Friday, 31 December 2010

Nearly 2011 wishes

As the network is likely to crash shortly I thought I would get my new years wishes in early to my lovely readers. So here it is, I wish you your happiest year yet. Filled with things that make you laugh, surrounded by people who love (and like!) you.

Happy new year 2011!

xx
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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Crimbo Limbo and Reflections

In a few days I will be thinking about what to pin down as my new years resolutions. Never mind that every year they invariably fall by the wayside mid February (cough... January) but I like to remain optimistic and make them anyway. Starts the year off with an excellent sense of purpose I always feel.

However today, we are in the middle of what is known to some as Crimbo Limbo. That awkward space between Christmas and New Year. No one really knows what to do with themselves, the kids are going nuts because nowhere is open for us crazed parents to take them and I can't (read 'wouldn't inflict on myself willingly) take the children shopping with me to bag me some bargains in the sales.

So now seems as good a time as any to reflect on the past year. There's been some highs and lows as with any year.

A big high goes to giving birth to my beautiful baby daughter on 1st June. Unexpectedly at home and what an amazing experience. And what a delightful child, so sunny and happy all the time. She loves cuddles and charms everyone she meets. Her brothers are brilliant with her... HUGE RELIEF!!

My boys are growing up fast and Jayden is now bin his second year at school. He's developed an unusual obsession with Michael Jackson and if something isn't 'cool' then he's not interested. Yes, he is just 5. Strong independent minded little boy. It's because of him that I scour the internet for parenting articles for how to bring up high spirited children.

Reuben. Now 3 years old and people love him. He's got such a gorgeous character and people just can't help themselves. Never mind that he seems to communicate in a lesser known region of outer Hebrides dialect. He tries so hard to make himself understood. It breaks my heart sometimes to see him trying so hard. But he's making awesome progress at the moment. Which brings me to the health stuff. We are due to see the consultant Cardiologist on 11th Feb as we found out he has a murmur, an enlarged heart, pulmonary oedema and irregularities in his ECG lateral waves. Scary stuff. Of course it could turn out to be something just to be watched but all the same, as his parents, health in this sort of thing is out of our control. Thankfully we believe God is in control so that's why I haven't turned into a complete basket case (phew... definitely have limited time available for breakdown, most inconvenient).

I'm now pretty much qualified as a breastfeeding counsellor with the NCT. It's very exciting especially seeing as I've been training for a little over 17 thousand years. Getting the last bit through the complicated corridors that are the NCT will be interesting but I keep my eye on the prize. This year I've really powered through the last bits of the course and I feel so great about it, my sense of accomplishment is fab.

I turned 30 this year and I think I'm still in 'trying to come to terms with it' mode. I keep thinking about death, getting old, leaving my loved ones, what do I want to do with the rest of my life etc, worries about illness. Feel such an idiot for dwelling on these things but there you go.

So, that'll do for now. Like I said; some highs, some lows. Looking forward to planning my resolutions later this week.

What are you reflecting on about this past year?
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Monday, 27 December 2010

Infant Feeding Cues & Babyled Eating

When I was pregnant I had a vision in my head of our new daughters first Christmas. She would be nearly 7 months old and by that point she would have tried a few tastes of pureed vegetables and fruits, certainly enough to make up to a Christmas meal. I decided that I would puree them separately so she had a variety of tastes then for dessert perhaps some stewed apple and raisins for a festive finish.

That was also other peoples expectations of her Christmas meal and in fact any of her meals, I frequently feel like I'm being watched. My Nan came out with it the other day... "isn't she a bit young for that?" when I handed her a rice cake with a slice of cheese and apple.

I was at that point a bit fed up of constantly explaining our choice to allow our daughter to lead her own journey to weaning. So I just said "watch her!".

So she did. And was amazed to see her happily eat the lot, barring obviously the little bits that get tucked in unexpected places like inside vests, behind her back (?!) etc. And still no choking. Now my Nan can't stop raving on about how clever Daisy is :)

I know I'm sounding a bit like an evangelist about this lately but really I have been amazed by the way her instincts have really led the way.

In a breastfeeding antenatal class I taught, I did an exercise on infant feeding cues. Seeing the light 'pop on' for the parents-to-be was brilliant. It's extraordinary how many people think that a baby lets you know he or she needs a feed by crying. Crying is a sign of distress, not initial hunger. Learning your babies early hunger signs will make your life easier and the babys life happier. Look out for searching eyes, lip pursing, rooting and arm waving. Your baby may be trying to tell you something.

If a baby can communicate her needs to us, then perhaps its worth listening. So while listening on Christmas day, I learnt she wasn't mad keen on sprouts (though she gallantly gave them a go) and she loves, and I do mean LOVES creamed carrot and swede. Very messy though!

Our journey continues, we are learning something new every day. What are your kids teaching you?
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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Friday, 24 December 2010

Frogs

I was worried about Wednesday. My husband was still working from 9am and then leading the carol service in the evening so wouldn't be home until late. All the friends I would normally meet up with were busy sorting out Christmas stuff. So *gasp* we would need to entertain ourselves. All day.

Not really that bad, but I did have chores to do in the morning, but turns out the kids wanted to watch Wallace & Grommit so happily lay out in the sofa in the morning and I got loads done. To say I was surprised is an understatement. Those of you with kids will know how hard it can be to get the jobs done with children hanging round your ankles.

At lunchtime I realised I hadn't bought any 'lunch' food as we won't be in much this season. So we went to the local shopping centres cafe. All three behaved so beautifully! They picked out what they wanted and sat down and we talked about whether we wanted it to snow again (yes because Jayden didn't get to make a snowman last time and no because it would stop us getting to Nanas for boxing day). We all had cake, yay! Daisy sat at the table with us, completing our little gang and chewed on her rice cakes and fruit, smiling round at us, clearly pleased to be part of the proceedings.

I then decided to take then to the Magic Castle as a treat, its an indoor soft play area and we walked over, going past the charity shop and on a whim we went in. They had a draw filled with toy cars and motorcycles and I let the boys pick one out each as they had been so good. We got chatting to the shop volunteer and she was charmed by my children who were being so polite and cheerful (I was thinking, who are you and what have you done with my kids?!).

As we went to leave the shop, she came running after us and asked the boys "do you like frogs?" and they looked at me a little quizzically before answering that yes they did. It was so funny to see their uncertainty; eek, why does the crazy lady want to know that?

Then she whipped out from behind her back these 2 cuddly frogs and gave them one each. You should have seen their little eyes light up. They were new frogs too, still had tags on, surprisingly given that it was a charity store. They have not put those frogs down since. They've been to the park, sat at table eating, drawing, been to bed, been out with family...

So we then went to the Magic Castle and they had a lovely time, my husband unexpectedly joined us in.between lessons which was nice, then home to dinner and bedtime. We all curled up on the sofa, me breastfeeding Daisy, them clutching their frogs and when they all got sleepy, one by one I put them in bed (apart from Daisy who sleeps with me).

It was an unexpectedly lovely day, my children were a joy all day. This post might not be the most interesting blog to read as I rambled through a day in our lives, but when I look at those frogs now, they remind me of how I felt on Wednesday and though they were the cheapest gift (make that free!) they'll receive this Christmas, I suspect they're my favourite gift as they remind me of how much I enjoy my children.

Do you have a thing that reminds you of a lovely day? Remember it now and have a happy Christmas!!
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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Wordless Wednesday (almost)

My three blondies
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3 sleeps to go...

I have one last present to get. Though in fact I did already buy it on Amazon, I got an email saying they (amazon) hadn't heard from the seller about despatch. So I emailed the seller asking for a delivery update, no answer. Then another email a week ago, then one yesterday telling them not to bother. *sigh*

Annoying particularly because this person is hard to buy for at the best of times, and now I'm just going to have to pick up a gift card which to my mind lacks imagination but I suppose means they can at least buy what they really want.

I feel like I have loads to do before Christmas still though, and not all of of it particularly Christmas related either. Tidying and cleaning the house so I don't need to do it over the Christmas period much. Buy tea for evening tea at the in-laws. Buy meat for our Christmas Eve meal... I don't eat much meat so goodness know why this task falls to me each year.

Wrap the last of the presents. Bag them up into 'who goes where' bags. Deliver a couple Christmas cards. Make the dreaded mutant mince pies.

Then onto more pleasant activities, an evening with family and friends - a kind of round the Christmas tree gathering we do every year, after all the prep is done and before the Christmas madness. Then Christmas Eve, one of my favourite seasonal days. Kevs off work, spend time with the kids, watching them get more and more excited as the day goes on.

Kev cooks us a Christmas meal in the evening, full works, pudding and crackers. Then when kids finally in bed asleep, we curl up with mince pies and mulled wine to watch the brilliantly Christmassy Love Actually.

Perfect.
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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

My kids favourite dinner

A friend of mine gave me a delicious recipe for gravy and it completed this meal for my family. Bear with me as I do this, I haven't written down a recipe before but I'm 'trying something new' today. Hope you enjoy this take on a mash-up of a couple of traditional British meals as much as we do! (pretty cheap to make too!)

For your weaning infant, just remove the sausages from the mini toad. Only use unsalted stock for babys gravy.

Mini Toads, mashed potato and red onion gravy

Preheat the oven to 200'c.

You'll need:

for the mini toads...
12 space muffin tin
9 sausages
Olive oil
4 oz plain flour
2 eggs
200ml milk

for the mashed potato...

potatoes as desired, I usually allow 2 per person plus one!
butter

for the red onion gravy...

1 red onion chopped into half rings
200 mls vegetable stock (depending on how organised I am, this is either from a cube or frozen stock from a previous meal!)
Juices from cooked sausages
2 heaped tsps of brown sugar
Your preferred dried herbs
Sifted flour to thicken if wanted

The Recipe (finally! thinking of all the ingredients took me ages!)

* Pierce the sausages and put them in the oven in an ovenproof dish
* In a bowl, sift in the flour and salt then make a well in the centre. Add the eggs. Start to whisk and gradually add the milk, whisking up to a smooth batter. Set aside.
* Peel and chop the potatoes and put on job to boil. Once soft, mash up with the butter (to taste).
* Put half a tsp of olive oil in each muffin well and put in the oven to warm
* Take sausages from oven, reserve the juices. Chop up sausages into quarters. Take muffin tray from oven, add 3 bits of sausage to each well. Then pour the batter mix into each well. Put back in oven until batter rises and is golden brown. (around 15 mins).
* Fry up the red onion in a frying pan, add the sugar once they've warmed through. Continue to fry to caramelise. Pour sausage 'juices' into frying pan. Continue to fry then add the stock. Continue to simmer, adding small amount of sifted flour to thicken. Simmer for further 5 mins before serving.

SERVE... the 'mini toads' with mashed potatoes and red onion gravy poured over. Enjoy!
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Sunday, 19 December 2010

My little Christmas Fairy

Can we say excited?
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Tips for the babyled parent

Yesterday we went to a Christmas party and I took with me a small tub of chopped veggies and rice crackers. At least I thought I did because when the time came, turns out I'd left it on the counter at home. Bad mummy.

I was naturally dubious about feeding my 6.5 month old daughter party food but in the end she munched her way through some boiled egg, cucumber sticks, bread sticks and some cheese & tomato pizza cut into small finger slices.

The thing that got me this time was the way she was picking up one thing and chewing on that for a while, then catching sight of something else presumably more interesting, then discarding what was in her hand and picking the other thing up. She was picking and choosing her food and having a great time.

One challenge is convincing my boys not to put food on her tray. They see her eating normal food and obviously don't know the thought that goes on behind the choices so think its ok to give her food. Not all of which is appropriate. (not quite at the cake and crisps stage yet!)

So I've come up with a couple of guidelines for us about what we're ok with her eating at the moment (not necessarily in any order of significance) and some other things we're bearing in mind.

* Food that is holdable by small hands - stick shape usually. Slices of apple, cucumber, toast, peaches, potato, baked carrots and sweet potato. Bread sticks, grated cheese to name a few foods.

* Little or no salt and sugar content where possible.

* At least 2 varieties of food per meal.

* Foods that if a bit breaks off and DOES go down her throat, that it is squashy enough to not get lodged. Raw carrot is one to be watched VERY carefully in this respect.

* Variety of textures in each meal, ie; don't be afraid to get messy! Mashed potato blobs are a great hit here.

* On a practical note, sit baby upright and have her easily accessible in case she needs her back patting - y'know securely sat, but not so tightly strapped in you can't get her out in a hurry

* If baby is not really hungry then at this point, you'll get more out of mealtimes. She's eating to explore and taste rather than satisfy her hunger which would be frustrating for her.

* Cover up! Floor, baby, you... Whatever it takes so that no ones worrying about mess so that baby can concentrate on exploring her food and not develop anxiety about getting food everywhere (its inevitable BTW).

This list is not exhaustive so no doubt I'll be coming back to it at some point.

Do you have anything to add?
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Friday, 17 December 2010

These are a few of my favourite things...

I saw a question in Twitterland somewhere today - "What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?" and I immediately thought of one thing... then another... then another. Then I started to think that I must surely have a highlight but actually, with a family the size of the one I'm in, that's a very difficult 'one thing' to pin down.

So here is a 'super positive happy Christmas bloggetty blog' of all my favourite (in no particular order) things about Christmas... Sound of Music style!

* Making mutant mince pies with my children on Christmas Eve. I say mutant because baking mince pies is my baking nemesis. They always (and I'm not being dramatic) end up sticky, overflowing, misshapen messes. The kids love them and I tell people that the kids made them so I get away with it.

* Decorating the tree at my Mums house with my 3 siblings and now my own family. This helps ground me again as a daughter, though now I squabble with my 5 year old son about how to decorate the tree rather than my little sister. Our own tree at our house is naturally a bit more 'we have 3 kids 5yrs and under' style if you know what I mean!

* Christmas meal cooked by Mr Tant (husband, not father in law) at our house on Christmas Eve. Our little calm before the madness of the couple days ahead. Kev loves to cook and I love to eat what he cooks. What a perfect symbiotic relationship (basically he's a feeder LOL).

* Stocking opening time on Christmas morning. We've already cracked open the chocolate (guilty Christmas pleasure) and there is nothing like watching the kids besides themselves with excitement over the stocking fillets.

* Christmas breakfast, we have always had pain au chocolat warmed in the oven. What a glorious flaky mess!

* Church on Christmas morning. Great to start the day remembering the reason for the season. The kids all bring a present they've had and show off to each other. Then mulled wine & mince pies (not mine...) before heading off to whichever destination we have planned that year.

So those are some of my highlights. I also love Christmas dinner, whether its at my mums house, generally later in the day or at my parents in laws house (1pm on the dot), and the whole getting family together thing (apart from the arguments that occasionally happen with big family gatherings...).

Then new years, that's fun too, every year a different theme and new and unusual ways to humiliate ourselves.

So loads to look forward to. Good job I like to be busy too right...?

What are you most looking forward to?
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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Storm in a Teacup?

This afternoon I went to an appointment with Daisy at the children's hospital. It was a follow up for the storm in a teacup rustled up by my health professionals. They initially decided she had early closure of the anterior fontanelle so we were referred straight to the hospital as the implications of this are quite serious often resulting in cranial surgery.

Thankfully the consultant said that wasn't the case, that he wasn't worried at all. Turns out its highly likely my health visitor measured her head incorrectly. Either way I was intensely relieved ad you can imagine. So imagine my disbelief when they decided that she was too small for her age!!!

I held my tongue, after all, this country is renowned for coming down hard on people who DON'T have a problem, and leaving those WITH a problem to get on with it. Anyhow, I digress.

So blood tests ensued along with weight monitoring. All along I maintained that she was perfectly healthy, just not massive, afterall my boys are not exactly elephants. I explained time and time again that she is exclusively breastfed, she's healthy with good colour, cheerful and contented, plenty (yes plenty) of wet and pooey nappies). All good indicators that this has been a fuss about nothing.

And thankfully today I met with the consultant who agreed with me. Woohoo!! So he discharged her which was wonderful.

He saw in her notes though that her brothers have both been seen and wanted to know how it was all going (maybe his next appt cancelled?!) So I explained about Jayden Hemihypertrophy, which as usual, he found fascinating, its pretty unusual after all.

Then on to Reuben. Now I've been keeping a tenuous hold on my emotions about Roo. It doesn't matter if someone tells you not to worry. No one can tell you that! Whether I worry or not has nothing to do with anyone else. Apart from anything else, I'm his mother, its my job to worry, I can't help it.

Telling me not to worry results in me feeling dismissed and like a chastised child.

His appointment came through this morning.11th Feb and we will be seeing the consultant Cardiologist and he will be doing an Echo.

Then on the 22nd Feb he sees the Pediatrician again for follow up to his digestive issues. The consultant I saw today recommended that at that appointment I ask for a developmental review for his speech etc.

It's so frustrating to have to push for everything. Exhausting in fact. It took ages to get occupational health therapy for him for his gross and fine motor delay, then I had to go outside the local hospital trust to get an Ear, Nose & Throat referral. He's had speech therapy for a year now, but this term they haven't contacted his nursery which they said they would so I'll need to Chase that up too.

Point is, I didn't know I could ask the Ped for a developmental review. It's like fighting your way through a thick fog sometimes.

So now we have the heart appointment and I'm glad its come through finally. Because then we can get on, one way or another. At the moment I feel caught in suspended animation. Holding my breath whenever he seems too tired. Second guessing myself all the time. Am I fussing, is he normal?

There's every chance they'll say that its nothing, that there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for the results we've had so far. Then there's the darker moments when I worry worry worry.

I have faith that God is watching my beautiful little boy and I just need to keep holding onto that. He's answered my prayers before and He can answer them again.
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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Spoons Ahoy

When we started this babyled weaning onto solids journey, my only clear aim was that I wanted to follow Daisys instincts and to go at her pace and I have been surprised daily with her progress and at how well she has done.

She is really eating as part of the family now, joining in our roast dinner on Sunday and showing us how much she enjoys it with her beautiful smiles and giggles.

Watching my lovely bonny breastfed baby, I've become convinced that if she is left to her own devices as with how she controls her breastfeeding habits, then she will find her own way so I have been following her lead. If she looks interested in something I have then I've been letting her give it a go (salt and sugary foods excepted) and that's how she came to try the corn on the cob and loved every gummed morsel.

It has been with some debate then that I considered using a spoon at all. Inevitably though I figured that cutlery will ultimately form part of her eating habits so I gave her a spoon to play with during her meal and guess what she did? You guessed it, that spoon went straight in her mouth in the 'right' way.

Not that surprising when you think that babies literally put everything in their mouths but the difference was that this time, she ate the food from the spoon. When I have fed her with it (a bit of yoghurt) previously, it has immediately come back out and I think she wasn't ready for it, she hadn't had time to learn how to use her mouth for food independently.

If I'd spooned from the start, she would have learnt eventually but I think this has been a much more relaxed and confidence building experience for her.

And still no choking (a bonus).
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Sunday, 12 December 2010

Corn on the Cob Surprise

The surprise was that she tried it! I had it in my hand, she took it off me and started chewing it like she'd been eating forever.

I've noticed that when I try to give her something directly into her mouth, like I gave her a bit of mashed banana once and some yoghurt and it came back out pushed by her tongue. When she puts something to her mouth himself, it generally goes in and stays in.

She instinctively works her mouth in harmony with her hands and its working! I'm amazed! I still attribute it to breastfeeding, it rocks!
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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Long haul parenting

My new latest phrase that I save specially for me and my husband is that we're in this parenting lark for the long haul.

Every day we have decisions to make about how we bring up our children. Some are small and seemingly inconsequential, others are bigger and the value of them is apparent. I do strongly believe that I need to carefully pick my battles. Endlessly picking at children will just result in them feeling got at, hassled, resentful and ultimately erode their natural in built confidence.

It's ok to 'let it slide' every now and then on the small stuff; the decision does need to be made about what we consider to be the 'slidable' small stuff. I can't say what that might be for anyone else, but for us, the 'small stuff' includes things like shoes still on feet on the new sofa for example.... but for some people that might be a deal breaker.

But for us, some small stuff is the important stuff. The pleases, thank-yous, sorrys, basic manners, the social skills that will carry them through and help them to get the most out of their interactions with other people.

It's such a balance though and we are finding that the vast majority of the challenge is consistency. Sometimes is just so tiring and all I really want to do is go and read a book in the garden and leave them to it (hubby included!) but I try to keep my 'eye on the prize'.

Children who are a pleasure to be around, who are confident in any given situation that people will respond well to them because good manners helps to bring out the best in others.

So what provoked this post? This afternoon, we decided to do cinema night at home after dinner. We often do it, choose a film together from the library, make popcorn, snuggle under our duvets on the sofas and watch the film. The kids sometimes fall asleep and we carry them to bed. They love cinema night, its a real treat.

Well everything was going fine, until dinnertime. My eldest started playing up. Getting up and down from the table for no reason, running around, throwing his food onto his brothers plate, pushing his chair around the room. I asked him to sit up nicely and finish his meal... the quicker he finishes obviously, the quicker we can get on with cinema night, he was clearly excited about it. And he didn't get back up, I asked again, he comes back to the table and is shuffling around, picking at his brother. I lost track of how many times I asked him to come sit nicely and finish his food. Finally I brought out the big guns. Do as I've asked or cinema night doesn't happen... "yes it will".... uh... no, it won't, come sit up please.

And round and round we go. Me not quite believing that he is behaving so badly when his treat is in danger of being pulled, and him simply not believing me.

So we have it, one last chance. I asked him to sit up or thats it, no cinema night tonight. He pushes his chair away even more... me: "now please"... him... "no". Me... "ok, no cinema night".

Him, cue hysterics.

Me, not budging.

Him, yelling, crying, shouting.

Me, resolved now.

Him, now in bed.

Me, hoping that tomorrow when we attempt cinema night again, he'll remember that there are consequences to behaviour and we can finally get round to watching Toy Story 3!

I genuinely do not expect him to be an angel all the time, but if I had caved then what does that teach him except that if he screams and yells at me enough then he gets what he wants.

It would have been easier to stick the film on once he'd said sorry, which he did say repeatedly, but we're in this for the long haul, for his benefit, not just our short term peace and quiet at parents.

I did obviously make my peace with him before bedtime, sitting down and having a cuddle and a chat about it. He agreed that his behaviour resulted in his losing a treat that he wanted and that he would try to remember that tomorrow. I explained that I wanted to treat him but he needs to sit nicely at dinnertime so that we can enjoy the time together as a family.

What a palava. Disney Pixar have a lot to answer for!
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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Frankie Boyle & Katie Price

Frankie Boyle thinks that making sexually explicit jokes about a disabled young child is not only appropriate, but hilariously funny.

He thinks that freedom of speech enables him to express this filth and even worse, make money from it. He should be ashamed of himself, though I now doubt he has enough decency in him to feel such an emotion.

And to the people who think that any child of a person in the public eye should be open to this sort of abuse from the media, then shame on you too.

What is going on in this world that this has become acceptable?
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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Children in poverty

The debate about children in poverty had raised its head again lately here after the report which said that more children from working families are living under the poverty line than those in non-working families. The sensationalist headline "work doesn't pay" being the title of choice for some tabloids.

Whatever the particular statistics, the fact remains that in the UK today, 4 million children live in poverty. That's 1 in 3. That is shocking. Apparently the poverty line is where the household income is less than 60% of the median household income. Or in normal terms, for a family of 4, a total income of around £300 per week, inclusive of benefits etc.[www.cpag.org.UK]

For the people who think...Oooh, £1200 per month sounds ok, let me break it down for you. (for a family of 4)

Mortgage or rent £600
Council tax £140
Gas & electric £50
Water £25
Car costs £150 (inc petrol, tax, NOT inc repairs, servicing, MOT & tax)

So we are at £965 costs but we haven't yet...
Fed ourselves... a conservative £300
Used the phone...£40
Internet & TV ...£35
Then... clothes, savings, pension, insurances, washing machines blowing up...
Credit repayments?

Now its waaay over the £1200 so what now? I'm not saying I have the answers here, but this is the real situation, lived by real people in our country today. Children are not being allowed to be children because of poverty, they're denied opportunity and deprived of nice things, even things like their parents affording to have a friend round for tea. Never mind the overseas holidays which are simply out of reach.

After comments I've read around and about online today, I wish people would stop and think before they start splashing a black brush around.

I'll definitely be revisiting this topic so watch this space.
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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Baby Led First Foods Update

I have been caught by surprise with the way my daughter has taken to eating. It has been totally different to the way the boys started food. All those purres and mashes. And she just picks up a bit of food and eats it.

She carefully picks up what she wants and thoughtfully puts it to her mouth, looking at it and turning it round before gumming it into a soggy mess, probably getting around half of it down to her little tummy.

She's now tried cucumbers, mashed potato (now THAT was messy...) courgette (squash), cheese - in sticks and in a sandwich, steamed carrot sticks, toast, banana, Apple and Pear slices and rice cakes. She enthusiastically ate them all.

No pressure from us, I haven't PUT a single thing in her mouth. I'm relying on her instincts to guide her in her eating journey. Babies have excellent gag reflexes, so when something a bit too big broke off, her gag reflex brought it straight back out again before I even had time to react.

I must say at this point that I don't leave her alone even for a mili-second at the moment when she has food on her tray or even within reach. I trust her body to eject a stuck bit of food but as a Mummy its my responsibility to be the back up plan.

Next things on the menu... more vegetables - broccoli, avocado (when I can get hold of it -its a lovely naturally fatty food) cauliflower. Then pasta. On the pasta I'll do my sneaky veggie sauce so that's one other way of getting more goodness into her. I don't eat much meat personally so will probably delay that a while longer, though hubby is determined that she'll have turkey at Christmas! (we'll see...)

She is still happily breastfeeding and I feel like the way she's doing this at her own pace is like a continuation of 'breastfeeding on demand' and feels like the most natural thing for her. I didn't think that she would take to it so well, I thought I'd be anxiously worrying about her taking food, but its ok so far. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, what is your babys first and favourite meal?
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Letter from Hospital

Got 'the letter' from hospital today. Im not entirely sure what it all means but basically as follows...

He has an ejection systolic heart murmur which they're not overly worried about, but that prompted the 12 lead ECG and chest X-ray which they did not long ago.

Findings of that are Q waves in lateral leads and possibly ventricular hypertrophy. Chest X-ray showed enlarged heart size with minimal perihilar shadowing that could be in keeping with pulmonary oedema. So that's why he's been referred for echocardiography.

So there's a 'possibly' in there as well as a 'could', so that's good right? Now we are just waiting for an appointment to come through. We've been told March time so they're obviously not direly worried about it... they leave that to the mother who can't help it.
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Monday, 6 December 2010

The T'internet

I was one of the first in my group of friends to get and email address. I was 17 years old and it was early 1998. I signed up for it, had no one to email so promptly forgot about it for a year or so.

I discovered chat rooms when I was around 18. It was a whole new world and I could hardly believe that I was talking to people in different countries and time zones to me and it was around then that I fell in love with the internet. I used to listen to loads of music online, using Napster before it was shut down originally. I'd stay up all night chatting to people about nothing and everything, playing online games and keeping my Neopets alive.

I made some pretty stupid decisions early on in my 'net life, ones that I wouldn't dream about now, like the time I went out at 3am and met someone I'd been chatting with for a few hours, got in a car with them and went for a drive. I was so stupid. Nothing happened, I was fine, delivered safely home but Blimey.

Thankfully I'm now a bit more internet savvy than I was all those years ago, or is that realistically called cynical & paranoid? Unfortunately there's a lit of wierdos out there on the web. For me though, the internet was like a whole brave new world where I could reinvent myself on a daily basis if I really wanted to.

Eventually that calms down as experience continues and technology and the web weave themselves into your life if you allow them to. I've tried to keep hold of the best of the technology I've come into contact with and I feel like I've found my voice over the years too, I don't feel the need to reinvent myself 'quite' so regularly. Ok make that never now.

All those years ago, I tapped my name into askjeeves.co.uk (this was just before Google went nuts) and the results came back as a totally random collection of Michelle Macken derivatives, none of which had anything to do with me. Tap it in now and you find me. My business, my blog, my website, my profile on various websites and forums I visit, my telephone number... which incidentally hasn't changed for 12 years. See, I'm nothing if not a creature of habit.

I am convinced of the merits of the internet and social networking websites such as Facebook.com. But I also see where it could be disruptive and damaging if it became too far reaching. Keeping a handle on proper perspective and what's important, is so important.

I use the internet to define things around me, constant source of information. But I'm also aware of its dark side and try to be sensible.

But then you'd hope I'd have some perspective after 22 years online. How long have you been hanging around?
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Sunday, 5 December 2010

Parenting Panic Style?

I've been a parent now since August 2005. In some ways it feels like the time has slipped away in a blink of an eye... in another it feels like I've always been a parent because now I can't imagine my life without my children.

What on earth did I used to do with my time? Why was there ever any mess in my home pre-offspring? Why were we always so broke? When I got pregnant, why did we spend even one evening in out of my whole pregnancy?

The truth is we absolutely had no concept of how much our lives were going to change, and consequently had no concept of just how unrestricted we were back then. If I had known... I probably would have taken more foreign holidays. (you didn't think I was about to say we wouldn't have had the kids did you?!).

Parenting has been the biggest challenge in my whole life. Every now and then the responsibility weighs so heavily on me that I feel like I'm going to break. It's up to me and Mr Tant to turn these blonde maniacs into well adjusted tax paying, law abiding, healthy living, procreating adults (the current birth slump requires the last item) and to be perfectly honest I quite often think I'm not up to the job.

I do know however that I am not the only one. I also know there is a conspiracy of silence around this. We want to do a good job of this thing ... we also want other parents to think we are doing a good job too. Never mind that invariably they are riddled with the same doubts, insecurities and hang ups as us.

I am at my worst, parenting wise at approximately 4.45am. My children frequently wake up at this time if day and its horrific. I am an evening person. Most definitely NOT a morning person so how is it that I produced 3 small people who think that 6am is a reasonable time to be awake.

They're jumping on the bed, singing, shouting.... and that time of day my tolerance levels are at an all time low. unfortunately, so is Mr Tants. Neither of us cope well at that time.

I know that what I should be doing is getting out of bed and dealing with the issues in a grown to way. But I don't feel grown up then. I feel like the worst parent ever. How can I be consistent when my personality is taken over by the Gruffalo during the night time hours?

Every night I vow to be different. I will get out of bed when they come in to see me. Every morning ends with me saying that I'll be better next time and sometimes I am and sometimes I'm not.

So here I am pondering this, wondering how I can ensure I will be the parent I WANT to be when sometimes I have a job being the adult I want to be? I want to be a morning person like my kids. Is that too much to ask? Evidently so! Thankfully God gives grace on grace. Children don't seem to hold those first couple hours against me. So I am actually looking here for some practical ideas on how to turn around this portion of my life while at the same time thanking God for blessing the kids with remarkably short memories for the time being!
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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Keys to successful breastfeeding

"I am far too lazy to bottlefeed"; just one of the phrases used by myself and my breastfeeding mummy friends when asked about our feeding choices. In fact we did a radio interview when my eldest was 7ish months old and someone said that. It raised a laugh but it is actually very close to the truth. The thought of having to prepare all the bottle feeding paraphernalia in order to leave the house really does leave me cold. I have enough trouble leaving the house as we are.

We were being interviewed that time as a part of women's health week and National Breastfeeding Week was looming. There was around 5/6 of us, we all were still breastfeeding at 10 months and more, and that did make us an unusual sight.

The (not so secret) secrets of successful breastfeeding

Understand me when I say I am NOT bottle bashing here. Everyone has their own decision to make and I am simply saying one (slightly dramatised) reason why I didn't/don't bottlefeed my children.

The points here - I breastfed, I met up together with other breastfeeding mothers, we carried on for far longer than we might have done had we not had a group of our peers encouraging us to continue. We were a mixed bag of people too, varying degrees of education but all convinced that we were doing the right thing. But the point is... we met together. Meet with other breastfeeding mothers and you'll increase your chances of breastfeeding at all and for longer

The next key is to keep yourself informed. Read up about the benefits of breastfeeding. Benefits to both the mother and the baby. I feel sure that if more women knew just how good it was in terms of health for both, then more would give it a go. Google breastfeeding benefits to get reams and reams of info on the subject.

Educate your partner. Statistically you are more likely to breastfeed if your partner is supportive.

Know where, when and how breastfeeding help services are available. You might never need them, but having the power to know how to access it at your fingertips is so freeing.

Equip yourself and enjoy your successful breastfeeding journey
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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Family Traditions

This evening we put up our Christmas decorations. My husband put the lights up in the window while I put the lights on the tree and the kids bounced around the room clutching handfuls of hanging decorations waiting for me to finish so they can weigh the branches down with them.

We then turn the room lights off and Oooh and aaah over the twinkling lights in the dark. We then eat together and my children go to bed excitedly knowing that their Christmas boxes will have a treat waiting inside for them in the morning when they wake up.

The Christmas boxes started 3 years ago when my eldest son was 2. Rather than a shop bought advent calendar, they each have a small cardboard box which they each decorated with Christmas stickers and sparkly bits n pieces. Then each morning, a small 'treat' miraculously appears in the box alongside a small figure to add to the nativity scene. It culminates in baby Jesus 'arriving' on Christmas day.

Come Christmas Eve, we, that is, me, my husband and our children's have our own Christmas meal with all the trimmings. The following two days are such a whirl that we think its important to take time out just for us, to remember what this is all about...

I've worked hard over the years to create these traditions. I truly believe that these are the things that keep families together. Shared experience, shared expectations. We all know what part we are all to play in these things and we enjoy the roles because they are all important and help us to value each other.

I have a fantastic relationship with my siblings and its because my mum has always made sure that we do things together. Every year, as close to the 1st December as we can make it, we all meet up at mums house and we put up the Christmas decorations. We've done it for as long as I can remember and it is so much fun. For me it marks the beginning of the Christmas season, time for family. Now I take my husband and children and they have fitted seamlessly into this family tradition and they enjoy it as much as I do.

We have loads of other little things throughout the year that we as a family 'do' and they are part of the glue that keeps us together. I think all family units create traditions, whether intentionally or accidental, some brilliant and others... not so much. The tradition where a family member insists on cooking the main meal when they. really. shouldn't. be. in. a. kitchen... at all...

What traditions have your family created?

(I wonder if they'll notice the Christmas tree Decs are a little less... wonky... by the morning)
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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Not a great start

But just to say that I'm intending on Blogging throughout December, thanks NaBloPoMo!

Exhausted right now though as I for caught in the snow and had to abandon my car. Happy days.
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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Baby Led First Foods

I felt inspired (thanks @BabyMakingMama )to blog about this today.

You may or may not know that I have three children. Two boys and a girl, 5, 3 and 6 months respectively.

With my eldest son, Jayden, I followed the traditional method of weaning onto solids religiously. I bought a couple of puree books, I recommend Annabel Karmel as her recipes taste delicious if you are going down that route incidentally, and set about introducing my son to the delights of non-mummy-milk foods. I started with baby rice which is pretty tasteless really, mixed up with breastmilk; just an introduction to new texture I suppose. Then on to a new taste every few days, eg a few days of pureed carrots, then apple, then parsnip/squashes, then apple AND carrot, then mashed potato... gradually increasing the lumpiness until FINALLY I dared to give him a piece of food to hold himself. And the fear in the room was palpable. I was literally terrified that he would choke, but he didnt and we all lived to tell the tale.

Alongside this, he gradually started cutting out breastfeeds by himself by asking for mummy milk less frequently, then a week after his first birthday he had his last feed after a couple of nights of only a bedtime feed, he just lay down one night and that was it, didn't reach out to me other than a cuddle. I had NO discomfort in my breasts, no engorgement, no leaking, nothing. He never asked again and though I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it, I knew that it was perfect because he did it in his own time.

My second son, Reuben. Well I was a little more experienced I guess and felt I could bypass the babyrice thing, seemed a little pointless to me to be perfectly honest. So Reubens first meal was finely mashed banana. And he absolutely loved it. We quite quickly moved onto different tastes, quickly combining tastes, textures, flavours etc. We introduced him holding food much sooner, probably a couple of weeks after his first taste of food at 6 months. He got the hang of it very quickly and yet again I seem to have a 3 year old who will eat anything, curry, spicy things... anything!

He continued breastfeeding longer than his brother, but that is the case with most things with my little Roo as he has severe speech delay and consequently some learning difficulties, which I can tell you is a real challenge to us as parents considering Jayden was very forward in his communication. Isn't it hard not to compare our children? (In terms of what they do and at what age I mean). Reuben breastfed until 16 months old and actually I think he may have stopped a month earlier but to be honest I wasn't ready! Thankfully he humoured me and he continued with a bedtime feed until we were both ready and then he stopped peacefully too.

Now Daisy. She is 6 months old. Ive been reading about Baby Led Weaning onto Solids for some time now and we followed it to a degree with Reuben but we're pretty much going all out with it with Daisy.

Why did I decide on this route this time?

I have come to believe that a lot of baby rearing is an instinctive thing, for both the baby and the mother. If I believe that, then I have to believe that a baby will come to eating instinctively and at their own pace. This might mean for some babies that they wont eat until some time past 6 months and thats ok too. As the gut isn't sealed until 6 months, they shouldn't have solids until then though. At around 6 months, most babies will have head control and will be showing some hand co-ordination.

So around 2 weeks ago Daisy started showing interest, and I mean REAL interest in our family mealtimes. We started sitting her in a highchair once she could support herself and play with her toys while we ate, we wanted her to feel involved as up to that point she'd be playing on her nest so a little 'removed' I guess. So when she'd be on our laps at the table (when she was done with playing!) she would grab at food as it passed her between my plate and my mouth!

So last Saturday, she was 5 months, 3 weeks, and I gave her a stick of Cucumber and she put it straight in her mouth and sucked the living daylights out of it, didn't 'eat' any of it but that wasnt really the point. So since then, at mealtimes, we have given her something similar, bits off our plates, steamed carrot stick, long slice of banana, slices of apple and cheese, anything that she can hold herself and put to her mouth, but not break too easily as at this point it's to do with the new experience.

So we're actually only a few days into this, but its been so lovely seeing her really going for it with eating by herself. I put a spoon on her tray and she picks it up and puts the end in her mouth too.

I don't think I'm going to be too puritanical about this, for example I will probably spoon some things such as yoghurts as I am keen that she gets a balance of nutrition but its amazing the difference it has made to our family mealtimes. It's so much easier that she sits and eats with us, because often she would want to be breastfed at that time and so I would feed her at the table which is fine of course but invariably means my food is cold by the time I've finished it. So now, she sits and messes with the bits of food I've put on her tray, I get to eat my hot meal and we're all happy.

I hope I've put across the fact that I don't believe there is a particular right or wrong here, only whats right or wrong for a family within the constraints of what is healthy for the child (ie, no whole nuts, honey-risk of infant botulism etc etc). I am really enjoying the process which is making it more enjoyable for Daisy.

How are you enjoying your weaning onto solids experience?

Monday, 29 November 2010

Winter Dilemma

My 5 year old is almost speechless with excitement about the possibility of snow. Naturally to him, all the snow means to him is making snowmen, snowball fights and a day off school.

To say that the UK is ill-equipped to deal with snow is somewhat of an understatement. The country ground to a halt earlier this year when the snow came. The shops ran out of milk and loads of schools closed, including my sons.

I'm fortunate in that I can work from home if necessary but my husband can't as he's a driving instructor. It's one thing to expose your pupils to a wide range of driving conditions, but its quite another to expose himself to mortal danger of being driven in dangerous conditions by an exuberant teenager who really wants to jump out of the car and throw snowballs at passing cars (apologies for the sweeping judgements in evidence here...).

So tonight I am waiting with baited breath to see if there's an email from school entitled 'snow day' because there is apparently some geek in the council department staying up later than me in the hope of getting a day off work courtesy of God. (yes damage caused by snow is still referred to as an act of God, whether you believe in Him or not...)

For my sons sake I'd love it to snow, for our 'how will we afford Christmas sake' I hope I don't wake up to a winter wonderland tomorrow. What a dilemma.
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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Happiness measure?

It says on BBC news website today that our dear Prime Minister wants to know how happy we all are.

My first instinct to that was to question whether he cares at all, then I thought I'd read it to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps his election promises stood for something after all. Perhaps he really does care about the state of the family.

He starts well...

"He said the government's "most urgent priority is to get the economy moving, to create jobs, to spread opportunity for everyone".
"Without a job that pays a decent wage it is hard for people to look after their families in the way that they want, whether that's taking the children on holiday or making your home a more comfortable place.
"Without money in your pocket it is difficult to do so many of the things that we enjoy."

But he said the government also had to focus on the long-term and he said "the country would be better off if we thought about well-being as well as economic growth".

GDP was too "crude" a measure of progress as it failed to take into account wider social factors - he cited the example of "irresponsible" marketing to children, an immigration "free for all" and a "cheap booze free for all", which had all boosted economic growth at the expense of social problems."

Unfortunately I was still left with that old familiar feeling that I'd heard it all before. And the last paragraph put it succinctly...

"Trade union Unite attacked the plan as "another attempt by the coalition to pull the wool over peoples' eyes".

General Secretary elect Len McCluskey said: "No doubt Cameron will use the index to claim that despite rising unemployment, home repossessions, longer NHS waiting lists and unaffordable education, the people of this country are happier under Tory rule. The reality is a gathering gloom."

... and I have to agree. The general feeling among people I know is one of discontent, and I suspect that many people would use such a survey to voice that discontent.

The idea seems ok in principle but in reality I think its yet another PR exercise to make the government appear to care about the average family. Cuts in provision of surestart centres, NHS cuts, reductions in employing Midwives, demonising independent Midwives, increasing taxes for drivers, increasing VAT... The list goes on.

Back to the drawing board please Mr Prime Minister Cameron.

from link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11833241
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Saturday, 27 November 2010

Disgusting or Inspiring?

Background...

I saw an article today in a newspaper about a hospital trust which has been forced to take down a picture of a little girl pretending to breastfeed her dolly. There were complaints along the lines that the poster is inappropriate, crude and disgusting.

The hospital responded by saying that the poster was part of a wider campaign to promote breastfeeding and specifically to say that its normal, and that children will ultimately copy their parents, so its part of trying to help create a 'normalized' breastfeeding culture.

A 39 year old grandmother asked for it to be removed, saying that its not normal and that little girls shouldn't be breastfeeding their dolls.

So theres the context of this blog.

Breastfeeding is a highly emotive subject. Statistics show that most women who give up breastfeeding for one reason and another, wish they had carried on for longer. Wrapped up in there is a whole raft of emotions and so it is easy to see why when it comes to encouraging women to breastfeed, people will often come down in one of two camps. Either the 'breastfeeding is best for mother and baby and SHOULD be actively promoted' camp, and the 'women should be left to decide without any kind of influence' camp.

Oddly enough, my observation is that people who fall into the second camp also would class themselves as pro-choice and base this stance on informed choice...

How can a woman make an informed choice without possessing the facts. The facts as they stand are that breastfed babies are better protected from childhood illnesses such as ear infections. They are less likely to develop allergic disorders such as asthma and excema. They are less likely to suffer painful gastroenteritis - incidences of this in part due to poorly made up formula milk.

The breastfeeding mother is statistically less likely to develop ovarian and breast cancer. These things are not my opinions, they are research based facts.

Armed with these facts, I wonder if more women would try breastfeeding. Statistics show that not every woman does try.

Another very unpopular statistic is the one that says that less than half a percent of women have medical reasons not to breastfeed. And I bring that up only to quote from the article (link to this story at end of blog) ...

"Councillor Jean Ashworth, who works as a healthcare assistant at the Infirmary, said the move was the latest in a string of unpopular measures to promote breastfeeding.

"The picture is highly offensive and everyone is up in arms about it," she said: "We all know breast is best, but they are going overboard and upsetting new mums who can't breastfeed for medical reasons."

Is it only the mothers who have medical reasons not to breastfeed who are 'up in arms'? Or is it that Jean the Councillor has an issue with breastfeeding perhaps? An issue that has nothing to do with other mothers and everything to do with her own breastfeeding story?

Going back to the grandmother... she said, and I quote "The picture is shocking and it isn't normal. Children copy their parents but I don't think any little girls should be breastfeeding their dolls."

The article doesn't elaborate on exactly what it is about the picture which isn't normal.

If breastfeeding is simply a choice of how to feed your baby, then there should be no problem with this picture. If it was a picture of a little girl 'feeding' her dolly with a bottle, I am confident in my assertion that this wouldn't have made it to the paper, unless of course an indignant breastfeeding mother said something about it, but then she would be branded a fanatic.

Why is it ok that a child pretends to bottlefeed a dolly but shocking when the child pretends to breastfeed her dolly? Children copy their parents, fact.

That's why we don't swear in front of children, we don't let them watch violence. We act kindly to one another. We do this because children learn by example. Todays children pretending to breastfeed their dollies are the next generations breastfeeders.

When I was breastfeeding my second son, my firstborn son (yes, SON) would come sit with me and 'breastfeed' his teddy bear alongside me. He considers it perfectly normal that Mummys feed their babies 'mummys milk'. I asked him the other day what do babies eat and he replied mummys milk without hesitation. I was so proud of him on that moment. Children don't wield judgements as adults do, he is simply expressing what he believes to be normal.

The photo of the little girl in my opinion is a picture of an ideal world. She had to have seen a woman (likely her mother) breastfeeding in order to pretend to do the same. So to her, its normal. When the time comes for her to make a decision about her breastfeeding journey, I hope that will have an influence. I was inspired by the picture. It made me hopeful. While there are children, there is hope and they are, without doubt, worth the aggro us 'breastfeeding fanatics' get along the way.

The Link
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5355723/Poster-of-toddler-breastfeeding-doll-sparks-criticism.html

(opinions expressed in this blog are, as ever, my own)
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Friday, 26 November 2010

I'll tell you what I like

Naturally for starters there's my 3 heart wrenchingly precious children and wonderful husband but sometimes it helps me to remember that I like things, and that those things make me happy. Some of them are fairly standard and I would defy any warm blooded woman to say the first one doesn't ring a bell.

-chocolate
-being warm
-savoury and sweet together like cheese and grapes
-people who wear their hearts in their sleeves
-rainbows
-freshly changed bed linen
-my animals
-driving big cars
-driving my 1967 VW Beetle
-hugs
-where the light refracts and makes speckly pattern on the floor/walls, we call them fairies here

hmmm, well as I'm falling asleep in my phone I suspect now im not really fit for anything but sleeibgImm. I shall continue this tomorrow!
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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thankful

I have so much to be thankful for. My loving husband, 3 beautiful crazy children, a family that cares for me, a roof over my head and beliefs, activities, interests and hobbies that fulfil me.

I've travelled quite a bit and in 2002 spent some time in Belo Hotizante, Brazil. Kev and I did some street work, taking food and other stuff to dome families living under the arches of a bridge. We met a woman living there and she wasn't well. Her floor was mud, her walls were packing crates. We knocked on her door and spent some time with her. We asked her if there was anything else we could do for her to help. She replied "I might not have much that you can see, but I've got a big heart and that's all that matters".

This lady was a mother and grandmother. Her 'under bridge' community doted on her. She loved and was certain of their love. She was the most thankful woman I've ever met and I still feel humbled now thinking about her.

I'm thankful for so many things, I'm thankful I met her, not because of a contrast in standards of living, but because her thankfulness reminds me that the things we should be thankful for are not really things at all.
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Snow already?

The UK doesn't know how to deal with snow. And its here already. Not in my neck of the woods thankfully, especially as with hubby being a driving instructor, but in the UK. Global warming as we speak.

Do I rush out now and get snow chains? Will I look back and see this post and wish I had?

No doubt more on this when we get snowed in.
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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Shopping + Children

Today was probably the worst shopping experience I have ever had with my children in tow. I do tend to avoid it as it really is no fun for them, whether its food supermarket shopping or town shopping. As a child I hated it... following my mum in and out of shops on a Saturday morning was as far from my idea of fun as possible.

So that's why I avoid it but of course sometimes its a necessary evil. I need to have the Christmas shopping done by the 1st December due to changing my mortgage provider I'm paying double that date then back to normal from 1st Jan. So December is going to be a bit of a squeeze. Thankfully I've been saving for Christmas but even so, it makes sense to know exactly where we'll be.

I digress... So this morning I decided to take 6 month old baby Daisy and Reuben my 3 year old with me into town. I had my list. I knew what to get. I knew where to go. I had an 'in/out' extraction planned with military precision. I had snacks and drinks, healthy and a lil chocolate bribe in case things for desperate.

So how come after one shop was I heading back to the elevator wishing I hadn't even tried it, muttering under my breath that I didn't know why I even thought I could do it.

Surprisingly this isn't where I tell you why (in the usual course of a blog there is generally a summing up and solution after all) I'd love to tell you why, not least because then I could write a brilliant child behaviour book and that would be that.

No, what happened next is simply down to my own stubbornness. He had to get it from somewhere right? Reuben was pushing my buttons to the max. Artfully combining pitifully whinging to full on screaming his cute blond head off. People were looking, undoubtedly thinking what a rubbish mother I am (and they wouldn't be totally wrong but I'm giving it my best shot) bit I needed to do the blessed Christmas shopping. It won't do itself no matter what my husband thinks. Presumably the same fairy that cleans and tidys will do the Christmas shopping too.

I didn't finish it by any stretch of the imagination but I did go to a few more shops and make a decent start. (incidentally at this point I must point out that the baby mercifully lept throughout the whole episode).

I appreciate that he found it boring. He wasn't allowed to hare around like a mad thing but its all a learning curve. I can't protect him from every boring situation. As a mother if I did, I'd be telling him that life is always fun and frivolous and I'd be doing him no favours.

Life has plenty of opportunity for fun and fizz but I want him to be well rounded and able to be comfortable in any situation, and that includes dealing with situations he'd rather get over and done with. For example the whole shopping experience would have passed quicker had I not had to stop every couple mins to deal with a tantrum.

No doubt there's something to be said for avoiding the situation in the first place and is now the time to be instilling these lessons?

I certainly wasn't expecting today to yield any lessons. While it was going on it just felt hard and tiring but now, as ever with parenting, the learning curve is an organic, constant thing, always unexpected, and I don't think I'll ever 'get there' but tomorrow I'll give it another go...
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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

On the side of caution

I looked on BBC news website today for inspiration to blog. The two headlines this evening are the North and South Korea conflict and the Will and Kate marriage plans.

One of them scares me half to death and the other gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and it didn't take a genius to work out which.

One of them causes me to worry about a future tainted by nuclear arms. The other causes me to think about a young happy couple embarking on their future together.

I did actually start to write about how I feel about the Korea situation but it degenerated fairly quickly into morbid speculation which to be honest is not my usual style and so is a bit indicative of my feelings on the subject. Perhaps I need to leave that where it is for the time being.

I feel quite positive about the upcoming Royal nuptials. Friday 29th April 2011. Apparently the nation gets an extra bank holiday, though when I mentioned going to London that day, hubby looked at me like I'd just spontaneously grown another head, so perhaps not.

I hope that the course of the engagement runs smoothly for them. This could be a but of a turning point for the way the Royals are viewed. In the main, I think people like Prince William, no matter their opinion of the rest of the family. I think his popularity status would increase if he styled his hair better but we can't have everything LOL.

I am not saying that these stories are actually even comparable, after all people lost their lives today thanks to the power struggle between governments, and that's tragic. What I am saying is that some days its easier to leave the bad news til later.

I will say a prayer for the families that list loved ones today, for all of us for protection from a nuclear armed North Korean government, and for Will and Kate, that they get their happily ever after.

What would you say a prayer for today?x

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Monday, 22 November 2010

Think healthy

I don't want to appear too simplistic about this but I do believe that for the vast majority of normal people, health is as much a state of mind as body.

The difference between men and women when they get a cold is a case in point. We playfully suggest that he has 'man-flu' and no I'm not about to go on an anti-male diatribe, but seriously guys... man up! LOL

Of course when I say normal people, I mean people with normal health. I don't mean people with physical illnesses which need medical treatment etc. For goodness sake if you are sick, get help.

I am a normal (and thankful daily) healthy person. Buy at times, like these days, I feel unhealthy. my new daughter is 6 months old, I have a 5 and 3 year old and I need to be functioning at a higher level than I am currently in order to enjoy life more. My bones ache, I feel lethargic and I'm tired and cranky.

But I barely exercise (discounting. the schoolrun) I eat rubbish (not literally LOL) and on top of that I'm a bread eating Coeliac. How stupid is that?

All of which can be rectified if I start thinking differently. Blog earlier in the evening might be a good start, don't eat after 7pm might be another. Go to that exercise class with free creche on a Friday morning would beyond no doubt, start running again (though on a practical note my SPD wrecked pelvis might object to that).

Aaaand the one thing that would make the major difference. Remember that I'm Coeliac so when those lovely cakes and biscuits tempt me, eat a jacket potato instead of that fabulous panini.

It's got to be worth it, and thats where my state of mind comes into it. Just how bad do I want to be healthy? Or am I just used to feeling this way? As a mother I tend to just soldier on anyway because that is what we do, but I know that there is more potential in me than that. I can still carry on but I have the choice to do it feeling x100 better than I do now and probably do a better job than I'm doing now.

Do you think you have more potential too?x
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Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Pope

I was interested today to read about the furore surrounding the Popes comments on the use of condoms - from interviews being collated into a book and released this Tuesday.

The media have latched onto it as a sort of 'comedown' from a known 'truth' that we all know that the Catholics don't do contraceptives. A little extra digging on t'internet reveals that its not really anything of the sort. What they're actually saying is that in the case of AIDS, its more about the preservation of life rather than the prevention of it.

The Catholics say that only God has the authority to say if a baby should be conceived it not and it is this standpoint that the no condoms thing comes from. The church has been condemned in the past (and present) for being archaic and out of touch - after all, who is interested in a life of abstinence? I remember reading something a few years ago where the church said that abstinence was the only sure fire way of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. The reaction from the secular world was predictably outraged.

But really what is wrong with that comment? On a purely factual level, abstinence is the best way of not contracting an STD/I. I don't see the problem with it being promoted as a form of disease prevention. This is not a revolutionary thought.

A lot of effort has gone into the concept (dare I say reality in a limited % of the world) of informed choice.

Some of the media outrage has been surrounding the idea that people are impressionable and so the church saying don't use condoms will actually cause an increase in the spread of the disease.

To me this says a bit about the low opinion some elements of the media have about the people 'on the ground/at risk from contracting the disease due to the fact they live in an area with a high incidence of the disease'.

Abstinence is a form of contraception. It should be taught alongside other methods. Theres nothing outrageous about that view. People should have the choice, not just handed a bag of condoms or a supply of The Pill and told to get on with it. Is that choice? Thats just people who think they know better inflicting their own judgements in the situation.

To come back to the Pope, I'm not even a Catholic but I do think in this respect he was given too hard a time.

On the other hand, just get me started on the view that condoms shouldn't be used as a contraceptive (or any other method) and you'll hear me give and entirely different view on his 'Holiness'... but that's probably another blog for another day.
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Saturday, 20 November 2010

Non stop

Customer consultation, rug searching, eldest child gymnastics class, food shopping, middle childs friends birthday party, house tidying, friends for coffee, kids to bed, settle baby.

THEN IKEA...

Long day...

Aaaand bed...
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Friday, 19 November 2010

Children in Need

A short bloggle today as I'm attached to the TV watching the lovely Terry Wogan. What a legend!

The first total was nearly £5million so a good start. These things used to irritate me as a teen though. It wad incomprehensible to me that they'd 'only' raise 14/15million when there was 55million people living in the UK. I'd think surely if every person gave a quid or even better a fiver, then wouldn't that be amazing.

So all I'd be is infuriated by the whole thing.

As I've gotten older I guess I've mellowed out a bit. Something is after all better than nothing and to boot, the profiles of some amazing charities are raised. There are some incredibly generous people out there with big hearts.

The stories of the things that some children live with are extraordinarily touching. I so hope that every penny reaches the organisations making a difference to children's lives.

As a little bonus too, there's the celebrities making general idiots of themselves in the name of charity.

p.s. I've had a much better day today!
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Thursday, 18 November 2010

One of those days

It really was. I just wanted to rewind and start over! Every now and then you get these days when everything you do and say is not right in the eyes of a cranky 5 year old. The fact that he was in bed by 7pm is neither here nor there because he then chose to stay awake reading and drawing without my knowledge until I went upstairs at 8pm, checked in on them and saw the glimmering torchlight under his duvet.

So back to this morning and it took nearly an hour to get him in his school uniform, then when I made it into a race and his 3 year old brother consequently got dressed before him, he had an absolute fit saying that wasn't fair as I'd helped him. Pointing out that his brother is actually not capable of dressing himself and needs help and what a big boy you are because you can do it yourself... didn't work. Still one stressed out 5 year old, though at least he's not still running round in his underwear.

Being woken at 5.30am don't get us off to the best start in the world to be fair.

Thankfully it wasn't my turn on the schoolrun so I trot off with little brother and littler sister to a toddler group we go to where I help out by doing the arts and crafts table. From thy second we arrive middle son is pestering me for biscuits. It's 9.30am for petes sake! Baby spat up approximately 17 million times and drenched every item of clothing on her, on me, in my bag...

On the way home he fell asleep, normally fine but as I had to wake him rather than allow his to wake naturally, he was then cranky as anything and he had to eat lunch and get round to nursery for the afternoon.

Needless to say... we were late.

So now usually daughter has her longer nap and I had planned to write and do a transcription that I've been putting off for eternity. Would she settle?! Of course not. 2 frustrating hours later, husband comes home and I manage to squeeze half hour work in before pick up time.

Rain!!!! Argh.

Decided after school to go to the library, usually a big hit with our boys. I spent the time there stopping them from disturbing homework club. We borrowed a DVD chosen by my eldest which he promptly decided he didn't like once it had been on for 5 mins ager we got home.

I'd be happy if dinnertime hadn't happened at all and let's just say bedtime... well anyway.

So now I feel like an old harpy fishwife and a hopeless mother as I've spent most of the day exasperated. No doubt a million things I could have done differently in order to have a better day. Would love supernanny to give me song tips but without the ritual humiliation on television.

Thankfully tomorrow is another day, and they actually fell asleep pretty quickly so fingers crossed.
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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Mum In Business

I love the term Mumpreneur. It's so expressive and makes me feel like I am part of some exclusive club. It says that not only are you living the frantic life that is motherhood, but you're running your own business to boot.

My observation of a lot of Mumpreneurs is that the businesses are generally to do with some aspect of family life. My own business is no exception. I provide pet services and invariably my customers are or have children. Of course in this business I'm not going to light any financial fires, become a self made millionaire etc, but it does help with the extra things we'd like, whereas my paid job (yes I have one of those too) pays for the things we need, the mortgage for example!

We are tremendously lucky as women to be living in this time in history. Women have opportunities that our own mothers simply didn't have. We can choose to run our own businesses, and you know what? We'll raise our kids at the same time. It doesn't have to be either, or.

Saying that, we also have the opportunity to decide not to work (if that's individually possible of course...) and raise our children. But its choice and that is something we need to keep a hold of. Brave women fought and died for us to have that opportunity and freedom.

It bothers me when I hear of women not voting. I think everyone should vote, male and female, but the fact that the female vote was so desperately fought for, we almost have an obligation to tale advantage of it.

The attitude of our Grandparents, saying that Granny would 'do a bit of dressmaking for her pin money' belongs firmly in the past. The money we make as Mumpreneurs may not always be a significant addition to the household finances, but it is part of a statement about the fact that women are amazing. Historically looked over in terms of power in financial and family terms, those says should be long gone.

This week is global entrepreneurial week, today is the womens day (eek can't remember what they're calling it...) and its a reminder to all of us that the opportunity to live to our potential is only limited by ourselves.
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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Royal Engagement

I've long been a bit of a Royalist. I love Englands Royal family. For all that they are supposed to be the upper of the upper class, I think that on the inside they are just a family like the rest of us. Trials and tribulations to rival a few soap operas but that's life isn't it.

Unfortunately Prince William has had a more dramatic upbringing than most. Who doesn't remember where they were when the news broke of Princess Dianas death...? He and his brother lost their mother and they essentially had to grieve in the public domain.

In lots of ways Prince William has had a bizarre life but somehow he's managed to turn out a seemingly nice well adjusted man.

I'm happy (in a kind of abstract 'oooh, love the Royals' happy) for Prince William and his lovely Kate. By all accounts she's a very down to earth person.

Let's face it though, they already have a better chance of a successful marriage than Charles and Di seeing as there's no-one else in the marriage. Good luck to them.
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Monday, 15 November 2010

NaBloPoMo prompt about spirituality

Im going to be brave and stand up here and say I am a Christian (that's not the brave bit) and I believe there it only one way to God (that was the brave bit).

Strangely though I do still have an enormous amount of respect for others spiritual beliefs. Although I do categorically believe my above statement, I also believe that true believers of any faith must believe the same (obviously only counting here the faiths that have a God).

I've been giving it thought today and remember a couple of conversations in the past where people have become very upset that I have that belief.

Faith is about the heart belief. My faith is in my heart, at the centre of my being. It is part of how I define myself, how I see myself in the context of the world. How I see meaning in the world and in my existence.

My God is a jealous God. He wants my undivided attention in respect to who I worship. That's the God I see consistently throughout the Bible. I also see a God who loves me and wants the best for me. He loves my family and wants me to put them first, in the same way that He put family first when Christianity was 'born'.

I'm not proselytising (sp?) here. This is what I believe. I don't attack others beliefs which is probably why I always am so surprised when people feel the need to attack mine. Why is Christianity fair game to judgmental people? That's a rhetorical question by the way.
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Sunday, 14 November 2010

Trying to remember what I wanted to be as a child when I grew up should be easier than this I suspect.

Surely its one of those red letter memories, the ones we whip out when it comes up as a theme for a new years party (last year) or at a Mr & Mrs party (a few months ago).

I do remember the profession that I gave serious thought to though, although I don't think that's the one I'm grasping for as far as memories go. I wanted to be a vet. It seemed a no brainer really, loved animals, wasn't squeamish, watched 'All Creatures Great and Small' religiously, mum was a riding instructor and I was getting the grades needed. When it came to it though, and I was picking my A-levels, I realised I was more interested in human behaviour than animal and I chose Psychology, Sociology.... and Art... My need to express myself in some medium was always there, I guess now its just developed into the written word.

So I rather lamely abandoned James Herriott with no defined idea in mind other than following my interest.

Before vetting though, its starting to come back to me, I wanted to be a Riding Instructor like my mum. I also briefly wanted to be a magazine editor... for 'Pony' magazine.

Never gave a second thought to my fathers profession so it is quite hilarious that I've ended up doing the same job as him for the past 7 years. Ho hum.

Time for a change methinks.
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Saturday, 13 November 2010

Nostalgia

Songs. Music. If anything is guaranteed to propel me back in time to a place or person... its music.

Gabrielle, 'Dreams' was the anthem of my early teens when I had a mad crush on a boy in the year above me at school. He seemed so sophisticated and worldly, popular with everyone but did I detect a note of wistfullness about him that made him different from the other spotty obnoxious oiks his age? Of course I did, I was 13 years old, romantic to the core and sure that he was different. And naturally that we'd live happily ever after surviving on nothing but love and the fat of the land presumably.

Bless her cotton socks, Gabrielle was there at the very birth of my idealism.

Of course by the time I got into Pulp and the album 'freaks' I was a tortured little soul. I was 15 and had just grasped that Jarvis was being ironic when he said 'anorexic beauty, featherweight perfection' and I just knew that Jarvis would 'get me' if we were ever to meet.

We did though, incidentally.. meet that is. We were both standing at the back of the Carling tent at Reading Festival eating chips in trays. I didn't realise shoot was and he asked if I had a spare ketchup and I handed over my spare then looked up.

Had I still been 15, I might have passed out at this point but thankfully for my dignity at the very least, I was now into Blink 182 'All the small things'. I was now 18 and much too cool to pass out.

By 21 I was more about Rancid (Timebomb) and I'd met and married my nearest and dearest.

These days you're more likely to hear The XX on in my car at the grand old age of 30. But put any of those songs on and I am transported back in time.
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Where'd the time go

My middle is 3 today. This time 3 years ago I was watching in astonishment as my husband was given tea and toast 'to keep his energy up' and thinking 'never mind me what about meeeeee?' LOL

Roo was born at 11.21am, a successful VBAC and I was beyond proud.

He is a delight to me despite his communication 'issues' and one smile from him and people are at his mercy. Having said that he's talking so much more now and I think signing has loads to do with that. It's given him confidence to realise that people can understand him and not just stare at hum blankly when he 'talks'. A few times I've seen him give up when he was trying to tell us something and simply couldn't make himself understood. It was heartbreaking and I could have cried there and then.

And then his health stuff. We want the very best for our kids. We have to believe as parents that they will be healthy. Can't go through life falling over the what ifs of childhood accidents and ailments.

But then that day when I was expecting him to be discharged for a year for his digestive problems, the consultant looks at him and says 'he looks a bit peaky, let's give him a check over'.

Half an hour later we're in chest xray and ECG land. Then the phone call. Your son has an enlarged heart. We have referred him to a Cardiologist, try not to worry.

As a Christian I strongly believe that its in His hands and I get enormous comfort from that. But God birthed him to me, and worry is what us mothers do best. So we watch, wait and pray.

Today is going to be a good day.
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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Bloggerific

A blog a day keeps the stalemate away. That's what I'm hoping anyway. Suspect that while I'm trying to capture inspiration, the best thing to do is keep writing.

So what today? Saw a friends newly decorated lounge: very stylish. Took the kids to the park: freezing. Currently cooking pizza for them: unimaginative.

So my accumulated adjectives for the day are stylish, freezing and unimaginative. Now use them in a sentence. Lordy.
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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Listening

A problem with learning to listen is the realisation that not everyone listens. They often make the right noises but they see just waiting for the opportunity to speak.

Learning to listen means meeting up with people who really do listen. It's a privilege.

Lately I've had something significant to worry about. The non-listeners dismiss my worries and say it'll be ok because they care about me and don't like to see me in pain. But I feel dismissed.

A listener hears that I am worried, 'allows' me to be worried and stays with me while I find my way to a place of peace. I feel cared for.
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Monday, 8 November 2010

An Idiot Abroad

Just an observation really but I've watched a couple of these programs with my husband and Ive been thinking.

Is it acceptable that Ricky Gervaise and his irritating sidekick get to reproduce their judgements and preconceptions through this 'idiot' legitimately? He (the idiot) seems to have no check on the words that come out of his mouth. Some might say that's refreshing in this politicallly correct mad world, but that political correctness has been born out of some necessity.

A conversation I had with my relatives neighbour recently is an example of this. She daughter that she always pick up her milk from the 'paki' shop. As you'd imagine, I fairly recoiled in horror and mildly corrected her saying something like 'you mean the corner shop' (which it is) and she got irritated with me, saying that in 'her day' that's what they were called, they didn't mind and everybody called them that.

Of course there was little point in attacking a little old lady on her language. She didn't mean it in a derogatory way but that doesn't make it right.

I'm thinking out loud really. But is it the language or the intent that is important or is that not the point at all?

Is it ok for that elderly lady to say it because she's old, is stuck in her ways and doesn't mean it that way? Do we let it slide as this particular discriminatory comment will die out along with that generation?

I don't have an answer. I'm just thinking, but I do wonder about the idiot and that old lady.
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Saturday, 6 November 2010

Confluence and Integration

When I started as a student breast feeding counsellor, I got the distinct impression that my faith was a hurdle to be gotten over, not imagining for a moment that the two could be compatible even.

The point being that you can't distinguish either as separate. The core conditions, the centre of the counselor need to be present to me and to the observer all the time. A part of me. The same can be said about my Christian walk.

Unconditional positive regard.... congruence.... These are the core conditions, and I believe that Jesus demonstrated them and they were him and He was them.

Turns out it wasn't such a leap afterall.
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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Holiday America

We really want to go to America for a holiday to visit relatives. And to start with I was so excited. But now its so stressful. The sceptre of the expense is looming high and huge on the horizon. We want to go but how much do we want to bankrupt ourselves in the process?

It's about ideals too. If we are going to New York state then I really want to goto New York City. To go out there and not see that amazing city would frankly be soul destroying and I don't think I could cope with that.

Initial thoughts are as follows.
* Fly to New York airport
*Stay in hotel for 3 nights while sight seeing
*Hire car (complete with children's seats) for road trip up to relatives home in north New York state for approx 10 days
*Drive back to New York to catch flight back to UK

...unfortunately all this is rolling in at around £3000. Not exactly the sort of cash I've got lying around in piggy banks.

What do u do? How else can I shuffle this to make it work somehow. Answers on a postcard please!
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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want

I want to be a midwife. Not because I love ickle babies, but because I think the female body is incredibly clever, and creative and instinctive. Woman is amazing. She copes with so much, she gives birth, she works, she raises her children, she will strive for self actualisation given the opportunity.

I love pregnancy. I enjoyed being pregnant despite its various challenges it presented me with. Setting aside the incredible pain, I loved giving birth. I love to be around pregnant women. I feel inspired by them and motivated to be a better person. I want to support them to have the best experience they could possibly have. I want to be there when that happens.

To be a midwife though will mean university for 3 years full-time and that means 3 years essentially away from my own 3 incredible children.

So another possibility is to train as an Antenatal Teacher with the NCT. The question I keep asking myself is will that be enough for me? Will I always be wondering if I settled for second best? Is it second best? I just don't know.
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Saturday, 2 October 2010

Repeating myself now

You see this is the problem with Blogger Droid, I don't actually see my blog, and the last two entries were essentially replica. So now not only am I procrastinating, I'm also going senile. Excellent.

Went to college this morning. I am now so close to qualifying as a breastfeeding counselor. It's so exciting that the end is finally in sight and even better that the 'point' of all of this is finally in sight now.

Ive been thinking about how the course has changed me and I think that confidence comes out on top. Age probably helps that but really its my confidence as a mother, as someone who can bring value to a situation, as a wife, friend...

This week someone directly attacked my parenting style. They questioned why I would have my 4 month child sleeping in my room still with me. World Health Organization recommendations aside, that decision lies with me and my husband. No one else and certainly not her. Did I point this out to her? No I didn't, because to have said anything like that would have humiliated her even though that's what she tried to do to me. So I simply said I have baby in with me because I want to. And I started talking with someone else rather than poke her in the nose which was my first (and less friendly) inclination. How very dare she.
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Monday, 27 September 2010

promised

Have promised myself that as soon as I finish my course I can start the writers bureau course. Come on!
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