Finding my happy place (again)

The return to school nearly didn't happen, and I prematurely posted on Twitter when I thought that only one of my teenagers was going to be up in time for the bus. But I was wrong footed once again, and after an emotionally exhausting summer, I was able to take a morning off. And I did it properly. Unlike some carers, I cannot relax with a cup of tea at my kitchen table, in my place of work, surrounded by jobs to be done. I have to get out of the house, and as I write this I'm sipping coffee and looking out at the wide skies of north county Dublin.

I've explored most of the seaside villages within easy reach, and there's one that keeps calling me back. Perhaps there's echoes of Wexford and the place that I lost, perhaps I've finally found a new haven. But it seems that going for long walk around this village helps me to straighten out my thoughts and rein in my emotions.

It seems so far from the noise and smells and urgency of the busy city, just the smell of salt and seaweed and the misty mountains of Mourne blue grey on the horizon.

Two hours in, and the phone is silent. I'll take today and worry about tomorrow when it comes around.

For now I'm in a happy place.

A summer feast on Netflix

Netflix is still beating the telly by a mile, but during the busy summer months none of the women in the house have spent much time in front of screens. And of course if you're only watching for an hour or so a day it takes weeks to watch each series!

So this is all we have managed to view over the past couple of months:

The dead cake and other reasons to be cheerful

It all began so well.

Five more things not to say to an autism mum

Just some of the things I've heard during the summer holidays:

You'll have so much free time when the kids go back to school

If that was the case far more autism mums would be in paid employment, but not many employers will tolerate the regular appointments, phone calls, illnesses, and school refusals that can be part of life with autism.

Choices, Offers and Decisions (Adult Disability Services Part 7)

"My daughter the student" has a nice ring to it, I think. And guess what? It's kinda true. Smiley's education has been extended for a further two years. All the hard work has been worth it. But the battle is not yet over, as many other school leavers will have no service in September.

So how did she get to this point? Well I had five choices for my daughter, which is not quite as good as it sounds, and they looked like this:

Reasons to be cheerful 20.8.15

I have visitors this weekend, so no time for proper blogging or anything else, and poor Smiley has spent far too much time in front of the telly while I try and make the house and garden look presentable. It will be worth it though - the kids love it when we have a house full of familiar guests. Here's a few reasons to be cheerful to prove that I'm not completely miserable this week - a possibility given how much I hate housework and feel guilty when I can't give all my time to my kids...

  • I discovered that WD40 really does remove the rust off my chrome-plated shower caddy.

  • The word 'when' has been mentioned in connection with the word 'school'. Many of you will know what that means.

With no time to write more, here is a round up of picture memories from the past seven days on Instagram (plus one extra). I hope you had a good week too x.

Reasons to be Cheerful

The giant monster cake eating challenge

In all fairness it wasn't my fault. My eldest daughter sent me a link to the best places to eat cake in Dublin and challenged me to bring Smiley to all of them. Just to test whether they really are that good. How could I refuse?

A week of unexpected treats

It began with a cheque in the post, always a cause for celebrations. And for treats too.

I'm ready to shop now, Mum!

Why adult disability services are needed (part 6)

If I truly loved my daughter I'd want to spend every hour of every day with her, wouldn't I? Wrong.

If she didn't have special needs you wouldn't expect that for longer than a couple of years at most.

It's the summer holidays right now and I spend at least 8 hours a day directly entertaining and helping my daughter, sometimes that involves multitasking (hello Twitter and Tesco!) but less than when she was little and enjoyed watching and chatting to me while I did everyday household activities like cooking and cleaning. To get anything else done, I have to help her choose some entertainment, a DVD or TV programme, as she doesn't really play with toys now: she is 18, after all.

Being bored

It's 25 minutes to 8 on a sunny summer's evening, and I've 25 minutes until Smiley's bed time routine begins. Oh, and I'm bored.

I used to think that only boring people got bored, but obviously I've changed my mind about that.

The kitchen is cleanish, the carpets have been hoovered, the washing has been put away, and no-one needs me.

With less than half a hour, what on earth could I do? If I was young and enthusiastic I'd probably dash upstairs, throw on some running gear and head around the block a few times. But I'm not, so I won't.

You probably know that 'escape' is one of my favourite words by now, but how could I manage it and get back before 8?

I could read, but even that feels like too much work.

I don't do arts and crafts, at least not now. The piano sits unplayed in the back room, and what tune could I tap out on it now after 10 years without practicing?

I could pull up some weeds, but the jungle outside the back door is so bad now that getting up close and personal with the dandelions and nettles would be depressing, especially as there are so many  out there.

I could try to enjoy the view, but it's not very exciting...

A holiday of sorts

The weather may be grim and grey outside most days, but there's more warmth in the house than there has been for a long time. For two weeks my diary is almost completely blank: there are no appointments to attend, and few phone calls can be made as most people are on holiday. The result? A much more relaxed atmosphere, with co-operation and communication happening on a daily basis and a few small challenges being attempted. There is time to have proper conversations, even chatty phone calls. Time to sit down and write blog posts, instead of typing odd sentences while eating or doing other things. Time for kitchen discos with Smiley and watching two episode on Netflix back to back.

Don't expect a Pollyanna conversion though, if you bump into me on the street: this is my reasons to be cheerful post after all and my stress levels are still pretty epic at times. But I have some more good news and here it is:

A successful service

Getting the car serviced is one of the many annoying time-stealing activities that grown up people have to endure every year, right? Well luckily I managed to turn it into a reasonably entertaining morning, and with Smiley in tow too. It combined a (long) walk pushing the wheelchair from the service centre to the local town, a little light window shopping and some well-earned coffee and cake. Then back again to collect my washed and serviced Smileymobile and home to tick another item off my to do list.

To buy or not to buy?

Mind the gap and other mid-life clothing dilemmas

Summer is always the worst time.

Finding something comfortable and stylish to wear when you're getting old and fat (and hot) is an annual challenge. For about three decades the first sight of sun would send me running for shorts and a T-shirt, but no longer. I wouldn't want to embarrass myself, let alone my children or anyone else.

But even covering up can be difficult. Every second year the crop tops are back in fashion, fine if you're 15, not so much when you're 50. And even a standard length top may look fine in the shop, but after a couple of washes it will fail the 'gap' test.

My summer book pile

How do you find new books to read? When I was young it was the library, then I came to rely on the Sunday Times book section, but many of my latest finds have been from bloggers and social media. So it's only fair that I share some of my current finds, dontcha think?

So this is my summer book pile, both solid and virtual...