Friday, 4 September 2015


With thanks to Jenna for reminding me!

Before my operation I hid myself away from any situation where I would be uncomfortable. Anything that had me in anything other than skirt or tunic was out. I stopped climbing (the harnesses do kind of 'frame' certain areas of the body...) and stopped swimming.

Once I recovered enough from the operation to actually go swimming I was so excited. I have wanted to take the little guy into the pool since he was old enough to be taken. I went looking for a swimsuit that I thought would look OK on me (as much as swimsuits can look good on anyone outside of the Baywatch cast...) and once I had it waited for a suitable time.

But then... Doubt crept in and totally crippled me from actually going. As I wrote before, the fear of the changing room that I have never been in, followed by the fear of being pointed at in my swim suit, Two years on hormones have been kind to me, but I am still a little flat chested and a padded swimsuit is not the same as a padded bra for helping in that department! That and my not overly defined waist scared me more than I would like to admit after nearly 4 years of living as Stacy.

And I have to say that no matter how exposed I always felt in water shorts, it is nothing compared to how exposed I feel in a swim suit!

This week we had the chance to take the plunge though (yes, pun intended) as Monday was the last day when we both had vacation and we took the little guy to the toddler lesson.

Mission 1: The changing rooms! Actually, thanks to the way that the Dutch handle this more often it was fine. You see you have cubicles to get changed in. That's it. The rest of the space is shared. Well, not strictly true. There was the option of a communal changing room that we used to get the little guy ready, but seeing as the door opened onto the corridor there was no way that either of us was going to get changed in there!

Mission 2: Actually, there was no mission 2. Once I had got into my swim suit and had a little guy to look after any thoughts about being pointed at or how I look just vanished. Making sure he was OK took priority and we got into the pool and had a whale of a time (yup, intended again!).

We took it in turns with him during the lesson, both took him down the giant flume (that I assume was turned down as it was the baby lesson - when I went on my own to check it I had to paddle down as there was not enough water to keep me moving!) and played in the pool until we were told that the time was up. Cubicles again and home with wet hair and no make-up - also a first for me.

Great morning, and I think that once I don't have to dilate every day and have some more time I am going to take lessons to get my swimming certificates. I am self taught in water and think that with the little guy making sure that I really know what I am doing is a good idea. I was worried about looking a fool taking lessons for basics that most children in Holland do when they are three or four years old until I realised that when I am taking the lessons I am going to be in a pool full of people in the same situation as me - ergo there is nothing to be embarrassed about!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Happy holidays, and lots of tears

This is the last week of a three week break from work. I say holiday, but I'm not sure it is the truth as we did not go away...

Three weeks cut off from the office have been somewhat relaxing though. My password expired the day after my last day in the office and, oops, I forgot to reset it! No mail, no remote desktop, no nothing!

The first week were spent with my parents. Them spending a lot of time with their grandson, us all going out for the day to the zoo to Ikea (the closest Ikea to my parents it about 200 miles away from them so they only go when they come here). We all had Swedish meatballs for lunch (the little guy *loves* them) and my parents got the little guy his Christmas present, an Ikea kitchen, after he spent 20 minutes playing with one in their children's department. I can't wait to see him play on it! And yes, we are going to put it together the day before and wrap it built. We're not nasty enough to just give him two Ikea boxes and some tools. Maybe when he's 5... :p

He loved the zoo, especially the aquarium with the sharks swimming overhead. It was a little too long a day for him - he only slept for 50 minutes in his pushchair.

With the garden almost done (we just need a new fence and a real roof on the shed) we spent a lot of time in there. Playing on the grass, with his slide and just watching him have a whale of a time. It's been amazing!

When they had to leave there were tears. I have never liked it when they have to go home - the worst thing about moving to another country - but now it's such a difficult thing to have to do. And the walk back to the car seems so much longer when you are trying to keep yourself composed (and with Schiphol airport being the size that it is that is a long way to try to look like you are not crying!).

But they are home and safe and we are talking on Skype again.

The second week was spent with the three of us going out. Once to a children's theme park, where they have a couple of small rides for kids, lots of fairy tale attractions (gnome forests etc) and a huge playground that he loved. I spent 30 minutes crawling through tunnels with him (why are his knees not as bruised as mine were!) and climbing over obstacles, and pushing the manual carousels round for him. We managed to get him so tired out that our little guy, who spent 9 hours in a car for 6 days in May going to and from Scotland without sleeping more than 50 minutes a day, fell asleep inside 5 minutes of leaving.

Which was a bad thing. Because it meant that he then didn't sleep over the afternoon! :)

This week has just me and the little guy. Yesterday he went to day care again and I spent the day studying AngularJS (guess what I am doing tomorrow again?), but today I kept him home from day care and we went to an indoor playground for the morning. Crawling around the climbing frames with him and playing in the ball pits. He just didn't know where to start and was running here, there and everywhere. I took my shoes off and climbed in with him to help. Just for him of course, I didn't enjoy the climbing through the small gaps and up the frames at all. Nor did I enjoy falling in the ball pits :) Bazinga!

Yesterday, after I melted my brain with AngularJS (6 hours was enough!) I spent a couple of hours watching E.T. again on Bluray. And deafening the neighbours (hey, you have to reproduce the feeling of the cinema!). And crying. A lot. My t-shirt was wet. I always knew that it was a sad film, but seriously these days it's a different level of sadness! Still a great film though, and considering how old it is the special effects still live up well too!

And, of course for a huge fan, I got The Shepherds Crown last week. One day after release (I couldn't get to the book shop on the day it was released). And cried when going though it in the street. The last Discworld book. I'm about 3/4 through it now and it is a great read. Once I pick it up I lose at least 45 minutes at a time.

Well, someone seems to have woken up judging from the noises coming from the monitor so I am going to sign off for now. Three more days of relaxing and then it all starts again!

PS I owe some of you a mail, I promise to get it too you soon!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Another orbit

Well, seeing as I like to be fair in my criticisms and issues I had to share this today.

I got one step closer to  leaving my thirties behind me today and the guys and gals in the office were amazing!

When I got there there was nothing to say anything special was happening, and I am not going to lie but with the issues I have been having recently I went into a self pity dive.

But, whilst serving the cheese and chocolate cake that I had baked to my colleagues someone walked in with a large present and a card. And, yes guys, in answer to your card: OMFG I am that old! :p

The present was a Nicko RC Porche GT 3 Cup. And it doughnuts beautifully on office linoleum floors :) We know, we tried a lot! There was a lot of laughs, and it was great fun!

Then I went back to my desk and found that someone had decorated it whilst I was serving cake and there was no way I was going to log back on for a while.

Awesome, truly awesome and just what I needed!

And then, seeing as there have been requests for the dress, and as I think the juxtaposition of full on 50's swing and modern RC car are fun, her is me with the car at lunch in our school playground :)

A great start at home with presents from the little guy and a wonderful card that he coloured in himself followed by this has made the day amazing. One of my best birthdays in a while.

Right, time for a rest, I'm too old for all of this excitement!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


I'm having a bit of a tough time right now.

Since I transitioned nearly 4 years ago (time flies!) I have been the target of some pretty outright sexism. I think that I have documented the cases here pretty well but it boils down to troglodyte car salesmen, computer bits salesmen and IT Services salesmen (Hey! There is a pattern there!)

All of them annoying, but also all of them are quite easy to put out of my mind once I have ranted a little about it.

Recently though I've been struggling a lot with smaller, less intense slights. Whilst in the face of it these are less intense than the ones documented above they are really, really wearing me down to the point where I'm on the verge of tears and physically exhausted from the stress of it all.

A couple of examples of this are:

  • When dealing with a stressful situation if I show any emotion at all then I get told to grow thicker skin
  • My opinion now counts for much less than it used to. There have been repeated instances recently where I have said something to be told it's nothing and then someone else repeats what I say and suddenly it's an amazing idea that needs doing. And I do mean repeats. Word for word almost (I am not blaming the person saying it a second time, sometimes they are not there the first time).
  • Being told that I am over dramatising everything

I was speaking to a female colleague about this, and they asked why I was getting worked up over something that had happened (involving themselves). I explained why I was angry and she simply said 'Oh, I just filter that out these days - you learn to after a while.'

My therapist made a very good point when I was discussing this with him (we did go into it in a lot more detail than I can go into here, but was a lot more helpful than I am about to make it out):

Well, look at the silver lining. They obviously accept you as a woman. 

Looking around at the moment I can really see that is true. I do work in an incredibly sexist industry (though I have no idea if it is more or less sexist than others as I have no frame of reference). As Terry Pratchett wrote in one of his Sam Vines books:

You can be any gender you like as long as you are one of the guys.

Sometimes I can really see that. What I can't see is any way of changing it, nor at the moment of dealing with it. After all, this isn't some forum full of trolls on-line that, though you shouldn't have to, you can remove yourself from. This is real life and happening daily.

PS There is no point to this post. This is more about me letting off a little steam than looking for pity. I knew that this could and probably would happen (though was not expecting it from the people I have it from). I do find myself wondering if people in our position notice it more though. Both due to the lack of social conditioning / defences which are built throughout life and because we can really see how people deal with us differently...

Monday, 8 June 2015

Times up

Scheduled post here, everyone is asleep so I can type for a change! This was going to be at the end of the holiday post, but I thought that maybe that was already too long and this didn't really connect with it!

So...  The past week has been a week of change for me. A few things have happened!

1) I have a degree in my name!

At last, I got around to posting my degree, with a legal copy of my deed poll to my old university and they sent it back with Stacy on it! Woot! I am so thrilled by that! Seeing as I am not going to change my birth certificate as I refuse to divorce my wife this was about the last change that needed doing.

2) I really tried hard to get some courage to do things differently

I'm really working hard to fight my fear at work and talk to people more. It's kind of working, but really hard. But the comments I have had back from most of my team make it totally worth it!

3) Our garden looks like a war zone!

We finally got around to getting our garden renovated (read rip everything out and start again). New tiles for the front garden, patios at either end of the rear and a 24m2 patch of astro-turf for the little guy to play on. Plus some planters where we can plant things that require almost no care to have a dash of nature without me having to spend time keeping it looking good. It's a mess right now, but if the half finished front garden is anything to go by then it is going to be amazing when done!

4) I've had a make over

A total one. Completely.

As I said in a previous post I have stopped worrying whether or not people think I am trying to hard and am just buying clothes that I love (OK, that means the trousers and jeans that I was planning on buying are not going to happen. Probably). I love the 50's look I have right now and that is what I am concentrating on!

I finally got the nerve to cut my hair as I want to. I've been wanting to do it for a couple of years and then always wimp out at the last minute. But this time I had it done. It was supposed to  be before I went to Scotland, but the hairdresser said that my hair was too bleached by the sun to take it so she died it reddish brown before doing the real colour a few weeks later.

And she cut about 7" / 17cm off of it (maybe more...) and gave me a new style that I love!

It did however take three hours to do, but the comments I got during and afterwards from the other hairdressers, and other customers who came and went whilst I was being worked on made the time worth it (OK, that makes me sound so vain... But nice comments are, well, nice sometimes!)

And... I got glasses. First world problem but... I've noticed that things in the distance just are not as sharp as they used to be. Nothing major, but it was grating. So I got my eyes checked and it turns out my better than medically perfect vision is now just perfect. Not a reason for glasses according to the optician. Until... he did the this is what you see without prescription, and this is with what I have measured and the difference was so startling that I actually exclaimed wow out loud. So he changed his mind based on that - though again said it wasn't needed, but if I was more comfortable with then I could think about getting some. Apparently it can happen that when you have great eyesight and then it changes just a tiny bit that you notice it a lot more than someone who has always had that level of eyesight.

So I got glasses. And again, with the whole fear thing, and the whole make over thing I went for broke. Not understated glasses, but ones that I loved (and was worried were over the top!!!).

I don't normally do pictures of myself here (because I hate them) but I love this one, so this is me now :)

Oh, and the title of the post???

Well, I had therapy on Friday again. And... We have decided that it's time to stop. Whilst I find the sessions relaxing, I don't have a goal for them any more, and my therapist said that whilst I am welcome to keep coming, and that he is going to miss me too, without a goal they are not going to help me much.

So... I go back in 6 weeks for my exit session and then it's on with life. 

I'm terrified.

(Of course if I need to then I can ask my GP for a repeat referral to him)

I guess real life doesn't begin at 40, it begins here a couple of years early :)

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Scotland, land of weather (all of it, in about 60 minutes!)

So, I'm back from the visit to my parents (well have been for a few weeks, but every time I opened the editor the white blank space stared back at me and was impossible to fill).  He goes nothing!

The visit itself was generally great. I was worried before we left that it would be an emotional train wreck for 10 days, but nothing could be further from the truth,

He looks great, really great. In fact better than I have seen him in a long, long time. If you didn't know that he was so ill then you really wouldn't be able to guess it.

We talked laughed, went 4*4ing (something that we last did when I was 16!) - and proved that full make-up really does give people the wrong impression of you! At one of the obstacles the guy talking people through them said to my dad to stop when my screaming got too loud. My dad instantly told that was never going to happen (and he was right, I may have giggled like a mad woman though :p ) And... I managed to do the see saw the best out of the group of 6 drivers, not quite getting it to balance, but I had it for a fraction and it didn't clang down on the other side as it did with the others it gently dropped so that I could drive off. And my dad looked so proud!

Other than that the weather was awful (Scotland... :p) for large periods of the day (for the 4*4 we had sun shine when we arrived, rain at the start which turn to hail, and then wet snow before disparaging before the end of the hour and driving back home in sun again!) and so we spent the time mainly at my parents house with them totally and utterly spoiling the little guy. It didn't take him long to cotton on to the fact that grandma will let him get away with most and so when we told him no he'd crawl straight for her seat in the living room whether she was in it or not!

I got to see my brother again, for the first time in two years. And I expect it will be a couple of years before I see him again. It was nice for my parents to see us all together for a change - that hasn't happened since I've been living as Stacy. In fact I think the last time was maybe 2010! We are not close.

And it shows... Whilst he is fine(ish) most of the time he can be such a callous, insensitive person. I knew that anyway (he has never congratulated us with the little guy, refuses to call him by his name as it's Dutch and too hard to pronounce - let alone it's a: not and b: can be shortened to an English name...), but he really took it to a new level for me whilst in Scotland.

He has my dad as having died already, and in his mind is already planning the funeral. Seriously. The day after I found out he sent me a text asking for a chat. I thought, wow, he wants us to comfort each other. Nope. Not at all. Starting with the sentence: I know this sounds cold but... And going down from there. My dad is still fixing my car, and has put it into overdrive now to get it done. But that's not enough for my brother. As he has dad as already having died I have to get the car out of the garage as dad is not going to be around to do it. Never mind that he is loving doing it and it's been great therapy for him (albeit that he has forgotten how hard the work is!) and never mind that he is healthy right now. And then when they had disappeared into the garage for 30 minutes to look at the car I thought I would join them only to find him saying exactly those things to dad himself. Like that is what he needs. I was fuming.

And then later that evening causally tells the room that he thinks I look like David Mitchell. And when everyone berated him for saying it saying that I don't, and his girlfriend looking at him in a very incredulous way he repeats it, over and over - never once noticing just how it's making me feel. I missed a lot of sleep that night.

My mum gave me a lot of comfort the next morning in the kitchen when we talked about it and I nearly burst into tears when I told her I had hardly slept because of it. But there is always a sentence with my brother: you know what he is like, he's not going to change, you should ignore him. Like the fact that he has been insensitive since a teenager excuses him from still being insensitive now. I can't excuse him. He's 40 something now and there is no excuse in my eyes.

But, back to fun! He and his girlfriend (who I'd never met before, and is wonderful and way, way too god for him!) left after a day or so and we carried on. Trips to Waterstones (600 books in our library now! And that's not counting the little guys collection of 50 or 60 books!) and shopping trips for shoes with just me and my mum, and for the little guy with the whole family (and wanting to buy the shop!) followed with a lot more little guy and dad running around the house together having a great time.

Whilst the bit about my brother is quite long here (and I needed to get it out!) it was but a couple of days and the rest of the trip was superb!

Except the travelling. Absolutely not the travelling. Toddlers sleep in cars apparently. No one has told our little guy that! 9 hours due to traffic jams on the worst day and he slept (almost every day the same) for just 40 minutes. 40. It got to the point where he would cry when we got into the car and cheer when we turned the engine off!  Ug! Admittedly the cheering was ultra cute so we made a game of it, counting down to turning it off, cheering and then doing a high five with him :) 

Right now dad is looking at experimental treatment (as there is no current treatment that will help him, it will only make him ill again) to see if there is something that can be done there and trying to live the best he can. All I hope is that he gets more time with the little guy and that the little guy gets some memories of his granddad. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Recovery and reflection

Wow, I just saw on Lynn's blog that my last post was 3 months ago! Time flies, hey?

So, what has been happening? Well, a lot! I'm going to start with the bad news and try to end well.

The bad news is, well, as bad as I have ever had in my life. My dad went back for his post chemo scan. It was supposed to be a formality, a final to check before moving on with life. It wasn't. The first week after finding out I cried a lot in the evenings, and in the car on the way to work. At work I kept myself busy and just about coped - though I only told the other team leads about it as I couldn't cope with people asking if I was OK. I wasn't. I'm not.

On top of my grief over it there is the higher grief of him not getting to see his grandson grow up. And the bigger one of his grandson is never going to remember his granddad. We do not know how long he has, but we are pretty sure that it won't be long enough for the little guy to form any lasting memories.

I had all 4 of my grandparents until I was in my early twenties. I thankfully still have 3. And it hurts to think that he won't have that. Maybe the loss is more mine than his, but it hurts, A lot.

I have now just about accepted it though. And am really trying to concentrate on making the remaining time as great as possible. Trips to them, lots of trips of them to us (we have already been asked if we mind them coming more often - of course not!).

And I am going to stop now, because I am getting upset again.

My recovery is going. there have been setbacks and emergency appointments at the hospital, but nothing too bad and all just about solved. The surgeons are happy with the results, and that means that I am too.

There is still a road to go. I have still not sat on a push bike since the operation. I have sat on the motorbike. Small trips are fine (and it feels great to release my inner biker hooligan occasionally) but when I went to work this week I realised after 40 minutes that it was too early. Just a shame that there was still 10 minutes left, and a whole trip home. That has put me back a bit - the bruising has made itself felt again and sitting has been less comfortable since - though it is getting better. I'm going to keep up the small trips, but the next commute to work can wait until June I think!

I'm busy learning new coding skills - AngularJS and .Net MVC 5. These are technologies we will be using over the coming years in the office. And whilst I do not code that much any more, I do want to have a working knowledge still. And it helped my confidence doing the training. I may not have the most up to date knowledge about our current code base, but when everyone was on the new stuff I was able to help others again - I'm not as rusty as I thought! I'm busy trying to get more  knowledge at home (not easy with a full time job again and a child of 14 months old!), and am building my own online application as a training exercise. Once I have something I may even post a link here and you can all laugh at my efforts :)

Speaking of the little guy, he is wonderful! We celebrated his birthday in February and bought him too many presents. Way too many presents. That many that we didn't even give them all to him and he was still that tired of opening them on the day that the last one he got he ignored almost completely!

He is about to start walking too - walking along the table, walking holding our hands (in his first real shoes - which for such tiny things are not cheap! They cost more  than some of my shoes!) and just today actually took his first step unaided. From my arms, letting go an going a couple of inches to his mama. It's going to be interesting when he really gets going!

He still loves his books (and is currently very interested in my old .Net 2.0 text book!) and can't sleep without a story. I just hope that stays :)

And he is starting to talk :) It's just amazing to watch him grow!

And finally... I'm busy working on my confidence right now. That is something I really miss for my job and I am trying to challenge myself more and more. Both with participation, feedback and just being me.

The most visible part of this is my clothes. I have spent the last few years being very worried that people are judging my clothes with thoughts of 'is she trying to hard?' And before I buy anything, or even wear anything this is a question I ask myself. Well, I'm stopping. I now have a couple of dresses from British Retro (really awesome dresses!). Full circle, below the knee swing dresses. With a full petticoat. I think they are awesome! They really, really stand out (though still pass Jenny's Tesco test - I shop in them!) and I feel great in them. I feel that this may be the staple of my wardrobe for the coming couple of years and plan to enjoy it!

Right, time to get back to another mini project - a window application that compares two folders organised differently and lets you know what the differences are. I'm sure I could download a tool to do it, but really, making your own is just so much more satisfying!