Day 6 of Self-Isolation

Yesterday I had to choose which of the kids to delay formally Covid-testing because one of the PCR vials was broken. Saturday’s post normally arrives early. But today the replacement PCR arrived late, just seconds before the (Saturday) final post box collection, so the 1 untested minx couldn’t do her PCR test today or Sunday – no post collection. Rather than fret about her Covid status for another 3 days, I reasoned that if the other minx’s PCR came back positive, I could book an appointment and drive Untested Girl the 90 minute round trip to the nearest drive-through centre and get her tested today; if Tested Girl’s PCR came back negative, Untested could wait till Monday.

As it was, no-one’s PCR results came in. Normally they’re texted to you within 24 hours (I’ve done a fair few PCRs as part of a Covid app study). I jumped every time my phone pinged the whole day, expecting to see bad Covid news about the kids. Eventually, I checked the daily Covid numbers from the Scottish government and saw a wee note saying that there was a delay at the Glasgow lighthouse lab. Ooftie! Maybe the ballooning local cases had overwhelmed it? Oh well – no point adding to it by doing yet more tests at a drive-through, eh? I’d just need to be patient!

How to distract myself? I was too lethargic to sort out the garden bombsite or attack the pile of admin I could usefully be getting on with. The kids were very happy doing their own thing and I didn’t want to jinx that. I was too unsettled to read for longer than a few minutes. Not even a Terry Pratchett book I’d been saving for the holiday! I’d been saving reading any Terry Pratchett at all until just the right time because I feared being subsumed totally and not coming up for air (or to feed myself, or the kids, or sleep, or do anything) until I’d read everything he’d written. I have previous form…

To shift myself out my distracted funk, I got out the food mixer and baked some Scandinavian cardamon twists. They went down very well with yesterday’s delayed curry that we guzzled for lunch!

The kids were fairly contentedly going about things all day: Maxi doodled tattoo patterns on paper and in Sharpie on herself; Midi watched Marvel movies, and Mini couldn’t be bothered to get dressed. I couldn’t be bothered to remonstrate and let them all roll with it.

Besides, it’s looking like Covid Girl is well. I’m still privately alarmed at the sudden bouts of fatigue and have laid down the law about not dancing with her sisters to K-pop and to mostly rest. Otherwise, she seems a lot more like her old self, nose is less runny, no headaches. Pretty much symptom-free!

In all, though, I struggled a bit today. It wasn’t any one thing. Obviously there was the worry about Covid Girl and about her sisters potentially having it. Stuck in my little vacuum bubble, I’d found the constant waiting around of the past few days really exhausting (curry, testing, replacement tests, results). I felt sad about missing our holiday (and it was our 3rd cancelled holiday since the start of lockdown). I’m worried that the Boss’s broken foot-bone doesn’t seem to be healing very quickly.

Mostly I’m feeling an enveloping shame and guilt about feeling sad whilst having everything so bloody easy. I mean, we’ve got a big garden we’re free to spend time in, a modern house within a supportive community, we’re all well, and one of us is still earning through this quarantine. But my petulant little head was moaning about it being too cold to be outside, the house was too small for us all to be rattling around in, and I don’t know how long we’ll stay well for.

It sounds so whiny when you write it down. And it is! Proper First World problems. But it doesn’t feel unreasonable when you’re mid-sulk. This is the main reason why I’m blogging these 10 days – having to write out my feelings makes me confront them and see them for the very petty self-indulgences they are.

Oh yeah, and let’s add to the mix a bucketload of self-loathing for the constant eating of treat food. What a terrible example to the kids! No wonder none of them are in the mood to make or eat anything even vaguely healthy.

To keep myself busy, I turned a discarded (healthy) few kilos of freshly-picked rhubarb into (unhealthy) rhubarb jam. I won’t be cooking for my business while we’re quarantining (ewww!) but I can do family requests!

Ah well, tomorrow’s another day.

Day 6: 1/5 Covid positive. 5/5 feeling healthy. 1/5 sneezing a lot. General mood: unsettled and eating because our mouths are lonely.

Day 5 of Self-Isolation

I knew today would be tough and it didn’t disappoint.

It started very well, though.

It was the kids’ last day of school. Maxi and Midi got prize- and merit-certificates and Amazon giftcards through the post. They’d not been able to attend their school prize-giving earlier in the week. Both kids would never forgive me if I listed their achievements, in what’s been a really tough year for everyone. I’m so proud of them both, and told them so, again and again. They made a fuss at me making a fuss, but it didn’t stop them smiling from ear to ear. And I will never, ever believe Midi if she tells me again, “Oh, I’m so rubbish at <insert any school subject except PE>” because I have evidence to disprove that belief.

Mini attended her final school assembly on Teams. It wasn’t the lovely picnic farewell to the P7 kids that they’d all planned, but the teachers made it really special for the kids, with videos and a funny poem about every departing pupil.

Another family batch of lateral flow tests said we 4 non-Covids were still healthy, but none of us felt it. Maybe breathing in the neighbour’s bonfire the other night was making all 5 of us hoarse and gravelly and sneezy? Maybe it was mass hypochondria? Maybe it was Covid? It would certainly fit with incubation periods. Even the cat was sneezing.

So it was a suitable Day of Reckoning: everyone bar Covid Girl had to do their PCR test. I set them all up like a little one-woman swab factory. Lining them up and busily registering and administering each one made me feel a tiny bit more in control. Sadly one PCR tube was broken and had leaked everywhere. My sense of control wobbled and fell. So who to choose not to get a test? The double-AstraZeneca-vaccinated adult? The single-Pfizer-vaccinated adult? The sister who shared a room with Covid Girl? The one who generally kept to themself unless doing crazed dancing to K-pop? (Hint: K-pop Kid could cope with another day’s wait).

Re-ordering another test cost another 15 minutes plugging in the same information into the same frustrating website. And how to get the unbroken PCRs in the post? Everything online pretty much either stated or insinuated that you’d vaporise into an instant cloud of public ridicule and loathing if you set one toe outside your house. Test & Protect said to stop being a fanny and just walk to the post box. I was voted the sacrificial victim to brave the village stocks and go post the PCRs. I slunk there and back like a drugs mule, trying to be as grey and unseen as usual, but deep down I admit I was inwardly skipping and singing, “I’m freeeeeee! I’m out!”

As the afternoon wore on, it was very hard not to constantly think, “Right now we should be leaving the house to go on holiday… Now we should be in Inverness… We would normally be doing this…”. To distract us we started (and finished) yet another 1000 piece jigsaw.

The Boss had also had the excellent idea to book a takeaway treat curry to arrive for dinner tonight. It’s the kind of curry that arrives frozen and you just bung it in the oven and serve 45 mins later. About an hour before it was due to arrive, as we started to have to physically bar the kids from attacking the biscuit box and the fridge, his online courier tracking said it would be delayed. Noooooo! How much?

To cut short a very long story about constantly refreshing the tracking screen, and having hopes raised and dashed throughout the evening, the poor courier driver finally pitched up at 10.25pm. Even I could tell by his body language that he’d had a far, far worse day than me. The wee soul nearly cried when he told me his scanner had just stopped working, too.

I think he’d worked way past normal knock-off time just to make sure the big box with “Absolutely must be delivered today” stamped all over it had reached us. Through my grump, I felt very guilty because it was only treat food, and we’d probably not be able to eat it now anyway.

As luck (or unseasonally cold weather, 11degC) would have it, the curry was still frozen. I’d not need to discard it after all. Brilliant! Straight into the freezer it went, into the space freed up by the minxes eating the next month’s supply of fish-fingers for tea. With custard. They’re all Dr Who fans and declared it a winning combination. Gives me the boak, but there’s no accounting for taste…

Day 5: 1/5 Covid positive. 0/5 feeling healthy. 5/5 gravelly thoats. 3/5 sneezing a lot (plus the cat). General mood: blue. And bay-at-the-moon levels of murderousness.

Day 4 of Self-Isolation

I decided to try to cheer us all up today and made a treat breakfast from the goodies in yesterday’s food delivery. Maxi wasn’t feeling very hungry and is very rarely tempted by bacon, anyway. Mini, on the other hand, raved about how much she loves bacon. It’s her favourite food, she told me seriously. I think the sun and heat (23degC at 2nd tea-break at 10am) has addled her little brain: everyone knows it’s ice poles. She’d fight her siblings to the death to get the last one.

Sugar on a plate

Yesterday’s huge jigsaw didn’t last long – Mini was thumping in the final piece just after lunch. Oh boy, it’s going to be a long 10 days, isn’t it?! I had a small fit of productivity and finished a dress for Mini that I’d started at the beginning of lockdown. The first lockdown. Yep, March 2020. Luckily she’s just grown upwards and not out.

I persuaded Covid Girl to come play swingball with me, but she only managed 5 minutes before feeling quite tired and needing to sit down. It might be just a blood sugar plummet after the sugary breakfast, or it might be the start of a lifetime of Long Covid. I can’t understate how paranoid I feel about that, given the stats of Covid suffers who end up with Long Covid. They are not happy percentages to an anxiety-prone parent.

The rest of the day the whole family just lizarded in the sunshine. All except poor Boss, who’s still at work. From the bedroom. He didn’t miss out too much, though – by late afternoon the rain arrived. At first we all sat under the tarp I’ve rigged up over a table in the garden, drinking tea and eating biscuits, marvelling at how lovely it was to listen to the patter of the rain whilst staying dry. But then the temperature dropped. And kept dropping. By teatime it was 10degC. Brrrr!

As today’s main family bit of fun, Mini persuaded her Daddy to make microwave s’mores. Maxi and Midi didn’t need persuading to join in this time! And if you’re going to make a mess, you might as well make a bloody big one! Just put a huge marshmallow between 2 chocolate digestives and nuke it in the microwave for as long as you dare (anything between 10 and 40 seconds – just stop before it explodes).

I’ve kept the windows open to maximise ventilation. It wasn’t much fun going to sleep with them all open in near winter temperatures, so I broke out the hot water bottles. Well, I know how dispense non-food treats, too 😉

Day 4: 1/5 Covid positive. 4/5 feeling well, 1/5 croaky, sore nose; sudden, short-lived fatigue. General mood: hungry.

Day 3 of Self-Isolation

Covid Girl’s headache had been replaced with a bit of a runny nose and bad eczema on her finger, but otherwise she had no symptoms. I’d have sworn she only had hayfever, not Covid. Both adults felt like we’d got colds starting (oh-oh…).

So top priority of Day 3 was officiating over the 2nd family batch of lateral flow tests. Covid Girl crowed about not having to do one. I was surprised that they were all negative, especially as some of Covid Girl’s classmates had started to infect their families, with new positive cases springing up locally today. So surprised that I consulted Professor Google, who reckoned that lateral flow tests are not desperately reliable. Allegedly. Test & Protect told us to wait till tomorrow at the very earliest to test everyone else by PCR. I wasn’t optimistic.

After yesterday’s flurry of activity, I just couldn’t be bothered doing anything other than a big 1000 piece jigsaw. I couldn’t even be bothered writing a huge To Do list to tackle at some point in the (let’s be honest, very distant) future. I decided to indulge that feeling just in case that funny feeling at the back of my nose was Something Ominous brewing.

Like most of the school families self-isolating, we got a supermarket delivery today. Mine clinked. Oh, the shame! The poor driver looked hot and bothered, so I took charge and directed him exactly where to put the crates, then told him to disappear back to the cab while I unloaded. He didn’t want to chat, which suited me. I just wanted to get that shopping order safely into the house before the entire street judged me on my choices for our Ultimate 10 Day Staycation: gin, wine, Calpol chasers, ice poles and facepacks. (Aye alright, loads of berries and fresh food, too, but they’re boring).

Facepacks. Yes! I’d thought that maybe we could have a wee family pampering session? Mini and the Boss were completely up for having a muck around. Mini and her Daddy have really dry skin and loved how theirs felt. My ‘age-defying’ hydrogel mask made me look, oooooh, 10 minutes younger, I reckon.

I don’t think these are the face masks the NHS meant

Having to have your windows open in summer is great in that you won’t get cold. But when your neighbour innocently decides to burn a stack of paper and something plastic, the smoky pong flooding the house isn’t so wonderful… We closed half the windows and headed to the other side, to spend yet another evening flopped in front of a film eating rubbish. I found that it only took a few gins to cover the smoky smell.

Going to help me get to Day 4 and beyond

Neither Maxi nor Midi could be tempted to join their crumblies and sister by facepacks or mini tins of pop, crisps or the new Pixar film. They spent the day very sullen. Normally I’d insist on at least civil manners and cajole them into joining the family silliness, but if you can’t cut your teens some slack when the whole family is facing catching Covid, they won’t see their friends for weeks without any prior warning and have just had their holiday cancelled, when can you?! Besides, they’re not performing seals. Maybe they were both coming down with something?. Hmmm, those PCR results weren’t looking too promising!

Day 3: 1/5 Covid positive. 4/5 feeling well, 1/5 runny nose. General mood: Grumpy with a dash of whimsical.

Day 2 of Self-Isolation

Monday’s wake-up call was an alerting email from the school. Tuesday’s wake-up call was a text from the NHS saying that Close Contact Minx was indeed Covid-positive.

Well, fuckadoodle-doo.

Turns out the other local kids who’d done PCRs after positive lateral flows were also positive, so we weren’t the only family spending the morning cancelling everything, absolutely everything, for the next 3 weeks. And buying up all the gin Tesco would deliver.

Covid Girl was still a bit headachy, and tearful. She confessed to feeling guilty for bringing Covid into the house and was fretting about how it would affect us all. I stroked her hair and told her over and over that it was no-one’s fault, just bad luck. I agreed with Detective Mini’s rational logic about which event had likely been the superspreader, and explained how the school absolutely couldn’t have done anything more to prevent this*. All 3 minxes are as healthy as they can be. Mini was in and out of hospital with appendicitis most of January, but she’s been working hard on regaining her health and strength. We 2 adults are vaccinated to varying degrees. We’ll be fiiiiiiine! I confided that my biggest fear was that Midi would eat us out of house and home faster than we could get supermarket delivery slots.

*Speaking of schools and Covid spreading, I’ll interject here to state publicly that the kids’ teachers have moved mountains over the past year and a bit to keep the kids feeling safe, secure and happy, and encourage them to keep engaging with their learning. Some of the obstacles put in their path have been tricky, but they’ve cared for and encouraged, worked for, cajoled and downright loved all the kids. Fabulous teaching staff at both schools. My kids are very, very fortunate.

Comparing notes with other Newly-Positive mums, that feeling of guilt was pretty widespread. Those poor kids! What a shame!

Today was unusually sunny, so it was fine to throw all the windows open wide, to maybe lessen the viral load to the rest of the family. And ooh, we could even eat outdoors! I spent the day actioning yesterday’s long list of people to contact and things to cancel. I also shed a fair few tears – my Messenger account was chock-full of friends asking if they could help by fetching groceries or medicines or anything at all. I know I live in a supportive community, but it’s overwhelming being surrounded by such compassionate people.

The minxes processed the sudden start of the school holidays differently. Maxi willingly attacked the jobs her Dad can’t do with a broken foot in exchange for uninterrupted time dancing to K-Pop on the TV. Midi quietly mulled over missing school prize-giving: both she and Maxi won prizes, and I’m so very proud of them both. Mini made sure she’d established contact with everyone so she could say goodbye.

The old lockdown standby of swingball got dragged out again today. It was originally Midi’s. Only she could even play it at first. But by Week 3 of the original lockdown, we could all return the ball forehand, backhand, left-handed and right-handed. I also found very quickly that it acts as a Kid Truth Drug. Within a few smacks of the ball, all 3 of the minxes would just start spilling whatever was on their minds. All you had to do as a parent was keep quiet, return the ball, and make the odd, “Oh?” or “Really?” noise. I think hour-long swingball sessions served as pseudo psychiatric appointments.

True enough, within 30 seconds of swinging a bat, Covid Girl started spilling her fears and concerns. Although she’s now feeling completely well, she got tired quickly, and it was a good time to just stop and sit in the garden, under the sun, stroke her hair and reassure her that everything was going to be just fine. And it will be, I’m sure. We’re lucky.

One last thing: if the school hadn’t been so quick to send out the initial email alerting us to the close contact, all 5 of us would have been barreling around on Monday, infecting who knows how many people? That quick “Hold everything! More info shortly” email might even have saved lives. We’ll never know, of course.

Day 2: 1/5 Covid positive. 4/5 feeling well, 1/5 no appetite (not currently Covid positive…)

Here we have The Teenager, ousted from their Native Environment, into the sunshine. Sunshine presents as much of a challenge to The Teenager as soap and water”

Day 1 of Self-Isolation

Yep, Covid-19 finally found its way to our wee sleepy corner of NE Scotland.

I was idly browsing my emails, waiting on Maxi and Midi clearing the house for the school bus so Mini could get ready for school in peace. “IMPORTANT!” said the email header, “Child has been in close contact…”. That’s one way to wake up on a Monday morning, mid-levitation out of bed. Can’t say I recommend it…

Although it related to just one minx, I took the instant decision to immediately ground them all. Deep down, I’ve probably been on Red Alert for something like this happening since March last year, so my efficient little sub-conscious was already trying to figure out potential contacts to give the good news to, and calculating incubation times and percentage likelihood of cancelling this Friday’s holiday (1, 2-14 and 100% respectively)

After telling the minxes to halt, hold it, to cease and desist, that they weren’t going anywhere that day, I took a deep breath and texted the mum of the kid who’d visited a different minx in our home at the weekend. OK, they’d not spent more than a few minutes with Close Contact Minx, but there was no point in waiting until I knew for sure whether or not CCM was infected or not – best to be completely upfront right away.

Meanwhile, the village social media group went into meltdown whilst we mums all zoomed round the chemists to sort out packs of lateral flow tests. Then it went ominously silent as the whole village swabbed and poked their kids.

“Fuuuuuuuuuck! Fuckity-fuck!” It wasn’t just me aghast at the 2 lines coming up on the test strip – a good double-handful of kids were testing positive at the same time. For us, only Close Contact Minx came up positive (and it was an instant, strong result).

Awww, bollocks!

Within the hour, me and my minx were off to a nearby drive-through centre to get a formal PCR. It wasn’t a fun experience, especially when you’re a bit cloth-eared and masked-up people turn their faces away and mumble, in a strong accent, facing the other direction. But hey-ho, deed done, we drove straight home as the enormity of real Covid, actually in our village, actually in our home, started to hit (we didn’t hold out any hope at all that the lateral flow test was a false positive)

Of course, that shiver of fear got repressed with a surge of crushing guilt at having to update the mum of the other minx’s friend that her child was now indeed very probably a Close Contact and that Test & Protect would be contacting them soon. She was unbelievably gracious about it all, which made me feel even worse.

Any vestiges of fear then got stomped down at the upset at having to cancel our longed-for holiday. We’d had to cancel last year’s at the last minute, too. Even if the minx’s PCR was negative, with incubation times being 2 – 14 days, would we really risk being THAT family that took Covid to a beautiful little Orkney island? No chance! So we pulled ourselves together and started planning what to action next. I started listing everyone to phone to cancel everything we’d booked.

“I’m away to book a supermarket delivery,” yelled The Boss as he hobbled on his broken foot to the laptop. “The fridge is bare!”

“Gin! Gin! Buy gin! And wine!” I barked. “Lots!” My priorities are obvious. “…and maybe Calpol, paracetamol and tissues?”

Maxi and Midi stopped chanting ‘8-week summer holiday!’ long enough to get changed out their school uniform and flop in front of the TV. Mini got on to Google Classroom to grill her mates to figure out what was what. Scotland Yard has nothing on that girl: within half an hour she knew names and numbers of the local positive Lateral Flow Testers, had figured out when they’d all been together and who was likely to also be positive.

By tea-time, Test & Protect had been on the phone and extracted every last piece of information from us bar my bra size and The Boss’s PIN number. They were thorough and detailed and sympathetic. Less Trace & Blame & Fingerpoint and more Find & Inform & Protect. Spot-on

The rest of Day 1 we mostly did comfort food and films. I did the traditional start of the school summer holidays by painting fingernails (only Mini wanted her auld mammy to do her nails, the other 2 were horrified at my suggestion of pink nail varnish. Unless it’s black or called Tar-Death or Poison-Killer or something they’re not interested). Maxi did a very fine job of baking fluffy little chocolate muffins with the chocolate chips on the outside. Films were Zoolander 2 (I didn’t expect it to be so hilarious!) and Team America (Fuck Yeah) when the kids had gone to bed, along with one of probably many purely medicinal gins. Ahem.

So: Day 1. 4/5 are well, feeling fine. 1/5 headachy and a bit dizzy. Self-isolation won’t be that bad, will it?

Not Only… But Also!

One of these days I’ll get around to telling you about all the changes and general chaos in our family (you know us – bunch of drama llamas). One of these days. Might not be this year. Or even this decade.

Some things never change, though. And with at least 1 minx still believing, the Christmas Elves are going strong. I hope you enjoy 2020’s antics as much as I think we will.

Cheeky Wee MuTu System Discount

My dashboard tells me I have 362 draft posts (!!!!) See? I do write, I just don’t always publish. Blush…

Well, this one is time-critical so I need to fire it off now. You know how I followed MuTu System faithfully for 12 weeks, repaired a bad diastasis recti and ended up actually being able to *run*? (And then even did a few 10km races just for fun). So I really rate the programme and the ideas behind it. So, they have a whopping 25% off this week only. Eek!

Clicking on the link won’t get you any more than the discount (remember to use the discount code!) but it might earn me a small commission. Just so you know.

25% OFF MUTU SYSTEM

Roses are red, violets are blue, you deserve to love YOU, with the help of MUTU.

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This awesome discount will run from Monday 11th of February – Friday 15th February at 2359, wherever you are in the world, whatever your timezone.

Happy New 2019!

Well hello, hello, long time no see! Happy New Year! How have you been? Are you glad to see the back of 2018? Looking forward to 2019? Or just quietly accepting the turn of the year?

I’m not even going to pretend that this post marks more regular blogging from me. With 2 pubescent daughters who veto every post and photo (quite rightly!) it doesn’t give me a lot to talk or rant about. And I’m being kept busy with the minxes, Killer Cat, The Boss and 8 (yep, eight) part-time jobs. Lots of juggling. But it keeps me out of trouble.

I wish it kept the youngest pair out of trouble. Poor Midi came down with a very sore throat late on 30th December. She spent most of yesterday in bed or in a big nest of duvet and pillows on the sofa. For the first time in 5 years she’s not dressed up and bounded around at the bells. She managed half a cocktail sausage at midnight, and that was only to try to put some food in her stomach so she could take ibuprofen. This morning I’ve got another wee soldier down – Mini. As they’re getting so old, now, I doled out liquid paracetamol to the pair of them and bang, there’s another brown bottle emptied for the bottle bank and the judgey-judgey clattering of the glass cascade.

Wee Mini blinked up at me: “Mummy, I’ve got such a sore head!”

“Ah,” I said, trying to make light of it, “You’ve either got what Midi has or you’re hungover. Did you drink any alcohol last night?”

“Yes”, she replied, to my open-mouthed stare. “I had a whisky chocolate”.

Poor wee thing! I hope your New Year is a healthy and optimistic one, and if it’s not, that it becomes so.

bee and allium

The 2017 Elf Tour – Days 6 – 10

The last week has zoomed by in a flurry of jam-making, jam-labeling and panic shoe-buying – Midi is now suddenly the tallest of the minxes and her beautiful little duck feet are growing like Jack’s beanstalk. She hates her feet because we struggle to get shoes that fit her width-ways and narrow heels. I gave her a wee foot massage to quietly show her that her feet don’t disgust me in the way she seems to view them. Poor kid – she has such pretty feet that are so silky-soft and flexible. (OK, so she can do that crazy rubbing of independent toes thing that is freaky and unnatural, but apart from that!!)

What Midi had originally written on the board

On Day 7, I was inspired by Midi’s chalkboard. She’s taken to writing ‘Fun Facts’ on it that me and her Dad giggle over at night. So we rubbed out that night’s and put an Elf message up instead, and added things like “…on you, ha ha ha!” after the photo was taken. I tell you, though, it took ages for the kids to link the sight of an Elf holding a bit of chalk with anything on a chalkboard…

Day 9 was me and The Boss tidying up. I’d previously made some wrapped branch / twig things as decorations that I liked but never got around to hanging on a wall. In a hurried tidy-up, some of the twigs got snapped off and were left dangling by the yarn. So I went the whole hog and snapped it up. The Boss added the paper flames. The younger minxes were like “OMG Edbie’s destroyed some of Mummy’s work!!” while Maxi just gave us the ‘you are so cracked, you loser’ eye-roll.