Special Siblings Burden: our example from one weekend

There are times when I wonder about the effect on Ruby and Melody for having a disabled sister. They endure a lot. Only recently I watched them plough through an eventful day like it was nothing.

It all started on Friday.

In the afternoon it became clear all was not well in our household – after my swimming session with Melody she didn’t seem right. She was pale and unusually quiet; she only wanted cuddles. Had she swallowed some water? Maybe she overdid it at the pool?

Then Elisa came back from school and she wasn’t right either. She had had some paracetamol for discomfort at school and her school book noted that she also had had some chest physio for chesty and rattly cough at school. Oh dear, we thought.

She didn’t yet have temperature and staff from Julia’s house, who had come to look after Elisa for couple of hours, decided to stay indoors with her and do quiet, relaxing activities.

Dan had a rare evening out that day

In the evening, Ruby and Dan went off to the local SEND hustings event that Dan had organised, and I was home with the younger girls. Our CHC – funded carer showered Elisa and got her ready for bed. I had no trouble getting Melody to bed – she hadn’t perked up at all since coming back from the swim and she fell asleep without a hitch.

I came back downstairs to find that Elisa was already tucked in bed too, but she was awfully pale. We attached the Nurofen FeverSmart Thermometer under her arm to keep an eye on her temperature as I had that feeling… (link is to Amazon page; not affiliate)

Sure enough, in just hours time her temperature spiked up to 38 Celsius Degrees.

But that’s not all, folks!

Melody woke up with blotchy red cheeks. She was hot, but shivering. I found a traditional thermometer to check her temperature and it climbed up to 39.3 Celsius degrees. Melody complained that her arms and legs hurt, so I took it that she felt achy.

I send a cheery video message to Dan saying:

“Hello there! The one time you actually get to go out and this is what happens and what you come home to… To poorly Elisa who has got temperature of 38 degrees and Melody, who’s got 39.3. Both have had some paracetamol, Elisa is with a night carer and I’m just taking Melody back to bed… I hope you have had fun and take your time, all is otherwise good here…”

Maiju, while taking Melody back to bed

Both of the girls reacted positively on the pain killers, but temperatures spiked back up when the medicines wore off.

We had very restless night with both girls

In the morning it was clear Elisa was struggling. Her saturations (oxygen levels in her blood) kept dropping; she was working hard to breathe and her temperature was too close to 40 Celsius. We called our local hospital where Elisa has open access to and started arranging to take her up there.

We had to take Elisa to the hospital to be checked out

I went to wake Ruby up with the news that we are taking her sister to hospital. As a sign of what an amazing special sibling she is, she didn’t panic about it – she has experienced such wake-ups before.

Her first words to me:

“Okay, well I don’t have to go to boxing today, I could always catch up during the week so don’t worry about that, it would be too much hassling about if we went.”

My beautiful step-daughter.

Her first instinct was to make it all easier for everyone.

She loves boxing and I never want her to miss out on anything because of her sister’s conditions, but she insisted it was fine.

She was right – it did make the day easier.

Around the time she was supposed to be boxing, she was looking after Melody while I dropped Dan and Elisa off to the hospital.

Later, me and Melody took Ruby home to her mother’s place so she could enjoy more of her weekend and to better her chances of not getting what her sisters had.

Melody hadn’t been herself all day.

She was tired, but had no breathing difficulties. There were no rashes. She didn’t even cough. She didn’t really have an appetite, but she drank fluids okay. When the pain relief was working her temperature was only mild.

Late afternoon I had just noted that Melody’s temperature had jumped up again and was wondering if it was time to give her more pain relief, when I got the news that Elisa could come back home from the hospital. They had diagnosed her with viral throat and ear infection; her lungs and flu test were clear.

It was time to witness 3-year-old Melody’s special sibling skills

When your sister is disabled, your own needs get surpassed often. Even when you have a temperature of 39 Celsius degrees, you might have to be wrapped up in clothes and climb up to your car seat. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to do it and that you feel horrible, as you do have to pick your big sister up from the hospital with your Mummy.

Thanks to Christmas decorations, she was a superstar

To start with, she did complain and cry as she felt achy and uncomfortable. All she wanted was “mummy cuddles”, and not to be sitting on her own in her car seat. I felt for her and tried to think of something to cheer her up…

So, I made the car trip into a game of “spot the prettiest Christmas lights”. Thank you all in Bournemouth and Poole, who already have decorated their front gardens – you made it all so much easier for me and Melody! My poorly girl forgot about her aches as she kept looking out for Christmas characters, stars and snow projectors and colourful flashing fairy lights.

Melody looking at Christmas lights last year in Bournemouth Gardens.

Soon we pulled up by the hospital and got the wheelchair girl and Daddy back in.

Melody then would have wanted to have Daddy sitting next to her, but that is another impossibility when Elisa is in the car as Elisa needs an escort that can assist her during the car journey… Again, before Melody had an epic meltdown over the lack of cuddles, I was able to divert her attention to the different flashing Christmas decorations. Would we see a reindeer one? How about an elf?

The following day both of them were better and only had mild temperatures.

Those events keep running through my head. What little Melody had to endure even when she felt terrible herself; how Ruby didn’t only miss out on her boxing lesson but a weekend with her sisters. Elisa can’t help her disabilities; she has breathing issues without a cold, and with an illness she struggles more than others in our family.

I keep feeling guilty for strapping Melody into her car seat when all she wanted – and needed! – were cuddles and snuggles with Mummy on a sofa. I know we had no other choice; we needed to get Daddy and Elisa back home and we surely did not have the money for a taxi. Also it was a weekend and it was not planned appointment, so we could not use the hospital transport for the trip.

I do not feel bad that she was with us when I took Ruby home, as then her temperature was down and the trip seemed to cheer her up. The main difference is in the timing.

I keep worrying for them all. Could I have done something differently? Did we do the best for all? Do we do all we can for all of them, the best we can for them in the long run?

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3-year-old’s logic with a step-family: which house is whose and whose mum is who?

We are blended family or “step-family”, which in itself is nothing unusual. Dan has a 14-year-old daughter called Ruby from his previous relationship, and he’s got two daughters with me – 6-year-old Elisa and 3-year-old Melody.

“Ruby’s house”

Ruby lives with her Mum and comes to ours every other weekend and sometimes between. Melody has started to question it recently, asking every day when Ruby will be with us and that where she is. She does know where Ruby lives – she calls it “Ruby’s house” – and like all of us, she misses her when she is not with us.

To make matters more confusing for a 3-year-old

Elisa has been going to Lily’s Place for respite care once a week, staying there overnight. During school holidays Elisa has gone there for two nights a week.

Therefore Melody is quite used to seeing her big sister off to Lily’s place that she promptly calls “Elisa’s house”.

How does Melody view this?

Melody is the only one who doesn’t do “sleepovers” just yet. As stated earlier, she calls Ruby’s mum’s place as “Rubys house”. Lily’s place is “Elisa’s house”.

The house where we all live in she calls as”Melody’s new house”. “Melody’s house” is the old place where we moved out of in October 2019.

Aren’t we lucky as all of our children already have their “own houses”?

In Melody’s new house, there is “Elisa’s room”. The biggest bedroom upstairs is “Melody’s room”, where she shares a bunk bed with Ruby. She claims the bottom bunk is hers and the top one is Ruby’s.

Order is crucial.

It get’s weirder though. As ever since Dan quit working and took on a carers role for Elisa, Melody has learned that Daddy looks after Elisa and Mummy looks after her. Now she has started to tell that Daddy is “Elisa’s Daddy” and Mummy is “Melody’s Mummy” – and she laughs and yells “Nooo!” if you correct her saying that Melody, Elisa and Ruby has got a same Daddy and Mummy is also Elisa’s Mummy.

So just that you know

– all of the girls have a same father, and Elisa and Melody are biologically my daughters. Do not believe the youngest of the family…

I can’t wait when her mind is blown with the fact that Grandma is Daddy’s Mum, and “Mummi” is Mummy’s Mummy and “Ukki” is Mummy’s Daddy…

Did your kids ever have similar type of peculiar ways of thinking?

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I am not alone anymore

As I posted before, I have struggled with my mental health recently. It could be just from pure exhaustion and dealing with change – I mean, did I mention we moved house? Yeah, we moved house. That comes with endless to do lists on top of the usual neverending list of things to do.

I had felt vulnerable and shattered.

I felt tired physically and mentally, trying to get the house sorted enough that it would be livable and not a constant trip hazard. It didn’t matter how much I managed to do during the day, I still felt like an utterly lazy and awful human being who hasn’t done nearly enough when I went to bed. I tried to be kinder to myself and change those critical voices in my head to something more compassionate, but didn’t seem to succeed.

Panic! at the shop

Then, couple days after the reported panic attack, I had another. I was shopping in Aldi and without any prompt or apparent reason, it hit me. A huge wave of pure mental anguish. I wanted to scream, cry and run out. I was at the fruit and vegetable aisles, clasping to my trolley for support. My chest felt tight, and the mental pain felt physical. It was painful pressure building up inside in me, filling me up, scrounging me hollow. It needed to release, and in its most painful state it used to be my previous impulse to harm myself somehow to give all that mental torment a way to discharge. This time, I snapped my fingers against the shopping trolleys handle and concentrated on breathing like an yogi. In while counting to three, out and counting to three. In…Out. In…Out. Pick up potatoes. In… Out… Pineapples. We need pineapples, pick two. In… and milk. Out..

I didn’t notice if people were staring at me, I paid no attention to any other customer or staff member there. It was just me, shopping, my psychological torture and breathing. I didn’t fight it, it never helps, I only counted to three and breathed in rhythm to it and picked up items into my shopping trolley.

By the time I had circled around all the aisles and was at the tills, the panic attack had eased. It had left me feeling weak, used up and unsteady.

A night out with the girls?

I got home okay. While unpacking the groceries I thought what to do next. I was supposed to go out that night with some other DCF mums, but the whole thought of going somewhere public, loud and full of other people with all that stimuli it brings about was too much. I felt another attack building inside me.

I didn’t give up straight away, as that would have made me disappointed in myself. I decided to have a shower, just to see if it helped.

Freshly out of shower, I felt better – but wobbly and weak. I could not face going out – it already felt too much having to drive to nursery to pick Melody up, but I had no other choice.

I sent an apologetic message to the other mums telling them honestly about my panic attack and that I could not come out with them that night, but urged them to go without me. They sent me sympathetic messages and I went to pick up Melody.

I never expected what happened next.

“Maiju, it is all arranged. We are coming to you. With food, wine and chocolates.”

The girls didn’t go out for dinner without me. As I couldn’t go out, they came to me. We sat around our tiny dinner table surrounded by the mess that is our daily life with surplus moving disarray, and they didn’t bat an eyelid. They brought everything with them that we needed, and we sat in our comfortable clothes, ate and drank and giggled. Even I cracked smiles and laughed, feeling more certain about myself around them. They made me feel better. They made me feel cared for, loved.

This is the best photo of me ever taken. I am sitting by that same dinner table and Melody took this photo with my phone. And posted it into my Facebook story with some smileys on it too, without me realizing what she was doing.

They made me realise I was no longer alone – I had mum friends that cared for me and were ready to change their plans to help me.

[I am aware I have never really been alone, I have friends abroad and here too, people I have met through different connections. It has been my own fault that I had not seen them that often or become that close to them. ]

How precious is that, how amazingly lucky am I?

Since that night, after those hugs and bottles of wine, I have felt steadier on my feet. I haven’t had another panic attack. I have made more of an effort to be kinder to myself, and celebrate the things I have managed to do. So far, so good. Additionally, just thinking about that night around our dinner table makes me smile. It fills me up with hope.

Hope for our future, hope for myself, hope in general.

Thank you girls.

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We met Jules the Entertainer at Julia’s house event

For years, we have been getting support from Julia’s House Children’s Hospice.

Every school holiday they organise an event called “Housemates”, which is a lovely relaxed play session for the whole family. Parents can have a hot drink and a gossip with other Julia’s house parents while the disabled and their siblings are all entertained with arts and crafts, toys and games and sometimes even a child’s entertainer pops along. Last half term we met Jules the Entertainer, who is a master Balloon Modeller among other things.

We’ve never met him before and we were curious to see how he would do with our children’s requests. He made an unicorn balloon for Melody in no time at all, and when it was Elisa’s turn…

Can you guess what we asked him to make for Elisa?

If you have met Elisa, you should be already aware that she is the hugest fan of Futurama. She has loved it for years already and it still continues to entertain her to the fullest. Her favourite characters are the robot Bender and Dr Zoidberg.

From GIPHY

Hearing this, Mr Jules sighed comically, took out his phone and searched up “Dr Zoidberg” from the Internet. Soon he had an image of the lobster up and he was modelling away, picking up balloons to match the colours and murmuring to himself while trying to work out the logistics of how to actually build up a weird creature with tentacles on it’s face. Elisa was fully entertained by just watching him, and everyone else around was having a ball seeing him “struggle”. Soon Elisa had worked out what he was making and the wonder on her face…

Elisa didn’t yet know what he was about to make …
Here, Jules is making eyes for Dr Zoidberg. Can you tell it from Elisa’s face? She already knows!
It’s coming along.. and Elisa is loving every minute of this balloon show!
“Hmmm? Does it look like what it should?”
Elisa thought it did and her opinion is what mattered the most!
She loved it.

I like to believe that seeing the pure joy on my child’s face,

it motivated Jules even further. After he had made a balloon to every child in the event, he then did some research on Futurama themed balloon models. We carried on with the events other activities – Melody was busy decorating pumpkins and biscuits and soon was time for stories and songs.

In the end of the event we found Jules in the hallway crafting away with his balloons, building an even bigger Dr Zoidberg for our Elisa!

We found him!
Putting it all together while Elisa is waiting excitedly…

Elisa was so happy.

how can I explain the joy she felt when she saw the big balloon creature that looked like her favourite character from her favourite tv-show?

I was so taken aback by the generosity and the will to make my child happy that Mr Jules showed that it made me speechless. It did make me cry [of happiness]. In secret though, I did not want to embarrass Elisa nor Jules!

Making sure we all got home safely.

I could not think of any other way to thank Jules enough for what he did for my children than to write this blog post.

Jules the Entertainer

can not only do balloon modeling, but magic shows, fire stunts, stilt walking and circus workshops. He does do kids birthday parties – he is the “Bournemouths Children’s Entertainer” – and he is available for corporate events too.

I cannot recommend him for birthday parties as I have not yet seen him in anywhere else than at this Julia’s house event. If his compassion for the children he met that day. his eye for detail and his determination to bring joy and happiness to the children and their families are anything to go by, I would say he is an excellent choice as a party entertainment for anyone.

We all hope to see him soon again. Thank you Jules for making our children happy!

Jules the Entertainers contact details:

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A smell of mucus caused a panic attack

Melody has got a cough. It is nothing unusual for the time of the year. She coughs, laughs and carries on. She doesn’t complain or moan, she doesn’t let it to slow her down.

The only reason I mentioned it is the outburst of emotions it caused in me. She knew nothing of it as she was fast asleep, with rosy cheeks and lips healthy red. I could only smell the mucus that caused her to cough every now and then and it unnerved me. My own breath was caught in my throat, my hands suddenly shaky. I noted her colour and breathing patterns, all healthy and unaffected. I stared at her, scared for her life.

I was taken back to PICU,

when Elisa was in medically induced coma and a machine breathed for her. She was unusually still, colour so pale, dark circles around her eyes. She made no sound while fighting for her life.

Instead of Elisa though, I saw Melody hooked up in those machines. In present I saw Melody breathing evenly, but in my minds eye I heard the sirens of an ambulance, the beeping sounds of hospital equipment. I smelled the hospital.

I concentrated to watch sleeping Melody’s even breath while I battled to get my emotions back in control.

My child may die before me

I have had to face the possibility of Elisa’s death many times already. We were lucky that she came out of my womb alive, we were lucky that she survived her first week after her birth. So often she has fought and survived, and I have been by her side urging her on.

If Elisa was to go to a hospital now,

I would bat an eyelid in annoyance. I wouldn’t be scared for her. We have taken Elisa to hospitals so many times that it is like taking her to see a dentist. It is nothing to be overly anxious about.

Looking at my sleeping youngest child though I found myself paralysed with fear, even though she had no temperature, she was breathing effortlessly and the only signs of a slight illness were a smell of mucus and a cough. I realised I had never prepared for her death. The mere idea of it had thrown me.

You can never be prepared for such things and I know I’m not prepared for Elisa’s either, I am only equipped to battle with her to keep her alive – but to do the same for the one child that has never been admitted to a hospital since her birth…

Being Elisa’s mum is so different than being mum to Melody

There are things that I do on auto-pilot with Elisa, things that would throw me straight out of balance if I had to do the same for Melody. I don’t hesitate to clear up Elisa’s sick, suction her mouth and check that her airways are clear. I don’t think twice for placing oxygen prongs on her or performing chest physio. When Melody is sick, I have caught myself being frozen, having to think what I need to do next.

Melody is my healthy child.

She is the child whose health I do not have to worry about. That is how I carry on in my every day life. Only a smell and a sound of a cough threw it all out and I was confronted with the possibility that this small normally abled child could fall seriously ill too. What would I do then?

I restricted myself

and didn’t allow myself to gather her close to myself and hug her tight – oblivious to my distress, she had only just fallen asleep. I swallowed my emotions and went back downstairs, where the child who I am used to seeing unwell was laughing and giggling in her room as her night carer was getting her ready to bed. I washed dishes and tried to make sense of these whirling feelings of mine but came in no conclusion.

Maybe it was a PTSD symptom?

Have you ever experienced anything similar?

We love wemove.

Have I yet mentioned that we moved house? Yeah. We moved.

Now I want you to put your imaginative hats on and wonder, how much material will a family of five have? Three kids, one of them a teenager, another a 4-year-old child and a 6-year-old. Add some extra with the additional medical needs of one of them, and those little bits that a growing Labrador puppy will have acquired. You might come to a close conclusion that there was quite a bit. Add some more baggage just to be on the safe side.

So, you can imagine the stress levels of two adults who are desperately trying to sort through all of it.

Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash .

How to move it?

We were going to need some help on the actual moving day. We contacted our favourite moving company that we had used previously, and luckily they were able to book us in fairly soon.

The plan was to let the professionals handle all the furniture and other heavier objects that needed to be moved, and we would move the boxes and small things.

Who did we hire?

The company we used is called “WeMove“. We knew the founders as they handled one of our moves when they were only just starting out as a company. They really go above and beyond for what you expect a moving company to do – all of the team members that we’ve met have been not only polite but fun to be around; they make the stress levels lower down with laughter.

Why them?

They are affordable.

Now, our financial situation has always been rather tough, but the wemove – people have always been courteous about it. As an example, first time we were about to hire them I told them straight up that we had a tight budget for how much we could pay them for. I was stressed about it, as I knew we could go no further than that and I was aware they charged for their services with hourly rates. What we could afford then equaled two hours worth of their work.

They accepted it and didn’t make a big deal out of it – and I didn’t expect to see them working as quickly as they did. They didn’t run, but they moved as fast as they could, moving our furniture from the old place to their van and strapped it in. Soon everything was packed up, driven to our new place and unloaded. It was all done within the time frame I had given.

It made me trust them.

They showed respect.

They were there to do a job well and quickly, even though working slower would (in theory) get them more money in their pockets. They play for the long haul, knowing that pleasantly surprised and happy customer is a customer won over for life.

We have now hired them three (3) times in total.

On our second move with them, the founders didn’t come to do the job personally themselves, but they sent us their lovely workmates who presented the same respect and work ethic to us than the founders themselves.

On our final move – this one – we had precisely the same experience than in the previous occasions. The teammates listened to our wishes, and they made it feel like everything is possible. It was no problem for them to go and complete a fridge-freezer swap for us. They took the fridge we had been using to Dan’s brother, and took the brothers fridge to our new place, with no complaints or weird looks to us at all. It was just part of their work day, no problems.

Would I recommend them?

Yes, I would.

My advice would be to be up and honest with them about what sort of a job you have in mind, and be as precise as possible about how much stuff you have that you would like them to help you with. The more they know, the better they can prepare for the job; so they will turn up with a vehicle that’s a right size for the job – not a small van for 5 bedroom all furniture move or their hugest vehicle to help you move out from your studio flat – and with right amount of work personnel.

They do have a handy tool for this online on their website here!

Thank you,

the whole team at wemove. You’ve made our moves so much easier to bare. I have written this blog post as a way to thank you for your kindness, hopefully reading this has brighten your day!

Contact details for The WeMove:

This is not a sponsored post. All sponsored material and paid collaborations are clearly marked at the start of the blog post.

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Random act of kindness: A New Laptop

I had bought my laptop through Amazon, it was “certified refurbished”: secondhand laptop that had been fixed by someone who held Amazons approval for refurbishing laptops. I bought it with confidence, hoping it would last me years and years as its only job would be to provide me a blogging pathway. It did, without any apparent hiccups for couple of years.

Read more about Amazons Renewed – products here.

One night as I was about to turn the beloved laptop off, it told me it needed to refresh itself with updates. That’s fine, I told it, just shut yourself down after you are done.

So it did.

It did it so well that it never woke up again. Next time I climbed up the stairs and got myself comfortable in my little hidey hole where I blogged, the laptop was off. I pushed the power button and nothing happened. Frowning, I checked the power lead, the plug and all the connections. Everything was attached to themselves as they should, but my black laptop still kept itself dark. I unattached the power cord and took off the laptops battery and clipped it back on again. I attached the cord and pressed the power button. Nothing.

I then contacted my in-house IT support – my partner Dan.

He did all that I had just done without getting a different result. That point I gave up on blogging for the night. The plan was to leave it charging overnight, just on the off chance that the laptop had just really drained all of its battery life out of itself.

In the morning, the little laptop was still lifeless. Dan took it downstairs to try whatever magical tricks he can do with all of his certified IT knowledge, and I trusted him to get it up and running in no time.

Even he could not get it to power up.

It wasn’t the battery, it wasn’t the leads – something had just happened to the internal organs of the device and it was undeniably dead.

It was a shock to me.

I stared at our bank account and wondered how on Earth would we be able to afford to buy another laptop, after all the money we’ve already used for moving house, furniture and even the bit that I have already done for Christmas. There was even more furniture that we are lacking and in definite need for, and it all would require some capital.

Could I go on without a computer?

Yes I could. I do have my smartphone and on that I could type out some blog posts if I needed to – it is not impossible, it is rather doable – but it is not as practical as doing it on a computer. Especially if you can touch type on the QWERTY keyboard like I do, with a speed of about 80 words a minute, typing with a smart phone is mind-numbingly slow.

I researched getting laptop through different financing options from several companies, comparing and making notes on what we could possibly afford with careful financial planning and what is definitely out of the question. In the midst of it we celebrated Halloween and as I posted photos of my beautiful kids in horrific costumes on social media I mentioned there about my dilemma, just on the off-chance someone had been waiting for a post update.

My girls and myself all ready to go #trickortreat yesterday!I have some sad news. Sad to me, at least. My loyal…

Posted by Maiju – Family Blog Featuring Special Needs on Friday, 1 November 2019

It didn’t even cross my mind…

Within minutes, I got a private message from my brother-in-laws girlfriend. She had a laptop that she no longer needed and she offered it to me. I was stunned. I sent many messages asking if she was really sure, if there was anyone else who she might want to keep the laptop for and I triple-checked if she really was certain about giving the laptop to me. She persisted.

On the same day, I was sitting with the brand new looking laptop in my possession and having coffee with my brother-in-law. The angel in disguise herself was at work.

Right now, I am already using that very same laptop to type out this blog post. I cannot express how lucky I feel, how grateful and … just speechless with gratitude.

I know there are nice people out there,

people willing to help out whenever they can. It just did not occur to me that someone might offer their laptop for me to use if I just mentioned I was in need of one.

Thinking about all this gives me a funny feeling in the bottom of my stomach, sort of warm, fuzzy tinkle. I feel… loved and supported. It makes me emotional and .. in a way embarrassed. That I was in a position that I needed help.

I know that if the roles were reversed, I would be there offering the help I was in place to give.

Have you noticed the same?

That you could offer to help someone without a second thought, full-heartedly and eagerly, but if you were the one receiving the help, you’d feel embarrassed, flustered?

Saying this, I am ever so grateful for my friend for doing this for me. It means a lot. With my whole heart,

thank you.

Thank you for helping me. Thank you.

Our Tumble Dryer is Dead – how we tackled the laundry?

Our family of 5 generate a lot of laundry. The washing machine needs to run at least once a day for me to be on top of the laundry game, and if I slack off or – like in this case, when the tumble dryer is out of the equation – the result is an enormous laundry pile.

It is autumn. In England. Even in “sunny Bournemouth” it does rain in autumn, so I couldn’t use our otdoor airer. I have an airer inside, but with the air circulation not being on the highest standards (in the old place), it takes up to two days for everything hanging to be dry.

Even with the most simplest maths, you can see how coming up to the moving day we were already facing shortages of fresh clothes and were avoiding the Mount Laundrest that was by our washing machine.

After we moved and Dan got the washing machine hooked on again,

the washing was singing its songs again with no problems at all. Without having a dryer or outdoor airer (and sunny days to go with it), we were hanging clothes on the radiators and the single airer we had. It didn’t take me long when I googled “launderettes near me”.

I found this little laundromat in Bear Cross that promised tidy space, tables and chairs to sit down on while waiting for your laundry and helpful staff. I was happy with that, so loaded with coins and three massive laundry baskets and a humongous bag full of dirty clothes and linen I found myself in the tidiest launderette I have ever seen. And I’ve seen many during my backpacking years!

The lady was helpful and lucky for me as a typical Finnish, she didn’t overindulge in small talk. She made me a cup of coffee and was happy to chat when I offered it, but she was as comfortable as I was to be sitting together in silence, minding our own business.

Business I did bring.

Three small and two big washing machines are dutifully washing my dirty textiles.

I had brought my laptop with me and hoped to do some blogging while the laundry was whirring away in the machines, but I was sooner ready than I expected. I had anticipated to spend a whole afternoon cramped up in a launderette, but all that laundry, including two duvets, took about two hours only to be washed and dried!

The lady of the house helped me fold the freshly washed laundry away which I was grateful about. Other times she busied herself cleaning the already pristine clean launderette when there was nothing else to do. For this I had no worries placing some of my damp clothes on the floor while sorting through them, the place was that clean! Considering I had just paid for them to be washed, mind you – it was not an inattentive act of mine.

At the time of visiting the pricing was as follows:

  • The big wash was £8, small £4.
  • Dryers: 50p for 5 minutes, £1 for 10 minutes.

You can use your own washing powder, though you can buy some there too separately.

launderette in bournemouth, laundry on a table

As we still do not have a dryer,

it may just be that I need to nip to the launderette again. I have been doing the washing every day, so I am on it – but if I need to, I don’t mind going back to the Bear Cross Launderette again. I would even recommend it to a friend and you, who reads this blog post. If you need to wash your duvets or have a similar Mount Launderest at your home like I did, it could be worth spending couple quids at this launderette to get it sorted.

The launderette I went to can be found in  

54 Anchor Rd, Bournemouth BH11 9HS
Open every day from 7:30am – 8:00pm
tel. : 01202 571344

This is not a paid collaborative blog post – if it was, it would have been mentioned at the very beginning of this blog post.

We are on Twitter now too – and still can be found on Instagram and Facebook.

We completed the Kids Kilometre

It so closely didn’t happen for us. The plan had been for Melody to run with me and Elisa to be pushed by Dan. On the day Melody woke up feeling poorly and ended up being sick, so she was out of the game.

Elisa wasn’t though.

Once I gathered my wits, I pushed her out of the house and onto a bus. I was determined to make it special mummy-daughter time then with Elisa.

I met up with the others close to the starting point and got our T-shirts on. There were a bunch of us running for the Dorset Children’s foundation – a varied group of kids with different difficulties and mobility issues. For many of them, you couldn’t see the struggles they have gone through to be there today, ready to run for the charity that gives so much back to them.

Me and Elisa, all ready for action!

I didn’t know what to expect really – I had never done anything like this before. I didn’t have time to feel self-conscious though as my amazing daughter kept me present in the moment. She was so excited about the attention she got from our friends and people walking past: she was so happy to be out and about and meeting people. She kept me grounded, I didn’t even have time to feel nervous.

Then they started the countdown

It was time to go. First we were surrounded by people and I was conscious not to push into people with Elisa’s chair. Soon the faster runners had got distance to us and we had more space around us. I picked up speed – for Elisa’s delight.

Elisa turned out to be the best personal trainer ever. The faster I ran, the more she giggled.

Naturally I wanted to see her enjoying herself as much as possible, so I ended up pushing her faster and faster. I had her backpack on my back that had her emergency medications, syringes, hearing stuff and all the rest of it in it and on her wheelchair, I had her suction machine, saturation monitor, oxygen cylinder, feed pump and whatever else on.. Above all her wheelchair is not designed for such purpose as running. It is not the lightest or easiest to handle as you try to be agile and run, but those technicalities aside – I had fun. She had fun. I didn’t run the straight line with her but went for the uneven terrain where she would get the more exciting bumpy ride that I knew she would laugh at, and I curved the wheels like on a snakes path.

She loved it.

I got sweaty and red in a face quite quickly, but I had this silly grin plastered on my face that glowed from within. It came from seeing Elisa enjoying herself. It came from her laughter and excited posture. It came from the buzz around me, from all these kids running with their mums or dads, the audience cheering.

So many firsts…

She had been snickering and giggling the whole way, but all of a sudden she fell quiet. She had focused on the the crowd. I had pushed her near the audience and held her arm out, which resulted in her receiving a couple of high fives. It quieted her down.

As she has both hearing and visual impairment, touch has always been very important sense to her – not only we use tactile sign language called “Tassels” with her, but she gets so much comfort from cuddles and simple touches. So, to get high fives from strangers while being pushed in her wheelchair was another thrilling experience for her.

Then she heard the clapping.

She had her cochlear implants on during the whole race and when people were clapping for her, she closed her eyes and concentrated on it. Even though I could not properly see her face and all the emotions it was conveying while running, I saw concentration and awe.

Coming closer to the finish line

I was surprised to feel sad. Even though I had found it more tiring that I care to say to push her, I didn’t want this experience to end just yet. They announced Elisa’s name and how she was running for the Dorset Children’s Foundation when we crossed the finish line, and I was teary-eyed. I didn’t see anyone I knew immediately, but lovely event organisers took us to get our medals.

When she was handed the medal,

I found myself welling up with emotion. I managed to hold it in till she had got her “Finisher 2019” t-shirt and then a tear or two rolled down my cheek while I pretended to look for a way out with the wheelchair. I felt so proud of her. I know I was the one that did the sweating, but with everything we’ve gone through together, I had never imagined this moment – of her getting a medal for finishing a race in a marathon event.

Such an absurd idea!

When she was in NICU and we feared she might be brain-dead or when she almost died because of a nasty chest infection when she was 3 and was in medically induced coma in paediatric intensive care unit in Southampton… or even just 2 years ago when our daily routine of medications and feeds took 24/7 in a way that we had no rest at all, before we had sufficient support in place.. If then someone would have told me that in just few years she would be handed a medal for finishing a race in Bournemouth marathon event… I am not sure what I would have thought.

When we’ve only been concentrating on surviving for so long, doing something extra curriculum like this is so out of the hat crazy that it is hard to wrap my thoughts and feelings around it.

3-year-old Elisa fighting for her life in PICU in Southampton, only 3 years ago now.
But look at us now!

After I had found the others and exchanged couple of emotional words, I found refuge at a cafe in Lower Gardens. Once I had given Elisa her midday medications and put her lunch running through the gastrostomy tube, I just hugged her and cried. I cried of joy, pride and for the amazing experience we just had. I cannot even explain fully why I was crying. I was just so freaking emotional.

Want to see the DCF group run on a video?

Alex, who supports the DCF’s work, ran with our group of kids taking video and photos of us. Elisa loved him and posed for him every time he came close with his camera, and all the footage show the atmosphere – she was so happy to be there. By the beach, breathing in the salty sea air, feeling the wind and making Mum run. Most of the photos of us by the beach are from him!

This is his video:

Not to forget,

All the children that took part in our group “challenge” really overdid themselves and had fun. With that, through our donation page we’ve raised a staggering 1 622 pounds with Gift Aid! How amazing is that?

That all will go to Dorset Children’s Foundation “Accessible for All” initiative. Read more about it here.

Elisa with Patsy, the co-founder of the Dorset Children’s Foundation (DCF).

I am not sure how much longer the donation page will be open for donations, but last time I checked, it still was. If you want to donate a pound or two after reading our experience, I would be so honoured if you did so in here: Kids Kilometre. It all goes for very good cause; it gives families like us opportunities to play together, to make family memories. Thanks to the Dorset Children’s Foundation Accessible for All initiative, that this money is raised for. The DCF does other important work too, check it all out from their website here.

Thank you – I’m just off to dry my tears away. Again.

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My Trusted Temper Tantrum Tamers

The stomping foot, arms crossed, protesting lower lip. The crying and screaming, the trembling body. The lovely classic signs of a temper tantrum.

There are times when I find it extremely hilarious.

When we are not in a rush and we are not having a temper tantrum over wellies or sandals on a rainy day. On those situations the problem might be solved with a conspicuous

“I understand you, I hear you, I know you want the sandals but it’s raining outside and you don’t want your feet to get wet now, do you? No? I thought so, so let’s save the sandals for another day and we go and find your lovely Peppa Pig wellies now.”

If it only worked…

She does love her Peppa boots!

But then there are the most entertaining temper tantrums when the child herself forgets why they are stomping their foot. The very mood when anything you offer is thrown back at you with a solemn “no”.

Like the other night at bedtime.

We had just finished our routine of brush your teeth – bath – pyjamas – hair – and it was time to pick a book for bedtime story. All of a sudden I see my child protesting and trashing around on the bed.

“Do you want your teddy?”
“No!”
“Do you want your drink?”
“No!”
“Do you want the monkey book for bedtime story?”
“No!”
“The Gruffalo book?”
“No!”
“Do you want mummy hug?”
“No!”
“Daddy hug?”
“No!”
“Do you want a kiss?”
“No!”
“What would you like?”
“No!”
“What, you would like a ‘no’?”
“No!”
“Okay,” I inhale and shout as loud as I can master, knowing that Elisa’s night carer is just next door, “NO!!!!!
That startles her. She turns to stare at me.
“Is that what you wanted?” I asked.
“No…” She says and sniffs.
“What would you like then?”
“No.”
“Another one? Really?”
“No.”
“Okay then… NO!!!” I shout and slam my hands on the bed too, for the effect.
Melody can’t hide her smile.
“Right, would you like to pick a book now?”
“No.”
“What, no book?”
“No…”
“What would you like?”
Melody cracks another smile.
“No..?”
“Okay, last one…. You ready?”
“No..”
NO!!!” I shout.
She dissolves in laughter.

I gather my giggling child up in my arms and once she’s stopped laughing, I tell her we are going to lie down on the bed now. I knew that if she wanted a book at that point, she would tell me so – but I suspected the whole tantrum was caused by her being so tired. Without another protest, she settles down next to me.

“Mum?” Melody asks.
“Yes, Melody?”
“Cuddle me.”
I wrap my arms tighter around her.
“Melody?”
“Yes, Mummy?”
“Hug me.”
“Okay okay…” and she wraps her slender arms around my neck.
“Night night, Melody.”
“Night night, Mummy.”

Couple more minutes, and she was fast asleep. I disentangle myself free and just watch her sleep, before I tiptoe back downstairs.

There is another Tantrum Tamer that I’ve used

Instead of explaining it, I just show you the video where I got the idea from.

On a video, Dad is holding a little girl in his arms. The girl is crying. Dad tells her that it’s his turn now and starts to wail himself. The girl stops sobbing and stares at his father (through the screen). Father stops crying and tells the girl it’s her turn to cry now. The girls answers with “no”. Dad takes couple more turns on crying, but the girl is done and doesn’t want to cry anymore.

Melody responds with “NO!” first, then runs to cover my mouth when I “cry”. She’s by then stopped crying herself, so we can have a conversation about what went wrong, why we were upset. Occasionally the conversations go horribly wrong and I find myself witnessing another tantrum… but after a couple of turns with “crying”, we usually do end up fixing the situation for real.

How do I solve the wellies versus sandals issue?

I am not so proud of this one.

Too many times we disagree about the clothing and instead of getting ready to go, we squabble over summer hats or woolly hats, lost socks and sun lotions or if she can bring whatever unpractical toy with her.

There was a time when she didn’t believe I would leave to go to nursery without her.

We had been trying to get ready, but disagreed on I-cant-even-remember-on-what, and I had used all the reasoning power I had and the situation was not resolving. So like a mature adult that I am, I said

“Well, if you are not doing what I ask you to do, I’m going without you.” I paused to see if that made a difference.
It didn’t.
“Okay then, bye bye, I’ll see you later!” I got up to my feet, walked to the door, opened it, stepped outside and closed the door.
I heard the wailing scream immediately.
I counted to three and opened the door.
“Would you like to come with me?”
“Yes please,” she sobbed and ran to my arms.

I had no problems getting her dressed the way I needed her, and she was the laughing usual self already on our way to the car.

If I struggle with the same issues now,

all I need to say “Okay, I can go without you then, bye bye” when she then hastily says “No noooo!” and runs to do what I need her to do and off we go.

(Needless to say, this is the very last resort – it would loose it’s magic if I overdid it. Also, I do not want my child to live in a constant fear that I would actually leave her behind [never]).

To warn anyone who sees me and Melody at a supermarket..

I am definitely one of those parents who will throw a “temper tantrum” on a floor just to shut their kid up. If she can do it, so can I.

My little helper helping me in my hometown’s supermarket in Finland.

So far, she’s been too good while shopping. Such a little angel helping me carry my shopping basket, getting my products for me and doing every little bit to help me where she can. But one day.. One day I will find myself on a floor pretending to have a temper tantrum.

What are your trusted Temper Tantrum Tamers?

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