Tuesday, 30 October 2012

An Alternative Christmas Dinner

Last Sunday we were in Preston watching Red Rose Daddy complete his fifth marathon and, afterwards we walked through the city back to our car. We passed McDonalds along the way and I was really surprised by a large poster in their window stating that their Deepdale branch would be open on Christmas Day.

McDonalds. On Christmas Day.

Two days later and I've thought about this quite a bit. I did a bit of Googling to find out more and it turns out that McDonalds have been open on Christmas Day there for the last two years. In the first year they made 150 sales. Is that enough to justify opening?  Clearly it is as they will be open for the third time this year. Last year they were one of 60 branches to open nationwide.
Perhaps Santa calls in for an Egg McMuffin on his way home from his deliveries?

In an interview the manager stated that staff were 'queuing up' to work the shift and all were volunteers, I find this difficult to believe. I worked in a well known 'royal' fast food restaurant for three weeks in my youth and most of the staff were a similar age to me. The staff were regarded as entirely disposable and if you did anything to merit the manager's disapproval then you were out of a job, which was probably why I only lasted three weeks! I can't help thinking that only essential staff should have to work on Christmas Day, fast food workers really don't fit that criteria. The argument that some people have to work and they need to eat is quite spurious too,  surely they would just take a packed lunch or dinner? It seems to me that a number of teenagers who should be at home with their families will feel obliged to work simply to increase a fast food chain's profits. I wouldn't be happy if it was a member of my family. If there was no demand

Would you work on Christmas Day, if you didn't have to? Would you eat at McDonalds on Christmas Day?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Country Kids into the Unknown

Last Sunday we headed off to Ikea for breakfast and to grab some items we have needed for a while. When we escaped from the store around 2.5 hours later we realised it was a beautiful day outside (seriously, there is no natural light in that store. There could have been a hurricane blowing outside and we would have had no clue until it knocked a few floor lamps over). The store is about 20 miles from our house so we thought we would try to find somewhere to visit nearby. It isn't an area that either of us knew well so I called up the 'Local Scout' app on my Nokia Lumia 800 and asked it to find parks in the area. We found Daisy Nook Country Park, tapped it into the Sat Nav and headed over to explore.

The park is formed around the River Medlock and the Hollinwood and Fairbottom Branch Canals. The canals are now empty but instead of being filled in you can see the channels all around the park, including some dry ornamental water features.
We loved seeing the Autumn leaves on the trees and kicking the fallen leaves on the floor.
Bud enjoyed exploring a new park and we were pleased to find a huge wooden boat filled with sand activities. They had scoops to fill various lifting and measuring containers and Bud and his Daddy loved playing with them while Little Miss and I sat in the sunshine and watched them.

We found some ducks and geese but we didn't have any bread for them. Bud said 'sorry, no bread today' to every duck we passed 

He surprised us both by how easily he negotiated this little rope bridge. I assumed he wouldn't manage it or would want help from his Dad but he was across it in a few seconds and then went back for a second and third go.

Of course we found a muddy puddle to trample in!

We had a lovely walk. We may never go back to Daisy Nook but we all enjoyed exploring a new park and our little trip into the unknown.

I'm linking this post up to Country Kids over at Coombe Mill which is celebrating its first birthday this week. Click on the badge below to link up your own posts showing outdoor fun or to read the other posts this week.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Momymoo Maia Changing Bag

Having just given birth to my second child I was feeling quite fed up with my old changing bag. It has seen me through 2.5 years of hard service but I wanted a new one for my new baby. I was delighted to be asked to review one by the team over at Babyworld.
I was invited to choose a Momymoo Maia. The bag is available in five funky geometric patterns in a muted colour palette. I chose the ‘Teardrop’ design which sees turquoise, grey, lilac and dark pink teardrop shapes (I think they look more like leaves) on a pale grey background. This is a really stylish design and the colour scheme matches my pram perfectly! The bag is made of a wipe clean fabric, really good for a bag you use every day.
When the bag arrived I was a little unsure that it would accommodate all my necessary items for a day out. I have a toddler and a newborn baby and the bag seemed small. Added to this first impression was a letter stating that the bag was for parents who didn’t want to carry a lot around, or for those with older children who needed less. Eeek, would this suit me? I was pleasantly surprised. The bag has a really innovative design and I fitted everything I needed into it really well. The messenger bag style means that you have a great deal more space in the depth of the bag which makes up for the smaller width of it. The outside of the bag unzips in the style of a suitcase so you can fit more in. I’m not sure when I would ever use the bag with the zip fastened but this is great for storage as it would take up much less space.

There are a number of pockets inside the bag, including two insulated pockets for bottles. I don’t use bottles but I have used these pockets for my son’s drink and it works to keep them cool too. The other pockets mean you can organise your bag effectively and lay your hands on items easily, as long as you remember which pocket it is in! Another great design element is the bag’s strap. This can be worn across the body, over the shoulder, as a backpack or clipped on to your pram. I love the pram clips as my pram has a solid handle bar the clips keep it tucked away under the handle. The thinner, flatter shape of the bag means it doesn’t knock into my legs when I’m pushing the pram.

I can fit everything I need for two children into the bag. This includes three nappies for each, wipes, nappy bags, nappy cream, a change of clothes for the baby and a clean t-shirt for my son, muslins, snacks, cutlery, a drink and a few small toys. I was sure I wouldn’t get my rather large camera in there too but it fitted snugly in the top of the bag. The small opening flap means that things don’t fall out when you open it but can sometimes mean that you can’t see what is in there as well as some of the more traditional designs. If you pack your bag well though you should be able to access them easily. If my children wore reusable nappies I think I would struggle with the Maia, they would probably take up too much room.
The bag comes complete with a wet bag for dirty items which is great for keeping them separate from your clean bag. The changing mat has it’s own pocket on the outside of the bag which, again, keeps it apart if it gets dirty. You also get a long carrying strap and the set of two clip straps for attaching it to a pram.
I think Momymoo have thought really carefully about the design of these bags and this is shown by the quality of them. The price of the bag is £69:00 which is a lot of money but, to parents, a changing bag is an everyday essential and I think it is worth paying more for and that these bags are well worth the money.

A version of this review has also appeared on Babyworld,co.uk I rwceived the bag free of charge but all opinions contained within are honest and unbiased.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Foul Behaviour

Earlier in the week my Mum came to see us for the day and we went for a walk, and to do some shopping, in the small town where I live. There are lots of trees so the pavements are all covered in leaves at the moment. No problem there, we quite like seeing all the different colours and Bud loves kicking the fallen leaves. We have another issue covering the pavements in our area however, that of dog mess. I must live in a place full of really inconsiderate dog owners as you can't walk a hundred metres down the street without seeing some, you have to be constantly vigilant. Now Bud is walking everywhere this is even more of an issue.

As we approached the doors to our local supermarket I happened to glance at the pram wheels and was absolutely disgusted to see a big clod of dog poo and leaves stuck to my front wheel. Ugh. Disgusting. I'm usually always on the lookout for these 'deposits' on the pavement so I can only assume that this particular pile had been hiding unders some leaves. Obviously I couldn't walk around a supermarket like that so I ended up using baby wipes to wipe the poo away and clean the wheel. Luckily the supermarket has customer toilets so I could scrub my hands clean afterwards. I was very glad that my Mum was with me so she could look after Bud while I sorted the pram out. I know it is slightly irrational but I hated that the poo had been on my seven week old baby's pram.

I decided to do a bit of research to find out the dangers of dog mess. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign site has some good information. Dog fouling isn't just unsightly is it also dangerous, especially to toddlers. It causes Toxocariasis which is a roundworm infection that can last up to two years! I don't want that for my children.

I'm not anti-dog. Growing up our family always had dogs as pets but they were well behaved and we have always cleaned up after them. Is it too much to ask for everyone else to do the same? 

Edited September 2013: My friend Becky, who blogs at Lakes Single Mum, has a lovely daughter whose eyesight has been permanently damaged by the toxicara parasite found in dog poo. They featured in a video for Canadian television explaining just how she is affected by this. Ten children in the UK suffer eyesight damage every year because of this parasite.


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Little Miss - A Birth Story

Little Miss was born at 9:38am on Thursday 6th September. She is seven weeks old today.

I had a difficult pregnancy this time. I think I bloomed with Bud but this time the anaemia kicked in early and SPD caused me terrible pelvis pain towards the end. I was not a pleasant person to be around in the last few weeks. Little Miss was due on the 28th August but I was determined that she wasn't coming until September.I didn't want a child who would be the youngest in their school year and, thankfully, she complied. You would never meet anyone so happy to be overdue although I would have much preferred her to arrive on the 1st rather than the 6th. I was always unsure that my anticipated due date was correct as I was fairly sure that I was due around ten days after the date given by my scan so I wasn't too worried about going overdue. At my midwife appointment two days before my due date we booked a sweep for eight days overdue and induction for twelve days over so I knew that the end was in sight.

My sweep took place on the Wednesday afternoon and the midwife was fairly confident that my labour would start before my induction. I was very pleased to hear that. This wasn't the most pleasant experience of my life but if it moved things on, I didn't mind. That evening I had backache and generally felt uncomfortable so I went to bed early with a heat pack to ease my back. By about 2am I was up and wandering in the house as the backache was preventing me from lying or sitting down. My first contraction started just after 4am. All the pain was in my back, exactly like it was with Bud. I dealt with them by leaning against the wall, anything else was agony. By 5:30 I woke my partner and we started to get ready to go in. We rang his parents and his Dad set off to come and sit with Bud then take him back to their house when he woke up. We rang the hospital and were told to come in and arrived there at 7:15.

We were shown into a room with no pool and I wasn't happy. Bud was born in the pool and I wanted to repeat this, it helped me so much. The midwife came to see us and I continued to go through each contraction leaning against the wall with my head against my forearm. Red Rose Daddy attempted to massage my back but I couldn't bear it so told him to stop. I was examined and found to be 9cm dilated, another quick one!

The midwife prepared the pool room and we moved into there at around 8am. I'd pushed for hours with Bud and decided this time that I wouldn't push this time. I would just let my body work with each contraction. I wasn't sure how this would work but I surprised myself. It was so calm and peaceful. With each surge I breathed down, using the gas and air, and the baby moved down well. My waters burst with an audible 'pop', that was very strange. I very clearly remember her crowning and it took four contractions to birth her head. I only gave one push for her body. Her delivery could not have been more different from Bud's. As she swam out into the pool I lifted her onto my chest and had a look to see if she was a boy or a girl. I was so shocked to see that we had a baby girl. I'm not sure why but we both have very male-dominated families and I never thought I would have a daughter. Little Miss was born at 9:38am, weighing 9lbs 3.5oz. The midwife said it was one of the most beautiful water births she had ever attended, which felt really special.

I was enjoying sitting cradling my new little girl in the water and we decided to go for a physiological third stage. The placenta came out with a few little pushes and, while Little Miss was enjoying cuddles with her Daddy the midwives helped me to get out of the pool. I'd lost quite a bit of blood into the pool but it was only when I got out and was lying on the bean bags that the midwife realised some fibres had been retained in my womb from my placenta. A doctor was called to remove them, which he did quickly (although painfully) but then my blood pressure crashed to 60/30 and falling. The midwife pressed the emergency button and suddenly the room was full.

The team got me onto a bed and wheeled me in to a Critical Care room. I had canulas inserted into both hands and fluids were being pumped into me.Another doctor came to examine me and removed more of the errant fibres. I think that this was the most painful experience of the day! It was necessary to avoid going to theatre though and it worked. Everyone was so calm and knew their job and did that so well. I was conscious, if hazy, throughout but I do remember looking at Little Miss and her Daddy and thinking that 'this could be it' and that I was glad I had kissed Bud goodbye and told him that I loveed him that morning. That was so scary but the emergency passed very quickly and my blood pressure stabilised. It made me realise that post-partum haemorrhage is more common than I thought, apparently 1 in 50 births are affected.

We were moved up to the ward that evening and I stayed in hospital for two nights. My iron levels fell to 6.1 and I lost over a litre of blood so I had a transfusion on three units the day after the birth. This made me feel better almost instantly. I don't think I could have walked to the car before this. Apparently the physiological third stage can lead to a higher risk of PPH but I'm not sorry that I had it. Bud came to the hospital to meet his little sister both days and was so pleased with her. He said all the way through my pregnancy that he was having a sister, I think he was the only one who thought she would be a girl and he was right.

Little Miss fed well from the start and is a wonderful baby, very calm and easy. She sleeps for seven hours most nights already! We are very lucky.

No photos of me as I looked like death but here are a few 'newborn' photos.


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Catching Up with Bud

I thought you might all like to have a little update on Bud, six months is a long time for a little boy and he has changed so much recently.
He turned two and a half this month and is very excited to be a big brother. We do have to be constantly vigilant though, he is growing big and is very heavy handed (just like his Daddy) so he can be a little rough with his baby sister. Whenever someone admires her he tells them her name and says 'sister'. He is very protective of her.

Bud turned two in April. I can't believe my blog hasn't been active since before his birthday, it seems like such a long time ago. We celebrated with a tea party for the family at home and Bud had a Peppa Pig cake which we seemed to be eating for ages afterwards.

The next big change for Bud was us finally giving up breastfeeding. This happened in May. I feel that breastfeeding during my pregnancy contributed to my feelings around this time. I've read that it can cause hormonal imbalances and have this effect so I'm sure it was a factor. In the end the decision to stop was an easy one. Bud had decided a couple of months earlier that he wanted his Daddy to take him to bed so we dropped the bedtime feed quite easily. This was quickly followed by the morning feed as he was far too busy to come and snuggle up and have milk in Mummy's bed in the morning. He wanted to get up and have his fruit and cereal breakfast instead. The only feed that he was having every day was the one to get him to sleep before his nap. I had to decide, in my mind, that it would be OK for him not to nap in order to drop that feed. In the end we stopped and he has continued to nap, less so now but he still has a sleep at least three times a week which is fairly typical from other children of around the same age that I am aware of. In fact he is sleeping beside me right now.

We didn't manage a holiday this Summer. Red Rose Daddy changed jobs in April and we didn't realise that paternity leave didn't work in the same way as Maternity Allowance. When it came to notifying his new employers of our due date it turned out that he hadn't worked there long enough to qualify. He had to book it as annual leave instead. We wished we had checked before this as we think the company would have honoured the paternity leave if we had requested it. This meant his leave was saved for the new arrival. He is permanent in his new job and enjoying it, which has made life more secure for us all. Bud visited Scout Camp with his Daddy and has been to a few meetings of his Explorer Scouts who have adopted him as their little mascot now.

We loved the Jubilee, Tour de France, Olympics and Paralympics and Bud shouts 'Come on Cav!' at any passing cyclists now, much to their and our amusement! He also recognises the Union Flag and says 'Team GB' when he sees it. We went to see the Olympic Torch pass through Bolton but Bud fell asleep on his Uncle's shoulders just before it arrived. This boy can sleep anywhere!

Bud is developing brilliantly. He adores books and has become a massive fan of Postman Pat, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine. His favourite toys are cars and trains. He really is a typical boy. He loves to be outside and is getting to grips with the balance bike he received for his second birthday, as well as running and jumping in any muddy puddle he can find. He coped amazingly well with having a grumpy, virtually immobile Mummy over the Summer and we were very lucky that our wonderful family took him out lots and he spent a few great days out with his older cousins when they were on school holidays. He has had his first sleepovers too. He stayed at Grandma and Grandad's with his cousins and, last month, they took the three of them away to St Anne's for the weekend. He also stayed with them when I was in hospital after having the baby. He has a very close relationship with all his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins and it is lovely to see their relationships develop. His vocabulary expands at a lightning rate and I love that we can now have conversations and he can tell us little stories about what he has been up to.

Our first born is such a lovely, sunny, sociable, happy little boy. He wins over everyone he meets. I'm so proud to be his Mummy.

Giveaway: Win a Blu Ray Triple Play Copy of Dark Shadows Starring Johnny Depp

This Giveaway has now closed and the winner is Andrea Miles. 

The people over at Warner Bros have given me a copy of the new Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration Dark Shadows on Blu Ray.
Now, I haven't seen this film but I'm a big fan of some of their other films like Edward Scissorhands and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I think Johnny Depp is usually the perfect actor to bring Tim Burton's vision to life so this will definitely be on my 'to view' list.

In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy... until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.

Warner Bros have created an app to enable you to find out if you are creepy enough, along with some other fun activities.


For a chance to win a copy of Dark Shadows, simply complete the steps below. 

 The giveaway will close at 03:59am on Saturday 27th October 2012 and the winner will then have 24 hours after I contact them to supply their name and address. I will redraw if they are not received by then. The winner's details will be passed to Warner Bros for the prize to be fulfilled. UK residents only.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

A Walk in the Park

Late in my pregnancy we finally decided that we could manage without a double pram. Bud had started to walk further and further and I was quite sure that he would manage our little outings well if I didn't rush him and we took it slowly. We have a stroller as well as the bigger pram so if we go out for the day as a family we can take that or Bud can ride on his Dad's shoulders (his favourite mode of transport!) As Little Miss is only six weeks old, the weather has been dreadful and we've had quite a bit of illness since her arrival we haven't been very far and cabin fever has been setting in.

We decided to walk to the park yesterday, as the weather was lovely, and then on into town for some shopping.This isn't a great distance but is a reasonable trek for two and a half year old little legs.

Our first destination (after popping into the library and church) was our local park. We haven't been here in a while. I was very well prepared and had a spare muslin in the changing bag to wipe down the swings, we knew they would be damp from all the rain  but a lovely Grandad who was pushing his Granddaughter saw us coming and wiped it for us. We ended up having quite a chat while we pushed the little ones.
It was Little Miss' first trip to the park but she was oblivious and slept through it all cosy in her pram.

Bud loves the swings and was happy to stay on one for most of our time at the park.

He has started leaning back on the swings, which nearly gave me a heart attack. I quickly stopped reacting as he was doing it more and more. He stopped when he realised I wasn't responding. I assume he has seen bigger children doing this and is copying them. I hope he doesn't do it again!


After we finished on the swings Bud sat on the roundabout so I could move it for him. I'm not actually sure this is a roundabout but I don't know what else to cal it. It slides around. I love this photo of him though, one of the best I have taken in a while.


We took the opportunity to walk through the rest of the park by going the long way in to town and Bud loved all the Autumn colours and the leaves on the ground.



I really enjoyed getting out into the fresh air with the children and was so pleased with how well Bud walked. he knows that I can't carry him when I am pushing the pram and has stopped asking me to which is great. We take it very slowly and walk at his pace and I think that is the key. I love the magic and wonder he sees in the world around him and yes, it does takes us fifteen minutes to walk the same distance I could walk in two but it makes me look at the world in a different way. I think a two year old's perspective is one that we should all enjoy at least now and again.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Introducing Little Miss

Please say hello to my beautiful new daughter, Little Miss. I was going to go for another 'rose' related nickname like Petal but her nickname at home is Little Miss so that's what we're going with. 

She arrived on 6th September and weighed in at 9lbs 3.5oz. We're all completely delighted with her. She's definitely going to be our last baby so we're planning to enjoy every second!


Bud is a brilliant big brother, I love watching him with her.


An Apology... and an Explanation

Hello everyone.

I know I've not been around for a long time. 6.5 months, having checked my last posting date. This post is, hopefully, going to serve as something of an apology and an explanation for my whereabouts. I know some of you tried to contact me and were worried and I'm so, so sorry for being incommunicado. There isn't a rational explanation so I'll give you the irrational one.

I've never had a depression diagnosis, although I probably should have had over the years. I work on about a 3-5 year cycle whereby I'm perfectly fine for most of that period and then I just disappear. This always coincides with some kind of major change in my life. Usually the change is happy news (mad I know!) Last time it was moving in with my ex-partner. This time it was my pregnancy. I generally respond to one of my episodes by closing myself off completely from people, including close friends and family. In the past I've gone nearly six months without speaking to my Mum (I wasn't living locally at the time but this is a bit crazy as we are very close usually). I know I worry people and I hate that but it is really the only way I can get through it when it happens. These episodes have cost me some really close friends over the years, and yet I keep doing it. Completely irrational. This time my blogging, Twitter and Facebook 'life' took the brunt of this episode. I literally didn't turn on a computer for a few months and then I could only cope with Facebook. I couldn't even read my e mails or anyone else's blogs and this was something that had given me so much pleasure. This wasn't helped by someone, I don't know who as they were hiding behind their Twitter handle, sending me some really unpleasant and horrible DMs. I have my suspicions as to their identity and it is someone who is close to someone I know in real life They upset me so much and I simply shut down my Twitter account and haven't been back since. I didn't feel like I could trust anyone on there. This is something I intend to remedy though as I've missed it so much.

My pregnancy was awful this time around. I had horrible sickness for the first few months and then SPD kicked in and I was in constant pain, not helped by the refusal of my Midwives to take me seriously and give me a referral on the grounds that I could walk to the Children's Centre for my appointments! My pelvis is on the mend but the assertion that the Midwives made that it would disappear 'as soon as baby arrives' was incorrect! I was also severely anaemic this time. Getting out of bed was a struggle some days and having an energetic two year old to run around after didn't help!

My beautiful baby girl was born on 6th September and, since about three days after her birth, I feel great. I've found myself again. The aftermath of her birth was quite traumatic (I'll post her birth story soon) and I had to have a blood transfusion but I'm feeling great now. I've been reading, and loving your blog posts again and dying to comment but I felt I needed to explain myself first.

I've missed blogging so much, I felt like I'd found a way to be myself. I'm gutted I shut down when I did as I had so many good intentions to blog my pregnancy and have a wonderful record to look back on. Instead I'm going to start over and blog our family life from this point onwards. I'm looking forward to it. I can't promise I won't disappear again, like I said my cycle works on about a 3-5 year pattern, but I have no intention to go anywhere anytime soon.

Thanks for reading.