Friday, 31 January 2014

The end of the holidays

It's the 31st of January today, which means, not only is it the end of the first month of 2014, but it's also the end of the summer holidays.  Of course as they don't go back until Monday, I suppose that they don't really end for another two days (or in Mahe's words, two more sleeps until it's back to school time).  Weekends are always time off school though, so really, they don't count, or in my mind in any case.

The long summer holidays

As a child the long summer holidays, or the big holidays seemed to stretch on forever. But now as an adult, they seem to have gone quickly.  The weather hasn't helped and the promise of a warm summer keeps taunting us with it's odd appearance.  Actually the last few days have been quite nice, which is probably a sign that the kids are due back at school.

Good weather at the end of the holidays

Of course, there was one big difference when I was a child (apart from the fact I was a child of course) and that was being back home in the UK, the summer holidays were just that, summer holidays.  Here, we begin with Christmas, and then New Year.  By the time that you've got that over and done with, the holiday is almost half gone.  It seems like the holiday has flown by, but if I think about it, Christmas seems a long time ago.

Summer Holiday Activities

Looking back now, I'm not entirely sure what we got up to. We had a lovely holiday a week or so ago, which was great.  But other than that, it's really been a case of relaxing, playing and having fun.  Which is what school holidays are about.  I had thought, with the weather as it was, we'd be spending a lot of time at the local museum and the like.  To be honest though, we've made our own fun at home, made the most of what good weather there was, and had the odd visit to the local library, which is always a good way to spend a rainy day.  On the days when it's been too wet and miserable to do anything, we've sometimes just relaxed and watched a bit of tv, or a film.  I don't like the children to watch too much tv, but a little bit certainly doesn't hurt.

Crazy princess girl

Back to school

Now it's time to head back to school.  Mahe's back for his second term as a bit school boy, and I think he's quiet keen to get back.  Kai's a little more relaxed about it all, but I know he'll be keen to see his friends.  Of course now he's in his third year, and back to a new class, an old hand at this school lark these days.

Making our own fun

Monday, 27 January 2014

Do as I say, not as I do

Just the other day, I found myself telling my children that they weren't to have any books or toys at the breakfast table, only to sit down with my book with my cup of tea when it was my turn to eat. Not exactly a good example to be setting.  One of the hardest challenges, when it comes to being a parent, is making sure that you are setting a good example to your kids.  We're told time and time again, that children learn by copying, so what they see us say and do, is so very important.

Modelling good behaviour

The problem is, that as people, we're not perfect, and we can tell our children to do or not do something, but if we ourselves don't follow those rules, then we can hardly expect them to.  How many times have you found yourself telling your children that they mustn't do something, only to then go and do it yourself.  Some of these things are big, not wanting your children to smoke when you yourself do for example, but others are tiny little things that you probably don't even realise that you do.

The little things that count

Do as I say not as I do and wear a hat

It's often those little things that are the most important.  Do you ask your children to keep their sun hats on when outside, and then not wear one yourself?  Have you even asked them to be quiet by shouting at them? Told them how disgusting picking their nose is, and then fished around in your own?  Non of them are big or possibly even that important, but they are things that we want our children to 'behave' by doing or not doing. 

Do as I say, not as I do

Every time you tell your children to do one thing, and then do the exact opposite yourself, you're achieving nothing more than sending a mixed message at best, or showing them that it doesn't actually matter what they say at worst.  Do as I say, not as I do? The chances are that they'll just ignore you.

Do as I do

On a day to day basis, you are your child's first and most important teacher.  They learn by listening to what you say, watching what you do and then copying.  Of course we're non of us perfect, but by trying to make sure that we do what we want them to first, there's a better chance that they'll listen and do what we want them to.

Do as I do

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A digital holiday

I've been away for a few days, a little summer break.  A chance to get away and experience some more summer like weather, which to be honest would be a huge bonus after all of this flipping rain we've been having.  Being as I run an online business, being totally offline wasn't really an option, so I was planning on using my phone just to keep on top of emails and the like, but not really bother with the computer as such, we were on holiday after all, which was fine, apart from one tiny little problem; no phone signal.  So, turns out our holiday was actually a digital holiday too, a break from the internet, being on line and all that it entails.

Actually, it was really nice, not to have my phone pinging and bleeping every few minutes, and having to resist the temptation to have a quick check of the screen and see what had appeared, been posted or emailed.  I didn't want to be doing that anyway, but had I had phone signal, I know I would have been unable to resist the temptation to check every now and again.  I DID have to go and check my email at a wireless access point a few times, as I said, business to run, but other than that, total digital holiday.

The kids had a great time, swimming (at the pool, the lake was tooooo cold) playing mini golf (which I grew up knowing as crazy golf, same thing though) and just playing together.  Nice and relaxing.  I even read a whole book, from cover to cover, all the way through, and a real book, not on my kindle.  Now that really is a holiday.

mini golfer

Learning to putt

K looks on

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Goodbye Grandad

I had got a number of things that I wanted to write about this week, already planned.  Then, on Sunday, my Grandad died, and I felt that I should probably write something about that.  I wasn't sure what though, so until now, I've written nothing.

Granddad was my last remaining grandparent, after Grandma died a couple of years ago.  He's been living in an old peoples home for a couple of years now, since then.  I haven't actually seen him for five years sadly.  I last saw both Grandma and Grandad before we moved over here.  It's a shame really, that I didn't see either of them again, but it is so difficult being so far away.  Of course when something like this happens, I feel even further away from home than usual.

My Grandad worked as a bus driver in his younger days, and Grandma also worked as a conductress on the busses.  Later on he worked as a dray man for one of the many breweries in Burton.  Driving was always part of his life, and he enjoyed motor caravanning for many years, founding the Auto Sleeper Owners Club in the 1980's.  When I was little I went away with them on quite a few caravan rallies, which were always good fun.

Another of his great loves was history, which is perhaps where I got my interest in the subject.  He was more interested in the military side of things and battles, but he loved history all the same.

I don't think I could claim to be particularly close to Grandad, certainly nowhere near as close as I was to other grandparents.  He was hard of hearing, and could be quite strict, so as a small girl, I think I was always a little reserved around him.  I have clear memories of him taking control of the tv remote when he came to visit, and not liking us children to touch it, even though I think we had far more idea of how it worked.

Really the best way to celebrate his life, would be to go for a pint, down at the local.  When I was little he used to go for a drink with Dad every Sunday before Sunday lunch, and every Monday when they came to visit.  Sadly though, over here, the 'beer' on offer is cold fizzy stuff, not the real ale that he (and I) enjoy.  So failing that, I'll raise a glass of whisky to him, another drink that he enjoyed.

Cheers Grandad, sleep well.

cheers grandad

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Easier natural birth

For months now, I've been promising a friend I'd share what my midwife got me doing that made for an easier natural birth with my third and forth children.  Seeing as she's now 32 weeks, which is the key time for the tips I'm going to share, I thought it was time for a post on this just for Sarah.
My first two births were LOOOOOOONG and resulted in c-section the first time round, and a rather long drawn out vbac the second time around.  When I was pregnant with Lena, my midwife told me about optimum foetal positioning and how it can have a huge impact on the length and type labour that you have.  Lena's birth was much much easier, and by the time Anja was born, I was actually really enjoying the whole process and it certainly made for an easier natural birth.
Of course, you could say that by babies numbers three and four, my body knew what it was doing, which made it much quicker and easier, and possibly even suggest that I'd got a bit more room, but I honestly think that these things I'm about to share made for a much easier natural birth.  You might not bend down, sneeze and your baby flys out, but hopefully this will help a little.

Newborn baby

When to start working towards optimal foetal positioning 

I began doing these things around 32-34 weeks, of course you can start later than that and it will probably still help, but doing it from the 32-34 week mark means that you have plenty of time to get things lined up and right.  It might be worth finding out what position your baby is currently in, these tips are for single pregnancies where your baby is head down.  If you have complications then you should consult your health professional first, and in all situations, it's probably worth speaking to your midwife.

What you are aiming for is your baby to lie with it's back on your left/front.  You should also be encouraging your baby to engage, which should help move things along when labour arrives.

Your position helps your babies position

If your baby is back to back, then getting him/her to move into the right position is even more important. But even if they are not, doing things such as going on all fours, crawling around and kneeing for about half an hour a day can help with positioning.  

Sitting can have a huge impact on your babies position, and from this point in, although it's really tempting to lounge back with your feet up, it really won't help.  
  • Sit upright or in forward leaning postures as much as you can.
  • If you are sitting on a dining room chair, turn it around the wrong way (cowboy style) and sit like that, you'll naturally lean forward, stay upright and your hips are nice and open.
  • Kneeling over a large cushion or bean bag when watching tv can help.
  • When lying, try to lie on your left side with a pillow between the legs and with your top knee on the bed.
  • Car seats are not good at keeping you upright, try putting a cushion under you when you are in the car.
Try to avoid:
  • Using chairs that recline or semi-recline and have our knees higher than your hips.
  • Taking long car journeys, use a cushion if you do.
  • Sitting with your legs crossed
  • Slouching

An Easier Natural Birth

While in labour, or having braxton hicks, leaning forward can really help.  Getting on all fours is also helpful, or leaning against a wall or someone, rocking your hips with each contraction.  Wiggle your bum during contractions, as this really seems to help keep things moving, and I found that it gave me something to focus on so that the pain wasn't as intense.  
Most of all though, avoid lying down, and if you really really have to (my midwife put my bed up, so that I couldn't get on it) then lie on your left side.  
If things don't seem to be going as fast as you'd like in labour, then trying a visit to the toilet, with both Lena and Anja, I was getting somewhere but not quite there.  A couple of contractions while sitting on the toilet and it was game on, the position seems to be ideal for giving birth.

There are some great sites with heaps of info on, and most of this is pretty straight forward.  Spinning Babies in particular is a great site, and not just for breach babies.  Good luck and I can't wait for the birth announcement.

after an easier natural birth

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


This is the second post that never was that I mentioned the other day. To be honest, this isn't really my story, it didn't really do much more than inconvenience me. At some time in mid June, around the 20th maybe, my husband had a call out with the fire brigade, as there was a landslide up the road, where one road had slipped down onto the road before.  Other than getting the call out, it didn't really have much impact on us, other than putting a couple of roads that we use regularly out of action.  The next day, he went and took some photos of the damage.

Trees on the road


Collapsed road

The top road slipped


As you can see from the pictures, the top road had slipped down the side of the hill in the landslide and fallen onto the road below.  There was a house that was almost, but not quite in the path of the landslide, and although fortunately no one was hurt, the residents were trapped in their property when the driveway became blocked.

I didn't really think much more of it, other than that it would be a bit of a pain that we couldn't use either of the roads for the time being.  Certainly, it wasn't on my mind at all when a day or so later our telephone rang at four in the morning.  I dismissed in as a wrong number in my sleepy mind, then seconds later the firebrigade pager sounded and the phone rang again.  We had to evacuate and meet down at the local school as they feared that the slip was on the move again, and could come near our houses.  

I should perhaps point out here, that I lived in the UK for 30 years and was never once evacuated, and here we are after five years in New Zealand having been evacuated twice.  I bundled all four children into the car, still in their night wear, and we drove down to the school.  We arrived down there to find only one other car waiting, they had been there a little while themselves and were beginning to worry that it was some elaborate scheme to get them out of the house.  As the school was all closed up, the decision was made to move down to the firestation, which is where we headed.

We stayed a little while before heading into town for breakfast, at the only place open at that time, McDonalds.  It was here that we got a call asking if we minded being on the local news, which you can watch here.

As it turned out, we were able to return home later that day, the landslide hadn't really come near our house, so as I say, we were just inconvenienced for a while there.  Still it was something interesting for the kids to tell people at school.

Friday, 3 January 2014

The posts that never were

I was thinking earlier that being the New Year I perhaps ought to do some kind of round up of the last year, a look back at the big events.  The only problem was, that to be honest, I don't think that there was anything all that big that happened last year.  As I was running through ideas though, it occurred to me that there were at least two things happened that I didn't blog about.  The first, simply because I was going through a not very active on the blogging front stage, and the second, because I think I was in denial.  So, here, and then again when I next blog I'm planning on writing those two posts, the posts that never were.

The first one I'm going to tackle, is the one that I was in denial about; Mahe starting school.  Now you would think that such a momentous occasion would result in at least one post, but somehow I couldn't bring myself to do it.  I'm not sure if it was him turning five and going to school, or just that it also meant that I'm now half way through my 30's and we've been here for five years.  I'm not going to dwell on the last of those two things here though, this is about my little man.

When Kai started school, I was really upset that he was old enough to be at school,  but at the same time I had no doubt in my mind that he was ready.  With Mahe though, I was far less convinced, he seemed ready in some ways, but we had tears on more than one occasion at the thought of leaving Koputai, his day care, and I just wasn't sure that he was ready to go.

As it was I was worrying about nothing, yes, there were a few tears when he left Koputai, and yes a few more when he started school (mine) but he was ready, and it didn't take more than a few weeks to seem as though he'd been there for ages.

Seeing your children grow up is both wonderful and dreadful all at once.  Of course I want them to get bigger, and develop into the people that they become, I just wish that they wouldn't do it so quickly.