Paranoia and Gore

This week is mostly being brought to you by the word ‘paranoia’. Meh!

The past 2 weekends we’ve been camping in East Lothian and having a wonderful time. However, because I write in a paper diary when I’m away from home and blog about outdoor exploits elsewhere, I don’t repeat it all here. However, I’ve been moaning far and wide about the ticks we picked up on a short one-hour walk in some properly enchanting woodland.

embedded tickLike any ex-Lyme disease sufferer, I hate the little buggers. The Boss and I carry out tick checks on us all and carry nifty¬†little tick hooks. We’ve been teaching the minxes about tick safety without going overboard. Well, on 15th June we found this one in the nape of Maxi’s neck. I suspect (hope) the pink marks around it are from initial flicks in case it was a piece of dirt. I took the photo while The Boss fetched the hook, and it was really to document it just in case Maxi gets ill – I can prove she had a tick-bite. Tick removed, I reassured my hysterical little 8 yo that she had the smallest, tiniest, don’t-even-waste-time-thinking-about-it chance of getting ill, but that we’d check for rashes anyway for a few weeks.

Well, she’s not had a rash, but the past 2 days has been complaining of a constant low-grade headache, stomach-ache, and generally feeling a bit ill. Her neck lymph nodes are swollen. She mentioned it this morning and throughout the day. It’s easy to get paranoid, but I need to remember that it’s the end of term, kids are tired, there are lots of viruses doing the rounds (chicken pox is rife right not). If she gets joint aches, a stronger headache, or more flu-y symptoms, then yes, I’ll be thinking that it’s Lyme. But for now, I’ll just fret for a few days until she’s better or she’s seen the GP.

sharkThink that tick was gruesome? Try Midi’s mouth! That second little incisor finally wobbled out on 23rd June. The Tooth Fairy left her 2 very shiny 50p pieces with cool backs that she promptly spent on a sherbet fountain. Tsk…

More paranoia: I get a bit nervous when The Boss is late home from work. The roads he drives certainly have their fair share of people who (think they are) immortal, can see round blind corners, can drive waaaaaaaay past the speed limit ‘safely’, can drive within an inch or so of the bumper of those of us who are merely mortal and drive accordingly… ach, you get the picture. Anyway, the day before yesterday I noticed he was a bit late. Right then, the phone went. The Bat-Fone. The landline that only ever rings for official things. I thought, well, it can’t be too bad or it would be a knock on the front-door from 2 hat-less polis. And yes, The Boss had had an accident.

Don’t panic: no-one was hurt. He’d been tootling along the back road home when a van decided to cross *right* in front of him without looking. The Boss threw out the anchors and figuratively braced for impact (his fingers never left the steering wheel – I think he left indents). Luckily, his little car can barely hit 50mph going downhill and with a tailwind, so he stopped very quickly. Even so, he hit the front of the van, knocking the van’s bumper and numberplate about 10-15m. The airbags didn’t go off, so it wasn’t high-speed at all. When he stopped shaking enough to get out, he found his driver door barely opened.

The van driver’s first words were: “You were coming at some speed!” The Boss charitably thinks he was perhaps attempting sarcastic humour; I cynically suspect him of being in this situation before to have such a practiced and ready line… After exchanging details and retrieving bits of car and failing to get any witnesses (the old man behind the van who saw everything absolutely refused to “get involved” and drove off), The Boss limped home. Shaky. Thankful it hadn’t been any worse. And possibly thinking what confessions he could get out the way that night using his joker card on his very-glad-he’s-still-alive wife ūüėČ

After that, it’s not been a problem, really. The van driver talked to his insurance company and admitted full liability. Yes, it was kinda obvious that it was, but I’m still grateful that we didn’t have any arguments or awkwardness. The Boss decided that rather than deal directly with the other man’s insurance company that he’d talk to his own insurance company (Direct Line). Good move – they’ve been brilliant. Today a nice man in a tow truck arrived to pick up the car and take it away to be fixed. A lovely lady from Enterprise came to drop-off a hire car. Honestly, if felt like she was awarding us a prize or something, it was such a pleasant and trouble-free handover. We’ve no limit on mileage or time, and she’ll come pick it up when we have the car repaired and returned. Fantastic!

In the meantime, I can tease The Boss mercilessly on him having broken more cars than me. And feel very, very thankful that he’s here, fully intact, to be teased and tormented.

Well, actually, he’s not ‘here’: right now he’s off mountain-biking in the Back of Beyond, making sure the stresses of work and the week in general are pedalled away. He always tells me roughly where he’s going (in the hall we have a brilliant OS map centred on the house that our friends gifted us) and we always agree a time that if I’ve not heard from him, I’ll phone for help. Sometimes I’ll follow along with Endomondo, but that usually just increases my paranoia that he’s lying injured by the side of the road, because it frequently ‘sticks’ or loses signal. Meh! Better just to remain un-stalked, I think.

Slowly Back Into a Routine

After my last post about Maxi and Midi Minx suffering from chicken pox, a very lovely GP friend messaged me to give me some top tips* to help Midi wee without screaming, and incredibly subtly and caringly gave me a nudge to get her to the GP’s. So we did, straight away that morning. And I’m glad.

*In case anyone else has a littlie¬†with stingy bits, either get them to wee in the bath, or pour some warm water from a big pot over their genitals while they wee. It helps a lot. And don’t dry with toilet roll or a towel – use a hairdryer on low.

In Scotland you can’t just go wandering into a walk-in centre at the weekend. Unless it’s a blazing emergency you have to phone NHS24; one of their nurse practitioners phones you back within 3 hrs¬†to triage you; they then contact the out-of-hours doctor, who will also call you back within 3 hrs¬†with an appointment. So there’s a lot of hanging around trying to keep the phone line clear for call-backs… Still, Midi eventually got to see a really sympathetic doctor who diagnosed infected spots and possibly a UTI. He really sympathised with how painful it must be for her.

So Midi’s been on antibiotics since Saturday, too. In the fridge, her medicine has her name in enormous, sleep-deprived-parent-proof big letters (she’s allergic to her sister’s antibiotics). However, today (Weds) she’s entirely back to herself again, albeit still with lots of pox scabs. Brilliant! What a relief. She’s maybe not *quite* so energetic and tires a bit more easily, but otherwise I have my boisterous little Midi back again. And so does the nursery. Bet they’re glad… If she could just stop coming into my bed every morning around 3 and/or stop thrashing around I’d be even happier. And far less grumpy in the mornings.

Maxi still has a terrible cough, but she’s been improving every day. She went back to school yesterday, but needed to sit in the big double buggy to get home – she’s still very pale, but the whole day at school and walking up the hill just wiped her out, and she turned a bluey-white. I wasn’t too impressed that she’d only eaten a single bite out of her cheese sandwich for lunch, so¬†have been quietly concentrating on cooking up tasty, calorie-laden meals: pork carry (like a curry but not spicy or hot) last night with loads of butter, coconut milk and double cream; fudge cheesecake tonight¬†(easy-peasy instructions below); chocolate biscuit alongside her fruit for her play-piece today. Poor little mite.

I think she looked even more pathetic yesterday than normal – she stood shivering in her new black pinafore (her legs have taken a stretch and the only pinafores/skirts I can get that come down to her knees are ones a few sizes too big), with her white skin, dull eyes and big brown under-eye circles and a wan little smile. And her little wrists poked out the bottom of the school cardigan I’d not noticed that she’d drastically grown out of. Doh! Guess what purchase I made this morning?!

While Maxi was off school, she fretted about missing out. As she seems to be¬†able to read anything I can give her, I wasn’t concerned about her missing 3 whole days. But to keep her happy, I got her to read a few books to me, then played ‘shops’. Unusually for me, I had a stack of change, probably left over from my last craft fair. So she set up shop and I faffed¬†about¬†on the laptop¬†till she was ready. “OK Mummy, you can come and buy now! Cakes or a healthy option!”

I turned round to find that she’d cleared the floor and set up 2 little chairs either corner of a little table. On it, she’d displayed a wooden cake stand and cakes. On the sofa she’d displayed all the toy vegetables and fruit she could find quite artfully in a big basket, and on the other sofa seat she’d laid out all Mini’s wooden toy sandwich-making kit. She was wearing an apron, had tied her Rapunzel-hair back and had made a suitable ambience by playing the sole soothing song from Midi’s toy keyboard. I was genuinely open-mouthed as my wee¬†5 year old deftly made up a ham sandwich to order, made up prices for that and the cherry cake, and totalled them. She even tactfully turned around so she could do some counting privately on her fingers!

So we had a lot of fun me buying up all the cakes, her pricing them, taking my money from me and either demanding more or giving me my correct change. I’d discussed with her that we weren’t just playing: we were practising adding, subtracting and¬†coin recognition, so it was bona-fide schoolwork (hehehehe, any excuse for a wee¬†play!) I have to say I don’t know who had more fun: her or me. I was seriously impressed with how well she could manipulate the numbers in her head, and how quickly she cottoned-on to maybe more complex adding (I showed her how subtracting 20 from 70 was similar to subtracting 2 from 7). I’m sure I couldn’t do all this at 5. And I definitely didn’t sit in a doctor’s surgery reading all the signs aloud and talking about what the tricky words must mean (eg ‘accompanied’ and ‘medical practice’). I can’t praise her teachers enough, really!

Mini has cut 2 more teeth this week (lower outer incisors) and with them grown a few notches in tantrums. She can now say ‘keys’, tell me when she’s pooed¬†(huge wail of Pooooooooooo!!), and as well as loving her little toddler books about colours, can now point to my head and say, ‘blue!’ (booooooo). Aye, I now have blue hair. I’ll do a wee post with pics when I next get a chance ūüėČ She’s also now 2 stone in weight*, so I guess I finally need to turn her baby car seat around so she’s facing forwards, as it’s a 13kg¬†weight limit for rear-facing. Bah! She’s growing up to be a big girl far too fast! (Yeah, I know – she is a big girl. She’s the exact age Maxi was when Midi was born, and that seemed so grown-up at the time).

*I should have guessed; since she was born our combined weight has remained static, give or take 2lb. I’ve slowly lost as she’s slowly gained.

Me – I’m just enjoying getting back into a bit of a daily routine and getting out the house 3 times a day. I hate sitting indoors and really missed 6 brisk 15 minute walks a day. But I guess I’ll be moaning about it again soon enough!

Fudge Cheesecake

It’s instructions rather than a recipe, because it’s just too simple!

homemade fudge cheesecake

3 slices gone before I even got to take a photo!

200g chocolate digestives
70g butter
300g soft cheese, like Philadelphia. None of the low fat rubbish, go for the fully-leaded, full fat
397g¬†tin of condensed milk (ditto – got to be full fat or it’ll go thin and insipid)
packet of fudge chunks. Or chop up some fudge. 

Bash the chocolate biscuits in a bowl with the end of a rolling pin till they’re all crumbs. Melt the butter and stir into the biscuit crumbs. Press into the bottom of a lined 20cm cake tin. Whisk up the condensed milk and soft cheese till it’s very thick and creamy. Stir in the fudge chunks. Spoon into the cake tin. Chill for a few hours. Eat. (double cream sloshed over the top entirely mandatory optional)

Spotty Party

spotty party food

Are you seeing spots before your eyes...?

Today me and The Boss threw a spotty party for the minxes: spotty cup cake cases; cupcakes with white icing and either red cherry tops or pink smartie¬†spots; cheese sandwiches cut out into spotty circles (as well as the other usual stuff: jelly, breadsticks, veg sticks, hummus, milk). The kids wore all the spotty clothes they could find. Why? Two out of 3 minxes have chicken pox…

The party was to make up for the girls missing their best friend’s birthday party today that they’ve been looking forward to for months. I realised how¬†awful they felt when neither protested when I broke the news 2 days ago that they’d probably still be too ill to go. Still, they perked up a bit at our little party. The Boss even made up a Pass The Parcel with 10 layers of paper and their favourite party tunes on the iPod. Putting a smartie in each layer was a very cunning way of getting some calories in poorly little girls, too!

(I’ll post pics in a later revision to this post – I’m typing it on a very ancient desktop with sticky slow keys and no way to upload photos – the laptop adapter went Phhzzzzt)

I first heard from Midi that one of her nursery friends was off school in the last week before Christmas with chicken pox, but hoped it wasn’t so (she has a newborn baby brother, but hopefully the little mite will still have some immunity gained from his mummy). Anyway, when Maxi started spiking a fever and looking pale on 28th December, I assumed it was over-excitement from another birthday party she’d been to and loved. But chicken pox was in my suspicions. I had it at 15 and remember the headache I got was so excruciatingly painful that I bashed my head on a wall a few times to try to relieve the pressure pain. So, I kind of hoped it was – better to get it over with young – but still dreaded my little girls getting any illness at all.

On 29th, Maxi was white as a sheet, feverish most of the day and very, very subdued; Midi bounced off fewer walls than usual, too. I gave them a day of CBeebies¬†(there’s only so much cake you can bake in a week!!) and checked for spots. Midi had a blister under her right armpit and Maxi had a little blister at the nape of her neck. Hmmmm…

On 30th, Maxi was still poorly and transparent-looking, but had 9 red spots. Bingo! I may not have spent 6 years studying medicine, but I sure recognised the blister spots. I made up Maxi a ‘nest’ of duvet and pillows on the sofa, constantly urged fluids on her, doped the poor child up on Calprofen,¬†and nipped down the pharmacy for anti-histamine, calamine lotion and calamine cream. Alas they didn’t come in a paint pot with a brush – well, if all 3 are ill at the same time,¬†we’re going to need a lot of the stuff…

Maxi’s feverish rants were quite impressive. On 31st she cuddled into my legs in bed and started accusing me of not eating enough cake. Ever since I started walking her to school I’d stopped being nice to cuddle. First my tummy, then my boobies, now my legs. In fact, my legs were hard and bony and tasted terrible. Taste?! Let me feel your forehead… Sizzle… yep, break¬†out more Calprofen¬†and Calpol!

chicken pox spots

Can you see the dot-to-dot picture?

On 31st Midi’s spots started popping out. By 1st, Maxi had maybe 30-40 spots total¬†whereas poor Midi had that many around one ear alone. Mini merrily ran riot, oblivious to what lies in store for her, just gleeful that she can play with her sisters’ new toys pretty much unhindered.

I’ve not been all that concerned about Maxi’s appetite loss, other than to keep providing tempting food. So I’ve been driving The Boss mad with cooking up loads of stodge: macaroni cheese, sausages, steak pie with home-made rough puff pastry, strawberry milk jelly. Craving spicy curries but warming to the theme, he even tried making her baked camembert with breadsticks¬†and broccoli (Maxi’s favourite meal at 18 months). But she’s only eaten a little cow shape of pastry, a banana, a spoonful of milk jelly and¬†half a cupcake¬†over the past 6 days (28th to 3rd). As she’s had around 500 pints of milk, water and apple juice (and even a wee bit of hot chocolate), I’m reasonably happy to leave her to it and not pressurise her to eat. Even though she’s nearly blue-ish white with terrible brown circles under her eyes, and has no energy to even sit up.¬†I just get frantic when my babies don’t drink fluid, but that’s another story.

Poor Maxi has a sore chest and stomach from all the wet coughing and a thick yellow coating on her tongue – no wonder everything tastes awful to her! My gut tells me there’s something else going on, so although the NHS24 nurse said it was fine over the phone, if she’s no better tomorrow I’m bundling her down to the GP’s. I promise to phone ahead and warn them that though she’s no longer infectious (last new spots were on 2nd), her sister(s) undoubtedly are!

Midi’s appetite has been fine, but the spots are driving her bonkers.¬†She has uncountable hundreds. The clusters round and inside her¬†ears¬†and her genitals hurt and itch terribly despite the¬†Calprofen, calamine¬†and anti-histamine. Her hair looks more like Doc Brown’s from Back to the Future than usual, because she scratches at her scalp all night.

I’ve knitted all the girls a pair of long socks each, but there’s no way I’m letting wool near all that itchy skin! It was a knitting marathon. Midi’s not impressed that I took a break from knitting her a jumper to do it. “Why you not knit my dj-schumpa??” she accuses every day. Harsh taskmaster that she is!

So, counting days on my fingers a lot like I counted them when I got pregnant with each minx: if Maxi was infectious 2 days before her spots appeared, then Mini was exposed to chicken pox on 28th at the latest. It takes 10-21 days to appear, so Mini will be infectious 2 days before her spots appear, ie from 5th till 16th Jan. Oh boy – that’s a long time to keep her away from people! I hope her spots come up pretty fast and the wee soul gets it over and done with. I hope she has the spots of Maxi and the general illness of Midi. Please God, not the other way round!

In other news, Mini cut her 11th tooth finally, yesterday: lower outer right incisor. Hooray!

10 Month Baby Milestones

Baby R will be 10 months old tomorrow.¬† She’s sitting beside me on her Daddy’s knee, desperately trying to get my attention: blowing me garlicky kisses, hissing, clapping her little hands, shouting, “Mim-mim!” and “Ath bith!”¬† I’m ignoring her, so now she’s trying to pull The Boss’s glasses off.¬† Subtle.¬† Nice.

She’s had a week of one milestone after another, so I thought I’d log them all, starting with today’s biggie: her second tooth.¬† It’s her lower left incisor and it’s been giving her grief for days.¬† I think she’s only happy now because we’ve given her some Nurofen.¬† Well, it’s either eased the pain in her gum or eased the taste of the roast garlic she had for dinner.¬† Either way, she’s much happier.

This morning she threw an almighty tantrum.¬† I forget what about, probably because she wasn’t allowed to feed herself baby slop with a spoon.¬† Instead of shaking with rage, this time she clapped her hands in fury.¬† I laughed, which wasn’t really the reaction she was after.¬† She learned to clap and say “Ba ba” last week at the same time, maybe Day 3 of the holiday.

The last day of the holiday, she had another double milestone within the same 5 minutes: she learned to sit up from lying down all by herself and actually crawled *forwards*.¬† I think she was so shocked that she’s forgotten how to do either again.

The Boss just reminded me of the milestone he’s most proud of: her third word, uttered yesterday, was “Dada”.¬† Awwwww!