Monday, 13 October 2014

Warming up

The weather has been all over the place lately, warm one day, cold the next, sunny one minute, followed by that heavy 'straight down' rain that soaks everything in it's path.  Today was beautiful though, just like a summers day, and it's only October. (Only October, that sounds so strange, we should, in my mind at least, be well into Autumn by now.)

Off to Aramoana

It was so beautiful this morning, that after I'd dropped the boys of at school and Lena at daycare, I decided to go for a bit of a drive.  As I was already in Port Chalmers, I decided to keep going and head out to Aramoana.  It may be famous for all of the wrong reasons, and have a very sad past, but there is something just lovely about the beach there.  I like the drive along the road too, past all of those little bays, and in the morning sunshine, the whole area looked magnificent, it was the open sea and beach we were really heading towards though.

Warming up, a beautiful day

I've driven there a few times over the winter months, but always wimped out of going for more than a quick walk, especially when I've had children to drag along with me.  This morning though it was far too nice to pass up the chance, so although the tide was rather high, we went for a lovely walk along by the sea. 

A beautiful sunny day

Anja was a little concerned by the sea, "the water's coming to get me Mummy. It's going to get my feet."  Other than that she loved being there and getting down onto the beach.  We had the whole beach to ourselves, apart from a few sea birds, who obviously had far more right to be there than we did.

Enjoying the beach

It might be another warm day tomorrow, but at this time of the year it's just as likely to be snowing in the morning.  Either way today was a lovely warm day, and we made the most of it.

Fun day at the beach

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Eight is the magic number

No, this isn't some an admission that I'm pregnant with quads, or planning on adding to my family in any way.  Four is the magic number when it comes to children I think, but in other things, eight has always been my magic number.

I suppose it's because my birthday is on the 8th, and it's in October (which means eight, even if it's now the tenth month) and my year of birth has an 8 in it too (but more than that I'm not admitting).  Then Mahe was born in 2008 and Anja was born on the 8th of June, and weighed 8lb 8oz.  I'm sure that there are as many 'signs' that could make other number just as special for me, but I always decided that I liked eight, and so it's always been my lucky number.

Eight is the magic number for my youngest little miss
8lb 8oz on the 8th

Last week my biggest boy turned eight, which seems completely crazy.  How can he possibly be that old already? I remember when he was born thinking that eight was so grown up, even though obviously eight year olds are still very much children, I still couldn't quite get my head around my little baby being that big.

Eight is my lucky number
Mr 8 before his haircut.

It's not as bad as turning five, although of course he's older than that, because it's not an age that's a real landmark, not like starting school or something similar.  I know that this is not startling new news, it's what everyone says, but they really do grow up so fast.  I look at him sometimes and wonder how he can possibly be so grown up, such a little person in his own right (and let's be honest; not so little these days) it only seems a few moments ago that he was a tiny little newborn.  At the same time though, I can't really get my head around the thought of not being a Mum, the way I once was.  It seems so long ago.

Eight years ago
Eight years ago
He wasn't the only one to have a birthday last week, my other big boy was six the day before his brother was eight.  I think I may have said before, after having Kai, I'd said for a while that I'd like a two year age gap, I didn't really expect to end up with a gap of exactly two years though!

All about the birthday's at the moment
Mr 6 with a birthday pressy
Again six years old isn't as bad as turning five, this time last year I as a bit of an emotional mess about him starting school, but now that he's been there a year it's not so bad.  Of course I will have that all to go through again next year with another little person turning five.  It's never ending.

But for now it's all about birthdays, my big boys and the number eight.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Not expecting anything

For the third time since I started having children, I was asked the other day if I was pregnant. I'm not. The first time that I was asked, I was actually expecting, but it was early days and I hadn't told everyone yet, the second time it was (mostly, I hope) due to a misunderstanding, rather than my size, but the other day it was entirely because of my stomach. Or to put it another way, it was down to my food baby.

Not expecting anything
Food baby a few months ago

Food baby has been with me a while now, after having Kai, I wasn't too worried, I was planning on having another baby shortly.  Food baby went away again after Mahe, for a while at least.  The stress of moving to the other side of the world with two small children meant that the weight fell off.  It came back a little after Lena, and then again after Anja.  Two and a bit years on though, and food baby is getting quite big.

Food baby
Bad angle but there's food baby

I know that food baby is really my fault, if I didn't keep feeding it, it wouldn't keep growing. I can't give up chocolate though......  I should do a bit more exercise, I tried to tell myself that chasing a very active toddler around was enough to trim down, but it's not, it's really not.  So, I'm sorry food baby, but enough is enough, you've got to go.

when food baby was smaller
When food baby wasn't so big

I know that I'm never going to be as slim as I once was, not only have I had four children since then, and like it or not my caesarian scar is always going to be there, but I could be a little trimmer and have a little less belly. So, it's down in black and white now, food baby is going to go.  I'm going to cut back a little bit, control the portion sizes and cut down on tow many biscuits and the like at night.  I'm also fairly sure that processed food is never a good thing, and while I do try to eat too much of it, I'm going to really make an effort to avoid it from here on in.  Most of all though, I'm going to try and do some regular exercise.  A bit more swimming, (actual swimming, not just standing around holding small children) a bit more walking and a bit of yoga.  My plan is that by the time Christmas dos come up, I'll feel a bit better about myself and at the very least food baby will be a bit smaller. Wish me luck....

Time to get rid of the food baby

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Eating together

The other day, actually it was a few weeks ago now, I heard a piece on the radio about how most families no longer sit down and eat together as a family.  I was a bit surprised, obviously I realised that there would be some families that didn't have a family meal together, but as it's something that we have always done I just assumed that everyone else did too.

Eating together

The more I thought about it though, the more sense it made.  There are heaps of people who are that busy doing things, that all being ready to eat, at the same time, is just out of the question.  I have friends who are either so late home from work themselves, or their partners are, that they couldn't expect the children to wait that long to eat.  As children get older, they often have all kinds of activities that mean eating together as a family, just isn't going to happen.

Crazy family tea time

The thing about eating together though, is that it's great for your family.  It's a chance to sit down together and catch up with what's been going on, find out what is happening.  It's also a great way to show your kids how to sit down and enjoy food, rather than bolting through a meal in a few seconds, just enjoying a meal as a social occasion. For younger kids, watching you eat is a great way to teach table manners, and to encourage eating different foods.  Now I'm not saying my kids are perfect in either of these respects, but they're not bad, and it all helps.

Eating together; part of family life

I remember when I was a child myself, we didn't always manage to sit down together for every meal, but even as I got older and things came up that kept us out of the house at the normal meal times, we always sat down all together on a Sunday for Sunday dinner.  I don't always do a Sunday roast now, but I try to do one as often as I can, and I hope that even as we all get busier and life gets more hectic, we can still sit down together to eat at least one day a week.

Do your family eat together?

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.