Monday, 15 September 2014

Are you going to vote?

This isn't a blog about who I think you should vote for, in fact I'm not going to even mention the political parties, or who I am going to vote for. (Although if you know me well, you could probably make a pretty good guess.)  This blog is about actually voting, are you going to vote? I should perhaps also say that this is really directed at the coming New Zealand election, but really it applies to any election, any where in the World, and the New Zealand election isn't the only major political event on the World stage in which people are voting this week.  I'm not going to talk about Scotland either though, or Fiji for that matter.

The voter turn out in the last New Zealand election was 74.2%, which sounds like quite a few people, compared to the UK for example it's quite good, in their last election only 65.1% of voters turned out.  But, it still means that over a quarter of the people who are able to vote, didn't.  There are all kinds of reasons why people don't vote, but really everyone should vote.  It's easy to say that politics doesn't interest you, or that it doesn't matter who you vote for, they're all as bad as one another, but really that's not the point.

Are you going to vote, politics has an impact on every aspect of life.

It's really easy to fall into the trap of giving up on politics, especially with all that's currently going on, 'dirty politics' and the like.  It's all too easy to think that it's all corrupt and nothing to do with you.  But actually politics is all to do with everyone.  If you live in a country, drive on the roads, got to the doctors, shop in the shops, send your children to the schools, then all of those things mean that you are dealing with 'politics' every day of your life. There's no getting away from it, and although it's easy to think that it doesn't effect you, it really does, and placing your vote, whoever it is for, even if you go and spoil your paper rather than actually vote for a party, it's really important to actually use that vote.

People haven't always all been able to vote, people often remember that it was denied to Women, but it's easy to forget that at one time it was only the men of power who were able to have a say.  These days, we can all cast that vote, make our mark and try and influence the way that we are governed.  Don't waste that chance, you live in a place that allows you to do that, and many many people around the world, even today, don't have that luxury. Don't throw away your chance, use your vote, have your say.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Today; I'm tired

I've had a few bad nights lately, and last night was dreadful so today; I'm tired.  Every so often you get nights like this, even before I had kids I'd go through spells where I couldn't sleep properly, and in all honesty in the last six years, I haven't had a lot of sleep.  But things have been better recently, now that Anja is a little bit older I am getting a bit more sleep, so when I have a rough patch, it almost seems worse.

today; I'm tired

My lack of sleep over the last few nights had been a combination of reasons; a teething Anja, wild weather, just not being able to sleep, and then last night....... I was sleeping fine until around 3am, when the smoke alarm woke me up.  It took me a few minutes to really grasp what was going on, I couldn't even quite grasp why I was the adult dealing with it, and where my parents were.  Bit strange really seeing as I've been living in New Zealand for the last five and half years and haven't really lived at home for a much longer time.  Still, I suppose that's the half asleep brain for you.  The boys woke up, but Anja and Lena slept through it all, which for saying that we ended up with two different smoke alarms going off quite a few times, was a bit worrying really.

Fast asleep

As it turned out, nothing, thankfully, was actually on fire.  We've been using the range in the kitchen for the last few weeks, to heat the hot water (actually got it to nearly 100 C out of the tap the other day).  It's been great, I even successfully cooked scones on it the other day. Any way, it's great but not last night, last night it filled the kitchen with smoke, and woke me up. Yay. You see the thing is, because it's an old range, it can be a bit temperamental, it gets clogged up quite easily, and there we go, room full of smoke.  It took me over an hour, on and off to get the smoke cleared, it didn't help that it was freezing too. Then when I was finally able to get back to sleep, Anja woke up.

Getting more sleep with a newborn

Of course I can't really complain, I've had a few nights bad sleep, and I'm really tired. But compared to how it was when the children were newborns, it's nothing.  Then you reach a whole new level of tiredness, the hormones don't help, and despite having done it four times, I know that each time I had a newborn, it was like no tiredness I'd ever known before. When I was pregnant with Lena, I remember thinking that the when I had my new baby, I'd been fine with the lack of sleep, because I was getting non anyway as Mahe wasn't sleeping. I was wrong.

So anyway, today I'm tired, but hopefully tonight will be better.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Thoughts about breastfeeding

I've breastfed successfully three times, actually, you could say very successfully with all three of my younger children feeding beyond two years old, and I've tandem fed twice.  My first attempt wasn't such a roaring success though.  Actually it went wrong, very wrong.  You would think that the success since then would have exorcized those particular demons, and I suppose in some ways, they have.  If I'm totally honest though, it was my lack of success, first time around that has had the biggest impact on me.

Thoughts about breastfeeding.

While pregnant, I'd been sure that I would breastfeed, have a natural birth and all would be fine.  I watched dvds on breastfeeding, and although I knew that sometimes people couldn't do it, I thought that it must be fairly easy really, because it was supposed to be natural. The first few feeds actually went well, and all seemed to be good.  I'd had an emergency caesarian, which I hadn't even considered might happen.  He seemed to be feeding ok, but I remember being upset that I couldn't change his first nappy, or pick him up when he woke up without the help of a nurse.  I was feeling like a failure from the birth before I started with anything else.  A few days or so in, and all seemed to be going well, except he was feeding and feeding, which I was sure couldn't be right.  Despite all my preparation before hand, no one had mentioned cluster feeding or the fact that they feed and feed to get my milk to come in. It hadn't been painful either to begin with, and then thrush struck, even thinking about it now, almost eight years on, and my toes start to curl.....

thoughts about breastfeeding my oldest

Huge weight loss followed, and at just under three weeks old we were back in hospital, and I remember trying not to fall apart while a nurse gave him his first bottle of formula.  While we were in there I remember a particularly brusque sister demanding to know his date of birth, which I couldn't remember, and then giving me a lecture on how better hygiene would have prevented the thrush. Thanks for that, just what I needed.  I tried many times after that to drop the top ups, but it's a vicious circle, and every time I attempted it, the weight would drop off.  By the time we reached six months, the breastfeeding just wasn't happening any more, and I gave up.

Giving up breastfeeding

In many ways, none of this really matters. I did my best, I didn't want to go down the formula route, but when you must you must, and I managed to feed successfully with the other three children.  But it still bothers me that it didn't go right first time around.  On Wednesday I went to see Breastmilk the Movie.  It was good, and I enjoyed it, even if it made me angry in quite a few places, in fact I was amazed at one point that any of them managed any breastfeeding at all, with all of the pressures to not breastfeed that were going on around them. (Having given birth in two countries where "rooming-in" is the norm, I couldn't quite get my head around the poor lady who had to wait for her newborn to be brought to her while her baby was bathed, dressed and the nurse had a break.)  One lady in particular who had to top up, in her case due to tongue-tie and the issues that it caused really resonated with me, I've been there with the brave "I'm not going to cry, while I explain that it was probably for the best that I had to formula feed, even though I really really didn't want to."  As she talked about it, I really felt her pain.  Sadly, I think that many of the issues the women faced could have been dealt with much sooner and easier with proper support.  We're lucky, here in Dunedin, that there is fantastic support locally, there perhaps is in other places too, but of course you have to look for it, and know where to look for it.  I think that you can have all the support in the world, but for as long as breastfeeding is the exception rather than the rule, and bottle feeding the norm, it will be a struggle. The outside pressures that are, often with the best intention, put on women when they are trying to build a breastfeeding partnership with their new baby, cause huge damage to that process and it makes what can already be a very hard situation, next to impossible.  I'm beyond glad that my next attempts to breastfeed went so well, but there will always be a bit of me that feels guilty and sad when I remember my first attempt.

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