Fings wot start wiv F, and other reasons for blog-writing tardiness

OK, I’ve procrastinated enough this week. Every day I have sat down with the full intention of writing something only to suffer from an attack of ADOS – ‘Attention Defici…Oooooh, shiny’ and before I have had a chance to drag myself back on course it has been time to retreat to the bedroom with some diabolical reality TV and a bottle of Co-Op’s finest Vino Collapso.

The wonderful, hilarious and annoyingly talented @betamother suggested (via Twitter, because we are dahn wiv deh kidz and all that), with her usual brilliance, that I blog about the five reasons why I have not written my blog this week. OK, she said ten. She’s wordier than I am. And not half so lazy. I have officially ‘misread’ her tweet as five reasons. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. I highly expect this to become a recurrent theme.

(Speaking of themes, this most definitely needs accompaniment, click here for the perfect soundtrack.)

Number 5

Crafting. Yes, you read that right. ‘Crafting’. I’ve gone all Kirstie Allsopp again in an attempt to save a bit of money this Christmas, and have lovingly botched presents for my sister, my mum and my dad. Obviously, I can’t show you pictures of my divine creations as my crafting skills would leave you so jealous of my talents that you’d never read my blog again, and also because I don’t want to shatter their belief in Father Christmas.

Number 4

Panicking about Christmas.

This is self explanatory. I’ve done it every year since I became an adult. It started off as a mild wibble around mid November which was quickly calmed with an afternoon of grabbing random items off shelves in John Lewis. Since having the children, however, the panic starts to rise around the first week of July, at roughly the same time as I realise we’re not going to have a summer again. It means that I have plenty of rainy summer days to browse Amazon and buy gifts in a thoughtful and financially sensible manner. You know, like a rational person. OK, a rational person who is allergic to real shops.

This year, somehow, I woke up in the middle of October and realised that it was no longer July, nor had it been July for quite a few months. A quick check of the bank balance then had me trying to work out how to split £2.73 twelve ways. Believe me, it’s not easy.

See this? This is Dante's seventh circle of Hell.

See this? This is Dante’s seventh circle of Hell.

It’s getting there. I completed a ten minute smash-and-grab for the children last Saturday whilst I tried to block out the terrible knowledge that their dad had taken them to McDonalds (as it was cheaper than Sainsburys cafe, AND THEY GET A TOY). Needs must when the devil drives, and all that.

Number 3

Trying to knock some form of education into Captain Calamity

At least this has been great fun. All things considered, we’ve had an excellent week, despite an intial frustrating setback when I discovered that his speech and language therapy will stop next week (after just five sessions), and he will get added to another list for another block, with a different therapist as his adored Kelly is leaving the clinic. Add to this the fact that his keyworker at nursery is on sick-leave for the foreseeable future and he currently has two part-time temporary keyworkers; and you will see why I have really decided to take things into my own hands as far as some of the things he struggles with are concerned.

We are concentrating primarily on ‘maths’ (which he is great at, but I’m including it as a way of helping him gain confidence), literacy, communication and fine motor skills. This involves copious amounts of plasticine, glue, scrap paper, magazines, board games, flour and patience.

What we did this week.

What we did this week.

This week we have been talking about Winter, and Christmas. We have been on a squirrel-spotting nature walk, trips to the shops on the bus, and to the library. We have baked biscuits and washed up. We have fed, and watched, the birds. We have danced and sung songs. We have done mazes, and dot-to-dots, and counting, and made our family from plasticine. We have collected and stuck things (or photos of things) beginning with F (for Fin, of course) onto cardboard. We have been Gruffalo children, and aliens, and fish in the sea, and dogs, and Dr Finlay and his patient. For a while, my right leg was the door to Fin’s fire engine.

We’ve had fun.

Number 2

Masterchef: The Professionals, and I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

There is no excuse for this. At all. None whatsoever. But it does give me the perfect excuse to post this.

Number 1

Wine. (Deserved. Really. No…really…)


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Six now forever and ever

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

AA Milne – The End, from ‘Now We Are Six’

On the way home from Hamilton on the bus this morning, I glanced at my phone and saw it was 11.00am. I grabbed hold of Fin’s hood, pulled him to me, and held him close.

At 11.00 am today, David and Angela Beggan were preparing to bury their son, Caden. Caden was six.

Caden had contracted meningococcal septicaemia. The illness took away his legs, his left hand and, last Tuesday, his life.

I didn’t know the Beggan family personally. I was one of the 40,000 plus Facebook followers who checked, daily, for updates from the family on this beautiful, brown-eyed boy’s condition on Caden’s Facebook page. His father, David, is clearly a man of incredible, unwaivering faith and his updates, though often extremely harrowing, brought a strange sense of comfort and calm to those who read his words.

Each day, the words ‘Caden is alive’, and your heart would leap just a little.

He was getting better, it seemed. I could picture him returning to school one day, with that awe-inspiring resilience that children show, adapting to his new life, having little idea of how many people had watched his journey and prayed for him and his family.

Then, on Tuesday:

Dear friends,

Caden Riley Beggan
Born 29th September, 2006
Died 20th November, 2012
. . . in Mummy and Daddy’s arms.

Thank you for all your support.

Caden is alive forevermore . . .

Unexpectedly, I went to pieces. I have cried for Caden every day since. I cried on the bus home this morning when I held Fin close. I am crying now.

This little boy may not have lived long; but he has left a lasting legacy. Everyone I speak to has said how much they have revisited their relationship with their own children. We all want to be the best parent we can be, but I realised – with no small degree of horror and shame – how many times I have raised my voice, have scolded without hearing the whole story, have not ‘had time’ to listen to my children’s chattering stories, have said ‘yes, we’ll do that later’ or ‘we will do that tomorrow’.

Sometimes, tomorrow is too late.

So I cry. For Caden. For David and Angela. For Caden’s brothers, Declan and Ethan, and for all his family and friends. I cry also for my own children, and all those times when we did nothing when we could have been doing something. For missed hugs and kisses, and tickles, and laughter.

Thank you, Caden, for bringing me to my senses.

Good night. God bless.

Caden’s school, Ladywell Primary in Motherwell, have released ‘O Holy Night’ as a tribute to Caden, with 90% of the proceeds going to Meningitis Research. You can download it for just 79p here.

You can find out more about meningitis, including meningococcal septicaemia and what to look out for here.

Catching up is hard to do…

I know. I KNOW. I promised myself that I would keep this blog more up to date than any of my last ones.

Once again I have failed. I’m not making any more promises. I’m just going to blame the fact that I spend more time on my all-singing, all-dancing phone (the one with the world’s smallest and most infuriating touchpad) now than I do on the laptop and, of course, that I am just too jolly important and busy to be sitting on my slab in front of the laptop screen all day.

In true beta-mother style, I shall instead bring you up to date using the medium of photography. It’s quicker, doesn’t involve spelling, and has the advantage of you, dear reader, not having to trawl through paragraphs of my self-indulgent text.

I will, however, return soon, when I shall regale you with tales of wild children, crafting, scrimping, being forty, trundling around the countryside, not growing vegetables, Scarlet Fever and the joys of Streptococcus, and whatever else happens to pop into my head.

What we have been doing