Monday, September 01, 2014

Attention Please

Having recently posted about Adult ADHD, I found an article today called 29 Things Only A Person With ADHD Would Understand. It's very funny and so true...

Happy Reading 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Tale of the Spider

Once upon a time there was a house spider. A BIG house spider...

One day, he crawled into the sleeve of someone's favourite new cardigan. She was not afraid of spiders, so he was sure it would be okay.

It was NOT okay. Apparently she did not want to share her cardigan with him and she put it on. Feeling a little squished in the sleeve, he bit her arm to try to get her to give him some room. She didn't like that at all and pulled him out. This made the spider cross and he nipped her finger to tell her to let him go. Apparently, she misunderstood, because the next thing he heard was a piercing scream as he was thrown across the bathroom, where he landed on the floor behind the toilet and scuttled to the corner.

After narrowly escaping being caught under a plastic pot, he crept under the skirting board where nobody could reach him. He waited...

One week later, he went for a little walk out of the bathroom down the stairs. However, he was careless. Before he had got all the way downstairs, a boy spotted him and raised the alarm.

Along came the cardigan woman with a pot and a card and before the spider knew what was happening, he was trapped inside the pot and was being carried downstairs.

She looked at him in the pot and had a long chat about not biting people to get what you want. She explained he could not live in the bathroom any more and would have to go outside. He was sad and curled up in the bottom of the pot.

After their chat, they agreed to part ways with no bad feelings. He appreciated that she could have just squashed him like other people do and was grateful that she had treated him kindly. He was very sorry for biting her and she forgave him. She even took him out into the garden and taught him how to fly.

They all lived happily ever after.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Banking On It

The Bank Holiday weekend did not start as smoothly as planned, when the pleasure of having my salary go into the bank a day early (due to pay day falling on a Saturday) was overshadowed by the fact that my salary was about 30% less than I was expecting! After panicking that I might have miscalculated what my final pay would be (as I am leaving one school to go to work at another), I was reassured by the HR team that it was, in fact, an error on their part, and receiving a sincere apology for the inconvenience, was assured that the balance would be paid to me as soon as possible. It's inconvenient and a little annoying, but not life changing. No need to 'sweat the small stuff', as they say.

Once that was sorted, I was able to get everything organised for our weekend camping trip. We'd been keeping an eye on the weather forecast all week and it was increasingly looking like our 3-night break was going to be cut short to 2 nights if we were going to pack away a dry trailer-tent and not have to spend weeks with soggy canvas draped over furniture in the house or fences in the garden. Again, we were just grateful to be having a break away at all having had a holiday inn Wales earlier this year and a trip up North to visit family at the beginning of the Summer Holidays. It was not intended to be an expensive holiday with days out visiting attractions and eating out. It was simply our last opportunity to get away this year as a family and have some quality time relaxing together with no TV, computers, game devices etc. before the new school year starts. That's just what we did.

We arrived Friday evening at about 6:30pm and had pitched the trailer tent and set everything up inside by about 8:30. Just as previous visitors had stated in their reviews, the site was lovely with plenty of room between pitches and clean facilities not too far away. The site owner was friendly and helpful, offering to keep us up to date on the latest weather forecast so that we could decide whether or not to stay for the 3rd night.

Considering we wanted a relatively inexpensive weekend, we managed to fit quite a lot in...

On Saturday, we took advantage of free entry into Portchester Castle using Larry's ID card. We took a picnic and had lunch in the beautiful sunshine in the castle grounds, before taking a tour of the castle using the free audio guides.

As it was still early when we'd finished looking around the castle, we decided to take a short walk along the coast, stopping at a park where Little Z and Big J had fun on the zip wire and Larry and I enjoyed a rare half hour sitting in the sun, chatting and laughing, while the children had fun together, enjoying each other's company without arguing. A really lovely day.

After spending Sunday morning chilling out and generally not doing very much, we took a short drive to Emsworth, where we went for a lovely walk along the harbour, stopping to have lunch on the breezy waterfront before continuing our walk around the little town, via the ice cream parlour, and finally back to the car.

As the forecast had been fairly consistent throughout the week, when we arrived back at the campsite, we decided to pack up the trailer and head home.

It was a fabulous couple of days away costing very little, but giving us time together as a family without the usual distractions of home, as well as providing us with the opportunity to get the trailer tidied up and organised ready for going away again early next year.

Now to start thinking about going back to school...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome Distraction

This morning I woke up feeling like getting some things done. First of all, after not running at all for a week, for no other reason that I was tired from all the decorating and so was simply too tired, I decided I needed to get back into a routine with it, as I still have a dress hanging on the outside of my wardrobe door which I cannot fit into.

I did a 30 minute 9.3k run on the Wii Fit+, which I was pleased with, although was amused that it didn't even make it onto the leader board. It's funny how a year ago, I struggled to run 4.5k in 30 mins and now have to more than double it to even get onto the bottom of the leader board!

Feeling energised following my run, I decided to do some karate. My karate kata is much harder than my previous ones and requires more practice, as I don't just want to go through the moves, but like to pay attention to the small details like the position of my feet and hands and want all my moves to be as strong as I can make them as well as being accurate. Yes, I am more than a little obsessive, but that is what I am hoping will get me to my black belt. (eventually!)

After an hour of karate, during which time Big J had got tired of repeatedly watching my kata and giving his opinion on what I needed to improve (I had asked him to, as he is 6 belts above me!), I decided I should really get on with a few important housekeeping jobs.

I have not started those yet, but they are my priority for this afternoon.... unless, of course, I can find something (anything!) else to keep me from them.

Have a productive day, everyone :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not defective

Anyone who knows me at all, will also know I do not fit into any 'normal' box. I cannot simply be pigeonholed, nor do I want to be.

So, yesterday when I read on Kezzie's blog about the #CuddleYourDefect project (to help people stop hiding their defects and to see them in a more positive way), conceived by Maggie of The Indian Savage Diary, I started thinking. 

It was a long process as I have so many 'defects' to choose from. Actually, I prefer to think of them as 'quirks', as they enhance my personality and make me an interesting individual, as opposed to preventing me from functioning properly. I finally decided which one to share...

You may or may not know that I have ADHD. It is commonly referred to as 'Adult ADHD'... because I am an adult... and I have ADHD. I love that! 

Some days I am better at hiding it than on other days. Some days I feel like hiding more than on others. But I have it every day. It doesn't turn off just because someone says, "Will you pleeeease stop interrupting and listen!" or "You are just going to HAVE to remember it!" or "Well, I suggest you GET organised then!" (Oh, I love people! Really!). And it is almost certainly more frustrating for me than for any of the people having to 'cope' with me.

(Oh, I can see now that this post has been a long time coming.)

I am only 40, which is not old, but I grew up in a world very different to that of today. It is not unheard of to have 2-3 children in a class with a diagnosis of ADHD and among the parents of the children who have no diagnosis, approximately 20% of them (mostly the parents of very active boys) will have decided that their child has the condition on the basis that he doesn't listen, can't sit still and leaves his jumper and water bottle in the classroom at the end of each day. I digress (but I have ADHD, that's my prerogative :D). My point is, I had to cope in a system where my struggle to pay attention was called 'daydreaming', my slow work pace was 'laziness' and my untidy handwriting was 'carelessness'. I was quite well behaved and so survived school, never knowing there was a reason for these difficulties, just thinking I was somehow inadequate. No matter how hard I tried to not daydream, to write more quickly or neatly, I failed. That does wonders for a child's self-esteem.

I did not reach adulthood and suddenly become enlightened. It was hard watching other people seemingly sail through life, while I struggled with everything.

I naïvely navigated the world of work, trying to build a career which would justify all those years spend at school, college and Uni. I worked so hard, but got frustrated that I could not seem to do what I knew I was capable of, repeatedly being let down by my lack of organisation or by not being able to complete tasks quickly enough. Each time I changed jobs, which was every 2-3 years, I convinced myself things would be different. I will be more organised and people will see how good I am.

In 2005, I went back to Uni and trained as a primary teacher. This was going to be my thing. It was the same. I moved schools every year, sometimes more than once, sometimes doing supply and teaching at a different school every day. Nothing stayed the same. It was not conducive to a happy, stable family life, particularly having one child with Asperger Syndrome, for whom a predictable and regular daily routine was extremely important. 

The time came when I had to be honest with myself. I loved teaching, but it was draining the life out of me. I was having to work twice as many hours as I should have just to get the bare minimum done and didn't feel like I was being a good teacher and certainly didn't feel like I was being a good mum to my two children. So, while working on a temporary contract at a school, I made a very tough decision. I gave up teaching at the end of the academic year 2011/2012 and took a support role in the same school. 

Life changed almost instantly. I was much happier and less stressed at work and life improved for my whole family. 

I respect that diagnosis is not for everyone, but I had just given up a career I loved and so needed some reassurance that there was a reason I had found it so difficult; that it was not just me being bad at my job. I was finally diagnosed with ADHD in October 2013 and it's been great.

Now I have told you the story so far, let me tell you why ADHD is not a defect, but is something amazing...

  1. I can find anything. My brain works quickly, thinking more laterally than the neurotypical (NT) brain, so I can find things in a few minutes, that others can hunt for for hours. (This is bad for my kids, because when I say, "You just haven't looked!" they know I will then go and find it easily.)
  2. I am an awesome problem solver. Because I can think laterally, I make connections that others don't, enabling me to find solutions to problems other people hadn't thought of.
  3. A great thing about a brain that works in the way mine does, is that I invariably have a quick witted, smart remark to respond to people trying to make me look stupid. I have had to learn to control this though, because at times the comment has left my mouth before I have had time to censor it and consider the consequences.
  4. I am good at time-keeping. This may sound strange, but because I cannot estimate time easily or frequently get distracted and lose track of time, I have lots of strategies in place to ensure I am never late, for example: I set lots of alarms on my phone. (Each alarm also has a reminder in case I switch it off while I am distracted). So, because I know it is something I am not naturally good at, I am hyper-aware of it and am therefore rarely have a problem with it. (I do get frustrated though when other people make me late and I can see that we could have been on time!)
  5. I don't have loads of friends, but the ones I do have are proper friends, who accept me for who I am - people who can see the positive in me. It's not easy being a friend to someone with ADHD. They talk a lot, say what they think, often without censoring, and can, at times, be just like having a demanding, hyper child around.
  6. I am honest. People know that when they say, "What do you think?" I will tell them exactly what I think. People come to me because they know they can trust me to be open and honest with them. (They also sometimes hide when they see me coming, if they know they don't want to hear what I have to say!) I have learnt to try to be considerate of other people's feelings when speaking my mind and don't always get this right, but my close family and friends understand this and (mostly) accept it.
  7. I am good at putting things off till tomorrow. That might sound like a bad thing, but, because of this, I am terrible at checking my bank account to make sure I have enough money, so I delegated this job to my husband. He tells me what I can / can't spend and I never have to worry about it.
  8. I am quite forgetful, even of things that I do every day. About 15 years ago I forgot to take my contraceptive pill and now have a beautiful 14 year old daughter.
  9. I talk. (To give you some idea, I talk like I write - just look at my blog posts!) However, it enables me to get to know people. When I join a new group or start a new job, I make friends quickly, because I can always think of something to chat about. My openness encourages others to be open too.
  10. When I am standing or sitting, I can be still (apart from my hands - I like to fiddle with blu-tac or a clicky pen), but my brain is not still. I am generally taking in all the little details around me. This helps me with finding things as I explained above, but also means I notice details that pass others by.
  11. The coolest thing about the above is that I can read people's body language. I have no idea how I do it, but it is a kind of intuitive thing. I have been able to do this since I was really little. It's really useful, especially if I need to know if someone is being honest.
  12. Because I have spend so many years thinking there was something wrong with me (before realising it was something cool that I could expect other people to accept), I am not judgemental of people. I always look for the good in people and never judge someone based on what others say about them. I am also empathetic to other people going through a hard time and am always happy to help if I can.
  13. It doesn't take long for people to realise that I am quite quirky. Open minded, non-judgemental people can accept me for who I am. The ones who can't are not people I want to spend time with anyway, so it saves me spending time and energy on false people.

There is so much more cool stuff about having ADHD. I could go on, but you get the picture. I really like the #CuddleYourDefect idea. Generally, I am such a positive person anyway, I look for the good in everything. I have been through some awful things in my life, but no matter how bad it gets, there is always something good to be found. 

Go #CuddleYourDefect my friends :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Life with Larry...

The Summer holiday is always an unusual time for us as a family. While the children and I get a long, six-week break from school, Larry invariably works most of it, sometimes managing to get a week off to spend some quality time with us at home or to enable us to go away as a family.

This year, he was only able to get the first few days of our school holiday off, so we finished school one day, threw some clothes into our holdalls, packed up the trailer tent and went away the next day, which was quite chaotic and stressful to organise, but was a great start to our Summer.

Since then, the children and I have had several days out here and there, getting out in the fresh air as much as possible without spending a fortune we don't have. We have taken advantage of a few 'kids go free' days and have done lots of walking and meeting up with friends we don't get to see during term-time.

Without the usual term-time stress of collecting the children from school, taking them respectively to ballet and karate as well as doing my own out-of-school work, we've had so much more time to chill out and spend quality time together.

After some funny conversations and laughing so much together that we had to dry our eyes, Larry and I were reflecting last night on how life changes; how nowadays we are so busy rushing around going to work, doing housework, taking the children where they need to go, that we rarely get time to enjoy each other's company like that. Life takes over. 

That said, we are happy. We love seeing the children enjoying and succeeding at their own activities. We value those times when we all get to spend time together chatting, often about why there should be another Star Wars film and what it should be called, or the difference between Japanese Animé and Manga, but for us it is important. The children grow up so quickly; we will never get this time back. Those conversations, however unusual, are time when we are together as a family.

Those very rare moments, though, when Larry and I have time to have fun together, without worrying about getting somewhere on time or about a job that has to be done, are special. With the hustle and bustle of day-to-day busy family life, it is easy to forget to make time for ourselves, but this is important too. 

We are not just mum and dad; nor are we just husband and wife. We are best friends, who have known each other for over 24 years, who have been through so much together, yet have always been there for each other. We make each other laugh until tears roll down our faces. Our conversations are open and completely relaxed because we can be ourselves, comfortable in the knowledge that whatever we say is okay, because we know each other so well and accept each other for who we are. People frequently tell how me lucky I am, maybe thinking I don't know or don't appreciate it. I do. I feel very lucky to have met my soul mate in this world. I can't image life without him.

Have a great day everyone. Enjoy life :) 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Eric and Sheldon

Two weeks ago, after much discussion, Larry brought home two guinea pigs. They had belonged to a friend, who wanted them to go to a good home. For any of you who happen to be fans of The Mighty Boosh, you will appreciate why the guinea pigs had been given the names Vince and Howard. For no other reason than I just could not get in my head which one was which, we decided to change the names and so we now have Eric and Sheldon (Yeah, guess what we watch! Hmmm... quite a varied taste in TV programmes). 

Initially they both seemed quite reluctant to be picked up and tended to try to nip us if we picked them up, but gradually they have become used to being handled and are actually quite sweet.

We took some criticism over the fact that they live outside and it is cold. There are several reasons that they have to live outside. 1. They smell more than rabbits and I don't want the house to smell. 2. they have always lived outside, so there is really no need to bring them inside. 3. We have outdoor hutches and would have to buy 2 indoor hutches / cages if we were going to bring them in. 4. Where the hell would we put them? We already have a house bunny, who takes up far too much room in the living room. So, outside they will stay.

Although they are outside, they will be well looked after. Their hutches are covered at night to protect them from the rain and wind and are cleaned out regularly. They get plenty of fresh hay and fresh vegetables, clean water and dry guinea pig food. We let them out regularly to have a run around with each other and spend time handling them. I think Sheldon (smaller brown one) and Eric (larger brown and white one) are both very happy and have settled well.

Today, I want to rearrange their hutches and set up a run,so that they can come in and out easily during the day, while we are around. I'm going to need to make sure that they can't get underneath the hutch to escape; I need to cover the run over with netting; and I need to make some kind of ramp so that they can get in and out of the hutches. Busy day ahead then...