April 22, 2014

Easter conclusion

This is the first day of the last semester in school, also known as the Summer Semester, which can mean only one thing - it is raining. But it also means that Easter 2014 is behind us. Last night I asked the kids to summarise the holiday, which lead Yon to start talking about chocolate and MineCraft, and Ron to talk about lack of excitement in our life. He is right unfortunately, at the moment our life lacks excitements and adventures and though we have some very good reasons for it they don't change the fact that Easter this year was more of a relaxing at home kind of holiday and less of a barrel of outings and adventures.
We are hoping for some more interesting times in the coming months, but for now the two weeks we spent at home, in spite of Ron's complaining, were precisely what we all needed. It is no secret that we all have been having a rough few months both mentally and physically, and we needed time to lick some wounds, reach some life related conclusions and just rest.
And anyway it's not like we promised him we'd do something and didn't do it, but it's always like this - it doesn't matter what you'd do the kids will find a reason to complain about the one thing you didn't do with them.
So I made him list all the things he wanted to do and we didn't do, which he summed with - none, and then list the things we did do -

We went to the library, and apart from the book he got at school, and the four books he got from the library, he also got two more on the Kindle, so he read seven books this past two and a half weeks.
We had loads of movie nights and movie afternoon and watched a whooping total of ten movies together - Frozen (which we've ended up watching more than once), The Hobbit, both movies (because I got them for Hidai's birthday and the kids love them), Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (because Ron read the book), Amazing Spiderman (because we needed an excuse to watch it), Escape From Planet Earth (because the kids heard it's good. It was ok at best), Planes (really not worth it), Prince of Egypt (to get us in the Passover mood), Man of Steel (do yourself a favour and avoid at all cost) and Muppets Most Wanted (which was hilarious. It was the first time Yon was a delight to go to the cinema with).
We ate at McDonald's twice, and even got a Super Mario figurine and free chips. I think McDonald's is like everyone's secret guilty pleasure. We use the kids as an excuse to eat there, but the amount and verity of people you see in London eating there amazes me every single time.
We went to watch Arsenal play. It was the first time we've all gone together. Actually it was also the first time I got to see a real football match, and it is much better than having to watch one on TV. Unfortunately Yon wasn't really into it, and so it will probably also be the last match we'll see. At least we got to sit in the front row and watch Arsenal win.
We went clothes shopping for the kids, and mostly for Ron, who apparently thinks it is acceptable to keep growing and needs new clothes all the time. I love shopping, I love looking and buying and having new things, so going shopping for me is an enjoyable outing. Unless I have to take the kids. When you are new to parenthood you usually think kids clothes are the best. The joy of standing in the middle of a MotherCare baby clothes department and just looking at all those tiny colourful beautifully soft clothes is still fresh in my mind. It is nothing like walking with a reluctant almost nine years old who only has two modes: everything-is-fine-what-do-you-want-from-me-why-am-I-here or nothing-is-good-enough-I-hate-you-and-all-these-weird-looking-clothes-you-are-forcing-me-to-try-on. And no matter what his mood is, he will always go for the most expensive and usually totally weird looking thing in the store. Because he has Personal Taste. And everyone knows how important it is to let them develop their personal taste.
Yon, to add to the fun, is happy as a clam as long as you let him touch everything in the store. He has a thing for mannequins, but at least is very open to every shirt I pick. As long as I can up-sell it (look it has stripes - you will look like a zebra).
Thankfully Primark, which was our first stop, had heard my cry for help and came out with a football collection (probably has to do more with the World Cup in Brazil and less with me, but still), so it was also our last stop, and the whole thing was practically harmless. Also no mannequins were hurt in the process. Success.
We had family game-time so the kids could hone their Black Jack skills (a very important skill, and a chance for me to explain casino etiquette), Ron could beat me in a Memory Game marathon and Yon could beat both of us at Uno. Seriously that child has the best luck I have ever seen. It's scary.
We went to Moorfields Hospital. Granted most people won't call that an outing, and true it went a lot worse than expected, but Yon did get new glasses out of it. He chose Purple. We convinced him deep blue and dark purple are the same because Hidai was against real purple glasses. I said he should go for it, after all we get new ones every six months or less.
We celebrated Passover and Easter. The Easter bunny was very generous this year and even got us some proper grownup chocolate from Hotel Chocolate that we didn't even have to share with the kids. For the first time ever we also had an egg hunt (inside the house, but seeing as the boys are the worst seekers in the whole wide world, they still found it hard).

It took Ron awhile to list all this, and he needed some help along the way. Especially as all he could list at the beginning was "we had lots of electronics-time", which he did though he conveniently forgot to list the new games he got.
When he finished it all he stopped, looked at us, and concluded the holiday with the never to be forgotten saying - ok then, I am only half-complaining.
What a proud moment.

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April 16, 2014

The Arsenal experience

This is the story of our family outing to watch last night's Arsenal football match.
Hidai and Ron are big Arsenal fans and so they try to go to as many matches as they manages, but Yon and I have never been to a real match before because - a) football watching is an expensive hobby, b) Yon isn't very into the whole football thing (unlike me of course. Not), c)taking a partially blind and very sensitive to noise child to a football arena with 65,000 people yelling all the time is not so easy. But it was part of my UK Bucket List, and as it is a big part of Ron's life, I really wanted to have a chance to go with him to a match once. So I decided to research the thing, and found Arsenal's disability scheme, which were little to no help and after some very unpleasant emails we managed to find some help through the very nice lady who runs our building's resident association and has lots of connections in Arsenal, and we managed to get 4 tickets in the front row of the family area to the match against West Ham.
Then, because this is my life, they moved the match. And instead of an early afternoon weekend match, they placed it bang on the day of Yon's hospital visit.
Ok, we thought to ourselves, after all last time the doctors said everything is static, and we are not anticipating any problems, so it should have been a short and relatively easy visit.
Then, because it is my life, the test did not go as planned, and of course they had to put the drops in, and of course they had to fit him with mew glasses, and of course we were the last to leave the hospital and everyone were exhausted.
Not the best odds for an enjoyable match.
But we went anyway, and because my hand is not in a good shape, this is going to be more of a photo post to try and answer the question - how do you take a partially sighted child to a football match?
On the way to the stadium. Look at our team spirit with the scarves! We should have also brought gloves and hats, it was that cold by the end of the match...

We arrived quite early and had time to take some pre-match excitement photos.

Yon really enjoyed the photo-op.

Look at me in my front row seat! We were seated right behind all the photographers. You wouldn't believe their cameras! It wasn't the best view of the match as my two seasoned supporters informed me, and we weren't lucky enough to have a corner in our corner, but I thought it's really exciting to sit  there, and I got to see my favourite player -  SzczÄ™sny up close so what do I care? 
This is how close to the players we were. Not the best photo quality, but by this time I had a Yon trying to kick me while "sleeping" on half my body.

At half time, after it was 1:1, Ron agreed to be a bit happy (there were a few shaky moments when we were down 1:0 where I feared for my boys), so I took a photo of him before Arsenal loose and he will be sad again (they didn't, but you never know with them).

The stadium lights interrupted a bit, but still, Hidai is cute :)

And lastly, we asked the lovely security guy who sat with us to take a photo of all of us.

Then the second half started, and this is how Yon spent it - curled up under both of our scarves and with his hands on his ears because of the noise. Hidai and Ron said it was a lot less noisy then usual because we were in the front row, but it was too much for Yon.

And in the end he fell asleep and missed the last goal of the match.
Lesson learned - Yon and football don't mix.
But I had a great time, and got to strike off an item from my bucket list!
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April 14, 2014

Freedom and hope

When I was a really young mum (and also very young) the one sentence I hated most (fine, fine, maybe not most, but it was definitely top five. I really had lots of issues then) was "enjoy every day, because time goes by so fast". Well, let me tell you the truth - it didn't. It moved, as time usually moves - in slow, agonisingly slow motion. Each hour dragging on for days, each day into months. I felt each and every moments of those early years, and I can't look back and say that enjoyment was what comes to mind as first thought. Like I said, I had issues. But when my tiny baby looked up at me and said - It's less than a month to my birthday, here is my wish-list. Do you need me to go over it with you? - I got what those well-meaning souls were talking about. My baby is nine in less than a month (and yes, I did need some explaining on the list). Two months after that my teeny tiny baby is five. And I have no idea where the time has gone.
My babies at the library
We have a long standing discussion with my parents about what the most important thing in life is, and for us it's always been time. You can't turn back the clock and you can't bring back even one minute you lost. Time, in many regards, is the one thing money can't buy. And lately it has been slipping through my fingers.
Life around here at the moment is not what you might call... Good. Actually it's rather rubbish. We are having some issues with Hidai's work, and with him being the only one actually in charge of putting money in the bank (I know it's a shocker but blogging really isn't the high paying job the rumours say it is) it has put a strain on the last couple of months. I did not react well. I like to think that people who don't know me very well think I am one of those composed and very much together people. One of those people who deal with every bump and disaster in a calm, collected and casual manner. I like to think that because in reality I am not one of those people at all. I am one of those have an anxiety attack, cry in the bathroom, and don't leave the house people. When the going get tough, and it's time for the tough to get going, I sit under a table with a box of chocolates. I know it's pathetic, and it is also why I haven't written in three weeks. I couldn't read or write or talk to anyone (I really am sorry, all the people I've ignored). I didn't bake or knit or even took photos. I wasn't on my computer other than to play Candy Crush. Things got so bad I didn't even manage to keep the laundry schedule. I couldn't tell you what was going on, because honestly I didn't think anyone would care. After all, I have already written about my anxiety attack once, and how much self-pity can anyone really stand? And if I am completely honest here, the main reason I didn't write is because I was, and still am, ashamed. I am so very very ashamed that I fell apart. I should have reacted better, I should have been stronger, I should have weathered the storm. I didn't, and still don't. But I figured after three weeks of not writing or communicating with anyone the only readers I have left are my parents, who already know all that so writing it makes no difference.
depression chocolate doesn't have to be bad chocolate
In order to write something coherent I have been sitting here for the last few hours trying to piece together the last couple of months, and all I get is a blur of Candy Crush, chocolate and tears. And it makes me angry, and even more ashamed. Because I've lost time. I've lost two months to oblivion and fear. I have lost holidays, birthdays, friends, time with the kids. I have let fear and anxiety and depression rule my life.
Hidai's birthday was shockingly bad
And I am more ashamed still, because I have no idea how to climb out of the black hole in which I find myself. I am not sure I am strong enough. And I feel small and sad and pathetic. I know it could be worse, I know that for a lot of people it is. I know the thought of the prospect of Hidai having no job for awhile shouldn't reduce me to this, and it makes me even more pathetic. So I decided to write, because no one will read anyway, and because to me it is a nightmare with one shoe dropping after the other and no breathing space, and because there are many shades of black, and this is mine.
Today is Passover Eve. Passover is one of the biggest holidays for Jewish people (and even has the movie - Prince of Egypt - to prove it). It is not one of my favourite holidays (the food isn't all that great with the whole "no flour" thing), but this year it makes me sad. It makes me sad and lonely that we are all alone, that I can't cook or bake (thanks to the fact that my hands are in a very bad shape. Because when it rains it pours), that I have lost another moment I shouldn't have.
Passover has a whole biblical story, as any serious holiday should, and obviously someone tried to kill the Jews, as in every single one of our holidays, and it is the one holiday where you really can't make the story child-friendly no matter how much you try (too many dead and abandoned kids in there). But it also has one of the most important messages, if not the most important, of all our holidays. Because Passover is all about escaping slavery. Of every type. For me, it's a slavery to my demons, to my fears and anxiety.
Passover is about freedom and hope. The two things I need more than anything right now, and the two things I just can't seem to reach.
We won't be having a proper Passover dinner this year, I could't bring myself to do that, both physically and mentally (think Christmas-meal size of dinner, than double it). But I figured baby steps are better than no steps, and bought some chocolate and wine.
So happy Passover everyone, here is to freedom and hope.
And to believing that miracles can really happen.

Picture from Here
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