Blades of Grass

On one of the brief sunny days last week, I was walking to pick up my children from school and (as usual) looking down. As I look at the grass verges, I see the blades of grass nestle together. I see each individual blade: thinner blades, thicker blades; taller blades, shorter blades; patches of mud, a daisy here and there. It’s still a grass verge, and my brain certainly isn’t quick enough to count each blade of grass, but it’s also lots of individual parts making up a whole.

And I have no idea if I see what other people see. I don’t know whether someone else just sees a swathe of green with texture, or sees each blade, or sees the people walking towards them because they’re not looking down at grass verges as they walk.

I’ve not been blogging much for quite a while. I’ve been thinking too much. And being anxious. Being a lot of anxious. It makes concentration hard.

And now I’m trying to re-frame my life as being disabled. I’ve seen myself as useless, and needy, and pathetic, and incapable; but never disabled. It feels strange.

I am autistic.

I can’t quite get the words to come out without having to qualify it somehow.

Of course I’m not very autistic.

Of course it’s Asperger’s really, if that still existed as a diagnosis, not real autism…

15 months. One hour pre-assessment. 400+ questionnaire questions. Six hours observation, interviews and tests with clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist. Two hours interviewing my husband. 2500+ words of supporting information. Seven years of secondary school reports. 60+ questionnaire questions to my mother. 35 pages of feedback report.

“… would confirm a primary diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder…”

I am autistic.

Our Week in Books #9 & #10

Terry Pratchett died.

Nothing else really matters this week. Posting just because I started over a week ago.

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 74/365 = 20.3%
Read 52: 12/52 = 23.1%
Picture books: ??/52 = ??%
Short reads: 21/52 = 40.4%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days
Silverlake Fairy School: Dancing Magic (read aloud)
Wigglesbottom Primary: The Toilet Ghost (read aloud)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil
Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen
Reasons to Stay Alive
Isla the Ice Star Fairy (read aloud)

Books added to shelves:
Very Little Cinderella – Teresa Heapy & Sue Heap (bought from The Story Museum)
Famous Five: Five Run Away Together – Enid Blyton (birthday present for MG)
Famous Five: Five Go Off in a Caravan – Enid Blyton (birthday present for MG)
Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen – Chris Riddell (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
A Pirate’s Guide to Landlubbing – Jonny Duddle (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
Killing the Dead – Marcus Sedgewick (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
Geek Girl: Geek Drama – Holly Smale (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
The Shark-Headed Bear Thing – Barry Hutchison & Chris Mould (bought from Mostly Books)
Wigglesbottom Primary: The Toilet Ghost – Pamela Butchart & Becka Moor (bought from Mostly Books)
Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig (bought from Amazon)
Elmer’s Parade – David McKee (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
Pirates of Pangaea – Dan Hartwell & Neill Cameron (bought from Mostly Books)
Ice in the Jungle – Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar (review book from Child’s Play)
The KnowHow Book of Spycraft (birthday present for MG)
Cumulative: 80

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: 16

Books removed from shelves: none
Cumulative: 102

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Sneak Peek at New Book Blog

It’s World Book Day (UK)! I love WBD, especially the £1 books. As a parent, WBD dressing up can be a stress, but so far I’ve not been asked for any exotic outfits. This morning my daughters have gone in as Ottoline (home clothes, odd shoes) and Cinderella’s fairy godmother (fairy dress over home clothes)!

As it is world book day, and I’m bursting to share this anyhow, I thought I’d give you a geeky sneaky peeky at Chaos Castle…

ChaosCastle

Chaos Castle is home to lots of lovely books, predominately illustrated books (but I’ll stretch that definition to ‘just’ an illustrated cover if I feel like it!) It will only showcase our favourite books (that still means a lot of books!) and aims to cover all age ranges.

I’m starting from scratch, so all reviews will be new, so it won’t be huge at first but I’m planning to add our old favourites alongside new ones. The reason I’m not ready to launch is because there is virtually no content up yet, and I haven’t given myself a deadline…

This is a geeky sneaky peeky because I want to talk about what I’ve been doing behind the scenes. Firstly, there is my amazing illustrator, Wellington Drawe (Duncan Wilson), who is creating a world for me to populate. Without him, Chaos Castle would not exist.

Secondly, there are my theme alterations. I’m on WordPress, and I chose the Mantra free theme because it gave me the look I wanted plus is so easy to customise without going anywhere near the code.

There are a few customisations that weren’t offered in the (extensive) options so I created a child theme to play with the CSS and PHP. I know very little about CSS and PHP. PHP has been the easiest part for me to alter, because there are plenty of online references and I come from a programming background. CSS has been a nightmare, and I still haven’t managed to get it to do what I want yet!

Some of the customisations I’ve added are:

  • Different headings for category archives, depending on parent category. e.g. if the parent category is ‘ages’, the header will be “Books suitable for AgeRange”
  • Different headings for tag archives, depending on tag slug. e.g. if a tag is defined as a publisher (which I set in the tag slug), the header will be “Books Published by PublisherName”
  • Added curved boxes for tags, with different colours depending on tag type (e.g. Publisher, Creator, Theme)
  • Format of review page (which I’m currently tearing my hair out over getting the CSS to do what I want!)

SneakPeek

The image above is a sneak-peek of how part of the front page and archive pages might look. Chaos Castle is home to various book-loving characters :-)

Technically Chaos Castle is live, but I’m making constant changes and using temporary images in many places so I’m not linking to it yet. I’m very excited about my project, and I hope you will enjoy it too. It is a vanity project I guess, but also a thank-you to the wonderful people who create the books we enjoy.

Thank-you for letting me gush, and Happy World Book Day (UK)! :-)

Our Week in Books #7 & #8

More reading, less buying, and a bit of decluttering. Quite a successful fortnight.

No reviews though. But I’m working on that for next week (hopefully).

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 58/365 = 15.9%
Read 52: 9/52 = 17.3%
Picture books: 18+?/52 = ??%
Short reads: 18/52 = 34.6%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Asperger’s Syndrome and Anxiety
Daisy and the Trouble with Giants (read aloud)
My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat (read aloud)
Violet and the Pearl of the Orient
Shades of London: The Shadow Cabinet
Ruby the Red Fairy (read aloud)
Amber the Orange Fairy (read aloud)
Saffron the Yellow Fairy (read aloud)
Fern the Green Fairy (read aloud)
Sky the Blue Fairy (read aloud)
Izzy the Indigo Fairy (read aloud)
Heather the Violet Fairy (read aloud)
Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones

Books added to shelves:
The First Slodge – Jeanne Willis & Jenni Desmond (review book from Little Tiger Press)
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle (birthday present for MG)
Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery (birthday present for MG)
The Once and Future King – T H White (99p Kindle on 15 Feb)
The Shadow Cabinet – Maureen Johnson (£2.99 Kindle on 15 Feb)
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr (99p Kindle on 25 Feb)
Cumulative: 66

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: 16

Books removed from shelves: 68
Cumulative: 102

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Eight

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It’s eight years since my eldest child was born.

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Eight years getting to know a wonderful person.

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We have our ups and downs. We’re so alike we wind each other up; we’re so different we misunderstand each other.

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I wouldn’t have her any other way.

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Thank-you for making me a mother, Mighty Girl. I love you more than words.

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Our Week In Books #5 & #6

Oops, what a very long list of books I appear to have acquired in the last two and a bit weeks… I suppose using the excuse that some are for MG’s birthday isn’t quite good enough? And The Book People flash sale? And that WHSmith 3 for 2 plus £5 off £15 spend voucher works together making bargainous book buying? And 99p Kindle books are just too easy to collect? Oh, okay, I really need to not buy anything more until I’ve read lots.

Still no reviews. That’s 12 reviews behind where I want to be. Half term next week so nothing will happen then. So I’ll be 16 reviews behind before I even start probably. Oh bother. Must write reviews. Must write reviews…

I am not requesting any review books until I have reviewed, which is painful because I’ve been sent three catalogues I’ve been allowed to request from but it’s not fair so I’m not going to. Yet.

I have got back to reading regularly again though, which is good.

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 44/365 = 12.1%
Read 52: 5/52 = 9.6%
Picture books: 18+?/52 = ??%
Short reads: 12/52 = 23.1%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Baby Aliens Got My Teacher! (read aloud)
Daisy and the Trouble with Life (read aloud)
The Dreamsnatcher
Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos (read aloud)
Perry Angel’s Suitcase
Heart of Dread: Frozen (NetGalley)
Murder Most Unladylike
Arsenic for Tea

Books added to shelves:
The Complete First Edition Brothers Grimm – translated Jack Zipes (bought from Amazon)
Perry Angel’s Suitcase – Glenda Millard (bought from Mostly Books)
Phoenix – SF Said (bought from Mostly Books)
Sardines of Love – Zurine Aguirre (review book from Child’s Play)
Her Idea – Rilla (competition prize from Flying Eye Books)
Ever After High: The Unfairest of Them All – Shannon Hale (bought from Amazon)
Ever After High: Once Upon A Time – Shannon Hale (bought from Amazon)
Murder Most Unladylike – Robin Stevens (bought from Amazon)
Asperger’s Syndrome and Anxiety – Alis Rowe (bought from Amazon)
Arsenic for Tea – Robin Stevens (bought from Mostly Books)
Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights – Steven Lenton (bought from Mostly Books)
Violet and the Pearl of the Orient – Harriet Whitehorn & Becka Moor (bought from The Book People)
Lego Play Book x2 (bought from The Book People)
Lego Standing Small / Minifigures Sticker Book x2 (bought from The Book People)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer – Derek Landy (bought from The Book People)
The Spy Who Loved School Dinners – Pamela Butchart & Thomas Flintham (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
Magic Ink – Steve Cole  (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
The Scandalous Sisterhood – Julie Berry  (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
The Fields of Grief – Giles Blunt (bought from WH Smith)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil – Derek Landy (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked – Derek Landy (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men – Derek Landy (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
Temple Run Annual 2015 (bought from Poundland)
The Beastly Pirates – John Kelly (review book from Bloomsbury)
One Hundred Proposals – Holly Martin (99p Kindle on 4th Jan)
The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf – Nick Bryan (99p Kindle on 9th Jan)
Slated – Teri Terry (99p Kindle on 17th Jan)
The Warble – Victoria Simcox (Free Kindle on 30th Jan)
The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon (99p Kindle on 6th Feb)
Cumulative: 60

Library books borrowed: 5
Cumulative: 16

5yo's choice from the Library Bus today #libraryhaul #mobilelibrary

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

7yo's #libraryhaul from mobile library last week

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

Books removed from shelves: um… lost track. Maybe 8?
Cumulative: 34

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Our Week in Books #4

Things I haven’t done this year:
Post ‘our week in books’ every Wednesday as planned
Write book reviews
Read much
Write blog posts other than ‘our week in books’
Update book spreadsheet
Send additional supporting info after assessment last Friday
Finished design and written reviews for book review blog

Things I have done this year:
Been very anxious
Played Temple Run 2 on phone obsessively
Made a net gain of one book when I should be culling
Visited library to return 18 books, borrowed 11 (minus children)
Had autism assessment day (follow-up with results in 4-6 weeks)

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 29/365 = 7.9%
Read 52: 1/52 = 1.9%
Picture books: 17+?/52 = ??%
Short reads: 8/52 = 15.4%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Layla Queen of Hearts – Glenda Millard

Books added to shelves:
The Snow Merchant – Sam Gayton & Chris Riddell (bought from WHSmith 3for2)
Skulduggery Pleasant 4: Dark Days – Derek Landy (bought from WHSmith 3for2)
Daisy and the Trouble with Giants – Kes Gray & Garry Parsons (bought from WHSmith 3for2)
Cumulative: 27 (£46.19)

Library books borrowed: 11
Cumulative: 11

#libraryhaul 1/2

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

#libraryhaul 2/2

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

Books removed from shelves: none
Cumulative: 26

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Our Week in Books #3 2015

I promised myself I’d review two books a week this year, but have reviewed the grand total of zero so far. Which makes me 7 reviews behind where I wanted to be already. Sigh.

I also promised myself I wouldn’t acquire quite as many books, but have 24 already. On the bright side I’ve actually taken 26 to charity, so net gain is negative. Not as negative as it ought to be though.

It’s been another busy week, and quite stressful. Onwards and upwards…

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 25/365 = 6.8%
Read 52: 1/52 = 1.9%
Picture books: 17/52 = 32.7%
Short reads: 7/52 = 13.5%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Mortimer Keene: Attack of the Slime – Tim Healey & Chris Mould (read aloud)
Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose – Tim Healey & Chris Mould (read aloud)
Mortimer Keene: Alien Abduction – Tim Healey & Chris Mould (read aloud)
Mortimer Keene: Dino Danger – Tim Healey & Chris Mould (read aloud)
Daisy and the Trouble with Life – Kes Grey & Garry Parsons (read aloud)

Books added to shelves:
Double Daisy – Kes Grey & Garry Parsons (bought from Mostly Books)
My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat – Pamela Butchart & Thomas Flintham (bought from Mostly Books)
The Philosophy Book – DK (bought from The Book People)
I Can Read French collection – 10 books (bought from The Book People)
George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake (2nd hand from charity shop)
The Giant Under The Snow – John Gordon (2nd hand from charity shop)
3x Rainbow Fish stories (2nd hand from charity shop)
Cumulative: 24 (£32.21)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: none

Books removed from shelves: 26
Cumulative: 26

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Our Week in Books #2 2015

It’s been a bit of a rubbish week with kids ill and off school, and I’m now ill so just backdating this before I forget the details.

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 14/365 = 3.8%
Read 52: 0/52 = 0.0%
Picture books: 11/52 = 21.2%
Short reads: 2/52 = 3.8%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
The Naming of Tishkin Silk – Glenda Millard

Books added to shelves:
Please Mr Panda – Steve Antony (review book from Hachette)
The Tale of Two Beasts – Fiona Roberton (review book from Hachette)
Mortimer Keene: Dino Danger – Tim Healey & Chris Mould (review book from Hachette)
Cumulative: 6 (£1)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: none

Books removed from shelves: 42 ready to go – not counting until they’re gone ;-)
Cumulative: none

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Our Week in Books #1 2015

I used to do ‘Our Week in Books’ posts on a Saturday (or Sunday), but I’m moving to Wednesdays to fit in with the year and because I usually have more time to blog on weekdays than on weekends.

The first week of 2015 is almost complete, and I think I shall spend the rest of the year much like I did last year, asking “How did it go so quickly?!” Although maybe this year I’ll be more mindful and not have the year rush by so fast.

With my youngest child now five-and-a-half, although we still read lots of picture books, she’s now interested in listening to chapter books over several nights so we’re starting there. The almost-eight year old has also decided to listen to the longer books, and input into which ones are read, so after two years of her avoiding story time because she can read herself, I’m getting to read to both girls again. Which is lovely.

This does mean that we might not read picture books every day, so I’m not committing to 300 picture books this year, but we’ll see how we go! Jax at Making it Up is running the 300 picture books challenge for 2015.

Therefore I’ve slightly altered the format of my week updates, and my Goodreads challenge of 156 books this year is split into 52 books for me (over 150 pages, longer than an hour to read, including read alouds if they are longer); 52 picture books (I’m sure we’ll do lots more); and 52 short reads (either read aloud or to myself). So although 156 looks less than my usual 352 challenge, the books are longer.

I’m also not putting every book received onto Goodreads, but onto my spreadsheet for personal tracking, but will add review books because I need extra reminders to get them written ;-)

Again my aim for the year is to make a net gain of zero books. I have about 25 ready to go to charity, and will make a big picture book cull this year (cry!) because we do not have the space or means to store all these books. Gaining around 400 books each year is not sustainable long term. Much as I’d like a big house with a library, it’s never going to happen, and life is too short to keep hold of things that aren’t used. (More crying!) Being a hoarder at heart, this isn’t going to be easy, but I will try very hard.

Lots of boring ramble there, of no interest to anyone but me really but there we go ;-)

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 7/365 = 1.9%
Read 52: 0/52 = 0.0%
Picture books: 3/52 = 5.7%
Short reads: 1/52 = 1.9%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Baby Aliens Got My Teacher – Pamela Butchart (read aloud)

Books added to shelves:
The Naming of Tishkin Silk – Glenda Millard (review book from Phoenix Yard)
Layla Queen of Hearts – Glenda Millard (review book from Phoenix Yard)
My So-Called Life – Joanne Nadin (bought from Poundland)
Cumulative: 3 (£1)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: none

Books removed from shelves: none
Cumulative: none

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup