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A bit of this, a bit of that

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I’m struggling a bit at the moment. My body is deteriorating ever so slightly all of the time. There are many nights that I think about blogging but seeing as I usually can’t move my hands by that point, or sit up etc, etc, it never seems to happen. I promise myself that I’ll manage it during the day but I’m only just successful at dragging myself about, doing the things that my family needs, there is never the time or the energy for even opening my laptop.

All of that must sound pretty grim and in some ways it is, I’m worse than I have ever been and I am trying to manage that with almost no pain relief. I am happy not to add pain relievers to the chemical cocktail that I must take every day but I also sometimes just wish for a break. The funny thing is that I am probably happier than I have been since my disease began. I can accept it (which doesn’t mean it’s any less draining!) and I am just getting on with life instead of fighting against being ill all of the time.

My big girl started highschool this year, I was so stressed about it, she’s such a naive and I suppose sheltered girl. I don’t really know how that happened! As is usually the case though, she has surprised us. Poss has taken to her new school, new friends and new responsibilities with ease. As long as we don’t focus on the lost USB and house keys – aaaarrgghhh! Who puts those things in a non-zip pocket? They were on a lanyard for a reason! She’s off to her Year 8 camp tomorrow  (ooh crap – remind me to go and get small tube of sunscreen, won’t you?). She seems happy and she seems more mature every day.

Rhubarb (he’s 16 now, the horror!) has started Year 11. Despite serious finger wagging talks before school resumed he came to me last week with a look that said “I am weighed down by the weight of a thousand weighty things” and asked for some guidance with an assignment. There followed three hours of sitting with him while he worked and gently nudging along the process. In fairness to him, he’s doing a lot of pretty heavy-duty subjects and even if he asks for help, it’s for small things rather than “could you just write it for me, Mum?”. Mainly because he knows I would laugh. He told me that maths (which is usually a strength of his) has started moving ahead of him just a bit too fast and he feels like he’s not keeping up. It’s just hit him that this is quite a serious business and it’s not getting any easier from here on in. He’s finally accepted the wisdom of our approach to homework scheduling but he has accepted it in that resentful, I’m not acknowledging that I have accepted it way that only teenagers can muster. I know he’s 16 and it’s to be expected but could he be any more moody? And there are girls hovering around. Do you realise that I am not yet 35 and could end up a Nana by the time I am if he’s not careful. It’s terrifying.

The little two are just as time-consuming but more cute so it evens out.  Okay, here is where I am really concerned about how little I have been blogging. I can’t remember what I bloody call the 6yo here. That’s troubling. I’ll have to remember that or think of something else by the time I come back to update about them. That’s the thing about infrequent blogging, there is so much to say that the posts become epic and completely without focus.

I shall return soon.

Filling you in

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See, I’m doing better already, I knew I could do it! But then, there’s something quite addictive about writing some ungrammatical shite on the internet and having people come and say actual things to you. That is, if you check your email and actually read those actual things, which is obviously something I also have to work on. Baby steps.

I have photos of people (Poss) graduating from PS and being all grown up and gossip about Rhubarb  (almost 16! It’s getting interesting!) that I shouldn’t share but will (a bit – in the most respectful and discrete way possible*). Those updates will have to wait though because they require the uploading of pictures and I am knackered. Despite plenty of warning that Christmas was approaching I have still managed to overload my body doing last-minute things that need doing in order to have Christmas. I’ve had to resort to the good painkillers tonight, which hasn’t happened in some time.

Here though is a health update in bullet points:

  • The pain doctor who was okay but not great has been downgraded to a status of just barely tolerable if there are no alternatives, which there aren’t. He’s promised great mediocre things but not really delivered. Round one of drug recommendations were almost all unhelpful. The exception being a different med for neuropathic pain, which makes a noticeable difference. I’ve gradually stopped taking all but some pretty mild pain relief, it was a significant reduction. I seem to need elephantine doses of all manner of things so it’s a pretty big deal to be on almost no pain meds.  Round two of drug suggestions was slightly better, I acquired one more med aimed at reducing muscle spasms but it’s not fabulous, just okay. Also, if you were to shake me now, I’d rattle.
  • The MRI results showed a few disc problems and a few things that Dr Passable said were obviously a source of pain. Naturally he then failed to move forward with a plan for treating said things or give any clues as to what might have caused them. It wasn’t until after that appointment that I realised that he had not actually ordered the correct type of MRI to properly investigate MS. Not that I am really worried about it but you’d think that (it being a stated goal of the MRI and all) he would’ve done that part correctly.
  • I’ve now organised through my GP the appropriate referrals for my discy problems. I didn’t bother pressing too hard on the “thingies” on the MRI, I have doctor exhaustion, I’ll think about it next year. Maybe.
  • Over the last several months my usual intermittent numbness, tingling, buzzing, burning etc in extremities (and other places) has increased in intensity and frequency quite a bit, to the point where I’d almost class them as a new thing. I mentioned it to my GP and she said not to worry. I told her that I wasn’t worried, however I feel that it’s prudent to mention these things just in case it comes up in two years and she asks me why I never mentioned it. She was also pleased to note that it couldn’t be to do with, say, MS because we checked already. I couldn’t bring myself to argue. I mentioned them to my Rheum the other day and she barely skipped a beat before ordering a nerve conduction study, which is tomorrow. The one thing that has come about really quickly and I hear it’s painful, or at least that’s what Rheum said. Bastards. She’s optimistic that I don’t need a proper referral to a neuro just yet (only a temporary one for this test) so that’s some sort of upside I think.
  • I’m coping a lot better with my pain levels. I am in a bit less pain thanks to some of my new meds but have also come to a good place of acceptance about things. I think it’s just about coming to the end of grieving for the loss of function and the being all pissed off about it and getting on with trying to manage with life the way it is. I still hope to get a bit better if we can work on pinpointing some other things but I am not counting on it any longer.
  • There are other things I won’t bore you – just niggly weird things my body has decided to throw into the mix. I think they constitute a whole post though so yeah, actually, I suppose I will bore you with them at some point. Lucky you.

I shall return with some sort of Christmas post in the next day or so. I am determined to find the time somewhere. It will likely be simply a photo of me wrapping presents but it will be something.

It’s a big day tomorrow though, I’m having a haircut. I last shaved my head in January and it’s now made it halfway down my neck. I am a hair-growing wizard. It will be interesting to see if the hairdresser (who is a friend and had better not give me a bad haircut as that’s what led to the head shaving in the first place) can make anything good out of it. We shall see.

 

* I obviously respect Rhubarb’s privacy (especially here) but there are some things that I am bursting to share. On the other hand, I am banned from discussing him in any way with friends and relatives. For instance, if I were to mention to my friend that he needed new jeans, that would be in breach of his rules. Really. Bless him.

See how long-winded and ranty I get when I talk about him? That in itself explains everything really.

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On Sunday we were subjected to another round of the emotional blackmail that the kids’ school uses to bleed us dry. Last year we declined to take part in the inaugural “we’ll frame your kid’s artwork and charge you $20 to take it home” art show but last year we didn’t have an easily heartbroken 6-year-old at school. Poss wasn’t thrilled about us not buying her handiwork but, because she is a big girl, she understood. There is no way on Earth we would be able to get Skunky (the child who wakes up in tears at 3am due to some random slight that occurred a month ago) to understand. We also couldn’t try to trick Skunky into thinking we’d just forgotten about the whole thing, Poss was singing with the choir to open the new school hall at this year’s art show so we had to go – and then we had to shell out $40 for both kids’ art.

To be fair, they were both lovely and we had fun watching Poss sing and oohing and ahhing over everyone’s art.

Skunky’s rainbow fish, or rainbow whale to be exact. Whales are an obsession he’s maintained since he was three. He’s got staying power.

Poss’ Mama and baby bird. I loved Skunky’s response to this, once he’d wrung from me the desired compliment (that I loved his best), he gushed about how beautiful he thought it was. I agree, she’s always been an obsessive crafter, our Poss. I can imagine how many hours she spent getting each piece of paper placed correctly, just as she did when she was four. She used to spend hours making sure the pages of her colouring book were coloured in perfect detail and inside the lines, no short attention span on that girl. You can almost see in my blurry photo that she’s included a darling caterpillar on a branch.

The big kids had spent the previous night at their Father’s house, this after he called Beefy (not me you’ll note*) to insist that he be allocated a weekend once a month for each of the kids so that he could spend time with them separately. I had to explain to Beefy (who would’ve realised eventually but is not to good at thinking on his feet) that neither child would be ordered to spend a specific weekend with their father at this stage of the game (about to be 13 & 16 respectively). Moron’s imagined that they don’t want to spend time together and that’s at the root of their refusal to go, because it’s not as though they live together  or anything. Stupidity abounds over there. As expected the kids were unimpressed with his demands and also promptly agreed to go over for the night, TOGETHER. He doesn’t seem to get that:

a) This is their home, where their things and their respective caves of solitude are

b) They now have social lives, social lives that happen on the spur of the moment. He lives miles away and both of the kids have friends within walking distance here

c) They often can’t really be bothered with his house. The stepmother, who can be lovely and hellish in equal measure, and the fact that he and the stepmother do not seem to understand social cues very well make it a difficult place to be. Teenagers (or tweens) can be very “meh” about things, not because they don’t care (although often they don’t) but mostly because they can’t be bothered, Moron and The Stepmother don’t seem to grasp this. The kids have been taken home from a restaurant because Rhu didn’t seem appreciative enough that they were out for tea, he didn’t even say anything (in actual fact he just had a headache). The Stepmother threw a tantrum and insisted they all leave without eating. In essence they have never treated the kids like people, rather they are little monsters to be controlled and cajoled. The Stepmother has a short fuse and it is very, very easy to upset her, to the point that she screams and cries. Moron tried to force Rhu to give her a present, kiss her and tell her he loved her to make up for cracking a joke about a cake she made. Mama’s can’t afford such thin skin, and in any case it was really a joke, Rhu likes her and wasn’t trying to be mean. Anyway, they just can’t relax there, they have to be on guard and they’ll only subject themselves to that so much – now that they really have a choice.

d) They are nearly 13 and 16 respectively. They have not lived with him since they were not quite 2 and 4. During the intervening years he has breezed in and out of their lives (mostly out) sometimes not contacting them for (many) months at a time and when he has been in he has caused them both great distress at times. We used to get Rhubarb home from his fortnightly visits in such a state, he was out of sorts for a week after each visit, tears and tantrums, tears and tantrums. We would work to get him on an even keel again only to send him kicking and screaming back to them again. It broke my heart over and over. Moron either believes he can magic a strong relationship out of his arse or he believes that he already has one with his kids and I am being all evil and chaining them to their rooms and refusing to allow them visits. Probably both. He is not a man with a firm sense of reality. He cannot, for the life of him, understand why the kids won’t have their friends at his house or have birthday parties there, he thinks it is because I’ve been badmouthing him. He’s given the kids both talks about ignoring my relentless bashing of him, which they thought was hilarious. I didn’t agree. He even managed to imagine he could hear me saying nasty things about him to the kids whilst he was on the phone to Beefy (because that’s totally a likely behaviour for me to indulge in).

Anyway, the kids are soldiering on and will visit him as they see fit, which has been the arrangement ever since we came back from the UK over three years ago. They shall remain completely ignorant of his carry-on in the background because that’s the way we’ve always kept it but in the meantime I might go gray with stress, oh hang on, already happened. As you were.

*A while ago Beefy stopped me from talking to him, mostly to spare me the stress but also a little bit because I sometimes lose my shit when I talk to him, just a touch. He does not inspire my zen. Moron has caught on to this over time and doesn’t ever contact me directly now. That in itself has brought about some “ishoooos” but that’s another post entirely.

Ponies, meltdowns, zombies and meh

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Gecko’s birthday went well. Our friends came and made me relax a bit and everyone got along and also left at reasonable times so it was quite the success. It has taken me all friggin’ week to recover. This is the first evening that I’ve felt able to type a post and I’ll probably pay for it tomorrow. Whatever, it’s to be expected given that my body doesn’t know the meaning of the word co-operative.

But what, I hear you ask, of the pony cake? I’m sure everyone’s just been dying to see how it went. I have to say, it can be a tricky thing to explain to someone else that those two mixing bowls and one loaf tin will make an awesome pony. Beefy couldn’t picture it (or more to the point had a waaaay better way of doing it) but as I am the cake person in these here parts it really didn’t matter that he lacked any vision whatsoever. Naturally, I was right.

So, ta da!

Ah yes, these shots were taken on my phone and are a wee bit blurry. Trust me though, Pinky Pie looks best with a bit of soft focus. If you cover the eyes, which Beefy may have had to physically prevent me from retouching as guests were arriving, I think her overall body shape bears a reasonable resemblance to a pony toy.

I was quite pleased with myself. It’s taken fifteen years and four children but I am getting to the point where I wouldn’t be too ashamed to invite those other than close friends and family to one of my cake’s kids’ birthday parties. Which is a good thing because Skunky is turning 6 really soon and he wants a few friends at his party.

Oh, yeah, can I just have a bit of a moan please? Skunky and I were discussing cake ideas and we were talking things like whale sharks and narwhals (his favourite things) and I was happy. Then he decided maybe he should have a zombie cake (let’s not even discuss where he got that idea from). I just about had him convinced that the fish and whales would be a more suitable theme if he’s having school friends when in comes Beefy and tells him that a zombie cake would be awesome, thereby undoing all of my good work.

The man has no clue, seriously. Firstly, I don’t want to make a zombie cake*, and secondly, I stand by my statement that it might not be appropriate for school friends. I know that it’s likely that most of his friends would love it but I also know that some parents might not think it’s right for a 6-year-old’s birthday. Also thirdly, just grrraaaahh.

Beefy’s not one for caring what people think but I’m just not willing to host a zombie themed party for a six-year-old. It’s going to be so much fun convincing him that whale sharks are way cooler than zombies. The likely outcome is that he’ll choose the zombie cake over the school friends, which will leave me feeling guilty. Again, grrrrrraaaahh.

———————————————-

I know that everyone talks about the terrible twos and, well, Gecko has always had a knack for combining unbearable sweetness and cute with tantrums that are terrible to behold but what about three? I’m trying to cut her some slack because she was so ill with the flu recently but our days this week have just been one long meltdown after the other.

She gets all caught up about tiny things like, for example, flushing the toilet herself and if you make an error she has to reenact the whole sequence of events. Today she had to sit on the toilet again and became hysterical when she couldn’t manage another poo. If you have helped her into her jumper she might become enraged at the last second and undress herself completely, screaming and crying all the while, and then redo her whole outfit. She is definitely the most pernickety and volatile of all our children and three doesn’t seem to agree with her. Poor Beefy did something wrong while putting her in her car seat yesterday and had to endure screaming throughout the entire school pickup. He thinks it’s funny and didn’t mind the stares but she completely exhausts me. I keep chanting, “it’s a phase, it’s a phase” under my breath as  I step over her writhing body to get to the fridge.

If it isn’t enough that I have to deal with a full-blown meltdown machine, there’s the teenager. He’s really lucky that I try to respect his privacy here because there are some things that would make for killer blog posts. Honestly, he’s fifteen and a half, I’m sure you can imagine.

Rhubarb’s getting to the pointy end of his schooling now and the school are making a huge effort to impress upon all of the kids that study is not to be taken lightly any more. He’s lucky to be the kind of kid who can put in very little effort and pull reasonable grades but his relaxed attitude has got him into some trouble recently. His home group teacher tolerates no lateness at all. I agree with her but I also think it’s a bit excessive to be on the phone with me fifteen minutes after school starts to find out where he is. Anyway, he’s getting there with the punctuality thing but it’s taking a lot of discussion to get through to him that he has to take things really seriously now.

It’s only a few weeks until he’ll be choosing his subjects for next year and they in turn dictate which uni courses he’ll be able to choose. He’s had to talk his math’s teacher into recommending him for “good maths”, she was going to decline on the basis that he’s not serious enough until she reviewed his test scores and saw that he does really well despite his apparent lack of dedication. He had to promise her that he’ll take it seriously.  It’s heavy. Cue Moronic Ex-Husband’s interference.

MEH wants to take both kids on a skiing trip two weeks into term three. Poss has declined but Rhubarb loves to ski and is really excited. We had a nasty row about it last week. I just think it’s not a great idea for him to miss a week of school. MEH wouldn’t have a clue what’s happening at school, he’s pretty much as uninvolved in the kids’ lives as they come so it hasn’t even occurred to him that it might be an issue. So, I’ve got Rhu with his heart set on going, MEH with no clue and Beefy who thinks it’s probably okay and it’ll be Rhu’s last chance to go before school’s finished. I understand that school holidays will be too expensive but I’m just sure that they’ll be piling on the work at that stage. I’m the one who’ll have to arrange it with the school and make sure he keeps up to date. Am I just being a difficult old lady here?

Please tell me it’s not just me that thinks this is a crazy idea?

I am trying to be reasonable. It’s possible that I find it slightly annoying that Mr “my income is way less than $20,000 a year so that I don’t have to pay proper child support” is having trouble choosing which new car to take on his annual ski trip. I really am trying to not let that colour my judgement but I guess I’m struggling. We could take what he’s spending on this trip and use it to buy things the kids actually need. It makes me grumpy. Before anyone mentions making him pay more. I just want to add that a) it would be very difficult as he is self-employed and works in an industry that sees him paid mostly in cash  and b) there are several other reasons why this isn’t the best option for us. Doesn’t stop me from being grumpy about it though.

So, please give me some perspective. All of my friends and family will agree with me because they have a lot of experience with MEH that colours their judgement so unbiased opinions would be most welcome.

I need to find a way to post more often because every time I post now it ends up being uber, mammoth, mega ramble post. Sorry about that.

*Actually, that’s not true, I’d love to try making a zombie cake but not for the 6-year-old’s school friends, I think I’ll have to try it for Beefy now.

Fourteen

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I’ve tried to write this birthday post several times and here we are at the eleventh hour and it is still not up.

It’s hard to put into words all of the things I want to say.

There are mixed emotions for me, you see.

Fourteen is going to be an interesting year, I can tell.

Maybe not easy but amazing nonetheless as I watch you grow from boy into man.

Try and go easy on me.

Please.

Happy birthday sweet boy.

Rhubarb14

Fourteen.

Oh dear.

A pox on all parents who organise themed dress-up parties

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Probably not the thing to say given the current hysteria surrounding swine flu at the moment but in the name of all that is

Poss has a party to go to tomorrow. It is a Disney themed party of a younger friend of hers. If there is anything I loathe more than a themed dress-up party, which requires me to put together a clever, impressive and not at all shameful and embarassing costume for my child, it is a Disney movie. We have had to google Disney movies in order to select a character for her to impersonate. We are now in a tie between Cruella de Vil, Pocahontas and a the plate of spaghetti shared by Lady and the Tramp.

In addition to my distaste for the task of costuming my ten-year-old a la Disney, Poss has chosen today, the afternoon during which I should be planning said costume to be a right pain in my arse.

Oh and , delightful! Rhubarb has just entered and informed me that he has his frst soccer game of the season tomorrow. He has had no practice yet – oh, wait up, yes, he missed that, was yesterday. I have been nagging, he has been assuring me that he has no information to provide. It is ten past five on a friday. He has a soccer game at 9.30am tomorrow morning. He has no soccer gear. No boots or shinpads that fit. I am not best pleased.  He shall have to wear last years. They will not fit well.

I shall now be racing back from soccer to try and dress Poss in time . Sounds relaxing.

Anyway, back to Poss. She wants to be Cruela but she would like a wig if possible. Pig’s bum. I am not throwing away money on a wig that will be worn once.

She thought perhaps we could buy a can of spray-in hair colour for her so that she can have one side black and one white. Apparently brown and white would not be authentic enough and we couldn’t have that now, could we?

I am just fucked off with the whole thing. We are dead broke for the rest of the month. If I am super careful and an absolute goddess of the budget and the meal planning then we may be able to eat something other than rice and pencil shavings for the next three weeks. There is no room to buy hair paint. God only knows what we will do for a gift. I may perhaps have to fashion something pretty from  something I have in the pantry. Do nine-year-old girls like canned tomatoes and coconut cream? I’m pretty sure I have that.

Surely the other mothers are not relishing the idea of having to pull a costume together.

Surely other mothers are irritated by the party concept.

Surely other mothers do not have a gift planned and purchased.

My poor children. They are doomed.

Wish Poss luck. She may well need it.

I might just post pictures.

TAAM, again! With tears!

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Well, it was back to school for the big kids today.

Beefcake woke them both at the usual time and soon Poss was out in the kitchen,  feeling very chuffed in all new school uniform, which we purchased for her on Friday.  I felt very organised and superior in my housewifely skills as I had remembered to do the children’s washing and they both had clean socks and undies. Poss quickly made her breakfast and we expected Rhubarb to follow soon after.

It took us a few minutes to realise that he must have gone back to sleep. I marched in and clapped my hands and put the light on, telling him to hurry and wake up. It was a sterling mothering moment for me as he leapt out of bed, stood swaying unsteadily and burst into tears. Poor baby. He’s not  a morning person. I felt guilty enough to insist that he sit down and wake up a bit while I laid out his clothes. I was particularly pleased to find that there were two splodges of green paint on his almost new (clean) school jumper. Apparently none of the cool kids wear a smock. He could barely contain his scorn for our suggestion that he should buck the trend. He kept repeating “It’s fine Mum” with a sigh and the tone of someone who is explaining a very simple concept to a very stupid person. I assured him that green paint staining his new school jumper was most definitely NOT FINE.

I am a bit sad that the holidays are over, I will miss the kids being around the house, I have enjoyed their company and they have bee a great help with the small children lately as my pelvis has been a bit crud. I said as much to Rhubarb as he inhaled a microwave defrosted hot cross bun. He snorted and muttered something under his breath so I assume that he feels I haven’t been appreciative enough of his presence over the holidays.He arrived home from school this afternoon in an absolutely foul mood and did not speak to me at all for nearly two hours.

Based on the above behaviour I think it is safe to assume that the TAAM is a direct reaction to contact with his school uniform (perhaps the trigger is somehow absorbed through the skin when he puts it on) and is most active during term time.

Bah.

He is fine now, cavorting about the house with the others and has even managed to have a laugh about this morning’s episode although there was some significant whingeing about homework. Ah the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.

I am attempting to rest up big as I have an outing to the hairdresser’s tomorrow. Whoopee! Well, strictly speaking it is my friends house, where we will luncheon and a mutual friend will do both of our new do’s. I’m just having a trim really but if I am to be functional and able to sit in a chair, stand up AND walk then I must rest like a good girl now.  The house is falling down around my ears, there is crapulence at every turn but I must lie here and wallow in it.

Double bah.