Rufus Robot!

Today, I shall be pimping my friends, Holly and Larry.  Or more specifically, their new project / website / business / educational game app: Rufus Robot.

(Not, as my Mum thought I said, “Ruthless Robot”.  That would be a different game altogether, although Larry, you’re welcome to take that idea and run with it.  You’re welcome  ;-) )

The mission statement on their website says:

Our goal is to provide fun, useful, and affordable tablet-based applications to the growing number of children who need them. Many of our applications focus on children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but it is our belief that these same tools will be fun and educational for early achievers too!

– Dr Holly Gastgeb

So, if you have or know kids that might enjoy and benefit from the app, go check it out.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Google+

Pimp accomplished.  Ta-daa!

Mid-month Blogathon Challenge

I’m sure I’ve said this umpteen times, but I really do want to get back into blogging more regularly.  So, I’ve decided to set myself a blogathon / blopomo challenge: posting every day for a month from today, June 15th.

I don’t think I’m going to have a theme, though if I do start to get stuck I might try the alphabet meme thing.  That worked pretty well for me before.  It’s probably going to be general rambling and catching up on what’s going on in my life, though.  Exciting stuff!  Or, you know, not.

As a reminder to myself in case I’m in need of inspiration, I’m going to try to write about

  • What I’ve been up to over the last few months
  • Mental health stuff (which kind of ties in with the above, tbh)
  • My favourite niece, Miss RA
  • Merlin McPurrlin (cat spam, here we come)
  • Knittin’ and Spinnin’
  • What I’ve been fangirling over
  • And my forays into learning to be a bit of a girly girl.  Sometimes.

Alrighty, first post accomplished!  I have some partners in ‘thoning crime, gathered via my Plurk flist. So, hi Che Rex, Char (also on deviantart), dangerouslycrafty and captainstardust.  Feel free to prod me if I forget to post!

Busy busy busy

I’ve been running around doing all-sorts this week.  I’ve been at C House a few times, at the library (hi Henry!), at the gym (!!!), to KnitJam, and I’ve had a visitor this weekend – my friend Charlotte.  Whew!  And now I’m starting all over again.

I’m going to the gym with the bro and also sometimes with my upstairs neighbour.  It’s definitely a good plan to have gym buddies.  We’re planning to go to pilates, too.  Should be fun!

In knitting news, I’ve finished my first project for 2011: the Snapdragon Tam for my sister-in-law:

Snapdragon TamSnapdragon Tam

Pattern: Snapdragon Tam by Ysolda Teague [Ravlink]
Yarn: Elle Family Favourites DK in Gold.
Needles: 4mm metal circulars.

I am pleased with it, and it was fun to knit, too :-)

On Thankfulness

I don’t normally do this, since it isn’t Thanksgiving in the UK, but I think I will this year.  So here goes: Reasons to be Cheerful, 1, 2, 3….

  1. My family and friends.  I’m lucky that I have people I’m close to, can have so much fun with, and can rely on.
  2. The Xandermog.  The biggest, daftest, and best moggy in the world.
  3. Technology.  Without it, I wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with many people so easily – wouldn’t have met many of them in the first place, in fact – and my world would be a very different place.

There are many more things I could list (music! yarn! spinning! knitting!), of course, but those are three just off the top of my head.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Happy Birthday Noxie!

Today is my lovely friend Noxie‘s birthday, so much love and happy returns to her!  We originally met through both being fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and are still friends twelve years on!  Isn’t the internet grand?

As for me, I’ve spent the day plying and knitting again – some progress made, nothing finished as yet!  Hopefully I’ll have more to report tomorrow.

And I’m Done

Woohoo, I’ve completed NaBloPoMo for June.  I shall give myself a pat on the back… and maybe check if there’s a “winner” badge or something.  No big deal if not.

I’ve also been seeing how I can do on the Monthly Scavenger Hunt on Flickr.  This is my first month, and I didn’t get something for all twenty items, but I managed to do sixteen, so that’s not a bad start!

Mosaic of June Scavenger Hunt photos
Mosaic of June Scavenger Hunt photos

1. Abandon hope all ye who enter here, 2. Smile Though Your Heart is Breaking, 3. Call the fashion police!, 4. Veteran, 5. Bubbly, 6. Reflecting, 7. Mad, bad and dangerous to know, 8. Nightlights, 9. Prized Possession, 10. Belly up, 11. Desolate, 12. Walkabout, 13. The north wind doth blow, 14. Microcosm, 15. An elephant in the room, 16. Born to be wild?

So, what next on the blogging front?  Now that I’ve managed to maintain blogging through June, I don’t want to just stop again.  The Tour de Fleece is coming up, so I think I’ll plan to post an update on how I’m doing each day of that… which will mean it’ll be very spinning-centric around here for a couple of weeks.  I dare say I’ll ramble about other things though.  I can only say “today I span such and such a thing, here’s a photo” so many times!

F is for Friends, Family, and Food

Which three things sum up my day fairly well, really.  My whole weekend, in fact.  Like I said, we went to see Ally and family yesterday and out into the park where I saw several people I’d been at school with and their kids.  I think I must be the only one who has no offspring!  It was a lovely sunny day for it, and today was lovely as well although there was lots of rain and thunder last night.

Charlotte has gone now, but we went over to my brother and sister-in-law’s place for Sunday dinner today.  Mmm, Sunday roast!  I’m feeling pretty wiped out (but full!) so I can’t think of much else to blog about, so I’ll go and check out the prompts for some inspiration:

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think of your father?

His smile; a feeling of safety; and woolly bobble hats!  Dad liked to keep his head warm, and embarrassed me horribly (as parents will!) when I was in my mid-teens by taking my into town still wearing his slippers (moccasins, so I’m sure no-one knew but me) and a woolly hat.  Later on, of course, it became a lovable eccentricity, and when I learned to knit, one of the very first things I made was a hat for Dad:

Mum & Dad Christmas 03

E is for Elementary…

… my dear Watson.  Which basically means that Charlotte is here and we’re watching movies!  Sherlock Holmes, some of Return of the King, and… whatever else will depend on what time we have.  We’ve watched Doctor Who as well, of course.  Earlier today we went and saw Ally, and went over to the park where they were having some kind of… something.  With music and some stalls set up and all that.  It was fun, which is what matters!

Now it’s back to the movie watching.  Robert Downey Jnr, yay!

D is for DIY

My brother is here today to do some DIY for me… which perhaps means it’s not strictly DIY since all I’m going to be doing is directing proceedings a bit.  It’s going to be less stressful all round this way, though.  Or at least, that’s the plan!  At the moment he’s gone off down the road in search of rawl plugs and masonry screws (and a 9v battery) while I continue tidying up in preparation for Charlotte’s visit this weekend.  Or, OK, while I sit here blogging.  But I’m going to go and get on with the tidying in a minute!

Actually, I should probably do that now, since she’ll be here soon.  Wish me luck, and firmly-affixed-to-the-walls mirrors!

Merry Christmas everyone :-)

I’m just popping by to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from both me and the Xandermog.

Happy Christmas from Lou and Xandermog

I’m looking forward to spending a lovely day with the family1, cooking together, eating til we feel slightly ill, giving pressies2, and of course watching the Doctor Who special and other Christmas telly.  I hope you all have an equally excellent one planned if you’re celebrating, and if you’re not, then have a lovely day regardless.

Do I have a New Year’s resolution?  Try to post more often, of course! ;-)  Probably also some others, but I’ll go in to that more in January.

In other news, if you’ve been here before you might notice that I have a new seasonal theme for the site.  I was going to do a little bit of tweaking to get the Ravelry progress bars working with it, and change the non-blog pages a little, but I haven’t had time, and I think it looks fine as it is anyway.  Hooray!  Thank you to the Amberpanther team for making it available :-)

1 Mum, brother and new sister-in-law.
2 Which is more fun than the receiving to be honest, since I pretty much know what I’m getting already.

22: Other Bloggers for Bipolar

I’m not the only person to be blogging for and about bipolar during the Blogathon.  There are more people blogging for other mental health issues too.  I’ve already linked to a couple, but I’m going to do so again because you should visit them, and sponsor them if you can:

You can see the full list of bloggers who are participating on the Blog List at

Listening to: Bat For Lashes – Sarah
via FoxyTunes

19: Friends and Family: It’s Not Just All About Me

Finally, my first ‘proper’ post on a bipolar related topic!  I’ve taken way too long over writing this… I need to speed up for the others!  I’ve chosen this one to start with because it got the highest number of votes in my poll – so really I didn’t choose it at all.  I’m not actually all that certain where to start with this subject, but let’s have a crack anyway!

Being Bipolar is something that, like any long-term illness, doesn’t just affect the person with the illness.  Pretty much whatever your situation, it has an effect on your family and your friends.  Of course, I can only really speak for myself, but in general terms, it can make a difference in how people relate to you, and how you relate and act towards others.

Does having bipolar, a mental illness – one which is gradually becoming more generally known – change the was that people look at you, once they know?  Probably.  Not always in a negative way, but often enough.  I’ve been lucky enough to only have had one really bad experience with a now ex-friend who “couldn’t deal” with the way I was when I was manic.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know I was manic, because I was in that stage where everything is brilliant … and annoying as hell to anyone on the receiving end of it, I’m sure.  Yet, if this friend had said to me that I was being kind of insane (you know, in a tactful way), I would have realised what was going on – I wasn’t so high that I wouldn’t have recognised it with a little outside help.  And in fact that’s what happened a short while after the ex-friend told me where to go, with a nudge from someone else.

Other than that, I’ve been lucky – my friends have been wonderful and very understanding of my illness and the resulting failings as a friend that it brings.  I can be somewhat unreliable, for example, if I drop into depression and can’t drag myself out of bed, let alone the house.  I can seclude myself for long periods if I’m down, and not talk to anyone for weeks or longer.  Or conversely, I can talk a mile a minute and not be able to shut the hell up – that can be amusing, but it can get really annoying.  I get annoyed with me!  I need friends who aren’t afraid to tell me when I’ve started talking really fast.  Luckily, I have people like that, because that stops me getting worse and therefore making things worse for all of us.

As for family, once again I’m really lucky.  From conversations with my Mum, I know it was difficult for her and Dad to accept that I had the illness (it was difficult for me, too, but in a different way).  She’s told me that she’s felt as if she somehow failed me, maybe by passing on a gene that predisposed me, or by doing something “wrong” in my upbringing.  Dad was in a bit of denial for a while, I think (clearly where I get it from!) – neither of them wanted their little girl to have a life long condition like this.  Mum of course knows logically that it’s not her fault… but she and Dad wanted to be able to make it magically better, as I guess you do for your children.  Mum has come to terms with it now.  I think Dad did, but he’s not with us any more so I can’t ask him.

Mum now generally comes with me to my psychiatrist appointments, and she’s done a course for carers and family members that was run locally.  Most of the others on the course had family members who were schizophrenic rather than bipolar, but there are plenty of common areas, and she found it very useful.  She’s not there at my appointments because I’m not capable of going on my own (well, unless I’m down and freaking out about leaving the flat!) or talking to the psychiatrist.  She’s mainly there so that I have a back-up brain in the room – I forget things that happen when I’m in one state or another, sometimes.  Or she can let him know how I’ve been when talking to her on the phone, which I do most days even if I’m badly down.  In fact, she’s the main person who will point out to me when I’m sounding manic or depressed, and will prod me until I call the CMHT1 if I don’t get better in a day or so.

The main thing that she’s done is take over supervising my finances.  One of my worst problems when I’m manic is over-spending.  Obsessively buying every book on the one thing I’ve fixated on, for example (Ooo, cable knitting!  Ooo, Stargate!  Ooo, shiny things!!).  Or spending £800 on sock yarn in 3 months when I didn’t have anything remotely approaching that coming in.  This is a pattern that’s been repeating for years, and Mum and Dad had to help me out on more than one occasion.  It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with bipolar that I knew why it was happening… but I still couldnt’ stop!  So in the end (after the yarn incident), Mum stepped in.  She doesn’t manage my money, but it’s a kind of joint effort.  I gave her my debit  and credit card, and cheque book, and we worked out a strict budget.  I only spent cash, or occasionally on the credit card with pre-agreement.  Within a year, my enormous overdraft was paid off.  There’s no way I could have possibly done that without Mum.  Not a chance!  These days, my budget is a lot less constrained, and I have my credit card back in my purse.  I still speak to Mum first if I’m going to spend on it, but it’s mainly a sort of double-check system, to make sure that I’m not trying to spend out on something silly.  It does mean she has extra work to do, keeping an eye on me, and I feel bad about that… but I’m not sure I’d feel confident in having complete control again.  Which is weird, because I generally like to be independant.  I spose the thing is, when I spend while manic, I feel so horribly out of control.  This is stopping that, it’s stopping that stress for me, and it’s stopping eventual stress for Mum.

The other main person affected is my brother.  Me being bipolar means that he is the sole executor of Mum’s estate should anything happen to her – not because Mum doesn’t trust me, but because she doesn’t want to put the extra pressure on me in that situation.  It means that he has to come and pick me up when we go to Mum’s for dinner every week, because not only can I not afford a car any more, but my driving licence has been medically revoked.  (This is also another partial reason why Mum takes me to my psych appointments)  He has also become aware that he has to ‘look after’ me a bit sometimes, which is really sweet!  For example, we went to see the new Harry Potter film last week, and when we got there it looked like the cinema was going to be pretty full, despite it being 11 in the morning on a Thursday! (We were trying to dodge hordes of kids and foreign exchange students by going to an out of town showing in the morning before the schools broke up!)  As it happened, I was absolutely fine in myself, but he thought to ask if I was going to be alright in a crowd.  Sometimes I can’t be doing with too many people, you see.  He was quite willing to turn around and go home if it would be too much.

So, um, I think that’s about it.  If you’ve got any questions or thoughts about this, please leave a comment!

1 Community Mental Health Team

14: A recommendation

While I’m eating my dinner, can I just point you in the direction of an excellent post that Cia made about ‘normality’.  I’ve been asked a question about this by Ptyx, and I’ll give a bit of my own take shortly.  But I think that Cia says it so much better than I can – you should definitley have a read of “Are you normal?