Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

In January this year we all got a bit ill. Dizzy, and in Shaun and H’s case, some sickness thrown in too, although I thought H’s might be an ear infection. I thought mine might be too, so made sure to put drops of coconut oil in our ears as I’ve heard it helps, and I wanted to avoid antibiotics and most importantly not miss any work.

It didn’t shift though. But I’m busy. We had loads of after school things going on, and loads of real life other stuff so I muddled through as you do, until all of a sudden it appeared to be April.

Our Letting Agents called and said we were due our annual Gas Safety Check, which I was too busy to think about scheduling, plus I felt dizzy and occasionally sick. Most mornings I dizzily staggered to the train, thinking about going to the doctors, although it almost always subsided by the time I got to work.

I got the check organised anyway. After checking a few things he asked to go into the loft, and came back down instructing us not to use our heater.

Our heater is crap, you see. It’s one of those awful hot air ones – with vents in the wall upstairs and downstairs where the heat goes out. Very 1970s I suspect.

The flue which leads from the boiler and the vents in our house had come away in the loft, which meant it has been leaking – and we’re talking carbon monoxide here.

The penny dropped after a while. We’d made arrangements to go out so did our usual too busy to think about it kind of day and it was only after really thinking about it, and having one of those “ohhh… ” moments that it started to hit home.

So you start with the confusion. Then once the heating has been locked off, you suddenly realise you don’t feel dizzy any more. Then things start making sense. You feel a bit less jumbled in the head too. It’s like some kind of weird clarity. Then you get a bit angry and upset about it. Because, let’s face it, carbon monoxide isn’t something we choose to expose ourselves to.

Then you have the moment you realise why your child may have been sick all over your bed that time, because our bedroom is right next to the loft.

Then you start to kick yourself a bit because HOW did you miss the signs? Oh, that’s right. Because we were working, we’re busy at work and just put it down to a virus. One that hadn’t shifted in four months.

Then you get a bit upset too. See, when you asked the boiler man “what’s the worst case scenario” you meant just to get it fixed, but he answered with the brutally honest “death”. Fuck. But you didn’t really register that at the time.

So the landlady is getting it sorted. We’ll either get a replacement flue. If that happens we’re moving out. We’re never going to live in a house with this type of heating ever again. It’s rubbish and it doesn’t work very well anyway. If we get central heating we’ll put up with the disruption for a week because it will be better, it will be a good thing. However, it costs a lot more. But in my mind it gives this house more value – plus it will be warm.

Then I kick myself, because it would never have crossed my mind to get a carbon monoxide detector put in the loft, because I didn’t think. Neither of us did. The fumes have to go somewhere.

So, if you happen to have the awful hot air heating which comes out of vents, please please please get yourself a carbon monoxide detector in the loft as well. Because the worst case scenario doesn’t bear thinking about. We have a detector, but it’s downstairs next to the boiler itself.

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Now You Are Six and a Half

I haven’t written her a letter in a long time. Seeing as Shaun is upstairs ironing and H is in bed, I will. Unless he finishes, as he hates me typing.

Dear H,

You’re funny. You still think you’re a mini-me, and your sense of humour is brilliant (so mine must be too, right?). The amount of raised eyebrows I’d give you when you say something which may be a bit cheeky are suddenly getting the same raised eyebrows back from you as a response, complete with a cheeky grin. It cracks me up.

I love how you’re reading Harry Potter, David Walliams and David Baddiel books, the younger me would have approved a lot, were it out to give approval to such things. You finish reading a book and start it again, such is your enjoyment.

You do think you’re a bit more grown up than you are, and while it’s great to see this new-found wanting to do things to help, I’m not quite ready for you to do some of the things you want to. Your logic still isn’t quite there – as shown when you went head-first over the small wall outside our house. I have a unique ability to blank out anything which I’ve found traumatic, so don’t remember a lot about it but fortunately another mum from school was there who confirmed that yes, you just went head-first over the wall, landing on your head. You bumped your back in the process, I’m not sure how.

We’ll work on that. You did me proud at swimming, when your teacher had all eight of you in the class (as the other teacher was ill) and got you all swimming up and down the pool, and you did over 400 metres, something you had never done. That was something you achieved in your own right, didn’t compete against anyone, and you all kept going. It was wonderful to see and made me so proud. I may have then gone on about it many times afterwards to anyone who would listen.

So now you’re reaching your last full term of Infant school, and in less than a month we’ll find out that you’ve got a place at the Junior School that all or most of your class will go to. Including you. You’re fine, more than ready. Not nervous any more after having popped in there a few times for fairs and uniform sales, you’re excited now. This next term will be even more exciting as you start to have visits to get to know the school.

You’ve just done two terms of street dance classes at school. Given you really don’t want to perform (I do keep asking if you want to do drama classes or anything else like that but you’re dead set against it), the fact you stood and did a dance routine in front of Year 1 & 2 made me proud too. You did it, although we’re not doing it any more this term as we need to cut back on your activities after school – we’re all tired.

Ah, Shaun’s finished his ironing, so I’ll leave it there. Keep it up, keep being you. Don’t change, but if you do change make sure it’s even better than how it currently is. Keep smiling, and you’ll keep me smiling.

Love Mummy x

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Explaining the News to my Six and a Half Year Old

H’s school tend to watch Newsround in school time, so I wanted to be prepared after the horrible events yesterday. So I asked if she’d heard about the news.

She hadn’t. She heard something on the news in her childminder’s car this morning, mind.

Damn, then that leaves it to me to explain. How do you explain that out there are people who want to create a society full of fear and hatred towards others? And that to a point, they’re succeeding because people are scared?

So I told H about it in me-speak.

That this group of people who like to cause trouble have been doing it again. That they’ve bombed the airport in Brussels and a Metro Station, and unfortunately people have died. That they want us to be scared, that they want us to live in fear. But that actually, we don’t have to be scared. If you get scared, they’re winning.

(and at this point I think how scared I am that I could be anywhere in this world with my daughter and something could happen, but the actual chance of it happening is slim, but I still look into how much it costs to move to Mars as it might be safer there)

Because that’s what it boils down to. Protecting your children.

I always said I wouldn’t live in London when the IRA were blowing things up, but at least they gave warnings. Then they moved on to Manchester. But I always said that. I moved to London in 1997. I would occasionally travel on the DLR and see those buildings after the bombs in the docklands as they slowly got rebuilt.

But you can’t run away. You can’t bury your head in the sand. You can’t share the fear. Because here’s a six year old who is becoming more aware of the world around her and what’s happening.

A complete tangent, but in the seventies I was terrified that my mum would be killed by the Yorkshire Ripper. (my mum was not a prostitute, okay) But the way the news reported it and because of my young age, in my mind it was about people dying because of this scary man who attacked random women who was getting closer to York.

So my fears make me want to be as honest to H as I can be, without scaring her.

I asked her if she understood everything okay, and did she want to ask any questions. She replied “did the other people get to work okay?”

Which is the kind of question a six year old would come out with when being told something like this, and really not getting it. Which is okay, as I don’t want her to ‘get’ it just yet, just have an understanding.

As if by magic, Newsround has just come onto CBBC. Thank goodness for programmes like this which make explaining these things to H that bit more straightforward. I’ll be buying First News next week too.

 

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Growing Up

H and I chatted today about growing up. About how she’s getting bigger and older and her body will have changes. Actually, her body is already having changes – she uses a lovely little roll-on deodorant by PitROK which I was given at Blogfest which works a treat.

About periods.

Handily, I’m having mine at the moment, so carry my little Vinny’s Mini Tampon case in my jeans pocket, so showed her some tampons. Explained it all, and how a period happens.

“So if the egg isn’t fertilised…”

“What does fertilised mean, mummy?” (I didn’t think that one through)

I told her I’d explain with the context of a chicken, which was enough of a distraction we could just get on with talking about periods instead and completely forget about that f-word.

“So what if I never get one?” she quizzed. I told her it’s unlikely she would miss out, and actually may well be like me or her nana and have them at a younger age. She seemed happy with that while a little bit of me broke inside. (my mum was seven, I was nine. H is six and a half)

She seemed fairly content with the fact it’s normal, that she’ll almost definitely get them but she won’t know when and that her general body changes will be when she knows things are changing. I hope. But I hope not soon.

Which makes me wish I’d had a chat like this with my mum back when I was the age when you can understand things like this. I knew nothing about periods. I remember sitting on the loo and my mum opening the door telling me “oh, I think you’ve started your periods” when I apparently had, being given a large brick type pad to wear that weekend in my pants. I didn’t have a clue what it meant or what it was about, or that it was even happening, it all just felt really awkward.

“What are these?” she asked, as she picked up my box of tampons on the stairs. (don’t worry, they don’t live there, they were making their way from my work bag into the bathroom cabinet) and I reminded her again. “Ohh THOSE” she said, knowingly.

It’s almost like I don’t need to broach any kind of subject along these lines any more, it’s like she thinks she’s an expert, she has as much knowledge as she’ll need for the next few years, and I can put my feet up for a bit.

It’s like she’ll now just casually drop into the conversation in restaurants “well that’s BECAUSE YOU HAVE YOUR PERIOD!” or something. A bit like the time I did a wee and she congratulated me on it being a big one.

I guess my lack of tact is really rubbing off on my daughter…

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Because Relying on a Six Year Old Will Never Work

H was off school on Tuesday, and one of the things which I constantly repeated to her was to drink water as that would make her better over time.

We sent her into school with a note to pass on to her teacher, asking that every time she needed the loo, she be able to go due to her problem on Tuesday. (she went to the toilet seven times at Rainbows on Monday, and that was in an hour and a half)

She forgot to hand her teacher the letter. She forgot to drink water. She went to the toilet TWICE all day.

Fast forward to today. H goes home with her friend after school on a Thursday and it hasn’t been a problem up to now as she did tennis club as an After School club. Her teacher had mentioned it to the office, who had called me before pickup time and I’d confirmed that was the arrangement. I also pointed out she had a letter in her book bag.

H’s teacher never got my message and was reluctant to let H go. That was until H piped up “OH! I’ve got a letter in my book bag!” and handed it over.

I swear, relying on my daughter to pass anything on like that is slim. But then why would I expect her to? She’s six. I wish our school had a better way of passing on information, important information that is. If there is, I don’t know what it is.

All I know is relying on a six year old to do what they’re asked is something which appears to be quite a challenge. Roll on Junior school….

World Book Day – Why Make it Easy?

World Book Day is on Thursday, and already I’m dreading it with a large sense of additional giggle.

See, it was easy at the start of the year when H had her Harry Potter costume all sorted out. Really easy. I mean, she could even wear her uniform it was so completely easy peasy lemon squeezy.

But then she read ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ and because I’m a soft touch I bought her an evacuees costume. She’d make a great Lucy Pevensie. Obviously, because she’s just walking around with a costume on and nothing else, she needs accessories. Like, say, a dagger made out of an old Amazon box, right? Done. But that still doesn’t really say who she is. No, she needs one more thing to make it completely obvious who she is being.

She needs a wardrobe!

Obviously the least practical thing you can take into school, especially when you’re at the childminders that morning. But we have a box, one which is just the right size. Shaun is completely anti this box, and making it into a wardrobe. I think it will be a stroke of genius if they do a parade and she walks around holding a small wardrobe. Shaun is really not buying it.

H thinks it’s the best thing ever!

So it looks like it’s up to me to make this box good. Except I don’t have any brown paper… that’s on my shopping list for tomorrow in the hope I’ll find somewhere that sells it (we have a Post Office near home).

Oh, and we won’t mention the new blue dress that has arrived as she has a Superheroes dressing up party this weekend and has decided she’s going as Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls. (Shaun suggested she have a badge saying who she is as nobody will have a clue apart from possibly some parents). (I thought she’d make a better Buttercup personally). That’s going to be fun, I want to cut out a pair of enormous eyes to stick around her glasses so she looks like a proper Powerpuff Superhero. Obviously Shaun thinks this is also ridiculous…

H thinks it’s brilliant!

Think we might win this one too.

Then again she might just change her mind on the day and go as Harry Potter with Lucy’s wardrobe, saving the world before bedtime.

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I Don’t Do Competitive

That’s what I say to myself over and over again. I’m happy with my place in life – I exist, I’m one of the cogs which keeps things turning, I’m not the leader, the thing that makes things happen. I try and do that as much as possible in my life, and I try to make sure H has these values too.

There’s nothing wrong with being competitive – it just isn’t for me.

But then there’s the parenting side of it. When H was born and I was seeing my NCT group once a week, other children would get a tooth first and I’d wonder why H hadn’t. Other children would walk first, and I’d wonder why H wasn’t bothered. Actually, she became the fastest crawler I’d seen, such was her ability to get around – she didn’t need to walk as crawling was easier. She made it in her own time, but the time up to that time I wondered why she wasn’t there with her friends.

Queen H

Other skills came along, and then came school. Fortunately H picked up reading really quickly and moved up the book bands quite easily. I tend to use Facebook as the kind of place where I’ll post if she has achieved something to let her relatives in York and Australia know, and I didn’t really think about how it looked beyond that. A couple of friends pointed out to me that it looks a bit like I’m bragging about my daughter’s abilities. I thought about it, and I stopped. Maybe it did. I just want to exist in our little school group and not be someone who is in everyone’s faces – just a cog in it all. I didn’t think about filtering things so that H’s achievements would be seen by just family – and maybe that’s what I should have done.

I don’t need to change who I am. I am proud of my girl and what she has achieved, yet I need to think about what other people think of me. I need to filter my ways so that I don’t look like I’m showing off, this place is fine for it as people have to actively come here to read things, rather than it appearing on your timeline. I get it.

But I don’t do competitive. One child isn’t better than another. They’re all good.

John Crane Tidlo Recorder

But then I had the conversation with another parent. “oh yes, (insert name) is so much better than all the other girls isn’t she?” I was told, and I hated it. I felt like I wanted to prove my girl is just as good, that it isn’t about one child, it’s about everyone. From somewhere that competitive part reared its ugly head. But WHY?

My daughter is who she is. She does what she does. She does it well and I’m happy with that. We get to deal with the angry tantrums and storming off (as she is only six) as she starts to discover who she is too.

I think it was just being told, quite blatantly that someone else’s child was better than mine in that person’s opinion. It got my back up. It probably wasn’t even meant that way.

H on guitar

Sometimes I need to listen to myself. If my daughter is doing what I think is brilliant, then that’s all I need to be happy about. I need to make sure she knows she’s doing well, that it doesn’t matter if someone else is further ahead of her, it’s about HER enjoying the moment.

I think I do, but sometimes things really get my back up. Maybe I do a teeny bit of competitive after all?

 

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Post Half-Term Blues

So H is back to school tomorrow, over half way through her last year of Infant School, and heading into the Easter break. I like half term, even if it means we don’t get to spend any more time together – I worked through it all, though Shaun took both Fridays off (one was an Inset Day).

They weren’t given any homework which is a relief. Although some parents received a badly-worded letter to announce this term’s topic is Pirates – but couldn’t work out if we were actually meant to send the child in dressed as a pirate. We’re sending H in dressed like that anyway after cobbling together a hastily made Pirate costume.

Half term was Holiday Club for H. She’s booked in for Easter too, with the odd day off around the holidays. See, the fun has to be provided by someone else when the holidays come as we both work five days a week (and additional extras at home when we absolutely have to). Fortunately she’s really happy there and gets on with whatever is being done so I don’t worry how she’s getting on.

So I work straight through from 8.30 to 2.30 every day (without a lunchbreak), getting the train which goes closest to Holiday Club, picking her up and going on to whichever activity or playdate we have planned. Repeat to fade…

She’s tired, I’m tired and we’re back to school in the morning for another five weeks of tired. After school activities start again and we’ll be TIRED.

I’m not complaining, mind. Just tired.

Tired of logging everything H does to show she reads a lot (her teacher knows this, this bit is parental guilt), tired of fighting (verbally) with everything H doesn’t want to do because – guess what – she’s TIRED. Tired of tidying up, H is tired of tidying up too. Bribery isn’t cutting it any more. Can we just order a giant bin for her bedroom and put everything in there?

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Oops

I wrote so many posts in January, which were meant to stay in drafts forever, it would seem. Those times are now gone, and it’s February.

I’ve also cursed everything. I bought a sledge three or four years ago, and since then it hasn’t snowed. This winter was the mildest I’ve experienced in a long time. Washing has gone out on the line in January, something that never happened before – well, to me anyway.

H is becoming quite the grown up girl. She’s not a little girl any more, but she isn’t really grown up what with only being six and having her front two teeth missing. But I can see in her face she’s looking older, it’s like there has been changes and I didn’t see them until I really saw them.

Her confidence is starting to come through now. She’s doing well at school, on the School Council and in the Headmistresses magazine club which she’s really enjoying. They put together a little fanzine type thing which she thinks is awesome. I keep thinking I should get my 1980s fanzines I put together out, so she can see how similar a path she’s found, as I’ve never mentioned it to her. She has been doing little interviews with authors and asking some good questions – and we have several planned throughout the year, depending on how brave I am asking them. So far it has been really positive, and I love how excited H gets when the questions come back.

I’m afraid I do sort of mock my child and her antisocial behaviour, as she seems to be the kind of child who goes for playdates at friends houses, then sits in a corner reading their books, though that phase may have passed. This week she just painted her nails instead! (she did alright)

We took her to her Junior School’s Christmas Fair in early December, and she seems less nervous about that which is good.

So otherwise things are just plodding along at a fast rate, and I feel like I’m going to wake up suddenly and she’ll be eighteen and will have left school. I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be, mind.

Bye, 2015.

2015 has been a funny old year. One where I’ve felt more in control of myself and my emotions, but out of control of other things.

My back troubles of previous years, accompanied with various muscular aches seem to have gone (for now), possibly helped with the warmer weather. Maybe it’s a sign.

Work has been the same old thing, which has kept me sane at times and driven me mad – but I’m happy and still there. It went crazy busy at the end of the year and we coped, and I think that deserves a big pat on the back. Also – I was only off sick for two days last year. That relates to my back as well. I want to keep it up, I don’t particularly enjoy being at home.

Home. What is home, anyway? We live in a house owned by someone else who gave us a £230 rent increase per month this year. It’s safe to say this place doesn’t feel like a home, just someone else’s bricks. Maybe that’s a sign too.

But then I enjoy being around my family. The only family I’ve spent time with this year are Shaun and H – we didn’t go to Australia (we had no plans to), and I got to York for a few hours, so saw my mum and sister just the once. Shaun and H are my world and they help keep me sane.

Sane? Because I’m changing too. This year I’ve accepted I’m in perimenopause, the hot flushes have arrived (especially when I’m stressed) and anxiety has joined in too. The palpitations and feeling like you’re burning up are not much fun. So I’m focusing on me, trying to find ways to cope. As Shaun said last night “what sets it off?” – and I couldn’t explain. It isn’t like there’s a magic switch which you can just turn off. So that’s why when H can’t explain her angry outbursts, I understand. Sometimes you can’t, sometimes you can. We’re all changing. We’re changing too soon.

So here we are, New Year’s Eve. We were meant to go out tonight but I need to get out tomorrow, to go to the sea. I always go to the sea on New Year’s Day, start the year fresh, ready to fight again. I’ve had almost three weeks off work and I’ve started sleeping for longer times again, apart from when I get anxious – like today. I’m focusing on me, on us, on family. On staying sane.

I’ve put on weight again, so will be setting myself targets to make it go away, like going to the gym again. Bake Off kind of stopped me doing that with it being on so early and at the time I’d be having my workout. That was August. Slap my hand. That will live over at Mum Friendly, as I try to get back on track.

As for Shaun, he’s running again. Twice since Christmas and I’m so proud of him getting back into it and pushing himself. H? She’s doing well, and is settling well into being a moody six year old who screams a lot when she doesn’t get her own way. Fun times.

So yes, 2016. It’s going to be a year of changes. Well, not for me. I’ll look back in November and wonder where the year has gone. H will have started Junior School and Brownies, and will hopefully start guitar lessons too. I just need my family and to stay sane, while living in this place we call a home. It ain’t all bad.

Happy New Year.