Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections and Resolutions

I often try and avoid making New Year Resolutions. They never last and often I end up feeling worse for not having stuck with them. Last year, I resolved simply to be a better mother, and a better pseudo-wife. Which of course is the worst sort of resolution - one without any clear definition, meaning you can always feel as though you should have done more and never quite have the satisfaction of reaching a goal.

I suspect many people (and certainly the two people whose opinions most count in these matters) would argue that I've always been a good mother and a good pseudo-wife and so I don't really need to get "better", but I always feel there is room for improvement. And I guess lately, at least, I've been doing pretty well at both of these, as well as the cutting down on snacking, and getting more exercise thing. So for 2009 I'm going to be brave and set out a more definite plan, with some hopefully very achievable goals:

  1. Keep up the jogging. It's fallen by the wayside slightly over the school holidays, but I should get back into the habit of going out 2-3 mornings a week for half an hour or so. Both the exercise and the fresh air will do me good, and it should put me in the right frame of mind to settle down to work afterwards.

  2. Keep up the Wii Fit. My goal of a BMI < 25 is within sight - Christmas festivites notwithstanding. If I manage to get daily muscle and yoga workouts I should do a better job of slimming down this waist, and maybe even fitting into those jeans again.

  3. De-clutter the house. I really mean it this time. Ok, we're still putting off making a final Big Decision about whether to ever have another child, and a lot of the "junk" lying around isn't mine so I can't unilaterally decide to throw it out (or I suppose I can, but I'd feel bad doing so), but there is still a lot of things I do have say over and thanks to Christmas having been bought mostly online, I have lots of cardboard boxes for storage purposes. Bit by bit, I will do this, and hopefully this time it will stay tidier.

  4. Finish my thesis. I have a deadline, after all.

  5. Spend time with my son. Play with him, talk to him, encourage him to do his reading and help with household chores - anything and everything except make him feel like I don't want him to bother me. I've been trying, but I need to try harder. I don't want most of our conversations to be arguments and while he's going through a very stubborn patch and obviously still needs to learn to do as he is told, I need to give a little too and try and be less selfish about my time.

  6. Spend time with my SO. Just the two of us. We have friends and family who are willing to babysit, we need to start asking them more instead of feeling guilty about it. Mummy and Daddy need alone time too. If we can get out for one evening a month or so, that'd be great.

  7. Write. Not just my thesis obviously. Maybe short stories, maybe plot for game, emails to people I rarely speak to, even just this blog...I don't think I've ever actually mentioned any mathematics on here despite the description, so obviously that should change. If I can find something interesting to say and spend a short amount of time once or twice a week to write it down - book reviews, comments on news, a bit of maths or whatever bogus-philosophical puzzle that has been occupying my mind - anything. I just need to write. It's good practice, and I need to break out of my fear of doing things badly, which means I have to just go ahead and do things. And writing is a fairly safe one.

So that's it. If you follow this blog maybe you'll be able to keep track of how well I do (especially on the last one) and maybe poke me occasionally to remind me. And no doubt this time next year I'll come back and go, "huh, I did pretty rubbish at all that didn't I?" But I've got a whole year...

Here's to 2009. Hope it's a good one for all of you.

Friday, December 26, 2008


It was quite nice I suppose. Was feeling a bit disillusioned (part of that whole "being growed-up" thing I suspect) before and then on Christmas Eve had a slight moment of worry when Daddy discovered the Terror had asked Santa for a farm and was thus understandably expecting him to bring him a farm in the morning. He was only slightly disappointed on emptying his stocking and realising there didn't seem to be one. His actual present, a Ben 10 Deluxe Omnitrix, soon made him forget, and he's barely taken it off his wrist since.

Christmas lunch was at Nana's and much present opening later we spent the day playing a pirate card game with the Terror which may well be this year's greatest find (thanks to Christine, I think). Watched Nana's present - Wall-E - and the Doctor Who special. All in all a nice, mostly quiet, day.

Today has been spent trying to convince the Terror to do something other than play Sonic. We got him to the park and had to take turns being the dragon for his knight to attack. Been reading Transmet and remembering why I love Warren Ellis quite so much. Otherwise been feeling a little...lost I guess. Christmas is often anti-climactic I guess, but I don't feel deflated exactly, just...yeah, lost sums it up best. At a loose end. Drifting slowly away on the breeze, to continue the balloon metaphor. Probably just failing to cope with the break from routine. And failing to think of anything more to write....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fun with Hospitals

Some days just don't go according to plan.

Yesterday, the Terror went to the dentist for his last filling. It was bigger than the previous ones, so they gave him some local anaesthetic. The dental hygienist doing it had to stop him from chomping on his cheek a few times and warned us to look out for him doing that - apparently lots of children do because it feels funny when it's numb. He was brilliant as ever with the actual procedure, and we warned him lots against biting himself as it would really really hurt when the anaesthetic wore off.

Of course, within minutes of getting him home, he'd bitten himself and drawn blood. I spent the remainder of the day stopping him from prodding it any more, and Calpol and cuddles were necessary when it inevitably started to hurt.

This morning, his bottom lip and inside of cheek were slightly swollen and there appeared to be lots of scar tissue forming. We concluded he'd been chewing on it overnight, but as he didn't appear to be in pain and we couldn't think of any way of cleaning the wound, we took him to school. Within an hour, Daddy got a phone call saying he's complained about his mouth and it seemed to be worse and oozing pus so he ran off to collect him. I caught up with them just after they'd left the GP's surgery not having been able to get an appointment before tomorrow, and we went home, got the car and drove to the Walk-in Centre.

And waited for about an hour and a half. We got pretty fed up of reading books to him. He played a bit, and had some of his packed lunch but started to get very restless and wanting to go home. The nurse practitioner who saw us was audibly shocked by how large and yucky the wound was, and suspecting an abscess, contacted the hospital who agreed to admit him straight away. So off we trundled to York District Hospital, Ward 17. The Terror complained a little, but we explained that the doctors needed to clean his mouth and give him medicine to make it better, and once we got there he settled down, chatted with the friendly nurse, and got us yet more books to read to him. Eventually he was assigned a bed and let loose in the play area. He pretty much didn't stop from then on, and unfortunately always required at least one of us to be playing with him.

When the consultant finally managed to see him, he was impressed by how well and cheerful he seemed. And, rather anticlimactically, he decided nothing really needed to be done. It doesn't actually appear to be infected, just swollen. So he prescribed us antibiotics. Which we had to wait for.

The Terror was rather happy to spend the afternoon playing with all the different toys, and we were admittedly relieved it turned out to be nothing serious after all. But it was a whole day spent, mostly sitting around, when Daddy at least had work that he ought to have been doing. On the plus side, the Terror did end up getting his tea at the hospital. On the downside, he missed his Christmas party at school.

And now he's taking time to settle, when we are both shattered, and I still have to make a start on marking. At least I have a glass of nice wine to help me along...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Someone? Please?

I'm fresh out of ideas. All I know is I probably shouldn't pour a whisky and spend the afternoon crying in bed. I probably should do more marking.

I just don't think I'm strong enough.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happiness is Overrated

At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

Yes, last week was stressful. Yes, it's cold and wet outside. But things got done, mum is doing fine and I've managed to get out for a bit today and am on track with marking. I've got cheese on toast (with Lea and Perrins) for lunch, a giant cookie for afterwards and a glass of Merlot. Listening to music, got The Moonstone to read (and I'd forgotten just how good it is). Life is good, nothing to worry about.

So why do I still feel like curling up into a ball and crying?

I hate this illness. I don't know what else I can do but keep on doing all the right things and hope it works.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

Or How This Is The Week Of Stress It Is.

Daddy has been very busy at work, a phrase that means nothing to the Terror when he wants to go visit him or wonders why he isn't home yet. So while this means work-stress for Daddy and long days in the office, I've had to cope with a tired and grumpy child on my own for longer than usual, leading to a tired and grumpy Mummy too. Especially as it's "that time of the month" which may or may not be the reason for my general low mood and crying fits. Other thing have been stressing me out, but somehow or other I finally got to the doctor and got more I Feel Fantastic pills, and have got some card and glitter-glue for the Terror's costume for his school Christmas play. I think I'll wait for someone with some artistic ability to draw and help cut out a snowflake then I can hunt for an old white t-shirt to sew it to. If I try it myself it'll just look awful.

Other problems I've decided are other peoples problems and thus will not bother worrying about. Things seemed to have settled down anyway between friends, money issues can be sorted out in the new year if necessary. And some things are just beyond my ability to do anything about.

My mother has breast cancer. Again. We have a family history and she recovered well after the first diagnosis a few years ago but only opted for a partial mastectomy at the time. After discovering she is carrying the BRCA2 gene, she was considering further prophylactic surgery, but in the meantime another tumour was found in the other breast. The good news is that it is a second separate occurrence of the disease, rather than the original having spread, and rationally speaking her prospects are good. But of course I worry. Not least because I can do little to help in practical terms and find it hard to tell her how much I love and admire her. She's borne her sufferings quietly, with no fuss and great dignity. She's gone into hospital today for the operation. I'm trying not to worry too much.

One consequence of this that does require action on my part is that I now know I have a 50-50 chance of having the BRCA2 gene myself. After putting it off for too long, I finally told my GP and asked to be referred to a geneticist. I still don't know if I want to be tested, but that's why they offer counseling. Now younger women at high risk are offered MRI scans which means earlier screening is a possibility instead of waiting (as mammography is largely ineffectual in under-40s). And of course I may not have the gene, which would vastly decrease my chances of getting breast cancer while not totally ruling it out. So it's certainly to be considered, and I'm glad to have finally done something about it.

Now I just have to pluck up the courage for a smear test. And remember to get my repeat prescription before I run out...