#oneword Me, myself and I

Could you describe yourself in one word?  It's a challenge doing the rounds right now - I found it over at Steph Curtis' gorgeous blog Steph's Two Girls, and I just couldn't pass it by ....

Awkward.  Because I don't fit in anywhere.  Grew up in Wales, born in England and living in Ireland.

Awkward socially.  Networking events are the stuff of nightmares to me.  In fact any new social situation is very stressful to me.

Awkward. When I realise I've completely misjudged the type of comment that is expected on a Facebook update or a blog post.

Awkward politically.  I don't know who to vote for, but I can't just leave things go if I don't agree with them.  I'm that awkward mum you see marching down O'Connell Street against cuts to this and levies on that.

Awkward. Words come out wrong and people don't forget.  When I know I've said the wrong thing and try and cover it up and just make things worse.

Awkward. When I crash into things. Worse when sleep-deprived.

Awkward-looking from some angles with my gigantic nose, (my son's words), myopia, frizzy hair and egg-shaped head. Yes, I would scare small children, without make-up and my GHD!

So there you have it, I wonder what your #oneword would be?

Silent Sunday 22.9.13

Back to the future with Tesco on-line shopping

The weekly shop used to fun when Smiley enjoyed it, but I guess even special needs teens get fed up with going to Tesco eventually.  So when Tesco offered me €50 to spend if I tried out their on-line shopping offer, I couldn't refuse!

And I was curious to see what it would be like.  Because I've done it before.

Long, long ago - well about 2001 - I used to shop on-line as the combination of small children, special needs and sickness meant that leaving the house sometimes proved impossible.  It was an interesting experience in those days.  Dial up internet meant you could get half the washing up done while waiting for a page to load.  And then there was the dreaded substitution dilemma:  If something wasn't available you were asked to give permission for it to be substituted for something 'similar'.  This was always worrying.  If you didn't tick the box, there was a chance that your shopping basket would be missing something essential.  If you did, what arrived was very much pot luck.  And when you have a child with special needs, the wrong brand will not do at all...

But then I got out of the habit.  These days I have my shopping list on my phone, in the order that everything is laid out in the store, and I fly round in about half and hour.  But that still involves finding time to get out when the kids are not around, locking up the house, driving there, loading and unloading, which all adds on at least another half hour, so perhaps on-line shopping would give me some badly needed spare time.

So this is how it went...

Step One: Make sure the kids are occupied.  Check.

Step Two: Register?  Nope, Tesco.ie remembered my very old email and password, so that's one thing I didn't have to do.

Step Three: Book delivery slot.  Not sure why you have to do this first, it's really piles on the pressure to finish the shopping.

Step Four: Start shopping.  This was fairly straightforward.  I just used the list on my phone and typed in the products one at a time - I think they will be there for my next shop, saving even more time.

What didn't work:  

1. Typing in 'cheese' is a very bad idea as there are too many brands to choose from.  So I found that tiresome.
2. Some products were very hard to locate - sometimes you need to know the exact name, difficult if you'd thrown out the packaging of the old one.
3. I completely failed to find some of our staples such as rice milk, that we buy every week.
4. I also shop at Tesco because I can get almost everything else there too - paper for the printer, money from the ATM, clothes, prescriptions, and these are not available from the on-line store.
5. And finally, I really hated the sneaky inclusion of Verified by Visa at the end of the shopping process!

The delivery was due the next day and I began to get anxious as the deadline loomed.  Then with 10 minutes to go, I saw this through the hall door:

Of course I'd not given any thought as to what would happen when the shopping did arrive.  So I had to quickly clear a space on the worktop, yes shoot me, I'd been doing stuff with the kids instead of clearing the kitchen!  And please don't criticise my children's choice of products...I have to get vitamin C into them somehow!

The Verdict

Ordering took about 30 minutes, everything on the order arrived, and was brought in quickly and efficiently, and the fresh stuff had distant use-by dates, so that we had food for the entire week.   Would I use it again?  Definitely. But not every week.

Customer Offer

Tesco are offering €20 off when you spend €60 or more on your first online grocery shop at Tesco.ie.  Details as follows:
URL: www.tesco.ie/groceries
eCoupon code: RXXF4NC
Offer end date: 10th October 2013
Full terms and conditions can be found at www.tesco.ie/groceries


As mentioned above, Tesco gave me a €50 allowance to spend to review their on-line shopping experience.  All opinions are my own.

Apologies from a very bad blogger

You have all been so lovely, reading, commenting, and sharing over the past couple of weeks and I have failed to respond.

I have been reading. But mostly that is all.

Foolishly I imagined that my son going to secondary school would free up lots of extra time.

And it did for a few days.

Then things conspired to fill up the time.

I am writing this as I oversee the.....well actually we won't go there in case you're eating dinner. Which I haven't cooked yet, so it will be toast again.

I just don't know how to free up more time.

Hair washing has been cut to once a week.

I've given up using washing up gloves to save the time it takes to put them on and off.

I'd give up the job I love, except I'd be labelled a scrounger once again.

Do I give up sleep? Oh wait, the insomnia fairy is already a regular visitor at this house.

Almost everything else that I do has some benefit for the children. Or my sanity, and that benefits the children too.

So I will reply to all your lovely comments and I will drop by and return the favour.

I'm just not sure when xx

Domestic violence, mothers, children and autism

It's been a horrible week in the autism community, with an outpouring of grief, anger and judgement after the dreadful events in the US, where a mother tried to kill her autistic daughter and herself.  No-one should ever do that to a child, and it is good to hear that 14 year old Issy seems to be on the road to recovery.

Because of my job, I found myself reading through article after article condemning this mother, and many other mothers too.  Only a few have mentioned that Issy had been violent towards her mother, even landing her in hospital.

Some children can be aggressive and even violent towards their parents: sometimes this is due to being overwhelmed or frustrated, or unable to communicate what is wrong in any other way.   But if you have a child who is violent, especially if he or she is an autistic child, the reaction from certain sections of the autistic community seems to be that as a parent you should just put up with it.  If you can't cope, it is your fault for being a sub-standard parent.   If you have no services, if you have no good advice, it doesn't matter.  It's still your fault if you can't cope with being battered by the child that you adore.

Worse, many commentators expect mothers to instinctively know how to help their autistic children.  So it's the mother's fault if they are getting battered, and they are also failing their child if they can't find the cause and help their child.

It is very different if the violent person in the household is the woman's partner.  And I don't fully understand why.

Women who live with partners who are abusive or violent are treated with compassion, they are told that it is never their fault, and encouraged to get help, or leave if the situation gets too bad.

Parents have even sought and been granted safety and barring orders against adult children who are violent, and they are not usually criticised either.

When there violence in a household, help is needed.  No matter why it is happening or who is involved.  

You see, I do not believe that women lose the right to be human beings when they become mothers.  They do not stop feeling physical, mental and emotional pain.  They need help if their children are violent.  And if they get that help, then they can help their children too.  And that should save lives.

Isn't that what we all want?

Families in crisis in Ireland could try calling The Samaritans on 1850 60 90 90

Further reading:

Emma's Hope Book is asking what help children and families need when there is violence in the household.

The Tumultuous Truth points out that the reaction to this crime could result in less families looking for help, for fear of being judged.

yetanotherlefty provides emergency numbers for children and their families living in the UK

paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog provides emergency numbers for children and their  families living in the US

If anyone has any more links or a list of emergency numbers for families in crisis in Ireland I will gladly add them to this post.

The rich don't carry change on Rhode Island

Apparently they give it back at the till.....

When Angel returned from her volunteering trip to Tanzania last year she overflowed with little observations about life in Africa.  And it was the same this summer after 11 weeks in the US.

She left at the end of May with a group of friends on a J-1 Visa - which gives college students the opportunity to experience life in the US, and work there for a few months.  They rented a house in Newport, Rhode Island, which is a summer playground for millionaires.  

Jobs were easy to obtain - and easy to lose too.  Angel worked in a T-shirt shop, and saw lots of hirings and firings during her brief employment there.  But perhaps that's not always a bad thing either.  The long term employees entertained themselves by telling tall tales and escapades, to whoever would listen, from serious internet shopping habits, to unreal sporting achievements - 60ft cliff jumps anyone?  Perhaps that's what happens when you have to spend 50 hours a week folding T shirts for a living and have a new audience of young Irish students to impress every summer...

They didn't spend the whole time working though, oh no!

And the millionaires seemed delighted to invite a gaggle of young Irish girls to all their parties, especially on the 4th July!

Food became a major obsession and it was only a few weeks before she began asking for a roast chicken dinner on her return, and a trip to the supermarket to stock up on healthy foods, as she explains.

"I can understand why so many people are obese in the US - it's much cheaper and easier to buy a large slice of pizza for a dollar than a selection of vegetables to make a salad.  And with 30 cans of coke for a fiver, that was what most people drank as the tap water wasn't safe, and bottled water was more expensive."

Everyone drank, drove and smoked weed apparently, which is not illegal in Rhode Island, or many other States.  Yet being caught drinking on the street could get you into huge trouble.  It all seemed very inconsistent to Irish eyes.

She and a friend spent their last week exploring Boston and New York.  She LOVED New York, especially the attitude where one look says it all: You want MORE ketchup?  They stayed in a hostel in Manhattan, basic but pricey.  Not much privacy either, with just partitions between the cell-like rooms.  Sleeping could be difficult especially if someone had their iPod speakers set to maximum.  One night, Angel had had enough.  She strode down towards the noise, and announced that it was past 10pm, which meant that playing loud music was against the rules.  The sound was instantly extinguished.  Wow!  What has happened to my quiet shy girl? Something good I think!

The friends also found time to visit Ground Zero and Yankee Stadium.

And her verdict on the J1 Visa?  Well every student should do it if they can...and it might make you appreciate home more as well.  Just like Angel, you might miss the fashion, the food, and the history and culture in Europe, so that's where she's planning to head next summer...

Bye bye NYC!

I took a bath today

It wasn't planned.

One child was watching a video, another on his laptop.

The work was done, the roast dinner cancelled.

An unexpected gap in my day.

No-one needed me.

Perhaps I needed myself?

I've been told to take care of myself.

To do more for myself.

So I heated the water.

Lit the candles.

Filled the tub.

And sank under the bubbles.

The door ajar.

Just in case.

It's only been four years.

(but I do take a shower, you know).

I took a bath today.

It was bliss.