Category Archives: Rambling and Opinion


Okay, I’m not really going to blog every day in November, it’s already the fifth. But I want to try to catch up on my bloggyness a bit more.

Hello, how are you? It’s been another three months. Oops. I’m currently at the point in the year where my mood usually dips into depression but not doing too badly this time. Yet. I’ve been reading Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal Method book which has been inspiring me to think about what I want to do in life. I can’t work towards goals if I’m not sure where I’m going. But I can’t set goals if I don’t know what I like.

And I’m lost there. I’m not sure what I enjoy (other than reading) and what I want to be doing with my time, and what I want to do in general. I know my commitments and what I think I should be doing, but still stuck on the what I want to be doing.

So I’ve written down a bunch of questions to think about in my BuJo, and signed up for a free FutureLearn course because one of the things I know I do want is to use my brain more.

Of course, then I spent ages browsing FutureLearn and Coursera because I didn’t know what I wanted to learn about. I’ve chosen An Introduction to Children’s Visual Culture because it includes picture books and comics, is only four weeks long, and only estimated three hours per week.

It was a close call between that and Build Your First Mobile Game, but that was a longer commitment and I’m not sure I’m up for it at the moment. However, I’ll probably enjoy it more because I really want to get back into coding. I’m so rusty now, six years out from last working in an IT environment. I also find it amusing that the course is partly taught by one of my old bricks-and-mortar university lecturers.

I probably should have gone for the techy course, but I also want to do picture book reviews again so it will be interesting to learn more about visual culture. Hopefully I’ll stick the course out. I’ve started three MOOCs before, and never finished any of them. Oh well.

Hopefully more blogs to follow shortly. I’ve got my July, August, September, and October wrap-ups to complete for a start. Although given my previous form, see you in four months…


My plan this year was to have one post per week on both blogs. I’ve done nothing on Chaos Castle, and I’m about seven (ish, I think) behind on Child-Led Chaos. I have two drafts that I need to finish (one on autism, one my April book wrap up) and I haven’t got the brain capacity to finish them at the moment. Then there’s the May book wrap-up due, which at least is short because I’ve not been reading much.

I’m writing this blog for me at the moment, so apologies if you’ve wandered across it and it’s boring. I’m trying to get in the habit (not doing great at that) because I do enjoy blogging and reviewing. I’m so out of touch with picture books now, which saddens me, but there are so many new things and I think I’ll focus on what I already have when I actually put things on Chaos Castle again.

There seems to be a trend of books being published, raved about, then disappearing quickly. That’s not a professional opinion, just a sense I’m getting from reading old reviews of picture books and then seeing they’re out of print already. I could be completely wrong. I’m guilty of keeping buying new books and having a far too big TBRs then culling older books I’ve not got round to, so I really need to slow down myself. I just want to read all the books.

I’ve been trying to satisfy my cravings for books by getting Kindle books when they are on sale. I also have got into the habit of choosing “no rush delivery” on Amazon orders because we have Prime and you get a £1 digital voucher so I’m effectively getting free books which don’t take up physical space. That I’ll probably never read 🙁

I’ve planned my library in my head, even though I haven’t the money to buy the bookcases that I need for it. And I have still to tidy up the garage to make this even vaguely possible. I think two of these (in a different configuration) might house all our books, but I need to work out dimensions and whether it’s physically possible.

We currently have 5 bulging bookcases, that might be slightly smaller than full-size Ikea Billy but they’re stacked full. Plus boxes and piles of books all over the house, which is why I’m trying to catalogue them all so I can work out how much bookcase space I need.

I’m slightly obsessed. And yet I’ve not done anything about it other than in my head because I’m useless. Or autistic with executive functioning issues.

Anyhow, I guess I should go and do something useful…

Words, Words, Words

Do you have favourite and least favourite words? I don’t have synesthesia so I don’t have a reason to like and dislike words, but I do anyhow, and I don’t know why.

I don’t think it’s a particularly autistic thing, but probably more common with people who think too much sometimes!

My least favourite word is plethora.

A large or excessive amount of something.

I don’t like the sound of it, but also the ‘taste’ is wrong. It’s not a word that should be particularly offensive, but I internally shudder when I hear it!

I don’t have a problem with moist. Lots of people seem to have this as their least favourite word. It’s inoffensive to me, I don’t have much of an opinion on it!

My favourite word is perspicacious.

Having a ready insight into and understanding of .

I’m not sure why my favourite and least favourite words both begin with the same letter! Perspicacious ‘tastes’ better, it’s interesting, I like the definition. I don’t have a real reason to love perspicacious, but I just do.

Yeah, I could do with writing some proper posts but I felt like writing this, so here it is.

Short, isn’t it?!

Wednesday Waffle

It’s Thursday.

Which just about sums up how awesome I am at keeping new year’s resolutions.

Not that I make resolutions. I have goals. It’s slightly more do-able. Slightly. I haven’t made all my goals for the last two years of doing them, but I’ll try again this year.

One of this year’s goals is to blog again. I’m aiming for once a week. Once a day just doesn’t work for me. Even my instagram once a day challenges I end up doing in bursts of five or six.

I’ve just bought a new A5 Leuchtterm 1917 dotted notebook to be my fourth Bullet Journal. I wasn’t going to start the new year in a new journal but I’ve been watching lots of BuJo setup videos on YouTube so I want to redo mine and ignore the clutter of the current one. I’m now using that one as my daily journal, to get in the habit of writing every day for myself.

So. Here is a post. It’s a bit lame, but I expected that. I was hoping to do a waffle and a book review post every week but I’m only going to commit myself to one a week because I get too stressed with any sort of deadline at the moment.

New Year. New BuJo. Old TBR list, growing. Old me. New paints. Which I’m now going to play with!

Happy New Year.

(Almost) Five Months Later

Apparently I didn’t manage to blog out May, or even post at all in the last (almost) five months. Oops. For the first week my head swam with posts that I didn’t quite get around to writing, and I replied to my lovely commenter (in my head) several times.

But here we are, in almost October, and nothing on this blog since. I miss blogging, but I don’t seem to be able to get in the right mindset.

Much has changed since May, and also nothing at all. We have a cat. A kitten really, he was born in May and we got him in August. I love having a cat in the house again.

DG got her official ASD diagnosis, no surprises there. Three ASD diagnoses in one household; Mr Chaos is outnumbered in so many ways.

I have a post in mind. I think I’ll go write it separately to this ramble. Maybe I will get back into blogging at last.

And picture books. I miss writing about that too.

Blog Out May

I’ve seen an advert which says “outrun May”, and I keep thinking it means the current UK prime minister. But actually it’s about running for charity. Or health. Or something. I’m not interested enough to remember. I’ve meant to do a blog every day month for years but instead I’ve barely blogged. But it’s the first of yet another month so I’m having another try.

I want to get back in the habit of blogging again because I enjoyed it. I need to get in a habit of journalling because my mental health isn’t doing too well and writing usually helps.

It seems that being diagnosed as autistic is the start of a long process and after over two years I still feel at the beginning of my understanding of myself. Over 40 years of not really being who you actually are isn’t easy to work out. I’m not sure who I am or how to parent the awesome beings that my body grew and expelled.

We’re on the cusp of puberty for my eldest daughter, and her diagnosis a year ago should help navigate that. Also being ridiculously open and honest for her whole life. Side affect of my autism, I’m rubbish at lying. We’ll have to apply for secondary school in a few months, and I am honestly scared of her going to a huge school, but an EHCP is unlikely unless she actually goes into crisis, which I’d prefer to avoid. Masking issues and appearing “normal” to get through the day equals “she’s fine” to the untrained eye.

Youngest daughter is still awaiting assessment, because two autism diagnoses in close family and a host of traits are still apparently not enough to avoid hoop jumping with CAMHS just to get on the year long waiting list. We don’t even have written confirmation she’s on a waiting list, and I don’t trust verbal notifications.

I won’t be writing specific details about my children because their lives are theirs and they don’t want it shared online. So if I seem self centered, it’s because I’m the only person I have permission to write about. My life is still child-led chaos of course.

My current special interests appear to be books (always, although picture books are fading, which I’m not happy about so will fight back); autism (especially female experiences and mental health); feminism (sort of, mainly for counteracting everyday sexism for my daughters); decluttering and organisation (because my house is too messy / stimulating for good mental health); and Lego (because.)

I have no plan for this daily blogging. I might hunt out some prompts, or diary stuff, or actually do some book reviews, or stream of consciousness. Or this might be or for another few months. Hopefully not. Please feel free to give me any ideas or questions and I’ll see how I do. Thank-you.

Half Year Goal Review

At the beginning of this year, I made a list of goals in my Bullet Journal. The year has been up and down so I’ve not achieved as much as I might if all had been good, but severe anxiety and depression plus impaired executive function are hard to work with!

GOAL: A place for everything, and everything in its place.
PROGRESS: Working towards it. Still have lots in boxes to sort but am trying to make the place first before bringing something in. This will be an ongoing goal.

GOAL: Separate spaces for all four of us. Children own bedrooms. Adults (quiet) workspace.
PROGRESS: MG and DG finally got their own bedrooms in May, after delays with clearing out the old ‘office’ and repainting the new bedroom. Keeping them tidy is another matter… Mr Chaos has office space in the living room, but it could do with a bit more of a division to make it quieter. My space in our bedroom is still a dumping ground for things to sort, but I’m making time to do creative things more often even if I don’t have my own space yet.

GOAL: Empty TARDIS and garage of storage boxes.
PROGRESS: Hopefully I’ll start doing this in September. The TARDIS is roofless and full of ivy and spiders so not being used as a playhouse at all (plus full of crud) and the garage is refilled as soon as it’s emptied, with more stuff from the house that needs sorting. Lots of culling needed.

GOAL: Create routines and habits that work.
PROGRESS: I tried a bedtime routine that worked for a bit then fell apart. Making good habits is hard, and even with the help we’ve been given from outside agencies, it’s a struggle. Work in progress.

GOAL: Create and keep a blog schedule.
PROGRESS: Ha ha ha. I always stick blogging at the bottom of my priorities, even though I really need to build up Chaos Castle. I’m currently in the middle of 16 reviews on Chaos Castle, but still seem miles away from finishing even one 🙁

GOAL: Lose 6 stone (84lb).
PROGRESS: Started dieting in March and have lost 38lb. I’m in a stalled phase at the moment and eating rubbish again because a few stressful weeks but will try to pull it together after this next week of stress is hopefully over.

GOAL: Couch to 5K.
PROGRESS: Not started. Not thinking about starting.

GOAL: Be authentic.
PROGRESS: Hmm. Not sure if I’m managing this one. Mostly I guess, but I think I still try to hard to play down autism and agree with the “we’re all a bit autistic” and “it’s not real autism” type comments to avoid arguments. I need to stand up for my and my daughter(s)’s autistic selves more. We are autistic. Not just labelled for the sake of it.

PROGRESS: Not really.

I actually count that as pretty successful for half-way through the year, given that I usually get nowhere near this in a whole year! Yay for the Bullet Journal for helping me take the baby steps towards progress. Here’s to the next six months 🙂

Just Visiting

I try to remind myself I’ve been here before.

I try to remember that I won’t be stuck here. I will escape.

Thinking is foggy and laden down. My mind is so heavy I can barely lift my head.

What if this time I can’t leave? What if this time I’m here for good?

What if all the years of holding myself together, filling the cracks in, coping, have left me too broken to be fixed?

I can get free. I will get free.

Depression will not hold me.

But right now, I’m visiting.

Just visiting.


I have procrastinating down to a fine art. I tried to work against it, and did quite well, but here it is, almost the end of March and I’ve not posted anything for ages. So instead of finishing off all the half-written book reviews I need to do, I’ll procrastinate here instead…

I’m still loving the Bullet Journal. In January I got so much done, and I may feel frustrated that I’ve not got much done since (in terms of writing posts, and getting the house decluttered), but I am keeping on top of the day to day things more days than not, and have even stuck to a diet for two weeks so far.

In need of relaxation this morning, so setting up April in #bulletjournal

A photo posted by Anne-Marie Carslaw (@chaoscastleuk) on

We have another autism diagnosis to add to mine, and I now suspect that three out of four of the Chaos household will end up with official diagnoses. Despite knowing we were going through the assessment process, the diagnosis did take me by surprise and we’re all still adjusting to it. It does mean that I really need to start building up local Home Ed contacts because I can’t see that mainstream schooling is going to be that helpful for us.

We have a huge number of review books to get written. Many very excellent ones, and a few so-so ones that probably won’t get added. The best of illustrated books will go Chaos Castle, the rest here. Which will include some very excellent unillustrated books. Chaos Castle is all about the visuals.

I really need to update both blogs visuals.

But content is king, so I have a note to myself to not procrastinate by updating themes… I really want to…

I’ve not been reading as much as I feel I want to, but am currently on the third in the Tiffany Aching series, working up to Terry Pratchett’s final novel, The Shepherd’s Crown. It’s nice to read them all together, without several years between, as everything is fresh from one book to the next, and you can really see the development of writing over the years.

It seemed like a good time to (re)read these. Although reading The Shepherd's Crown will be hard.

A photo posted by Anne-Marie Carslaw (@chaoscastleuk) on

I wish they’d kept the smaller hardback and matt cover format for the last three. I preferred it, and I want the series to match!

I now need to convince myself to finish off writing a review that’s over a month later (never mind all the other ones), so I feel I’ve achieved something…


New Year. New You.

Start the year as you mean to continue.

That seems like a terrible piece of advice, as many people start the year hungover and sleeping half the day.

I half did that. I’ve not drunk any alcohol for weeks because of an annoying on/off cold/cough and alcohol always makes me feel worse. So I planned an early night and was still awake at 5am with insomnia (broken sleep/wake cycle) and slept the morning instead.

I could write that as my first gratitude of the year: being able to sleep all morning while rest of family look after themselves (thank-you Mr Chaos; thank-you awesome daughters).

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I have goals most years, that I may or may not achieve, but resolutions seem silly. It’s just a number change, and just one system of time keeping.

When I was younger I hated New Year’s Eve. I hated the change of one year to the next. I was used to being in one year and didn’t want the number to change. Over the years that’s faded to not caring. Now I know I’ve always been autistic, that dislike of year change makes much more sense.

I used to want to make achievements within a year, and save up new things for the date change, but every day is a new day and putting so much weight on arbitrary number changes isn’t helpful.

It’s nice to have a period of reflection, and now is as good a time as any. Technically better I suppose because most people are of work and have more spare time to reflect and consider.

Unless you’re a parent. Spare time doesn’t seem to exist then.

And yet I still seem to waste hours of it.

I started a bullet journal in December, so it wasn’t a new year thing. I’ve been planning my decluttering in it over the last couple of days. Impaired executive function seems the likely reason behind never being able to declutter the house (and it’s got worse over the last four years) and I am so utterly obsessed by the mess that any kind of functioning has gone with it, so I am really really really going to try hard, and work out how to keep accountable without getting stressed and ending up in shutdown.

Baby steps.

Focus on the positive. Let go of the negative.

I’m not into anything spiritual so affirmations and prayers and things like that don’t work for me. Practical. Sensible. Logical.

Lots of lists.

Lots of doing.

Lots of reviewing.

More doing than planning and reviewing would help though.

New year. Old me. I may ramble incoherently sometimes. Most of the time.

The best thing I’ve seen this year so far is from Alex T Smith:

New year. Old you. All good.