Kate's Blog

Follow me if you will as I try to navigate through the ups and downs of my world.

I'm writing this blog to help me make sense of all that has happened - from my diagnosis with non-Hodgkins lymphoma while pregnant with my third child in May 2008
, through to my reflections on chaotic family life as I try to pick up the pieces of my life again.

The kids are so small, and I'm working hard to keep us all safe and to stay in remission.

Stay with me - it won't be all doom and gloom I promise!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas is Coming

How excited can three kids possibly be? I'm not sure that we'll make it through to Christmas in one piece!

Ed - excitable at the best of times - is getting up even earlier in the morning. Given that the alarm goes off at 5.55 every morning, which is early enough in my book, I am findng hearing his voice singing carols more annoying than charming. He can't wait for his sisters to wake up so that they can make a camp or set up a stage to perform a Christmas pantomine. I blame the schools!! No - I'm joking, although there is so much Christmas related activity so early in December in their classes, that they are revved up with joy and anticipation by the time the term actually finishes.

We're getting our tree on Saturday - and then I think I'll feel Christmassy. Maybe I'll make some mulled wine to get into the spirit of the season, while we decorate it. I do make a rather good mulled wine -although the large quantity of rum added to it along with orange juice, cinnamon sticks and brown sugar, can lead to dangerously inebriated behaviour. Or it did last year.... but that's another story!!

Saturday, 3 December 2011


Ed and Martha have gone (on the train - cue squeals of ecstasy!!!!) to stay with their cousins for the weekend. They are terribly excited - the lovely house in the country-side, deep in the Scottish Borders, with a farm just up the road.

And we've got Hattie to ourselves for a night. I was busy today so Rog had a day with her - and took her out for tea. And later I bathed her and put her to bed, with no annoying older siblings to disturb her. Life is definitely easier with only one child although I suppose the house does feel rather empty. We've got a good evening ahead - Rog is cooking and I'm watching X-Factor with a nice glass of wine.

I read 'Room'. I was quite amazed by it, and really moved too. What a strange and unforgettable book.

I'm tired - can you tell? I've got lots of projects on the go, in different areas of my life, including an article coming out in The Guardian newspaper in a couple of weeks time. I'm looking forward to having some time off work at Christmas - just to sleep and read and generally catch up with things.

An early night I think.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Christmas Plans

Four weeks to Christmas..... four weeks! I haven't done anything at all. No Christmas shopping, no planning, no thinking, no decking the halls. Up here in Geordie-land, most people are 'all-in' at this point. Their tree is up, their presents bought and wrapped and the turkey ordered.

I'm half in admiration and half jealous - with just a dash of bewilderment thrown in - ok that's more than a whole but you know what I mean. I can't get Christmassy in November, however if I'm going to rely on online shopping I'd better get a move on otherwise the only thing that will arrive in time for Christmas is, well, not a lot.

I hear you asking what I want....

Well seeing as you ask, an iPad 2 would be fabulous - some chance - and a puppy (loads of time to look after a puppy!!), so I'm probably looking at some books, and maybe some luscious Jo Malone goodies if I'm very lucky.... which isn't too bad. The best present will be a couple weeks off work. Family time will be lovely - although Hattie's ruling the roost these days (was there ever a time that she didn't?)so I'm feeling a little weak, as well as excited, at the prospect of Yule-tide celebrations.

I expect I'll come over 'all Nigella' at some point soon, although being a working woman again has dampened down some of my more ambitious culinary plans. Sleep has become very important - and I haven't seen Nigella draped in fairy lights planning the next day's lessons in between icing cakes and preparing 'impromptu' mid-week suppers. Maybe I just haven't looked carefully enough.

I'm about to start reading Emma Donoghue's 'The Room'- or Keith Richards' autobiography, I can't decide which. Maybe I'll start them together.....

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Still Here....

I'm waiting for the chicken casserole to cook, and I've just finished an online grocery shop to arrive in a couple of days. It's my day off from work, and as usual there's lots to do. It's lovely just pottering around though, doing the stuff I used to do before work dominated my waking hours.

I've taken and picked up the kids from school (what used to be mundane is now appreciated) and watched Martha playing her violin in her concert this afternoon. I would like to return to the time when all I had to do was 'home-stuff' although as my mum reminded me recently, it's not as if those three years away from work were hassle free. Recovering from aggressive cancer with a dreadful prognosis, kind of took up some time!

I'm resolved to write on my blog at least once a week, if not twice - work should not be able to encroach upon my time the way that it does.

It was Ed's birthday last weekend. He's 8. It's practically impossible to process how it might be that a tiny baby in a spotty babygro has become this gangly, charming impossble boy. But it has. And time marches on as the kids grow up and somehow it's nearly Christmas again. I look back on my blog to my Christmas posts over the past couple of years and I marvel how things have progressed for me on all sorts of levels.

I'm not reading as much as I have been - and I'm suffering for that. However I'm limping through novels in record slow time. Most frustrating. At the moment I'm reading 'The Tiger's Wife' by Tea Obreht. She writes like an angel - extraordinary. I'd recommend it if you need to be transported far far away.....

Saturday, 8 October 2011


I know - I haven't been around. Work is proving quite hard going - just trying to balance it with the kids is really quite tough. And I'm so busy that I'm kind of neglecting lots of apects of my life, including my blog.

Anyhow, I'm hoping the work-life balance starts to get a little easier....sometime soon!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Working Blues

So - now I'm working flat out. And it's tiring - and stressful - and just so hard leaving the kids.

Martha's just had a complete meltdown.

"I don't want you to go to work, Mummy. I want you to take me to school every day."

She sobbed for half an hour this evening curled onto my lap like a little baby. I think she felt like one at that point.

I feel pretty low at the moment. If we didn't need the money I wouldn't be doing it - not when the kids are still so small. We've been through a lot - the kids have been through loads in their short lives, nearly losing their mum before they'd even started school. I know most women have to work.... I know it's nothing so monumental. But for our family just at the moment, the dramatic change feels pretty monumental. Not much I can do though really if we're to continue paying that blasted mortgage!

Any advice out there for me???

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Home Again... Holidays Over

I've just been shopping with the kids. And now I need to lie down in a darkened room to renew my breathing abilities. All three needed new school/nursery shoes. The two older ones needed new plimsols for PE. Ed needed the new regulation black shorts/white t-shirts needed now he is in the Junior school. And I spent a fortune yesterday online buying them uniform.

The coats are going to have to wait intil my first pay-cheque (and there was me wondering why I'm going back to work!) Until then they can squeeze into last year's ones.

Children are so expensive....so expensive....so expensive

By the way the floorboards look fantastic. I did have a small sense of humour failure when I came home to the whole house covered with a layer of wood-dust, but now I've regained my sunny outlook (ha ha).

Back to Frankenstein.... Blog, Facebook, Twitter stop distracting me!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

In Cold Blood .... amongst other things

We're still up here in the Highlands, minus Rog who had to head home to work. I'm getting twitchy. Work is looming, ever closer and I'm reading, reading, reading in preparation. No-one could say that I'm not putting in the hours - and I'm not even getting paid yet!

Have you read Truman Capote's 'In Cold Blood'? I'm teaching it, so I thought it was a good idea to read it!! It's fascinating. Amazingly written and chilling for unexpected reasons, mostly for what one can see about how Capote's focus changes as the story unravels. I have spent the past few days feeling as if I'm in Kansas - and not Dorothy's Kansas at that. Instead, a far darker and sadder place. I didn't know before reading the book that Capote was a very good friend of Harper Lee, and in fact she helped him to interview the residents of Holcomb after the murders. I had, however, noted to myself that there was something about Capote's style that reminded me of 'To kill a Mockingbird' - and then couldn't help but feel a little pleased at picking up on that reference from Capote's text alone.

Home at the weekend. Either to my mum's so that Rog can strip (and varnish) our kitchen floor down to the boards, while the kids are out of the way - or not, in which case our slightly manky and very old carpet will have to remain for some time longer. Not sure - the DIY option risks chaos well into next week as Rog (possibly inevitably) discovers that the job will take him longer, while I decide to implode through stress at the dusty and unusable kitchen alongside kids and school and work approaching fast. On the other hand I do hate that carpet so...... and maybe I should be grateful that I have someone willing to hire a horrible big sanding machine and do a job like that - while I'm safely out of the way.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Glamping? I Think Not!

We're home now - weary and grubby, but having had a lovely time (notwithstanding the soaking tent complete with puddles throughout - after a particularly impressive night-long storm). I may be lying if I said that going home at that point didn't cross my mind.

But, visiting Tintagel - King Arthur's amazing castle which falls off the Cornish coast, was a high point. High point in many ways as the huge steps were cut into the cliff edge. Hattie insisted on climbing every step herself - showing a toughness suitable for the court of King Arthur himself.

We went to The Eden Project, The Tate at St. Ives, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Lanhydrock House and beaches, and walks.... and went to the circus.

Camping was kind of fun - more so than I expected. Hattie got increasingly overtired though, missing her afternoon sleeps and inevitably getting to bed much later than usual, bundled into her sleeping bag alongside her big sister. So - it certainly felt pretty full-on, but it was a good family time - time to play Monopoly, to eat breakfast outside together every morning. And Rog and I went to bed much earlier than we usually do. By the time it got dark, bed called - and reading with a flashlight on a blow-up mattress was certainly a novelty which after 10 days lost some of its charm.

The older kids had a great time - buying fresh croissants from the farm shop every morning. Ed made a friend who lives in London, whom he's determined to write to. Even Rog and I had the odd chat with fellow campers - especially our neighbours with their four sons and dog called Hattie (imagine Hattie's delight....)

We're already planning our summer holiday next year - camping in the French Pyrenees maybe?

I've managed to stave off impending job anxiety by living in denial. Job? What job? September? That's months away! etc etc.

I'm feeling much better too at the moment - which showed that I needed a holiday I think. However I am going to have to have an interview by Occupational Health before I start work, which has annoyed and upset me greatly. I'm well enough to go back to work, and if I'm not, then I should be able to receive the disability benefits for which I'm no longer eligible. I've been entirely up-front about my cancer when I had my job interview and I fail to see how an interview with some individual from a private company whose services are bought in by the council employing me, can shed any more light on whether my cancer will return and require me to have time off work. I wish I knew the answer to that question. Having this interview feels intrusive and potentially upsetting. I'm 2 and a half years in remission, and we're skint. So I have to return to work. If I could have some more time to rest and recuperate I would. But I can't.

Anyhow - off to Scotland in a couple of days. Lots of driving this summer, that's for sure.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Travels to Cornwall....and Scotland too

We're on our way down to Cornwall right now - I'm posting from my blackberry in the car! A new and novel way to write - but if I don't write now, and write from my phone, my posts will become even more sporadic!

We've had quite a tiring start to the holiday - just so much to do before we could set off. Same old, same old - packing, cleaning, trying to remember how to put up our tent etc. But now we're in the car on our way! It's a long drive that's for sure, but I'm really looking forward to visit some of the beautiful places right in the foot of the UK.

Our campsite is near St. Austell, which is quite near the Eden Project, and the Gardens of Heligan. And the coasts.... And the pasties... And the cream teas...

I've been quite stressed about starting work in September and have spent the past few weeks doing some preparation which is why I've been absent from the blog. I've also been feeling grotty and tired which is always a cause of concern. In fact - most things have been put on hold while I've been sorting childcare and stuff for the autumn. My book hasn't made much progress but I'm planning to do some work on it later in August when we head up to the highlands of Scotland (yes - we're driving the length and breadth of the country this summer).

And I've got a pile of books packed in the back - hopefully there'll be a bit of time for wine and reading!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Pre-holiday Meanderings

We're going camping soon. But I've so much left to do before we can get into the car and head for the hills (or head for the Cornish pasties at least).

I haven't been writing - on my blog or anywhere else either, as I've been embedded in preparation for my lessons in September. And there's a lot to do. I'm determined to head off on holiday feeling relaxed and as sorted as I can for my return to work.

And sorting the details hasn't been easy - Ed's haemophilia means that being out all day, not around the corner and available for any eventuality, is particularly stressful. I guess it'll sort itself out - but it's sometimes hard to imagine how it can

On a different note - has anyone watched 'In Treament'? It's great, great, great. I'm plannng to watch the rest of the first season this holiday (although not in the tent of course).... and may start the second season, in between re-reading 'Frankenstein' and 'Lord of the Flies (which I'm teaching in September), and reading 'Lacuna' by Barabara Kingsolver and the new Kate Atkinson novel: 'Started Early, Took my Dog' for my own pleasure and delight. That's in-between fielding the tantrums of a small Hattie and refereeing the squabbles of the other two.

Maybe I'll find going back to work restful after that?? Maybe.... maybe not!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011


I know I'm a sporadic blogger again and I apologise. That said, I'm pretty sure you have plenty of other things to do to while away the time between my posts!

Over the past few weeks I've been trying to get my head around what I'm having to do when I go back to work in September. And suffice to say - there's a lot to sort out in a short space of time. Heaven knows how all this is going to work out with the kids. I feel very very stretched in too many directions, and I haven't even started yet.

But I'm determined not to let the writing go - and I want to try to make sure that I devote a regular slot in the week to that..... along with everything else.

I'm dreaming of sandy, hot beaches where I can lie in the shade of a palm tree. Am I heading to a beach? Well, not that kind of beach...... a Cornish one onto which I may stagger from our tent. Not quite the same.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Kids.......My God!

A splitting headache and a terrible 3 year old do not make a good combination as I'm discovering (as if I didn't know) on this sunny Saturday morning. Just one weekend without the kids is all I ask - even if all I do is lie in a darkened room and wait for my migraine to pass.....

Monday, 27 June 2011

Cloud Atlas

Finally, finally, finally I've finished David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas". It has taken me weeks, in between everything else, and I have to say that at times it was hard going enough to make me consider giving up. As you will have gathered, I did not find it an easy read.... but in the end I decided it was a truly amazing one.

The plot is convoluted - six different narratives scroll through the book and connect together at the end. But it takes a leap of faith to believe that such different voices and such different stories can connect in any meaningful way. They do, though. He plays with the way that language has been used in literary narrative over the past two hundred years: some parts of the book are pure pastiche, while the whole book is something quite original indeed.

It's an intellectual read - a funny and at times an annoying read - but certainly a challenging read.

As I read it mostly late at night once I was finally bed, I'd often fall asleep while reading it. And several nights it infiltrated my dreams in unsettling ways. I feel really bereft now I've finished it - which is a testament to how consumed by the book I felt. And I've spent much time pondering the complex messages and themes which Mitchell is exploring.

Have you read this incredible book? If not, I'd recommend it to you. Let me know!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Tiger Mother? I'm Growling like a Kitten

Thanks everyone for your lovely and supportive comments after my last post. I haven't got the results yet - and I'm guessing no news is good news. As I said, it was a routine scan - but my reactions really surprised me. Clearly something inside me wasn't feeling routine.

Now, I'm grappling with a new and different issue. Have you heard about the 'tiger mother'? You must have done. It's the name given to pushy parenting, or maybe more accurately to parenting in a more traditional way. So it's making your kids practice their reading, maths and musical instruments everyday whether they want to or not. It's about not praising your children for every move they make, instead one might ask them to try harder before you praise.

Some time ago I read 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother' by Amy Chua. It caused a big controversy on both sides of the Atlantic. I thought it was quite funny and I thought that much of it was written tongue in cheek. The controversy I thought came, largely, from a collective sense of humour failure.

However, undeniably Amy Chua presents herself as a pushy mother. Very different from me and my parenting style. But after I read it I thought I'd try an experiment.

Both Ed and Martha play the cello and violin respectively. I encourage them to practice but if I'm honest the time seems to fly between lessons, and sometimes - what with everything else - the practice can fall by the wayside. We pay for these lessons, the kids enjoy playing and I want them to stick at it. But I'm guilty of letting the practice slide sometimes.

So, I decided that for a while I'd make them practice for 15 minutes a day. And I decided that I'd be just a tad more critical. I wouldn't just say, 'That's lovely, Ed', if it actually wasn't. Instead I resolved to ask him to do it again and do it better. Just a bit, a teensy bit of Chua style parenting! The kids were quite surprised. And a little bit outraged it has to be said.

But..... their music has improved and they are enjoying playing so much more. With the practice - properly focused and a just a little bit demanding - has come a leap ahead in terms of achievement. They're doing better, they play better and they're having fun.

Interesting, really. I guess it's certainly so - that if I'm half-hearted about something, even accidentally half-hearted, that doesn't help them to succeed.

Right - on with the Latin then.

Only joking.....

Monday, 13 June 2011

Rage Against the Machine

On Thursday I went for a scan on my spine. It was an MMR scan and although ordered by my oncology consultant, I was not too worried as it was meant to be checking out a long-term lower back problem which actually pre-dates the cancer. Not too worried in theory - but in reality any scan makes me sick that something horrendous will be found.

And because I was not worried, I took myself off on my own. My friend was looking after Hattie and the kids were at school. To be honest it didn't really occur to get Rog or my mum to come with me. I've had enough hospital appointments to know what I'm dealing with. Or so I thought.

Walking through the oncology department where I have my check-ups, where I had my radiotherapy; walking behind a nurse who looked after me when I was at my illest during my bone marrow transplant, who didn't recognise me - that was all ok.

It was when I was sitting in the waiting room for the scan that things began not to be ok. In the small, cramped room were people waiting for CT scans and MMR scans. Mostly old people as they always are, needing scans for all sorts of reasons. Chattering and nattering away - seemingly entertained by the novelty of a hospital appointment: for some one can't help but wonder if having something worthy of an appointment is almost an event to celebrate. But opposite me was a woman - younger than me. She had no hair; was thin, pale, crying and was retching as she tried to swallow the liquid which one has to drink for the CT scans. She was hanging onto her boyfriend who was trying to shield her a little and give her some privacy from the prattling around her.

And I knew. I knew how ill she felt. I knew how scared and angry she felt. Because three years ago I had many scans when I too was sitting, holding onto Roger and trying to hide my vomiting. I remember being petrified about the results - my whole life hanging suspended, waiting for the call to tell me what the machine had revealed.

I wanted to say to her that I had been where she was now and that my prognosis had been so terrifyingly poor. I wanted to say, "look at me now!". But of course I didn't. Instead I concentrated on hiding my tears of horror and stared down at the blurred page of my book.

Called into my scan - I burst into tears as the surprised technician sat down to take me through the details of my test.
"Couldn't you find that poor girl somewhere else more private to wait?" I sobbed. "Can't you see how ill and scared she is?"

And then I lay down in the jaws of a machine which resembled a tube as claustrophobic as a coffin. I've only ever had an MMR scan on my leg, so I didn't have to lie right inside. I've had plenty of CT scans which are unpleasant and scary but quick nevertheless.

I hadn't read the information which came with the appointment booking. I hadn't realised that I would be inside this contraption for up to 50 minutes, wearing headphones to try to block out the horrendous clanking, grinding and scraping.

I was pushed into the tube, lying on my back, my nose a few inches from the top, my hands on my stomach holding an emergency buzzer if things became too much, my arms pinned to my side. And the scan began.

I started to cry. Lying alone, deep inside the machine, the tears fell straight down my neck into my hair. I couldn't move my arms to wipe them away.

I think it was a kind of panic attack. I don't do panic attacks. I'm quite a down to earth person by and large. But I had terrible flashbacks in that machine to my radiotherapy. I hadn't thought about the radiotherapy, I don't think, since I finished it. But all of a sudden I could picture the way the little cogs wouuld move and change above me to emit the damaging radiation deep inside my chest.

I tried to calm down, telling myself that apart from anything else if I buzzed for them to take me out, the whole thing would just last for longer - and if I refused to have the scan, there would be that uncertainty and worry at the back of my mind: what if there was something to find after all?

So I summoned up all that I had and took some deep breaths. I closed my eyes and pictured a walk I love step by meticulous step. From time to time I looked up at the top of the inside of the scanner and focused on a tiny dot in the plastic. The roof was so close to my eyes that it was hard for my eyes to focus and the dot kept dividing into two. How many others had done the same thing?

After 20 minutes they pulled me out and injected some contrast dye into my arm. I'd managed to surreptitiously wipe away the tears by then. I wasn't ashamed of crying - I just couldn't deal with talking about it at that moment at all. And back I slid into the depths.

The second half of the scan was easier. The shock at the strength of my feelings had passed. And now I knew how claustrophobic the scanner was. I spent the rest of the time thinking how I was going to make the kids' hyena costumes for their performance (almost as stressful as a scan for un-artistic me, and certainly distracting!!!!), and picturing my drive home to fetch Harriet. I was relatively calm by the time all was finished - but felt absolutely washed out and exhausted for the rest of the day, and was really shaky on the drive home.

I don't know why I'm surprised really - but I am nevertheless - at the degree to which my traumatic memories can come up and grab me by my throat in dreams, or sometimes still in my everyday existence.

I haven't had the results yet.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The River Tyne

This morning we went for walk. But instead of heading out of the city as we usually do, we decided to explore much closer to home. And alongside the Tyne, heading under the famous bridges, out of the light, and hugging the muddy water-line like a shadow, was a path.

Walking down this path felt ridiculously intrepid and exciting. All these years I've lived here and I've never known of this path's existence. Have I never been curious enough to wonder if it's possible to walk beside the river, towards the horizon, past the glamorous quayside with its galleries, cafes and restaurants?

The Tyne is a romantic sort of river, but away from the centre of the city it is mysterious and a little formidable. The life which surrounds this part of the river is much more private; strange objects tossed into the shore-line quagmire speak of adventures, games and sometimes things more sinister. A bike entirely submerged apart from its pedals made me wonder why someone would come this far to dispose of junk in such a dramatic way. While we found a place to turn around, the path headed onwards destined for the Tyne Valley, destined to leave even the dregs of the city far behind. Along this path you can walk or cycle coast to coast - I'm taking my blue bike along there one day soon.

But on the way back we turned directly up the steep riverbank, trying to take a shortcut home, and followed a narrowing path into the depths beneath the foundations of the train bridge. In the rusting, shadowy iron hollows which form the giant girders of the looming bridge lay pools of strange and rotting detritus. As the undergrowth closed around us, now I urgently wanted to get away back to the civilisation which we could hear around us but could not see. It didn't feel a good place to be with the kids - discarded clothing lay around as well as other pieces of 'equipment' which we recognised but thankfully the kids did not. A padlocked clearing, covered with barbed wire and rickety corrugated iron to keep out intruders, looked threatening and dangerous. Quickly, we retraced our steps back down to the muddy riverside and walked back along the path we'd left, once more hearing the echoing bridges far above us.

Back at home, realising that this derelict and forbidding place awash with the reverberations of the city is only a moment away, has made me feel disorientated. I feel as if I have newly arrived here - all that seems familiar is for the moment superimposed on top of my new sense of the river, winding nearby and possessively keeping safe its secrets.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Martha is staying on her own at her grandma's. It's just a night but it has been organised with all the seriousness and gravitas which preparations for a royal visit might entail. Those pajamas, those clothes for tomorrow and that book for tonight.

I unpacked her toothbrush when we arrived and called her into the bathroom.

"There's your toothbrush and there's the toothpaste", I said, nonchalantly waving a hand in the general direction of the sink. "I'm telling you now, so you know where they are for later."

There was a pause.

"I think I'd better move them, Mummy", she said with firmness and something close to sympathy for my cavalier clumsiness.

And oh so carefully she moved the toothbrush and the toothpaste just a tiny bit: straightened them up and aligned them exactly.

"There", she said with satisfaction. "That's much better."

And I'm not sure that I've ever loved her more than at that moment.

"Much better", I agreed.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


I was offered a job today. A part-time job I really wanted in a great school. I am quietly pleased with myself - the interview was challenging: I haven't worked for three years and I had to admit to the gaps which would necessarily be there after some time out of a profession which changes faster than is strictly necessary! But as I said to them, I'm a fast learner.

It's all a big step forward on the journey to my future - my healthy future where my cancer is nothing but a horrible memory. This time three years ago I had started my chemotherapy, my hair was falling out and I didn't know if I would see Christmas. I wouldn't and couldn't have imagined that I'd ever be well enough again to apply for and accept a job like this.

It's the same old stuff - yada, yada yada. This time three years ago yada yada yada. But I'm still living with the legacy of what happened in many ways - physically and emotionally. It's increasingly a private legacy: there's only so many times you can say these things to the people around you without, I don't know, sounding as if you're going on.... I seem to be able to 'go on' on my blog though. Sorry.

Anyhow - that's good news for me and for the family, although there'll be some changes around here! I do feel bad for Hattie - our peaceful days of lunchtime CBeebies' watching will be truncated. But I'll still be at home for part of the week, and we need the money. And maybe I need to get back to my career. My other career.... I'm still hoping, probably in vain, the writing will take off.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

What I'm Going To Be When I'm (ahem) Older

See - I've neglected my blog too long and my blogland friends have turned their attentions elsewhere - very understandably I might add. But I'm still here, and I'm determined to keep going. Maybe I can encourage you all to come back by some scintillating posts. Hmmmm. That's a problem right there then!

So, I was going to tell you some stuff about me which you might not know. Why should you? And then I began to think about myself in a kind of analytical sort of way. And then I began to wonder where I'm heading (in a life-journey, metaphorical kind of way rather than a heading off on the school run kind of way) and I thought about all the stuff I still want to do before I die as a happy and very old woman.

Here goes:

- I'm heading off on the tran-Siberian Railway just as soon as I can (don't hold your breath)

- I want to publish a short-story that I'm really proud of. In fact I want to publish the next Booker Prize winning novel, but small steps and all that.

- I need to ride horses in Argentina

- I want to experience at least one of those exotic beach holidays that other people always seem to have. You know - three weeks in the Maldives or somewhere with just Roger and a HUGE pile of books for company

- I want to buy a house in Pollensa in Majorca

- I want to travel to New Zealand, Australia and .....oh, to a host of other places too

- I want to have a really toned and bendy body, in an, "aren't you fabulous at yoga and pilates?" sort of way.

- I want to be able to achieve a zen-like approach to life, and be remembered and missed as that serene and wise old woman

Ok - this is actually a list in progress I've just realised. To be added to as and when. I have noticed a certain wanderlust theme - tricky with those pesky kids in tow, no money and annoyingly tying jobs. Anyhow...... a girl can dream.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Back to Work

So - if I go back to work next year (it's looking maybe like 4 days a week - it's the only offer I've had which isn't full-time!!) I'll feel guilty and sad at all that I'm missing. Hat's still small, the other kids are not big and they all need their mummy. I'll need to fight to be able to have enough time to see their school plays and concerts and to see Hattie settled for her mornings at nursery. I'll still be organising all the shopping and cooking and washing with a big burden of marking essays, planning and general work-demands hanging over me too. Can I cope with secondary teaching (high school, that is) and all the stresses that it brings, along with all the current stresses of family life.....as well as the ongoing saga regarding my health????

But - we need the money first and foremost. Even with childcare (lots to be thought about there) the money I'll earn will come in very very useful. I'll have all those weeks of holiday when I'm free to be with the kids and Roger and I'll still have a day a week to get myself, the house and the kids organised. Bills need to be paid, and life is always too expensive however hard you try to be frugal, something which isn't a natural character trait of mine I'm forced to admit. The time has come I guess, but with Hattie just 3 it's come quicker than I anticipated. I worked before I had Hattie when the other kids were very small. It was just two days a week and I remember how hard it was just to get everyone out of the door. And now I have to give Ed his treatment twice a week in the early morning just to add a small detail of fun into the mix.

Underneath it all, though, I have to admit to a little (and sometimes very fleeting indeed) flicker of excitement at the prospect of finding some sense of myself again -an adult, work-place me with something new and challenging to do. Teaching changes all the time - I haven't worked for three years and there'll be a steep learning curve up which to climb.

I need time to write though, and I need space to stay well. Three years ago I was dying and since then I underwent a year of hardcore treatment to get into remission. I'm coming up to 2 and a half years in remission now. It's a good length of time, but it's not 5 years. Not yet.

I've got to find a balance so that I can keep healthy and keep my family well. What a terrifying prospect.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


I just can't get anything done!!

How am I expected to clean the house, shop, cook, do the washing, ferry the kids around - all with an obstreperous Hattie in tow - and also write regularly, blog regularly and chase part-time teaching work for September?????

And all that's without factoring in the haemophilia. This morning I optimistically - and some would say stupidly - dressed for a run. My lovely child-minder friend was having Hattie for the morning (.... some crazy idea that it'll get her used to me going back to work), and I thought that I might just be able to sneak away before returning to the long imaginary to-do list in my head which began highlighted in bold, 'Hoover Ed's Bedroom' (oh.... the glamour of my life). I won't continue down the list but you get the picture.

Anyhow.... Ed has had a painful bleed deep inside his knee since Monday tea-time when he went out to play football. I treated him on Monday night (new blue needles) and again yesterday morning. But this morning he was still hobbling - packing him off to school, while tempting, didn't seem to be the entirely responsible option. So, after changing out of the fetching running gear, off we went to hospital. Last week he was there on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, this week he missed this whole morning and may have to go tomorrow if things aren't settled.

I am meant to be starting to write an article as well as ringing and arranging to visit several schools today. I also promised Rog I'd look over his latest job applicaton letter (for a headship - not bad!), and I wanted to run (did I mention that), and I needed to clean, as usual. Now I have about half an hour before the school run and all I want to do is lie comatose... or at least slump with a cup of tea in hand.

I also wanted to post on my blog today. Have actually done that! I've achieved something then!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

My Love Affair with the City - It's Starting Right Now

Who-eeeee! The kids (well at least the older two) have started going to a local theatre club on a Saturday morning.

For 3 hours!!

Now I'm not saying, in any way, that it's lovely to have three hours of relative peace with Rog and Hattie. Three hours with no squabbling, no crazy TV watching (Ed), and no listless Saturday slouching (Martha).

All I am saying is that they enjoy their drama, and we enjoy heading towards our local cafe and kind of experiencing (remember there's still Hattie spilling juice and dropping toast)the blissful Saturday mornings we had pre-kids.

We've always dreamed of moving out to the country. Not far, just to the beautiful Tyne Valley, where I could live my fantasy of country housewife (ha ha). Yes - chickens, ducks and dogs all figure in this life I've concocted. I've always explained to anyone who'll listen that as soon as we can we're heading out of the city.

But recently, as the kids inch ever older, I have to admit to a certain pleasure in city life and what it can offer. Last week I met a friend for a pizza one evening, went to my course at the university and did a Zumba class. I would have taken Hattie to the Sage Concert Hall to take part in a music class if Ed hadn't needed a trip to the hospital (which given the haemophilia and my trials and tribulations is conveniently only minutes away)......and the kids can go to a drama club on a Saturday morning. Not to mention the Tyneside Cinema which is the most wonderful art-house cinema in the centre of Newcastle, and fabulous Pannis with its wondrously, life-affirmingly handsome Italian waiters (get the picture?) and its beautiful, beautiful coffee.

If I'm sounding smug or like some kind of crazy city-phile, you only have to show me an old farmhouse in fields surrounded by sheep, for the grass over there to seem seriously greener. But I'm learning to love my city-life all the same for the good things it can bring to a tired girl who is faintly remembering who she used to be beneath the exhausted and rumpled mother she's become.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Wednesday Blues

I've been for a run! Well - more like a power walk with sporadic and very short bursts of running. But still - I got myself into gear and headed for the park. And I've booked a Zumba class for Friday too.

I'm pretty sure that there won't be any discernable change on the outside for some time to come.....but I feel fitter already.

It's been such a hassly week. Ed has been backwards and forwards to hospital after hurting himself at a roller-skating party at the weekend. And yesterday - again - I couldn't find a vein. The upshot of me not being able to treat him myself before school, was that we had to spend the best part of the morning at the hospital; Hattie missed her music session which she loves and spent most of the morning wailing in disappointment; and I??? I could feel my blood pressure rising! Today we've just returned home from the second visit of the week - it ran so late that I just got Ed back to school in time for the afternoon session. And even then he was eating his lunch in the car on the way. I'll be lucky if Hattie gets any sleep at all before I have to whisk her out of bed and go to fetch the kids.

On top of this, I have one seriously overworked, seriously stressed husband who's not sleeping due worrying..... and we have no bloody money. I need to find a job, and fast! Although I'm not sure how all the ferrying, cooking, cleaning and washing will get done if I'm working as well.

So - I'm pleased that I did actually head out to the park this morning before the hospital appointment. I was almost distracted by the state of the house (how I wish I had a cleaner), but in the nick of time I decided that some fresh air would do more for my spirits than a clean house. And it did - although the stairs selfishly didn't hoover themselves while I was out.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Weekend and all that stuff.....

Another weekend filled with kid-related activity.

Before I start to moan about how exhausting it is to have three small children, and I'm afraid to say that this had been the intention of this post - a familiar theme of my blog, I'm sure you'll agree - I need to announce Harriet's third birthday. While this is hugely significant for her (chocolate cake with Smarties and "cangles" or should that be candles??), it is enormously significant for me too.

Three years ago I was visiting my tiny premature daughter, born at 32 weeks, in the Special Care Baby Unit. She spent her first days hooked up to tubes with an oxygen mask strapped over her impossibly tiny face. I had just come from another part of the hospital having had a scan to see if the cancer had spread from my chest into my abdomen. My prognosis was poor and my first dose of chemotherapy was scheduled for the following week; and after that I was facing the best part of a year of aggressive in-patient chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and radiotherapy. My other two small, small children were waiting for me to come home.

I am increasingly bemused to think how I managed that time from moment to moment. I know I spent my days, and nights, waiting to die. And I never, never, never thought I'd be making Hattie a cake on her 3rd birthday here in May 2011. She had a party with all her family this weekend. And along with singing, "Happy Birthday to you", we all quietly toasted my health too.

I'm not out of the woods yet - I have to get to her sixth birthday to throw the mother of all parties. I'm planning one too. It'll be my 45th birthday just after her 6th. On my 40th I was still very unwell, so a party was not really in order. But if I'm here on my 45th - and I'm more confident than I've been for the past three years that I might just get there - we're celebrating in style. I'm already saving for the holiday of a lifetime for Roger and I.

It's good to look forward - I can tell you.

So - luckily for you, I'm not going to moan after all. I'll save that for next time!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Here's the latest posting then - from the Western Isles of Scotland. The weather has been fantastic: suncream a necessity and picnics a staple.

We've been cycling, walking and I've been reading as much as possible. Our friends came to stay for the first week with their daughter and the four kids had a whale of a time doing lots of kid stuff - rolling down the sand-dunes, watching films and eating the first round of chocolate easter eggs which seemed this year to have appeared with alarming regularity.

It's tiring though - full-on family time leaves me feeling exhausted. No school to take the kids off my hands for a while, and Hattie's afternoon sleeps have been truncated shall we say. By the time the kids are in bed, I'm kind of ready for bed myself. Rog and I are slowly watching our way through the box-set of 'The Killing' - the Danish series. It's fantastic, have you watched it? The down-side are the subtitles which require more concentration than one might expect, especially when you're trying to follow the intricacies of a fast-paced psychological drama....in Danish! Last night we resolved to watch TWO episodes - and by the time the second one was on we were both falling asleep in shifts and then waking and saying, "What's just happened?" Needless to say much re-playing of crucial moments was happening. I got to the point where I was wondering if I could manage to close my eyes between the subtitles appearing. Time for bed? I think so!

We've another three days or so here before we have to head home and normal life will have to be resumed. We'll avoid the dreaded Royal Wedding - up here in Scotland it's not even a bank holiday thank heavens. Fervent anti-royalist though I am, I have to admit to a sneaking interest in her dress!! So I might just watch the news or something to catch a glimpse. Have I completely lost it? Don't tell anyone! I've a hospital appointment next week, so has Hattie (not for anything too serious) - and she has her third birthday to celebrate too. Three years ago, I don't want to remember what was happening to me. On that note, I have some niggling worries which I can air at the hospital appointment next week. I hope to be reassured of course....

I'm managing Ed's treatment again - touch wood, having had a blip where I just couldn't find a vein and we were getting into all sorts of bother. And yesterday we discovered that Martha had a tick in her neck! They're a bit of a hazard up here - and the kids have been spending large parts of their time outside in various kinds of heathery landscapes. Out came the tweezers and I pulled that horrible thing out accompanied by a certain amount of family hysteria. I was cool as a cucumber. Ed had one last year so I've become something of an expert. I was quite proud of my medical prowess yesterday - tick removal one moment, giving Ed his treatment the next. Maybe I should deliver a baby today?

Actually, that said, all around us in the field to the back and side of the house lambs are being born - a whole collection have appeared overnight. The farmer/shepherd has been up all night. We've just seen him exhaustedly making his way home to bed I hope. There is something so eternally amazing about seeing a new life appearing, and something so touching about seeing the ewe feeling the same maternal pride and anxiety which all mothers, animal or human feel. Quite humbling really - and helps one to feel connected to the world around in quite a profound way. I know, I know.... give me a few days back home in the city and I won't be feeling this mellow. But, hey - at least it visited me even very fleetingly.

And cooking? Oh yes - lots of cooking which is somehow more pleasurable up here when there doesn't feel the inexorable grinding pressure of making porridge at 6.45am, packed lunches, tea for the kids before swimming lessons and the like, and then a rushed meal for us afer the kids are in bed.

And reading? Yes I mentioned reading. I've just finished Colm Toibin's "Brooklyn" which I just thought was marvellous. An incredible snapshot of a young girl's life which was unputdownable. And before that Maggie O'Farrell's "The Hand that First Held Mine", which gave a desolate account of the pains of motherhood, although was an ultimately uplifting read. Now I've just started Douglas Kennedy's "Leaving the World". I've read quite a lot of his books. I always start off quite unconvinced, I think he's quite a light read and certainly a 'holiday' book rather than an intellectual experience. But I always end up thoroughly involved with his characters - and a couple of chapters in I'm hooked.

I've just started reading "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis (as if you didn't know!) to Ed and Martha. They are totally entranced. I've managed to steer them away from the films so they've no idea what the books are about. We read four chapters last night before bed and Ed had to be prised away from the book - I've promised at least another four tonight. The best fun - reading those fantastic classics to your kids. Now I know why I became a parent - I can see the absolute delight that I felt when I read them as a child reflected on the kids' faces. Isn't that worth something? Well it is to me who would happily read rather than do almost anything at all.

Ok - sorry to write nothing on a regular basis and then suddenly subject you to a torrent of inconsequential detail about what's going on in our corner of the world. I'm wondering anyhow if anyone will bother to read this. Perhaps I've lost my blogland friends through my irregular posting. I hope not - my blog is still important to me despite my less frequent posts, and I still enjoy reading everyone else's posts too. It's a funny old thing blogging. Life kind of gets in the way... although I suppose that is how it should be.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


No - I didn't get the job, and although I was disappointed I'm beginning to see it as the best thing really. Two people working long hours is really two people too many when the kids are so small.

So, I'm back to my original plan of looking for part-time teaching work and supplementing that with doing some private tuition and some exam marking. Glamorous it is not, but I think it's the best way at least for the next couple of years before Hat starts nursery and school.

And maybe I'll get my lucky writing break before then and become an official writer! And then again...

I'm finding it so hard to find time for my blog at the moment. I'm missing it - but feeling strangely uninspired about what I want to write. Life gets in the way I guess, and just as my other writing has suffered through the past turbulent couple of months, with family stuff and work stuff pushing itself to the front, the blog has not been paid its due attention either.

The kids finish for the Easter holidays on Friday (I can't wait!) and we're heading off to my mother's house in the Highlands of Scotland for a couple of weeks. I'm hoping for some peace and quiet and some space to try to do some writing again.

I am reading though - lots and lots. If only an avid reader made a successful writer. I'd be sorted.

And for the first time since I was diagnosed with cancer I've re-scheduled my three monthly check-up for after our trip to Scotland. Which means it's more like a four month gap. I know that seems insignificant, but for me it seems to represent something important. Those appointments have always felt written in stone for me, and in the early days were times to dread. As Hattie's third birthday approaches at the start of May, which is also the third anniversary pretty much to the week of my diagnosis, I guess my confidence that I might just be ok is returning.....just a bit!

Monday, 4 April 2011


Happy April!

But it's so cold here, like winter not spring. I'm huddled close to my netbook as I write this, waiting for the phone to ring to tell me if I've got the latest job. I went for another interview on Friday, and wierdly (for jobs in education where you always hear whether you were successful on the same day) I'm waiting to hear today whether I'll be offered it. It went well but I guess it depends what the school are looking for. It's a full-time job so I have many of the same reservations that I had when I went to the last interview.

Yes - I need to write that best-seller pretty damn quickly.

Hattie doesn't like to see me in my suit - I think she can sense that changes may be ahead. Ed very clearly announces that he doesn't want me to work full-time and I have to say that I think he has a point.

Off now to pick up the kids from school. Typical - I bet the phonecall comes when I've three kids caterwauling in the back of the car.

Friday, 25 March 2011


I'm sorry my blogging has been so sporadic recently. There's family stuff going on which concerns others so I can't post about it here, but it's certainly taking up a lot of emotional and physical energy.

And I'm going for those job applications. I had a full on, major, day-long interview on Tuesday for a full time teaching position. I didn't get it - but the interview practice was useful at least. I had to teach my first lesson in 3 years to 25 fifteen year olds, while being observed by two people and then I had two formal interviews one after the other. I was really disappointed but also relieved as I don't really want to return to full-time work until Hattie is in school. But this seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

Anyhow - back to those applications!

I've had some rejections for my children's picture book - but I'm hanging on in there and trying not to get too disheartened.

And that's about it. The kids are driving me mad with their constant bickering - will they ever grow out of it or will it just get worse? Who knows? It's just awful to live with though. And Hattie is revelling in her hoodlum role as she approaches her third birthday. Often by the end of the day I'm absolutely shattered - being bossed around all day long by a very small and hugely determined person is rather wearing. Sometimes full-time work seems very appealing indeed!!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Crazy Stuff

I'm sorry - call myself a blogger! Things have just been crazy around here. A mixture of bad and good - things have been tricky on the haemophilia front, and I have had some medical stuff which isn't great (but isn't a relapse.....I hope). And I'm applying for a big job which has required much concentration. I'm emailing it tomorrow so fingers crossed for me ..... please??

Hattie has had such a horrible virus that she ended up spending last Friday in hospital after I took her to the GP. And she's still not right almost a week later. A severe lack of sleep hasn't helped the ever present sinusitis to stay in the background so I'm currently taking antibiotics which, by the way, ARE NOT WORKING!

But - I'm planning to be back blogging once things have calmed down, and I'm planning on them calming down round about now. Still, I'm about to become an aunt again for the fifth time I like to boast (any minute now, sis) which will be very exciting all over again. I think I must go and sleep - or at least go to bed to read the fantastic 'Long Song' by Andrea Levy. Read this I urge you. I've learned much more than I knew, and learned much of what I should know, by reading this book.

Lastly, I can't believe that I didn't mention that I met my first ever co-blogger in real life while I was staying at mum's pub the week before last. Good old Legend in His Own Lunchtime tapped me on my shoulder while I was having lunch with various motley kids in tow. He lives in the US but was over in the UK sadly as his mother had passed away. But it was fantastic to meet him and to prove to myself that I'm not just a creation in cyber-space (only joking). He has a standing invitation from my mother to come and play in the pub so I'm looking forward to seeing him again when he's next up here in the North of England.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Back to School

Back home again after a VERY busy week. The kids had a lovely time - lots of beach stuff and lots of gettting wet, accompanied by their cousin whom they adore.

And I'm back to making packed lunches, ironing, shopping etc etc.

Hattie has been demonic all week partly because she was too excited to sleep in the afternoons, and she certainly needs her sleep!! Thank heavens she's settled to sleep this afternoon. I couldn't manage without my hour or so while she sleeps.

No news yet with the book I've sent off - but maybe no news is good news. Oh, and Rog is back from the States - with a hideous soft toy purple monkey for Hattie, lovely PJs for Martha and a model Corvette for Ed. All are delighted.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Half Term Holidays and Winter Ice Cream

Brrr. It's cold today. I'm heading off to an ice cream parlour of all strange things, once the kids have finished school. Not quite the place to visit that springs to mind in the middle of an English winter but, hey, why not? We're meeting a friend and her children to celebrate the end of the first half term of the year.

And the kids are off school next week so we're heading to mum's pub on the coast for a week. Well, the kids and I are anyhow; Rog is off to Washington DC taking some students to see the sights. Jealous me? No........

I'm expecting a large, shiny present all the way from the States.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Awards, awards, awards

Well, thanks so much Jen at Jennerally Speaking for my lovely award.

In return I have to tell you seven things about myself that you might not know. The problem is with this is that if you've been following me for a while, you probably do know much of what makes me tick. But here goes:

1. I swam naked in the Adriatic Sea with my first boyfriend, aged 18. And my clothes were stolen.

2. I love tulips and daffoldils - and have bunches of them in my kitchen as often as possible.

3. I adore anchovies and would eat them with pretty much anything - on their own if necessary.

4. One of my all-time favourite actresses is Judi Dench.

5. I have a big birthmark on my shin.

6. I would love to run a bookshop with a fabulous cafe selling carrot-cake - and will one day when money is not an concern (ha ha)- so I don't have to worry about competing with Amazon and Kindles.

7. I am planning a huge 45th birthday party in three years time to celebrate achieving five years in remission. And Rog and I will head to Mauritius to bask in the sun.

And now I have to pass this award on to 7 of my favourite blogs. But I'm going to pass it on to 9. Call me crazy! Some of these I've given awards to in the past - but they remain my favourites and if you're a new follower of mine, I'm generously sharing the delight. Enjoy.

Legend in his own lunchtime

Letters to the World

Life of Riles

Older mums are fun

Uno, dos, tracey

Fruit of the Carolyn

Diary of a Desperate Exmoor Woman

I don't have an attitude problem

How to Survive life in the Suburbs

Phew! It's hard work this awards business. Imagine how stressful getting a BAFTA would be.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Finally Free From Freedom....

Ok, so finally I've finished 'Freedom' by Jonathan Franzen. And in the end I liked it. It's a very impressive book, a very intellectual book - still charmless in some ways though. I found it very hard to feel close to the characters although I was interested in them from start to finish. I think it's a very male book - I wonder if that is where the sense of distance lies, and I don't mean that in a frivolous way.

But imagine writing a book like that. Incredible.

I'm sending my book off to some agents tommorrow - fingers crossed.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Blackberrys and Freedom

How can upgrading your phone (to a Blackberry - whoo whoo) be so incredibly difficult? I've spent a very frustrating morning - yes MORNING! - conversing with Vodafone. I did take Hattie to the park to feed the ducks when it all got too much.

I've got my writing class tonight, so I must go to prepare the tea for later. Will the babysitter manage to give the kids tea when I walk out of the door at 4.45? I hope so.....

And now, although I have LOTS to do, Hattie's asleep and I think I'll make a cup of tea and read Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom". I've been reading it since Christmas at about the rate of a bloody page a night, just as I'm dropping off. It's a very frustrating way to read indeed. Actually, despite the rave reviews I'm not sure how much I'm enjoying it. While it certainly doesn't help any book to be read so slowly, I am finding it a rather charmless read. Considering I love reading like nothing else and considering I have so little time to do it, it's frustrating to read a book which doesn't delight. On the other hand I'm three quarters of the way through it - stopping now would be frustrating too. Has anyone else read it? What did you think of it?

Sunday, 6 February 2011


I'm waiting for my chicken with green olives to cook. And while I do - blocking out the shrieks from the children fighting in the other room - I'm sitting down for the first time today.

Up early, having had Ed coming in and out of our room through the night telling us he couldn't sleep; the pouring rain punctuating my early morning sleep. To the park DESPITE the pouring rain to imbibe a little fresh air. And then back home. To the supermarket for a quick shop and then home in time put on a loaf of bread to cook in trusty breadmaker and to make promised biscuits with Martha in honour of our friend coming for the afternoon.

Said biscuits made and quickly consumed through the afternoon mostly by Ed, while my friend and I attempted to catch up through the cacophony of Ed, Martha and Hattie 'playing' (read 'showing off').

Friend leaves for the peace of her house and I start to make chicken and green olive casserole (yum I hope). I stack the dishwasher, get lovely loaf out of the bread machine and peel the potatoes for mash.

It's not even half past five yet. I'm exhausted and there's still the delightful bedtime routine and the ironing of the shirts and uniform. What the hell happened to lazily reading the Sunday papers and actually having a REST? Having kids happened - that's what.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Acupuncture Ahead

Today I had acupuncture in my lower back and legs to try to relieve the awful nerve pains I have down my legs at night. It's been going on for the past couple of years, is getting worse and is really starting to disturb my sleep. I have a suspicion that this is a legacy of the chemotherapy - but whatever it is, I need to sort it unless I am going to spend my whole time taking painkillers.

The acupuncture was strangely relaxing (once I'd got over having to remove my jeans in front of the handsome, young physiotherapist). In fact I didn't really get over that but I just blocked out the vision I had of myself lying prone on my stomach with pins sticking out of me. I talked quite a lot.... possibly in an attempt to distract him. But I do have tremendous faith in acupuncture - I've had it before - so fingers crossed.

It's disappointing being (nearly) 42 and not in supermodel shape. Still - I haven't forgotten my pilates resolution, so I'm sure a hot bod is just around the corner.

And I wrote the first draft of my children's picture book yesterday. I'm pleased with it but I WISH I could draw. I can exactly see how I want the pictures to be, but I can't draw them. GRRRR!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Newest Venture

Now I'm trying to write a children's book... and although I think I've got a good idea, it's very difficult indeed. Every word counts and all that.

I'm also about to start another writing course at the university - this one taught by Jackie Kay, whose writing I LOVE. The problem is that I shall feel a little intimidated. Although it's so blimming hard to get out of the door at 5pm on a Thursday evening - complicated arrangements involving our babysitter doing tea and even bed with the children, which is a step forward from her usual come in and watch tv when kids are already in bed gig! - that I think that I'll be too fraught to be intimidated. Phew -that was a long sentence. Maybe I should make them shorter for Jackie Kay!

I do hope something helps to make our fortune soon - budgeting is tiring and dispiriting I find.

Thursday, 27 January 2011


This evening Hattie came roaring into the kitchen.
"I'm being a tiger", she announced.
"How scary!" I said.
"Well, I'm just pretendering Mummy", she said.
Lucky she told me.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Damn - I was being so good. And now I've just eaten a (big) ciabatta with goat's cheese and tomato and am just about to finish the last of the Christmas stollen with my cup of tea. I've been rushing around all morning having had only half a cup of coffee at 7am this morning. I know, I know.... I should eat breakfast. That might prevent me feeling ravenous by lunchtime.

The gym must be resumed without delay.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


There's lots going on at the moment. I'm applying for a part-time teaching jobs (three days a week - heaven help our already more than crazy mornings!) I'm also hoping to do some private English tuition in the evenings - hence spending most of yesterday applying to a tutor agency. Very helpfully I've managed to lose my BA, MA and teacher training certificates so I'm having to re-apply for them to different universities which is quite a torturous process in itself.

And - listen to this. I think I'm going to start an online business. Scary? yes! I'm hoping to sell ethically traded lovely stuff. So - with a very tentative but excited mood upon me, I'm going to start building the steps I need to get this thing up and running. I'll let you know how it goes, in fact I might even blog a little about my experiences - and will put a link on here to my shiny new website when (ahem....) I actually have a shiny new website.

Needs must regarding all this energy being poured work-wise. I don't want to work full-time in teaching at the moment. Hattie is not yet at school, or even nursery. I'm only just two years in remission and teaching secondary school English to hordes of teenagers certainly isn't easy. I want to at least wait until all the kids are in school - Hattie will start in September 2012, which isn't so long away. And if I can develop a few more strings to my bow in terms of earning possibility, maybe we will be able to at the very least continue to pay the mortgage and put food on the table which is proving difficult at the moment.

This morning I've spent the whole time in the hospital with Ed who had banged his head hard at school yesterday. As you know Ed has haemophilia so a knock on the head can be very serious. I gave him treatment last night but this morning he was still complaining of having a headache. So off we went with Hattie in tow. He had another dose and a check-up and then arrived back to school in time for lunch. And I'm still feeling grotty - in fact a bit worse than that now. And it's bloody difficult coping with the kids feeling like this. Ho Hum.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


I'm having a frustrating day today. I've got dreadful sinisitis which makes me feel as if my head is in a wooly vice (if such a thing should exist) and that is just to start with.

I've waited in all morning with a cooped up toddler for a boiler maintenance person to come and give our boiler a service.

From 8am till 1pm.

Did he (am assuming it would be a 'he') turn up? No. When I rang they said that they had no record of an appointment. When I explained that I had written the appointment on the calendar in December while speaking on the phone to their company, the woman confessed that mine was the third call today complaining about appointments not being kept. Hmmmm.

I can't write.

This is a boring post.

Hattie didn't want her afternoon sleep on account of having done nothing all morning but wait for the gas man. So now she's driving me mad too.

And I have a headache. And a face ache. And I have my check-up at the hospital tomorrow - for which I'd like to be feeling fighting fit. Pyschologically that helps with walking past the wig stand and smelling THAT hospital smell which makes me want to run for the hills.

Ok - shouldn't have posted. Am going to make some tea.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Hello 2011

Today the kids are back at school and Rog is back at work. Hattie is asleep and the house is peaceful. I've just finished taking down the Christmas decorations and wrapping them up for another year. And this year I'm not putting them away with dread in my heart as to whether I'll be around to unwrap them again next year.

I'm not out of the woods yet as far as my cancer returning is concerned. I'm only two years in remission and I've got to get to five. But somehow, for some reason that doesn't feel as scary as it did. I guess that time does heal, and that the dreadful truly harrowing year following Harriet's birth is fading from the foremost of my memory. I'm living with some distressing, and what I'm scared to think might be permanent, long-term side effect of the chemotherapy - but I'm alive.

I've a hospital check-up appointment next week: always anxiety provoking at the best of times, but I'm looking and feeling well (apart from that pesky sinusitis which often hovers around) and it was gratifying to hear at the New Year party how many people genuinely complimented me as to how healthy I was looking. In fact I have a suspicion that dancing until 3am might have been what sparked off the sinusitis. A far cry from the way I said goodbye to 2008, thank heavens.

And new year's resolutions? Pilates. And writing. Quite a good mix actually, I think.