Monthly Archives: November 2010

My Day Off

parts of a cell
I’ve felt gloomy over the past few days, various reasons. Boy 2 was horrible in King Soopers yesterday, he raced off with a kiwi fruit and generally raised hell, I’ve been wondering how on earth I will manage to shop around Christmas, as he gets off school on December 16th, I also doubt whether I will be able to make it to work every day. However, on the bright side, Miss W was a great help in KS yesterday, and other than going completely berserk with a kiwi fruit in public, Boy 2 was actually well behaved over the T.Giving break. He was calm and happy, and didn’t seem to mind me talking on the telephone and even climbing back into bed with a hot drink on Sunday morning – it’s ages since I’ve been able to do that.

Miss W’s school report arrived and it was wonderful, I was glowing as I read it – she has a wonderful attitude (according to all teachers) and is a ‘gifted writer’ (language arts teacher) and the theology teacher values her insights and ideas during class discussions and says she’s a young lady with very definite opinions she is not afraid to express!

Usually when Monday rolls around the last thing it feels like is a day off as I seem to be grocery shopping and trying to sort out the mayhem caused during the weekend and by the time I have taken care of everything Boy 2 is clambering off the school bus. Today seemed a little different, I took care of some bills and phone calls quickly in the morning, then set off to Bennett – the snow from the night had gone, but there were absolutely bitter, driving winds that felt cruel and icy. Got groceries (missed most of what was on list yesterday due to Boy 2), came home and wrote, really sat down and had a good session of writing for the first time in ages and it went well. I’ve now hit 19,000 on my novel – not brilliant, but I do feel more confident. I then had a bubble bath before anyone came home, utter bliss, then whipped up some chicken fajitas and shot off to fetch Miss W. Everyone quite perky and cheerful tonight, Boy 2 especially, and Miss W chatting about her study of cells in science, she’s made a sort of model out of clay showing all the parts of a cell. I felt in good spirits because I had forged ahead with my novel, must, must, must continue!

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Putting up the Christmas Tree

I have just had a terrible gloomy feeling today, I think it’s a case of too much food and too little exercise. There wasn’t much turkey left over but I mixed it with rice, tomatoes, cheese, onions, which was very good (this is a favourite of Boy 2’s) and served it with leftover stuffing. It’s all gone now, the only leftovers are the green bean casserole, there’s also most of a chocolate cake and an untouched box of chocolate eclairs because amazingly for me I have not felt like eating chocolate these past few days. I hope I’m not getting too old and sour to enjoy the holidays, I had to pour myself a huge glass of wine and steel myself to put up the tree this afternoon. It does look lovely though. Emily kept making off with some of the baubles, she thought they were the kind of balls she could chase.
Boy 2 has been very good today, I almost wish I didn’t have to send him back to school next week.

New Voices

This week has been so crazy, with Monday being the strangest. My ongoing saga with Social Security drags on, when I am dealing with those people I feel as if I am trapped in a weird and Kafkaesque kind of world where nothing makes sense and the rules can change at any time. I am not going to go on about it now, I can’t be bothered, especially as what happened afterwards made it all recede . . . I received an email from New Voices 2010, asking to see the first 3 chapters of my novel, plus a synopsis. It ahs been some weeks since I learned that they wanted to see more and I had almost forgotten about it and started wondering if they really would ever contact me.
I went into a panic as the novel is floundering and I am struggling with so many other issues, Boy 2 mainly, plus Thanksgiving is on the way. Bought large jar of coffee though and began work on the synopsis and sent it off to Martyn B. who has given me all sorts of help and advice. Read the first 3 chapters, scouring them for flaws. And tonight got everything sent off, then practically fainted with relief.
I knew if I had left it until Thanksgiving it might not have got done, as the children are home for the rest of the week and tomorrow is going to be taken up with turkey and pies and decorating the house. I am going to definitely have to develop a habit of working in the evenings, with coffee and a candle, the way I did this week, last night with the wind threatening to blow the house down. It is exciting really, and I am actually glad that I have finally written this synopsis. It forced me to think about how I wanted everything to develop and now I feel more confident, I’m going to write something EVERY day, even if it’s just 500 words . . .

Boy 2 is 11!

I only blow out candles when I'm not supposed to
Happy Birthday to you!
Usually I don’t make a point of looking out of the window in the morning but I am glad I did today because I saw about 3 inches of snow had fallen during the night. I had been up since 4 anyhow to see to Boy 2, so at 5 I left him snoozing on the kitchen floor and began to scrape at the hard, crusty ice covering the car. The doors were frozen shut. Came back inside, absolutely freezing, to see that Boy 2 had scattered instant oatmeal all over the floor and eaten his school lunch!

He turned 11 today. We always celebrate in a low-key way but this year was even lower key than usual, because Boy 2 has been having difficulty sleeping through the nights (I was like a zombie at work today) and today he was desperate to get to sleep by 5! I had invited Mr W over and we tugged off the quilt Boy 2 had snuggled under, he took this surprisingly well and ate some pizza followed by ice cream cake. It is always tricky celebrating his birthday and sometimes I think any fuss is just a nuisance to him, but in spite of his tiredness tonight he was quite smily and actually playing with the flashlight I bought him under his quilt (it has large eyes and talks, he seemed to like that) and he did like his birthday cake and being sung to, so it all went relatively well.

Change of Plans

Ugh, however did five days go by?

The past week has been a mixed bag, I had an odd urge to do some baking at the weekend and I made some English cookies from the old Mary Berry cook book I’ve had since I was a teenager, Lara and I used to make things from this book in our old flat in London. On Sunday I made afghans, small cookies made of cocoa and cornflakes – not specially impressive. I also made peanut and jelly bars from the Barefoot Contessa cook book I’ve borrowed from the library, and these are quite nice, even me and Miss W, who do not like peanut butter, are eating them! This is the most downmarket recipe in this book, but I would like to try a few other things because the recipes seem to be slightly sophisticated without calling for all sorts of wildly unusual and expensive ingredients – and they look delicious.

Cloudy is driving us all crazy, she is suddenly much greedier than usual. And she has always been on the greedy side, but now it’s out of control – tonight she wanted our chicken noodle soup and had to be ejected from the house, she meows really loudly (and constantly) to be fed, and jumps up on the counter to try and steal food, any food, sweetcorn, soup etc. I think she is middle-aged so am optimistically ruling out the possibility that she might be expecting, I think I have enough going on without this trailer crawling with kittens.

The big issue is still Boy 2. I won’t go into details but his behaviour is terrible, and he is finding it hard to sleep, and yesterday he escaped from his school classroom and ran outside the school. I am very worried because I know how fast he is, how quickly he can get out of sight and lost. When I tried to call his teacher today to discuss the incident she wasn’t there, so I will be calling again tomorrow.

I worked an extra 2 hours today which normally I could cope with no problem but because of a bad night with Boy 2 I felt so tired after 6 hours on my feet. Left the library and the weather was cold but sunny, arrived home, checked messages (I have to pay to replace Miss W’s lost cross country uniform, groan), and then headed out again for gas. The weather very suddenly turned strange. It was windy, and then as I drove home again the light was strange and the wind was insane, I could barely control the car, tumbleweeds and particles from some cornfields were flying across the road. It began to snow, large slushy bits which soon turned to rain. The wind died down and it was just raining by the time I left to collect Miss W.

I was planning to make Spanish rice with chicken drumsticks tonight but ran out of energy, so we’ve just had chicken noodle soup and pizza instead. It is almost 7pm and I am so ready for bed.

Rudy staring up at Cloudy, perched safely on my desk
peanut butter and jelly bars
joining us for dinner

Writing Idea

Boy 2 fast asleep
Just as I announce that I have gone into writing exile, a new idea has popped into my head, not a particularly fresh or exciting one, but something I think I may be able to make work and which could pay $100. The drawback is that the deadline is on Monday. I do have tomorrow off, and snow is forecast again, so there is a chance I might be able to spend tomorrow writing . . . I don’t know though, they want at least 5000 words. And the pay is dreadful.

It was cold today but no more snow and everyone was in a good mood, Miss W has entered an art competition at school and she whipped through her math homework and bathtime so we could watch the finale of Vicar of Dibley. I took a risk and had my shower before I put Boy 2 to bed tonight, normally he would take the opportunity to get up to all sorts of mischief but I guessed he was tired and when I emerged I found him on my bed, curled up in my green blanket, fast asleep and looking so sweet.

Snow and a Vicar of Dibley episode

Arrived home this morning after dropping off Miss W and there was a power outage, the house was dim, the washing machine had stopped, everything was completely silent. Boy 1 helped me set my mp3 player onto radio mode before he left for school and then I made Boy 2’s lunch, it was so disconcerting for about 30 minutes and then suddenly everything started up, lights came on, washing machine began. Put Boy 2 on his bus and left for work, hoping to do an extra 2 hours today to start making up for days I will take off in December.

One of the things I like about working at Tallyns Reach is that the windows are huge and the building is always full of sunshine, but everything began to grow very dim around 1 o’clock, and by 2 it was snowing. This seemed incredible, as we had temps up in the 70s at the weekend but it is just typical for Colorado really. I didn’t even have a jacket, just a cardigan as the mornings have been cool lately. Hurried out to the car at 3, shivering, snow was whirling down, and it was very difficult to see more than a few feet ahead as I drove. I was home by 3.30, then left again at 4.20 to collect Miss W, after Boy 1 promised to get Boy 2 off the bus and keep a good eye on him. As it turned out, Boy 2’s bus was late, and so was Miss W’s, but finally we were all home and together and I was so glad. We had chicken noodle soup and toasted bacon sandwiches for supper.

I haven’t written a word in weeks now and usually I hate when I am not writing, but it feels so wonderful right now not to be obsessing and worrying over how much I am writing and feeling bad about doing other things when I ‘should’ be writing. I know I will get back into it but right now I just want to go to work, look after everyone, think about some things, do some cooking and relax and watch movies in the evening. Tonight I thought I would watch Letters to Juliet but was so bored I almost fell asleep . . . remembered I had other DVDs from Bennett, All Creatures Great and Small (for me and Miss W to watch together) and The Vicar of Dibley. Put in Vicar of Dibley and Miss W kept looking up from the computer and bursting out laughing, finally she came and sat on the couch with me. It was an episode I hadn’t seen, where Geraldine starts an art club and falls in love with the handsome newcomer to the village, have promised Miss W not to watch anymore without her.
Everyone is in bed now and I am going to make a hot water bottle and hope for more reasonable weather in the morning.

Chocolate-Coconut Rugelach

unimpressive looking but tasty
dough sprinkled with preserves, coconut and chocolate
my china mixing bowl from England, rarely used
My days off never go quite as planned and today was no different. Day began with Miss W announcing she had lost her glasses – she had put them on her desk but they had somehow mysteriously disappeared. Boy 1 discovered them in his room, everyone left for school . . . but then there was the chaos and laundry from the weekend to deal with. Boy 2 had a hard weekend, frankly I’m surprised the school has not called today complaining that he is agitated. He spent the entire day Sunday trying to place as much stuff as possible behind the washing machine and sticking his hand down the toilet, steam was coming out of my ears by the time he went to bed.

It was with some (well lots, really) trepidation that I set off for the PO this morning after creating some semblance of order in the house. I had my Christmas packages for England in tow which I usually send by surface mail. Well, the PO has considerately decided to abolish surface mail. It cost me $160 to mail 3 packages and none were especially heavy as I always take great care not to buy heavy items to send home. Was almost weeping as I paid.

On to King Soopers, where I bought ingredients for rugelach, apricot preserves (fancy brand was on sale), shredded coconut, cream cheese, butter. I am a useless cook and yesterday my mother advised me to just do something I could stir together in a bowl and drop on a baking sheet, but I felt determined to attempt something fancier. First 2 batches were disastrous – pastry would not do what I needed it to, my own fault I am sure as I didn’t have time to chill it as the recipe required. You had to roll out the dough in a large circle, then spread it with preserves, sprinkle with coconut and add some choc chips. Then you divide it like a pizza and roll each wedge up going from the wide side, you end up with a little crescent. The recipe book (Woman’s Day Christmas Cookies Candies and Cakes) show really tasty looking golden cookies sprinkled with coarse sugar (which I couldn’t find in King Soopers). The reality, my rugelach, are wonky, untidy things. I don’t generally believe in using the words ‘less’ and ‘chocolate’ in the same sentence, but I think the less chocolatey ones are nicer. The last two batches of rugelach are much better, and they do taste quite good – not as good as I had hoped, but Boy 1 will eat these. Actually (I’ve just sampled another one) they are quite good, quite morish, pastry is lovely. If only they looked a bit more impressive.

No candy to spare, sorry


So far I haven’t noticed any difference resulting from the med increase, except that Boy 2 is tireder, much earlier in the evenings. He is still plunging his hands down the toilet at every opportunity and chucking everything that isn’t nailed down behind the washing machine.

Last night as I began watching a movie I realized I wanted something sweet to eat so asked Miss W and Boy 1 if they could donate some candy to me out of the pillowcases they have from halloween that are literally bulging with lollipops and fun-sized snickers, crunch bars and musketeers. Miss W said she had nothing she could spare, Boy 1 hesitated then gave me a fun sized snickers and 2 tiny twizzlers. This incident has left me speechless.

‘Sold’ a story to True Story today but am not exactly excited, it is over $200 but I know I won’t get paid for months, if at all. Weather spectacular today, I wish these sunny fall days could just go on and on.

Multiple Meltdowns

Well, this is a nice tranquil image (taken in Iowa, I love this path and walking along it with Mr B) but this afternoon was anything but tranquil. Boy 2 had an appointment with Dr H, delayed by quite a few weeks because he was sick. I collected him from school and was finally greeted by a weary looking para (after a 10 minute wait outside the classroom as I wasn’t invited inside for some reason) who told me that Boy 2 was having a rough week, lots of crying, OCD behaviors etc. I told him it was a very similiar story at home (Boy 2 plunged his hand down the toilet this morning about 3 seconds before his bus arrived and I had to change his shirt and fleecy, I was so cross with him) and informed him that we were off to the docs.

At docs, Boy 2 got very tired of waiting in the waiting room, but things went from bad to worse when we got inside Dr H’s office, Boy 2 was almost demented, crying, trying to escape the room and then launching himself at me in a temper so I had to wrestle him. Dr H jumped up from his desk at this point to help and asked if Boy 2 was a biter, I said no but he would grind his chin into me as hard as possible if he got the chance. When I left the office I was so tired my heart was pounding, but Boy 2’s meds have been increased again. I don’t feel particularly optimistic, how long can they keep increasing the dosage? Obviously, not forever.

Had an email waiting for me from Boy 2’s behavioural therapist when I got home that had me fuming. Miss K (therapist, very nice) had finally had the courtesy of a response from Boy 2’s school saying she could visit him in his classroom. A date was scheduled. She arrived at appointed day and time, only to discover that it was fall break and the school was closed. Surely, surely, the teacher knew she was scheduling an appointment during fall break? She couldn’t be so incompetent as to make a mistake like this, could she . . . ?

OK, time for me to now try and relax with some low fat egg nog, popcorn and a movie before steam starts coming out of my ears.