Monday, 28 July 2014

For the love of books

I've always loved reading and had a love of books.  Right from when I was very little, and my Mum read stories to me before bed, I've just loved to loose myself in a good book.  It's something I've also really enjoyed sharing with my children, and while they do all love stories, my oldest and youngest are both already proper book worms too.

For the love of books

Back in the days that I used to keep a diary every day, which I did from around 14 to my early 20's when I just reached the point where I was only making an entry every few days or so, I used to also record the books that I'd read in the back.  I didn't count books that I read for school, for my A levels or University course, but even so, back then I was reading more than a book a week. Of course these days, I don't have chance to read that much, with small children, I just don't get as much time to read.  But I do still read as often as I can; when I'm feeding Anja, just before I go to sleep, whenever I've got five minutes..... (like I say, not very often any more).

love of reading

A couple of years ago at Christmas, I got one of the best Christmas presents ever from Mum and Dad, a kindle.  I have to admit, when I first heard about these 'ebook reader things' I didn't really think that I would ever want or have one.  Then I heard how good they were, and wanted to give one a go.  When I got it, I quickly got into it, the great thing about it is that it's lightweight and yet it can hold heaps of books on there.  The slightly less good side of it, is that I've been caught out a few times when the battery's run out midway though me reading something really good.  Of course you can't read in the bath either, but I never get chance for that these days anyway.

My kindle and my love of books

My kindle is linked straight to my amazon account, which is great because I can just down load a book the second I want to read it.  The bad side is that I can down load a book the second I want to read it, which isn't always great for my bank balance.  It's also meant that for the last two and a bit years, I've had far too many books queued on there, ready to read.  I've finally got it down to three, but I'm not sure that I can get to the end of those before I download more.....  You do get some great books free for it, classics are all pretty much free, and there are others that are the start of a series, or by a new author that are free or really reasonable.  I've found some really good authors, that I doubt I'd ever have found if it weren't for having the kindle.  I thought that I might share some reviews of great books and authors I've found recently in future blogs......

Loving reading on my kindle

Monday, 14 July 2014

Out of the mouths of babes

Children say the funniest of things, and they do say that out of the mouths of babes comes the truth.  I don't know about the truth, but they do have a lovely way of repeating what you say.  When Kai was just learning to talk, I discovered that I must say "Ooops a daisy" quite a bit, when he started saying it all the time.  Admittedly he was learning to walk at around the same time, and kept falling over, which is probably at least part of the reason that I said it quite a bit.

Out of the mouths of babes

Neither Mahe or Lena have started saying something that I say on a regular basis, but just the other day, Anja came out with something that I fear may have come from me.  As a rule I don't swear, and I don't like to hear children swear.  I may, from time to time, say the odd mild expletive, but nothing worse, fortunately, it would seem.

children say the funniest things

Just the other day Anja dropped something on the floor and clear as bell said "Oh bugger!" It wasn't just the fact that it was really clear, but it was totally in context.  At first I had no idea where she'd got it from, and it wasn't long before she used it again.  This time when I dropped something. (I'll admit, I am a little clumsy at the best of times, so it wasn't long before she had the opportunity.)  I really didn't think it was me, and then I caught myself saying it once, or twice, and maybe a few more times.  Ooops a daisy, that's not good.

out of the mouths of babes comes all sorts

It could have been much worse, I've had friends who's little ones have come out with things that they really didn't want them to repeat and at the worst moment. Not that you need to say something often for them to pick it up.  They seem to know instantly when you've said something that you don't want them to say, and they repeat it at every available opportunity.

Watch what you say around little children, out of the mouths of babes can come out of all sorts of things that you might not expect.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Disposable knickers and the inability to breastfeed.

Back when Kai was born, I had no end of breast feeding problems, in fact if I look back now, I wonder if things had been easier, I would have been so determined to feed the other children for so long, but that is another story.  There were many many reasons that I had problems with breast feeding, but I do sometimes wonder how much of an impact the disposable knickers situation had on my ability to breastfeed.

At first glance there doesn't seem to be much link between breast feeding and disposable knickers, so perhaps I had better explain the story of the disposable knickers.  Before I had children, I was quite into 'green' and alternative things:  I'd been using a mooncup for years (if you don't know what one of those is, then I suggest you google it, I love mine.  (Unless you're male, or squeamish that is, in which case it's probably best you don't know). I'd been using fertility awareness as birth control for a long time, (successfully, that's not why we were having a baby). Whether I would use cloth nappies or not wasn't even a question, of course I would. And then I started to pack my hospital bag.

inability to breatfeed and disposable knickers

I researched all kinds of things on-line, spoke to friends with children, and started to plan what I'd need.  It might have been eight years ago now, but there was plenty of information and advice out there on the old internet.  I discovered that what I really needed in my hospital bag was a few pairs of disposable knickers.  Somehow it made sense, you might make a bit of a mess of your pants, so it was far easier to get some that you could just throw away, so I did.  I'm not sure if you've ever seen disposable knickers before, but they are uncomfortable, elasticated, papery things. If I remember rightly they cost around the price of cheap reusable knickers too, but still someone had said that I needed them, so get them I did.  I think I wore a grand total of three of my six pack, before I came to the unavoidable conclusion that they were utterly pointless.

Of course buying disposable knickers isn't really a big deal, a bit stupid, but not a major problem.  But really it shows a bigger issue.  When you're pregnant for the first time, you get bombarded with information.  At the same time that you're trying your hardest to work out exactly what you should or shouldn't be doing, this is all new territory, and you don't want to get it wrong.  Somewhere in all of that it's easy to loose sight of the way that you want to do things, and to take on board everything that people tell you.

breastfeeding journey

How does all of this relate to the problems I had with breastfeeding?  Well, while I was pregnant I was told so many times that it was hard, that even though I was sure that I wanted to breastfeed, I was beginning to doubt my ability before I even tried. Then, once he was born, and the problems started, I was met with the kind of support that left supplementing with formula as the only option, and so I took it.  I'm not saying that things would have been different if I'd been more confident in my own choices, or people hadn't told me these things, but I'm sure that it didn't help.

So what would I change if I did it all over again?  What would I suggest to other people in the same situation? Stop, and listen to yourself, what feels right to you? There is no right or wrong way to parent, but there is a right or wrong way for you to parent, and it's important that you listen to yourself rather than other people.  It doesn't matter what it is, you shouldn't do things or not do things when deep down they don't feel right to you.  If it doesn't feel right, then it probably isn't.  It's too easy to fall into the trap of leaving your baby to cry because you've heard that it's best for them to self settle, even though it tears you up inside, or not to 'spoil' your baby by holding them too much.  Really if it feels wrong it probably is.  Of course everyone is different, and you really need to listen to what your instincts are telling YOU how to parent.

If you're talking to someone else just starting out on their parenting journey, try and remember what that overload of information is like.  Suggest things, but let them find their own way, and listen to what their own instincts are telling them.  Don't frighten them with scary stories of labour or breastfeeding, not everyone has it hard.

Oh, and most of all, don't by disposable knickers, they're totally pointless.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Six months in

Can you believe that we're half way through 2014 already? I'm not sure where that time has gone, but this year, as most years seem to since I had children, is flying by at break neck speed.  I thought that it might be a good point, six months in, to just have a bit of a look back and the year so far.

Keeping resolutions

Every New Year, I always make a lot of resolutions that I'm sure that I'm going to stick to, and then either don't even start, or only manage for a day or so.  This year was slightly different, in that I only made one resolution, but to be honest I didn't really stick to it sadly.  Funnily enough, I'm feeling the impact of that right now, as were at the six month mark.  I resolved that this year I'd be more organised, on the paperwork front.  I even went out and brought a couple of brand new folders and started filing stuff.  Putting things into folder (and using dividers and everything) helped to make me feel more organised, when of course I wasn't really.  I remember a very good friend of mine at University telling me that she felt as though she was actually doing work on her dissertation if she carried the folder around with her. It made her feel far better when we all got distracted by nights out at the Carlton or Sugar House, bottles of wine and cups of tea.  My buying folders was very much in this vein.

getting myself organised six month in 2014

The reason that it's become an issue now, is that my tax return is due in, and as my filing only lasted for that first week I had the folders, I'm now in the process of wading through it all and sorting it all out.  Of course if I had really been more organised, I would have not only had everything sorted out properly, I would also have actually done my tax return months ago.  Never mind, next year I will, maybe......

Winter weather

One of the really odd things about being in New Zealand half way through the year is that it's winter.  Back in the UK it's currently Wimbledon season, so of course it will be raining there too, but right now it's got really cold here.  This afternoon I hid in my car for ten minutes, rather than pop into a shop as the heavens had opened and were bombarding us with hail and icy cold rain all driven along by a strong wind.  I wouldn't mind so much, but our fire is playing up a bit at the moment, and like the temperamental old man that it is, it belches out a plume of smoke into the lounge every so often when you're trying to get it going, nice.

Wintery weather in June

Six month achievements

So, what have I actually managed to do in the last six months? In all honestly there's little that stands out as amazing or wonderful.  Other than my crazy wonderful children, they've kept me entertained and walking the narrow tightrope between sanity and insanity on a daily basis. The business is going well, which is always a bonus, and I'm hoping for more of the same on both of those fronts over the rest of 2014.  Now if I could just manage to be a little bit more organised for the next six months, we'd be pretty much sorted going into 2015.  Well, I can always hope.......

That tightrope between sanity and insanity

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Baby swimming

Today we, that is me and the girls went swimming.  We have swimming lessons every Tuesday, and I have to admit that it's something that I love.  I've taken all four of the children swimming from when they were babies, and it's something that I highly recommend.  Of course you don't need to do formal 'lessons' although I've found them really helpful.


Underwater swimming

The one area that I've found that they really help with, is having the courage to actually get your baby to do things.  I'm sure that you've seen the famous Nirvana cover, as I had before I went swimming with Kai, and I knew the theory behind it.  (Basically, babies under one automatically hold their breath when underwater) but to actually dunk your precious little one?  It's not so easy.  We did baby swimming lessons in the UK with Kai, which is where we got these amazing photos, (I want to say that it was little dippers that we did them with, but they don't seem to be in the North Midlands, where we did them, although six years or so on, that may well have changed).  The photos were actually a freebe, after the instructor was late for one of the sessions, but they are fantastic.

Baby swimming

Water Confidence

With Kai, we had quite a big break between the baby lessons and starting again, which was a bit of a shame, and Mahe lost a bit of his confidence, although he still loves going swimming.  My girls have bags of confidence in the water, sometimes a little bit too much, although of course the lessons have helped with that too.  Knowing what you can't do is just as important as what you can do when it comes to swimming and being in and around the water.  I've loved swimming with all the kids and if you haven't been with your little one yet, I'd suggest you give it a go.

Toddler swimming

Monday, 9 June 2014

Two years ago

Yesterday was Anja's birthday, and I've been thinking a lot about two years ago, and when she was born. It's funny, but a lot of the experience of birth fades quickly after the event, probably for very good reasons, I doubt I would have had four children if I remembered too clearly (and with numbers two, three and four, I remember thinking how I'd forgotten that it hurt quite THAT much), and of course the emotions that come with a new baby, can over ride everything else that happened.  There are some things though that stand out and I suspect (and hope) will never leave me and always be clear.  I remember very clearly the first time I saw each of my children for example.  Kai, who was slightly blue coloured and all arms and legs, Mahe who was calm and relaxed while I got on with the business of birthing him, Lena who was ready for action before she was fully here, and Anja, being passed to me from behind where Daddy who caught her, and seemed enormous.  But there are other things as well, so I thought I'd look back at her birth, and fill in some of the other detail from her birthstory.

Newborn, two years ago

With all three of the other children, I'd expected them to be late, and Lena was the only one that surprised me by being early, all be it only three days.  I thought that Anja would also be earlier, that would follow the trend; nine days late, six days late, three days early....... and sure enough two weeks before her due date I was getting all the signs, huge amounts of practice contractions, loosing plug in huge, golf ball sized blobs (sorry) and most importantly, I felt ready.  It might sound a bit odd, but with the other three, I'd not been ready at all, until just before they came, that I'm really not ready to be a mother/have another child feeling that seems to descend in mid to late pregnancy suddenly lifts, and it's all systems go.  I was ready, it was the weekend, I'd spoken to the back up midwife as mine was off (of course) and I was pretty sure that this was it.  And then I got ill. Nothing major, just a bad cold that went straight onto my asthmatic chest, I was a bit frightened at the though of a full on asthma attack mid labour.  My midwife assured me though, that they had all on hand to deal with such a thing, but more importantly she'd never known it to happen, the adrenalin took over.

Being born is hard work

All weekend I waited, a few niggles more nothing more, the next week came and went and still nothing.  I couldn't understand it.  My midwife did say to me that sometimes your body just wants to hang on until all is perfect, and looking back I wonder if that's what happened.  If I hadn't been ill just then, would I have ended up having Anja a week or so earlier, of course I'll never know, but it's an interesting thought.

Getting cleaned up

After two weeks of waiting, which of course felt like at least two months, things seemed to be starting again, and I wondered if things would be happening soon.  The night before her due date, I was up in the night with contractions, and then again the next night, but I wasn't holding out much hope.  On the third night, I'd just about given up on the idea of them taking me anywhere, but it was pretty clear that these were more than that.  I remember posting on-line to a friend about it, just trying to distract myself for a bit.  She advised that I try and go back to bed and get some rest, in case it was the real thing.  Great advice, but next to impossible.  Of course you should try and rest, but when they really start, there's no relaxing, and I found that keeping moving was far more comfortable that lying down in any case.   I was excited too, that old adrenalin I suppose.

Ready to come home two years ago

There's a huge part of me that loves the idea of a home birth, but I've never had one and never planned to have one.  With my first it didn't even register, and after that, I wasn't keen, having had the emergency section before.  Even so, I managed to continue at home for quite some time, even hitting the self doubt that is transition.  Even though I knew what it was, it didn't seem to stop me thinking "I can't do this, what was I thinking, can it all stop now."  I suppose I was lucky that it didn't all happen unplanned at home, with the children arguing about what they wanted to watch while Daddy got them ready for Grandma to come over in the back ground.  By the time I did reach the hospital I was already fully dilated and ready to go.  I won't go into the full details of her birth again, you can read them in her birth story, but it was fantastic, amazing and wonderful.

Just having given birth, two years ago.

Skipping forward a little bit, so we really are thinking about two years ago, I stayed in hospital for a couple of days after having her.  Not because there were any problems really, but because I was so tired the midwife thought I could do with a bit of a break.  She told me to pretend to look a bit ill, while they installed me in a room on my own.  Bliss, or at least it was during the day, I just lounged around and read.  I didn't sleep well, only partly due to a little newborn, hospitals are just too noisy.  It was also so hot, I remember asking for a clean night shirt so I could shower and change again.

Newborn littlest miss

So there we have it, two years ago my Littlest Miss arrived.  I can't believe how quickly it's all gone, and at the same time, I can't imagine life without her now.  I don't suppose I'll ever do it again, and it's a bit sad really to think that I'll never have a little baby again.  Of course they'll all always be my babies, but they'll never actually be babies again. Happy Second Birthday Anja.

Happy second birthday Anja

Monday, 2 June 2014

Going shampoo free

I don't use shampoo on any of my children, they are all shampoo free.  I'd like to do the same myself, but I think my hair is too used to regular washing with shampoo.  It didn't start out as a concious decision to never use shampoo, but that's just how it's turned out.

Newborn toiletries

When all of the children were newborn, I didn't use any toiletries at all with them.  Newborns don't really seem to get dirty, and to be honest there isn't really any need for lots of bubble bath and shampoos when they they are really little.  Newborns smell lovely with out any artificial scents added, and their sensitive skin means that it's best to avoid toiletries, I'd always intended to start using shampoo at some point though.  As Kai got older, he just never really needed it though, and now at 7 1/2 I've never used shampoo on his hair, or on any of the other children.

shampoo free

Beautiful hair

Kai has got the most beautiful, soft hair, I'd love to have such lovely hair, and I'm sure that it's down to it being shampoo free.  It never looks dirty or greasy, and it does get washed regularly, with water, just not shampoo.  I read that soap actually cleans hair really well, but only if it's not hair that's been washed regularly with shampoo.  If I were to try and use soap on my hair it would go all dry and funny, because I do usually shampoo my hair.  But on the odd occasion that I've actually needed to wash the kids hair with something a bit stronger than water, the soap works fine.

Going shampoo free like Lena

My girls both have lovely curly hair, and I suspect that as they get older I may well need to use something to de-tangle their hair, it can get a bit knotted as it is, but for the time being I'm going to stick with the shampoo free.

Going shampoo free myself

I'd love to be able to cut out shampoo on my own hair, but the problem is that when you use it regularly, it takes quite a while for your hair to get back to managing without it.  I've heard of people cutting it out, and ending up with lovely soft, non-greasy hair, but to get there you have to go through the horrid, greasy, unwashed phase.  I hate the feeling when my hair needs washing though, so although I would love to go shampoo free like the kids, I don't think I can do it.