imagine while living with him and trying so so hard to help him were the following.  (And actually it’s really important for me now to separate the last sentence, its subject being my darling boy, from the next because they are no longer linked.)  Suicide, Prison, Homelessness.  My wonderful, special, exhausting little boy was eight years old, and yet these were the only things I could see.  The absence of hope.  Doing the things I had to do in the morning, afternoon and evening, and dreading the following day.

 

Yesterday, Eldest came home for his half term break.  (Well, I went to pick him up, and oh my good golly was the traffic and weather awful… but we got there and back quite safely if tired.)

 

He is now a burgeoning young man of nearly thirteen!!  He smiles again, and every time he does, I see blossoms bursting into the air around him.  He hugs me and his siblings (and his Dad of course), and every time it’s unexpected and as wonderful as the first time he hugged me (on the birth of his little sister – he was nearly two years old).  He (occasionally) accepts our rules, which make family life possible, and that’s very new and takes me by surprise each time.

 

Things are not all good, and his Asperger’s causes real difficulties at times.  But right now, today, on the dawn of his home coming, there is Hope coming along with him.

 

Hope does not have a name, or a face.  I have no idea what lies in his future, but I feel he has a future, where once there was none.  Hope feels like spring, or a waft of air on a hot dry day, or a snowflake on your face.

 

Hope, I suppose, feels like Life.

 



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