Thursday, 28 April 2011

The grass isn't always greener

I'm getting involved with sticky fingers gallery this week. I'm an artist at heart and I do like photography but it's another one of these things that I never take further than my own personal enjoyment.

When we left Scotland last June for a new life in Dubai I didn't think I'd miss anything about Scotland. I hated the weather and craved hot weather and constant sunshine. My words to Mr R were 'The hotter the better'. In one way I wish I could take those words back and save us a lot of money and stress BUT the experience of being in Dubai had made me love Scotland more than I ever thought I would.

For those who have not been to Dubai, it's a city built in the desert. There really is very little natural greenery. They bring trees, plants and turf in from elsewhere and use vast amounts of water to keep this alive. You don't even need to go far out of the city to see the real landscape in that area. It's quite sad to see the effort that goes into making and maintaining a very false environment. For anyone interested here's a very interesting article from  the independent online.

We arrived back late November 2010. It was freezing cold but the sight of the countryside made me feel so at home. The heavy snow started the day after we arrived home and lasted for weeks. The first few days I drove around just soaking up the landscape. How could I have missed how stunning our country is? I think I always knew it was but completely took it for granted. At that time everywhere was white but the trees looked so crisp all covered in snow.

Now it's spring and everything is green again. We live within a few miles of Glasgow city centre and there is so much green space it's unbelievable. We are surrounded by parks, some small, some big. We don't have a car just now so we're venturing out on bus and train finding the best way to get to all the parks. It's a beautiful time of year, it's warm, sunny, and the parks look incredible. We're really making the most of it because last summer we were stuck indoors for months in Dubai. We made it to the pool but at 49 degrees it was too hot to walk anywhere further.

The picture I've chosen was taken a few weeks ago at Pollok Country Park where we spent the day playing, exploring the woods, having a picnic and feeding the horses. That's Wee Dude sitting in the woods. Just to have seasons and a variety of weather - sometimes all in one day - is amazing!

I love Scotland and I never want to leave again.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I really hate you, mummy

Ok, I've had the 'I hate you mummy' from Wee Dude. He's nearly 5 so maybe I've done well not to have it before now. He said it last week for the first time and it did NOT go down well with me. We were having a tough week as it was - one of those weeks where there's not much you can do to get back on track except ride it out til the weekend when daddy can help diffuse things.

But I got it again today but today he 'really' hated me. I guess that's the new tactic to try and push my buttons. Luckily for me, not so for him, it didn't work. Man, this bringing up kids thing can be tough. The level of patience and consistency involved is huge.

How many years it is til I can chuck them out?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

So, it's just me

Since moving about 45 mins drive from where I used to live I've been trying to stay in touch with/keep up with my friends from my old area. I have no car so I've been on the train with my kids (a 2hr journey each way and costs £24) and hired a car for a day to make it easier. One friend drove to my new house to visit and one came by train to the city nearby and we went to a park with the kids.

None of my friends other than the one who drove will drive to my house because they either don't know the way/always get lost/never been before/don't like driving somewhere new. (There is one friend who I believe will drive but so far we haven't organised a date so hopefully I wont have to lump her in with the ones below.)

Now I find this totally ridiculous and feel a bit offended that they would rather I trek on 4 trains, in 2 taxis for 4 hours with 2 young kids or never see me.

I spoke to Mr R about it and he said that he can kind of understand it coz he doesn't like and probably wouldn't drive without sat nav to a place he doesn't know. I don't find this particularly acceptable either but he has sat nav so therefore he still can travel (assuming we had a car that is).

My friends are not the only ones. I have a relative like that and when we lived in Dubai most of the people I knew wouldn't drive far. This was partly due to the mental driving over then but really, why restrict your own life because you don't want to try and navigate your way to somewhere new? I just don't understand.

I have come to some realisations. The first is that I will not go on the dreaded train journey to visit these people again. I will do my best to visit the friend who visits me. In fact she said she'd rather come to me than have me travel all that way - a real friend.

I have in turn had to accept that I'm a judgemental person. And not just about the driving. Although I will normally keep my judgements to myself I still judge. I may share on this blog more of these judgements so feel free to not to read.....

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Breast IS best!

I watched last nights show on bbc3 'Is Breast Best?' by Cherry Healey. I'm not sure where to start but it's got me pretty worked up.

To make it clear at the outset, I wouldn't judge someone for a choice they have made. Mums know what is best for them and for their baby and should trust their instincts. I've breastfed my two kids and will share my story a bit further down.

It is good to point out that if breast feeding isn't your bag or you find it too hard then you should bottle feed without feeling guilty. A baby needs fed one way or another and so long as mum is happy then baby will be happy. I've seen friends struggle with breastfeeding and the stress they go through can be more damaging than changing to bottles.

BUT I felt the show mainly aimed to ease bottle feeders guilt rather than really support struggling breastfeeders to continue.

Cherry said at one point about the 19 yr old who was persevering with breast something along the lines that she could easily have given up by now because it was sooooo hard and how amazing the girl was. Now I agree the girl was amazing. She was determined and she sought help to get through the first tough weeks of breastfeeding. However, what that girl was going through is part and parcel of breastfeeding. She wasn't having a particularly hard time compared to a lot of other women who still battle through it and succeed. It's sore at first, it's tiring, it's demanding. It can take 6-8 weeks to really establish feeding and yet so many women give up before that.

The only women Cherry showed who had positive breastfeeding experiences were mums who were already well established with feeding and she didn't ask, or at least it wasn't broadcast, what their initial experience was like. I'm sure these women didn't just pick up their new born and have the little one latched on just like that. It is a new skill for mum and baby to learn. Where on earth do women get the idea that it's supposed to be natural and easy?

I was particularly shocked/suprised/in total disbelief that breastfeeding would have to be made out as 'cool' in the media for young people to do it! I mean are we really that shallow and uneducated in our society that a celebrity has to do it first before we follow suit. Some of the girls were saying they never see anyone in the media or in a public place breastfeeding so they wouldn't think to do it. Well they know it exists (coz it's been done since the beginning of time) but they have discounted it. I completely understand that as a teenage mum in public with her baby she may get looks and feel people are judging her because of her age, so to face further judgement for breastfeeding would be too hard. Surely by choosing to breastfeed your baby you're saying 'I may be young but I want to do the best for my child'. I've just been discussing this point with Mr R and he says 'well that's the mature view and these are teenagers'. Well, these young girls were at a support group. Surely it's someones job to empower these girls and give them the confidence to go for it. Instead the feeling I got was them saying 'you're right it'll be too hard, you'll be the only one so you go for a bottle and don't feel guilty'.

Where do we get the idea that it's illegal to do it in public? You are feeding your child! We're in the 21st century! And they kept calling it 'getting your boobs out'. That's not going to help any mums watching who are considering it. In actual fact you don't have to get your boobs out. With a little practice at home you can get a good technique and be very inconspicuous.I've fed on a bench facing the floor to ceiling window of a busy Starbucks, in a meeting with my mortgage advisor, anywhere my baby needed fed I did it. Or would people rather the baby screamed? I didn't once contemplate going into a toilet, it would never have crossed my mind.

So, after that rant you may wonder what my breast feeding experience was like. My mum breastfed me and my younger sister so it was always in my mind that I would breastfeed my kids too if I could. I didn't know what was involved in it, didn't have friends doing it before my first was born so when my wee boy was born it was all new to me. I had a section so I didn't hold him for quite a while after he was born and we didn't get skin to skin straight away. While I rested after the surgery a member of staff fed him a bottle without asking. So the scene is, I'm pretty much confined to hospital bed with baby in cot beside me and doing my best to try breastfeeding when he cries. I call for help anytime I need to. Midwives do their best to help me get baby latched on. Day midwives were much more helpful than night time ones. So after about two days of this we are being assessed to see if we can go home. It turns out that baby has lost more than the 'normal' 10% of body weight after birth so we have to stay in an extra day to get his weight up. I've manged to get baby to latch on but he wont suck so on the 3rd night luckily I had an amazing midwife who stayed with me for what seemed like hours. She said to me 'If you're really determined to do this we'll crack it tonight'. We tried for ages and exhausted and crying in my hospital bed she asked me to hand express some colostrum. I remember I got 7ml! A tiny amount but she fed it to baby in a syringe and said it would last him til morning. Somehow in the morning I latched him on and he started sucking! Now we had the task of getting his weight up. Our new schedule was this: breastfeed every 3 hrs, after feeding Mr R would take baby, change him and put him down for sleep. Meanwhile I would express more milk to give as top up after each breastfeed then try and get some sleep myself. This is very hard in a busy maternity ward during the day. So, feed, top up feed, sleep and so on for 24hrs. His weight still wasn't up enough so we continued this for another 24hrs. Mums out there will be able to imagine how exhausted and emotional I was but I felt that if this is what it takes then I will do it. Luckily I got away without cracked or bleeding nipples. I was in hospital for 6 days before we were allowed home but once we were home we were breastfeeding. The fun didn't stop there though. Baby still fed all the time for an hour at a time sometimes more. And all through the night. Little and often coz their tummies are so small. The first few sucks were always nippy, I was with baby all the time coz no one else could feed him. I got very good at doing things with one hand while I was feeding. Basically you are giving your whole self to your newborn. But isn't that what being a mum is? After a couple of months he fed less often and so on as the months went on. I joined a local breastfeeding group when baby was 2 weeks old that my midwife told me about and made great friends there who shared tips with me. I fed him til he was 1yr old. With baby #2, I had a natural birth and she started feeding straight away. I hadn't long stopped feeding my wee boy so my nipples were still tough old things. But I still faced the all night feeding and no time away from baby and entertaining a toddler at the same time. I fed my wee girl til she was one as well. It was not easy, there were tears, times of thinking 'should I just give up' but I persevered and came through it.

The bottom line is that it's not easy in the first two or three months and sometimes beyond. How can we, as a country and a society give women a realistic view of what breastfeeding is all about and the knowledge to be able to do it? On the one hand I feel it's such a shame more mums don't have the proper information, guidance and support to breastfeed. On the other hand the information is there if you look and you don't have to look that hard. Call your midwife, google it for gods sake. Perhaps we need a massive ad campaign which not only targets expectant mums but all of society so that it is seen as the norm. We need TV ads, bus sides, bus stops, billboards, adverts which show various techniques and positions, public breastfeeding and, dare I suggest it, BOOBS!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Goodbye 4 days of summer :(

After a totally summers weekend I optimistically looked out and tried on my summer clothes and glasses and bought flip flops hoping that this would be our early summer and it would last a few more days.

Well, I have just checked the forecast and it pretty much includes cold, rain and hail for the next few days :(

'Goodbye' summer clothes, 'hello' coat and hat *cries*

I might wear my sunnies to cheer myself up anyway.

Happy Days

What a busy few days we've had. Monday to Wednesday P'd down with rain and the wind was so bad our bins were blown over, with rubbish strewn everywhere.

But Thursday, Friday and Saturday were beautiful days. Having made ourselves a calendar for April, to take up some 'stuck indoors' time, noting the nursery days (not many this month) and sticky coloured circles for home days or park days that we could move around depending on weather, we were hoping for a day out on Thursday IF the weather forecast was right - and it was!!! We set out for the day with our picnic and all manner of toys and balls to play with at the park. Actually it was still a bit cold and our winter hats and coats were definitely needed but we had a brilliant day. There is nothing better than having fun at the park with my kids.

On Friday we hired a car to visit friends who we can't normally visit coz the trains are a bit of a pain to get there. The sun was out and the kids had amazing fun in the garden with their friends. I had a lovely catch up over tea and cake with my friends too :)

Today was an actual summers day so we took a picnic to a different park. It was about 15 degrees (that is summer for Scotland) and we all ended up with sunburn! There was no way I expected to be out in t-shirts all day and to need sunhats or cream. We had out winter hats and coats ready incase the weather turned sour. We played at the play park for hours, walked through the woods and fed the horses. Wee Dude spent most of the time on the flying fox and Wee Love played wit the bubbles all day. I'm shattered and so are the kids but we've had the best three days.

It's meant to be nice tomorrow aswell but I'm too tired for another day out (also why this post is a bit factual and not much else. I'm too tired to jazz it up, soreeeeee) so we'll be spending time planting our sunflower seeds and repotting our little apple tree saplings. Maybe Mr R will entertain them for a bit while I sleep - bliss.

Got a busy week planned this week too so better get resting. Any excuse to go to bed and stay there :)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Taking kids crafts too far

We're on Easter holidays right now and the kids nursery have asked the kids to make a hat or easter bonnet for a competition after the holidays. It's been so wet this week we haven't been able to go out so started making the hats.

Wee Dude wanted a cap style with a really long visor like Dip Dap on cbeebies. Wee Love really isn't interested so I did a bonnet style for her. They got bored quickly so I get out some glue, tissue paper and glitter (what was I thinking?!) for them while I made the hat bit. I thought I'd use what they had decorated to stick onto the hat. Well, they made such a mess that none of it was really salvageable for the hats. Normally very imaginative, Wee Dude couldn't give me any ideas for how to decorate his hat except he wanted it to be blue - not that helpful. The hats are meant to be eastery in some way, I think, but the kids couldn't have been less interested so in the end I have made them both myself while they went and had a carry on in their room.I promise I wasn't trying to be a competitive mum but if I left it to them it wouldn't be eastery at all.

The hats have turned out quite well but almost none of it was done by the kids. I'm sure that wasn't what nursery had in mind, ooops. I'll need to try and find an easy hat style they can do themselves.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Making friends for Dummies!

This is Mr R's second week back at work and since the weathers been pretty bad we've been in the house a lot. It's just dawned on me that we really have no friends locally :(

When Wee Dude was born I made a huge effort to make mummy friends, determined not to be stuck at home alone with a baby. I had a good bunch of friends but now, a couple of house moves and nearly 5 years on I'm stuck at home alone with 2 pre-schoolers! Argh what a nightmare!

This week I've been pondering making friends and friendship in general - it's a funny old business.

It's easy in primary school coz you're there with the other kids all the time in the same class. In high school I found I made more friends with the people I was in class with. But the friends I had who ended up in different classes on different timetables drifted away, or I drifted away from them. That pattern has continued for me throughout life. When I'm in close regular contact with someone I find it easy to be friends, but if I move area or change college or workplace it becomes quite difficult.

There's one particular friend I made as a teenager, we were flatmates for a while and got on really well. I've known her now for about 14 years but over the years as I moved away to a new job and moved to a new town with my husband and started a family we really drifted apart. We tried to catch up now and then but it seemed our lives were on such different paths. Every year we'd send a christmas card promising to meet up and we never did. Now that I'm back in Glasgow we've met up once and both really want to be proper friends again. I've text her a couple of times but she hasn't got back to me. The other day I was going to message her on facebook to check I had the right number then I thought 'What am I thinking? Why don't I just do the old fashioned thing and CALL HER?!' I mean for gods sake is it that hard? But I'm actually nervous. What will I say? What if we have nothing to say? If I don't do it will she do it or will another year go by?

It's the same with the mummy friends I made. Now I'm far away we don't text or call. I've been to visit them once and one of them has been to visit me and I've had barely any contact otherwise.If I had a car I'd be over there much more to visit but it's a real trek on public transport. They all have cars so even though I know I should make more effort, I feel they should too. Maybe I should take the hint and let them drift away.

Am I a bad friend?

I have to make the effort with the friends I still have even though they're not close by. I need to make some new local friends. I thought it'd be easy to make friends with the mums at nursery but I'm not kidding none of them speak to each other when we wait for the nursery doors to open. I mean there is no chat what-so-ever! It's weird. I keep trying to get eye contact with them as we pass each other on the way in and out of nursery but they don't even look at me so how do I say 'hi' or start a conversation? I've been on netmums to find out about their meet ups and got in touch with some other mums with kids my age. Hopefully something will come of it. I need some friends who are ready to start socialising on weekends again!

Oh, to be back at school when life was so much simpler........