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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