Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Giving up for good?

As part of our family doing some lent activities inspired by 'love life live lent' today we took public transport for a journey we would normally use the car for.

Well, I can't claim that to be totally true I suppose as what would normally actually happen is that I would moan my husband into taking a couple of hours of holiday time so that he could drop us all off at the appointment and avoid trekking out with 3 children, minimizing our public transport use to a one way trip only.

As we set out I can admit the mere thought of going out (literally) into the freezing cold, rain and wind with three children on my own on the bus and metro train fills me with total dread, but not being the owner of a driving license I actually normally have no other option. It had taken approaching 15 minutes just to get the older two to cooperate in getting their shoes and coats on, by which time my 3 month old was screaming rather hysterically.

Fortunately my kids actually love actually being on a bus or a train so the journey it's self is normally fine and it was on the way there.

On the way home, in the freezing rain, once I reached the ticket machine I realized that despite the extortionate fares (today cost me over £6 in fares for a journey that takes 10-15 minutes by car, it would have been more except my daughter gets free travel due to her disability) the ticket machines do not take notes. So I then had to drag the kids back into the shops to get change, but be very careful how much I spent otherwise I wouldn't have enough money to get home!

Then of course the bus home was 15 minutes late, and with 3 young children in the rain every minute feels like about a week, at least. I was just at the point of screaming at the kids that I have NO IDEA where the bus is or when it will be coming so please stop asking when a very kind woman pointed out it was approaching!

All in all we are not public transport converts, despite the fact we use it almost daily to get to and from school, I am now dreading the next school run as today's experiences have sincerely put them both off using buses and trains and they are now asking whether daddy can do all the school runs from now on. I guess its back to the AA driving school for me, sadly the only thing I hope to be giving up for good is in fact public transport.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Earlier this week we took a trip out to call on a family member who cares for their spouse, who suffers from Alzheimers disease. We went with the intention of lending support, practical or otherwise at whatever level it would be accepted.

When we arrived I realised much more help than we could give in a couple of hours without the older kids would allow us to, a new or renewed commitment to be on hand, present and available was needed. But it is not the larger things which are most urgent. The picture shows some of the disused medications which were left around the house, a potentially lethal cocktail which out family member had no idea what to do with, so he was forced to keep them on display so he knows they have not been taken by accident, we returned them to the pharmacy for him. New medication has been issued in liquid form to get passed some compliance issues, but they secured it with childproof caps - which are also adult proof especially if you suffer from arthritis as he does. We prized the childproof part of the cap off with some pliers and hey-presto! I syringe (which fortunately he was unable to use due to arthritis) was issued with the medication, it was half the size of a dose with markings too small for him to read, if he'd been able to operate it he would have been giving the wrong dose of all this medication all that time.

Even the help that has been received is producing it's own problems. One day a week respite care means that they must get up at 6am just to make sure she is ready for collection at 9am. Although finally successful in getting some appropriate medications the labels are written too small, they medications themselves must be ordered in especially from specific pharmacies and the support for side effects etc is non-existent and thats if you can get them open in the first place.

In short the assistance they are receiving is woeful and although I can't deny the disease has an awful effect on its sufferers the effect on their carers is equally harsh. My main concern is that this carer will end up hospitalised a long time before his spouse purely because no one is helping to meet his needs.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

One day at a time.

This morning was a good morning, last night I was organized and had everything set out last night as our eldest daughter was going to school in fancy dress today, which means a change in routine, which means -for her-stress.

The advantage of having a children's nurse as a mother is that I can get her cool stuff to dress up with, so she went decked out in a scrub top, with a proper stethoscope, pen torch and even an ID badge (my ID card holder with her library card in it, there was no way I was sending her in with anything I might actually need for work at some point!). The disadvantage is that she can sometimes get dragged down with the long-term viewpoint.

She suffers from autistic spectrum disorder and although we can see she is relatively high functioning we can also see that she is going to struggle to become independent, if she ever does. So when she said to us this morning that she thinks she would like to be a doctor when she is big I'm afraid my heart was sad not uplifted by her ambition because I seriously doubt whether she will be able to carry out any employment role.

I am certainly not writing her off, in fact she would make an excellent doctor, with her photographic memory she'd fly through medical school, her frighteningly good ability to spot patterns where no one else can would make her a fabulous diagnostician and her ability to function without sleep never ceases to amaze me. However, she remains (currently) unable to grasp the concept that the next thing you do after drying yourself when you get out the bath is to put on clothes, or that you should dry your hands after you wash them, or that when there is an inch of snow on the ground you will need your coat on and not just your shoes. It's these 'simple' skills that are letting her down, and cause her frequent outbursts of frustration.

Sometimes when I stop to wonder if she will ever develop these skills the enormity of the effect her condition is having and will have seems huge and overwhelming, sometimes I feel sad thinking of the things she might not be able to achieve, will she ever be able to manage money, time, relationships? However, she constantly amazes us with her ability to overcome whatever hurdles exist in her brain, for example at the age of 6 she has a fantastic vocabulary but did not speak her first word until she was almost 4 years old, and just the other day she scolded her father for asking her to get dressed before she brushed her teeth because might get tooth paste on her uniform, something that had never crossed our minds before! So for now we'll just continue going at it one day at a time and stop trying to guess the future!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Behind the scenes -photography on a shoes string.

I love simple photos with a plain background but in a house with 3 young children it can be so difficult to find the time, space or finance to do it!

But what has God gifted mother's with most? Creativity so why not play to those strengths? To get a plain background for a simple play doh tubs family shot I used what I had on hand, something that's in endless supply with a refluxy baby in the house, yes laundry!

I used Bethany's pooh bear blanket to create a neutral background and propped it up on a box which contains my 21st birthday champagne glass and laid a coat hanger over the top to make my 'backdrop' wider.

Not perfect but I was pleased with the results considering my little man even managed to continue playing beside my tabletop studio!

The results are here.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Branded by experience.

You would think wouldn't you that by the the time you have your third child you are no longer excited or impressed by things like prams? Well in our case you'd be totally wrong!

Every parent wants the perfect prams for them and their child but in reality it does not exist. I've found it difficult to balance conflicting needs, I don't drive so need something easy & light but am unwilling to compromise on the child's comfort and hate the facing away from me. This time we settled on a lovely silvercross system, British company (well used to be) high quality, comfy and adaptable and a buzz chassis alone to use as a travel system when the need arose.

What we did not foresee was our newborn daughter suffering from severe reflux and it being exacerbated by both these items. The silvercross carrycot is flat unless you use it in pushchair mode but then the over the shoulder harness seems to be a problem for her. The angle of the car seat is not upright enough to help either so every trip out becomes an opera of screaming and vomiting. However we were totally stuck as the market leader (probably) which encompasses all the features we needed is extremely pricey. Although I'm a massive ebay fan its not really possible to sell the car seat and pram you are using before you have an alternative. So it was Grandma to the rescue she kindly stepped in to buy us the new system while we sell the 'old' stuff to pay for the upgrade.

So you can see a sleepy chilled infant courtesy of Grandma, saviour of the day!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Outdoor kind of lifestyle.

Determined to pass up the opportunity to sit in front of the television & eat rubbish we headed off to the coast for a walk along the pier.

Once we arrived I quickly remembered that the pier is actually a little over 1.5km long and it feels 10oC colder than at home and we have 2 children who moan consistently about being cold.
Never the less we made our way down the structure and were pleasantly surprised to find the kids all behaved wonderfully and were so interested in the history of it. Shamefully I know very little about it other than recent history of repairs, accidents etc.

It was definitely worthwhile as our crashed out little ones in the car testified.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Well done ladies!

'Pester power' at its finest!

22nd January 2009

Dear babyworld member,

Antenatal Clubs

Sometimes people make mistakes and, judging from your response to our proposals on babyworld, Facebook and elsewhere, we have made a big one!

I hope you will accept our heartfelt apology. There was never any intention to upset you, our members, readers and visitors without whom babyworld wouldn’t exist.

So what are we going to do about it?

It’s clear that this whole scheme requires a complete rethink. Many long standing members have made it clear that they don’t particularly need or want Amber or Grania’s expert input (although we believe that many newer members do) but desperately want to retain access to their chosen clubs and that the price quoted for future membership is unacceptable.

Therefore without further ado we are going to restore the ability of all currently registered babyworld Antenatal Club members to be a member of up to 6 Clubs, past or future, so that you can continue to visit and participate as before.

We guarantee that current Antenatal Club members’ status will not be eroded in any way going forward and neither will you be charged for access to any clubs or classes now or in the future.

February, March and April 2009 Clubs will operate as usual. From May 2009, the format will include considerably enhanced information offered in the form of classes. Indeed, we will refer to them as Antenatal Classes from then on.

Within the next three months, we will introduce a two tier arrangement for new members whereby they will be asked to pay if they wish to join an Antenatal Class. I believe that we can keep this cost below £10. In return they will receive a £25 discount voucher to spend in the babyworld showroom or online shop and a Goody Box filled with quality samples and products.

For new members who don’t want to join and pay for a “class” we will create parallel monthly Antenatal Forums as meeting places where mothers expecting at the same time can talk and offer assistance and advice and swap experiences. These forums won’t, however, receive Amber and Grania’s expert assistance.

We have listened and reacted to your opinions. I hope this solves the problems that we created and I am very sorry we upset you. I hope we can now all go forward in a more positive light.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Halfhead

Managing Director

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

What price for peer support?

There are many possible negative aspects to the internet, temptation, withdrawal, fast and easy access to just about anything you desire and the ability to submerge yourself in an online life + neglect the real life friends + family you have. My husband and I have been 'sad' enough as a teenager would say to sit in the same house and previously text each other and more recent IM each other on facebook.

But, four years ago while pregnant with my son I stumbled across a site called babyworld.co.uk and ignored all the 'expert' articles and went straight to something which was at that time fairly unique; a forum for peer support from people expecting a baby at the same time as you and at the same point in pregnancy. Over the interceding 4 years our group has declined and whittled down as members found other forums, had new babies and joined new groups or simply lost the time they once had to spend online but we have maintained firm friendship bonds that we know we can call on for advise when needed. Together we've faced the death of parents, divorce, life threatening illness in a child, diagnosis of life long disorders and more bumps in the road than any of us can probably remember. We exchanged Christmas and birthday cards and hold meet ups and the webspace on which all this was made possible was free to join and use.

But in these tough financial times it seems nothing is without its price and now new members must pay for their opportunity of friendship, the exact price I'm not sure of, I've heard £35 and £50 and lots in between. The premise behind introducing these charges is that 'expert' advise is provided on the forums, and that these experts are on the payroll.

I am not entering into a debate about the quality of such advise but I will say I have found it neither timely or helpful in any circumstance and certainly would not pay for it, especially considering the NHS in this country is free at point of contact.

Its sad that new mums coming to the site may now miss out on the opportunities for friendship I have enjoyed, I hope babyworld can see its greedy behaviour will loose it members and therefore it will loose its advertising revenue as well, which I suppose will lead to higher fees for those who stick around.

Good job facebook is still free!

Monday, 19 January 2009

An inspired by facebook day....

Well, a short time ago a new facebook application caused a stir and a flurry of debates on another online community I frequent and that was: council estate gifts.

Living on a (mostly) ex-authority estate with a fairly bad reputation I found it hilarious I must say. The ability to send your friends 'white dog poos' and the like really made me smile!

So in that vein today, after the children's first trip to the dentist I decided to make a day of it + keep them both off for the rest of the day (not at all influenced by the 2 hour long round trip on public transport to my eldest's school...). So out we went with new babe in what I have lovingly termed my 'chav pram'. A whopping silvercross effort in beige with gold + silver embroidery on it, I love it but more importantly babes love it and sleeps, well, like a baby in it. I won its name when I took my much adored pram to baby clinic to find every other make & model of silvercrodd trotting through the door as well, all with frilly footmuff in situ (yuck).

Being a bit limited by weather and finances we had a most the most stylish day available, I trooped the kids out in our (unintentionally) matching beige coats, with our big bustling beige pram and faced the freezing cold and rain. 'Did' the whole dentist thing then marched on to find the kids some treats for being good to the highly celebrated establishment known as 'the pound shop'. After that we went to the town's most high class eatery - Morrision's cafe- to feast on sausage sandwiches, with kids and ketchup with blackcurrant and a mini packet of biscuits.

I think though I probably lost council estate bonus points for sitting breast feeding and not cracking open a ready-made carton of SMA gold.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Ever had your children put you to shame?

Originally uploaded by ela_jo2005 / Georgina
I have, just this morning. I'm not talking about the spine chilling supermarket screaming fit, stroking strangers legs to feel their tights or asking someone why they have a tooth missing - all of which I have experienced within the last 6 weeks. No I mean the (rare) moments where they act in a more responsible and respectable way than you.

This morning we took our family to church, on the journey there we lectured the children on proper behaviour, no shouting during prayers, no animal noises, no kicking, no hitting, no arson , the usual.

As the first song began I had my newborn daughter sleeping in her car sear beside me and my 6 going on 16 year old daughter begging to be picked up to read the song words, something my surgery and her weight precludes right now. I relented + suggest she stand on the chair next to me + I would hold her hand.

A few lines in I glanced across to check she was behaving and there she was reading every word to "Open the eyes of my heart" singing her heart out with her hands thrown in the air, worshiping with everything she has.

Honestly in that moment I was a little jealous of my lovely daughter feeling so free + able to let herself go in that way without caring if she looks a bit daft. During the sermon I realised she sets examples for me in so many ways, frequently when she is being 'punished' by being sent to her room I find her reading her bible and she keeps a bible I received for my confirmation next to her bed and reads it when she wakes earlier than the rest of the family. She is also much more thankful and less demanding in her prayers than me.

I learned through some teaching that God uses our children to sanctify us and today I have certainly found that to be the case. Thank you God for all the Blessings and challenges you have sent through our children and all those yet to come.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

End of an era?

Last day
Originally uploaded by ela_jo2005 / Georgina
I'm sure there are lots of people blogging about the credit crunch and all it's various effects and challenges so why not jump on the band wagon?!

This is/was our local woolworths, one of 3 that are within traveling distance of where we live and I can say I have visited all 3 within the last year, though whether I made any purchases other than soft drinks + sweets I can't say.

I'm not going to bemoan the fact that although 2 of my children consider woolies the fountain of all pleasure (while I consider it a den of temptation and source of many hour of moaning from the kids as well as the original inventor of pester power) the third will not know or remember it ever existed. Rather I wonder why or if we will miss it at all. Music + video was over priced compared to supermarkets, household goods no longer had a big enough range to draw my interest and toys ranged from noisy + annoying to shockingly bad quality.

So what will we miss it for? At this time of year, honestly very little but come september I will miss their uniform and in summer I will miss their pick + mix, or I would if my current gluten free diet did not preclude it. But mostly I will miss going somewhere with welcoming staff some of whom have been there many years and some who are young + experiencing work for the first time.

So long woolies.