Monday, November 26, 2012

The Sugar Plum Fairy: How Diabetes Entered Our Lives

Well, as most of you will now know, those of you that Facebook chose to deliver the information to that is, the even keel I referred to in my last post did not last long. 

On Tuesday 23rd October we found out that Miss Chief has Type 1 Diabetes and is insulin dependent. Understandably people want to know what happened: what alerted us, how it was diagnosed, why we were in hospital and what happens next. So here's the story...

The Beginning

The Chief didn't seem particularly unwell that Tuesday but a few things had been nagging at me recently and there were enough symptoms for me to have an excuse to see the doctor. Most of what was concerning me appeared to be behavioural but I didn't want to wait until her 4 year health check to have those concerns alleviated. On the face of it her behaviour seemed normal but she just didn't seem herself to me. 

Just before Happy Shouty One was born, Chief started acting up a bit; resisting naps, throwing tantrums, getting out of bed at night. All pretty normal stuff for a 2 year old. Understandably this continued with the adjustment of having a new baby brother in the house. Eventually she grew out of it and a period of relative stability ensued in our family, Map Man's thesis notwithstanding. 

The Symptoms

A few months ago she started behaving a bit strangely and was at times a bit difficult. It started with not listening, entering her own little world where fairy dresses, wearing the right shoes, and singing and dancing were way more important than brushing teeth, sitting quietly on the mat for story time at daycare or getting in the car when asked. Very normal behaviour for a three year old. Then she started getting up at night again; using excuses not to go to bed, waking her sleeping brother. Again, all normal, and there was always a reasonable explanation: excitement because Nana and Grandad were here; disruption because she was sharing her room with her brother. 

One day she really stressed her teacher out and we had a big talk about how important it was to listen. I checked in with her teacher every day but was reassured that the main issue was not listening and this was normal for her age. I began to think we'd read too much into her teacher's initial complaint. But it bothered me because the Chief has always been more advanced for her age than typical. Her school friends are all 6 months older than her and she's always been very good with comprehension and communication. I just couldn't believe she'd gone from being exceptional to not just typical, but a bit annoying and vacant. We started giving her Omega 3 supplements and put it down to her close friendship with Little Katie as they distracted each other and acted up together.

Gradually stranger things started happening more frequently. Two or three months ago she suddenly grew taller and her appetite increased, clearly a growth spurt. But within a few short weeks she was having another one and this one kept going. She was really thinning out. She was hungry all the time and I began to wonder if I was totally underestimating how much a child of her age should be eating. I made a mental note to ask the GP the next time we were there. 

There was an increase in erratic, overly emotional and sensitive behaviours. She'd have mood swings and lose it because I misheard something she said. She'd be almost impossible to deal with some mornings until she'd had food and water. She'd get up multiple times a night to go to the toilet or get a drink. But again, it wasn't constant. Taken in isolation nothing was overly worrying and when I mentioned any of these to friends inevitably their children would be doing something similar.

Then Map Man went away one weekend and we spent most of the weekend with a close friend and her little girl. My friend pointed out that Chief weed a lot so I began keeping a closer eye on her. The following weekend we went away with Uncle Awesome and Auntie Caring and it gave me the chance to observe her a bit more. When I asked Auntie Caring if she thought Chief weed a lot she replied, "yes, but she drinks a lot too." I noticed Chief frequently asking Caring if she'd take her to the bathroom whilst we were out and wondered if she was seeking attention. So I ran a little test. On the last day of our holidays, Monday 22 October, we were on a brief trip to the beach when she asked to be taken to the toilet. I told her that it was too far away and that we wouldn't have time to come back to the beach before we had to go and pack. I suggested she do it in the water or on the sand, figuring if it was attention she was after she'd either throw a tantrum or forget about it. Instead she dug a little hole and weed on the sand. 

By this time we'd begun to notice Chief getting up for food and water after she'd gone to bed at night. When we were toilet training her we'd stopped her drinking after dinner time and for a while that was fine. But then she started sneaking into the kitchen, drinking from her water bottle and sneaking back to bed. We heard a snack packet rustling one night when we were in bed; as it was a health food snack we just giggled and let it pass, hoping that if we didn't make a big deal of it, it wouldn't happen again. But a week later we caught her eating an apple in bed. We briefly talked about it with her and she said she only ever ate healthy food after bedtime, never chocolate or biscuits. This was the only behaviour that seemed different to other children we knew.

Map Man was really quite unwell whilst we were away and I had noticed Chief getting a gunky nose when I took her in the pool. I wondered if she had the same virus and even though she claimed to feel well - apart from a cough - on the drive home I thought she was looking a bit tired and pale. 

The next morning we thought that all things considered she probably shouldn't go to the swim lesson she was booked into. They don't tend to like gunky noses, plus there was a possible UTI and I was concerned there could be intermittent thrush as she sometimes complained of being sore and itchy and seemed to crave sweet things. 

And that's as far as the symptoms go. As you can see they were incredibly subtle and not too different from normal behaviours in this age group. It's easy to see why so many parents miss the symptoms until their children are clearly unwell. 

The Diagnosis

Okay, so here is where it gets freaky. Miss Chief's GP is a respected doctor with a special interest in children. I take the kids there for their health checks and vaccinations and he also looked after us when Chief's foot issue was being diagnosed last year. But generally if they're unwell and I want to see someone at short notice I just take them over the road as Dr Scott Parsons is very busy and even when we do get a last minute appointment with him it's generally at an inconvenient time. She didn't seem unwell enough to inconvenience ourselves. 

I was working on Tuesday morning so I asked Map Man to call my GP, who Chief knows and who has 3 little girls a bit older than Chief. He made an appointment for Friday morning. On the off-chance I decided to try Dr Parsons because Chief goes to daycare on Fridays and that appointment would disrupt our schedule. If he wasn't free we'd just see another doctor in his practice. As luck would have it he had availability at a convenient time of 2.45 that afternoon. 

The first thing Dr Parsons did was ask me to take Chief to the loo and get her to wee in a jar, which took a while on account of her having performance anxiety. Well, wouldn't you if someone was crouched next to you holding a jar under your butt and asking, "where's the wee? Is it coming yet?" Then as he tested that I chatted about some of the things that were troubling me. I told him that Chief seemed to be hungry all the time.

"You need to come in here," he said and led us to the treatment room where he asked a nurse to do a finger prick test. Within ten minutes he'd diagnosed diabetes and was instructing me to take her directly to the hospital, after depositing Happy One somewhere - he was having immense fun making me chase him down the surgery corridors and wreaking general havoc. Dr Parsons told me that although Chief was well now in about twelve hours she'd crash and become extremely sick. She needed to go straight to hospital for stabilisation and would be there for about 5 or 6 days whilst we took a steep learning curve and had our minds blown with information overload. 

The freaky thing about all this, besides the fact that we just happened to get a conveniently-timed appointment with that doctor at short notice, is that had the diabetes progressed a day earlier, or a day later we probably wouldn't have caught it before she became sick. The previous day we were still on holidays and wouldn't have visited a doctor given her mild symptoms. The following day we were all due at work or daycare and wouldn't have gone. Her symptoms were so mild that I would never have thought of taking her had it not all been so convenient. Clearly she has a guardian angel. 

A couple of quick phone calls later I dropped Happy One off at Auntie Caring's house - with the nappy bag, thankfully but minus his blankie which he'd dropped at the doctors - and was on my way to meet Map Man at the hospital. It's a long way from Auntie Caring's to the hospital when you're trying to get there before the evening rush, and even longer when you're making the return journey at 10pm with only your thoughts and anxieties for company. 

The Prognosis

At the hospital the tests were repeated and the diagnosis confirmed within about 20 minutes of being there, whilst The Chief watched DVDs. Then a team of about 5 people put a cannula in her hand which didn't impress her much, despite the numbing cream that had been applied. A few blood samples were taken for all sorts of things, such as the presence of antibodies that can cause diabetes (inconclusive: Chief does not have either of the two major antibodies, which 80% of Type 1 Diabetics have) and coeliac markers (also inconclusive: they look for a number between 1 and 5; Chief was 6). We had the basics of Type 1 Diabetes explained to us and the treatment, which we were told would probably be between 2 and 5 injections of insulin a day. I asked for how long. The answer: forever; the rest of her life. 

Well, that was hard to swallow.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

No one really knows what causes Type 1 diabetes but what they do know is that it's often a combination of factors, such as a genetic predisposition, and an auto-immune response to a virus. What it isn't, is the result of too much sugar and fat in the diet and an inactive lifestyle, although over time that can lead to Type 2 diabetes for those with a predisposition.

Miss Chief has a great uncle with Type 1 diabetes, so there is a tenuous genetic factor there, though generally it doesn't play too large a part in your risk of developing the condition. The auto-immune factor is just incredibly unlucky. Chief's teachers are trying to link it back to a virus she had a few months ago because they looked back and noticed she'd had some sick days but the truth is that it could have been anything. You don't even have to get particularly sick and might not even notice you've had a virus. And the diabetes progresses at different rates in different people. Some people might notice they've got a cold one week and the next week they are diagnosed with diabetes. For others there are so many weeks or months between the virus and the diabetes that they don't even make the connection. At the end of the day, it might be a matter of interest to know when this started but it doesn't really matter. 

Once the auto-immune response starts the body goes a bit nuts and starts destroying the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This is the bit which can happen really quickly, or quite slowly. As red blood cells live for three months the level of glucose in these cells can indicate how long this has been happening. In Chief's case we think it's been a while. When 90% of the beta cells have been destroyed the body is no longer producing enough insulin to meet its needs and the symptoms of diabetes begin to appear. 

Insulin is a hormone that the body uses to allow glucose, or energy, to pass from the blood into the cells. When the brain realises that it isn't getting enough energy it looks for alternate sources. First off, it breaks down fat stores and uses energy from that. When fat stores are depleted it will try to get protein from muscles. Ketones are a by-product of this process. Ketones are toxic to many organs and if levels get too high ketoacidosis occurs. Left untreated ketoacidosis damages organs and eventually they fail. A diagnosis of diabetes is made when elevated levels of both glucose and ketones are detected in the blood. Fortunately, Chief had not developed ketoacidosis by the time she was diagnosed.  

Although the brain gets some energy from fat and protein, this is pretty hard work and it would really prefer the nice, easily-digestible glucose so it sends signals to the body to consume more food. The patient becomes hungry and eats more. As the blood sugar levels rise the kidneys try to flush it out by producing more urine, which uses up fluids and makes the person more thirsty. So there are your main symptoms: excessive hunger, thirst and weeing.

The Hospital

Chief was eventually moved to the paediatric ward late that night. I couldn't really wait to see her settled in as I had to go and collect Happy, who was sleeping in his clothes, and a 4-year old girls cardigan, in a portacot my sister-in-law had borrowed from a neighbour. Map Man spent the night at the hospital. Chief was put on a drip and given shots of insulin to start her stabilisation. 

Over the next 3 days we spent hours with a diabetes educator from the diabetes clinic. We spoke to paediatricians, registrars, nurses, social workers, psychologists and dieticians. We took turns to stay the night there and go home with Happy. By the time we left we had been given bags of expensive equipment and had learned how to read her glucose levels, or "fairy blood" with a finger prick 7 times a day and give her a total of 5 injections of 2 types of insulin 3 times a day, using her "fairy pens". We were shocked, sleep-deprived and hadn't spent any time as a family. Happy One had been shunted between daycare, family and friends with only bed and breakfast time spent with Mammy or Daddy. And all with his trademark smile and happy nature. We survived on other peoples' generosity, with friends and neighbours cooking, baking and shopping for us, feeding the cats and pulling our clothes off the line. It was a crazy time. 

The hospital and staff were great, with the possible exception of one ditsy nurse who, amongst other things, managed to prick her finger on one of Chief's needles, causing Chief to be sent for blood tests. As if she wasn't dealing with enough needles. When we left hospital we had the mobile number of the paediatrician and phoned her once a day to discuss glucose levels and insulin doses. When Chief ran particularly low one night (i.e. low blood glucose levels, thus risking hypoglycaemia, or a "hypo") we were able to call the paediatric on-call registrar at the hospital for advice. Ten days after we got home Map Man and I went to the diabetes clinic to chat to a dietician and an educator and ten days after that we went with Chief to talk to the paediatrician and a psychologist. Although it can be very isolating at times, I never felt like I was totally alone; I felt like we were really well supported. 

The Aftermath

And so a month later we are still adjusting to life with diabetes. After a short period of stabilisation and target glucose readings Chief entered a "honeymoon" or remission phase, where the pancreas temporarily produces small amounts of insulin again. Her doses were changed to prevent her glucose levels spiking up and down too much, and she went down to 4 injections a day but I feel like we're still working out the right doses and food for her. There are still many things for us to learn and many challenges ahead. The repercussions of our unplanned week in hospital have been more than we could have imagined: an unpaid credit card bill and the accompanying interest charges, an expired drivers license, a house so disorganised, untidy and full of clutter that we lose things and jobs take twice as long as they should. The toll it has taken on our family has been surprising but I guess it came at the end of a tough and exhausting year. And it didn't stop there. A week later one of our cats had an accident and spent a couple of expensive nights at the vet extremely unwell (thankfully, now fully recovered). And we have more things to deal with before the end of the year, which I won't go into. 

One thing it has taught me is how amazingly strong and resilient our little girl is, so much more so than her mam and dad. She is brave and beautiful and it breaks my heart that I couldn't protect her from this. But I'm determined she will live as normal a life as possible. This is what the universe has given to us and this is what we must deal with. No point in dwelling on it and feeling sorry for ourselves or each other.  There are so many worse things in the world, and the research efforts and medical advances for Type 1 diabetes are quite amazing. Chief is using insulin pens that were released about a year ago, and which allow half units of insulin to be administered. Do you know how much that is? Not even a drop! 100 units is approximately 1 millilitre! And her needle tips are 4mm long and only 0.23mm wide! They are seriously tiny. Sharp little buggers though. Scratched my hand with one yesterday and it hurt a hell of a lot more than an injection. 

This won't be my first post on diabetes. We are about to start an incredible journey and we are only at the very beginning. We'll be learning a lot about diabetes, and a whole lot more about ourselves and our amazing children. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Smelly Daddy

Things are finally getting back on an even keel in our house since Map Man handed in his grad cert thesis about a month ago. I still don't have much time to blog as I am now in the process of a bit of a career change which requires a fair bit of study and mental space. I have moved into the client world at work and after achieving my Google Analytics certification I am now the Conversion Optimiser and am studying Inbound Marketing and conversion rate optimisation. But enough of that. It doesn't take anywhere near as much time as Map Man's thesis did.

We were a bit worried about it actually. It was quite long. I mean really long. I think only the bible is longer. But on Sunday night we got the fantastic news that Map Man had been awarded a distinction. Clearly my domestic duties, proof-reading and suggested edits played a large part in this but I'd be lying if I didn't say that Map Man's passion, dedication and hard work didn't contribute in some way. Suffice to say I am currently very proud to be Mrs Map.

Last night we went out with the family to celebrate. As I was getting the kids ready to go I gave them a card to draw on. Miss Chief asked me what it was for.

"It's to congratulate Daddy. Remember how he was working really hard all the time in the garage? [That's where he set up his study so he could lock the door and get away from the kids. Cost us a bloody fortune to heat that place in winter, I can tell you.] Well he did really well and got a distinction."

Miss Chief paused and considered this. Then, "Does he stink?"

"What? Why? Oh no! You funny thing," I laughed.

Clearly confused by my response she then asked, "what's a stinktion?"

Out of the mouths of babes.

Rather that than the nonsense that's coming out of Happy One's mouth these days. I think he might have to be renamed Shouty One or Happy When It Suits Him. Jeez that kid could have his choice of representing Australia or England in the Under 18s (months) Tantrum Championships.

Anyway, he's been really ill. It was awful; croup, coughing, sniffling, temperature, no appetite. Went for about a week and he lost loads of weight. He's been on the mend for about 10 days or so now but he's still waking in the night. And often I feed him to get him back to sleep. Well, my back has been sore - another story - and the other night I took some very strong painkillers that I'd never taken before and knew nothing about but just needed to take something so I could sleep. About 50 minutes after I finally fell asleep he woke up and, after a bit of whinging, started screaming. I refused to feed him and made Map Man deal with it like he did when Miss Chief was young. Thing is she was about 10 months old when I stopped feeding her in the night. Happy Shouty One is almost 16 months and not entirely thrilled about the situation. That night he screamed for about an hour and Miss Chief ended up on the floor of the spare room - the kids share a room now. The next night he woke twice and screamed for almost half an hour each time. We're all unbelievably exhausted. Tonight he enthusiastically nodded when I asked if he was going to stay quiet until 6am. We'll see how that goes then.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Obediance and Logic

Conversation between me and Miss Chief at breakfast this morning.

Chief, on finishing her porridge: Mammy, can I put my pretty dress on now?
Me: Yes, but take your dish to the sink first, please.
Chief: Ok, Mama.
Me: And don't forget to put your pyjamas under your pillow.
Chief: Ok.
Chief walks towards bedroom with dish in hand.
Me: Take your dish to the sink first, then put your pyjamas away.
Chief: Ok. Ok, Sir.
Takes her dish and puts it on the kitchen bench.
Me: Can you put your dish in the sink, please?
Chief: Ok, Sir.
Me: Wait, did you just call me "sir"?
Chief: Yes. Yes, I did, Sir.
Me: Where did you get that from? Where did that come from?
Chief, tapping her throat: From my mouth.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Happy One is on the move

I don't have time to blog which is why I haven't been. Actually no, that's not strictly true. I haven't been making blogging a priority lately because there is just so much happening in this house at the moment and I'm stuck in the rut of just getting things done: laundry, which every day involves hanging out in the morning and putting on before bed, with folding, sorting and putting away happening every other day; meal planning, shopping and cooking; general baby and kid stuff, such as feeding, cleaning, entertaining, taking out and generally tidying up after, not to mention finding lost toys and fixing broken ones, which all takes up valuable time; and then of course there's work, the real, professional, paid career kind, and there are some developments there too; and the less exciting but equally important domestic management work, such as budget planning, bill paying, paperwork, mail, filing, phone calls and so on; and there is barely time for any of my other hobbies, such as sewing and other craft, and let's not mention the decluttering project I started a year ago. Oh yes, and the much sort after sleep and fitness. To be fair I do blog more than I declutter and about as much as I do each of my many other hobbies. Oh and I totally forgot about washing accumulated cat wee out of the carpet - my favourite pastime of all.

So blogging isn't a current priority, and I'm typing this on my iPhone so I'll keep it brief but I really couldn't neglect to mark this momentous occasion. The Happy One is officially walking. Less than 3 weeks before his first birthday and he walked across the sitting room to me, totally looking like the cat that got the cream. I say "across the sitting room". I actually mean about a metre, so maybe four steps. But that's far for such little legs and the furthest he's been yet. For a few weeks now we've known it's been more an issue of him not knowing that he can do it than him not actually being able to do it. Well, I think he's finally getting with the program.

This is definitely a step up from crawling. Now he can carry things in his hands instead of in his mouth, like a dog. I'll miss the crawling stage though. It's just so cute. And then my baby will no longer be a baby but a toddler. Bawhawhawhaw. Oh they grow so fast.

Ok, momentous occasion duly noted and finger cramp is setting in (how come the Blogger iPhone app doesn't flip round when the screen is horizontal? Ok vocab part of brain shutting down now. Must sleep.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A week of ailments

I just thought I'd share with you the kind of week I had about a fortnight ago. This is an extract from an email I sent to a friend at the time:
  • Friday night: Confirmed Miss Chief has threadworms.
  • Saturday: Got medication from pharmacy and treated entire family ('cept Happy One). Washed all bed clothes, sheets and towels. Cleaned toilets. On way home from pharmacy noticed car sounded a bit funny.
  • Later on Saturday: discovered Miss Chief has ringworm (fungal skin infection, highly contagious).
  • Sunday: Back to pharmacy for cream for ringworm. Washed all Chief's sheets, towels and nightwear again.
  • Monday: Happy One, who was already under the weather, became very unwell. Couldn't put him down all day. Made good use of the baby sling. Chief was also off colour - possibly due to tiredness, possibly due to worm medication, possibly attention seeking because Happy One wasn't well. At one point I had him in the sling and I was carrying her. A friend rescued me by bringing her kids to meet us at the park and then inviting Chief round for dinner.
  • Tuesday: Map Man took the car to a mechanic who said it had water damage from the floods last week and he shouldn't really drive it until an auto-electrician could fix it.
  • Wednesday: Read that ringworm can come from cats so took both cats to vets. No ringworm but both cats are overweight, especially Monty who also has an ear infection. So I'm now treating him with antibiotic drops and they're both on a diet.
  • Thursday: Rode bike to work as no car. Then auto-electrician fixed car. Happy One slowly getting better and ringworm starting to fade. Unfortunately Map Man is now really off-colour.
  • Today: Map Man is still sick with a stomach bug. Am thinking things can only get better.
I was wrong. Map Man stayed unwell for another couple of days. He was just starting to brighten up again when I started to feel rotten about four days after writing the above. Around the same time Mother In Law, who stayed with us whilst Map Man was ill, supposedly so he could work but he was so sick he slept and moaned the whole time instead, also became ill. We're both only just becoming right again over a week later.

Meanwhile, our kids have been driving us mad at night so we're sleep training both of them. I guess that's for another post but in the Chief's case we have resorted to bribery. She is progressing so clearly bribery works. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile No. 13: Baby asleep at the breast

I wrote this post about 3 months ago and so this is an old photo but it happened again tonight so I thought it was about time I published it. Actually it happens most nights but it's still lovely. One of the reasons I love breastfeeding is how easily you can get a baby to sleep. Or stop a teething baby from crying. Or comfort a sick baby. Sometimes it can feel like a bind or a chore especially as my lunch hour at work is always spent feeding. But as we don't want any more babies I'm not going to rush this. I'll enjoy it while it lasts because I'm sure I'll miss it when it's gone.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Are we normal?

I need to rant before I explode.

Can someone with a child at least slightly older than 3 years and 2 months please write to me and tell me that it's a crazy age but it does get better. I don't mean someone with a child who had a couple of tantrums aged 2 1/2 but soon grew out of them. You can just get back to your wonderful life with your perfect child, in your no doubt perfectly clean and tidy house and wallow in your own self-smugness, keeping your la-la rose-tinted fairyland opinions to yourself. (I warned you it was a rant.) We don't need to hear from the likes of you, thank you very much. If indeed you do exist. And I very much hope that if you do you are a very rare breed. No, I'm hoping to hear from a vast swathe of almost insane (but not quite) mothers telling me that my children are normal. Or at least as normal as pre-schoolers and babies can ever hope to be.

I had a vague glimmer of hope after catching up with a couple of my mums group friends and being told by one that when her daughter is tired and feral she poos on the garage floor. Then she approaches her mum and says "Guess what, Mummy. I did a poo on the floor." And her mum says, "oh god, you didn't. Where?" and she sniggers and runs off.

See, that's the kind of mum I want to hear from. But preferably one with a slightly older child who has matured beyond this crazy behaviour and can say with reasonable confidence that it was a phase (isn't everything?) but that thankfully it is now over and said child seems quite normal and almost human.

I think everything is magnified for me at the moment as I am doing about 70-80% of the care of our children. Which is normal for most mothers. But I'm not most mothers so let's not dwell. And I'm quite sure there are a few of you out there with more, or crazier, or whatever children reading this and thinking "oh my god, hark at her whinging. She doesn't know how easy she's got it." But hold ye tongue and bear with... all is relative, is it not?

So, here are a few of the things that my gorgeously sweet, cute, clever and funny little Miss Chief drove me insane with today.
  • Rubbing glitter from a picture all over the floor then sticking her hand in it so she can spread it around elsewhere.
  • Refusing to sleep. Or be quiet.
  • Asking for a wipe and when asked why admitted it was to wipe up her own wee from the carpet. But it was "just a little bit".
  • Drawing all over the outdoor table in (thankfully washable) felt tip pen. (And at some point when I wasn't looking drawing on our very expensive security screen door.)
  • Being overly rough with her brother, including pushing him off a little ride-on toy she was pushing him around on and then telling me he fell. And hitting him with a stick. Yesterday she hit him on the head with a garden broom I'd just bought for her for being good in the supermarket. Why do kids do that? You reward them for being good and they take it as a signal to start being naughty again. I'm really not convinced the whole positive reinforcement method of discipline works.
  • Gluing the table instead of the bit of cardboard I instructed her to glue whilst we were making a cardboard Easter bunny. Why can't these things just be fun and induce togetherness like they're supposed to?
  • Unraveling a roll of toilet paper onto the floor in order to get the cardboard insert, because I wasn't sure where I'd put the one I'd already found for her, when she was supposed to be picking her pens up off the floor whilst I looked for the original roll, or another already used one. And might I also add there was in fact another used one on the floor right behind where she was standing whilst she unraveled the one currently in use.
  • Blowing raspberries, not to be funny but to be defiant.
  • Shouting.
  • Crying.
  • Spitting at the dinner table. Isn't it funny how the mind works? See this was the last straw and she was pulled from the table (after a few warnings, I hasten to add), shoved in the shower and taken immediately to bed. We hardly ever do that so she must have been doing some really naughty things before this to induce such a reaction. But I can't remember what they were. Hence, it has just dawned upon me that I will get no replies from almost insane mothers of formerly-crazy-but-now-nearly-normal children because they probably have very little memory of the crazy period and have in fact now placed themselves in the former category of smug parents of perfect kids who had a couple of tantrums but not much else. Ho hum.
  • Dangling her feet over my chair at the dinner table. Doesn't sound like much but it's really annoying especially when your husband is simultaneously kicking cats at you.
  • Taking Happy One's toys away from him.
  • Waking me up.
I suppose her behaviour hasn't really been that bad. In all honesty I'm so tired I can't even remember what it was that got me so irked. That list really isn't that bad. I must have missed something off. I've certainly had much worse days. Just last week my Facebook status referred to my day being like a sit-com. It was a comedy of errors. I can barely remember it now although the standout moment was Chief not wanting to miss a film she was watching so standing up and weeing on her fold-out sofa. There was so much of it that as I carried the sofa onto the tiles to clean it up I ended up with little puddles of wee all over both the carpet and the tiles.

Today she helped me clean up both her wee and her pen marks. I think what really got to me was that it took me so darn long to do anything. If one of them wasn't getting into something then the other was. Happy One found immense interest in any body of stagnant water he could find in the garden, of which there are a few after all the rain we've had. So hanging the washing out took an age as I had to keep running in the house to wash his hands and then figure out how to disperse of said water. Not to mention the fact that he did about 3 poos (in cloth nappies, people).

But the good things that happened today were awesome. In particular Happy One took his first steps with a walker. We almost missed it. I was making the bunny up at the table with Chief and looked up to see him toddling off through the garden. How cool.

And Chief made up a great song on her piano. We'd been playing a game in the garden where she sold rocks and I bought them for leaves, twigs or pegs. A twig was worth 10 leaves and a peg 10 twigs. The rocks started off at 3 leaves each and ended up at 1 peg each. Which is a bit steep but she did give me a discount. And I noticed the quality and size of the rock was considerably improved. Anyway, she made up a groovy little song about playing with the rocks. Of course I'm so sleep deprived I can't remember it now.

I think I need a new label/tag. I'll call it madness. Or "maternal insanity". Or "extreme memory loss caused by sleep deprivation and constant parenting". Or "ug". I'm off to eat a hot cross bun and watch some mind-numbing crime thriller.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What to do in a hostage situation

Write a blog post. (It'll make sense later.)

I'm in Happy One's room giving him his bedtime feed and thought why not put this time to good use and do a quick blog post.

Actually the truth is that Happy One is practically asleep but I'm hiding because I can hear ructions coming from the other room, Miss Chief crying and doors slamming, and I'm trying to avoid either getting involved or being dragged into putting her to bed. This I don't mind in and of itself but by the sounds of things it could take a while and be a bit of a mish.

The thing is that this is a bit of a crazy house at the moment. I went back to work a couple of months ago and a few weeks prior to that Map Man started a full- time 6 month coursework-based post-grad course. He's writing a paper about 'las-ers', cluster computing and finding tall trees. Pretty cool stuff but not really an appropriate subject for this blog.

Miss Chief has been having various sleep issues over the same time period and longer. The latest is that she still occasionally loses the plot at bedtime and often finds it incredibly hard to wind down. But more pertinent is that once asleep she then wakes frequently and gets out of bed. This is happening almost every night and is often after we've gone to bed. She'll wander into our room and wake us up. When we bring her back to her own room she says "but I'll be all by myself". (I hope this isn't all my fault for having a "sleepover" in my bed one night whilst Toby was away - he told me this would happen. It may well have contributed but I don't think it's a direct cause.)

At the same time she is continuing to amaze us with her wit, comprehension, vocabulary, creativity and imagination. Her development in these areas, and more, just isn't slowing. I reckon I'd have trouble sleeping if I had all that going on in my head.

Meanwhile Happy One is just a baby, 9 months old and dealing with all the usual stuff that the little critters have to deal with. The odd Wonder Week here and there. (We made it through Week 36 World of Categories (a horse can be an animal in a field or a picture in a book and is not the same as a large dog) and now we've got Week 44 World of Sequences (put spoon in bowl, scoop cereal onto spoon, move spoon to mouth, open mouth ... and so on, you get the drift) starting this week at 41 weeks.) And all the amazing milestones they bring: he's crawling, cruising round the furniture, standing by himself, playing peekaboo, picking up ever smaller morsels and working on his pincer grip, chatting away in his baby talk, sort of signing, he even clapped his hands but it was a bit of a "blink and you miss it" moment. He's incredibly funny, loves to copy Miss Chief, laughs a lot, gets annoyed if he has to wait too long for a breastfeed or if you take something from him, loves his food, and is generally a lot of fun to be around. He is also getting massive. I bought him a little hoodie for when the weather cools down today. It suggested size 0 for a 10kg baby. He is a little bit under that but I picked up the next size up anyway and was surprised that it fit him. It's a little large but not overly so.

When he's not having a major mental leap or a growth spurt, he's teething. He's not a great teether. He goes off his food and wants extra breastfeeds. Yay for me. (I love breastfeeding but not all the time.) He has 6 teeth now and we're in a teething break which is good. He still loves his sleep but sleep training has gone to poo. I still breastfeed him to sleep at night and when he's not teething he wakes once for a feed around 3 or 4am. During the day we have varying degrees of success in getting him to sleep but it pretty much always results in doing the Cot Dance - pacing round his room with him in our arms, rocking and jiggling him slightly then gradually lowering him into the cot and trying to get our arms out from under him without waking him. I'm going to design a new mother and baby exercise class based upon it. Watch this space.

The thing is at the moment it's all about maximising sleep in this house. Let's worry about bad habits later when things are less crazy. To that end my next step with The Chief is to replace her toddler bed with a single bed. I have a base. I just need to paint it (it's black) and buy a mattress. I would just let her sleep in our bed when she wakes up but Map Man can't sleep with her in the bed. I figure if she has a bigger bed one of us can either get in with her or swap.

As for me, because surely someone cares how I'm doing, right? Oh good. Well I'm finding it hard to find time to exercise. I do the occasional Zumba workout if I get up before the kids (ha!) or get them both sleeping at the same time (Chief sleeps about every other day now). Sometimes I get to the pool but that's rare. And I had my bike serviced the other week so I could ride to work. Which I've done once. Basically I'm still establishing a routine.

I'm enjoying being back at work. I don't really know where I'm heading with that but it's good to be contributing and feeling like a normal grown up a couple of days a week. A part time working mother is a bit like a person with multiple personality syndrome. It can be hard to switch between the two roles. I often go to work with rusks and spare undies (size 3) in my handbag. But I work really close to the beach and only 5 minutes drive from home in swanky new offices. I feed Happy One once a
day before his lunchtime sleep while Map Man swims in the ocean. Tomorrow if the weather isn't too bad then we're trying a new routine of meeting at the pool. Map Man will swim whilst I feed Happy One and then I'll do some laps. I haven't really been taking all the breaks I'm entitled to as I've been settling back in but I think I'm starting to find my rhythm now. We're hoping to get Happy One into daycare one day a week soon. That'll be interesting as he won't get his daytime feed (he gets 2 on a non workday). As it is he's all over me as soon as I walk through the door and won't leave me alone until I feed him.

[Update: now I'm in Chief's room massaging her feet while she (hopefully, please soon) falls asleep. How did this happen? It's very hard - and slow - typing with left hand while massaging with right (or vice versa for that matter). A bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy. I keep getting the two mixed up. Chief's a bit perturbed but my iPhone seems nice and relaxed. At least I had the presence of mind to bring my wine in too.]

Ok where was I? Oh that's right. Me. So yeah. Work good. Two days perfect for now. Breastfeeding and working still not easy but pretty good really. Aside from that I've been baking a lot and getting fat (compared to my wedding photos anyway). And as soon as I get out of here (Chief's room. Currently hostage.) I'm going to sew Alvin's arms on (soft toy I'm making for my nephew's birthday. Which was last week. Yeah. I'm so on the ball and organised.)

Just for fun (and because I'm still captive) I'll close with a summary of Happy One's routine at 9 months. It's very flexible.

3-4am : breastfeed. Takes about 15-20 mins. Unless I fall asleep.
6am : wake
7am : breakfast.
8am : breastfeed
8.30 : sleep for about an hour
11am : breastfeed
12pm : lunch
1pm : sleep for 1.5-2 hours
3pm : breastfeed
5pm : bathtime
5.30 : dinner (usually followed by another quick dunk in the bath)
6.30 : breastfeed
7.00 : sleep

I've no idea whether this is normal. Most 9 month olds are probably down to 3 milk feeds a day but I don't care. If there's one thing I learnt when Chief was a baby it's not to stress about weaning. It'll happen when the time is right. Obviously work days are a bit different. I feed him before I leave. Then around 1130-12ish and again around 5 or 6pm depending on when I get home. He also gets offered morning and afternoon tea if he's awake when Chief has hers. In short he spends about 70% of his waking hours eating or drinking.

Sheesh this is a long post. No one's going to read this far. I could say anything now and no one would ever know.

[And I'm still massaging 3-year old feet. Or feets as Chief would say.]

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blog post in stylee of Facebook status updates

To trim a potentially long story down a wee bit, here's the thing: I have many things to blog about but no time to do it. And I often think of many Facebook status updates at once or in a short time frame but don't post them because I don't want to be Facebook spam. So I thought why not kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and blog my status updates instead? This could take off, I tell ya. Before you know it the entire blogosphere will be made up of collections of mini posts. Postlets perhaps.

So here for the first time ever (maybe) I present to you a blog post in the snippet stylee of Facebook status updates. (Random thought interjection: Smash Hits writers would have hated iPhone auto-correct.)

Meltdown from Miss Chief in the middle of the night. Never had to deal with one of those before. Woke everyone in the house. And probably a fair few of the neighbours too. Not the best timing just hours before a 7am start so I could get to Bris this morning. Ug!

OMG! Had to leave my laptop at work last night so someone else could do my job whilst I went down to Bris for a last minute training course today. My home laptop died a few months ago. I feel naked and exposed. (And besides which it's really hard to write a post on an iPhone. My thumb hurts.)

I have the most wonderful husband in the world ever. He drove me down to Bris today so I could attend a training course I only found out about yesterday and brought my baby to me during the lunch break so I could feed him.

My husband may be wonderful, and I love him dearly, but it drives me mad that his idea of tidying up is to collate random objects into random piles and leave them in various random locations around the house (e.g. kitchen bench, garage floor).

Came back from holidays on Monday to find someone had smashed eggs on our garage window at the front of the house. I'm rather excited about this as I have lots of time on my hands and I love cleaning and had, in fact, just been wondering to myself what I was possibly going to do this weekend. Yes you do detect a major note of sarcasm.

Enjoyed a rare glass of Bullmers (cider, on tap) this evening down in a pub in the smoke (well in a beer garden at Southbank) until Happy One (soon to be renamed Grabby One, I think) grabbed my glass and pulled it over. Spilled the lot. Sigh.

Got two mozzie bites in the city. What's all that about? (Actually that was in the beer garden in the park at Southbank too but still...)

Happy One (soon to be renamed Houdini) totally escaped from his pram walking back to the car tonight. We just about managed to contain him in the pram (he has fallen out of it before though) but he broke free of the restraints and was climbing all over.

Noisy teenagers congregating next door. Not really what I need right now.

My ability to write intelligently or humourously has deteriorated significantly since having children. Was fine after the first baby but that last one pushed me over the edge. Couldn't wait to catch up with friends at a wedding last weekend but then couldn't think of anything to say to them. Totally brain dead.

Noisy teenagers taking the piss now with loud music. Only a few weeks since they last had a noisy party which I didn't mind as it doesn't happen often. Totally annoyed now though. And so so tired. Maybe we'll get our own back later if Chief decides to have another (ridiculously) early morning tantrum. (Although it has just occurred to me that maybe this is our payback for this morning's early morning tantrum, which doesn't seem fair really given that I didn't actually have the tantrum and the Chief is sleeping through the row (which is a relief to be honest). Perhaps I will have a tantrum.)

Whatever. I'm tired and my forearm is aching from using the iPhone so I'm going to attempt to go to sleep. (Hope the photos appear in some kind of logical location. I can't work out where they are on this thing.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My So Called Life

Just once I would like to sleep in until 7am and then get up to enjoy a relaxing breakfast with my children and husband and a hot cup of coffee.

Instead if I'm lucky enough to sleep in until 7 I rise to a tired and hungry baby who wonders where I've been for the last three hours. My cereal goes soggy as I either feed the baby, or make my sandwiches, or get the Chief a drink, or change a dirty nappy. If I'm lucky enough to get a cup of coffee I might grab a sip before I have to take The Bairn to bed. And often the only time Wee Bairn isn't also known as The Happy One is when he's tired. So I can be there for a while consoling and cajoling my little midget and jiggling him to sleep. Then my coffee is cold. And before I know it, if it's a daycare day for Chief, or a work day for me, one or the other of us has to leave the house. And I've barely spent two minutes with her.

And at which point in my life did 7am become a sleep in anyway? I remember the days when I'd walk home from a night club at that time, having danced the entire night to awesome DJs like The Chemical Brothers, Judge Jools and FatBoy Slim. Now the only dancing I get to do is at home in the middle of the afternoon to The Wiggles and Justine Clarke, with a baby in my arms and a pre-schooler at my feet.

Oh how things change. Those of you who knew me Before Children will know exactly what I'm talking about. I'm still the same old me, only I now turn down the opportunity to go to a Full Moon Dance on a rare occasion we have babysitters in town, in favour of just grabbing a walk or a coffee with Other Half so we can actually spend some time talking to one another. Not that I don't want to go dancing. I really really do. I mean really. But I'm so tired I just can't be bothered to get all dressed up and then spend another night not talking to OH about how the hell we're going to get the Chief to go to sleep before 8.30pm every night. I just want to get out of the house as soon as Bairn is asleep and let someone else stress over whether Chief is awake or getting enough sleep or not. I'll probably regret not going, and maybe I'll change my mind. But I doubt it. Full moons happen once a month, right? Next time, then.

Meanwhile I'm going to have the Valentine's evening we never had (because it's all about the Chief in our house now) and an early night where I dream that when I wake up in the morning (no earlier than 7) to the smell of freshly brewed coffee I will go to the dining room to find well rested, happy children eating their breakfast. And I'll sit down and join them with my crunchy cereal and hot coffee and we'll plan our day together.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile No. 12: Miss Chief's 3rd Birthday and Favourite Toys

It was Miss Chief's 3rd birthday yesterday. I found many things to smile about throughout the day despite having two children who wouldn't sleep (I didn't even try with the Chief but felt like I spent most of the day in the Bairn's room trying to coerce him into sleep); and despite having been up until midnight the night before (frosting heart-shaped cakes that no one ate, that I'd made in addition to the HUGE main cake because I was so convinced it wasn't going to be big enough to go around; even though we were having a small mid-week morning tea with only about 7 of Miss Chief's friends and their mothers; and in the end we still have half the main cake left and all of the heart-shaped mini cakes, which have been bundled off to daycare with the Chief in the hope that they can make them go around the 17 or so kids they'll have there today).

So here are a few of those things that made me smile:

  • I asked Miss Chief, who'd been opening presents all day and had the most amazing birthday cake (if I do say so myself) that she'd helped to choose, what her favourite part of the day was and she answered "playing with my friends". I asked her this question a few times and got a different answer each time but this was my favourite one.
  • Amazing cake
  • The big smile on the Chief's face when we all sang Happy Birthday to her.
  • The fact that the Wee Bairn, having only had two 20 minute naps throughout the day, remained happy, smiley and social. What an amazing child he is.
  • That the kids are now at an age where they can play together for hours with minimal interruptions to us mums and few tantrums, tears and fights.
  • Eddie supposedly filling up the pool but actually watering everything else in sight, including the table where all the mums and babies were sitting. For context, I should mention that Eddie is Miss Chief's peer and is turning 3 next week. We also have an adult friend called Eddie. I'm not sure whether it would be funnier or more annoying had it been grown-up Eddie doing it.
  • Chief wearing her new (reversible) Disney Princess dress (Aurora a.k.a Sleeping Beauty on one side, Belle - Chief's favourite - on the other) and Belle tiara. She is such a girl. Funny how that happens. I remember my sister-in-law saying she believes that you're either born a tomboy or a girly girl and that upbringing has little effect - I'm assuming so long as you're a parent that neither encourages nor discourages either behaviour. I'm inclined to believe that she's right about that, although Chief is heavily influenced by her girly big cousins. And she likes trains and cars too and is physical and boisterous like a boy. The theme of this birthday was definitely princesses and fairies though.
  • Chief in her Belle dress and tiara - taken with her new Princess camera that can add fun borders
  • The fact that I totally managed to save a cake with a huge hole in it by filling it with a chocolate sour cream ganache (because we only had sour cream in the house and thank god! Other Half had returned home from shopping with a rare block of chocolate for me). It didn't even look like it wasn't supposed to be like that. Genius.
  • Chief fell asleep on our bed last night and as Toby carried her off to her own room I looked at my now big 3 year old and how tiny she looked in his arms and thought "ah! She's still little, really. "What a relief.

And now for my absolute favourite moment of the whole day. Chief had had some wonderful presents which she'd spent the whole day playing with happily. I'd felt bad to have spent so much time with the Bairn trying to get him to sleep but she didn't really seem to mind. She played with her Barbies, looked at her new books, stuck some stickers and cuddled her gorgeous new Mary Poppins doll (thank you Nana Joan and Dekka) but at the end of the day, as I was getting the Bairn ready for bed, which were the two toys she brought into his room to play with? Frazzle and Dorothy, a sock toy I made for her first Christmas, and the giraffe I made for her last year. Priceless!
Dorothy and Frazzle chilling together.

(Update: Just had a funny thought that made me giggle. Chief doesn't have a middle name, making her initials PC, somewhat appropriate for the daughter of two I.T. professionals. I just thought that we could have given her a middle name of Valentina, considering when she was born. It has a really nice ring to it, except her initials would be PVC!)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile No. 11

I couldn't get a photo of this but I went to check on Miss Chief tonight after having left her to resettle Wee Bairn (a.k.a Happy One). In my absence she'd fallen asleep - hurrah! She'd also grabbed a long piece of metal belonging to her now unused guard rail, which is stored under her bed, brought into bed with her and was cuddling it. How funny and strange. I have just checked on again and she's now lying on it, which can't be comfortable. She's a little enigma, my girl. Give her all the right sleep inducing ingredients: a warm bath, a story in a dimly lit room, cuddles, kisses and little chats, a dark (but not too dark) and quiet room, relaxing music, a little bit of white noise, a foot massage, a hand stroke. And she struggles like anything to get to sleep. Yet once there she can quite happily sleep on a metal stick.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile No. 10: Playing in the rain

There isn't much about this weather that is making me smile. I'm normally fairly tolerant of rain but the last two and a half days are getting to me and it's forecast to continue all week (it's only Tuesday). Today has been dark, miserable and stuffy with incessantly heavy rain. We've been completely surrounded by water more than a few times today and our unfinished guttering system has been more like a waterfall in a few places. To top things off Miss Chief refused to sleep today. (I made her stay in her room for an hour though.) After a failed attempt to get out to the shops I suggested she put on a rain coat and boots and go play in the garden. She thought this was a great idea and had an absolute ball.

Singing and dancing in the rain. In the sandpit. With water coming over her boots.

Just look at that rain coming down like darts.

Recycling rain water: filling up the watering can with water running off the roof.

Clearly the grass must need to be watered.

Oh my goodness me! Just look at all this rain.

Gonna ride my bike until I get home. In the rain.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile No. 9: Group raspberries

I walked into the bedroom after bathtime tonight to find a nudie Wee Bairn giggling on the bed, with a nudie Miss Chief giggling and blowing raspberries on his tummy and (fully-clothed) Other Half tickling and blowing raspberries on Miss Chief's back. Everyone giggling. It was impossible not to giggle too.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile No. 8: My Children Laughing At Each Other

I love these little moments. The Wee Bairn finds Miss Chief hilarious and she really is. She's the consummate entertainer, especially for the under 1s. He laughs at her, and then she laughs at him laughing at her and he laughs even more. And I most definitely smile. Lovely.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This is what happens when Miss Chief helps me bake...

... she covers her brother in chocolate cookie mix:

Perhaps this should fall into the category of Things That Make Me Smile But Probably Shouldn't. Or Things That Make Me Smile When Miss Chief Isn't Looking Because It's Not The Sort Of Behaviour I Should Encourage.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile No. 7: Green Tree Frog

We've got so many horrible ugly cane toads hanging around at the moment eating the cats' food, that is was a refreshing change to find a cute little green tree frog hiding in our drain pipe. (Actually, Other Half found him and he'd be most upset if I didn't credit him.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile No. 6: Playing hairdressers

The other day we had no plans to go out (which is often a relief for me these days as I can't be bothered with the strategic planning required to get out of the door) and no visitors scheduled. I am also trying to limit Miss Chief's naps to between 1 and 1 1/2 hours as most nights she's a horror to get to bed. So this left me with many hours within which to entertain her.

Thankfully I have a secret stash of toys that I pull out every now and then, some of which she's seen, some of which are new plus some new books I'm saving for a rainy (or crazy) day. After a quick play in the pool Miss Chief asked me if I'd do her hair so I suggested we play hairdressers and that I be the hairdresser and she be the client. I then pulled out a brand new toy - a hair salon kit, complete with battery-operated hairdryer. It was an immediate hit. After pretending to shower, shampoo, blowdry and style her hair into lots of pig tails it was her turn to be the hairdresser. She did lots of hair drying and called me "my dam". When she was napping I put the kit away so that it would retain its novelty for another day but when she woke up she went looking for it and asked to play again. It entertained her all afternoon and I even managed to check email and publish a blog post whilst having my hair done. It was such a lovely girly day and it made me so happy to have a daughter.

Things That Make Me Smile No. 5: Hot days in the paddling pool.

We had an absolutely gorgeous day the other day when Lucie and Amelie came around and we all jumped in the paddling pool. The girls weren't that bothered about being in there until Lucie and I got in with them. They jumped and splashed around and had great fun. I would never think of blowing up a paddling pool and sitting in it if I didn't have kids. Gotta love days like this. We almost didn't care about the 36C heat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Your Money or Your Life: stumbling on step 1.

I'm beginning to realise why I failed to complete the 9 step program in Your Money or Your Life the first time I started reading it. Here's step 1, Making Peace with the Past:
Part A: Find out how much money you have earned in your lifetime - the sum total of your gross income, from the first penny you ever earned to your most recent paycheck.
WTF? My entire life? Er yes, apparently.
Dig our your copies of old income tax returns. Adjust the figures to reflect any cheating you did - tips you didn't report, jobs that paid you under the table, informal consulting, gambling winnings, gifts from relatives that went unreported [I'm supposed to report financial gifts? Oops], any money you've stolen [what the...?], cash prizes you've won...
...summer jobs you had during high school and college...
... what odd jobs did you have and how much did you earn picking apples, house-sitting, watering the neighbours plants...
Holy baboon-pants! Do I have to mention pocket money as a kid, or the pennies I earned picking gooseberries and red currants in my parents' garden or shelling peas? I had a few babysitting jobs but I'll be darned if I can remember my hourly rate or how many hours I worked. I can't even remember how many months I worked at Vision Express or the various bar jobs I had. This is some serious digging I have to do. And it makes it a bit harder that half of my earning life was in a different country. And that's where all my paperwork is. So I think I'll just start with the last 8 years in Australia for now.

But wait! That's only Part A. There's more.
Part B: What have you got to show for it? For the years you have been working for wages, a certain amount of money (which you just calculated) has entered your life. The amount that is left in your life now is your net worth.
Well that can't be that hard, can it? Not quite sure how I manage the fact that most things are joint owned with Toby. Do I need to include all the income he's ever earned too? But as for figuring out the worth of what I own, surely it's not that hard. I mean, I've got no money and I owe shit-loads on the house. But I own one and a half cars. Well, half of two really as I made Toby get rid of his. But wait! What's this?
Creating a Personal Balance Sheet simply means going through your material universe and listing everything you own (assets) and everything you owe (liabilities).
Simply? Everything? Really? Yes, start with liquid assets then move onto fixed assets and after listing the big stuff (house, car),
Go through your attic, basement, garage and storage shed. Itemize everything, without subjective evaluations like "That's worthless."...
...Go through every room of your house and inventory everything. Look up at those decorative light fixtures. Look down at that rug. How about...
Stop! Enough already. I get the picture. You really did mean everything.

Oh my god! I'm having heart palpitations. I'm rubbish enough at doing this for insurance estimates but absolutely everything I own with "an approximate current cash value"? I'm not to "ignore anything"?

Even the stuff in my mam and dad's loft? Don't answer that.

Okay this is really hard and it's going to take a really long time. Already this has highlighted for me just how much clutter we have. The book talks about clutter as being all the extra stuff you have beyond "enough"; "enough" being what you need for survival, plus comfort plus a few luxuries. Every time you add stuff to your life the benefit (or level of fulfillment) goes down in relation to the amount of money spent. I can see the value in knowing your net worth but I have to ask myself whether the effort is really worth the potential result for me right now. But I've committed to this. I have to do it. However, this is a long term thing. Clearly I need a short term financial plan to reach my goal of $20,000-$30,000 by Feb 2013. It's going to be an interesting walk down memory lane and I wonder what I'm going to rake up in doing it. When I was applying for permanent residency I had to write a CV of everything I'd ever worked on. It took me ages but the things I remembered whilst I was doing it were amazing. Things I thought I'd forgotten that seemed to bear no relevance to work. Songs, friends, nights, moments. So, you know, every cloud...

Things That Make Me Smile No. 4: Going to the toy zoo.

We're a bit housebound at the moment because the Wee Bairn sleeps so much and often his and Miss Chief's sleeps overlap. So I've been challenged to come up with different ways to keep Miss Chief amused and prevent me from going insane. Yesterday we built a zoo in the front room and then took a Barbie doll and her cat and dog on a visit. We parked the car under the coffee table and then wandered around taking in rabbits, monkeys, giraffes, tigers, crocodiles, a pond with a frog, a platypus, ducks and a hippo, elephants, a panda, a brown bear (or was it a grizzly?), birds, a kangaroo and a meerkat. It was all fun and games until the crocodiles escaped and started eating people.

Someone left a baby in the tiger enclosure.

Visiting the giraffe enclosure.

Those crazy crocodiles.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile No. 3: Miss Chief Having Fun With Her Big Cousins

We sent Miss Chief offsite today while we dealt with her unwell brother. She spent the day having a great time with her older cousins and even had a 2 hour nap. That's impressive babysitting. Uncle Awesome sent this photo of her enjoying a slushy.