Thursday, 8 November 2012

Allowed to wee yet?

I've just come across this post on a new mother using Gina Ford's methods. Hilarious. You should check out Laura's entire blog, it's very funny.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Does TV stunt children's brains?

Confession time! My children watch TV - a lot of it.

Until two days ago.

I've cut them off cold turkey. No more Peppa (hurrah!), no more Mr Tumble, no Batman, no Dora the Explorer, no Spiderman, Super Hero Squad, Ben & Holly, Mister Maker, Thundercats, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Team Umizoomi, In the Night Garden....whew! Yes, there's a lot. So TV is more of a staple in this house rather than a treat. It also doesn't work as an electronic babysitter because there's no novelty value to it.

Although there was some mega whining about not having the TV on during the first day (and, to be fair, some the second day too), Pix has risen to the challenge admirably. He's spent hours and hours playing clever little games, making little worlds and asking questions. Oh God, the questions! Here's just a taster of what we've covered today: what planets there are, gravity, maths (addition and subtraction), what aliens might eat (salt), why we think about people when we're not with them, why people might die if they don't eat their breakfast (he's going through a death phase at the moment), how to send an email to people, whether jumping counts as exercise, does Woody from Toy Story get old and die (hello death phase!), what are cars made out of, what are tellys made out of, why are there so many red lights on cars, where does rain water come from and why does the swing make his penis tickle. I'm sure he didn't ask this many before, so perhaps turning the TV off has stopped stunting his brain. I might put it back on tomorrow for a rest ;)

We've also noticed that there's been absolutely no shouting matches over the last two days. And there's been quite a few recently, so that's amazing. Where he has started to try it on, he's backed down pretty quickly and it's not escalated to being removed from a situation which has been pretty amazing really.

How much screen time do your little ones get? Do you see a difference in their behaviour when it's off?

We started the indoctrination early with Pixie

Sunday, 21 October 2012


It's perhaps indicative of my state of mind why I didn't put two and two together to make the answer to why Pops has had a bad tummy and skin complaints... It was, in fact, only when I stumbled across a post in a forum of mine that I discovered that peppermint tea can sometimes cause diarrhea  and skin irritation in nursing babies. Peppermint tea is what I've started drinking by the bucketload for the past few weeks.

Head, meet desk.

How on earth it didn't enter my head that there may be a connection when her brother has an allergic reaction to mint I don't know, but since I stopped the tea her problems have begin to, er, dry up. I'm sure it wasn't the cause as the timing's wrong but early indicators show that there's a link. Unfortunately, that leaves me without a hot drink of choice!

ETA: I've reintroduced a couple of peppermint teas into my diet and so far so ok. On second thoughts I don't think it was that after all, but I'm not taking chances!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Dermatographic urticaria, or, why my child is weird

Poppet is in week four of a bout of diarrhoea (woo, spelled right the first time, get me!). Tests show she doesn't have a bug, so it's probably some sort of viral thing. It's not pleasant, but she's fine. What's interesting to note is that the last few days she's been really reactive to touch. If you pick her up, or hold her, or she knocks herself, or anything really she gets bright red marks. It rather looks as though she has dermatographic urticaria - a small scratch to her arm flared up in a big welt. The font of knowledge wikipedia says it can occur post virally. Am I meant to notify the doctor of this?

Good grief, but can none of my children be normal in the health stakes?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Play Assessment

I'm on a roll tonight ;) Actually, I've just been reminded that Pixie has got a bit further down the line with his SALT (speech and language therapy) assessment. He had his play assessment (which is literally someone assessing him while playing!) and we now have a professional opinion of what we're facing.

He does have a stammer and he does have dysfluency and lack of coherence in his speech. The therapist is unsure whether the lack of coherence is down to the massive amount of tongue action he does (seriously, it's all over the place, hanging out like a dog, flapping around his mouth.... It reminds me that I remember thinking that my tongue used to feel like it was too big for my mouth a lot. I don't now, so it could actually be that he needs to grow into his tongue and all of that will be fine, but otoh it could be something else). She wants us to concentrate on dealing with the stammer first as that will give his head to grow around his tongue if that's what's needed.

In all honesty we've not been great at putting into practice all the strategies we've been taught. In fact, I'd go as far as saying we're reacting worse to the stammer than we ever have done. At least, I certainly am. I've found myself finishing his sentence or quickly getting my side of the conversation in before he has a chance to speak as I can't face listening to him trying to get his words out. Not good. At least writing it down here makes me accountable to making changes. That, and we've got another appointment series starting this week.

Start of the Road

I'm meant to be editing some photos of our recent holiday but a slight technical issue (flat camera battery, whoops!) means I can't get them on to the computer so I thought as I'm here I'd update about the salicylic acid intolerance testing we're doing with Pixie. (I also want to stay online to stat check as I've just taken the decision to de-anonymise this blog with real life people and have put a link on my facebook page. Eek! So hi, those of you who are looking ;) )

We'd made the decision to cut out salicylic acid from Pixie's diet without discussing it with a medical professional first. Firstly, because we didn't think it would do any harm, and secondly because it can take two to three weeks to get a non-urgent appointment with my surgery and frankly I'm not that patient. We thought we saw some success and I think my last post on this subject saw a link between eating a 'moderate' food and a worsening of his symptoms. Since then we got to a stage where his symptoms were still there in varying degrees even when we were very strictly sticking to 'low' and 'negligible' level foods (for the list we've been working off, see here) but if we gave him something he wasn't used to he'd have terrible urticaria (hives, to you and me) around his face and terribly itchy, dark eyes. Every time we thought about giving up the low salicylic acid diet (Christ, I'm not keep typing that out, LSA diet from now on I think!) because we couldn't see any reason why his symptoms were flaring, we'd accidentally let our guard down and have a horrendous reaction to tend to. This isn't the best picture as it was taken on my phone (and please excuse the dinner down his top, which I've just noticed!), but the redness is lots and lots of hives:

While this was going on, we were referred to a paediatrician regarding chicken pox vaccines, so we took the opportunity to discuss this with the doctor. Unfortunately he confirmed that there are no tests we can do for this particular allergy but we can test for individual foods. We're working on a list of things we're pretty sure cause a reaction in Pixie; we know that mangos, flavoured crisps, anything tinned and mint cause a problem. Because the  list of potentials is so big I think we may have to do staggered testing as we want to get moving on it and we can't overload his poor body with things that may cause a reaction. His body needs time to get over the responses he has (or doesn't) but I don't want to wait indefinitely for testing.

To be honest I'm not sure where we go from here. Even if it's not the salicylic acid, there's definitely a pretty major list of allergies/intolerances he's got. I don't know how he can avoid even the ones we know cause a problem for the rest of his life - cleaning teeth is a problem, eating anything but home made food is a problem, having a varied diet is a problem.... Unfortunately, I think getting a solid answer is going to be a problem too :( Having said that, one thing that isn't a problem is Pixie's response to it all. He has been totally amazing at picking up that he must ask if he's allowed to eat any food offered to him by anyone other than me or his dad. He knows quite a few things that he's not allowed and will stop someone giving him it if necessary. He also saves me any of the sweeties he's given but can't eat - excellent!

PS - hello to the FIFTY EIGHT people who have just checked this blog in the last hour!

New Beginnings

Oh my, I didn't realise it had been so long since I posted. What's been happening? We've had a pre-school starter, salicylate acid intolerance updates, we've had sleeping, we've had no sleeping....

So yes, Pixie has started at his pre-school and boy does he love it. Every day we hear "is it a pre-school day today?" and he's been very excited about doing his 'homework' - he gets to pick a book from their own library whenever he wants. This is him on his first day:

It's a difficult task to get him out of his uniform at the end of the day! As good as I find his school so far, I wish it came with an instruction book. I think it's assumed that parents know what they're doing but I don't have a clue! As evidenced by my complete failure to pay his snack fee most weeks and reply to his first birthday party invite until it it was too late and the spaces had been filled. Whoops!

Of course, taking photos is a laborious job with many unusable results....

Monday, 10 September 2012

Sleep Training: Stage Four

I've just put Pops down for her nap, which is the commencement of stage four of our sleep training. Because....the cot is in Pixie's room! A day of naps in his room followed by them rooming in tonight. Yikes.

Stage three went really well. She now has her last milk during the story, we all say goodnight and as Daddy and Pixie leave the room she goes into her cot wide awake. There's sometimes a bit of grousing but  it's rarely all out crying and not for more than a few minutes. That might change tonight when she knows someone else is in the room with her (especially as Pixie has a tendency to chant 'shh' at her if she cries), but, well, we'll sort it.

Best of all we get to go back into our ACTUAL bed. Amazeballs. Although I'll miss watching films in bed ;)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Third Stage of Sleep Training

Last night was night 7 of the sleep training regime. We've been taking a slowly, slowly, catchy monkey approach and made minor changes for 3 nights before introducing the next stage.

Night 1-3 - Introduced the '10 minute' rule of not going in to her, and even then only for a cuddle.
Night 4-6 - Began putting her to bed awake after her last feed instead of waiting for her to feed to sleep
Night 7-10 - Bring last feed forward slightly it's during story time, then putting her into the cot awake and all leave the room together (usually the boys leave and I stay to give a last feed in the dark and quiet)

I really expected this change to cause problems as she NEVER gets put to bed at night like that, it's always been just me and her for a final feed. But I turned the light off, gave her a cuddle, sang the going to bed song, and popped her in. There was maybe a minute of babbling, no crying at all, and that was that until SIX AM! Not a single peep from her.


I mean, 7am would be better, but... ;)

Hopefully the next two nights will go as well as last night, and then we'll move the cot into Pixie's room (again!). I'm undecided whether to go straight to leave them both in the room together as she falls asleep, or have 3 nights of him leaving the room for another story and then coming in while she's asleep.

I think because we're habit breaking, the very slowly routine changing is working really well for us. Sure, it takes longer, but it's not so much of a change in one go.

How's your sleep been?

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sleep Training An 8 Month Old: Continued

We're on night 4 of sleep training and we're still camped out on the airbed!

Night 2 we had exactly the same plan. It was favourable when she didn't wake at the recently expected 10pm-ish, so that was nice. She didn't stir til 2am-ish when I think she'd have gone back to sleep except it turns out the not unsubstantial amount of noise an airbed makes when you roll over, could be heard in her (our!) room. I think our noise woke her up just a bit too much so I went to give her a cuddle and after a couple of minutes more crying she went back to sleep. There were a few more stirs but nothing of any consequence, although they increased in quantity from 6am til getting up time (6.50am, still a vast improvement on 5am!).

Night 3 brought a disagreement between me and the hubby. He thought there was no stirring until early morning, I beg to differ*! Regardless of who was right (me, obvs), nobody went up to her so it mustn't have been anything of any note. Slightly earlier wake up this morning of 6am, although when you've had nearly a full night's sleep that'll do, donkey.

Tonight (night 4!) I ended up putting her into her cot while she was still awake (normally we feed to sleep) and I expected a long, long screaming fit. BUT, 3 minutes later she was asleep. Hurrah! I suspect there might be an unsettled night ahead of us but she needs to be able to go into her cot awake so that she can share a bedroom with Pixie. We'll work on that - she goes in her cot awake for naps so there's no reason why she can't.

*In the interest of transparency it's only fair I point out that I just asked him if he had thought there hadn't been any awakenings and he said no, he wasn't sure which is why he'd asked me. So I was definitely right ;)

Friday, 31 August 2012

Sleep Training an 8 month Old

I know sleep training isn't for everyone, and the way we do it might make some people raise their eyebrows but there we have it. When you spend a proportion of your night in tears because the baby's awake for the 6th time, or because you've spent half an hour sitting up with her until she falls dead asleep only for her eyes to spring open and the wailing start again the minute you try to transfer her to bed, well, something has to change. So now the month long hammering of cold-development splurge-teething we've had which has totally kicked our sleep patterns is over, we've decided to go for sleep training again.

We've previously tried a softly-softly approach to sleep training. Back when she was younger I had to get her to adjust to going to nap on her own without being fed to sleep and we also used the core night method with some success overnight (as we knew she could go longer than she was at the time without feeding in the night). Because of this, we knew that the more gentle approaches to sleep training such as pick up-put down,   or the gentle withdrawal didn't work - our returning presence made things worse (we found this with Pixie too).

We know from past experience that Pops won't settle back to sleep in the same room as us; she knows we're there and she's damn well going to keep going til she gets that cuddle and feed. Which is why last night found me and my husband on an airbed in the front room. Glamping! At the 11th hour (literally! We'd just turned the lights off to go to sleep) we decided that as well as letting her learn to self-settle again we'd take the opportunity to night wean as well. We had 4 glorious nights of no waking from 7pm-6am either side of our camping trip a month ago and she eats 3 meals a day plus snacks (as well as nursing) so we're confident she's getting enough day time calories. Almost as soon as we decided that, she woke up. We let her cry for 10 minutes, then her daddy went up to give her a cuddle. She cried for another 10 minutes after he put her back to bed so I went in for a cuddle. And then, joy of joys, she went to sleep about 5 minutes later! I was totally expecting it to carry on for about 3 hours.

She woke a lot in the night. At least 6, although I was too bleary to count. But each time she cried for less than 10 minutes. I got up to feed her at 6.50am because frankly my boobs would have exploded if I hadn't! First morning she's not been up and at 'em at 5am, WOOP! (My husband is probably wooping louder tbh, as it's him that's got up at that ridiculous time. Hurrah for him!)

I reckon there's going to be a few more nights on the airbed ahead of us, but early indicators seem favourable. Click for continued success please, as our sanity depends on it!
This is an interesting article about salicylic acid intolerance in children.

Monday, 13 August 2012

This is an interesting post about discipling your children, and one that hit a slight nerve today as I battle over a week's worth of camping/poorly baby/insomnia/child with nightmares/annoying dog sleeplessness.

I think most people recognise that smacking isn't a helpful child discipline tool, don't they? Yet shouting at children is seen as an ok thing to do, whether you're a parent or other caregiver. But would you shout at anyone else who was annoying you? I'm pretty sure you wouldn't get away with that with your partner, your boss or subordinates or your friends. So why do we do it with kids?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

NCT Newsletter

I've written an article for the NCT newsletter, whose subject is 'communication' this time round. The NCT, by the way, have had the pleasure of me volunteering (no, I don't know what I was thinking either!) to assist the co-ordination of the nearly new sale and various other things. 

Anyway, I've just sent it across and it's here:

Pixie was always a physically advanced baby and toddler, so in a sense I was expecting him to be a slower talker (I’d heard the adage ‘a baby’s a walker or a talker but not both’!), so when his peers picked up words slightly faster than him I wasn’t bothered and assumed he’d get there in his own time.

Just before Christmas 2011 (when he was two and a half) his dad and I started to notice that Pixie was stuttering. At that point he was having a huge burst of vocabulary so we put it down to his mouth catching up with his brain and didn’t really think much more about it. It happened again, and again, and in about February we realised that what he was doing was above and beyond ‘normal’ childhood development and in the realms of having a speech problem.

His stutter has presented perfectly typically. He’s 3 (most stutters present between 3-5 years), he’s male (approximately 3/5 stutterers are male), he has parents with slight speech issues (there appears to be a familial link between stutterers, although the exact cause is unknown) and he’s had a great deal of stressful change in a short period of time (new sibling and a change of childcare provider) – I’m not sure he could be more of a classic presentation! Unfortunately knowing that he’s ‘typical’ hasn’t assuaged the sadness I feel watching him struggle to get his words out.

I’ve mentioned my concerns to other people who come into contact with Pixie. Their assurances that “he’s not that bad” do little to ease my worries. Either they’re wrong and it is that bad or I – the very person who’s meant to know him best – can’t understand him. I’ve been told that there are reasons for his stutter to present worse in front of parents but even that does little to alleviate the worry – parenthood is one long mass of guilt and worry, isn’t it? 

Although Pixie is only just vaguely becoming aware that he has a stutter (he’s very recently started to stop himself in the middle of sentences and drift off for a moment before starting afresh), he’s becoming increasingly aware and frustrated by people’s inability to understand him. Worse, he’s started to realise when people are pretending to understand and he’s been in tears several times because of it. Having to translate what he’s saying to people feels like I’m undermining him and removing his voice, yet if I don’t then he doesn’t get to say what he wants to say. 

I’ve recently completed the first stage of speech therapy, which is parent-only group sessions aimed at giving caregivers the techniques necessary to assist the stutterer in talking. The key points are to limit questions and only ask necessary ones (which seems counterintuitive when your child is still learning to talk!); make fewer demands on their speech (no more “tell daddy what you did at nursery today!”); slow your own speech down to model a better speech pattern; remove environmental distractions so speech can be concentrated on; remove any competition in speech so they’re not fighting to be heard in family life. 

Some of what we’ve been asked to do feels very much as though a step back is being taken – simplifying language seems wrong when as a parent your job is to help teach your child an expansive and diverse vocabulary. We worried that we’d never get a proper conversation out of Pixie again if we didn’t ask him questions, but surprisingly giving him space to talk (or not, as he prefers) has probably resulted in better conversation because he’s telling us what he wants us to know rather than what we’re asking him to tell us. Remembering that it’s ok for children not to want to talk all the time, and that we as adults don’t need to know the ins and outs of their day away from us. After three group sessions the feeling that we’re going backwards has started to abate and we feel as though we’re better equipped to handle Pixie's problem. Changing the way we speak is hard, and we often find ourselves stalling halfway through a sentence as we realise we’re about to end it with a question. But as Pixie is learning to get through the stutter, we’re also learning how to best assist him. 

The next stage in his therapy is an assessment through play, which is scheduled for a couple of weeks’ time. From there we’ll know exactly what problems we’re dealing with and the speech therapist will be able to review his progress over time. With any luck Pixie will be one of the children who outgrow their stutter – only 1% of children carry it through into adulthood. If he’s not then I’m hopeful that an early intervention will give him and us the tools to adapt in the wider world.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Can't Do Carrots

I'm working on the next speech post (I am, I am, honest! Definitely not watching repeats of The Bill) but there's been an interesting development on the salicylate front.

Yesterday Pix had one and a half carrot batons. I mentioned in my last post that he's not a fan of low salicylate vegetables (although I've had some good ideas to try out for that, which is awesome, thanks to folks for that. Apart from Katherine who suggested he try kale, MY MOST HATED VEGETABLE EVER) so we figured just to get some nutrients in him we'd let him have a little bit of carrot, which has medium levels of salicylic acid in which we thought would be ok in moderation. Well. Today his eyes have become more and more red underneath and itchy; his face and arm skin has been itching him all day; his cough has got more and more frequent during the course of the day and his stutter has been awful.

The fact that they've all got worse together confirms (in my opinion) that they're all related. It would be far too much of a coincidence for them to completely autonomously of each other get bad over the course of the same day. Surely? But, it has been a better weathered day today so it's possible it may be a pollen allergy, I suppose. Do pollen allergies cause stutters? Or maybe something else. But possibly for the first time on this venture I feel slightly confident that I'm not displaying vast Münchhausen by proxy symptoms and I am barking up the right tree.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Vegemite Vege-won't

We're coming to the end of day five on a lower salicylate diet for Pixie and I have to say it's not been as soul crushingly hard as I was expecting. We've been super pleased with his nursery as the P's daddy called them to let them know what we were up to, expecting to be asked to take in a pack up for Pix, but they've accommodated us entirely. The only problems we're finding are that he now has a very limited diet, especially in the fruit and veg department. Luckily he likes bananas, pears and golden delicious apples so he eats two of those a day. Unfortunately all the low salicylate veg are ones he doesn't like, like cabbage and peas. Bummer for him. I'm trying to get him to eat them but it's hard going - if anyone has any bright ideas on how to get kids to eat certain vegetables that'd be handy! The other problem is the range of food he can have while we're out. Partly this is because I'm being particularly cautious while I'm getting to grips with the diet, but partly there's plain crisps and, er, that's about it. He's still being so good about it all.

His symptoms may have seen a very, very mild improvement. It's hard to say with a lot of them as they wax and wane anyway, but his eyes are less red and angry looking; I've not heard him cough much in the last day or two; there's no eczema patches; I've not heard much whining about being huuuuuuuuuuuungrrrrrrrrrrrrrry; I've not noticed him bash his head a million times. His speech is going through a relatively 'good' patch at the minute but he's definitely still stammering, although the coherence of his words is quite good. So yeah, there's certainly not been a decline since we started this and if I squint a bit there may even be improvements!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Those Silly Salicylates

I mentioned in my last post that one of the things I was considering was a salicylate intolerance in Pixie. The list of symptoms associated with it are varied and numerous and a salicylate free diet is mooted by some to have positive affects on people with ADHD.

There are a number of things on the list that Pixie has. Obviously it may well be that he just 'happens' to have a multitude of unrelated, low-level health issues but equally there may be an all-encompassing reason for them. Having fibromyalgia myself, I know that a myriad of seemingly unrelated issues can (eventually!) be tracked back to an umbrella condition. With that in mind, we decided that cutting down on salicylates certainly wouldn't hurt.

The list of symptoms we're concerned about may be a mix of unrelated issues and the fact that Pixie is, y'know, three, , so I thought I'd track his progress here. The symptoms we think are related are these:

  • eczema (mild, but we can never quite get rid of it)
  • persistent cough
  • slightly darker and slightly paler patches on his forearms, as though the skin pigmentation is going awry
  • itchy, dry skin around his eyes, with red circles round them, that cream doesn't seem to get rid of
  • constant hunger
  • accident prone (honestly, I'm surprised he doesn't have brain damage by now, the amount of times he's walked into the same pieces of furniture!)
  • hearing without comprehension
  • slurred speech
  • stammering
Obviously if the salicylate intolerance isn't the cause then the symptoms won't get better over time. However, even if he is intolerant I'm expecting the symptoms to wax and wane before going completely, especially while we get to grips with what is and isn't 'acceptable' under the new regime. So I'm going to track the progress here.

We're currently at the end of day two and he's being surprisingly agreeable about the entire situation. He's started asking if he's allowed to have something before he eats it (which is brilliant!). The worst part is limiting his fruit and veg as he's a big fruit fan and we obviously want to keep him having a fresh, healthy diet! Because he goes to nursery for 3 half days a week he has 6 meals a week outside the home. I don't want to mess about with what he eats there on what's unsubstantiated theory at the moment so we're not going to ask the nursery to alter his food in any way yet. However, we'll keep an eye on any reactions he has on those days and take steps if necessary. I'm slightly concerned about the website I linked to earlier saying that caution needs to be exercised on reintroducing salicylates as anaphylactic shock may occur....I don't think that they'll be removed so completely (we're not currently changing his toiletries, for example) that him eating 'normally' at nursery will result in that though! Um, if anyone thinks they know different please get in touch before Tuesday morning!

I wasn't expecting to see any results this quickly but what is a little bit galling is that this afternoon his eyes got really bad and red again and his behaviour deteriorated pretty quickly. How much of this is because we slipped up somewhere and how much is because the weekend was spent with his grandparents having attention lavished on him I don't know, but there were definitely tears before bedtime!

Tomorrow is another day, and one that we'll hopefully start to see signs of change.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Talk the Talk

Yesterday was quite a tear-filled day for me. The morning saw Pixie's first dysfluency speech therapy session (although it was parent only so he was off living it up with a friend!). 

I feel horrendously sad for him and guilty. I honestly thought his affected speech was a short-lived developmental phase but being there made me realise that his speech patterns are quite a bit more serious than I thought. As he's not been formally assessed yet I can only give my lay opinion but I believe he has a stammer (or stutter if you're from the US) and cluttered speech.

The stammer has presented perfectly typically. He's 3, he's a boy, he has parents with speech issues (his dad had a stammer, I get what I call speech dyslexia (although I'm sure there's an official name!) from my fibromyalgia), he's had a great deal of stressful change in a short period. I'm not sure he could be more of a classic presentation! According to the Speech Disorder website there are three types of stammer:

There are three main types of stammers that exist and which keep individuals from speaking most efficiently. One type of stammering occurs when specific sounds are repeated, such as the “s”. This often makes a word such as “sweet” be pronounced as “s-s-s-sweet”.Another type of stammering occurs when a specific sound is prolonged before the rest of the word is pronounced, such as “sssssssweet”. The third type of stammering occurs when some speech is blocked so that there is a short period of silence in the middle of a word, such as “s……weet”.
Pixie certainly does the first two, although he also repeats the first word or syllable as well as the sound. So far he hasn't shown any sign of 'blocking'. He also repeats sounds or words in the middle of sentences, although the speech therapist believes that because of his age he's treating them as two separate sentences. As well as those he adds filler sounds like 'um' and a sort of tut. Again this is common, apparently, as his brain realises that making those noises gives him a bit of time to get his mouth round what he's actually saying. Thankfully he hasn't noticed yet that he has a stammer.

As well as the stammer, I believe he has cluttering, which Wikipedia defines as a:
communication disorder characterized by speech that is difficult for listeners to understand due to rapid speaking rate, erratic rhythm, poor syntax or grammar, and words or groups of words unrelated to the sentence.
He can have an entire conversation with me where I can only make out a word or two of what he says. Although many websites have said that clutterers don't have any awareness of their dysfluent speech, Pixie has started to notice that people don't understand him. More upsetting, he's noticed that people are pretending to understand him. We've all done it to children who are learning to talk, replied to an unintelligible babble with "Oh yes, right! That's it, yes!" which is all well and good until the child is old enough to come crying to me because the person he's talking to isn't talking back.

My homework following the session is to see when Pixie's speech is at its most fluent, so we can use that state as a basis to improve the bad times. I think I'm the person least able to do this because I genuinely don't hear a lot of the issues because I'm so used to them. We're visiting my parents this weekend so hopefully they'll be able to help out.

I'm a little ashamed to say I cried in the session. Realising that my little baby needs help was honestly devastating. I'm even more ashamed to say I cried when a friend asked me how it had gone! We've only been friends for a couple of weeks so I don't think she was expecting tears over cake!

Something I'm finding hard to admit and even harder to articulate is the extra worry I have. There's something inside me that thinks the speech problems may be part of something bigger, more worrying. Over the last few months there have been times when I've thought 'you're just not right'. I can't tell you what, and I hope it's just an over active imagination, but I've been spending a lot of time reading up about ADD and salicylate sensitivity. More on those another day as Poppy has just woken up from her (very short!) nap.

Monday, 18 June 2012

More Morrisons

I know, I know, I only come here to complain about how utterly rubbish and useless the Morrisons brand is but, well, they keep giving me the opportunity so what can I do?

My friend has just shown me this picture, that she took in her local store. Nothing says 'little boy' than a list of gender stereotypes in children, huh?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Morrisons - Where Breastfeeding is 'Embarrassing'

I've still had no response from the last blog post. Interesting.

I've also just been told about a woman breastfeeding her baby in the cafe who was asked to leave as it was "embarrassing" the other customers.

Go Morrisons, you ROCK at being cool.

Seriously? Seriously? Does anyone believe that bullshit?

Also, as an aside, their 'cooked and ready to eat' mussels are so frozen I'll be ready to eat them about this time tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Why I won't be buying from Morrisons or Kiddicare until they change their views

Below is a copy of an email I've just sent to the CEO of Morrisons, a Mr Dalton Philips, regarding a display I saw instore yesterday. Yes, yesterday - not 30 years ago as the sexist stereotyping suggests.

Dear sir,
I noticed in my local store that above the toy aisle were the signs ‘Boys’ toys’ and ‘Girls’ toys’ (helpfully blue for boys, pink for girls, just in case anyone was in any doubt!), with the toys separated according to whomever is in charge of this sort of thing’s pre-conceived ideas of what girls and boys play with.
I’m really disappointed that in this day and age this sort of thing is still happening. These aren’t old signs – the entire store has just been revamped – so someone, somewhere in your company has clearly decided that this is appropriate.Gender stereotyping through toys is highly influential and persuasive. It invades children’s and parent’s choices, their actions and their expectations. It’s indicative of the (thankfully slowly changing) world around them where boys dressed in blue do Boy Things, while pink-clad princesses pursue Girl Pursuits. I’m sure that you wouldn’t claim only women care and nurture children, for example, yet all of your dolls were in the ‘Girl’ section; utterly reinforcing regressive stereotypes and damaging growing children’s sense of individuality by lumping them in groups based solely on gender.

There have been many recent campaigns against this sort of sexist stereotyping, which you may or may not be aware of:
  • Pinkstinks ( launched a campaign against the Early Learning Centre for gender stereotyping in stores which has led to some positive changes occurring.
You can see that corporations are taking this seriously and are slowly making the necessary changes needed. Please make Morrisons one of the progressive companies by stopping your stores’ reliance on this outdated and harmful method of visual merchandising which introduce, promote and reinforce sexism. Until such time as you do, I won’t be spending money on toys in any of your stores or affiliates. I’m sure one person’s boycott won’t even register on your radar but my conscience will be clear that I’m not supporting this behaviour. I do hope that the decision-makers at Morrisons choose not to continue propagating these destructive stereotypes.
I would appreciate your feedback on this matter.

In hindsight I wish I'd signed off 'love from a little boy who likes to breastfeed his dolly and whose favourite colour is purple, and a little girl who likes to wear blue pyjamas'. C'est la vie.

With thanks to various online peeps who gave me advice and support when drafting the letter, and to Dr Laura Nelson for blazing the trail with Hamleys.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Trial Tuesday

The very lovely Rebecca over at Weight Wars' most recent blog post has inspired me (to be honest, everything she does inspires me - she's truly inspirational in what she's doing and is, well, a lovely person too) to create some little goals for this blog and life in general.

This week's goals are:

1) Think about what I'm writing (and actually write it!)
I know it sounds a bit daft, but my posts so far (including this one!) have been written off the cuff and posted as soon as they're done. They're not exactly indicative of my writing style, or me as a person. So I'm going to start thinking a bit lot more about the content, look and feel of my posts. I'm also going to make sure I post regularly, otherwise what's the point?

2) Spend more time playing
I know it sounds a bit simple, but day to day life gets so caught up in going to and fro places, feeding people, changing nappies, wiping bums, cleaning up (Operation Organise My Life is going well, by the way) that I don't spend an awful lot of time playing with the kids. So that will change. This will also take up time, which will help me with a problem I'm having (that I won't go into here)

That'll do, donkey.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

When enough is enough is enough

I haven't posted for a while. Mostly because there's only so many times you can say 'still not sleeping'. But she's not. Every day her nightly sleeping patterns get worse, and worse, and worse. I'd say they couldn't get any worse, but I'm pretty sure she'd find a way, just to spite me.

I sent a text earlier saying 'I can't do this, I've had enough.' but what choice do I have? This is it until she changes. If she changes. What I wouldn't do to go out on the piss for a night. Have a full night's sleep. Go to the loo without juggling baby, pre-schooler and dog. Christ, even go to a full day of back-to-back meetings at work! I'm ashamed to admit I've fleetingly pondered returning to work early just so I can catch a break. It's relentless and I'm close to my wit's end which is crossing over into every other aspect of my life too. I'm >< close to deleting all my internet accounts, locking the door, and not moving for the next year.

If anyone says 'this too shall pass' I'm going tor each through your internet and rip your teeth out. Just so you know.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Operation Organise My Life

Today was the first day of a new regime in this household. Drawing from the chore list of a, um, infamous-in-certain-circles group of women I created a weekly job chart.

Why couldn't I just get on with it? Well, for starters I'm an obnoxious mix of OCD and pathological laziness. I get twitchy when things aren't right, but on the other hand I can't be arsed to move from the sofa. I figure that having a list (on a spreadsheet no less!) that I can cross off will keep me motivated. It should, theoretically, also mean that the basics get done so regularly that I also have time to spend on the not-so-basics. I don't think I'll list them, as my non-basics are probably at the top of your must do list!

Each item on the list has been designed to fit into no more than a 15-30 minute time frame, which is ideal for getting done between wiping bottoms, feeding babies and watching back episodes of The Bill.

To be perfectly honest, some of my jobs got left until my husband got home as I was indisposed between 10.30am and 3pm but as they're designed to be quick jobs, it was easy to whizz through them while he took the tribe to buy milkshake and tin foil (rock and roll!).

Tomorrow's list is slightly longer as Pixie is off at nursery for half a day so (theoretically) I should get more done. It's also bin night. If they don't come and get the plastics on Wednesday we're in trouble - were overrun!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Isn't It Meant To Get Easier?

Life is meant to get easier with a baby as they get older, according to the hordes of moms who have been there and done that.

Why is it in this household things are getting harder?

Probably the biggest cause of this is the fact Pops has stopped sleeping 12 hours a night with only one quick feed after about 10 hours, to waking every hour or two every night. I'm pretty sure you're meant to get more sleep as they get older rather than  less.

But, to be fair, the nightly wake ups don't impact on the washing that seems to multiply as soon as you look at it (where do people hang their washing to dry? It's ridiculous!); the kitchen that's less a bombsite and more an explosion in a shit factory; the piles of stuff everywhere... Where Pixie is now old enough to sit and watch TV (*clutches pearls*) on his own, or play at 'I'm Fireman Sam and I'm putting out fires!', Pops is very much like her brother was and doesn't like being left to her own devices, doesn't like toys and isn't very impressed if you try and play with her. All of which mean it's pretty difficult to pop off and get things done. More was done when she was tiny and in a sling! Also, since the multiple chicken pox fiasco, we've relied on her dummy far too much (as in - every minute she's awake, pretty much) which is causing its own problems.

Things need to change and we need to get back to where we were but at this moment in time I don't really know where to start.

This post brought to you by one stream of consciousness and 18 dummy replacements.

10 Things I Need To Learn From Blogging...

This blog post from Kathryn at London Bakes can teach all bloggers a thing or two.

Monday, 2 April 2012

"My shoulders have chicken ache"

Chicken pox has reared its pus-filled head for the fifth time in four weeks (over only three people). There's been some colourful swearing, I admit.

So, if anyone has any ideas on how to entertain a bored and pox-y 3 year old, and a bored and teeth-y 3 month old, speak now. But bear in mind we can't leave the house for supplies; to see anyone; or to play in the park as it's raining.

Not my child

Friday, 30 March 2012


I realised today what one of Pix's biggest character strengths is: kindness. It doesn't seem much, does it? It's not a big word. But if it weren't for kindness, wouldn't life be so much harder?

Here's a selection of the heart-wrenching kindness he does:

  • At a playdate this morning the owner of a toy till wanted to play with her toy all by herself. Fair enough, it's her toy! She got upset, as 3 year olds do, and before he was asked he was holding out the part that he was playing with so she could have it. No prompting at all, just did it.
  • When Pops cries (which is pretty often at the moment, bloody teeth!) he runs to find her a dummy, or a toy, or the musical mobile - anything he thinks might stop her crying. How sweet is that? He also says "awwwwwwww, Pops, don't cry, be happy!" <3
  • ...and on the subject of being happy, I had a chat with him about doing what mommy and daddy say because otherwise we'll be sad. I must have hammered it home the next time he didn't do what I asked because after we had words he asked me if I was happy. I told him that no, I was sad that he wasn't doing what I asked. He asked me if a kiss would make me happy, so I said yes but only if he also did what I was asking. Now whenever we have a clash of wills he says "don't be sad mommy, I give you kiss to be happy!" Little swine, how can you be cross with that? ;)
  • When was of his little friends was crying over something hugely important to her toddler life, he went and gave her an awkward cuddle and encouraged her to forget her woes by going to play with him.

I really hope that this is something that grows and grows within him. That he'll always be kind and thoughtful. That he'll always try and diffuse someone else's upset, but do so without taking it on himself. I hope he's the boy that shares his toys, the teenager that stands up to playground bullies and the man that will never let an injustice go unchallenged. 

Just so she doesn't feel left out, I have to mention Pops. She's probably a little young to have strengths and weaknesses yet, but she really enjoys being pretend-dropped and being bounced on the bed. She positively cackles with laughter.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Chalk It Up To A Good Day

It's probably fair to say that our TV has done more parenting this last week or two than I have. Between the quadruple dose of chicken pox we've had (only Ed has escaped!) and various other ailments, we've barely left the house and when we have it's been either with incredibly grumpy children, or to wide open spaces where we can't infect anyone. And to be honest, those wide open spaces have usually been Tesco for essentials as I've not been up to braving the chilly playgrounds what with all the razor blades in my throat, hammers in my head, chainsaws in my stomach and rabid dogs gnawing at my shoulder.


I decided to take advantage of the brightening weather today so, after a brief sojourn to be fed lunch at my husband's office, and a monster nap from Pops courtesy of Ashton & Parsons teething powder, I took them into the front yard (why yes, we do live in the north!) with a tub of jumbo chalks from Tesco.

That's actually half a pirate outfit he's wearing. I'd never clash horizontal and vertical stripes.

To the right of the tub you can just about make out my amazing mermaid of awesomeness.

Ah hell, see a close up. See! Awesome.

After covering all available floor space we went inside and I read a counting book to Pixie, had a bath with them all, then nursed Pops to sleep. I think I did more active parenting in those few hours than I have in the last few weeks.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Feeding. You're Doing It Wrong.

After a slightly tumultuous start to breastfeeding, Pops started feeding like a pro. The experience has been so much more enjoyable than with Pixie, with whom I exclusively pumped for around 5 months. It turns out feeding your baby isn't stressful and guilt-inducing and time-consuming and all-encompassing. Who knew?

Only, well, it's getting that way again. Pops seems to feed far too frequently than she 'ought' to. Like, every hour frequently. And she's not having a growth spurt - this is normal :/ I've kept explaining it away; "it's because she's little and sleeps through the night (hallelujah!), she needs to make up", "it's because she's poorly (double dose of chicken pox) and is comforting", "it's warmer today and she's thirsty", but in all honesty I think I'm just not reading her cues right. I think perhaps I was feeding her when she wasn't necessarily hungry which has started this whole vicious (one day I'll totally spell that right without the aid of a spellcheck) circle that she feeds so frequently she doesn't get the hindmilk so she gets hungrier sooner, gets gassy and has acidic poo and so wants comforting...

I'm not exactly from the Gina Ford school of baby-raising but as of today I'm putting her on a loose feeding schedule. Apart from very first thing in the morning and very last thing at night, there needs to be at least 2 hours before feeds. I had to do this with Pixie too at just a wee bit older than Pops is now. He was feeding about 18 times a day because he was having such a little amount due to his reflux. I remember it not being an enjoyable time - who likes telling someone they can't eat when they're hungry? Ok, apart from Gina Ford. 

Wish me luck!

Well...perhaps I'm not doing it that wrong.

Friday, 16 March 2012

"We're best friends. Best friends never fight."

I told Pixie on the phone that he had a new baby sister.

"Oh," he said, digesting the information for a moment. "I've watched the golf on the telly with Grandpa! They have sticks and balls and into the hole!" Touché.

In all honesty, I'd expected some jealousy from Pixie. However, whether it was the excitement of having a new sister, Christmas and seeing beloved grandparents more than usual that diverted any jealous tendencies, or if he wouldn't have shown them anyway, he took to Poppet like Woody (eventually) took to Buzz. Like Dora and Boots. Like Charlie and Lola. Like Batman and The Joker. Oh. Um.

I'm pretty sure he couldn't be more lovely with her. When she cries he runs to tell me (dude thinks I'm deaf, as well as stupid) "She wants feeding? You need to feed her?" (Santa also seemingly brought an Australian question intonation? Yep, it's pretty much as annoying as you think?). He lives for 'huggles and kisses' from her and thinks that when she touches him it's better even than an episode of Team Umizoomi. In return, she only has to look at him to start grinning and chuckling to herself. She adores to watch what he's doing. Sometimes they lie facing each other, staring into each others eyes - when they do that my heart bursts.

I was apprehensive about a second child joining us with the age gap we were giving them (2years 9months) as it's very similar to the gap my brother and I have (3years 2months 1week!) and frankly, we were shits to each other. I don't want that for my children. Who does? More so, I don't want to be that mom who's embarrassed to go anywhere with her kids because they fight and tell tales constantly. Sorry mom for making you that mom.

I hope as the years progress they'll always be best friends, always look out for each other. If she ever gets in trouble I hope she goes to her big brother for protection. I hope they look back on their childhood and remember laughter and love from each other.

*Time to fess up. The post's title is actually something Pixie said about one of his friends rather than his sister, but it's something that I hope they live by.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Lady Luck Is Born

At 1.30am on Christmas Eve morning, 2011, I woke up in labour with my second child.

I dozed for a couple of hours before waking again, this time with stronger contractions 9 minutes apart. My husband and I crept downstairs so as not to wake our elder child, where we pottered about making tea and contemplating what time we ought to call reinforcements. We decided to call my parents who had agreed to travel the 80 miles between us to look after our son pretty soon, so they could start readying herself for the trip. We also decided to wake our doula, Abbie, so she had a heads up that things were starting. As my last labour was 24h46m we didn't envisage anything exciting happening anytime soon.

Well, that was wrong! At about 4.10am my contractions jumped from roughly 9 minutes apart to 3-4 minutes apart. Hurried phone calls were made to my parents, Abbie and also the local midwife team. The midwife was the first to arrive, at 5.45am. She assessed me on my bed amidst chaos - toys from the playroom had been moved into our bedroom so the birth pool had room to be put up. They were meant to go into our son's room but at that time he was still fast asleep and we thought we'd have time to transfer them in.

At 7am my parents arrived and got Pixie up and dressed. He thought Christmas had come early being woken by Grandma and Grandpa! Abbie also arrived at that point and took over from my husband in pumping up and filling the pool. Far from the serene home birth I'd envisaged, the house was chaos at that point. I decided to get in the bath as the pain was getting a bit much; to be honest I also wanted a bit of peace and tranquillity. Even moving from the bedroom to the bathroom was agony, and after only 5 minutes in there I decided I needed gas & air. As the midwife brought it to me, Abbie called up to say the pool was ready, so I took a heave on the gas and staggered downstairs.

It was blessed relief to be in the pool. I'd tried a waterbirth with my first and it wasn't a pleasant experience - the water felt far too cold in such a big room in hospital - so I had been initially wary of being in water again, but this was heaven! Toasty and warm and like a cocoon. The G&A started doing its stuff and zoned me out from my surroundings. I vaguely listened to the CD that was put on (euphoric trance!) and to the chat around me.

After about an hour I started to feel the need to push. Or at least I thought I did! I doubted myself because I never felt it with my first. I also didn't know if I was supposed to tell anyone or just push! As the G&A had zoned me out so much it took several contractions to work up to being able to speak and tell that things were hotting up. Abbie came into her own here, and persuaded me to move from my sitting position to a kneeling position. If left to my own devices I wouldn't have - it hurt far too much to move!

At 8.46am, in a couple of pushes, the baby was born with membranes still intact. I'd been convinced it was a boy but when we were told she was a she it felt right, like I already knew. She was guided through my legs and I pulled her from the water. Coated in vernix and puffy from the delivery, she was the most beautiful thing I'd seen. She healed me in ways I can't even describe, mended the scars from my first born.

She came out in the caul, which I'm told is lucky. She feels lucky. I hope she's lucky.