The third sequel

The third sequel already. The Trilogy done in one day. Eat your heart out Peter Jackson.

So this is the third instalment in the ‘what has changed over the 6 months of pandemic isolation’ saga. This time it’s what has changed for me. I guess this one is called The Return of the Kermit the Frog King. So what has changed then for me.

  • With Hawklads increasingly pronounced Social and Health related anxieties the last six months have seen a ramping up of the parenting pressures. Fewer breaks, more challenges and yes less support. In the UK small amount of support that has survived the Conservative Funding Cutbacks largely stops when kids hit the teenage years.
  • Have become a home educator. A school facilitator. A Classroom Supplies specialist. Much smirking…. After 6 months I’m still winging it.
  • I’m sleeping less. Much less. Just can’t seem to reset the insomnia cycle.
  • Certainly more isolated in terms of actually meeting people outside our little bubble. In 6 months I’ve seen family members twice, one work colleague (and good friend) maybe three times, neighbours a handful of times, the local shop workers maybe a couple of times a month, the dentist once, one visit from the boilerman, a few health workers and doctors. That’s about it. Oh actually forgot one person. The Postman, the only person I see regularly. I count his fairly frequent waves as my most regular physical contact. Luckily I have lovely online friends.
  • With not meeting too many people I’ve started noticing human life more. I notice dog walkers in the fields, cyclists, passing cars, voices from the street, even planes in the sky. A reminder that a bigger world still exists out there.
  • My conversation skills have never come easy to me. I have to work on and practice them. That’s just not happened for months. Even on most phone calls I can feel myself becoming increasingly wooden.
  • My largely unseen dress sense is becoming increasingly avant-garde.
  • I have lost 6lbs but you wouldn’t notice it. Having to resort to consuming far too much Soya (Soy) which isn’t great for my tummy. No I’m not pregnant.
  • I’ve stopped running and walking and road cycling. Must admit it’s not doing my old contact sport injuries any good. Bits are starting to seize up. So I’m trying to find my inner Yoga. Or as I call it Controlled Falling Over.
  • Work has dried up. This was supposed to be a really busy year. Lots of new jobs and major events. In practice that all was cancelled. Remains cancelled. Some plans have been put in place but really I’m not going to get much work until 2021.
  • I’m more able to fill my day without leaving our little household world. No need to visit shops daily, coffee shops, cinema, visit family or friends. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but it comes easier to me now.
  • I do tend to overthink things now. Can have days when I do sober too much time internalising stuff. With me that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s such a short stroll to self doubt and negativity.

Yes things have changed for me. They will continue to change as our personal lockdown is not going to end anytime soon. Potentially months more, maybe much longer. With us being an Aspergers Family that was kind of in place before the pandemic. Maybe many of these changes were already happening before the March lockdown. They have just become more pronounced. Maybe these are longer term changes. Maybe it’s much more than a three episode trilogy. Maybe it’s a permanent feature.

Nonstop

It’s a hard life on the pet sofa. Nonstop action.

So while the pets were unusually becalmed and Hawklad was watching a Sherlock Holmes movie, I could focus on a pressing matter. Seeing what bargains I could find on the internet. Replacements for items which are starting to fall to bits. Actually that could include me.

As usual the items on my list where either unavailable or at full price (or beyond). But I did come across a range on interesting bargains.

  • A rather battered old pink Campervan. The description referred to well looked after, well loved, filled with character. I didn’t references to words like knackered, dented, rusted or broken. Clearly if it was true that the badly battered vehicle had in fact had only one careful owner well that owner must have been NASA.
  • A collection of novelty LPs which included masterpieces from the likes of The Crankies, Baron Knights, Showaddywaddy, Mud and Vanilla Ice. Shame I don’t have a record player……
  • A chessboard with some of the pieces missing. Suppose that contributes to quicker games.
  • The entire James Bond DVD collection. One dvd is missing and several are scratched. They also won’t work in the UK and Europe. But apart from that….
  • A Bullworker. Remember those. Those exercise devices which apparently if you used it for 10 minutes a day for a month you would end up looking like Thor or The Terminator. I might need to use that for several years……
  • A Batman lego set which would cost more than my car….
  • A Genuine Boomerang. Wow you must be able to get fake ones.
  • A box of VHS tapes. Maybe I can sell the bag loads of those cassettes we have filling up the garage.
  • A set of glowing hula hoops. Surely that would represent an essential purchase.
  • A Boris Johnson punch bag. So so tempted.
  • A giant bag of jigsaw pieces, several sets mixed together – no guarantee that all sets are complete. Trying to get my head round that one.
  • A pantomime horse costume for two adults. Apparently with some wear and tear. The mind boggles.
  • A set of 30 Xbox games. Ranging from motor racing to Star Wars.

Most admit the Xbox games pack was tempting. One problem. We would never use them. Son is a creature of habit. On his Xbox 360 he only ever played two games FIFA (football) and WWE (wrestling). When I saved up to upgrade it to an Xbox One, guess what. He’s only ever played two games on it. FIFA and WWE. Maybe Microsoft can next time just do us a special cutdown version of the Xbox Two. We only need it to play two games. Surely they can do us a cheap version rare edition. That might be worth something on eBay.

Day 123

I clearly have too much time on my hands because I’ve been counting

It’s Day 123 of our lockdown…

Normally I do a weekly post – what have we found out this week from schooling at home’. But this week in honour of the 123 day milestone let’s do a special ‘what have we done withoutpost….

  • That’s 123 days without the school bus or ironing a school shirt,
  • That’s 123 days without missing the school bus,
  • That’s 123 days without a school bag,
  • That’s 123 days of not forgetting to pack a really important school item,
  • That’s 123 days without the carefully packed ingredients for food technology deciding to empty themselves over the other contents of the bag,
  • That’s 123 days without the school bag zipper becoming stuck,
  • That’s 123 days without having to patch up school trousers,
  • That’s also 123 days of not using his new trousers – bet they won’t fit now…
  • That’s 123 days without losing items of sports kit in the school changing rooms (but strangely they still find a way of going missing),
  • That’s 123 days without son combing his hair (ok that’s an exaggeration but it certainly looks like it most days….),
  • That’s 123 days of son not meeting another person except me,
  • That’s 123 days of me not going into the work unit,
  • That’s 123 days of not emptying the work unit bin or checking for out of date milk in the work fridge. As I’m the only one who does – I just dread to think what alien life maybe germinating in there,
  • That’s 123 days without a run (not counting the garden runs as they are more akin to a game of twister than actual running),
  • That’s 123 days of my mountain bike being sat unloved in the garage,
  • That’s 123 days without a trip to the ice cream parlour or a food takeaway,
  • That’s 123 days of not popping into a coffee or cake shop,
  • That’s 123 days without an excursion,
  • That’s 123 days without a trip to the zoo,
  • That’s 123 days of not going out then worrying constantly if I did remember to lock the front door,
  • That’s 123 days of living in shorts, sarongs, running leggings and tracksuit joggers (don’t panic they are getting washed) – I might have fibbed on one of those..
  • That’s 123 days without having to buy a car parking ticket,
  • That’s 123 days of not feeding the car petrol,
  • That’s 123 days without using a cash machine,
  • That’s 123 days of desperately not searching for my car keys and wallet,
  • That’s 123 days in which our entire world comprised only of the house and garden.

But even after 123 days, if I look hard enough I can still find something new to photograph. That’s shows how lucky we really are. Even after 123 days of lockdown.

Summer!!!

This is what a summer midday looks like in Yorkshire. Quite majestic. Just trying to work out where to put the deckchair. Facing the jet blast cold rain or against it. That’s assuming the deck chair has not been sent hurtling across the farmland. Must remember to apply damp proofing to my legs again.

Today we managed to get a home food delivery. That’s two in just over two weeks. I know I poke fun at the process but actually I am so thankful to get anything. The deliveries have been just enough to keep us going over the last three months. Not sure what we would have done without them. Sometimes single parenting really does limit your options. Especially when your son is so tied to the house at present.

Anyway some provisions have arrived. Not everything we hoped for but it’s plenty in the great scheme of things. The main thing is that son got more of the foods he eats this time. Can just about serve up his usual 7 day menu. I will be eating some interesting options thanks to the increasingly creative substitutions.

  • My gluten free pasta has been replaced with kiddies dinosaur shaped pasta. Looking forward to that one.
  • Almond milk for cereal has been replaced with Coffee flavour soya drink. Not sure that will work so well with cornflakes.
  • 6 large free range eggs replaced with 4 Scotch Eggs. Not sure how you make an omelet with those. Also not sure they are much use for my planned Lemon Meringue.
  • 4 lemons replaced by 4 limes. Again not great for a Lemon Meringue.
  • Dairy free cherry yogurt replaced with rhubarb yogurt. Ok I know I’m from Yorkshire and we are supposed to love Rhubard but I’m the only one who doesn’t like the local delicacy.
  • And the best one – 500g of Chia Seeds for me to snack on replaced with 2kg of bird seed. The garden birds will eat well.

But we smile. Avoiding another week of visiting a supermarket is just fine with me. Almost worth eating bird seed to avoid that modern nightmare.

******

On the subject of Summer and Baking, don’t forget the Great Blogger Bake-off happening 18/19th July. It will be great fun.

Gluten and dairy

Sorry having to milk the red flowers. They don’t last long and then that’s it for another year. Sadly shopping comes round much more frequently.

Another weekend shopping experience to be quickly forgotten. Yes we are always thankful to get some stuff. Things like bathroom rolls (toilet paper) and soap are getting easier to find. Finally some popcorn. Ok it’s just salty but we can add honey to it. But then the inner grump comes out in me.

So many items we take for granted are now becoming a luxury. The words out of stock, no alternatives, unavailable are becoming such a frequent part of the wonderful shopping experience. In terms of our Son it applies to a number of his favourites

  • Tomato ketchup (has to be Heinz)
  • Pasta
  • Skinless sausages
  • Baguettes
  • Tortilla wraps
  • Mini fairy cakes
  • Tinned carrots
  • Corn on the cob.

For me it’s the gluten free and IBS friendly alternatives. Yesterday I drew a complete blank. Yes you could get a few glutenless meat sausages and a couple of soya based meal options. Not great when you are trying to be a veggie and soya blows you up like a balloon. No dairy free milk option except Soya. Not one single gluten free bread based option. Looks like I’m trying to bake my own again – the last one ended up painted and used as Jurassic World play island… Yes we got some jacket potatoes but they look like they have just been used as projectiles in the latest Highland Games, then sent to the army range for target practice.

So unless I can find some super expensive options on Amazon then this weeks meal options will be another challenge. I’m ok, I can just walk around looking permanently pregnant thanks to my inflamed IBS. It’s more of a challenge for our Son with his set eating patterns. Moving from them causes so much anxiety for him.

Dad I’ve got an idea. Let’s just have a week eating crisps and chocolate. Wash it down with full sugar coke. Not good for us but at least it will be fun.”

I’m so into this idea. Yes I will end up very round. Having a body that looks like the perfect figure. A 6. But is that not a better option than looking pregnant from dairy and soya intake. Decision made. Where’s that family sized packet of potato crisps.

Busy

Running round the small garden for what seems like the millionth time and desperately trying to find an excuse to stop for a few seconds. Thankfully a yellow rose is a suitable excuse for a photo pit stop.

I’m sat writing this during another brief day pit stop. Son is having a wander round the garden, dreaming and working on what we do next this Sunday afternoon. It will be a short pit stop. Maybe 30 minutes at most. It’s an odd busy feeling….

My mind wanders back to pre Aspergers, pre parenting life. Early commutes, days filled with meetings, projects, accounts and people management. The working week punctuated by the occasional long train journey to London. Trying to get the works laptop to link to the train WIFI, so many unread emails to look at. I would return home and think – wow that was busy. Then the world changed three times. Parenting, Aspergers and then bereavement. One overriding thought comes to mind. What was I doing with that career life. Busy maybe, happy not, fulfilled – most definitely NOT. The first two events forced both our careers to alter. Suddenly the careers had to start fitting around our Son. One of us had always to be there for him. Definitely feeling busier. Then with a flick of a switch, two parents became one. The career was untenable and that was it. A new part time job and a full time single parent role.

Now the world has changed again. A social distancing fuelled change.

So I’m sat here watching son dream and I’m waffling on with these words….. Thinking about

  • A backlog of washing and domestic tasks,
  • Getting my head round this weeks school at home project,
  • Laying the groundwork for a switch to full on homeschooling,
  • Preparing the next appeal document to try and source the additional help our son needs,
  • Arranging calls and sending emails to teachers. Trying to make schooling work for son,
  • A garden which looks like an Amazonian Rainforest,
  • Looking at other work from home options as the current ideal role is potentially not outlasting the pandemic fuelled government incompetence,
  • Reading online DIY guides, preparing for the next home servicing and repair task,
  • What to cook for lunch and tea,
  • Scouring the online food supply options. Trying to figure out what we really need. Then trying to somehow book a home delivery for what is available,
  • Picking up the courage to get out the sewing kit and repair those pesky trouser knee holes,
  • Looking at the home finances spreadsheet AGAIN. I must be missing something,
  • Thinking about what things we can line up to fill the half term week off with fun and happiness. All without going through the front gate.

So the meetings, the commutes and professional career have gone. Yes I am at home. Yes my paid work is part time normally but has currently ceased completely. It may not seem like I am busy. But sat here, looking out the window, I have never felt so busy. Busy definitely YES, Fulfilled most definitely YES.

Now I am called back into action. Take care everyone. WE will do this.

Frozen

So easy to tell this is a Red Sky at night.

“What on earth is that Dad”

For some bizarre reason I have started freezing left over food. Anything which cuts down the need to shop is a good thing in our book. Any trip beyond the garden gate will send Son into anxiety meltdown and I have to admit to being uncomfortable with the idea. So stuff gets bagged up and frozen.

Remind me again, what are you looking for.”

I was searching for some frozen cheese (grated).

Well that’s not cheese.”

I’m not entirely sure what that freezer bag contained.

Why didn’t you label the bags.”

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But this is his Dad. I’ve not got a good track record in doing things sensibly. Son knows this. He has always known this. When he was about 4 we had to have our photos taken for a season ticket at the local fun park. I had just done something embarrassing – AGAIN. Son just gave me one of those looks and turned to the person taking the photo and said

This is my Dad. He is a muppet.”

Things haven’t changed.

Convinced I had found the frozen grated cheese, I went to cook lunch.

Is that my favourite cheese?”

Yes it was. Well it was for a few glorious minutes. Cooking and tasting unfortunately disproved the fact. So today I have learnt two important facts

  1. Labelling freezer bags is a great idea AND
  2. Frozen grated cheese looks very like potato rosti.

Facts

Last night was one of those yucky sleepless nights. So very tired yet all I could muster was probably 40 minutes sleep. Annoyingly those 40 minutes came right at the end of the night and was brought to an all to abrupt ending with the morning homeschooling alarm.

During those zombie like hours I started writing a list of things to do this week. After getting stuck on item 1 for far too long, the list morphed into a more fruitful

What have I learned about myself during the last few weeks of this rather odd period in our history.

So here goes with my early morning facts

  1. I’m crap at writing To Do lists,
  2. Late at night I have a habit or writing LIST so that it looks like LUST,
  3. I can’t sleep properly,
  4. My old mobile phone has never worked better since it got machine washed with my clothes,
  5. My phone has a surprisingly good camera however it has the most annoying panorama function. The photo above took hours to do,
  6. I am so lucky to have that view from the garden. But what would I give for either a mountain or the sea in the distance,
  7. I quite enjoy most of this home schooling lark,
  8. Homeschooling and work are never going to be a good fit for me,
  9. Homeschooling and long distance running are never going to be a good fit for me,
  10. Homeschooling and my bank balance are never going to be a good fit for me,
  11. Homeschooling, my bank balance and holidays are never going to be a good for me,
  12. High petrol prices are not an issue when you don’t drive your car for 6 weeks,
  13. I can now make my own pizza bases as long as they are square shaped. Round is beyond me,
  14. I can fill a freezer up real quick when I start saving leftover food,
  15. A dairy and gluten free diet is a pain in the arse when the shops sell out of specialist diet ranges,
  16. I miss football on the telly,
  17. I miss alpine sports on the telly,
  18. I hate the news now. I miss the days of moaning about Brexit,
  19. I’m a barnpot yet I would do a better job of running our country than the clowns currently in charge. Apparently it’s ok for a Prime Minister to miss FIVE emergency meetings and have weekends off during a national emergency,
  20. My Son knows more than I do,
  21. Receiving a parcel from Amazon now feels as dangerous as trying to change a fuel rod in a nuclear reactor,
  22. Not being able to get Sons favourite Soup, Beans, Skinless Sausages and Pasta is one of the most stressful things in the world,
  23. I must be really vexing to live with,
  24. Cheap tea bags taste the same regardless of how many times I reuse them,
  25. Using Yorkshire Slang Words gets me put on the Spam Naughty List,
  26. At some stage I might have to physically talk to someone else than our son. I’m dreading that thought,
  27. You can still get colds if you are isolating from the outside world,
  28. When I’m carefully stood in my designated 2m queuing area why can’t I stop thinking about how long virus particles stay airborne for,
  29. I get so excited when I see an aeroplane now that I must rush to check where it’s flying to,
  30. I haven’t combed my hair in 6 weeks,
  31. Where does all the so called spare time disappear when I’m on lockdown,
  32. The more I learn German the less I can remember of French. It’s as if for every new German word entering my brain, a French one has to pop out to make space,
  33. I will even talk to slugs these days,
  34. Don’t set up a darts challenge with your son then at the last minute realise you don’t have a dartboard or darts,
  35. The Government and Chief Executives of major companies only email me when there is a pandemic going on,
  36. I still hate U2,
  37. I want to live in Switzerland
  38. I’m still a widow. Or as my Predictive Text tries to type – I am still a window,
  39. These days it really doesn’t matter if I put my pants on back to front.

Torquay

My neighbours bird bath. Over the years it has become increasingly hard to fill. Thankfully the Yorkshire weather usually takes care of that.

Yesterday was a decently fun day. Any day with Pizza helps. We played football in the garden. Son fired a million questions at me. Including the following belter.

Name 10 best things about Torquay”

We had been watching John Cleese in old episodes of Fawlty Towers. It’s set there.

“Son your going to annoyingly tell me that you know 10 such facts”

Actually 17 facts Dad”

I whispered a silent bugger under my breathe.

We then tried to watch the new Joker movie. I was watching it thinking the acting is brilliant but I’m not enjoying this in the slightest bit. Then son broke my thought pattern.

Dad I’m really not in the mood for this. I enjoy a good bit of Joker but this isn’t a Joker movie. It’s a movie about how a country fails to deal with mental health and how people look down on others who are different. I don’t like the way the film is doing it. Let’s watch it another day.”

So ten minutes later we had the new Shaun The Sheep movie on. That there is a movie.

But I understand what our son was talking about. Not the right time or mood for this Joker movie. There is too much going on in the world. It is also Mother’s Day in the UK. That’s one of THOSE days…. I must admit the social distancing has severely restricted our visits to the shops. That means less chance to walk past all the cards, flowers and potential gifts. Dealing with it for just one day is better than having it rammed down our throats for weeks on end.

I must admit this one has been less painful than the other ones we have endured. We have wished our lost mums a happy day. In my partners case we have kissed the ashes. Then so far we have gotten on with the job of making the most of today. My heart does go out to many mums today. Because of the restrictions and other factors outside of their control, they may not see kids and grandchildren today (or for many days to come). I really hope a way is found for a connection to be made. A text, a video call, a card, a cute photo, a virtual hug or a telephone call saying ‘I LOVE YOU’.

Stay safe and to all mums out there. Sending you a big hug. Thank you for being super heroes.

Breathe

And breathe…. count to 10 and breathe again.

More and more countries go into lockdown. We are surrounded by lands where schools have been closed. Meanwhile here in England our leaders give interviews only to carefully selected media supporters. Even the Chief Medical Officer gives an interview to a right wing newspaper. On the off chance you just might want to find out what our top medical person has to say on the crisis then you have to pay for it. Apparently we might force anyone over seventy into isolation in a few weeks. We might close bars and cinemas down – maybe in a few weeks. We will definitely keep schools open – if teachers go off sick then we will just cram more kids into the available classes. Sticking to the strategy of trying to get as many of the fit and young infected so they develop immunity. All sounds a bit X-Files to me. Seems to be based on the assumptions that infection has no long term side effects and any acquired immunity will be for the long term. Both assumptions are scientifically unproven as yet. Increasing numbers of experts appear to not share the same opinion as our key experts advising the government. Plus this is our Government we are talking about – they couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery. Has anyone seen Boris Johnson over the last few days? I really hope he’s as stressed out as my kid is over the virus….. If it’s sending many of the adults into panic what is it doing to our children.

It’s an odd feeling. Do I trust our countries leaders and it’s experts OR do I rather trust other countries approaches. That excludes the overall US approach – I’m not sure waiting for it to one day just disappear really cuts the mustard as an approach.

So I am wrestling with one decision. Do I let son go to school. I have a duty of care to look after him. Do I think he is safe, secure and well cared for in the educational environment. I’m still wrestling with that one. I think many parents round here are facing the same call. Yes full on school closures have a knock on effect on childcare and staffing in our essential services. Especially as our Government has deliberately cut those services to the bone. We now only have a quarter of the critical care beds that Germany has. But on the other hand how many kids and teachers have underlying medical conditions. Are we not placing them at risk. So it’s not an easy decision. But I need to focus on my son. What’s in his best interest. We also need to keep moving forward.

I need to go shopping tomorrow for a few things. Should be an interesting experience. One of the things I need is a Chocolate Almond Drink. It’s about the only nice dairy substitute drink I have found. It’s expensive but it is always on offer for 3 for £3. Well last week it was caught up in the panic buy restrictions. Now I can only buy 2 in one shop. Suddenly it’s become expensive. What’s bizarre is no bugger else buys it. I strongly suspected that for a while as they don’t put many of these drinks out and often they looked like they hadn’t been touched since I was last there. Being a sad person I have for the last three weeks put a little pencil mark on the next available drink – it’s still been there on my next visit. So clearly they are worried that as the only buyer of that item I may panic buy and deprive myself of buying it next time. It’s all a bit bizarre. But that’s 2020 for you.

With that I will now try to focus on other things on this blog. Yes I may have to mention the pesky virus but I will try not to that much. Over the next few weeks blogging is probably going to become more important for many. A rare connection in our dislocated world. Maybe trying to create a bit of normality in this maelstrom is what is currently needed. What is certainly needed is that we show how much we love our family and those we care most for. That we try just that little harder to be considerate and look out for others in our community. Trying extra hard to be nice and kind. And yes don’t forget to find the time to care for ourselves as well. Finding that time to smile and breathe. We might not be able to agree on what the best approach is to dealing with the virus but being just a little kinder will certainly make us all feel just that bit better about our world. Thats not going to happen fighting over that last pack of 50 toilet rolls.

Take care my friends. x