Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Gallery-Nature.

This weeks Gallery is the theme of Nature. This should in theory be the easiest for a while. I wasn't looking forward to it though. It made me wish i had a posh camera so i could take some arty picture of Tabitha holding a ladybird or squishing her chubby feet in lush green grass. So i really had to rack my brains. 

[ I'd just like to say now, this is for the theme is a bit depressing....]

For a few days i decided i'd skip it this week then i looked up the meaning of nature for inspiration. I found this extract from one definition: The forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world....I instantly thought of a force of nature that had always been a subject i had struggled to accept.

The Tsunami that hit Boxing day 2004. 

I was not traveling at the time and thankfully did not lose any friends or family. Due to the extensive gathering of video camera and media footage we all saw it though, we all felt it. That deadly silence of the people watching the sea pull back, a deep inhalation. Then breathing out, a huge surge of wave pushing forward, lifting all in its path. The aftermath of the trail of destruction, once mother nature had calmed even more unbelievable to see. Thailand's islands so savaged, endless footage of holiday makers and hotels.

But all i could think of was this place, Northern Sumatra, and a small family with three children. They lived here.

The west coast of Northern Sumatra. I stayed here in 2003 for several weeks when i was backpacking. A lovely family had five or so wooden huts with no bathrooms, on a literally deserted 5k of beach. They had approximately twenty guests per year and after staying there for a week cooking every meal for me, cleaning my hut and washing my clothes they asked for $25.

A beautiful, beautiful place with gentle, kind and simple people.

The earthquake that started the Tsunami was 3k off the coast of this beach. This would have been the first place hit by the waves.

I guess what i am saying is while Nature can be lush green grass or a vibrant ladybird. Its also a powerful force and it is not always pretty.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Selecting a Day Nursery.

Finding the right childcare to suit both you and your child is a very harrowing experience for a family. If you have decided nursery care is the way to go there is then the issue of choosing which one, followed of course by seeing if you can afford it!

To at least take a bit of the strain out of the initial process i thought that i'd write a list of questions to ask when viewing the nurseries. This should help to give you a good insight into the facility.

I have been working in Day Nurseries for 15 years and before i left to mummy my own munchkin i was managing a Central London Branch of a very sucessful chain of Day Nursery.

Firstly you must must view all possible nurseries. Ring round and ask if they require booked showarounds or if you can just pop in anytime or if they have set open days.

Many will have waiting lists especially for under 2's so plan ahead where possible.It was not unusual for me to show round mums who were 3 months pregnant.

If a nursery offers a open door policy to showarounds this is a good sign. If they don't it may just be that the manager or senior staff required to show you around are otherwise engaged or counted in ratios at other times.

So you are at the showaround..... What questions do you ask?

  • In each age group ask the ratio of staff to child, and then to yourself check this is being worked to. If you see it is not do ask, it may be a case that one child is being changed by one member of staff and they are briefly in the bathroom etc..
  • Ask about qualifications of the staff how many are training towards them and if they are counted in the ratio. Likewise with students on work placements. Is there staff training available for the staff to further their development? What is the staff turnover like? (this can be a good sign of happy environment if staff stay a longtime)
  • Each child will have an Observation folder filled out by their Keyperson ask to view one and have the observation proceedure explained breifly. Ofsted require nurseries work to the EYFS Standards .
  • Each nursery will have a Ofsted inspection use this link to find each one BEFORE you go then have the copy on you to highlight any areas that need explaining to you by the management.
  • Cleaning rotas should be worked to so ask how often the toys are cleaned to stop germs from spreading around the children.
  • You should be able to settle your child in by staying with them at settling sessions over a fortnightly minimum period before their start date. The staff will then shorten or lengthen this on the individual childs needs. As the child settles the staff will ask you to leave for periods of time.
  • Ask what they would do should your child be unhappy or unwell during the day. This is The Health Protection Agencies Guidelines for illness that all nurseries should work to.
  • Allergy/Medical information should be given at the initial showaround so they are prepared even at the settling sessions. So if your child has any medical/dietary issues discuss at the showaround what precautions are taken and proceedures that are in place.
  • Observation wise check the children AND staff look happy and engrossed in activities.
  • Are the walls covered in work that shows the childrens work not adult lead artwork?
  • Lastly ask to see the nurseries Discipline Policy.

If you get home and find that there was something else you wanted to know ring and ask. If anything did not sit well with you bring it up with the senior staff showing you round or pop it in an email often a simple explanation will give you peace of mind.

There are many ways to gain help with the costs of childcare. Using childcare vouchers supplied by your employer means the costs of childcare are taken out of your wages before tax and NI. If your company doesn't use them try to ask your HR to start the program it benefits them as well as you. Other saving can be made check at your CAB to see what your may be entitled to.

I'm always happy to help with any queries people may have about daycare, just email me via the link or comment below.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Endometriosis- Karens Story

My previous post regarding my Endometriosis has led to me receive many emails and comments from other women who are suffering or have suffered from this condition. Karen has kindly shared her story which i will post below. It hopefully gives others comfort to hear of two cases where the result has been positive. 

Endometriosis does not have to be a childless life of suffering monthly pain. 
Endometriosis Karens Story.
' I first started to get stomach pains (mainly on left side which sometimes extended down my left leg) when I was around 20 years of age. Some days I would have to take the maximum daily dose of Nurofen and still be in agony. The pain would never usually last just one day, it would always go on for a few. I went backwards and forwards to Dr who kept treating me for IBS but with no improvement in my symptoms. 
Sometimes the pain was so bad I couldn't even stand up. My pain did not seem to occur at any particular time during my menstrual cycle and my periods weren't particularly painful or heavy. The Dr then referred me to a gynaecologist who following a laparoscopy diagnosed endometriosis. It turned out i had many adhesions that were sticking some of my major organs together. My options for treatment were the pill (which i was already on), laser treatment (though consultant wasn't keen to do this) or leave it for a while and see what happened. My symptoms did improve slightly so I tried to get on with things as best I could. 
I was a vet nurse full time during this period at a very stressful surgery so put some of my symptoms down to the stress. I changed jobs and symptoms did continue to improve. Eventually i had another laporoscopy two years after the first which showed that the endometriosis had cleared up. I was warned though that scar tissue caused by the previous adhesions may have affected my chances of having kids. 
I went on to have three beautiful healthy babies. 
I do still get stomach pains from time to time but I do suffer from IBS. I believe that the IBS was present when I had the Endometriosis so often the symptoms of both ran side by side had confused matters!!

Having spoken to fellow sufferers over the years I have grown to realise that Endometriosis is quite common and doesn't always result in a lifetime of pain and infertility.' 
Thank you Karen for taking the time to share your experience on Mumra.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Gallery - A Novel Idea.

The theme at Sticky Fingers this week is A Novel Idea. Tara has challenged us to take a photo to reflect a famous book title. I chose one that featured in my childhood and symbolised so much more.

Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There
 - Lewis Carroll.

Lewis Carrolls books are so much part of my childhood. I loved the stories but more than the stories i loved the ideas put across in them. The idea of another world, another parallel place. It was the same with Narnia, the whole escapism from normality.

As a child i constantly daydreamed and wondered about very dramatic events turning the world on its head. I always wanted to be kidnapped, for my house to burn down to the ground while we were at school and work. I imagined my Dad had a secret identity, that i was not really their child.

When i started out in childcare i used to love actually taking part in the imaginative play with the children, jumping from doormat to doormat to avoid the snakes and crocodiles. The world of a childs mind is so magical. We lose that as we grow older, we get carried away with the dullness of reality.

I see Tabitha looking at her face in the mirror and see her just managing to compute that this image is her own. That the smile smiling back at her is her own. Her mind is a vacuum ready to be filled with so many magical wonderful stories and adventures. I feel honoured to be able to observe.

Endometriosis-My Story.

Suffering with Endometriosis is a long and painful journey. I have always had Endometriosis although I didn't know that was what it was at first. As a teenager aged fourteen I would faint when my period came and throw up. Every month I would spend day 1 of my cycle rolling about in agony in bed, my legs and tummy cramped and bloated. Most women suffer from cramps and bloating but what Endometreosis brings is hellish. Once when I was about 15 i was staying at a friends house I sat at the top of her stairs holding my stomach praying for the pain to stop when the next thing I knew her Dad was standing over me. Her whole family was there all looking horrified. I was spralled out across the hall carpet, I could have broken my neck. I'd fallen face first down the stairs, a huge friction burn all across my face.

My family got used to it, a local shop called my Dad one morning I'd fainted in the street on the way to school. Casually he swung by in his car, put me on the back seat and took me home for another days agony. I never really thought that anyone else believed the amount of pain I was in every month or understood the mental effects. Always knowing every month suddenly on a unknown day I would be hit by a crippling pain for about twelve hours. While I was in the grips of the pain every month I would think my life was awful, that I'd rather be dead than go through this every month for the rest of my life...I thought about asking for a hysterectomy so I could just get on with my life pain free. Of course as I got older I got used to it. I was less dramatic in my mind but the pains never ceased.

I started taking the pill, I would back to back take them for months to avoid the problem but it always made it worse when it did come. I planned holidays, nights out everything around my cycle. When I got to stage I wanted children i saw my gyno and he said it would happen. He just couldn't say when or if I'd need help. Years past, I had a laporoscopy where they removed as much as they could see. No change, I had IUI fertility treatment three times in the end and still nothing. 

I gave up, I began a new life where I had settled with the notion I wouldn't have children. I was newly single and I was resigned about the future not including motherhood. Still I had the pain every month and I was seriously thinking about getting a hysterectomy rather than pointlessly suffer every month. Then two years into a new relationship I found myself moaning to a friend that I had an important meeting in Birmingham that week and was expecting my period 'knowing my luck ' it would be that day and I'd be too ill to go. She asked if I might be pregnant and I laughed it off.

Two days later I was sat on the bathroom floor in tears, a pregnancy test in my hand. 

Ever since Tabitha was born I have had no pain with my periods. 

She has fixed me.

If you have an experience of Endometriosis you would like to share please send it in to my email link top right hand corner and I'll be happy to publish it.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Is there a right age to have a baby?

This subject is one i have given much thought over the years. Out of my groups of friends i have a real mixture of ages that they fell pregnant. Some have had children young, swapping the clubbing and vodka drinking years for nappies and pushchairs. Others are still planning families for in the future.

These days i don't feel there is a pressure on women to have children at a certain age. It is generally accepted that it is a very individual choice.

I have lots of experience of working with young parents over the years. I am in awe of the way some young parents rise to the challenge of balancing work/education and parenting when facing so many pressures. I have also seen older parents who have painfully planned their arrivals then buckle and break under the strains of raising those children.

I always wanted children in my twenties, and set my life up accordingly. Through lifes twists and turns this never happened. I wasn't blessed with Tabitha-Lo until i was 34. This gave me the chance to have grown more as a person. To have built my career to a higher level, to have experienced more of life and got things i had wrong, right. I am very grateful for those twists and turns.

I think each age group gives positives and negatives to parenting. One age will suit one person and not another. Some will excel and others struggle. But is age the relevant factor?

The Gallery - Do you know what it is yet?

This week at Sticky Fingers Tara has asked us to photo something from a new angle and set everyone else the challenge of guessing what it is...So here we go.

This is the most important thing in my life between the hours of 7pm - 6am. We even have a name for it, welcome to 'Robo Sherbie'

Do you know what it is yet?

oh yeah....I will publish the answers on Wednesday once the links have gone onto Sticky Fingers. 

Friday, 9 July 2010

Welcome to the World!

Congratulations to my friends Bianca and Mike Pannell, and big brothers Finlay and Jacques on the arrival of Baby Mitch. 
Born 6th July 2010 weighing 7lb 15oz. 

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Gallery - Holidays

Over at Sticky Fingers this week the theme is Holidays.

NewYears Eve 2008 we went to Amsterdam. Just me and my man. Our last holiday before we became parents. Everytime i see this picture of Jay walking down the street i smile and remember that we were a pretty cool couple before we were a Mum and a Dad. I'm not going to say anything else about our time there...What goes on in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam.