Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Pushing The Blame Around

I put my hands up.

I am one of 'those' mothers.  I'm one of those parents who absolutely does not have their eye on the ball 100% of the time.

Hell, I'm lackadaisical when we are out sometimes.  SOMETIMES we are on a day out, and the sun is shining and my husband is there too and we are having a great day and I relax a bit.  Weird!

And, unbelievably I know, I am never able to watch all of my children all of the time, because guess what?

I have three kids and one set of eyes.

I have been the mother whose kid is doing something batshit beyond-the-realms-of-normality crazy.

My spidey-sense can only go so far.

Granted, I haven't found them in an animal enclosure (yet) but in all honesty, that could have been my kid in there.

If you have ever been in charge of a 4 year old who is intent on doing something, you will know.

4 year olds have no sense of 'just wait a minute' or consequence.

I am astonished at the sheer vitriol pounded out over the internet towards the mother of that child.

From parents too!

Horrified, even.

I am an animal lover beyond belief.  I am so saddened that Harambe was shot; he didn't stand a chance.

I cannot even begin to think of the mind who would wish a 4 year old boy be sacrificed in front of a crowd of onlookers in a zoo.

What an awful, horrifying situation.

We all look to blame when something like this happens.

Blame the mother, blame the zoo, blame the child...

Can there be total blame here?

Sure, the mother should have been watching her child, but in all honesty, complete and total honesty, if you have a 4 year old, can you honestly say you have never ever taken your eyes off the ball in what should be a safe place?

Never looked down to a crying baby only for your toddler to start heading towards the road?

Never looked away for a second in the supermarket?

Kids are fast. Kids are super crazy fast.  And sneaky.

The zoo should definitely have made their enclosure completely child-proof.  Heck, it begs belief that a 4 year old could manage to breach the walls and get in somehow.  A 4 year old! They are good at climbing, but not that good.  I'm sure we will learn how he managed to get in, but come on, it really shouldn't have been that easy to get into.  And I'm very sure that the keepers and everyone at the zoo will be beyond devastated that their mistake has led to the death of a much-loved and endangered animal in such a way.

It's so easy to be judgmental.

Like most things though, you cannot judge unless you have been there.

Granted, some people are idiots.  Some people do do some really stupid things.

A 4 year old kid though?

Come on.

RIP Harambe.

source:Getty  Images

Friday, 27 May 2016

I Miss The Bump

Miserable hospital me, allowed out to the hospital canteen...

This time last year I was in hospital, experiencing some proper pain and some gnarly contractions.

The baby was breech.

The baby was sideways.

The baby was the right way round.

The baby was high up.

The baby was so low down the doc touched him when she examined me (ouch).

The baby was coming.

The baby was not coming.

The baby was fidgeting and causing some crazy pain.

The baby sat on his ass sideways (SIDEWAYS!!!) and probably made laughter waves on the damned monitor.

I was in hospital, on the edge for a week.

One doc told me I would have to stay there for three weeks, arranged me a side room and basically told me to hang tight.  Others promised an early c-section.  Another told me I could labour naturally; others laughed in my face.

I saw the full spectrum.

I had some lovely midwives who held my hand as I basically killed theirs when the pain got intense and I had some really awesome drugs which helped everything slow down enough for me to ride out the last few weeks.

I have never really had an 'easy' pregnancy.

I am a short little lady and I get really huge when I am pregnant.  My little body literally cannot hold any kind of capacity, thus it all tends to go out the way.

Weeks 5-13 are generally torture, as I experience waves of nausea, vomiting, and really not wanting to eat while experiencing intense hunger pangs, more often than not in the middle of the night.  I wake frequently and sweat profusely while looking quite podgy instead of 'nicely pregnant'.  I am usually exhausted and need to sleep tons, but find myself waking at 6am. It's joyful.

Weeks 14-28 are the 'grace' period.  This is my favourite pregnant time.  My skin looks great, I sleep normally (apart from the midnight snacks, which I'm happy to indulge) and I have some energy.  I'm also nicely rounded, but not so big as to have people ask horrific questions or touch me. I can still bend down to reach stuff and can wear nice maternity clothes.  Life is good.

Weeks 29+ are usually a nightmare. By week 32 I have reached peak pregnant and I am pretty much ready to be the heavily pregnant lady who takes every seat offered.  People have started saying lovely things about the size of the bump (read: rude things), but mainly because I am the size of a HOUSE and have so long still to go.  I can't reach my shoes or anything on the floor. I'm exhausted. Clothes have started to not fit. The bump has reached comedy proportions.

Week 32+ I am done.  Completely finished.  My body starts to give up pretending that it's okay with being squished from the inside out. It wants to breathe.  It would like it's organs back int he right place, please.  It begins making noises that it would like the imposter in here out now please, okay!!?  I, on the other hand, try to ignore it's awesome attempts at Braxton Hicks and crazy middle of the night peeing sessions and constant demands to be fed (in vain).  Pregnancy at this point is a full time job.  Which I believe is why they let you come off on maternity leave around this time.

It goes without saying that the last few weeks of pregnancy are hellish.  There's all the waiting.  There's the pain.  The constant trips to the bathroom to monitor any signs of 'progress'.  The constant feeding of the huge baby.  I mean, I can EAT when I am sprogged up!

We all know the awful things in pregnancy - even if it's just the small things.  We all know what can go wrong.  We all know how hard it can be, the risk it carries, the crazy things we do.  We all know it's rarely a smooth and thing without worry or stress or fear.

The day of the big C-Section! 39 weeks :)
But, today, in this moment of time, as I look at the picture of my 39 week bump - that massive solid, round thing, I can hardly believe it was possible once, let alone three times.

I'll never forget the magic of feeling the baby poke around with little hands and feet.

I'll never forget the feeling of never being alone and knowing that I was growing a wee soul inside of my body.

I'll never forget the amazing capacity that my body has to do this amazing thing, be chopped up and still be a working, functioning thing.

I very much doubt I will ever be pregnant again.  And besides, I hate being pregnant.  I like being pregnant for around 14 weeks or so, which isn't even half of the time!  I'm a terrible preggers.

But look what you get!

Not bad, eh?


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Sleep Disorders And Night Terrors - Our Five Year Battle (And Counting)

Night terrors are kind of crazy.

For my middle son they happen most nights, about an hour after he goes to sleep.

He always screams.

He's always inconsolable.

He always wakes the baby.

There's nothing we can do for him; there's no comfort we can give him, no amount of trying to cuddle him, no amount of kind words or asking him to stop.

They come right out of nowhere.  Some nights he can be absolutely fine.

But most nights he wakes in this howling, screaming, terrified mess.

Hard to believe it, but they are tougher on us than they are on him.

He wakes in the morning with absolutely zero recollection of what has happened.  No awareness.  Just a nice, peaceful night, sometimes with a funny dream.


We put the three boys to bed each night within a routine which has never really changed within the annals of time.

Bath, Supper, Teeth, Story, Story-tape, Bed.

It's pretty much the same every night.

It can be time-consuming.

Difficult to put into motion at the end of a long day.  It's important to me boys always go to bed happy.  Always with a hug and a kiss.

However, for poor Ethan, however much we tried, this wasn't always the case.

He may well have no memory of his night terror as they are now, but he used to have other fears at bed time too.

He's still scared of the dark.  He still fears the silence and the darkness around him when he wakes alone in the night.

His wee imagination goes into over-drive.

It all started when he was about a year old; the sudden middle-of-the-night screaming, the 'temper tantrums' which we just put down to sheer bloody-mindedness of our 'difficult' child.

He was never easy to put to bed.  He was a handful when he was awake!

But we all dreaded bedtime.

Our eldest son had always gone to bed nicely, easily, quietly.  But not Ethan.

He was terrified of going to sleep; absolutely adamant that he wasn't going to do it.

Every. Single. Night.

We'd spend hours indulging his night-time whims, reading him to sleep, changing bedrooms, changing lightbulbs, putting up blackout blinds and curtains on top of blinds.

We tried staying in the room and holding his hand, letting him sleep in our bed, letting him sleep in a sleeping bag, letting him go to bed with a million cuddly toys, as he was convinced that 'this time, mum, this time they'll look after me'.
Yup, this has been in the bed too! It's a bloody dressing up costume!

We tried to convince him he was being silly, it was 'just a phase', that he was big and didn't need us.

We listened at his door as he cried and screamed and pleaded with us to come back in the room until he fell asleep and we tried toughing it out.

We let him fill his belly before bed, we tried only letting him have something small, we tried different diets.
Reward charts.
Books which supposedly hypnotize.

It felt like we tried absolutely everything.

What we didn't know at the beginning, was that Ethan had terrible glue-ear, which was so profound that the doctor at the ENT clinic told us that basically, Ethan spent the first two years of his life hearing as though he was submerged under deep water all the time.

It took until he was two years old to diagnose, and then another year before he would get the grommets inserted, which changed his life overnight.  Suddenly he became verbal, a lot less frustrated and a lot easier to deal with.

The grommets were certainly an improvement beyond everything else, but we still had to deal with the fear and behaviour which comes from not being able to hear properly in those first three formative years.

It's had a huge impact.

He's a great kid.  He is very funny, with a rapier wit way beyond his years.  He is very clever.  But he has struggled.

Hearing properly very much contributes to other functions:

  • Social interaction: He's never struggled to make a friend, but there's been a lot of misunderstandings and a lot of upsets!
  • Communication: We've dealt with a LOT of tantrums, a lot of frustrated screaming and a lot of shouting.  Gradually we are teaching him to tone it down, but yes, this is a very hard thing to explain to others, especially as they think he is being horrible.
  • Reading and Writing: He started school this year and he has tried so very hard, and is getting their, but his failure to hear words as they are supposed to sound for a long time has mucked up his internal alphabet system.  He has fought very hard for every single letter.
  • Sensitivity: The grommets are great, but whereas before he didn't hear much, now he can hear everything, and to him it is very very loud! He therefore gets upset in places where there's more than your average noise levels, like parties, concerts and gym halls.

As he gets older he is becoming more and more able. His ability to communicate gets better and he is becoming less frustrated with life, which is great.

He now goes to bed with a lot less hassle.  Well, there's still some, but compared to what we used to deal with, it's nothing really.

We are however, still dealing with the night terrors. The last bastion of sleep disorder hell.

Apparently he'll grow out of them.


I really hope it's soon!

Monday, 23 May 2016

What Happened When I Spoke To My Kids About Refugees

I watched BBC2's programme last night on the IPlayer, where Stacey Dooley (who I really like) was documenting the journey and the experience of unaccompanied migrant children.

Usually I don't get to watch much television, but when I do, I like to watch documentaries.  I also don't usually get to watch much tv around the kids, but I'm finding more and more, that when I do, they also like to watch with me.

Last night was no different.

Ethan slipped onto my knee and under my blanket and we watched together in our comfort and safety, with full bellies after our evening meal, just before I got him ready for his warm bed.

This was not lost on my five year old son.  Not at all.

Some might argue that the content of the documentary is too much for a child.
Some might say that there is no need to burden them with the world's problems at such a young age.

It wasn't a graphic documentary. Situations were described, but there was no blood, no dead bodies.  Just some normal people, normal families, with normal, upset, tired, hungry and scared children who had made some really epic journeys in order to flee their war-torn countries.

Inevitably, I had to answer a lot of questions.

  • What are they all doing?
  • Why are they not at home?
  • Where are all their things?
  • Why is the daddy crying?
  • Have they not got a pram?
  • Why don't they have enough food to eat?
  • Where will they sleep?
I answered each question as well as I could.  I tried to taper it all down to the appropriate age level.  I tried to be quite matter of fact.

I always feel it is important to let children know what is going on in our world.

I need my kids to know that we are lucky, us here in our nice house, eating food we like and going to school.

I need my kids to know and to appreciate that we might not always have everything we want, that sometimes the things we like or want or even need are not always there for us, but that indeed, we need to share, and see the positives and try harder sometimes.  

I need my kids to see the unfairness meted out to others and to feel empathy too; I need my kids to have that balance in their lives.

I would really like my kids to be helpers.  I don't mean the kind of people who give up their lives solely for others (only if they really want to), but the kind of people who think of others.  Who maybe pop some food in the trolley for the foodbank when they shop, or donate old clothes to charity, or put bird feeders in the garden in winter.

I guess I want my kids to have some kind of social conscience.

What happened when I spoke to my kids about the refugees?

We talked about how unfair their situation was.  How awful it was that babies and sick people had to sleep on the streets.  We talked about war and how scary it must be to live in a country at war.  We also talked about how nice our own home was.  How lucky we were.  How nice it might be to take some of our old toys and donate them so that the migrant children might have something to play with.

Essentially, nothing happened.

No bogeymen came in the night and stole their innocence.

There have been no nightmares. No stupid questions.

There was some empathy, a bit of understanding, and a realisation on my part that when explained in the right way, we can take the scary things, the strange things, the unjust and unfair things and speak to our kids about them in a way they understand without destroying their innocence.

Ethan: "Mum, I think we should definitely make friends with them when they get here.  They need a friend."


If a 5 year old gets it, why are some adults having a hard time?

Now if we can just bottle that up and spread it around a bit, the world would be a better place. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

How to Home Dye Your Hair...An Honest Guide

I've been dying my hair for a lot of years now, but I style can't really get my head around it (ha!  See what I did there? HEAD?! Ahem, I'll get my coat...)

Ah, my newly dyed bonce!
I would love to be able to afford to go to the hairdressers every time some roots started to appear, but unfortunately, due to my fear of hairdressers, plus the fact that I'm really not into paying an extortionate amount of money every 6-8 weeks on my hair, when I could be spending it on, well, stuff I need, well, home-dye it is.

Here is my (somewhat tongue in cheek) guide to home-dying your hair.

1. Notice a grey hair poking through your parting one day.

Pluck it.  Watch over the next day and a half that at least 5 more have appeared in it's place. Pluck them.  Watch as 25 more grow.
Ad infinitum.

Try to tell yourself that you're not that grey really.  Catch yourself in the mirror a few times and wince at the grey bits around your temples.

Ask a colleague if they think you're grey, and watch as they tactfully try to say you are not, but you can tell by their lying eyes that you damn well are.

Spend copious amounts of time in the bathroom rippling your hair and watching as each grey glimmers in the dim light of the staffroom toilets.

2.   Resolve to dye your hair.

Think about what shade you fancy going this time.

Have daydreams of all kinds of fanciful shades, like Plum Power and Amber Nights.

Go to the shop and stand in front of a wall of hair dye for half an hour and try to work out the difference between Honey Honey and Honey Sun.

Go home, clueless and tell yourself it's not that bad really.

3. Arrive back in front of confusing dye wall a day later after your husband has told you that you haven't rubbed the dry shampoo into your hair properly and you angrily tell him 'it's NOT dry shampoo'.

Close eyes and make a circling motion with finger, pointing to a box and plucking it off the shelf, muttering 'fuck it, fuck it, this'll do', as you head to the wine aisle to buy strong wine.

4. Rest the box of dye on your bathroom shelf for approximately two weeks.  Look at it every time you go to the loo.

Read instructions half-assedly while sitting on the toilet catching a break from the sprogs.

Realise that it takes more effort than you thought and resolve to do it on a day when you get peace from the kids; who gets about 3/4 of an hour where they don't have to do something crazy? Hold off for the elusive day.

5.  Realise one Sunday morning that the only time you get to dye hair is on a Sunday morning when you've snuck into the bathroom in your pyjamas for a bath.

You think, 'yeah, this is perfect actually - I'll have a soak and my hair will have a soak too, then I'll just get dressed.

 It's just another bit added to the routine.  Easy!' This genius idea stops you having to avoid bumping into things with huge dye head, like some kind of walking permanent ink pen. Great idea!

6.  Open box.  Glance over instructions again (not too hard though - remember you've already 'read' them) while you mix the two chemicals together in the bottle to make up the dye.

There's no going back now; that one sentence you definitely read said that it must be used IMMEDIATELY.

Put on the terrible oversized comedy plastic gloves and push the tip off the nozzle.

It begins.

7.  Start by using the nozzle to squeeze the non-drip formula around your hairline, telling yourself this is best practice to avoid forehead colouring.

Source: ifunny
Swear a bit as non-drip formula drips somehow onto the floor.  It's okay, you have time - concentrate on the job at hand.

8. Worry about the line you've drawn around your head that might make you look like you've got  wig on. Start rubbing it with the oversized fingers.

Curse a bit as oversized fingers mean you get some on your forehead and above your eyebrows.  And nose.
It's okay - you have time before it stains properly.  30 mins for it to develop, you have ages!  You'll be done in a few - don't lose sight of the final job in hand.  You've started, so you'll finish.

9.  Realise that you got some stuff on the tips of your ears.

  Decide to get baby wipe to counter the mess - you've heard good things about baby wipes saving the day.  Only problem is, you've forgotten the baby wipes.  And you've locked the door. never mind, it's okay.  Wet toilet roll is the same, right?

10.  Oversized gloves are now covered in little flecks of stained toilet roll, as are forehead and tips of ears.

 It's okay, simply shake oversized glove over the sink to get the bits off - you can mop it up later; sinks are porcelein and don't stain (much).  Concentrate on trying to do back of head and try to imagine where your hairline is at the back.   Feel around in oversized gloves and hope for the best while dabbing globs of dye where you think is best.

11. Check dye bottle to see how much dye is left.

  Panic because there's not as much as you thought.  Start shaking bottle vigorously into palm and squeezing it out.  Watch as nondrip formula drips absolutely everywhere; thank goodness you are wearing an old pyjama top.  Mush dye into hair and pile hair up onto top of head and think about how much you look like Wilma Flintstone.

 Wonder why the dye looks black when you are really very sure it should be red.  Hope it changes with time.  Now for the bath.

12. Realise that you should have probably done the hair dye while topless to avoid this bit. 

 Stretch the collar of pyjama top as wide as it will go to stretch around hair.  Totally don't stretch it far enough and end up catching precariously bundled hair as you lift it over head.  Watch as hair slaps down onto your shoulders/face causing little dye marks which you furiously spend the next the next 5 minutes wiping off with toilet roll.

13. De-Glove.  Put gloves in box. 

 Congratulate yourself on being nice and tidy.  Look at rest of bathroom and resolve to clean it after bath.  Get into bath.  Realise that it's impossible to relax, as you can't put head back, lest hair bundle falls onto shoulders or face.  Sit rigidly in bath. Remember you need to wait 30 mins.  Or was it?   Instruction leaflet is in the box under the gloves. Oh well...

14. After waiting what you feel has been the allotted amount of time (and swearing to bring a watch next time), and performed, handily, all of the other tasks, like washing and shaving legs, now decide it's time to wash out the dye. 

 But how?  The answer looks so obvious, as you look at the bath water around you.  You won't get dye all over you if you wash your hair in the bath. Right?

15.  Realise that dunking dyed hair in the bath while you are still in it is a very terrible, bad idea as you sit up and realise that not only is there deep red water everywhere, but your boobs have red tide marks.

Source: Getty Images
Panic, fearing you are to be stained red for the next 8 weeks and jump out of the bath, hair only partially rinsed and thus still full of dye. Drain bath and turn on shower.
Oh god, this was a terrible idea, you think, as you look at the red drips all over the lovely light blue bath mat.

16. Hose down the bath and get in the tub again and hose yourself while bending completely over and trying to avoid dye getting in your eyes.

Get it in your eyes anyway and blindly feel around for the shower head.  Stand like this for approximately three hours as you wait for the red to just stop running from your hair.

17. Get out of the tub like a traumatised war hero.

  Witness the devastation around you. Hear your neglected children screaming from the bowels of the house beyond the bathroom door.
Look in the mirror and squint your eyes at the outcome.

It looks okay.

Good job, soldier, good job.

18.  Realise that you've missed a bit.  And you have red ears. And a red blotch on your forehead.  And red fingers. And you might have stained the shower curtain.

It's okay.  You have at least 8 weeks before you can begin this whole process again...


Friday, 20 May 2016

Taking A Break

I have three kids.

I work with kids.

And books.  Thankfully, I have a nice bookish buffer between me and other people's kids at work, but more often than not, my job involves placating, entertaining and listening to small children.

Life's always a laugh with these crackers!

I love it - I really do.

I work in a children's library and I get a real kick out of helping them fire up their imaginations using the written word.

It's a real privilege.

Today, however, I was sent to cover a different department (which is usual for my work - sometimes we are short-staffed and we are expected to cover areas which need to be covered.  It's nice to get a wee change); one which is just for the adults.

When you've spent the last goodness-knows-how-long being at the beck and call of small children and their endless crazy demands and challenges and hilarious musings, it was a bit difficult to get myself in the mindset of not speaking to kids.

It was kind of nice.

I got myself a cup of tea in my travel mug.

I found myself glancing over adult fiction and non-fiction.  It's been a wee while since I properly had the head-space to do this and it was a weird sensation.  Usually I'm looking for ways to entertain, things which sound funny or look funny in the eyes of a child, but today it was all for me.

I read a newspaper at break time.

I spoke to adults about things which weren't about parenting, or housekeeping or what my baby's poo looked like and it was pretty cool.

I could actually feel a different part of my brain being used, and for a second, I kind of remembered who I was.

After my four hours, I went down to my locker and put on my coat.  I brushed my hair in the mirror and actually felt the rumbling in my tummy signalling that yet again I had missed lunch.

This time, I resolved to do something about it, rather than the usual of just pushing through and ignoring it.

While walking up the road to my car, I switched back to 'Mum' mode.  Switched back on to 'must collect the baby and get the other two from school and plan what to have for tea' mode. Felt the rumbling in my tummy again and tried to forget about it. Felt myself slipping back into responsibility, like putting on an old, worn-out coat with holes in the elbows.

But - for four hours today, I relaxed.

It gave me space to think. To be.

I think I forget to do that sometimes.

That's the thing about having kids; it's relentless.  You never stop.  And although most of the time it's fun and full of laughter and madness and crazy stuff that you'd never even thought about doing - it's tough going.

Like anything, sometimes you just need a break.

Reminder to self: Always try to do something different.  My initial reaction to going somewhere else today was 'oh no!', but actually, it was great.  It's okay to break out of the mold. It's okay to have some down time.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Saying Goodbye To The Baby Clothes

Clearing out my baby clothes was tough.

All those tiny little cute outfits, worn once, twice, three times.

Some have been on all three of my boys.

These are the clothes I carefully poppered over tiny little toes, carefully zipped up tiny little bodies, cuddled close after feeds and pegged up on the washing line, unaware or not of their last service towards our cause.

The ones which hold the most emotional resonance, pushed back into a duffell bag to be stored now - but for what purpose?

These are my memories.

I most likely won't be using them again now.

They're not waiting 'just in case'. Are they?

I had to tell myself as I went through them; 'there's no point in them sitting redundant'.

No point in them taking up space or gathering dust.

Someone else should be using these gorgeous little things again.

These gifts so thoughtfully given, the things carefully chosen by me, by friends, by all the visitors.

These are the things I squealed over, carefully opened, were so surprised by, they made new-mummy-me cry over the kindness, the generosity.

It's time to say a fond farewell to tiny baby years, tiny baby things, tiny baby bits and pieces and look forwards now.

My baby is a year old in less than a month.

He's thrown himself into life so fully.  He's grown so much.  Even moved up a centile as if to make fun of my constant chiding: "stop growing, baby!"

He giggles when  say this  Stands up all by himself in the middle of the room all by himself, grins, shows me his little teeth, points, waves, says words, all of the things I don't want him to be doing yet.

But he does.

He's not a tiny little baby any more.

It goes too fast.

Now it's my turn to surprise someone.  To show the kindness. To repay the generosity and to make another new mummy wonder at the kindness of strangers.

So I bundle up the bits. I tell myself it's the last time, but not too harshly. I make sure that I also allow myself to realise it could all happen again maybe one day.

Though I know it won't.

 They're just clothes.

Just clothes.

I can always get more clothes.

If I ever need to...

Monday, 16 May 2016

Fussy Vegetarian Problems: A Lifelong Issue

I've been a vegetarian all of my days; a fact that some people find it difficult to believe.

'Oh but you must have eaten meat'

Only under duress, let me assure you.

Mince (bleurgh!) Source: www.123rf.com

I have very fond memories of outlasting my mum, nan and various other caregivers who implied that I might not leave the table until I had finished my mince.

Clearly I won that one. More than a few times.


I have no idea why or how I have managed to reject meat at such a young age.  I guess it's something to do with texture more than anything else, plus I have this weird really sensitive palate where I can guess what is in something.

Me, the wee vegetarian baby! My 'I will not eat mince' face.
Good for cocktail hour, not so good when I can taste individual ingredients of something I don't like so much.  For instance, I hate pineapple and find it really difficult to eat or drink anything that has a large amount of pineapple juice in it.

Pineapple is in a lot of nice cocktails :(

I am a self-confessed fussy-ass vegetarian.

  • I do not like mushrooms. Nope. No no no. A bit squeaky and a bit earthy and they look like flayed skin. Grim.
  • I hate cheese sauce.  It smells awful.  I love cheese.  I love lots of cheese.  Cheese sauce is a bastardization of cheesy goodness. I will not tolerate it. It's fatty and greasy and just odd.
  • Aubergine is not a nice texture to have in your mouth. Just no.
  • I forced myself to eat a banana recently. It was the worst half hour of my life so far.
  • Quorn is the devil's food.  The primary reason I don't eat meat is because I hate the taste of meat. This is soy pretending to be meat.
  • Oh, also, Soy.
  • It's taken me years to tolerate tomato and I can now...but only very thinly sliced and with the guts removed.
  • I vaguely remember being at a friend's house for tea and refusing to eat the middle bit of the cucumber.
  • I used to actively avoid going to other people's homes for tea in case I didn't like what was being served.  It actually used to make me sweat.  Now I have mastered my gag reflex to the EXTREME and can actually basically gag down anything (within reason).  Even cheese sauce.  But it's a struggle!
Just coat it all in cheese!
Admittedly, I have gotten a lot better over the years.  I can now eat melted cheese (which is the gateway to hell by the way.  My waistline did not really need chips and cheese, pizza or nachos...but I suppose it increases the variety of a restaurant menu for me) and I am now better at eating strawberries (grainy texture).

I even verge on enjoying blueberries (strange skin), raspberries (bitty) and caught myself having some cereal with milk in it the other day (I had to eat it very very quickly in case the cereal went soggy.  There must have been about 2ml of milk on it, but that counts...)

Life as a fussy vegetarian is tough.

I face massive dilemmas in the supermarket sandwich aisle at lunchtimes (I hate mayonnaise.  You don't realise how much mayo is on EVERYTHING until you are actively trying to avoid it).

I actually more often than not end up ordering sides in restaurants because I honestly can't see anything I actually want to eat on the menu (if I'm out with people who know me well, this is okay, but if this is like, a formal thing or with someone I don't really know I have to use the mastered gag reflex thing to choke down the least offensive meal).

When staying in hospital after my c-sections I virtually ate nothing basically because hospital food is gross and most usually because it was cheese mayo, cheese sauce or something equally horrific.  Oh, or soggy cornflakes.  Very soggy cornflakes.  I subsisted on the goodwill of my visitors, whom I begged for food. Not the best when your body has had a baby and is also recovering from major surgery. 

I suppose there are positives.

My meal choices are usually plain and simple and easy to make; a quick salad, a sandwich, some chips.  I'm easy.  I miss cooking, but in this lull of time where I have a baby plus two other kids to cook for, I'm easy to please.

Hell, I'm just happy to actually get the chance to eat!

What I do eat is relatively healthy.  To a point.  As long as I'm not mainlining chips and cheese or pizza constantly, I'm actually a fairly healthy eater.  One of the quirks of my palate is that I prefer 'clean' tastes, like cucumber, pepper and lettuce, and I'm more than happy (oddly) snacking on spring onions (weird but true).

And hey, I'm discovering new things all the time.

You guys might scoff at my immature tastes, but heck, I have all this to come, suckers!

I might even enjoy mushrooms one day.


Sunday, 15 May 2016

Calling All Funny Parenting Posts and Stories! (linky link ups wanted)

Parenting is a challenge at the best of times.

What you think is a nice morning of feeding the ducks can turn into something completely different.

You have to have a sense of humour - whether it's a three year old having a melt-down because his sandwich was cut the wrong way or a baby spewing all over your head, the key thing to remember is: It might not be funny now, but it will be funny someday.

I swear that's all that gets me through sometimes (especially when I've sat in a pee covered toilet seat or realising the school secretary of the massive school knows both mine and my child's name because we've been to the office so many times handing in his lunch/schoolbag/coat. Again.)

There are no massive rules here, but I simply ask that the post is funny and it involves parenting in some way.

It is not compulsory, but it would be courteous to:

1. Visit another person's link (or two if you can)
2. Leave a comment to say hello and what you found funny on their post

Saturday, 14 May 2016

5 Ways a Border Collie will Change Your Life

I love our Border Collie doggy, Kim.  She's full of love and is not shy about sharing it.

She's a rescue, so she's got a couple of hang ups, but nothing too bad at all.  She's a dream dog really. We are so lucky to have her.

Like most doggy owners, I was aware of breed quirks.  I owned a Jack Russell - most people are very quick to state their breed quirks ('snappy, yelpy, temperamental' - which mine wasn't AT ALL by the way, just so you know. He had a man-bark, never snapped, like, ever, and the only temper he seemed to have was goofy/playful).

Here's a few things I've learned about Border Collies in our first year.

1. You'll never be alone.  Ever.

You'll always have a furry friend right by your side.  Collies are nosy about EVERYTHING. They love to be in on the action and I reckon they are so good at coming back purely because they are so scared of missing out on anything.  They are good at observing from a distance and sitting down, but always near you, always watching to see where you are going next. See 'the collie stare'.

Oh hey, I'm just coming to see how you're doing...

2. Obsession is more than a word - it is life.

Kim's particular obsession is the ball and the two other collies who live next door.  Combine the two and she is a very happy doggy.

I might have a ball in my hand...

Your collie has an obsession.  This is their 'thing'. You will find it one day - maybe by accident or even on purpose.

It might be chasing cars (goodness forbid), chasing a ball or chasing a laser pen.  It might be herding small things or hoarding socks.

Border collies have an innate urge to 'do' and it can sometimes be ruinous.  Their obsession will quickly become yours.

Channel it in the right way, however, and you can work it to your benefit.

Which leads me to...

3. These dogs have smarts...but not street smarts.  They will challenge you!

Don't get me wrong, these dogs are clever beasties. It's the main reason why they need at least a 45 minute walk every day, off-lead, sniffing and playing.  You know, so they can cover about 50 extra miles while you are doing 6. They are so active.  They instinctively know where you are on a walk, so they can take themselves away through fields and far and away and get back to you the instant (or so) after you call them (because they might be missing something important).

But, my dog will sit behind a door until it opens for her - even if it's open enough for her to look through.  She thinks it's an impenetrable force.  Even if I'm shouting her name and telling her she can do this.

She'll sit with her tongue out, looking at me quizically when I give her a treat.

If she doesn't use her brain  or essentially energy, she is a force to be reckoned with, but ask her to push a door open with her feet: nah!

4.  You'll never be hugged in the same way by another animal ever.

This might just be a Kim thing, but I have never seen another dog do the 'full body cuddle'.

Collies are very feetsy dogs; they like to use their front feet almost like hands.  The result is a lot of lovely hugs and touchy-feely happiness on both you and their part.

Or a paw in the face...

5. You'll never ever again do so much walking as when you are the owner of a Border Collie

I thought a Jack Russell could go on and on...but a Collie can go on and on and on and on!

These dogs are bred to herd.  And herding is an all day task.  Kim herself was bred (and worked) as a herding dog, so is used to miles and miles and miles and miles per day!

She's off!

Which is no easy feat!  Tiring her out can be tricky.  I have also become accustomed to walking whenever I can.  Suddenly the school run becomes just another ample opportunity for walking.  The farm paths surrounding my house are just different brilliant dog walking routes amalgamated together. Every day is a new challenge to walk and to play and to find the best place to let the collie roam free.

It's great being a Border Collie pal!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

CSections: What to Expect and What To Take With You #csectionawarenessmonth

I've had 3 different csections.

All three have been very different experiences.

Baby Boy!

I feel like a bit of a veteran - my csection scar certainly agrees!

I have had:

1 Emergency C section

1 kind of Emergency C Section (planned)

1 Planned Section

Two ended up with two very healthy babies, one ended up with a baby in SCBU.

Absolutely nothing at all went wrong in my Emergency C Section.

In my final and planned and prepared for C section, I hemorrhaged really badly and ended up with a blood transfusion, plus a horrible post-operative infection.

Being hooked up to an antibiotic drip for 2 days with a new baby to handle is tough stuff!

My third section was easier than my first.

I laboured for over 36 hours before I was finally given an emergency csection with my first son.

I was in hospital in false labour for a week and a half before my planned section for my third.

One thing that the whole giving birth experience has taught me, is to expect the unexpected.

Keep and open mind.

Prepare for every eventuality.

Medical care in the UK has it's faults, but honestly, honestly, it is exceptional. There is some real proper wisdom hidden in hidden places.  The care is amazing.

Here is a wee list of items for your hospital bag which I hope you'll find useful:

  • HUGE knickers - honestly. Trust me.  As big as you can get without them being at risk of falling down. You will want NOTHING near your wound. Buy two of the cheapy supermarket packs in black which you can either chuck away at will or send home to wash and keep for the next few weeks. There's no love lost, and they'll do the job perfectly.  Much better than paper pants!
  • Also, forget pyjama bottoms for a couple of days. Long flowing nightgowns with booby access are perfect. I found these ones from Mothercare to be perfect for the job. You will have a catheter in, possibly for a couple of days, which is super-glam, but hard to run down a trouser leg!
  • When you do get to pyjama/trouser stage: leggings.  Lots of huge leggings, at least two sizes too big.  You want them to go up and over your wound and to be comfy enough to lounge in.  It's definitely okay to basically live in these for the next six months.
  • Food.  Nibbly snacks. The thing about a Csection, is that you never know if you will have missed a meal time.  Plus you have to fast before it. Plus there's a lot of hanging around, sometimes you are in longer than you wanted or thought you'd be - keep your energy up with cashews, granola bars, chocolate, crisps, apples etc. and stick some fruit juice cartons in too for getting some post-op vitamins.
  • Grabber.  I never had one, but honestly, the amount of times I needed something up off the floor or from the end of the bed!  One of those grab sticks would have been amazing!
  • A notebook and pen. If you end up staying, it is so helpful to be able to write stuff down that you need someone else to bring for you next time they visit. It's amazing what you forget you need until you actually need it.
  • Body wipes/baby wipes.  Not for your baby, but for you.  Maternity wards are Very hot, often stiflingly so. A quick wipe around with a baby wipe can almost help you to feel human again, especially just before visitors and their cameras arrive...
  • Which brings me on to: basic make-up. I am not a huge make up person, not at all, least of all after I've just had my stomach muscles destroyed and had to deal with a new baby, but honestly, it's these tiny little details which give you a slice of normality amongst the blood, pain, medication and counting how many meconium nappies you've changed.  Everyone is different of course, but even if it's not make-up, make sure you pack little bits just for you - toiletries, moisturiser, hand cream (hospitals suck the moisture out of your skin!), just a wee bit of pampering for yourself.  It does help you to feel a little bit more able to face the world!
This is by no means an exhaustive list - not at all.  I also took my own breastfeeding pillow (a big firm one, which I totally credit with helping me to finally master breastfeeding third time round!) and some crochet for times when I felt like I needed something else to do (books used too much brain). 

What did you take to hospital?

Is it your first time?  What are you planning to take?

What are your must-take items?

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