I’m still alive.

Lots of stuff going on, including buying a house into which we are hopefully moving this week, activity at my CC shop, usual ill health and general crazy life stuff.

Is you’re reading this, thanks for sticking around.

If you’re not reading this, I have nothing to say to you…

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

So, this happened today:

pass cert

I received my first one of these 30 years ago, at age 17, in the United States. The Connecticut written was a bitch and a half and I was one wrong answer from failing. But I made it through to the driving portion of the test.

And the driving section? All right turns. No manoeuvres. I drove around the fucking block. No kidding. All those hours of parallel parking practice. Gone to waste.

So in late 2014 I spoke to my mom, knowing we were going to be in California summer ’15, and asked if she and step-dad would pay for me to take driving lessons here in Belfast and take the test and so on. And she agreed, eager to have me independently mobile while we were there.

So I applied for my Provisional License and was granted that. And called Abba Driving school as I had seen them around my area quite a lot and how cool is their name? The nice lady took my name, my payment info and told me someone would contact me soon.

It was sometime in late November or December of that year and I didn’t expect to hear until after the holidays. Instead just a few hours later I had my first contact from John, aka Mr Patient. And so we began.

From the beginning John agreed I knew how to drive. I just needed to practice driving on the left and roundabouts. Oh My Lord roundabouts. We’ll get back to those…

In any case, I practised. And studied for my theory. And practised some more.

In March John said I was certainly getting close to being able to take my practical and should book my theory. So I did. And studied some more. And passed that with flying colours. Phew. First hurdle passed!

But California was drawing nearer and times to take the test were getting harder to get (thanks to bad staffing levels, that was fixed later by the DVA), so John told me to book my practical. I was ready. There was no reason I wouldn’t pass.

Famous last words.

My first go, I was apparently too close to the left. John was in the car for that one and he thought the guy was a hard ass. Based on some comments he made, I think he flunked me due to being American.

So I didn’t have my license for California. There was no time to practice more and book another test before we went.

So I booked my second test. And totally blew a roundabout. Roundabouts are evil. Buy some fucking traffic lights like normal people have! And you drive on the wrong side of the fucking road!

So I booked my third test. And totally blew a roundabout.  Roundabouts are evil. Buy some fucking traffic lights like normal people have! And you drive on the wrong side of the fucking road!

Thanks. Had to get that out one more time. 😀

So I booked my fourth test. And nearly hit a car that was parked too far out into the road after I had absolutely passed the rest. It was so bad the examiner actually grabbed the wheel and put his brakes on. That’s bad.

So I took a deep breath and booked another.

And today, 4th April 2016, after 16 months of lessons and 5 tries, I passed. I aced it, actually. Only 5 minor faults (you’re allowed 16) and smooth sailing all the way!

And I never have to do that again. Thank fuck.

But I didn’t do it alone:

First and foremost, thanks to Shelly and Burt Kagen, my mom and step-dad for their financial support. We couldn’t afford one set of lessons and one test, let alone nearly a year and half of the same. And for their confidence that I would get it. I did it!!!

OCardf course, thanks to my husband and son, who had so much confidence in me that they bought and signed this over a year ago.

There was a box of chocolates as well, but those were eaten for comfort after the first fail. 😀

Without their unwavering support, always, I would have given up ages ago. I came home crying from failing more than once, certain I’d never get it.

Every time my tears were dried and hugs were given and encouragement to try try again.


And finally, there’s John McGibbon, Mr Patient himself. (He even used to have a Mr Patient, with a Mr Man character picture, magnet on his car, but they made him take it down for copyright reasons.) John’s cool demeanour, unwavering confidence in me and excellent instruction are 100% what got me here today. He took this cocky American driver and turned her into an even better driver than she already was. And I was pretty damn good. 😀

So thanks John. Like I said today, if you’re still teaching in about 10 years? You can teach my Adam how to drive!

So, He’s Like Me In *Some* Ways…

Adam and I went to the dentist this week. We know how to celebrate half term, let me tell you!

And it turns out both Adam and I have cavities. So yay?

The other thing that was noted was that his 6-year molars have very deep crevices on the inside face as well as deep craters on top. And when they fill his cavity in a few weeks Chris, our dentist, is going to see what he can do about those as well.

Now, anyone who has seen my son and my husband will tell you, without a doubt, that he is Simon’s son. From the colour of his hair to the shape of his face he is Simon’s Mini-Me. Adding glasses on his face just made it more obvious! I often joke that if I hadn’t been there when he came out, I’d doubt he’s mine.

But this is something we have in common. I have a very strong memory, recalled again when the crevices were mentioned, of my childhood dentist telling my mom the same thing about me. I was older than Adam, probably 9 or 10, when it was mentioned and dealt with.

And I have another very clear memory of the sigh my mom gave and the look she gave me when she was told this. I remember asking later ‘Did I do something to make those craters?’ as I had interpreted the look as ‘great, she’s done it again’. My mom said, ‘no, of course not.’

And now, 40ish years on I realized what that sigh and that look meant. It wasn’t ‘Great Robyn’s causing more trouble’ it was ‘Great, more money spent/insurance papers to process/similar adult thing that I couldn’t understand then’.

Not what our dentist is like

By Uncredited WPA photographer 1936 New Orleans. Not what our dentist is like. Thank god! 😀

But I understand now. Because I didn’t sigh or send my son a look, but I did start planning, in my head, the social story I was going to create about getting a tooth drilled and filled. And wondering if I should ring school and let them know and see if they had one available. Adult thoughts. Mother thoughts. I’m not much of a sigher but I might have sighed at this.


My concerns now are different than my mother’s concerns then, since I have the additional challenge of autism in these situations, but a mother’s concerns are all based on the same thing.

Doing everything we can to help our children.

Usually after a moment of ‘oh god, I’m so over this.’


Anxiety and Adulting

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you just might be aware that Simon and I are looking for a house to buy. We have a deposit saved through various means and are now just waiting for the best house for us to show up.

Hey! It's only £1.4m above our budget!!!

Hey! It’s only £1.4m above our budget!!! credit: http://www.propertynews.com/

Part of this, of course, was also talking to the bank about a mortgage. Which is terrifying in general and even more terrifying for someone with anxiety.

You see, a large part of my anxiety hinges on the fact that I almost never feel like a grown up. I feel like I’m about 20 most of the time and who on earth is going to give a 20-year-old a mortgage? Certainly no one would have given 20-year-old me a mortgage.

But, you know, I’m not 20. So I wasn’t laughed out of the bank or off the phone. And the estate agent up the road also took me seriously when I came in to look at brochures for houses.

But it was exhausting, all that adulting. And, of course, it’s not done yet. Still more adulting and then the anxiety of offer acceptance and blah blah de blah that surrounds buying a house.

So we are taking it slow and not overtaxing my poor brain and body.

But at the same time a house! That we own! That I can decorate! And redo things in!!!

Fuck. There’s all that adulting again…

No Explanation No Defence

The other day I posted this on my Facebook:

Now here’s Tee, with your weekly Lunch Making Report: Tee?
Thank you, Tee.
On Monday and Tuesday there were no issues. On Wednesday, sandwiches were put into the wrong lunch bags and Daddy mourned his lack of cheese but enjoyed the white bread while Adam had a tear or two for brown bread, but ate the filling and an orange provided by Mrs L.
On Thursday, Adam had pasta so he was safe but Daddy’s sandwich was without mayonnaise. Mummy realised this around 930a and text Daddy to warn him. His reply was frown emoticon.
And now today, Friday, all lunches are within parameters and the family gave Mummy a big cheer!

Quite a lot of people liked it or smiled at it.

And then came the judges. Saying they could make their own lunches. And how in their house it was every man for himself.

And I started to get defensive. There are reasons, good ones, as to whyI make Simon and Adam’s lunches every day. Also, I shared this to poke fun at myself and lament my badly functioning brain, affected by a combination of fibro and perimenopause.

The original maker seems be lost, but I got it here: http://questinggirl.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/menopause-mothers-10-ways-to-feed-your.html

The original maker seems to be lost, but I got it here: http://questinggirl.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/menopause-mothers-10-ways-to-feed-your.html

And I started to defend myself.

And stopped.

Because why should I? The reasons Simon and I have for the way we run our family are just that; our reasons. I don’t worry about what happens in your house, so why are you so concerned about mine?

Yes. I shared the above. As I said, as a way to blow off frustration and to write it what I thought was a funny way. Not because I was looking for advice or opinion. It was just one of the many ways my poor brain is these days.

So I’m going to still post things like this.

So feel free to judge me, offer advice or do whatever you need to do to get through the day.

But I’m going to stop explaining and/or defending myself, my choices and my family.

How I went from news avoider to a news junky in just 11 years.

I used to be one of those people who never read the news or watched it on TV or paid attention when it interrupted the music on the radio station. It was too depressing and not all that interesting and had nothing to do with me.

And then I met Simon. And he is a news junky. He reads blogs and newspapers online and off and Twitter feeds and links and so on and so forth. He reads hard news, satire, right wing, left wing, moderate. Northern Irish, English, Scottish and American. And others. He thrives on information.

And I caught the bug. Not right away or all of a sudden but gradually I began, at least, reading headlines. And Twitter blurbs.

Photo source: http://www.contenthook.com/

And then US politics got interesting as now President Obama and Hillary Clinton faced off for the Democratic Presidential Nomination eight years ago.

And so I started downloading apps to read news on. And bookmarking news sites.

And got hooked on knowledge.
Which isn’t surprising as I’ve always enjoyed learning things I want to learn.

And so I too am now a news junky. Not perhaps to Simon’s level, as he shed a tear when TeleText went off the telly (may be a slight exaggeration), but enough to be informed as to what is going on in the world.

So are you a junky? An avoider? Somewhere in the middle?

So I Guess It’s Time for Goals Again…


It’s been awhile, yeah?

To say I’ve had a hard year, mentally and physically, is a bit of an understatement. Getting anything done has been a struggle and the blog and the business have taken a back burner.

But my GP and I are working on it, tweaking my meds, and I am starting to feel better again, so let’s review, shall we?

So last year I had five goals; one personal and four business.


  1. Blog at least once a week – Nope
  2. Redesign the website – Sort of, still working on it. Maybe.
  3. Launch Etsy Shop – Yup
  4. Work on novel – Nope


  1. Earn Driving license – Nope. Failed practical three times.

So yeah. Not a great year for achieving goals.

My number one, unwritten goal, was to just survive each day, sometimes each hour, or even minute. And I did that!

So what about this year?


  1. Do social media posts about Etsy listings once a week
  2. Blog at least once a fortnight
  3. Continue to redesign the website


  1. Pass practical driving exam
  2. Do the weekly save challenge*
  3. Learn to crochet
  4. Buy a house

That last one? Definitely happening. But it doesn’t really have a finish date as we need to find the right house first!

So it’s another year. With some new goals.

Wonder how I’ll do?

*The weekly save challenge is one I’ve just heard about. Once a week you put aside the amount for that week, starting with £1 on the first week of the year and ending with £52 on the last week. By the end of the year, you’ll have £1,378. Might be easy. Might be hard. Just have to wait and see.



Hooks, Eyes and Fine Motor Delay

As most people who read this blog know, my son, Adam, now 6, is Autistic. As is common with ASD, he also has some physical issues, including a fine motor delay.

This delay means he cannot button buttons or do hook and eye fastenings. He has just recently nailed snaps and zips but even those can be a struggle at times.

The other thing you may know is that Adam is tall for his age. Very tall. As in just over 48 inches tall. Yes. Four feet. At 6 years old. Never forget; I’m only 62 inches myself. So yes, he’s nearly to my shoulder.

In any case, this means that I could not find any school trousers without hooks and eyes for him this year. Luckily some of last years trousers were fine in length at the beginning of the school year. But, as he always seems to do, 4ish weeks into the school year he had a growth spurt and those trousers went from fine in length to borderline to nearly flood water length in the space of, I swear, a week. Or maybe even a day.

It’s been suggested I stop feeding him, but that seems a bit drastic to me. 😀

So I needed to solve the problem of how to get a hook and eye off and a snap on. I took a seam ripper to one of the pairs of trousers only to find that Marks & Spencer has some magic way of inserting the halves of a hook and eye through the fabric so I would have to cut the fabric to remove them. I made a face, sewed the seam back up on my machine and started thinking.

And this is what I came up with:

Final snaps
Snaps over hook and eye.

So, how did I do it? Let’s see!

First I gathered some stuff:

What I used.
Fabric, measuring tape, thread, needles, pins, snaps, seam ripper and cutting matt. Not shown: cutting wheel and yard stick.

Then I cut the fabric to size. I realized long after I was done cutting that it would have been neater if I’d allowed a bigger seam but by the time I realized that they had all been cut out and zigzagged stitched and I didn’t have the time to start over. Note: Yes. I used Avengers. No, it’s not technically part of his uniform. But since no one would know but us? I thought it would please Adam. And it did. 😀


Measuring the fabric
Measure twice. Cut once.
Fabric cut to size
All cut out with my wheel cutter, which is photobombing at the top there!
Close up of zigzagged edge.
Close up of zigzagged edge.










Snaps on fabric

Snaps in position for hand sewing. Yes, one of them is backwards. Again.

Next I hand sewed the snaps to the fabric pieces. Top Tip: Check you have the snaps the right way around. Then check again. And then again. I had ripped them out more times than I care to admit.







And finally, I machine sewed the strips over the hooks and eyes.

Snap, well, snapped.
Snap, well, snapped.
Final snaps
Snaps over hook and eye.












And when a small but very tall boy tried them on? Perfection!

The Process Series – Episode 1 – A Pocketful of Dandelions

This will be the first in an ongoing series about how the creative people in the world get to their finished product, from first thought to finished piece.

A Pocketful of Dandelions is a fantastic blog that is written by Vickie.

A Pocketful of Dandelions Logo


Vickie describes herself as “…a 40-something wife and mum from Hampshire. I’m a crafter and a self-confessed makeup horder. I write a little bit about everything I love, including the adventures I have with my daughter Bubs…”

Vickie just recently started filming both her unboxing of scrapbooking kits and showing how she uses the kits (and tons of other stuff!) and uploading to her YouTube channel.

What I love about her videos is that she doesn’t just show you the beginning and the end with maybe a tiny bit in the middle of where she puts items, but actually discusses the items, both ones that she used and ones she decided against, and shows her placing things around the page until it looks the way she wants.

Interspersed through out are her tips and tricks for layout and using various embellishments. For example, at 3:46 she is seen putting foam tape on the back of her central photograph and says she does this so she has room to put embellishments behind it. Granted, I’m not a scrapbooker, but that would never have occurred to me. I would have put the embellishments on first and then put the picture on top!

Final layout - Happy Scrapping - Don't look Down!

Happy Scrapping – Don’t Look Down!

This way she can place the picture and then see how various embellishments will look behind it.

She also mentions that she sorts her embellishments by colour rather than subject and we get to see her sort through her box of blue ones.

Watching her get to her final page is fascinating and her soft English accent is lovely to listen too as she talks through her whole process.

So head on over to A Pocketful of Dandelions and check all of her things out. You may learn something. I certainly did.

You can also catch up with Vickie on Twitter @vintagevicshop