Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Resignation butterflies

I've just drafted my resignation!

It is with a fair amount of trepidation and a little excitement that I am resigning today.  I have loved working at Santander over the last 15 years and it has not been an easy decision to leave.  However, I think I’d regret it if I didn’t try and spend more time with Pickle & Wotsit before they grow up too much more. 

Please accept this as the start of my 3 months notice period so my last day in the office will be 23rd March 2012.  Please could you consider the enclosed application for a career break in case I miss you all too much?

Kind Regards

Helen Foran

I have butterflies!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Pickle the peacemaker

Wotsit has rediscovered tantrums.  Thankfully, they've always been reasonably shortlived however they can be triggered by very minor incidents.  Like cutting up his carrots for him!

Yesterday, I deigned to take the lid off his yoghurt.  Cue stroppy talk:  "Mummy, I wanted to take the lid off.  I do not want that yoghurt.  I want to take the lid off a different one."

I apologise for removing the lid but ask Wotsit to settle down and eat up.  He is not remotely placated.  "I DON'T WANT THAT YOGHURT".  This continues for a bit so I take the yoghurt (and the spoon being wielded as some sort of weapon) and start eating it.  Wotsit gets louder.

At this point, Pickle pipes up (he hates to see his brother upset).  "Oliver, perhaps if you eat that yoghurt, Mummy will let you get a new one from the fridge afterwards and you can take the lid off that one".  I'm impressed with his negotiating prowess - no-one needs to back down; everybody's happy (I only wish I'd thought of it myself!).  Wotsit and I eye each other up.  I nod. "That sounds reasonable".  Wotsit concedes and starts eating.

When he's finished he asks if he can have another one.  "Of course" I say "help yourself".  Wotsit trundles across to the fridge and comes back to the table beaming.

Two minutes later "Mummy, could you help me with the lid on this yoghurt please, it's a bit tricky". 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Remember, remember the 9th of November

Monkey would have been 7 today.  I woke this morning and cried.  Husband was lovely but still doesn't quite get that it's okay to cry sometimes.  He gets up to have a shower and Pickle gets up too.  I then hear his door shut again.  I go downstairs.  "Daddy said you were asleep" he says.  It staggers me that Husband doesn't realise that what I need most is a hug from one of my boys.  I tell Pickle that Mummy is a bit sad because it is Alex's birthday and I miss him.  In reply, he asks me to read Beast Quest.  I ask for a hug first.  The hug is half hearted.  "Read Beast Quest Mummy.  I think Alex would like it.  Do you think he can hear?  I think he can.  God can so Alex must be able to as well.  Read Beast Quest for Alex Mummy".  We read Beast Quest.

After dropping Pickle at school, Wotsit and I visit the friend I made at the bereavement group I went to after Monkey died.  It was a good place to go today.  We indulge each other a bit and eat cake whilst the children play.

We collected Pickle from school and stopped at the church to drop off 7 white flowers on Monkey's plaque.  We play outside for a bit and I sit on the Monkey Bench.  After tea, we take the sparklers we've saved out into the garden and light them.  I spell out the name of all my boys.

We come in and it's bath and bed for the boys.  Wotsit is cuddling Monkey's dog that Grandma bought the week he died.  It was the day she flew back to Australia and the day Monkey was readmitted to hospital to fight off a chest infection for a couple of days.  In Pickle's room (after more Beast Quest), I ask what song he would like before he goes to sleep.  "Happy Birthday". 

Happy Birthday dear Alex.  We love you.  We miss you. xxx

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A catalogue of errors (and a lovely holiday)

This year saw us going to Denmark for a family holiday.  The first as a mini family, without any aunts, uncles or grandparents.  It didn't always often go to plan but we did have a fabulous time.  Unfortunately, Pickle & Wotsit may have added a couple of words to their vocabulary that I'd rather they didn't know.

Incident 1 (oops)
2 weeks before we're due to leave, we start to get all the details together (flights, car hire, accommodation) - doing this 2 weeks prior to departure, for us, is the height of organisation.  We're staying at 3 different locations but unfortunately I can't find the details of our first stop.  I scour emails, websites and excel spreadsheets to no avail.  I remember remarking that the company hadn't taken payment at the time I booked and it doesn't take much to persuade me that I probably hadn't booked it all.  Still, I email a few people to see if they have my booking.  No joy.  So, I set about looking for alternatives.  I find a really great holiday resort that is fully booked and I'm gutted that I hadn't identified it first time around.  Anyway, I find an alternative and breath a sigh of relief. 

On our return home, I have a lovely answer machine message from a great holiday resort (namely the one I would have booked if it hadn't been fully booked when I looked at it) saying they hoped everything was okay but as we hadn't shown up for the first night, they were cancelling our booking...  That pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the holiday.  

Incident 2 (minor)
We're going away early on the Tuesday morning and we have to be at work on the Monday so we've booked the cat into the cattery from the Sunday.  We're also visiting my sister, 2 hours away, on the Sunday so we put the cat in the car as we leave to drop her off on the way.  We arrive at the cattery at 10.02 and I am pleased with my punctuality (I hate being late).  Only problem is we are actually 24hrs too early!  Although it would have been a great idea to drop her off on the Sunday, that's not what I'd arranged and the cattery can't take her until the next day.  This is the 3rd time we've tried to drop the cat off at the wrong time!  Hey ho.

Incident 3 (near disaster)
The night before we leave, the grandparents call to say they'll meet us at Gatwick to hand us some shorts they've bought for the boys that they want them to take on their summer holiday.  They live 45 minutes from the airport and we try to dissuade them.  We've packed and, what's more, we've not chosen Denmark for the weather.  But, once my mother-in-law's mind is made up, there's very little you can do to change it.  We concede. 

Our flight is at 08:45 the following morning from Gatwick.  Routeplanner says 1hr 17 minutes (on a clear run).  We need to be there approx 2 hours before take off so we leave at 05:45 (I know, it doesn't quite add up does it?).  Not only that but we haven't thought through which way we need to go around the M25 (we're roughly in the middle at the top and Gatwick is roughly in the middle at the bottom) and, I'm afraid to say, that clockwise wasn't a good choice!  We get stuck in traffic.  As gaps in the traffic permit, husband drives dangerously (and curses people in his way) and I am cross.

We arrive at the airport 35 minutes before take off and the only way we manage to catch the flight is due to my in-law's sweet talking the first class check in desk to fast track us.  (Thank you).  The good news is that I have no time to worry about the flight.

Incident 4 (could have been a lot worse)
We locate our hire car at Copenhagen airport and start our journey to Funen.  We've not gone too far (but far enough to be on a motorway) when we realise the child locks are not on.  We know this, of course, because Wotsit has opened his door.  Cue more swearing from my husband.  Disaster is averted as we're travelling at speed so the door doesn't open fully and I manage to put my hand behind me to keep it closed until we can pull over safely.

Incident 5 (sightly annoying)
We arrive at our first holiday house.  It looks nice (although incredibly close to a high speed train line, hence it's availability so late) but it's deserted with no sign of how we get in.  We wait for a bit before phoning the holiday company who say they sent us an email advising we needed to pick the keys up from a restaurant about 30 minutes away.  Oh yes, it's all coming back to me...

Incident 6 (potential to be the biggest error yet)
The first 10 days have been lovely and we're heading to Copenhagen for a final 3 nights.  We leave our second holiday home, drop the keys at the tourist office and head to the ferry port.  We check in there and we're in the queue waiting to board the ferry.  Which, thankfully, was a few minutes late.  I don't know what reminds me but I turn to my husband and say "I think I've left my purse in the house".  Reasonably tersely husband replies "do you want me to go back?".  I say no.  There's no money in it, I'll cancel my cards and hopefully someone will send it to me as it's a nice purse and has some personal effects in it.  And then I cry.  Monkey's 'children with disabilities' is still in my purse and I fear I might not get it back.  Husband softens and offers to turn back more gently.  It's fine, I sniff.  And then, two minutes later "I think the passports might be next to my purse".  Husband says nothing but pulls out of the queue.

We return to the tourist office, collect the keys, find the purse and the passports (and agree it wasn't completely my fault) and start all over again.

In conclusion:
We're very lucky!  Lots of near misses but no harm done.  Not even any financial penalties.  And we're still talking to each other!  We had a fabulous holiday.  Vikings, castles, Legoland, beautiful beaches, friendly people and beautiful children (most of the time), who (at 2 and 4) walked (mostly willingly) around a large part of Copenhagen, made up for all the incidents. 

Although I am slightly worried I may be losing my mind.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Time flies

It's been 4 years since Monkey died. I still miss him every day. In many ways I can't believe it's been 4 years and in other ways it seems like forever. I wish I could remember him better.  I wish it still hurt more so it felt real rather than a distant memory of someone else's life.

When Monkey died I promised I'd do something one day to honour his memory. Help some families in similar situations who could do with a hand in some way. I hope this doesn't sound like an excuse but I've been busy with Pickle & Wotsit but I've not forgotten that promise and I'm getting closer. 

I'm hoping to resign from my job in the next few weeks. It's probably a bit loopy to throw away a perfectly good job in the current economic climate but I'm going to do it anyway. The plan is to spend more time with Wotsit before he starts school - next September! - to work from home a couple of days a week and to start looking for useful things to do.

I love you Alex Monkey - you're still my inspiration.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Pickle no longer

I'm not sure why Pickle is called Pickle, I can't remember when it started but he's been Pickle for as long as I can remember I'm not sure we can stop but I think we may have to try...

"Mummy, I don't want you to call me Pickle any more"
"Why not darling?"
"I don't want to be called something which is a type of food". 

Fair enough.  And I'm trying Pickle, I really am (with the exception of this blog).  But bear with me because it's quite hard to stop.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Keeping you alive

It's a busy (and noisy) morning in our house, Pickle wants to tell me something.  The radio is on, the kettle is boiling and the dishwasher is being unloaded.  I can't hear him for all the noise.

I reach over to turn off the radio, saying "Just a sec, I'm not good with radios and children".  Pickle says "Yes, you are Mummy, you are good with children.  You're good at looking after us and cuddling us and keeping us alive".

A good observation sweetheart.  If only you know how hard I'm trying.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Watching baby hospital and remembering...

Wishing it could all end well. 
Knowing that it won't. 
Not for everyone.
Watching the new parents desparate to hold their baby. 
Praying that they'll breathe on their own.
And eat on their own.
Suck, swallow, suck, swallow.
Come on, you can do it. 
That the brain scan will be fine.
The fits will be under control.
That they can take their baby home.
Show them off.
Start their life together.
Face the challenges ahead.

I am priviliged to have been there and lucky to have brought my baby home.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Losing monkey

This post isn't about 'losing Monkey' but 'losing monkey'.  We went to the doctors today to sort out Pickle's hayfever medicine and to have booster Hep A injections.  To be brave Pickle wanted to wear his medal (which he got when he ran a mile) and Wotsit wanted to take monkey (Wotsit's not attached to any particularly cuddly toy, he just happened to choose monkey). 

Lower case 'monkey' was bought at Cape Point by Monkey's Aunt and Uncle when he was 11 months old and we visited them when they were living in South Africa for a year.  He has arms that get longer as his legs get shorter and vice versa and velcro so you can attach him to things.  So, whilst Monkey may not necessarily have been attached to monkey, monkey was often attached to him.  He was always in Monkey's bed and came to hospital when Monkey was poorly.  When Monkey died, Sherbet (a purple zebra) and Goodnight Bear were tucked up in his coffin but I couldn't let monkey go.

So, the hayfever appointment was first - all sorted - and we rushed to the post office to post Grandma's birthday card and buy sweets just in case the injections were traumatic.  On the way, we realised we'd left monkey with the nurse.  'Not to worry' I said, 'we'll pick him up when we get back'.  I wasn't overly worried.  However I don't think I appreciated quite how attached I was to monkey.

The surgery was busy when we got back and we didn't get a chance to ask anyone about monkey.  And I started to get anxious.  I thought we'd left him with the nurse but what if we'd dropped him on the way to the post office?  By the time we got to our appointment I think the nurse (a different one) thought I was terrified of injections (I'm not), I was so close to tears.  Anyway, she was lovely.  We told her about monkey and she promised to look for him when she'd done the injections.  I don't think she could have made the link between monkey and the surgery computer system that says 'death of son' - but she really was lovely and I relaxed.

Wotsit went first - he is the bravest.  His injection record remains unblemished; he has never cried, in fact never so much as flinched.  Pickle was next and he wriggled and squirmed and whined a fraction but, when the needle went in, there were no tears.  I was also very brave.

Then the nurse went off to find monkey.  I'm ashamed to say that when she returned him, whilst Wotist reached for him, I intercepted him and whilst she went to get bravery stickers, I gave monkey an enormous hug. 

Sunday, 29 May 2011

A wish list (I don't ask much)

To my husband, I think I have reached some conclusions.

I am happy to move but;
I don't want your commute to increase by very much at all
I don't want to sell our lovely house in a nice area on the off chance that we find something else
I do want to live in a village with a nice community feel
School catchment is important
And so is walking to school - preferably to age 11
I don't want to increase our mortgage by very much at all, or our term
I do want to live in a grown up house or a house that has potential to be a grown up house (which isn't completely out of our reach to actually do one day)
I would also be very happy staying where I am

Oh, and if we do leave I will cry more than you can possibly imagine.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Catching up and overtaking

Today Wotsit is 2 years, 9 months and 1 day old.  He is exactly the same age as Monkey was when he died.  He is so like his big brother in looks and cheekiness but not temper.  Monkey was content and undemanding and I don't believe that was due to his disability; that was his character.  Wotsit is feisty and occassionally stroppy but with a wicked sense of humour.  They both love(d) cuddles. 

Wotsit talks about Monkey now.  He's learnt from Pickle mostly.  He'll tell you Monkey died in a swimming pool.  It took us a while to realise he thought we'd said Monkey had 'dived'.  And he cuddles Monkey's monkey.

So he's caught his biggest brother up in age and is about to overtake.  Irrationally, I'll be checking on him later just to make sure.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Moving on

I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately.  We're thinking of moving and I'm very confused.  The move would bring us closer to husband's family but stretches us financially and we would need to make reasonably major compromises on the size of the house and garden we have.  I know that we can be happy wherever we are but want to do the right thing for us all.

I know that leaving this house will never be easy.  Monkey was only here for 9 months before he died but it's the last place he was.  My memory is not brilliant but at least here there are lots of triggers.  Most of his ashes are buried in the churchyard and I can hear the church bells from my bedroom.  I don't think these are reasons to stay but they do make it hard to leave.  I've always maintained that Monkey is with me but if we leave here I feel a little like I am leaving him behind.  I know I need to look forward but it's tough.

There are lots of other positive reasons to stay too.  We are happy here.  Pickle's school is lovely and future schools are good.  I have friends only 30 minutes away.  It's an ok commute for husband.  We have a study and a utility room! 

So why go?  It would be good to be closer to family.  They'll help us out, maybe babysit occassionally.  When they get a bit older, we'll be on hand to help them too.  We'll spend less time on the M25.  It's probably a nicer area which also has good schools and, in the right spot, the commute should be ok.

I think it boils down to two things keeping us here; Monkey and money.  What to do?  Not sure but feeling quite unsettled by the indecision.  Although I do at least have a legitamate reason to feed my Rightmove addiction.  

Friday, 11 February 2011

I still miss you baby boy

That's it.

I'm home alone for the first time in weeks and I'm having a very self indulgent teary evening.  Pickle & Wotsit are asleep and I am feeling sad,sad,sad.
I love you Monkey

Monday, 10 January 2011

Pickle starts school

Pickle started school last Wednesday.  I didn't expect to be particularly emotional about it.  Pickle has been at nursery since he was 10mths old - I am used to him being independent of me.  Nevertheless, it was a big deal.  He was so excited and I was so aware of how fast he is growing up. 

Day 1:  He barely looked back when I dropped him into the classroom and I was grateful to be able to leave as I was mostly worrying that Wotsit would wee on the floor at any moment.  When I picked him up his very sweet teacher told me 'he's been fine.  He's very confident' then adding 'in a good way.'  Pickle has been really excited about having school dinners but could only tell me that he'd had potato.  His details about the day were all similarly sketchy.  On the walk home he calls at least 3 children Tom.  According to their parents (who I can only assume would know) not one of the children is actually called Tom!

Day 2:  First trip to Breakfast Club and After School Club which I'm not loving quite as much as the school but Pickle is excited and seems happy enough (could be because there's access to food and television).

Day 3:  Pickle asks why he can't have a packed lunch with crisps.  He goes on to tell me that he's not had a hot dinner because the teachers thought he was having a packed lunch.  He's quite insistent on this when I challenge him.  This is not true - I can see the food around his face.  He confesses later that Friday is chip day and that he had beans too (possibly with something more nutritious but I couldn't be sure).  Pickle also tells me about P.E.  In his words 'there was no climbing or running.  I didn't have to put on my new indoor shoes or my p.e. kit.  I just had to take off my socks and lie on the floor and pretend to be a snake going ssss ssss - it was a bit boring!'

Day 4:  Already talking about Star Wars.  Tom is still his friend (I don't think he's invisible but couldn't be sure).  He had a lovely day.  P.E. was outside so he got to wear his new outdoor shoes but he didn't have any jogging bottoms like the other children (I am a bad mother, I missed that bit of the instructions) so had to wear his school trousers becasue it was a bit cold for shorts.  He fell over at 'they call it break time but I call it outside play' and grazed his hand but was very brave in the bath tonight.  And did some clay modelling.

I loved school and hope this is the beginning of Pickle loving it too.  In fact, I liked it so much that I'm hoping that one day soon I can go back and help out a bit...