Saturday, 24 April 2010

Severine takes her leave of Colchester

Life has been hectic in the best of ways since my last post.
Severine came home for her final weekend with us before beginning her new job in Henley-on-Thames (Woo hoo! She got a job! And a good one!)
In an attempt to fill the days with all our favourite things we crammed a lot in, much of it food related.

We fed the ducks in Lexden Park.

We did lots of colouring in various cafes and restaurants.

We went to Mersea in the van and had an amazing picnic.

With yummy rye bread and a seafood platter from The Oyster Bar.

Frank even tried to perfect his most natural of smiles and I was very proud of him for trying lots of the fish that he hadn't tried before. He tends to be quite stuck on the foods he loves and won't consider variations but today he really went for it.

On the diabetes front we got it all a bit wrong yesterday and he went to bed at 22.3 and woke at 14.2. Horrendous numbers but we really can't risk injecting more at night than we already have as he is so young and is possibly still "honeymooning" and producing a bit of his own insulin, not a lot but enough to bring on a hypo. The results of a nighttime hypo are too awful to imagine whereas a daytime one can be seen and dealt with.

However, with seafood, sandcastle building and Mummy and Daddy paying massively close attention today we have seen a whole day of great numbers. And for dinner this evening, none of us were very hungry so we all shared a large pate of sliced up fruit. The great aspect of the increase in injections is the flexibility of just letting a hungry boy eat what he wants and injecting accordingly.
He even had a small cup of homemade hot chocolate for his bedtime snack (semi-skimmed milk, a dash of double cream and Green & Blacks Maya Gold chocolate) and it was all accounted for in his injection.

Don't get me wrong, diabetes and I will never be friends, but sometimes we seem to co-exist in a fluid way. I like these days, things make a bit of sense and the hard work seems to be paying off.

My boy is learning about carbs and injections and we are enjoying a positive and co-operative phase.
My, how I love him, the hard work is sooooo worth it.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Bell Jar

Ho hum.

It's a strange world this one of blogging and being determinedly positive.
My last blog was positive and informative about our family day out. All went great.
Except ...

That evening I fell asleep at ten and woke at eleven feeling very sad.
I cried, big heaving sobs for two hours (note to self: this can alarm the husband somewhat!).
I cried like someone had died.

I know how lucky I am. I know I am loved. But the overwhelming feeling was that this is not who I was meant to be at 43 years of age.
Maybe I had died. The "me" that I imagined I was going to be.

I wasn't meant to be the Mum with the diabetic child. That was someone else. Someone who maybe fed their child cola and chicken nuggets from birth. Not me. Just not me.

All I had been led to believe of cause and effect means nothing. Work hard and you'll get a good job, a home, money and a comfortable life. Eat well and you'll be healthy. Breastfeed your baby and give them the best, organic most amazingly right-on food you can and you will give them the best chance of a healthy life.


Life is such a lottery and it all seems to boil down to HOW you react to the cards you are dealt. (I am aware I am crazily mixing metaphors here but hey it's a dodgy, self-indulgent post anyway).

I generally react in a positive and balanced way.

But then I have days of blips where I am inside The Bell Jar, looking out, not really participating but just going through the motions.

I feel ridiculous writing about this. It feels over indulgent in the face of what Frank deals with every day.
Then my wonderful friend Anne texted me yesterday. She had been over with her family on Sunday for brunch and hanging out in the garden. Her text told me I was beautiful and that I was clearly doing a great job with Frank.

In that moment I felt so loved. My hard work and worry validated by this wonderful friend of mine that I met on my very first day at University at the tender age of 18 and who has, luckily, moved to live near me.

My friend that can see what my life now is and is able to buoy me up when she sees the truth in my eyes.

Some people just take away that edge of loneliness you get as a parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes.
Because it is isolating at times. Not many people understand the issues we are dealing with all day, every day, all night, every night.
Parents with the same issues do and so, sometimes, do others.
Maybe I need to be more open to letting others give me respite and solace and be less insular. They may not know exactly what we are going through but they can empathise and show love.
And boy, oh boy, does that help.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Mistley Place Park

Many people will go a long way for a Full English.
This is not to be confused with a Full Monty, believe me.
Today we drove out to Mistley on the Stour estuary to Mistley Place Park, a very much homespun and rather ragged at the edges, animal sanctuary.
All manner of animals live there and spend time milling around together.

It has a cafe where a pretty good Full English Breakfast can be had. The restorative power of this is not to be underestimated when one has small children who wake early. We met up with some friends and their children and had a great time climbing on hay bales, sitting on tractors,

admiring Indian Runner ducks (one of may favourite kinds of duck),

climbing on old tree trunks,

and wondering just where the bacon in our breakfasts had come from...

It is a lovely place. A slice of normality in a sometimes overly-homogenised world.

Frank had a ball.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Tomato Soup (to keep the vampires away)

I enjoyed some kitchen time today making this yummy tomato soup. The recipe was from a new TV series hosted and written by Sophie Dahl, who is now making a positive name for herself in the UK with her food writing.

All the recipes in the shows have been just soooo tasty and I went for the soup today as I really wanted the strong flavours. Tomatoes are out of season but these were from Spain, which being Europe still counts as almost local (ahem, she clears her throat with a shifty look).

Lots of tomatoes (2kg!), two heads of garlic (Holy Moly), thyme from the garden, red onion and olive oil. Maldon salt (very local for us, so lets me off the hook with the tomatoes) and black pepper.

All roasted for 40 minutes in a medium hot oven. Let it cool a bit then blend until smooth. Add a dash of Worcester sauce and balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar. Warm through.

I then added a dollop (love that word) of creme fraiche and lots of black pepper.
I photographed it well but forgot to notice the big chip on the side of the bowl!
Ah me, shabby chic without even trying...

It was very very tasty and so very, very garlicky. Frank won't eat tomatoes or soup at the moment (it's a three year old thing) so I didn't even have to work out the carbs.

Check out the full recipe at and look for Delicious Miss Dahl and tomato soup.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Strange Fruit : Bob the Builder Style

An afternoon spent in the garden today, digging and rolling and telling all the machines it was "action stations". This I have to declare in my best Bob voice before they will deign to come to my aid.
Frank was helping me to prepare the ground for a new herb bed and then he took a break from digging and rolling to decorate our little quince tree with special fruit! It really made me smile.

His blood sugar has been steady these past couple of days after a rather frightening 4am reading of 4.0 two nights ago.
I had woken and felt uneasy.
No idea why but I felt compelled to test.
I have written before about trusting your gut feelings and they proved right again.
Had I not tested he would have been hypoing (well, it's a verb in this house!) quite quickly.

As it was the problem was averted but as you can all imagine, restful sleep can be elusive with this bad sprite in the house.
However, I am constantly amazed at all our resilience. I have aged so much over the past eighteen months (we love using the mad phrase " Some of us aren't getting any younger" in this house. Andrew was at a meeting once when someone said it and he just remembered how crazy it was. As though some of us have halted time and aren't getting any older).
There is something in the life force of this boy, who is so small but fills a room with his personality and presence that makes me live in the moment.
With all the myriad issues we may have to face in the future,
I am thankful for that.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

30 Days of Beauty : 13 : A morning at the farm

Our Easter weekend began with an Open Day at Garr House Farm in Great Wigborough. We joined a farm tour and even saw a piglet being born. The enormous sow just shuddered a little and out it came, her fifteenth baby. She was very laid back about the whole thing and she has my undying admiration for that!
Frank collected some eggs from these very inquisitive chickens. He got a bit overwhelmed at one point and cried over having to wash his wellies in the bowl. See that little tear on his beautiful cheek? My sad boy. Lots of cuddles and reassurance sorted him out in no time.
Daddy held him up high enough to see the sheep.He stroked a lamb.And this row of horseshoes wished us a lucky year with our little family and with our dealings with Type 1 Diabetes.

We need it.

Friday, 2 April 2010


I offer up my excuses for not blogging much last week.
It began with my first attempt at felting (a nod here to Amanda at for her advice and materials). Frank was my willing helper for, oh, about three seconds, before being happier playing with his trains and watching me get on with the job. I ended up with eight eggs and left them to dry on a smiley Moomin towel.
Here they all are.

Lots of mistakes and odd bits hanging off them but I was inordinately proud of my first attempts. I was also in awe of anyone that manages to do this regularly. It took me ages!
A few days later I cut them open, removed the plastic eggs from inside and sewed blanket stitch around the openings to make them look pretty.
I do believe I made them too thick. They look like something from the Little Shop of Horrors!! Although I quite like that about them.
After eggs came the puppets to go with one of our favourite stories "Sharing a Shell" by Julia Donaldson (of Gruffalo fame) and illustrated by Lydia Monks, whose illustrations I love.

We made bread by hand, kneading it and plaiting it. It is a granary wholewheat mix and could sink a ship!
Just the way I like it after years spent in Germany and loving the dark heavy breads out there.

Then I finished a wall tidy I had been making for Frank's room as well as a banner. Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule (check her out at and her fab book "Handmade Home" I used old blankets and material from scraps already here at home, aside from the cute grizzly bear material which was a patchwork scrap from a shop in town.

Frank's room was also newly painted and looks so much fresher and warmer. Doing the painting whilst he was at pre-school was fun, especially with the dulcet tones of the wonderful Tony Hillerman reading three of his Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn novels to me as I painted. Wonderful stuff!
Next week will be quieter and involve some good walks and fresh air.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

30 Days of Beauty : 12 : Comfort

It is 8:45pm.
Frank is chatting away to himself upstairs.
Budd is out having dinner.
I am alone after a day spent dealing with a migraine. I don't get headaches as such but had flashing jagged lights before my eyes all morning today and have felt like my brain is too big for my skull. This must be a migraine as my brain is really quite small, I'm sure.
So, this is dinner and the comforting hour I have planned.
Porridge made with oats and oat milk. Stewed dried apricots and maple syrup. A cup pf Sleep Easy tea (oh, well, if I must!), Green Parent magazine and in case any of you thought I was in any way a purist Master Chef and then Have I Got News for You on TV. The knitting will be out once the oats have been applied to my face.
Bliss ...
I will be back tomorrow with tales of my week, which has been eventful and full of creative times. Frank and I made puppets, I made felted eggs, I decorated Frank's bedroom, I sewed and knitted and made bread too. We also had two hypos to deal with in two hours on one day. What a humdinger of a week. Not a dull moment and I'll share the tales and pictures this weekend.