Tuesday 30 September 2008

Please may I sit on your baby?

Like a boy scout, I really, really, really like being prepared. For everything. And part of this whole homestudy process is supposed to be about preparing us to become parents. So I should be going along with it, right? And doing all the recommended stuff? Well, yeah, if I was sensible I would just do it all, learn from the good bits and swallow the bad bits. And I know I need to jump through the hoops. Unfortunately, however, one of the hoops we have to jump through is gaining childcare experience - showing that we've spent enough time caring for pre-school children to prove that we aren't going to, I don't know, drop them or poison them or something. This is one of the things that brings waves of resentment so strong that occasionally they totally knock me off balance.

Don't worry, I know I'm an idiot. I think it's just that this reinforces my feeling that even the people facilitiating (ha) our adoption believe that we're somehow deficient because we haven't spawned, and need serious remedial help. Of course, it probably would do me good to change a few nappies, to make sure I can do it without skewering a baby on the nappy pins. And honestly, if someone else near me had adopted a baby, and was willing, I'd be around to their house asking for nappy-changing-time so fast you would only see dust. Or if my sister didn't live in Australia, this wouldn't be an issue because I would have already done so much aunty-time (no, really, L, I would). But neither are really an option, and so what's the alternative, if I really wanted to learn?

I know I probably should be asking my truckload of fertile friends if I can practise on their babies, but I. Just. Cannot. Do. It. Sometimes, it's hard enough just being in the same room as these people - it feels like being the only person at a table for one in a fancy restaurant on Valentines Day*. And yes, I know this is stupid - whatever I may feel like, my friends did not have children just to make my life difficult and I should just get over myself already. We're all in our late twenties and early thirties - it's normal for them to have kids. And it's nice that they enjoy those kids. Sure, it would also be nice if I felt like we had anything in common any more, or if they had anything to say to me that didn't start with 'when you have kids' or stop at 'so... Claudia.... how's.... umm..... work?' but like it or not, they are the ones with the normal lives and I have to get used to it because normal ain't changing anytime soon. But asking to borrow their babyfor a 'let's pretend I'm a mother' session just feels too much like going up to someone in that fancy restaurant and saying 'hey, when you go to the bathroom, do you mind if I sit in your seat for a while? Just to see how it feels?'

So instead we've just volunteered to do some common-or-garden-variety babysitting. Tonight, we're babysitting for some friends, who know about our homestudy and know that we need to do our hours (and they've got a concert that they want to go to - symbiosis at its most beautiful). And while I've just had a big moan about some of my friends, these are two of the only people I know who really haven't changed since they became parents. Or, if they have, they've been kind enough to keep the 'I've-only-really-become-a-whole-person-since-I-became-a-parent' rhapsodising away from me. Which I really appreciate. And I'm hoping that tonight will be another tick in the box for us, and that will all be great, and so on and so on and so on.

But I still resent it. I resent it because it's compulsory, and also because this kind of babysitting teaches me nothing - NOTHING - about childcare. It teaches me to sit in someone's lounge, drink their tea and watch their DVDs. While these are all essential life skills, they're really not going to help me become a better parent.

I guess we had a choice of 'swallow pride and learn something useful' or 'retain some shreds of dignity and waste time'. Looks like we went for the latter. What do you think are the chances they'll have series 4 of House??

* I have never actually done this. I am just making assumptions.

By the way - check out Emily's blog for a great adoption cartoon that made me bwah-ha-ha out loud.

Sunday 28 September 2008

my two favourite guys

Well, my parents are staying, I've made (yet another) 'no blogging while I should be working' resolution, and I've promised J that I will only be ten minutes on the computer, of which approximately eleven have elapsed.

The last few days have certainly been busy. But this afternoon I saw something that lifted my spirits:
my two favourite guys, winning the interspecies division of the olympic synchronised sleeping competition.

(that caption shamelessly lifted from a pic on i can has cheezburger)

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Progressing (and cat fat)

I really need to say a big thank you to those of you who sent me kind words and prayed for me yesterday as we had the social worker meeting that I was so unhappy about. It was so much better than I feared, for which I am really thankful. As is so often the case for things like this, I now feel like a big baby for how stressed I was about it.

The evening didn't start well though. First, I had to work later than normal (due to concentrating so badly during the day!) Then I got home. And first let me say that I have never ever had anything stuck in the plughole of our kitchen sink. Ever. That is, until yesterday, ten minutes before the social worker arrived when I was trying to get the washing up (from monday) finished (okay started). And it turns out that the plughole of my sink is exactly the diameter of a bit of kitchen equipment that I use oooh, twice a year but happened to use monday. Which got totally stuck.

ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH! So frustrating! And it turned out that I had exactly ZERO knives that were thin enough to get between the thing and the sink to lever it out, and I was beginning to consider unscrewing the U-bend. J came home and found me in a bit of a state, holding a sharp knife and stabbing away at the plug hole in tears. V. attractive. Fortunately not long afterwards my eight years of metallurgy training kicked in and I realised it was likely to be tin-plated mild steel, which is ferromagnetic - ten seconds and a trip to the fridge door later, we stuck a magnet on it and it lifted easily away.

Really wish I'd thought of that earlier.

But then, the meeting itself actually went really well and, as I said, I feel stupid for how worried I was. This meeting we covered 'relationship' and 'lifestyle', which wasn't too traumatic. In fact, that's an understatement - some bits of it were actually quite nice as we had to talk about how much we liked each other - it was like being back in marriage prep! Next time we're going to do 'childlessness' and 'health', which I'm not hugely looking forward to, but I do think I've learnt one small thing - various moments have made me realise that our SW is doing her best to respect our privacy, even though the process itself is very invasive. The next meeting is on Saturday, but I'm hoping I've used up my emotional trauma quota for the week and will glide effortlessly into it, smiling prettily. In a slightly odd twist, though, my parents are arriving for a four week (on and off) visit on Friday, and the SW wants to meet them - is this normal??? So that will be weird.


In other, not-at-all-exciting-to-anyone-but-me news, today is my WW 'weigh in day' and the scales say I've lost nine pounds. This is as much as a whole decent-sized baby, which I find strangely pleasing. But babies aside, nine pounds is nine pounds! Before I started this, I reasoned that my body mass index was absolutely perfect - as long as I was wearing 3 1/2 inch heels. So my ultimate aim is to lose enough weight so that I have the same BMI in flat shoes as I used to in 3 1/2 inch heels. Roughly, that also translates to losing the full bodyweight of my cat, so that I weigh as much holding the cat as I used to with no cat (our cat is not petite). I'm hoping this will act as a good motivational tool - if I'm tempted to stray, I just have to look at the cat and imagine his entire mass turned into fat cells and distributed across my body. Nice image! Bet you're glad you read that. Feel free to try it on a cat near you.

Tuesday 23 September 2008


Over the last few weeks, I've begun to feel a lot better about this process. Finally, it feels like little tiny fronds of the person I want to be are finally unfurling from within the dark, clenched recesses of my black, angry, resentful heart. Finally, I'm starting to think that I might be able to make it through this after all. For the first time, I've begun to feel okay, and maybe even cautiously optimistic, about the homestudy proccess.

But now we've got another appointment for our homestudy tonight and I've realised something. Of course I've been feeling okay about this over the last two weeks - we haven't actually had an appointment in those two weeks! Now that one is suddenly upon us again, I feel just as gut-churningly sick as ever.

(By the way, I almost wish we didn't use the same word (homestudy) as is used in the US, because the process is even more unpleasant than it is there. In short: TEN appointments, each three hours long, delving into EVERY area of your life, taking about six months and culminating in judgement by an assesssment panel - yes, really - and no choice at all about who does any of this, meaning that you can be assessed by an organisation whose values are very different to your own. Errrr, hypothetically speaking of course).

Today, thinking about this homestudy has sent me back to the work bathrooms for a few of those old familiar crying-at-work-and-trying-to-hide-it sessions that I thought I had left behind. It's proceeding in parallel with my supposedly normal life but once again is the source of huge waves of stress and anxiety that make concentrating at work insanely difficult. I'ts so drawn out! (Six months). It's so intrusive! (I really don't think the more ...errr... intimate aspects of our relationship are ANYBODY else's business). It's so prescriptive! (There are a whole lot of areas where, no matter what they say, there is definitely only one right answer). It's so embarrassing! (I'm not amazingly keen for my social worker to go and discuss MY fertility issues in detail with my referees). In so many hundreds of ways, it's just so humiliating.

I know I was writing on Sunday about how I need to deal with my control issues, and no doubt this is helping. And I know I just need to learn to cope with it. (Because there are still about eight meetings to go). And on a different day I might be able to work out how this is helping to make me a better, more empathic person. But today I just feel too raw.

Part of what gets me is that they get to decide whether or not we've dealt with our grief about our childlessness enough to be ready to adopt. (Seriously. That is explicitly one of the assessment criteria). And I started crying in the middle of my last interview, and I'm freaking out that I'm going to do the same thing again today. (If I could change one thing about myself it would be gaining the ability not to cry in stupid situations). Thing is, though, it's their stinkin' process and judgement and assessment and ritual humilation that are making me want to cry today rather than anything more biological. But short of shouting 'These are not tears of grief! They are tears of IMPOTENT RAGE!', that might be difficult to communicate.
Ach, it's going to be a long evening.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Making Plans

This morning at church we looked at Proverbs 16:1-9, and the sermon title was 'making plans'. It was really helpful to be reminded, in the middle of all our adoption plans, of the fact that ultimately we're not in control. Not easy - not at all - but helpful. I think that for those of us who face out-of-control fertility, it's tempting to see the adoption process as a chance to regain some of the control that we've lost over our lives. Even the way other people talk about adoption reinforces this. 'Oh well, you can always adopt'. Leaving aside how hurtful and unhelpful this comment is for about thirty other reasons, it implies that, even if you've failed at reproducing, you'll be able to adopt. Of course, those of us who have spent even thirty minutes in the adoption process should be aware that any control we think we have is a bit of an illusion. After all:

Countries close. (Excuse me for a second while I panic about this).

Some people don't get through the approval process, sometimes for utterly baffling reasons (that'll be another minute hyperventilating).

Referrals don't always turn into adoptions (I feel sick just typing that one).

I can't go on with this list, because I'm starting to feel physically dizzy. And I feel like this is a bit muddled, because my feelings are pretty confused too. On the one hand, I know that all of the above is true. And I know that we haven't been promised a successful adoption. On the other, I kind of feel like I've had my dose of suffering over the last few years trying to come to terms with my wonky fertility, and surely, SURELY, God won't stop us adopting, too? Not if I'm, like, really fast with the paperwork? Surely? It's still a (big) struggle, but I feel like I've come a long way in accepting the first. I'm realising, though, that I've got to give up my tight grip on the second, too. Sometimes I feel like praying okay, God, you really messed up on my DNA, so I'll handle this adoption stuff if that's okay with you. And while I wouldn't actually say that, I do say it, every time that I don't pray. Which is a lot.

I hope with all my heart that we'll be parents (of an Ethiopian baby!) soon (whatever soon means). But I need to remember that while the bible is filled with wonderful promises for God's people, parenthood is not one of those promises. It's a good thing, and good parenting definitely honours God, but it's not a promise. We are promised this:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28-29)

but since Jesus didn't have any children (unless you believe the DaVinci code - ummm, no) I'm guessing that parenthood isn't a prerequisite for becoming more like him. So there are no guarantees. Maybe the best way for us to become more and more Christlike would be learning to live graciously as a childless couple. I can't tell you how much I hope that isn't going to be the case, but I don't know that it isn't going to be the case. I was writing about trust a few posts ago, and well, here I am again. I need to learn to trust that whatever is in store for me, it has been planned by a God who loves me more than I can imagine and whose ways are faultless. Verse nine from the chapter of Proverbs above:

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps

and this is a GOOD thing. Call me out on this next time I'm having an adoption-related strop!


If you're reading this and you're not a Christian, I'm guessing you switched off when I typed the word 'church' in the first line. If you're still reading, thanks! And apologies if this all sounds a bit alien. I don't assume you all share my views. But I couldn't possibly write about this process without talking about how it's affected my faith. Is it weird to have put a religious content disclaimer on my own blog???


Wednesday 17 September 2008

No Smoke Without a Baby

My husband is a wonderful man. I know, I know, I would say that - I married him (and he reads this -hi honey!) - but it's totally true. He washes up every night, he does all the hoovering, he builds stuff, he fixes stuff, he likes my parents, and (joy of joys) he brings me coffee every morning. Truly, he is a paragon among men.

However, there are a few chinks in his armour of perfection. As befits a manly man, he is not very interested in health and safety. In fact - he is not even SLIGHTLY interested in health and safety. My attitude is that everything is a bit risky, and you should analyse those risks and take steps to minimise either a) the harm from a potential risk or b) the likelihood of the risk occuring or c) preferably both. J's attitude is that, if something is fun to do, imagine how much MORE fun it would be if he made some adjustments so that the speed / voltage /number of blades was even higher than before.

This has led to a few minor conflicts over the years we've been married. But mostly, we've kind of learned to live with it. He accepts that I'm a bit dull, and I accept that eventually, he's probably going to land himself in hospital.

So what does this have to do with our adoption? Well, J's favourite shop is screwfix - a mail order nirvana for the DIY enthusiast. It's not unusual to find him poring over the pages of this catalogue, finding out the price of 2,000 nails or a push-fit U-bend for a friend's bathroom. But about two weeks ago, I caught him looking at this section: the man was voluntarily checking out specs on smoke detectors. For OUR HOUSE. To keep our baby safe*.

I cannot possibly overemphasise how out of character this was.

Being the calm and competent person he is, he bought and fitted them without making any fuss. While I'm being uber-emotional and teary, he's getting on and doing stuff, and it's stuff he wouldn't normally do. These little changes in him, and these little changes in our house, start to make me feel like this is all actually real. Sometimes I feel like I'm living a bit of a double life - I'm thinking about this adoption all the time, but most of our circle don't know about it at all (some of the reasons for this are in other posts) so from the outside everything just looks pretty normal. Our upstairs, secret bookshelf is full of literature on adoption and Ethiopia, but we're far, far too far from the finish line to have actually bought any baby stuff. So our house has no stair gates. No crib. No plastic toys. No outward signs that we're hoping to be a family of three. Except for one thing that nobody but me is going to notice:

We've got the smoke detectors now. I'm sure the baby can only be a matter of time.

* In the interests of fair representation, I should point out that he said it was just to improve our changes of getting through the homestudy. But I know the truth.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

It's still September

and I haven't been able to convince anybody that I know in real life that they should give up their birthday gifts. However, thanks to the wonders of the blogging community, I can link you to someone who has. If you never got around to giving Scott Harrison a present, rejoice! Be glad you waited, because now you can give one to Ted, instead, and he seems like a much nicer guy. Click on Ted's name to donate, and as a bonus you'll get to see a v. cute pic of Ted and Lori's Ethiopian baby, Abenezer, on the donation site.
Another great thing, the donations are being matched dollar-for-dollar by generous corporations (or corporations who want good PR and some tax deductions - frankly I doubt we care, so long as they hand over the money). So click now!

Monday 15 September 2008

I spoke too soon

So, after all my moaning on Friday, the wedding was fabulous fun. It was partly because I realised that this would be the perfect excuse to wear my sixties vintage bright purple coat with fur collar, something that I don't get to do nearly often enough. (How this coat came into my life is a whole 'nother story, involving some very skilful shopping by someone who isn't me). It went fantastically well with that pink dress, which came, of all places, from Gap, for a snip. Yes, Gap. I'm doing all my formalwear shopping there from now on. Here's me on my way out - looking a bit surprised, as I always do, by the cameraphone self-portrait wonder technology:

It was also partly because the wedding reception turned out to be held in this place:

No, this wasn't taken with a wide-angle lens, just from the top of the stairs heading down for dinner, so that gives you some idea of the height of the ceilings. And yep, that's a marble checkerboard floor.

But to be frank, it was mostly because of the food. The effect may have been heightened because I've been living mostly on rice crackers and spinach over the last few weeks, but wow, it was good. Here's the menu:

Be glad you can't read it, because otherwise you'd have to start dealing with very covetous emotions. Just believe me, it was goooood. I resisted the urge to photograph the actual food, because I didn't want to look like too much of a tourist in the Land Of The Privileged.

I've been to one or two events like this before, and the thing that always mystifies me is this: why is it that the more your host has paid for the event, the more determined waiters are to constantly top up the glasses with alcohol? Are the beverages on sale or return? Are they having a 'count the empties' competition out back? One glass of champagne is very pleasant, but just because you're still holding the same glass doesn't mean that you haven't had seven or eight standard drinks if it keeps getting filled up every time the attentive waiter circles by. I pretty much stuck to apple juice (excuse me while I polish my halo-actually it was incredibly good apple juice) but there were some very. drunk. accountants. by the end of that shindig. I'm all for good service, but it's not relaxing to have to keep clamping your hand over your wine glass if you want to make it back to the train station in a straight line.

In other, sadder, news the Eurostar fire did indeed prevent my friends from coming over to see us on Saturday. I'm sure they still had a great day - they were in Paris, after all - but it was a shame for us.

Adoption related news - nothing, really. J had his individual homestudy interview, and apparently he didn't feel like crying at all, but managed to keep it cool and rational. Sometimes I wish I was him. We've also now got some contact details that we needed for a particular children's home in Addis, and we need to write a letter to the director asking if she will work with us. Hopefully we will then have a 'yes' under our belts by the time we get to our adoption assessment panel. Neither of us has any idea what to write. How can you put a request like that into words?

Friday 12 September 2008

Not In The Mood

So, what do I feel like doing on this grey, rainy day?

Going to a wedding of people I've never met, in London, on the train, on my own, in a crushable silk dress and four inch heels, of course!

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I'd actually rather go to work.

I'm sure theses people are very nice, but I've never met either of them (J used to work with the groom) and don't really expect to see either of them again. J has gone to work for the morning, since he works in London, and this means he only needs to take half a day's annual leave. Also, he works in a suit and goes to weddings in a suit so that's all pretty simple. Since I work on the outskirts of Reading and don't tend to go to work dressed like this:

It made a whole lot more sense for me not to go to work for the 45 minutes I would get before needing to come home, change and travel. And I can't travel until 10 because that's when off-peak tickets start. Also, I love going to London - loveitloveitloveit - and it's only half an hour away, but we've been too busy to really do it lately (J's work doesn't count) and today I can't really see anything / do anything because I'll be dressed to the nines and teetering (and no, can't bring stuff and stash it - nowhere to stash).

So here I am, feeling grumpy. Could you tell??? I think you have to be in the mood to dress up effectively, and I am totally not in that mood. Apart from anything else, I'm mad as mad about the fire in the Channel tunnel yesterday. One of my very best friends from my undergraduate days is currently on holiday in Paris with his wife and had plans to come over on the Eurostar to see us, just for the day, tomorrow. Since he still lives in Australia, I don't get to see him that often. In fact, I haven't seen him since his wedding 18 months ago. And, the way things are going (they still haven't put the fire out) it's looking less and less likely that we're going to get to see them tomorrow either. Since B is MY friend, and the wedding today is J's friend, we've had a kind of tradeoff operating whereby I don't complain about one, and he doesn't complain about the other. I guess if one of these events had to be called off, it's probably a good thing that it's not the wedding. But still. Do you think they'd be offended if I turned up to the wedding in my jeans?

In other news: All the cool kids are reading it, so I've ordered 'Twilight' from Amazon. I had a whole load of other stuff I needed to order, honest, and most of it was adoption / ethiopia related - no really - I've ordered my parents their very own copy of There Is No Me Without You - and it was only #2.99. (Never realised before now that blogspot doesn't seem to have a pound sign operating). Really looking forward to reading it! Not sure I'll tell my parents, though - to this day I've never seen an episode of Buffy, as it was banned in my house when I was growing up. I think I'd still feel guilty if I watched that. But I'm sure this is totally different, right?

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Silver Linings

I've been a voracious reader of blogs in the last six months or so, and if I've learned one thing from everyone else's experience, it SHOULD have been - be flexible, have no expectations about timing and live life now, rather than trying to second guess the future. But something tells me that lesson hasn't really sunk in properly. This morning I was on the bus to work (gosh, I do live the celebrity life, don't I?) and I was thinking about a whole bunch of stuff - about dinner, about work today, about parmesan cheese, and about our hypothetical future baby. I was musing about next year, and thinking 'hmmm, well, I guess by November next year I won't be at work any more, and then I'll - ...' at which point I caught myself and realised - hang on, Claudia. Not going to be at work by next November? On whose say-so? I realised that I've been slipping into the pattern of thinking about an assumed timescale for this adoption, without even knowing that I had done it. If someone had asked me 'when do you think it will all happen?' (as they do regularly, in fact) I would have said 'oh yar, well, you know, International adoption, you never can tell' but actually, in my heart I've been assuming that it will be sometime in 2009. This has got to stop. Rather than spiral downwards ever further into despair, I've been making a list in my head of good things about having to wait longer for our family. So here goes:

1) Longer to save for their University fees. Now our children can be doctors if they want to, after all
2) Longer to compile my 'stupid questions people have asked me about when we are going to have children' list
3) More chance of convincing J that we need another cat
4) More of our friends will have finished their families and be willing to pass crates full of kids clothes onto us
5) More time for my mother to knit

Okay, so as you can see, I didn't do very well. But still - part marks for effort, I hope.

And I did learn something from all those blogs, by the way, and as a reward for reading this far, I'll share it with you - if you're going to video your referral call, make sure you're wearing something nice.

Thursday 4 September 2008

Darn that July birthday of mine!

Two of the blogs I read regularly had links to the trailer video for the www.borninseptember.org campaign today (you can see them on my sidebar, if you're quick!)

Because I am not very sanctified, my first thought was 'wow, that guy's voice is a bit irritating, and he is clearly in love with himself'. However, I quickly started to feel very, very bad as I realised the incredible importance of what his organisation is doing. I'm not going to tell you exactly what, I'm counting on the fact that you'll be so intrigued that you'll feel compelled to visit the site, and then equally compelled to get out your credit card once you're there. It's enough to make me wish I had a september birthday (although then I might not have got that great purple scarf from my sister - what AM i talking about? More intrigue!)

Anyway. Go! Click! Donate!

In other news - SW visit this morning. Went okay, I think, but probably would have been better if I had managed to keep the occasion completely tear-free. She was really nice, but that just made it worse. Gaaaaah. How old am I, three?

Wednesday 3 September 2008


A few days ago, I found this great post that introduced me to the concept of adoptive 'babywait'. I thought the writer was spot on - I've been noticing that the emotional rollercoaster is a pretty good place for packing on the pounds. Stress? Food! Celebration? Food! Which brings me to something I feel strangely embarrassed about admitting - a few weeks ago, in what I like to think of as a pre-emptive strike, I signed up to WeightWatchers. (Now you're wondering whether I'm some giganto-woman who needs a crane to get her to work everyday - no, honestly, but also please believe that I'm not fishing for compliments about how thin I am, because i KNOW you don't know what I look like!)

I found the idea a bit depressing to begin with, but now that I've got into it, the programme itself is surprisingly fun. If your personality is at all obsessive, the PointsManager software is dangerously addictive. (Of course, for those of you fighting your way through an international adoption, there is no question of an 'if' at the start of that sentence for you). As pointed out in this article (sent to me by a friend who is a WW devotee) it was an utter stroke of genius to call the food units 'points' - it turns the potentially slow and sad process of getting thinner into a crazed competitive game. I'm sure, otherwise, I wouldn't have had the competition with myself that started with thinking 'I wonder HOW FEW points I could eat in a day?' (Eleven, incidentally, and it wasn't much fun. From memory, that was something like some cereal, a coffee, four carrots and a bowl of gruel. I'm sure I could beat my previous low score if I tried again - I should never have weakened and had that gruel! - says the voice inside my head - but fortunately I realised that would be stupid).

Of course, I'm aware of the terrible context of all this. I'm aware that while I'm feeling hard-done-by because I have to eat a bit less than I would like, others are so poor they can't regularly afford food at all. However, I don't find that knowing that makes it any easier to say 'no' when someone offers me just-baked brownies. It does make me realise, though, how much I just want an easy life. All this watching of food feels like a lot of effort. Surely it would be easier to just have cream for every meal? Exercise, too - that's tiring. Similarly, it's the time of year when it's time to start preparing Sunday School lessons again - I really, really love teaching Sunday School, and I love my girls, but whew - effort. And even this whole adoption process - worthwhile, hopefully, but mega-effort. Isn't there a verse in the bible somewhere about how life should be easy and simple all the time? What? There's NOT? Well that stinks.

First of the 'proper' social worker visits tomorrow. I hope she doesn't think she's getting any cookies.