Friday, 30 December 2011

Life In The Fast Lane ?

My wife has now joined me in the over forty club.

We had a nice break away from the children for two days, got to eat dinner in peace and enjoyed a glass or three of wine.

We went shopping, had lunch, went shopping, had coffee, went shopping, had dinner – repeat x 2 and throw in a theatre show and that sums up our mini-break.

However, after the first couple of hours with our newfound freedom, we quickly realised that our topic of conversation usually drifted back on to the children in some shape or form.

I guess that’s the thing about being a parent – you never really stop.

Sometimes I wonder what we actually used to talk about before we had kids, and what life would be like if we hadn’t. Then I feel kind of guilty for thinking like that, especially when there are people who really want children and are unable to.

Nevertheless, I do sometimes get a little jealous of those who seem to make the most of their childless existence – you know, better, classier holidays – being able to go for weekends away at the drop of a hat, eating in places we would never contemplate taking children to. They might still even have sex ! (without being completely knackered or worried about being disturbed or overheard)

Hang on, this is starting to sound like a mid-life crisis….must be time to buy a sports car, find a twenty four year old mistress and take a sabbatical……

ok, I’m dreaming,
I had better just toddle off and get the kids tea made, do the dishes and clear up the toys. (The sports car still sounds like a good idea though?)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Pizza Express

I am all ready for the big day. Table set, several puddings on standby and Turkey with all the trimmings just waiting to be prepped and slaved over.

I have tried to anticipate any problems with my son’s perceptions and have hopefully bought the gifts he will like. He is already over excited, so we will no doubt have some crashing meltdown later today or tomorrow, followed by a alarm call.

As long as we can have some time when he is coping and enjoying things, it will be fine.

He has even chosen his lunch with a typically Autistic view – Pizza !
Why would he possibly want to eat Turkey on Christmas day ?

Now all I need to work out is how I can cook it when I’m supposed to have sausages and bacon, roast potatoes, stuffing and honey glazed carrots with parsnips in the oven?

Its going to be a long day !

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Four More Sleeps...

Tension rising, kids getting hyper, stress increasing – bank balance decreasing at alarming rate.
Every time I go to the shops, just to pick up a few bits and pieces it seems I spend at least another £50. Surely I cannot possibly need much more food? – Well apart from the veg, melba toast (which is like hens teeth at the moment), another sweet because  the six people coming to lunch all seem to have individual dislikes to xmas pudding / trifle / cheesecake / gateaux / cream
That’s before I realise that I have failed to buy anything to eat for the rest of the weekend, and I also have no more room in the fridge – so it could be takeaways for the next three days.
Of course I will forget something and only realise at 4pm on Christmas Eve that I don’t have any parsnips or something that doesn’t matter to me, but will no-doubt be “Auntie’s favourite” and we can’t possibly do without. Hence further pointless trip to empty shelved supermarket when two thousand other people are trying to do the same.
Apart from the unnecessary expense, hassle, stress, exhaustion, requirement to be sociable with the in-laws and potential meltdowns from our autistic son – I’m really looking forward to Xmas !

Saturday, 17 December 2011


...not the film with Brad Pitt or the song by Prince from many moons ago or indeed the wonders of the world, but a number that has become inexplicably linked to my existence.

I live at No7
My wife was born on the 7th Day (a Sunday)
I was also born on the 7th Day.
My Daughter was born on the 7th Day, also incidentally the 7th of the month.
My son was born on the 7th Day.
Both children have first and second names with seven letters.
My mother lives at number No7.
I work for a company with 7 in their name.
My parking permit is 00-77
The last bus I took was a number 7

I could go on plucking out random occurrences or examples of numerology that link back to this mysterious number. Everywhere I go, I see some connotation of seven springing out at me, rather like the plot of the film "The Number 23" from a few years back !

What does all this mean ? - It probably means that if you look hard enough through several coincidences, you can find symmetry somewhere. Oh and I always thought my lucky number was, that's right, you guessed it ......Three !

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.

I went shopping for the festive booze yesterday.
Well actually some of it. I will have to go back and get more prior to New Year to ensure we cater for the odd once a year guest who drinks some obscure spirit, which we will then be left with until about July - when I will eventually end up drinking it just because its the only thing left in the house.
If you spend £97 on wine at any other time of year, I think you automatically get a referral to Alcoholics Anonymous but at this time of year no-body really gives you a second look.
However, I did get slightly embarrassed at the checkout with about 16 bottles of wine, but I kind of played it off by suggesting they were presents for people.
.....well at least two bottles were !
When I go back at the weekend for the beer and spirits, I’ll hopefully get a different check-out lady otherwise it will be a further walk of shame.
Wait a minute......., it all makes sense now. That’s why they invented internet shopping, !
I suppose this applies to other dodgy stuff you wouldn’t want to be seen purchasing a lot of in public. No wonder online sales are on the increase, and the Parcel-Force man always has a smile on his face after delivering to the lady at No 42.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Fa La La La La, La La La La

‘Tis the season to be jolly ........or so we’re told in one of the classic Christmas carols.
....and how can we fail to be, with all the festive music playing in the background as we trawl round the shops.
I must confess to having a double CD collection of Xmas songs that is dusted off at this time of year, usually to play in the background on Christmas day. However it is a guilty pleasure in a weird sort of way. I mean have you ever been happier than being a kid at school and belting out “Frosty the Snowman” or “Winter Wonderland” at the end of year concert, with all the anticipation and excitement of the upcoming holidays. Happy Days.
As nostalgia tends to increase the older you get and the further away from the event itself, I can be forgiven for thinking everything was always rosier back then.
My all time favourite xmas song is of course “Fairytale of New York”, which while having one of the loveliest festive sounds, contains excellent lyrics like “You’re a bum, You’re a punk, You’re an old slut on junk”
I find this particularly good to sing along to after the inevitable stress induced family arguments that can occur while cooking lunch on Xmas day. Closely followed by “Happy Xmas War is Over”  usually after we’ve relaxed with a few glasses of wine and hostilities have ceased - well at least until Boxing day.
As the Pogues or perhaps Jim Royale would say “Happy Xmas, my arse !”

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Xmas Shopping Finished ! (fingers crossed)

I am usually well organised when it comes to xmas shopping for the children’s presents, and have in the past had everything ordered up at least six weeks in advance with military precision. However, the biggest difficulty I’ve found with this is my son has a tendency to change his mind.
He definitely wants something, to the point of obsession but can suddenly do a complete u-turn and change his mind for reasons that are silly to us but absolutely serious to him. He didn’t like a later advert for a particular toy one year and then decided because this upset him, the toy was no good. No amount of persuasion otherwise was accepted.
Even if you buy something you think he will like. If he doesn’t then he will not even take it out of the box. This may make him seem ungrateful, but actually he is unable to disguise his feelings and probably reacting with an honest response (while the rest of us smile through gritted teeth and thank Granny  very much for the knitted scarf that will never see the light of day again).
When you think of things logically, this self centred perspective actually makes sense. If something doesn’t work for you, then why on earth would you waste time with it?
It makes perfect sense, but at the same time is socially unacceptable.
The other aspect to this is that it could be the 23rd December and he will suddenly have an epiphany and announce he has changed his Santa list.  As my wife and I look at each other in horror, I can already picture myself running round like a maniac, re-enacting the film “Jingle All The Way” and elbowing old ladies out of the way in Toys R US.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Right Place, Wrong Time

After writing a few blog posts, I realised the time of issue on them was wrong.
Well it was right if you happened to be on central pacific time. However, that’s  8 hours in the past and so my last few postings must have shown up about twenty pages down the listings. Unless anyone had a time machine, there is very little chance anybody would have seen them.
Of course, that must be why I have had far less traffic than what I expected....(I convinced myself).
 So now I’m on the right track, the right time and the right hemisphere, you’ll have a better opportunity to catch my ramblings than before.
I’m waiting.................
.......(still waiting).........

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Know Your Place

Having recently changed jobs, I find myself in a new office environment where I’m trying to find my feet, adapt to the culture and most importantly the politics of the workplace. You know, who is approachable, who are respected by others, who are the troublemakers and who not to have coffee with.
Coming from a relatively senior position previously, I’m doing my best to fit in as part of the team rather than leading the team and this is more difficult than I first imagined.
I find myself accepting more basic (sometimes questionable) tasks through gritted teeth, while smiling, nodding and being as helpful as I can be. I do have ambition to make progress back up the managerial ladder  but realise I’ll have to play the long game and ensure I can gain some respect from those around me in order to be accepted if I do get promoted in the future.
Many of the staff in the team are probably ten to fifteen years younger than me.  That doesn’t bother me too much and I still think I can relate to them, even if technically I’m more like their older brother, or more likely an embarrassing uncle.
However I have had a few conversations where just when I felt like I was fitting in and getting along fine, I have inadvertently drifted off topic.
When one of your anecdotes is about the time you went to see “St Elmo’s Fire” and three sub 30 year old faces stare at you blankly, it’s time to accept where you belong and go and have coffee with the wrinklies.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Daddy's Little Girl

I do love my daughter to bits, she is growing into a young woman and will be twelve on her next birthday - however she is and has always been hard work.
In fact, she probably started being hard work about the second trimester. I recall we went through a period of worry and several additional scans because she was measuring quite small and couldn’t be bothered growing at the right rate. Fortunately everything was ok, and she soon found another way to be difficult by being in the breach position and refusing to turn. I think this is where her stubbornness and natural gift for being awkward started!
At least we then had a planned C-Section date and were booked in with some certainty of when our bundle of joy would be delivered. I relaxed knowing we had plenty time to organise all that had to be done in time for her arrival.
Patience is not one of her virtues either (although I shouldn’t throw stones in that particular greenhouse!) and she decided she wanted to arrive three weeks early – sending my wife and myself into a mad panic at one morning. We were reasonably organised in that we had bought all the things an expectant mother needs for her maternity bag; however we had not unpacked or opened any of it. I nearly broke my toe while running round like an idiot in the dark pulling everything together as my wife sat on the loo with her waters breaking.
After she arrived, we were of course delighted and looked forward to many happy ours with our firstborn. Unfortunately she interpreted this as all waking hours and the ones through the night as well. We had no sleep for at least two years, I am not joking either. I still have flash-backs to her teething.
She also had reflux, and barely kept any milk down for longer than a few seconds before projectile vomiting everywhere, which was really handy with a cream carpet.
The terrible twos lasted another three years, and she could have represented our country at tantrums. Probably still could.
I finally appreciated my work would always be cut out with her when at the age of four, following a telling off,  she went and packed her little suitcase, appeared at the living room door with her coat on  and said she was going to stay at Grandma’s.

Friday, 2 December 2011

It’s the freakin weekend baby!

I’m gonna have me some fun.
Well Ok, let’s be honest. I’m probably going to open a bottle of red wine, eat a large bag of exotic flavoured crisps and watch Come Dine with Me.
I’ll even get to stay up late, so by 10:30 I will be raring to go. I’ll flick through the music channels decide none of the new stuff is any good, switch back to the 80’s and 90’s channels and realise that half of that wasn’t any good either – and by about 11:30 I’ll be falling asleep on the sofa.
I’ll still wake up at 6.30am, but with a slight hangover. Ok probably a bad hangover and will spend the morning drinking cups of tea and wishing I hadn’t had that extra glass of wine or two.
We’ll decide we should probably try and get the kids out of the house to do something, rather than let them stagnate in front of their computers all day. There will be a big argument because my daughter thinks forest walks are boring and will go in a huff as soon as we suggest it. Our son will run back up to his room because no-body cares about how he feels and by two o clock it will be too late to really go anywhere.
My daughter will need to be taken to her ridiculously timed theatre class. I mean, 4pm to 6pm on a Saturday???
Then by the time we are home, have an argument about what we are going to have for tea and actually eat, it will be time for The X-Factor. Yipee.
I think I’d better leave Sunday for another blog as I’m starting to look forward to going back to work on Monday already.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

De Ja Vu ?

This morning I washed my hair twice. Not for vanity reasons or some other weird ritual but because I stood there in the shower and couldn’t remember if I had washed it already.
This has happened to me a few times before, and I’m not really sure whether it’s just because I am actually still half asleep in the shower or if this is the early stages of age related forgetfulness.
A couple of times last year I also recall leaving my upstairs office and heading down to the front Admin office, arriving, walking into the room and then completely forgetting why I was there. This is slightly unnerving with four sets of eyes staring at you as you pause, and either quickly head to the stationery cupboard for some un-needed post-its or stand there in the middle of the room and take the ridicule.
One day, I even headed back up to my own office – remembered what I needed to do, and then by the time I got back downstairs I had forgotten again. This was probably due to being further distracted by a colleague I met on the stairs, but you do start to wonder if your marbles are all intact.
The other night, I had a bath in our downstairs bathroom and afterwards went to shave and realised my razor was in the upstairs bathroom. Again, I got distracted on the way and stopped to help my wife with a computer glitch, I went upstairs walked into the bathroom and as if on auto-pilot started brushing my teeth. Half way through I looked at myself in the mirror and realised I was supposed to be shaving.
It must be short term memory loss…… I couldn’t possibly be old enough for that yet !
So anyway, did I ever tell you about the blueberry smoothie incident?  Well it started one evening in the kitchen, we were...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Table For Two Sir ? (....If Only)

If you have read this before then you’ll be aware that I have a son who has high functioning autistic spectrum disorder, some people call it Aspergers.
South Park even called it Ass-Burgers in a typically controversial approach to one of their episodes.
Anyway, we hardly ever go out for lunch with my son these days because it can be a minefield of things waiting to go wrong. He has food issues and cannot cope with having things he doesn’t like on his plate. This is particularly difficult when on holiday and you say to the waiter something like “could we have the chicken dippers, on their own please, nothing else on the plate”.
That somehow gets lost in translation and the waiter appears with full salad garnish, resulting in our son running away from the restaurant and refusing to go back there because “they are stupid” and they should know he doesn’t like salad.
Another example is when we ask for a drink to come with nothing in it, no ice, no slice of orange and ideally with a green straw (or whatever phase of colour preference he’s going through!). Inevitably, it will appear with a slice of lemon, ice and a pink straw, which results in the drink sometimes being knocked over and him running away from the restaurant because “they are stupid”.
Before we had children, we loved eating out, having a starter and taking time to enjoy our meal and a nice bottle of wine. ....These days we are lucky if we get past the bread rolls before an incident occurs.
On another related restaurant story, my wife and her mother were out to lunch with the kids a while back.
One of the traits that many people with ASD have is that they are very literal and have little or no concept of other peoples’ feelings, to the extent they will say things that are true which those of us blessed with social tact would not.
For example, “Do you like my new dress?” could be answered with “No, the colour doesn’t suit you and it makes you look lumpy”
(Actually, I think I will start using that as my default response every time my wife asks if something suits her!)
Anyway, this large, actually obese person comes into the restaurant and our son says quite loudly “check the size of that man over there, he’s huge”. Luckily, no one really picked up on what was said.
Slightly flustered, in fact a lot flustered, my wife asks him not to say that again to which my son replies at the top of his voice “ok, but he’s massive. I’ve never seen anyone so fat” …………just as the gentleman sits down at the table next to them.
What is it they say in showbiz? – Never work with children and animals.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Blueberry Smoothie Incident

edited to take part in yeah write #42

A true life example of how chaos can descend on my existence.
Setting: our small dining kitchen.We are having a relatively peaceful family meal, just prior to my wife having to leave for work. I am left to do the washing up, there are dirty plates, glasses, saucepans everywhere - the place looks like a bombs hit it.

I get ready to start cleaning up and my wife comes in with her jacket on and takes up the remaining work-top space, writing a shopping list for later. At the same time my daughter (who is blessed with "perfect" timing, we suspect on purpose) decides she's going to make a blueberry smoothie. I have a natural instinct for spotting trouble and intervene by shouting at her to be patient and to wait until her mum is out of the way.

However, my daughter proceeds to close the kitchen door, then opens the fridge and takes out the punnet of blueberries anyway. In a split second I realise she has the punnet up-side down and before I can do anything, the blueberries are all over the floor. I instinctively shout "no-body move" like I'm in some cop show and start trying to clear some of the debris before people start standing on them.

Incidentally, these were no ordinary blueberries but Finest Organic, £3.99 per punnet blueberries, that I only bought because my prodigal daughter doesn't eat normal day to day fruit, like apples or bananas. In fact the blueberries were the cheaper option compared to her other choice of cherries. I mean have you seen the price of cherries lately? .....Sorry, I digress.

Anyway;- My wife, (who's running late by this time) is becoming increasingly annoyed at being held up and like some twist of fate, my son tries to enter the kitchen at the same time. Of course we shout at him not to come in, and he over-reacts and starts having a meltdown in the hall.

I clear up most of the blueberries and my wife escapes out the door and heads off to work. By this time my daughter has the blender and ice cream out and then asks me for a yoghurt. I go to the fridge and realise the yoghurts are at the back, underneath a boxed pizza, which also has yesterdays roast beef and a left-over slice of cheesecake balanced on it.

I manage to find a corner of the table free to place these items on, while I get the yoghurt out for her. Meanwhile my son, who has came out of his meltdown asks me for ice-cream. I snap at him that I have my hands full and as I turn around quickly to put the cheesecake back in the fridge, it slides off the plate and lands upside down on the floor. Arrrrgggghhhhhh ! ****

So now I have to clear up all the dishes, cooking pots, a blender, the remaining bloody expensive organic blueberries, a quarter of a toffee cheesecake which my daughter has just stood on .......and I still have an upset (autistic) 9 year old demanding ice-cream in his special bowl that I can already see is on the worktop beside the sink waiting to be washed.
God, give me strength !

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Relax, its Sunday !

Ok, so where to go with my journey to Blog-ville? I'll certainly not be taking you through a chronological explanation of my life to date. That would be mind numbingly painful for all of us, besides I'll need to keep that for my autobiography ;-)

As my hastily thought out title suggests this will be more akin to a less structured approach and i guess I'll go where the mood takes me. That could be bad and it could be good, sometimes i get frustrated with the monotony of life. I'd never give up my children for anything, but the stresses and hassle they cause you sometimes make you yearn for the days when you were able to chill out on a Sunday morning, have that deserved lie-in, spend some quality time together and head out for a relaxing lunch.

Alas, it's not to be.
WARNING - Having children can seriously damage your well-being, sex-life (I think I had one once), financial state, social acceptance and can be excruciatingly painful.(especially if you have ever stood on a piece of Lego at 3am)

Saturday, 26 November 2011

First Post

Well, I usually have plenty inane ramblings to get out of my system and find writing to be a good release. this is the first time i have attempted a blog, and right now i have no idea whether i will be arsed to continue - or if it's another one of my great ideas that i never quite get round to delivering on. I'm sure my wife would re-iterate that with several tales of my inability to get off my backside and actually do all the stuff I'm supposed to, but hey, what else are wives for if not to nag the hell out of their husbands and blame us for everything? Granted it may just be because they've had a bad day dealing with the trials and tribulations of motherhood, womanhood and the school-run, but we are only human too !

I jest of course, 99% of the time my failings and lack of motivation are of my own making. I'm just so bloody tired all the time these days. The combined joys of parenting an Autistic 9year old boy, a demanding 11year old girl and being the wrong side of forty are taking their toll.

Still, whats life for if its not for living ?