Thursday, 28 March 2013

Letter to my 16 year old self

It's Theme Thursday! And this week Jenn has gone all out and conjured a time-machine so we can all send letters to our sixteen year old selves.  Cool, right?!

I left home the month before my 16th birthday and life was kind of crazy and hard, really really hard actually.  So there's a lot I could have written in this letter...but...I'm kind of of the opinion that everything happens for a reason...

(Screenshot from BTVS, courtesy of 20th century fox and the amazingness that is Joss Whedon's brain)

Ok, good point Buffy. I actually don't believe everything happens for a reason, but I believe that shit happens, and a lot of the time you can't control it but you can try to control how you react to it and I also believe that my life, right now, is pretty damn awesome, so even though I had to go through some stuff to get here, I'd do it all again just exactly the same if it guaranteed me the same outcome.

With that in mind, I present to you- my letter:

Dear (16 year old) Rebecca

It's your sweet 16!

I know there really isn't anything sweet about it, apart from maybe the nauseatingly sweet smell of horse manure that is your life right now, and I know that when your friend Jenny's Mum brings your cake out with everyone singing "Happy Birthday!" you'll be bawling too much to even blow out the candles BUT I'm your 28 year old self so trust me when I say that everything is going to be fine.

Repeat after me: everything is going to be fine.  Things will work themselves out, and one day in the not-so-distant-future all this will someday seem like a bizarre film that you watched about someone else's utterly fucked up life.

You just need to keep on doing what you're doing and everything will kind of fall into place. Oh except, the self-harming, I know you're angry right now- at the world and everyone in it, including yourself, but honestly you need to cut that shit out and find a healthier coping mechanism, talk to people, get some help, here might be a good place to start.

It won't be easy but you're worth it (According to L'oreal anyway, but I don't think that commercial is out yet so I've probably just confused the hell out of you).

Other than that, you're doing good kiddo so just keep swimming...oh sorry, that film isn't out yet either, but it's a Disney movie- you'll like it!

Life is good, not so much right now I know, but it will be- just you wait :)

Love from (28 year old) Rebecca


For more letters click the Theme Thursday button above- quick!- before they're transported back in time! ;)

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

When is a revolutionary new approach to nurse training NOT a revolutionary new approach to nurse training?

I read this article this morning and was instantly filled with the kind of rage usually reserved for other road users, or narrow-minded snobs.

As a nurse, who was a student nurse for 3 years, and since my boyfriend is currently a student nurse, I'd say it's a topic fairly close to my heart and one in which I am pretty well qualified to speak about.

That said, I allowed myself a teeny tiny rant on twitter, and a mutual rant with Chris and then I got on with my day which mostly involved a playdate with some friends at a soft play area.

I promised myself I'd come back to the issue though (and I promised the people of twitter too, but I'm never sure if they're actually paying attention, that place moves at warp-speed so I imagine it attracts a lot of people with ADHD type tendencies...Oooh shiny thing...oooh another shiny thing...oooh...sorry, what were you saying?!)

Anyway, after all the primary colours and children's laughter and gossip, I was feeling decidedly less cross by the time I sat down this evening to write the Epic Rant I'd had in mind.

Then I read the article again:  Irked.  Then my 17 month old woke up for no apparent reason and started screaming like his cot was infested with sharks: ok, slightly pissed off.  And then I made the mistake of scrolling down too far and reading a handful of comments...aaaand that's me enraged, I'm good to go...

Pull up a chair and let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to be a midwife.  Despite the fact there is a widely recognised shortage of midwives here in the UK the course itself is ridiculously competitive to secure a place on.  Hundreds of applicants are turned down each intake and in 2004, I was one of them.

Dissatisfied with the idea of remaining on my psychology degree one minute longer, certain I was wasting not only my own time, but everyone else's and not to mention tax-payers and my own money, I considered my options.  The idea of effectively hanging around for a year until the time came to submit another midwifery application and potentially be knocked-back again did not appeal (how strange) and I discovered there was another way I could realise my ambition, and therefore I didn't waste a minute putting in an application to undertake my nurse training instead, with the sole aim of completing the three year course and then immediately doing an 18 month conversion course to midwifery (Incidentally, I've been qualified for 5 years and I'm yet to get round to that)

Don't get me wrong, I liked the idea of nursing well enough, and I certainly didn't go into it with a "grit my teeth for 3 years" attitude, but truth be told, at that point I had no interest in actually becoming a nurse per se, but was happy to do so in order to achieve my more long term goal.

Then I became a student nurse, and I found out that a. I loved it and b. You can't fake it.  Some people may go into nursing  because of the paid tuition fees, or because they want to marry a doctor, or because they don't know what else to do and it's better than nothing, but these people will not survive the three years.  I know because I saw them, I met them, I worked alongside them, and as soon as they too realised that you can't fake it, they either dropped out or were found out, i.e. failed assignments, failed placements, failed the course.

The day I walked on to a ward for the first time as a student nurse I could have cheerfully vomited all over my beautiful new crisp white tunic, I was that nervous.  I can vividly remember my very first task being to help an elderly gentleman wash and get dressed ready for breakfast and me saying to the support worker who'd given me said task "I'm sorry, but I don't know how".  So she showed me.

Later, I was waiting outside a side room for my mentor (a qualified nurse) to come out so I could ask her a question and I heard the support worker, who was also in the room, say to my mentor "They shouldn't send them with no experience, what use are they when they don't even know how to wash a patient?"

Guess how good that made me feel.  I realised I had a choice, I could call her on it (are you KIDDING?!) I could walk off the ward and never come back (so so so so appealing at that point) or I could suck it up.

I chose to suck it up and for the next 3 years I sucked it up.  I made a point of saying to anyone who asked me to do anything "I'm happy to do it but I'll need you to show me how first" so they'd know I wasn't saying "I can't" as a way to say "I don't want to"

I washed patients, I showered patients, I bathed patients, I brushed patients teeth, real or otherwise. Another elderly gentleman on the same ward once called me over "Sister" he shouted (They would always call me "sister" no matter how much I insisted I wasn't even a real nurse "nonsense" they'd say "anyway, about my bowels") but in this case he waited for me to get close "Sister" and, swallowing his final mouthful of all-bran he popped out his false teeth, covered in just-chewed-branny-goodness and deposited them into my (ungloved) hand "Can you clean my teeth for me?"

Those who know me well don't need me to explain but those who don't: I am not squeamish about anything. You can fling blood, plasma, poop, pee, puke, eyeballs, whatever at me (but I'd prefer it if you didn't) but mouths? Mouths? With their teeth and saliva, oh my god, just stay the hell away.  Most people dislike going to the dentist, my idea of hell on this very earth is being a dentist.

Anyway, I digress.  I mean what's a girl to do?  I was a student nurse now.  I could hardly fling the bloody teeth right back at him could I? Do you know how much false teeth cost? Do you?! I took them over to the sink and gave them a bloody good clean and I took them right back over with a smile- both his and my own.

I'm not telling you this because I want props by the way, I'm not expecting a medal (although it might be nice, especially if I could trade it in for cold hard cash, nursing doesn't pay well, in case you were wondering)

I'm telling you this because I am trying to point out that this revolutionary "THIS WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING THAT'S WRONG WITH THE NHS AND STOP BAD THINGS HAPPENING EVER AGAIN" plan,  is not in fact any such fucking thing.

Student nurses already spend at least their first placement and usually their first year and sometimes the entire of the clinical element of their training doing hands-on nursing care.  I'm talking toileting, dressing, feeding, the basics.

Some don't like it, and a few of those will vocalise their distaste.  Truth be told, I myself had plenty of moments, usually involving other people's waste products where I thought "No really, what am I DOING?!" but then I'd remember: what I'm doing is providing care and dignity to someone, in the hope that it will make a difference to them, in the hope that one day, if I ever need it, someone will do the same for me.

For every student nurse who is "too posh to wash", or every qualified nurse who busies him or herself with paperwork over answering a call-bell, there'll be ten more who would just love to be more hands-on with their patients, but can't, because they have other shit to do that they CAN'T delegate, things they would be held accountable for if it wasn't done, or wasn't done right and by the right person, like administering medications, setting up IV's, updating documentation, charting observations, making referrals.  If wards were staffed adequately then it would be possible to do these things and perform direct patient care, but a lot of the time, they aren't.

On my final placement as a student nurse I worked 14 weeks on an elderly care ward, with 28 beds, all of which were full the entire time I was there, rarely did the mattress go cold in that place before another person was on it. Most of the patients were dependent in most areas of their ADL's (activities of daily living) so would need assistance with eating, drinking, washing, dressing, toileting, mobilising.  There should have been 3 qualified nurses and 3 support workers on each shift and of course any student nurses currently on placement, but then they're supernumerary (Ha! Hahahahahahahahaha! Oh I do amuse myself sometimes)

In fact I worked many many (oh so fucking many) shifts where there would be one qualified nurse, one  or two support workers, and little me. For 28 highly dependent patients that is a hell of a lot of work, and I mean, just to get the neccessary things done, just to give everyone their medication, and meals and help them to the bathroom and settle them in bed for the night.  Anything above that was out of the question.

There will always be nurses who are in the job for the wrong reasons, or who started out wanting to make a difference and quickly realised how hard that was going to be, got institutionalised and burnt out, the same goes for support workers too.  Most I worked with were fan-fucking-tastic, and truly wonderful at their jobs.  A few were not.  There are shitty people in every profession, in every job, in every part of life. But if you ask most nurses and most student nurses, they would say they want to perform direct nursing care, and talk to their patients and get to know them better and take the time to make them more comfortable, but they can't, because they're responsible for 28 human lives and if they don't delegate the basics to someone else then who the hell is going to do the drug's round?!

If Jeremy Hunt wants nurses to wash patients then he needs to staff wards adequately to allow that to happen. In reality who is going to pay a qualified nurse to do bed-baths when they could pay a health care assistant half as much to do the same, or better still, get a student nurse to do it for free?

No really, who?


Giant Disclaimer for this Giant Rant

First up, the views above are entirely my own, as you can probably tell from the liberal use of foul language.  I don't generally blog about nursing-related stuff because that wasn't why I started this thing and also I really need to keep my job.

Additionally, much of this piece rant refers to nursing in the way that the general public sees nursing, that is to say "general nursing" or to give it's 'proper' name, adult nursing.  No, not that meaning of the word "adult", god, you people disgust me.

Allow me to explain- there are four branches of nursing in the UK- Adult health, Child health, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities nursing.  Clearly what constitutes "basic nursing care" in each of these areas can sometimes mean the same thing, but often does not, as each client group tends to have health issues in areas other than that field, i.e. people with mental health issues will also have physical health issues, but what they require from the nurses caring for them is likely to be vastly different.

In this piece, I have talked about nursing in a way that relates mostly to adult nursing, and that is simply because the article I read appears to also be talking about nurses on adult wards.  It's not because I think adult nursing is in any way superior to the other branches of nursing, or because I think it is 'proper' nursing and the other branches are not. It was mainly for ease, although now this is turning into the longest disclaimer I ever wrote in my entire life so I guess that's that out the window. Ok, look my boyfriend is a mental health student nurse and although I'm trained in adult nursing, the day I qualified I started working in neonates and haven't nursed a big person since, so please don't be thinking I'm hating on you other branches or excluding you in some way because I'm not, or at least, not on purpose, ohmygod shutting up now...

Monday, 25 March 2013

Snow in Spring

There's been a lot of chit-chat about the weather recently.  Specifically in reference to the white stuff (snow, not milk) and it's rightful appearance (or not) in March.

Now don't get me wrong, I can small-talk with the best of them.  Nursing, particularly when I was a student nurse working in elderly care, requires the ability to make pleasantries with people you don't necessarily know well and/or have much in common with, and I think the weather is everyone's go-to topic in such situations.

However those of you exclaiming "'s SPRING!" especially those of you who live in the UK, clearly don't remember last allow me to remind you:

Those photos are in chronological order, were all taken within weeks of each other, and mainly in March!

I think I actually blogged about the craziness of the weather around about this time last year, because what with the switching between suncream and bobble hats and back again, and my general state of mind at that time, I was getting a real "End of Days" feeling about it all.  A weather apocalypse is probably my scariest kind, I have decided it is the kind of apocalypse I'd be least likely to survive, and don't think I haven't given it A LOT of thought (yeah yeah, don't pretend like you haven't).  So everyone freaking out about the temperature in March is unhelpful for my mental state and I'd like you all to stop it. Thank you.

Additionally, anyone feeling the need to make comments along the lines of "I thought global warming was supposed to make it hotter?!" even if this is meant as a joke, needs to be aware that I will forever see you as Homer Simpson, skipping around: "Everything is the opposite of everything, la la la!" so, unless that's something you can live with, think on.

So, snow in spring? Y'all need to get the fuck over it!

p.s. IT'S SNOWING!!!!!!!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Further Adventures with Varicella Zoster

This week it was Rudy's turn to suffer, and suffer he has, his case of chicken pox was like Toby's but amplified, by about a million.  A couple of weeks ago I was exclaiming "He's covered in them!" but then along came Rudy and demonstrated quite clearly just how many more pox can fit on one tiny body. It was actually really horrid as there were about 3 days and nights where he just couldn't seem to get any relief whatsoever, and then a couple more where he found some comfort but it was extremely short lived.  Then scabbing commenced and he's now almost, not quite, but almost back to his usual self.  Which still involves a fair bit of wailing, but without any clear cause. It remains to be seen if either boy will be left with any scarring, given how much picking has occurred I'm thinking it's inevitable, certainly for Rudy.

So yet again we've been pretty much under house arrest.  Although there were some adventures in the garden which helped to break up the monotony a little.

I'm still trying to notice all the funny little stuff both boys do and say day-to-day but there's so much of it.  Like right now, Rudy's napping and Toby and I are watching Toy Story 3, which makes me cry like a baby, but what else is new? <Insert eye rolling emoticon here>

He is totally enthralled, and in the opening sequence when Ham's giant blimp thing flies over the canyon he did a full-on exaggerated  *gasp* and "LOOOOK! It's Peter Pork A Chop!" (Evil Doctor Pork Chop to you and me) which gave me a chuckle prior to my first bout of sobbing (emotionally labile? Moi?!)

Rudy is picking up lots of new words, his new favourite is "Maaahhh" usually said whilst poking you in the mouth, repeat x 20 (both the word and the poking). He's still using "Duddle" as a means of securing an instant cuddle but now also uses it as a way to reach things on high shelves, by waiting until either one of us is stood in the vicinity of said shelving and then shrieking "Duddle" until he's scooped into the air and then immediately making a grab for whatever has caught his eye.  This demonstrates brilliantly how smart and adaptable he is, and why he'd win the Evil Baby Genius Award hands-down, if there ever was such an award.

Mealtimes and sleep times are unpredictable for both of them. Nursery drop offs have also become a bit of a disaster since Toby missed a week with the bloody chicken pox and can't seem to settle back in.  We even had a phone call on Friday afternoon asking us to collect him early because he was upset, which is a first ever (bearing in mind he went to nursery part-time from 10.5 months of age up until 2.5 years then had a break until January of this year). I'm not sure what the answer is, nursery have suggested 3 half days (instead of our current arrangement of one full day and a half day) but that would be a real pain in the ass, as Rudy naps midday so I'd need to either be dropping off or picking up right in the middle of his sleep and I do not relish the idea of needing to wake him up for it.

They have also suggested fetching a cuddly toy or picking him up early, which we tend to most days anyway to be honest as he can technically stay until 6pm but the latest we usually collect him is between 4 and 5.

BP (Before Pox) we had requested an extra half day to top-up his free hours which would mean he'd be going for two full days a week from May and that would definitely be easier from a work/drop-off/pick-up perspective, but like I say, that was before he started having minor breakdowns every time he had to go...

We've been through this before and it just went on and on and ON, with him needing to be prised off one of us in tears every single morning and in the end we couldn't justify it anymore and he stopped going.  But I'm acutely aware that he's older now, and there's less going on at home to upset him (Rudy had just been born when it started last time) and that he'll have to go to school at some point (alright, not until next September, but still...) so this time I feel that we need to find a way to support him through it rather than just give up.  I'm not sure exactly how though.

Urgh this parenting lark is a complicated business.

So that's all I can come up with for this week's update. A bit gloomy I know, but perhaps once we're less cooped up and have integrated back into society and aren't getting on each other's tits quite as much I'll be able to do a more upbeat, maybe even humorous weekly summary.  Maybe.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Cluck Cluck

I want to tell you all about The Hen Weekend, but I'm not going to.

Apparently, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  And I'm sure that applies to Pocklington North Yorkshire too.

I will tell you that- 

the company was good

the air was fresh

there were beautiful views

there was a hot tub

and wine

lots and lots and lots of wine

Actually, possibly a bit too much wine for some of us.

And I  had my very own room with my very own double bed

If there was one thing I was SUPER excited about it was the STARFISH possibilities.

Allow me to explain- I am someone who consistently shares my bed with one other grown person, and usually two smaller ones as well, so the idea of being able to sleep in whatever position I liked, taking up as much space as I chose, cocooned in ALL of the covers, snoring and drooling away to my hearts content without another person's limbs jabbing me in the face or ribs was heavenly.

Note I said the idea.  In reality, I didn't get to bed until around 3.30am the first night and then about 4.30am on the second night.  Slightly inebriated on both occasions I felt it best to adopt the recovery position, clinging slightly to the edge of the mattress, lest the world should suddenly shift and jolt me off the bed. I did not cocoon myself in the duvet, or make use of the other side of the bed at all.  Sometimes what you think you want is not what you actually want at all, but it's nice to be offered it anyway, and it's nice to find that out.

It was such a fun weekend, with not a stripper nor "learner" sash in sight because my best friend was one classy hen

And because the maid of honour (her sister) who organised the whole thing did a bloody good job.

I had to leave a little earlier than planned on Sunday afternoon rather than Monday morning.  Partly because I found out that Chris had a 10am mandatory lecture on the Monday morning and the idea of trying to navigate the M1 and M62 slightly hungover in Monday morning rush hour traffic gave me chills. And not Grease-esque chills.  I'm talking blood-run-cold, I'd-rather-eat-my-own-arms-with-a-spoon chills.  So Sunday evening had become the new plan and then I got a message on Saturday to say Rudy had developed a couple of suspicious looking spots, and on Sunday morning the confirmation came that he did in fact have the Chicken Pox.

Chris put on a brave text-message face, saying there was no need for me to come home early...yet.  But his other messages about what-creams-to-put-where spoke volumes, so reading between the lines I sent my own "I'm coming home" message, to which he replied not with "No really, we're fine!" but "Can you pick up some milk on your way back?!"

So Monday was back to reality with a hefty thud and here I remain, quarantined and in an over-crowded bed.  But it's ok.  I had my break, I drank my wine, I laughed more than I have in aaaages, and it was sooooo good to reconnect with that carefree part of myself...but these days I'm a mother hen too...

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Leave Kristen Stewart Alone

This instruction for this week's Theme Thursday was to write about something controversial.

I should preface this piece by saying that I don't really know much about Kristen Stewart.  I know so very little about her that I actually had to google her just now to double check she is in fact KRIsten Stewart and not KIRsten Stewart.  True story there, and no, that's not the controversial part.

I read the Twilight books years ago, when they first came out, and I loved them.  No, that's not the controversial part either!  I enjoyed the first one more so than the rest, but isn't that always the way?  I devoured it in two sittings and immediately went back for more. I'd had absolutely no preconceptions about the book, no one had recommended it, and I knew very little about it, other than that it was about vampires.  So I was pleasantly surprised, and it was just what I was looking for at the time, something easy to read with a bit of escapism thrown in.  I have never seen any of the Twilight films, because I don't do watching films of books I've enjoyed.

I also don't live in a cave though so I am aware that Kristen Stewart is an actress who is famous for playing Bella who also had (has?) an off-screen relationship with Robert Pattinson, who played Edward.  That's pretty much where my awareness of her would have ended but then she had an affair with Rupert Sanders, a married man with children.  And suddenly people had all kinds of opinions they wanted to share with me, and I was seeing magazines everywhere with her face and his face, and his wife's face, and Robert Pattinson's face, and then some outsider's view on what had happened, and what might happen next and who was right and who was wrong.

I read a few of the articles and I listened to what people had to say, all the while thinking "What.The.Fuck?!"

I want you to know that I do not think it's ok to have an affair.  I don't think it's ok to kiss someone when you're in a relationship with someone else, regardless of whether the paparazzi may or may not snap you.  Unless you have an open relationship, and you know your partner will be cool with it, but in that case, it wouldn't be an affair would it?!  I don't think it's ok to sleep with someone, when you're in a relationship with someone else.  I don't think it's generally a good idea to have affairs with married men or women, and I think it's really unfortunate when there are children involved too.  Do you know what else I think? I think no one really knows what goes on in ANY relationship apart from the two people in that relationship.  And do you know what else I think? I think that it takes two to Tango.  And indeed, to have an affair.

A couple of articles I read made a vague, almost disinterested nod to Rupert Sanders involvement, how he was full of regret for hurting his wife and children, and hoping to repair the damage to his marriage. But for the most part it was about her.  Kristen Stewart.  The other woman, the homewrecker, the evil troll breaking the heart of one of the biggest teen heartthrobs in recent history.  Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to see Rupert Sanders dragged over hot coals.  In fact, I'd have been happy knowing nothing about any of it quite frankly, but since I apparently had no choice in that matter, I would have at least liked to see some balance.

Something like: "a man and a woman who were romantically involved with other people, had sex with each other. This story is as old as time itself.  It's extremely sad for everyone involved.  Both individuals are presumably equally at fault and (it would appear) very remorseful and keen to apologise.  It's really none of our business."

I don't think Kristen Stewart needs me to defend her.  I'm sure (I hope) she had support from family and friends, who maybe said things like "Oh my god, are you okay? What's going on?  Do you love this guy? He's a married man, with might have lost your relationship over this, and damaged your reputation as an actress too. But you're only human.  We'll be here for you when the media rip you to shreds.  We'll support you whatever you decide.  We love you" or whatever. The kind of things I'd say to a friend, or sister in a similar situation.  The kind of things I'd want someone to say to me under those circumstances.

Of course, we, the general public, are not her friends, apparently we're judge, jury and executioner of her private life and problems.  But "Ah-ha!", I hear you cry, "when she put herself in the public eye, she lost that right to privacy!"

Did she?! Yes she put herself out there for judgement- as an actress.  So we get to judge her, as an actress.  If she was an ambassador for fidelity maybe we should be suggesting her resignation. But she isn't.  She's an actress. A 22 year old girl (she's the same age as my little sister ffs!)  She's a human being.  A fact that some of the people ripping her to shreds in the media and online seem to have forgotten.

The more people around me voiced their opinions on the matter, the more I began to see it as almost an issue of equality...

Men who have affairs, they're philanderers, they get a slapped wrist, a cursory mention in the article, and are expected to hang their head in shame and keep in in their pants (for a while at least), but in a way, it's almost like we expect it of them.  And that's actually really sad in itself, and probably an entire other post, hell book, would be needed to cover it.  Women who have affairs on the other hand, they're evil. The very root of all that is wrong with the world. Tempting a wholesome man away from his wife and children with their wiley ways and breaking men's hearts.  Is there no end to their wickedness?!

Erm. The last I checked it was March 2013, not Genesis 3.

Have we really not progressed beyond the idea of women as temptresses, who must be faithful and pure and held to higher standards than men?

How sad.

I don't condone people having affairs, although ultimately, outside of my own relationship, who does what with who is not really any of my concern.  I don't have any strong feelings, or indeed, feelings at all about any of the people who were involved in this particular 'public event', since that's what it became.  I don't underestimate the consequences of an affair on everyone involved.  But I also don't think that we, as outsiders get to decide who are the "goodies" and "baddies"(to borrow my 3 year olds terminology there) in these very private, very personal (no matter how public) battles. Particularly when society appears to always demonise the cheating female regardless.

That was me, being deliberately controversial on my blog for the first time ever.  Want more controversy?! Click the squiggly button! You know you want to ;)

Countdown to the (Hen) Weekend

This weekend it is my best-friend-since-the-beginning-of-time's hen weekend.  It has been on the horizon for a while now but then suddenly BOOM! It was almost here.

It will be the first time I have been away from my little dudes overnight, except, you know, every time I go to work.  But this is different- 3 whole nights and days away in succession...oops, sorry, salivating on to my keyboard there slightly.

When I first told Chris he went into shock.  Literally.

He sat, silent and frozen, in a state of catatonia, until I waved my hands in front of his face:
"What's the matter?!"
"I didn't know it was going to be 3 nights" he said, so quietly it was almost inaudible.

So, his youngest sister is coming to help out, and just generally to spend time with the boys because she doesn't get to see them that often and they love her and vice versa. Since these arrangements were put in place, the colour has returned to Chris's cheeks slightly.

As for me, well I've been on a rollercoaster of emotions about it, and that's just this week alone.  It's gone a little something like this:

Oh my god it's Monday! The hen do is this weekend. Shit me, that's come around fast! Woot woot! So excited!

Oh my god, I can't believe I'm leaving these delightful little cherubs for a whole weekend.  My lovely lovely boys, I'll miss them so much *sniff*

Sheesh these kids are hard work, I hope Chris will be able to cope on his own with them all weekend.  Oh wait... his sister is coming. I remember now.  They'll be fine. Now where's the wine, I mean err coffee, yes coffee


Seriously, it's like they picked up on my sentimentality on Tuesday and thought Let's give her a proper send-off.

On Tuesday Toby whipped out the "I don't like you, I only like DADDY" card.  Of course Daddy wasn't around so it was all about the "I WANT DADDY!" every time I told him off, which was frequently, because he kept doing stupid shit he knows he isn't supposed to do, like snatching things off his brother, pushing him over, shouting in my face, slamming doors in a temper, and throwing a pancake at me.  Yes, you read that right. And yes, he's three. I really have no explanation, he's usually a pretty good kid, so either the chicken pox has affected him mentally, or he's about to get his period.

Yesterday he woke up believing he was in a musical.  It started with him singing on the toilet at 7am and waking the entire house, and ended with him playing his bath flutes at around 7pm and in-between there was much shrieking, and which I think everyone in Burnage Tesco, me included, really enjoyed.

Rudy has been on top form, ripping pages in books, pouring liquids on to electricals and climbing, always climbing, and never sitting still for one single minute.

Yesterday evening Chris and I shared a bottle of wine.  We should know better by now really.  Whenever we get smug , enjoy a relaxing evening together and go to bed late (err 10..30 actually) the kids somehow know, and they make us pay. They were like a tiny tag team of terror, taking it in turns to wake us hourly until we had no choice but to start being pissed off at each other because of it. Chris slept through his alarm and was late for work.  I had a "lie in" until 7.30am (presumably because the kids inadvertently also knackered themselves out in the process of  wrecking our sleep) and woke up in a BAD MOOD.  Where I continue to be as I write this and my children fight over Megabloks.

Hen Weekend: I am READY. BRING IT.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Sunday (Monday) Summary

Last week's 'roundup' post was written on Tuesday night so I think the fact I am writing this on Monday evening shows improvement, don't you?

I worked all weekend again, and I've had three hours sleep today so apologies for typos and general rambling nonsense.

As I discussed last week I am trying to capture some of the little stuff that happens every day. So I can look back and smile/laugh/cry/cringe.

This week we have mostly been dealing with the chicken pox!

Toby started out with one singular spot on Sunday 3rd and when I got home from work on the Monday morning there was still just the one lonely spot.  But over the course of the morning they magically multiplied and soon he was covered.  And I mean, covered.  On his scalp, his face, in his ears, behind his ears, in his mouth, on his neck, chest, underarms, arms, back, bum, legs, and even feet.  I felt so bad for him that having had zero sleep whatsoever after work I dutifully trundled off to the shops for "chicken pox supplies" and we battened down the hatches and barely left the house all week.

Actually, I escaped for the afternoon on Wednesday, which I think helped me cling on to what little sanity I have left these days.  I went over to my friends' house as she's teaching me TMW, which stands for Thai Chi Movements for Wellbeing.  It's partly to help me in my quest to get fit and healthy and help my poor sad knees, but also just generally it sounded like something that everyone could do with learning, as who doesn't need a little help with their well-being? I sure do.  I've only had two sessions but enjoying it so far.

Aside from that and a second dash to the supermarket (unaccompanied) on Friday we've mostly been in quarantine...

watching DVD's

playing lego

and of course occasionally driving each other crazy (no photographic evidence for this one!)

His spots have started to scab over now so according to The Chicken Pox Rules we can now leave the house and mingle with the general public, although Rudy has yet to develop a single spot, so chances are, just as we're integrating back into society and getting some much-needed Vitamin D, Rudy will develop it and we'll back in isolation again.

I underestimated the chicken pox actually.  I don't remember having it as a child, although I'm assured I did.  I knew it wasn't going to be pleasant, obviously, but it's been much more gruesome than I imagined. He's been so brave, much braver than I would be, although he's had his moments of total emotional breakdown obviously.  Probably the saddest was when he was in pain with one of the larger spots in his ear and between sobs he said to me "Mummy?...Chicken pox is naughty" *sniff sniff* Poor little guy.

Oh and speaking of ears, he thinks he has hedgehogs in his.  Yes, you read that right.  Hedgehogs.  I don't know why he thinks this but he does.  He told me that "The hedgehogs don't like chicken pox in my ears" and when questioned, calmly informed me that he has hedgehogs in his ears, and that they may in fact eat the chicken pox...I'm trying to see this as a "imaginative 3 year old" thing and not a "early onset psychosis" thing.  He does seem to be over the worst of the pox now anyway although has picked a couple so I'm slightly worried about scars. I guess only time will tell.

Rudy had a black eye again this week.  He had a black eye a few weeks ago, that he got from playing peekaboo over the back of the sofa with me (I know, how guilty do you think I felt?!) and I actually took him to A&E the day after as the swelling was pretty bad, although thankfully it was just soft tissue damage (aka, your regular run-of-the-mill black eye) not a fracture.  Then just as the swelling and bruising had disappeared, he decided to try climb on to the glass TV stand, lost his footing and bashed the same eye on the edge, resulting in- you guessed it, a black eye. Only not as bad this time, as he caught under his eye so there was no swelling, but he did have a delightfully bright purple bruise, what people would (and did) refer to as "a real shiner"

He wasn't bothered beyond the first 30 seconds after it happened, and so life continued as normal, but with the addition of random strangers staring and/or accosting me to ask how he had done it.  One of the gymnastic coaches working at the centre where we sometimes go to Gym Tots took one look at Rudy as we walked in the door and asked "That's a real shiner! What have you been doing- knocking him around?!"  How do you answer that without looking like a shitty parent?!

"Oh yeah, all the time!" (Blatant sarcasm, but could be misinterpreted)
"No no no, it's not like that at all!"(Me think the Mama do protesteth too much)

I went for Paddington Bear Stare whilst handing over our money and searching the empty, sleep-deprived cavity where my brain used to be, for something witty that would convey just how much I disliked his question and how there was no way on this earth I would ever "knock" my kids "around".  Needless to say my search was fruitless but later, after we'd been to and enjoyed our little gym session he spotted us on our way out and said "still just the one black eye then?!" and I pointed out that the chances of him getting a black eye in a padded gym tots session was much much lower than of him getting one in our non-padded home, and that perhaps if our house, and indeed, everywhere was as padded, then maybe he wouldn't get black eyes at all.  Although thinking about it now, I don't know with Rudy, he might find a way...hmmm...

He's all healed now anyway and I am (perhaps foolishly) optimistic that we can have a few days without injury (please?!)  He is trying out lots of new words, although unfortunately a lot of them sound really similar, like "Dadda" (Daddy) "DA!" (Toby) "Do" (Doggy) and "Dar" (Down).  He spends a lot of time shouting "BANANA" because he is obsessed with bananas, and plus we've kind of reinforced it unintentionally, by actually feeding him whenever he yells it.  So like, why wouldn't he yell it now?! He has also started saying the most adorable thing: "Duddle" which means "cuddle" and is usually accompanied by him stretching out his arms and wiggling his little fingers at you.  So cute.  It's beyond cute actually. There needs to be a new word invented especially for it.

Speaking of super cute, here's how the week ended...I got home from work on Mother's Day morning and this was what I saw when I walked through the door

Then I went to bed in-between my night shifts and while I was sleeping the boys did some Mothers Day crafts with Daddy.  So I woke up to tea and biscuits and this

A beautiful end to a poxy, get it- poxy?! (Hehe, never gets old that one!) week :)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Pick 'n' Mix Parenting

Go to any parent and baby group, soft-play area, park, or general public space, and it quickly becomes clear that there are literally hundreds of thousands of different ways to parent.  You can't swing your changing bag without knocking down a whole load of people with a different parenting style to your own.

This is good.  I mean, every child is different, so it makes sense every parent would be too....right? Well, yes, although it can also make life as a new Mum pretty precarious.  Already you're a foreigner to this strange new 'Parent Land' navigating your way through uncertain terrain: "Home or hospital birth? Land or water birth? Breast or bottle feed? Traditional or Baby-Lead weaning? State school, private school, homeschool, un-school?!?!" etc etc etc.

It can be difficult enough, what with the sleep deprivation to even begin to make sense of the choices you're facing, without also having to worry that by doing A you're going to be upsetting everyone who does B or that by choosing X you then have to also choose Y and Z as well.

There are some people who pick one parenting path and stick to it.  For some of those people it may genuinely be that every single bend, fork, and bump along that path suits them and their little family perfectly.  In which case that's wonderful and super convenient.  For others I expect it's more the case that they're so overwhelmed by this new parenting journey they've found themselves on, too exhausted and terrified to forge their own path forward, too late to turn back, they really just want someone, anyone, but preferably another parent or better still, an "expert" to hand them a sat-nav, a route plan, a backpack of supplies and tell them "THIS is the right way to go.  Do this and all will be well" And so they subscribe to whichever particular parenting style that is wholeheartedly, blindly and in good faith, in the hope that they'll reach their destination, whatever that is "A good night's sleep" "A potty trained child" "An 18 year old with no criminal record" "A well rounded human being" without hitting any hurdles or falling in any bogs along the way.

Unfortunately parenting is full of hurdles, both little and large, and there are bogs too, and great quagmires of shit.  Parenting books, parenting styles, advice from other parents, they can only get you so far.  When you and your children get lost in the woods (metaphorically speaking, but also, like literally too if it comes up), you need to know that you can be the kind of parent your children need right there and then.  Regardless of whether it fits in with your overall ethos, or goes against advice someone has given you, or if it will make you unpopular amongst other parents you know. It may turn out that all that happened was you took a left instead of a right, and a simple tweak of your day to day parenting is all that's needed to bring (relative) harmony to your family life once more.  But it may be that your compass has been fucked from the start, in which case you've been heading in the wrong direction all this time, and some serious rethinking and backtracking is required. Even so, there's no need to panic, kids are resilient and adaptable, and once you know where you need to go, they'll probably even be able to help you all get there.

If there was a name for my style of parenting it would be a Pick 'n' Mix parent.  I do what suits us best as a family, based on the information I have at the time.  This usually involves a little from column A, a little from Column B, and the rest of it I make up as I go along (Shh, don't tell anyone!)

I have two children, one of whom was born in hospital, the other at home, I have both breast and bottle fed, I have both co-slept and had my children sleeping in a seperate room, I have used cloth nappies, and disposable nappies, worn my children in slings and pushed them in prams, I have rocked them until I could no longer feel my own arms, and at times they have cried alone (usually at those times i have also been crying alone, in another room but I digress). They have to sit to the table for dinner, they have a bath most nights and they're generally in bed for 7.30 but we're humans not robots and willing to make exceptions to all those (and many others).  They watch TV and sometimes eat sweets and have far far too many toys.  We don't have a naughty step or chair, although I sometimes have to send myself into another room for a few minutes to calm the fuck down.  They have had all their routine vaccinations but no extras.  They will be going to school when the time comes (if I get my shit together and figure the system out in time!)  We bake and paint and read lots of books.  They sometimes get yelled at.  They have cuddles and kisses in abundance.  A lot of the things I do, or have done fall under the "Natural" or "Attachment Parenting" umbrellas  but many many others don't.

My parenting style doesn't always make me popular, If you don't fit into any of the convenient parenting boxes then people don't know how to categorise you, which means you're left sitting on the fence, a painful and precarious position, with folk either trying to pull you down on to their side, or push you over on to the other. It's messy and bitty and means that there's never an obvious answer when it comes to making decisions I have to look at whatever evidence is available at the time and make the choice that's right for me and that I think will be right for my children (after all we can't ever be sure, of anything).

But despite all that I still think it's the best style of parenting there is.  You know why? Because Chris and I invented it.  It is exclusive and tailor made to our two children, it's constantly evolving and adapting as we change and grow as a family.  Parenting theories have come and gone, many a mother has been left regretting decisions she made based on a so called expert's advice, wishing she'd listened to her intuition instead. That isn't going to be me fourty years down the line.,

Don't get me wrong, I don't for one minute think my children are going to grow up and agree with every single decision we made on their behalf, sometimes I actually wonder if they'll even give a shit about some of the things I have agonised over, or if things that once seemed so important will fade into insignificance as they grow.  I know we can't be the perfect parents, but I also know that we can try to be the best parents we can to the children we have, and that there is no one else, no one expert, no one theory, absolutely no one, who can do that better than we can.

I wrote this post for Theme Thursday! Click above to see what other folk have got to say about Parenting Styles :)