Friday, 1 April 2011

Kids TV

It's so mindless. So inane. Most of it Roman isn't interested in, which I've always liked - but just this last couple of weeks because we've spent more time in the house (lurgy, packing, new baby to feed ENDLESSLY during a growth spurt) the telly has been on more than normal - and I'm hooked. Roman, not so much - but me, oh yes, I can sing the theme tunes from every show on Milkshake and cbeebies (someone PLEASE insist to the BBC that Justin and Lenny are not the only children's entertainers around and that they must broaden their options, I can't take their voices any more!). I am loving "Mr Bloom's Nursery" and "Hana's Helpline" - moo baa, double quack double quack! 

it does seem though that shows are either totally and utterly mindless and brain numbing (see "In the Night Garden") or trying too hard to be educational about bizarre things (why the heck would you get in a tiny plane and fly your dog to the welly factory? If that shop has none, go to the shop next door. Flying to the bloody factory, you mental. Think of the cost-per-wear value when you factor in airoplane fuel!) 

(Roman is very excited about Pippin though - he loves dogs) 

Roman likes Chuggington, Badge Quest and Peppa Pig - most of all Peppa Pig, mainly because he loves Daddy Pig who is the FUNNIEST THING ON TV. When Peppa has finished he brings me the remote ("Telly button phone") and tells me "Mummy fisk it" (Mummy fix it - ie play it again). 

In honour of his love of Peppa and to get some actual out of the house time we're going to be going to Peppa Pig World with Roman's Grandad in a few weeks - once we've moved and got settled - Roman will be beside himself with excitement, which is a bit embarrassing because before he was born we prided ourselves on not even HAVING a telly and insisted he'd never watch it. Oh how the experienced Mummies laughed! 

I tell you what though - nothing is ever going to be as good on kids TV as this little beauty was - "The Smoggies"

Nobody I know even remembers it - but trust me, best cartoon EVER. Apart from Captain Planet. He's OUR hero. 

Flashback Friday

I rock harder than rock buns. 

This is one of my favourite pictures - in the red jumper we have my big brother Paddy. Aside from my sons and husband he's my favourite person in the world (don't tell him though) and he and I rocked some BAD hair in the 80s. We rocked awesome jumpers though - I think my Godmother (mine? Paddy's? Either or, she's MINE) Wattie knit these babies - that's her boy in the middle - much older and MUCH cooler than us. 
That little blonde urchin at the end there, kicking all your asses in my super fantastic king of all awesome Superted jumper is me - you can try, you can try really hard, but you will NEVER look as cool as me. 

Or something like that...

Coffee, my best friend

I start my day being rudely awoken by a toddler and I pretty much look like this with fairer hair...


so I do the cuddles and the "please stop kicking me in the jaw, I'm up, I'm up" and drag my sorry self downstairs to change two stinky nappies and Create the Life Giving Nectar...

MmmmmmmmmmmmmMMMmmmmocha how I love thee. My husband, he of little taste, insists I make mocha wrong. He might be right - but I make it right for me. None of that heating up a pint of milk and adding a miniature amount of caffiene - for me it's a big fat ass mug of black coffee - preferably just eleventy shots of espresso but overly strong perculated coffee will suffice. To this we add three teaspoons (it's a BIG mug) of cocoa powder and two of sugar (I like it to taste DARK) and I prefer powdered milk to 'proper' milk because it makes it stay hot longer, and I have two children who combine their satanic (this is pre-caffeine, that's not harsh) efforts to keep me away from my nectar. It takes three of these before lunch to make me feel like a real human.

If I didn't think I'd end up looking all Jabba the Hut I would top it with whipped  cream and a bar of Green and Blacks but I make do with it as it is because it's more important that I get the chocolatey caffeiney goodnness than anything else. Weekends though, cream me up baby (we ALL know that calories consumed between 6pm Friday and 3am Monday DO NOT COUNT) 

This is how Mommatwo starts her day. Without it I am Not Human and should be approached with GREAT caution. If you ever happen across me in a foul mood or bursting into tears over insignificant and very minor disturbances just drag me into Cafe Nero and mocha me up. 

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Nokia N8 - day two

I'm still undecided on this one - today I had a good play with the camera. It's ok - it's good as far as phone cameras go, but it's not the lifechanging camera I was led to believe by all the hoo haa all over the adverts. It takes nice, clean shots, the flash is harsh and washes colour out, the macro setting is lovely - there's not a lot more I can say about it. Oh yes there is, the video setting is great - it doesn't limit you to twenty jumpy seconds like others I've seen, it's good quality sound, great quality picture. The camera itself is, compared to other phone cameras, great - just not as great as I'd thought it would be, so it's a bit of an anti climax.

Some shots from playing around today.

The macro shows a lot of detail, for example how bad I am at dusting my son's toys.

Having the flash on, however, bleaches out all the colours and kind of dirties the effect, it's a bit disappointing.

It does pick up some fine detail though and you can choose your focus which is nice.

Without the flash the colours are gorgeous - crisp and bright and true. 

Great for fine texture.

Again though the flash is just too harsh - it's got every detail in great definition (my poor sleeping baby) but the colours are all wrong. 

Having said that it can get a passably good shot in terrible light - it wouldn't win any prizes, but you can see who it is and that's pretty good.

I managed to get the Ovi shop working - it took me well over an hour of faffing around though before it would download, and it took 5 attempts because every time the phone did something else (received a message or a call) the internet cut out and the download stopped and wouldn't restart, which was infuriating. 

Once it was downloaded the ovi store itself is a little laggy but that might just be down to my mobile signal - my usual mobile can handle the signal not being full but the N8 doesn't like it at all and places where my usual phone picks signal up the N8 is still telling me there is none. That could get annoying long term, I don't live in a big city but it's hardly the outback. 

I had the same issue downloading apps once the store was up and running - they take a LONG time to download and if I used the phone for anything else the download failed. However I LOVE the lite versions of the apps because it gives you chance to play things, get addicted and THEN spend your money - nice touch, great service - also good to see reviews in real time on the apps.

I downloaded an ebook but you can't use the phone as an ebook reader - it doesn't save  your page so you couldn't read a book properly - there might be a kindle app or something, I haven't looked yet, I was too grumpy after taking three attempts to download "Angry Birds" and then playing it too much to look at anything else! 

I managed to get my email account to sync finally - again it took a long time but once it was done it works absolutely great. 

So today is still a 50/50 day - I love the phone, I want to love everything it does, but I suspect I'd just ignore a lot of the things it's capable of because it doesn't quite do them well enough. I didn't get around to trying out the office program fully so I'll come back to that, and some more camera trickery, tomorrow along with, hopefully, some video editing. 

Mummy's bedside drawer!

It's a bit embarrassing to post this on my blog, but this is a warts and all kind of place so you get all the gory details (sorry about that!). 

We all have one. That item in the top drawer of our bedside cabinet, the one we never talk about - it's a bit embarrassing and dirty, you don't talk about it to your friends - maybe the closest ones, but definitely not your Mum (unless your Mum is like mine, who I suspect would wholeheartedly approve!) you just keep it secret and hidden and once in a while you open that top drawer and you give yourself a little night time smile. It's usually better when your husband is away and the pressure to share your pleasure isn't there. 

Then you're downstairs, you've just fed the baby, you're fiddling around wondering what to make for dinner and the door goes - you open it, it's your friend, you invite her in. You're standing and chatting in the lounge and it occurs to you that the toddler, who vanished upstairs a while ago, is quiet. Has been quiet for a few minutes. If you've got a toddler you'll know that's a Bad Sign. 

Just as you're about to dash upstairs to check on him, though, you hear him coming down the stairs - good. You're still talking to your friend though so you don't turn immediately as he comes into the room - which means she sees him first. Not just him. Him and the contents of your Top Drawer. Oh the shame - the shame, the slight disgust on your friends face as she pictures you in bed opening that drawer. The self disgust you feel - and the horror seeing that top drawer item in your child's hands...

That's right - he found my chewy sweet stash! 

Mmmmmm omma nomma nom! 

Do you want one Mummy? I share? Good boy Roman!

What? What did you think I was talking about? Doesn't everyone stash sweeties in their bedside drawer?! 

But they're MY shoes!

Moving house is a great excuse to get rid of things that are no use, of things that you've too much of, of things you haven't used/worn/looked at in years. Of course there are some things that fall into those categories that you hoard for sentimental reasons, but apparently my shoe collection doesn't fall into THAT category.

I love shoes. I love going into posh shops and stroking them, I love looking at the random end of season madness that ends up in TKMaxx and I'm always tempted because they're cheap and they're designer and I LIKE ugly. 

None of my shoes are pricy - I've always been kind of poor and really stingy - but oh how I love shoes! 

In my previous life, before I had babies, I LIVED in heels. I could rock a stiletto like Gwynneth wouldn't believe and Posh can't sprint through a tube station like me on a 5" heel. When I was pregnant I behaved and replaced a lot of the pointier heels with equally high but wider heels and I must admit I do love me a big fat chunky heel and peering down at people from my towering height with my beautiful, beautiful feet. 

When I got too big for the shoes and then my pelvis started to pack in and then I had a baby I put them in a box in the cupboard - I gave the pointy ones that had survived the initial cull to charity and kept the 'sensible' heels - wide but still no less than 3". I never wore them again. I regularly took them out of the box and stroked them, I sometimes put them on, but I couldn't walk far in them and then all of a sudden I was pregnant again and the pelvis problems meant walking even in flats was nigh on impossible - so back in their box they went.

So these shoes - it's been well over 2 years since I wore any of them. There's one pair my Mum got me after Roman was born that I've never worn (aside from to sit on my sofa and wave my feet at Alex shouting "AREN'T MY FEET BEAUTIFUL! TELL THEM THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL OR THE SHOES WILL BE HURT!") and I love them all. It's been over 2 years, I'm never going to be able to wear them again. My pelvis and back problems mean high heels are a big fat no no - and even if I could walk in them now I won't have much opportunity - they're a bit overkill for pushing the Phil and Teds to the soft play centre or chasing Roman around the Sea Life centre! 

That's all true - but it's breaking my heart to actually admit I can't keep them and to give them to the charity shop (apart from that one pair that's getting thrown's amazing what you'd still wear but wouldn't suggest someone else might!). 

I have to post pictures here, lest we forget. Let's all take a moment and mourn the shoes. The beautiful, beautiful shoes.

This last pair are the survivors - no doubt they'll live for all eternity in my wardrobe, but they are FAR too beautiful to let go. You never know, one of the boys might grow up to be a cross dresser and inherit them. A Mummy can dream!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

12 year old gives birth on a school trip.

I've seen a couple of stories recently about school girls giving birth on school trips - neither of the stories I'm referring to are happy so you might not want to read this post, it doesn't make for a nice bedtime story. 

The first I'm going to talk about is this story - a 12 year old Dutch girl gave birth on a school trip and won't name the father - though her own father has a conviction for sexual assault on her older sister and the police are involved with the family following this incident. They haven't come right out and said it but the implication in the story is that her father has raped and impregnated her. Even if that's not the case something has gone very wrong with her upbringing and her protection for her to be giving birth at such a young age - if she hasn't been raped then there's a fault somewhere that has led to her being sexually active so young.

It breaks my heart that there are girls so young living through experiences that are scary as an adult. Putting aside the abuse suggestion (let's hope it's not the case at all) if she has had consentual sex she wouldn't be the first 12 year old to do so - I could name you a few from my own youth that I know were 'at it' at that age - and the idea of a child that young experiencing that kind of lifestyle makes my heart cry. 

I know that pregnancy and birth were a very scary experience for me - the hormones, the changes to my body and my behaviour, the birth itself, the massive responsibility and life altering prioritising that come with being a mother - I experienced all of that as an adult and still found it overwhelming - I can't even begin to imagine going through it all before I've even learned who I really am BEFORE being a mother. 

The other story has an even sadder end; a 15 year old Canadian girl gave birth on a school trip to London and left the baby in her hotel room when she flew home, where it was later found dead by hotel staff. News reports are yet to say whether the baby was dead at birth or died at a later point, or even whether the girl killed the baby herself deliberately. 

To go into labour alone must be terrifying. To give birth alone, somewhere a long way from home when you are just a child and have no idea what is happening must be totally, totally terrifying - but the girl, the mother, must have been suffering massive trauma to be able to switch off her maternal insticts and walk away and leave that baby there, whether it was alive or already dead (please let it have been stillborn, please - that's awful but it is less awful than the alternative) all I can think is that she was either too scared of getting into trouble and hoped the baby would be found, or that she suffered some kind of break down with the stress and fear and didn't understand the consequences of what she was doing. I cannot for one second imagine letting my babies out of my sight and just closing the door and leaving the country. 

I'm sorry - this isn't a happy post - but I couldn't read those stories and leave them in my head, I needed to write them down and my initial thoughts to be able to go to bed tonight. They're going to haunt me, as they will any mothers - I'm sorry for sharing them. 

The Toddler, aka Tazmanian devil!

I was a whirling dervish of packing and organising this morning (in between coughing out a chunk of my lung - furreals - and the tablets wearing off anyway!) and I packed up all the things out of the kitchen that the boys and I aren't going to need for the next few days. That included all the glasses and mugs - which I carefully surrounded with last Sunday's papers (the Telegraph is super for this - it makes up for it being such a droney yawn to read) and then I stacked the boxes carefully in the edge of the dining room, the one with the glasses on top so as not to crush it.

Then the tablets were wearing off (I suspect I have a chest infection, I'm throwing paracetamol at it and trying not to be sick *every* time I cough) so I went to make a pot of coffee to perk me up (I may not have mentioned it today yet, but I really am addicted to mocha - I don't care if Alex thinks I'm making it wrong, I LIKE the way I make it!) and from the dining room I heard a crash - a kind of crunchy, smashy crash - and I dashed into the room to see this face...

"Oh dear oh dear oh dear Mummy" said the little voice that goes with the little face...oh dear oh dear oh dear indeed! 

With the paper removed the box doesn't look TOO bad - at least it's the cheap glasses (apart from that one wedding present wine glass, which survived!) Closer inspection, however, shows this...
Shatterings and clatterings! I say some "oh dear oh dear oh dear" of my own, out of earshot of the toddler (if you see my meaning!) and salvage what I can. 

A toast to toddlers and their helpful ways? 


The Nokia N8 - day one

I was given a Nokia N8 by the very generous WOMworld to review and it arrive yesterday - MUCH excitement in the house - me because the shiny new toy came, Roman because a man in a big yellow van came and he could help me to open the 'present'! 

The phone is pretty sexy - sleek and silver and shiny with easy and obvious buttons to get it going for those of us too impatient to actually look at the instruction manual when you get a new toy to play with. Loading my sim was easy and getting the phone launched as obvious as an obvious thing in an obvious competition - well done Nokia, as always; your phones have always been VERY simple to use and you're keeping that up.

I've had a brief flick through the basics of the phone - calling and messaging are very easy, good sound quality on calls which makes a nice difference to my very quiet current sony erricsson phone. I'm not used to a touch screen so initially texting was quite irritating because my giant, northern fingers keep modging the wrong letters but I think that would be the case with any touch screen and the predictive text works great - it's nice to be able to switch from traditional keypad to qwerty by flipping the phone onto it's side for longer messages.

The ovi store app is, for some reason, not working - I've tried rebooting the handset and trying again but so far it's totally unresponsive, which I'm disappointed by as I was hoping to get some games downloaded to play with (I've seen some very exciting videos on youtube) which would entertain me during night feeds. 

I'm not impressed at all with the ovi social networking app - it loaded all my details very easily, again never having to so much as peek at the manual, but it's slow to respond and the facebook and twitter pages, once loaded, are quite dissimmilar to the mobile pages I'm used to and I'm finding them difficult to navigate so switched to loading them as mobile webpages on the internet instead - which works much better (the 'back' button where you're shown thumbnails of your previous pages to scroll through by sliding the touch screen is superb by the way Nokia, I do like that!) 

The email is still not accepting my details so I'll persevere with that when I get another half an hour to piddle about with it - that's an irritating thing not to work right away - the instructions are very simple it just isn't making the final step and actually synching with my gmail account.

I'll post tomorrow about my exploration of the office functions and the AMAZING camera, as well as connecting the phone to the computer and everything that involves.

So far I'm undecided - some very good points, some big irritations and some bits I need to get used to - we'll see how the rest of the two weeks goes! 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Appropriate for your child?

Children grow up too fast. It's a truth universally acknowledged and something that upsets a lot of parents - one minute they're handing you this teeny, tiny newborn and the next your teenager is slamming the front door and telling you they hate you. In between that we have to love, like (which is sometimes harder ;-) ) support and educate our children and hope that we get the balance right between sheltering our babies from the big bad world and encouraging their growth and independence as well as letting them play 'keep up with the peers' at school and avoid precociousness. Harder than you think - particularly when the things being marketed at our babies seems geared more and more towards making them grow up even faster than they already do.

Items such as the padded bras we saw in Matalan recently, or the push up bikinis in Abercrombie and Fitch over in the USA, all aimed at preteens - primary school aged girls.

I was a late developer and going to secondary school and sharing a changing room with girls who were developing in all kinds of fun ways that I hadn't yet started to was distressing in my early teens - the majority of 8 year old girls aren't going to have begun developing and so shouldn't be feeling that same pressure in comparison to their peers (I shouldn't have been feeling it at 14 but that's another issue!) and products like these are going to add further fuel to a fire that's been slow burning amongst our children in recent years; they're given the impression that they ought to grow up, to look, act, be older than their years - and that they ought to be sexy doing it.

I know we grew up playing with our Mum's make up and trolling around in her heels but there's a big difference between that - or the plastic disney heels I long coveted at primary school and was never allowed - and push up padded bras and false eyelashes strapped and glued to your young daughter.

Alongside the clothing, the padding, the slogans, the mini skirts and knee high boots for toddlers (yes, seriously) there's the toys that are teaching our daughters far more than Barbie - with her shameless, unachievable body - ever did. Unachievable body she might have had, all bleach blonde and long neck and cartoon boobs, but she didn't dress like a prostitute or shout about waxing...check her out.

That little trollop is Mattel's latest marketing mistake; aimed at young girls she's glossed up to the nines in dramatic make up, easy access skirt and hooker boots - her packaging and byline indicate she enjoys flirting with boys and spends her time waxing, plucking and shaving in order to look good. Wow. Just wow. 

There were Mums when I was a kid who wouldn't give their children Barbie - they didn't agree with how sexualised she was and what an example she was setting to my generation. I wonder if those same women have seen the dolls their granddaughters are asking for on their Christmas list. I don't know many Mummies who are going to be running down to the shop to buy this monstrosity! 

What's next? Peephole swimsuits for toddlers? Mattel's "Bratz vajazzle" kits?! 

Back off manufacturers - you're getting it all wrong - our babies need to be babies, our children need to be children - they have an eternity of adulthood to learn about sexualisation and worry about how their bodies have developed - and they will - please let us keep them sheltered from it until at least their teens! 

Guest blog - my child was bullied. Corinne.

Our first guest blog is from the very lovely Corinne about her experiences when her son Tom was bullied at school. Corinne handled the bullying well - though she had to fight some instincts that we'll all understand. Tom handled it even better - keeping calm and standing his ground whilst refusing to engage in retaliation. 

If I was given the choice between my child being a bully or being bullied himself I would chose the
latter. I sometimes feel this makes me a cruel mother, but in fact it makes me one who cares. I care about how I’ve raised him and I care that he has learnt the lessons I have tried to teach him from a young age.

Children’s early experiences are heavily influenced by their parents and I firmly believe that
discipline has to start when they are very young. Behaviour that may seem cute coming from an
18 month old is not quite so cute when they are 12. From the beginning I have been firm in the
boundaries I have set for my children, including showing respect for other people. I would be
mortified by my child acting in an aggressive manner towards another child and would expect them
to apologise and to try and understand how that behaviour would make someone else feel.

I was bullied throughout my secondary school education. I went through school feeling scared,
alone and desperate to escape. We lived on the south coast and I would walk the 3 miles home
rather than face the school bus, I vividly remember walking home one day and actually stepping over the cliff top fence with the idea that I should jump off. I was 12 years old. I don’t know what stopped me in the end, perhaps I recognised that I am really scared of heights so I’d battle on for another day or perhaps even at that age I had an understanding of how the loss of me would impact on my family. I have never told my Mother this story and feel I should before posting this, bullying is a type of abuse which can make children become very introverted and hide what’s happening because they are ashamed.

I made it through school, but it had a deep and lasting impact on my self-esteem which I have only recently started to repair. I don’t think I needed bullying to make me the person I am now, it isn’t character building and I am not a better person because of it. I am the person I am now despite the bullying because I had strong parental guidance in my younger years.

My son, Tom, recently started secondary school in a new city and I worried that being an outsider
would add to the risk of him being bullied. Unfortunately it did. When we first moved he couldn’t
be placed in our catchment area school and within a week of attending the school he was sent to,
he was verbally abused and punched in the face. The most shocking thing about this was that it
happened in a lesson. The school dealt with the incident swiftly after I had spoken to them, but both Tom and I were relieved that following an appeal, he moved to his catchment area school the next week.

He settled at the new school well and is happy there. It helps that he lives in the same area as the children who go there and his best friend in his tutor group lives two doors away from us. He loves the independence of getting the bus to and from school on his own. Therefore I was shocked the other day when he came home in floods of tears, when I finally calmed him down I discovered another child had got him in a headlock on the bus and had wrestled him to the ground. Here kicks in the mothering instinct, I wanted to find the child and hold him against the wall while explaining why I was so angry with him. Of course I did not do this, but instead spoke to Tom’s head of year about the incident.

The school quickly dealt with the situation, giving Tom and the other boy a chance to talk and shake hands, speaking to the other child’s father (who was thankfully incensed at his child’s behaviour) and giving the other child a week of lunchtime detentions. It may not have been the medieval torture techniques I had envisaged but it worked.

There is a fine balance between teaching your child to stand up for themselves and them becoming a bully or getting into fights. The thing that made me most proud of Tom was how he handled the situation. I had wanted to take him to school the next day but he insisted he get the bus as usual, he didn’t hide from the other child and he didn’t fight. He calmly and maturely stood his ground. Like with animals it seems that showing no fear is the way to go and Tom worked this out himself, I am proud of him for this and I am proud of myself for raising such a lovely boy.

Corinne and her lovely son, Tom

To read more from the lovely Corinne check out her blog at A Dirty Shade of Green - all about her third pregnancy and her life as a fallen hippy! 

Smiling? Ha!

Jasper DOES smile - but can I catch it on camera? Can I heck! 

Monday, 28 March 2011

Bullies - how do you react?

On a monday there's a local playgroup that I hate - but my son LOVES. There's slides and ride on cars and bikes and a ball pool and a play house and lots of other things and a great big bouncy castle. My biggun thinks it's the best place on earth and for the first few months that we went I agreed.

In recent weeks, however, the atmosphere has changed massively and all the regular Mummies are on edge and tense, watching their kids more carefully (not that we were lax before but we've something new to watch out for!)

There are two Mums who come, who are good friends, who have three boys between them. The three boys are bullies. Nasty kids, pure and simple. A few misdemeanors you can excuse - kids are kids, and can be rough, or unkind, and it's our job to teach them better. My kid can be rough, or snatch, or push - I tell him off, I make him apologise, I apologise (because I'm mortified) and I take him away from the other child.

These three boys are more than rough. They're deliberately cruel to the younger children. They kick, push, punch, intimidate, berate and bully the other children from the minute they arrive until the minute we leave. I try to keep Roman away from them, I try to protect him - but he wants to run around and play and he does so with his little friends and so he, and his friends, are targetted. Even if I'm standing right by him these boys will bully him - or the others.

Their Mums never, ever intervene. They don't tell them off, they don't remove them, they never apologise. The nearest I got to seeing them react was today when the youngest punched and pushed my friend's son directly in front of his Mum. She just said his name, then laughed. Yep - laughed. Her son had punched another boy and he was crying - and she laughed.

Roman went onto the bouncy castle today and I didn't follow but went to watch through the mesh side. He was lying down and the mean boys were near him. The middle of the boys saw me and gleefully told me he'd "pushed the baby over". I told him he was unkind and to stop it. Then Roman stood and went to the other part of the castle where I lost sight of him -so I followed to catch up because I could see the cruel boys following and knew they were going to do something. Sure enough I heard Roman cry, so I hurried to the doorway to rescue him. He was already there, crying, and I picked him up and removed him from the situation and told the boys to leave him alone. I thought they'd pushed him again, possibly hit him, and he stopped crying pretty quickly and went to play on the slides so I thought it was a minor incident and was grateful.

Tonight, stripping him off for his bath, I saw this.

Right at the top of his thigh, a huge bite mark bruise. 

I am SO angry, and so upset for my poor, gentle boy. He doesn't understand bullying - he doesn't understand to stay away from those boys because they're cruel, he doesn't understand cruelty - nor do his friends, because until very recently they'd never encountered deliberate cruelty. Clumsiness, rough play, accidents, sure - but not bullying.

So now what? I have the pictures, I'm going to speak to their Mums next week - but they surely know their kids are doing it? They're sitting right there watching. Watching them make other kids cry. Watching other Mums tell their boys off. They see that every week - but they don't discipline their boys. So what do I say? How do I phrase it without being aggressive myself (since I've come over all furious Mamma bear and the claws are OUT) and what ought I to say? 

Bullying is a difficult subject and nobody wants to acknowledge that they have 'That Kid' but equally I want Roman to be able to go to this group, he loves the toys and activities and it's great exercise and socialisation for him. I don't want to have to keep him away but if those children keep going I just can't take him - I can't knowingly take him somewhere I KNOW he'll get hurt at some point. 

So what now? 

All comments and advice will be gratefully received! 

Packing is fun!

Next weekend we're moving to a new flat - I'm pretty excited; we're moving from a house to a flat, which is smaller than where we are - but there's one exciting plus - we're allowed to decorate it - so I'm spending lots of my time (during night feeds) looking online (hurrah for phones!) at various bits and bobs and planning what I'm going to choose. Sorry, we, what WE are going to choose...oh who am I kidding! I'm so excited - I've never been able to decorate a home before and I think it'll make a real difference to it feeling LIKE home in a way the other places we've rented never quite did. 
(Hey, I'm dreaming, but I have to be a BIT realistic!)

In preparation for the move we're throwing out 67% of our possessions (mainly achieving this by packing each other's things because you can be more ruthless that way; if you see something you've forgotten about and had no use for in two years you WANT IT WANT IT WANT IT as soon as you see it - if you DON'T see it it remains a forgotten piece of tat and into the bin it goes! We're so smart! (I'm sure one or other of us will recall some lost treasure in another six months but by then it's too late!) and now the proper packing has commenced (as opposed to the packing up of little bits and bobs you want to keep but don't really use day to day, which commenced weeks ago).

So obviously, because there's only this week left to do it, we all got a stinking cold that makes your whole body ache and means you just want to sit under a douvet watching disney films. 
As well as the lurgy I have a toddler and a 6 week old baby to look after - which is a full time job in itself and if I DO get some packing done biggun 'helps' by unpacking it as soon as I turn to feed or change the baby...sigh. 

All this is helped (hm) by my poor husband escaping having to go to conference with work all this week - he'll be back late on Thursday - we move on Saturday...tut. 

Roman was helping me pack earlier though. First he packed me...
Then I packed him...which apparently wasn't very funny at all. 
So he took the box off his head and packed himself - which was HILARIOUS
Then he actually collected up some toys and packed them into his own special box and made his Mummy VERY proud
Then he unpacked them again to play with (sigh) but he did share very nicely with Jasper - who HAD been sleeping, but it's hard to sleep when your brother wants to share!
I'm pretty sure most of the packing will still need to be done by the weekend - that's kind of our style anyway, champions of procrastination that we are (that's writers for you!) but we'll do it - and we'll move - and I can't wait! 

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Bandwagon post - is breast best?

The Mummy Bloggers have gone mad with passion just recently discussing that contentious, emotive subject; is breast best? Everyone is blogging their own story, justifying their reasons for choosing what they did, steadfastly insisting that they KNOW they made the RIGHT choice FOR THEM and that they won't apologise to anyone for their choice...only I don't believe them. The culture right now is so strongly pro breastfeeding - and for all the right reasons - that those who choose otherwise are going to be judged, no matter how polite people are about it, and as such they're judging themselves and there's a tiny voice inside them telling them that they've failed their child. Newsflash Mummies - we all have, somewhere, in some way. That's one of the downsides of being the Mummy.

I'm training as a breastfeeding peer supporter and have been volunteering in the role for a couple of years now really, helping at our local support group (I'm the one who offers the sarcastic comments to everyone when they worry over the little things - you know, takes the pi$$ but makes a decent brew?) and to be honest I think I'm pretty unusual as far as peer supporters go. Most of them - NCT ones in particular (sorry ladies!) are SO pro breastfeeding that they can get a bit, you know, nazi about it (sorry for slinging in that overused analagy all, it's wearing thin but you get what I mean!) and whilst appearing supportive are actually quite patronising and offensive. Basically you MUST BREASTFEED no matter what else is going on in your life. I find that for most of them breastfeeding has been pretty easy aside from the first few toe-curling days of cracked nipples and lanisoh.

They speak (down) to the young, nervous Mums or those who are a bit grossed out and throw around the usual buzzwords - "natural", "best for baby", "immunities" yada yada - and often don't listen to what the Mummy in front of them is saying because they're a bit busy with their self righteousness. I particularly see this on online 'support groups' where that little bit of anonymity and distance makes it easy to be a bitch to strangers in a way you couldn't to their face.

So here's my story and my feelings on breastfeeding. On why I hate it, but do it anyway. (gasp)

Formula isn't poison. It's not as good as breastmilk, it's been adapted and formulated to be 'good' for a baby but it's harder to digest and isn't AS good as breastmilk. That's a fact, and one that can't be disputed. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use it, it doesn't mean I think you're failing your kids if you DO use it - but I do get a bit wound up when people say it's just as good because the facts are the facts, and it's just not. Sorry.

Breastfeeding is hard. The first few days particularly because of the aforementioned toe curling pain and cracked nipples. That's because your baby has never been a person before and needs to learn what they're doing and nobody's ever given your nipples that much of a chomp before (unless you've had a REALLY exciting sex life, in which case, don't tell me!) but that doesn't last long. THEN what makes it hard - for me - is the fact that you leak milk on yourself every single day. Your bra gives you one big sweaty boob sausage than permenantly smells of slightly turned milk no matter how many times you change, put in fresh breast pads and scrub yourself with a brillo pad stuffed with anti bacterial soap.

You never get to go to bed with no bra on; outside of my breastfeeding times I love that bit of the day - I've got pretty big boobs and getting to the end of the day, heaving off the bra and feeling the pressure from your shoulders ease as your boobs sink to your navel (yep, not even 30 and there they are) is SUCH a relief - your skin starts to breathe, you can rub all the bits where the straps and elastic were digging in to you and you feel GREAT - when you're breastfeeding you can't do that because you need to keep SOMETHING on to hold the (three at a time thank you) breast pads in place to try to prevent the leaking getting all over your PJs and the bed (which doesn't work, ever, and you're always trying to get back to sleep in damp clothing and on a smelly wet sheet because it's too much bother to get up AGAIN and change AGAIN and do MORE laundry when in two hours you'll be in the same state.

I have a problem with over production. Some people, who suffer with under production, might think that makes me lucky - but what it means is that at every feed I can catch a good 4oz of milk from the 'other' boob or from over my baby's head as he pulls away choking on my vicious fast let down that can squirt 6 feet at least. If you've been in the room when I've breastfed you've had my milk on you. That's not nice. I can feed out of the house, and do, regularly, but I can't do it tidily and get through a couple of muslin cloths each feed trying to stop my baby's clothes and my own from getting soaked (and generally failing). It means that every outfit I select has to be dark and patterned to try and hide the tell tale patches all over me. It means that seeing or hearing any child, feeling any emotion or anything touching my breasts will make them start firing milk around the place like a pressure hose, which is very uncomfortable (my let down hurts, don't know about you - only a few seconds but yes, it hurts) and means I'm damp - again.
I also loathe dependency - knowing that every time he cries it has to be me feels suffocating - getting up every couple of hours in the night makes me furious because I'm bad at tired, jealous of my sleeping husband and once again firing milk all of myself so I will smell bad in the morning. If he cries for something other than milk I want someone else to help him, but always go because my body is reacting to the noise and I won't relax until I'm holding him, but even that winds me up because I could share the work but don't.

I am also one of those women who are very aware of the sexualisation of breasts so think feeding from them is kind of vulgar, a conflict I struggle with at every feed. They are meant, exist purely, for feeding my offsprinng, but society has made them - particularly large ones - symbollic of something else. When your body is filled with overwhelming hormones and bewildering feelings it's hard to balance those things in your addled mind.
I regularly get blocked ducts - that is very, very painful and a pain to sort out involving lots of awkward feeding positions, massaging the breast as you feed, hand expressing the milk into the bath, hot compresses, fistfulls of paracetamol. This occasionally leads to mastitis - the breastfeeding mother's worst enemy. You want to spend ALL your time in bed because you feel so ill - but you can't because you have to keep on being the Mummy. You want a tent built around your breasts so that NOTHING CAN TOUCH THEM because it hurts - but you have to keep your bra on - I've tried selotaping pads to my braless boobs, it doesn't work. You want to stop feeding the baby because it's like torture when he latches on to your infected breast - but that's the only way to clear the blockage and relieve the engorgement, so you do it, sobbing in agony as he feeds. Hateful.

Because I was aware of all of those things before I ever tried to breastfeed I spoke to my husband about it and we agreed that because there are just SO MANY benefits to breastfeeding (you don't need me to list them again, they're on every leaflet your doctor, midwife and health visitor has thrust at you to make you feel inadequate no matter what you choose) I would do it for the first six weeks of our child's life then see how I felt. With Roman I did that then said I'd do "One more week" at the end of which I'd re-assess. By five months I was doing three of his four feeds a day and he had one bottle of formula from his Daddy at bedtime whilst I had a bath - which was just perfect for us and a huge relief for me and I still did my 'good mummy' work with the other feeds so didn't feel TOO guilty (though I did, of course, don't we all?). By 9 months I was doing morning and bedtime and the rest was bottles. Then he bit me, hard, and pulled - I screamed, he screamed, my nipple bled and look like it had been pierced - badly. The next time I offered breast he cried and refused to feed. So that was that. My six weeks had hit nine months and he wanted to stop because I'd scared him screaming - and by then I was ready to stop too, so we stopped.

Remembering all the up and downs from the first time around I said the same this time - when Jasper was born I said I'd do six weeks and see how I felt. We get there tomorrow, and right now how I feel is that I'll just do one more week and see how I feel - I dislike it, but the balance is still in favour of carrying on - because it's better for him.
So my reasons for doing it, to balance all the reasons I've given for hating it? Well. I'm cheap. I'm cheap, I'm poor, formula is expensive, so are bottles, so is sterlising stuff, compared to the price of whipping my boob out for free. Free versus £15 a week? Free every time mate.
In the night when he wakes can I be faffed to go downstairs, put the lights on, wake up completely and boil the kettle, measure out the formula, make up a bottle and feed him and change him and settle him, making a process that can already take well over an hour take even longer and be even more of a bore? Well hell no - as it is he's in his moses basket right beside me, I sit up, lift him out, flollop out a boob, feed him, change him, feed him the rest of the boob and he falls asleep on me, dribbling yet more milk onto my top, I pop him down, lie back down, baboom, asleep. Get up and put the lights on? Screw that.
Lastly - but most importantly - I've read the figures, I've had the talkings to, I've been given the info - my milk is better, so no matter how much I hate it I'll choose, every day, to do it again for his sake because the thing about being the Mummy is that their needs come before your own and my hating it sometimes isn't good enough, to me, to stop when he gets so much benefit. It might be enough for other Mummies and if it is then good for you for saying so - but I can't live with that decision and the guilt it brings so this is the decision I make. His needs come before my wants.

So there you go. I'm a peer supporter, but I'm one who, like a lot of the people who come to me for advice, hates the whole bloody process - but does it anyway, even when it's hard.

I do it because he needs it, because I'm cheap and because I'm lazy.

I'm sure I've offended plenty of people with this post - but that's ok because it's just the internet, and you don't know me, so what I think doesn't matter. I've been offended by people on both sides of the arguement many times, but they didn't influence my own choice. Don't think I'm trying to influence yours - because it's none of my damn business.

(all images thanks to google!)