About Me

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Started the blog when I was a reluctant stay at home mum of two, now back at work and life is even more crazy! This blog is about combining work, home and everything else. I've two kids (aged five and three), youngest has Downs Syndrome, have one partner and no pets (the smelly goldfish went to the big bowl in the sky!)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Dreaded Nativity


The Dreaded Nativity Play

I never believed I could really care about a nativity play. Yes, they're fun and kids look cute and get to wear tea-towels on their heads. But I thought I'd just be happy my child was taking part.

So in the first year he came home all excited, gripping a wee slip of paper with his role on it. Dancer. Yes that well known role of nativity dancer. Did you not know that there were dancers at the nativity? Well apparently there were, and they had to wear striped shirts, file onto the stage and at the appropriate moment skip off the stage in twos, down the centre aisle and back to the stable!

And then this year he was a "Person From Scotland". Yup, that's right. And there's people from Spain, Switzerland, and Hawaii as well. Indeed, a new twist on the nativity. Apparently the star travels round to the countries to find the best place for the baby Jesus to be born and picks a stable in Bethlehem. Personally I would have picked a well equipped maternity hospital with ready access to painkilling drugs as opposed to a stable of barnyard animals, but who am I to know!

But then I found out that he didn't have anything to say. But all the rest of the Scottish People did. And then, I'm afraid, I turned into "that" mum. I just wanted him to have a chance. And some of the children with speaking parts had speaking parts last year as well. And I know they've probably got the clearest speaking voices and can project or whatever. But you know, it's not the west end. It's a school play and as a parent I just want to see my child getting a chance to do something. And if it pushes them out of their comfort zone then maybe that's a good thing.

And then, probably through my excessive grilling light questions he picked up that he wasn't speaking and asked would I ask the teacher if he could have a line to say. And I did. And I was nervous. (In the interests of full disclosure I should point out that I'd already complained about some slightly inappropriate lyrics in some of the songs already but lets gloss over that... )

And I could tell the teacher wasn't happy, she said yes he could, but then said that they'd tried out all the children and he didn't speak loud enough (really? Are we talking about the same child??) And that half were speaking and half were not speaking. And I can understand that, but why not try and make sure that the ones who are not speaking were not the ones who were not speaking last time either. You know, go and check with the teacher from last year and work it out.

Or, what about a play where everyone got a line. So that got me thinking was that possible. So I did it I wrote a 50 line nativity play. So 50 children all getting to speak. Imagine that. Fifty parents all getting to see their child shine.

Anyway. He's a shepherd now. With a line. And I'm off to iron a tea-towel for his head and burst with pride when he says his line.

"I bring a lamb."

Oscar winning.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

So, the Downs Syndrome Thing...

If you've read my profile you'll see that I have a son with Down's Syndrome. He's three, four in January, and he's called Toby.

No, we didn't know he had downs before he was born (people ask that a lot) and yes it was a big, big shock (understatement of the century), and yes it took a while to get used to the idea that his life and our life was going to be 'different'.

There was nothing in my pregnancy to suggest anything was "wrong", although we didn't actually have any testing done, just the 20 week scan. The night he was born... well it was a great labour, very fast, but when he was born there was just something in his wee face that made me ask "do you think..."

A midwife checked him, then another one, then a more senior one, and then they said they were going to get a doctor.

At that stage we pretty much knew. The doctor followed the steps in the "How to Break Bad News" textbook, sat on the bed, took my hand, said he was beautiful, but... but there were some features that led her to believe he might have downs.

You cannot prepare yourself for hearing that. Honestly, it was like a bad dream. I really did keep thinking I was going to wake up. But obviously it wasn't. And then we had to tell people, a stunned phone call to my mum in the middle of the night, a tearful one to my sister in the morning and two more tearful ones to my best friends later that day. And then a text to everyone who was waiting to hear, we'd had a boy, he weighed 7+lbs and he had Downs syndrome. The texts that came back were interesting, I know people didn't know what to say (I still, strangely ,would not know what to say to someone in the same boat) but most people got it right.

We were (are) very lucky. He has no heart issues, no feeding issues in fact his health is really good. We left hospital two days later.

And what now, three years later. Well, for us it's been a pretty easy ride. We sort of decided without discussion that it wasn't actually going to change our lives and he was just going to have to fit in. Yes, we have appointments - physio, speech therapy and occupational therapy. And eye appointments and thyroid tests and bi-annual reviews and appointments to get special shoes. But so what. And yes we maybe had to work a tiny bit harder to make sure he got to go to a mainstream nursery, but we weren't manning the barricades or storming the BELB! Yet!

And what of Toby? Well he's hoot. It is no exaggeration to say everyone loves him. Imagine being able to say that? Everyone loves me.

He's just like other boys, he loves TV, can be very, very stubborn, loves to sing and dance, has his meltdown moments. But we love him, and he's ours and he's changed our life a bit, but only for the better.

And just check out that photo. He's gorgeous. Takes after his mum obviously!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Ever increasing circles

I feel like I have spent the whole summer driving in circles. Why? Summer childcare.

I began stressing about summer childcare around Easter time. There are nine weeks (yes, NINE weeks) to cover in Northern Ireland. I wanted to try and get a mix of downtime, fun time and mummy and daddy being able to go to work and earn money time! 

I began to keep a look out for summer schemes and activities. I then made a list of all the weeks that needed filled (anal – moi?!) and tried to work out what was on to cover them. Week one we could have used a summer scheme but I decided to ask my mum instead and she said yes. So I took the first day as leave and then my mum covered the next three days (we only need four days covered). And I am so glad I did this. Looking back I would have hated to send my son back to school (where the summer scheme was being run) on the first day of the holidays. And then he got to potter with my mum for a few days and she loved having him and he loved being there. 

The second week my partner took a weeks leave, which happened to coincide with the heatwave, so they had a great time in the garden and park and fulfilled a summer challenge to learn how to ride a bike with no stabilisers (my son, not my partner). 

Then the fun started. Three weeks of summer scheme based in his school. But it only opens at 8.30 and I need to get to work and drop the other son at daycare. So began three weeks of driving in one direction, looping round (the school is closer to our house than the daycare) and looping back again. At the end of the day a frantic dash, using up annual leave hours and leaving work early to do it all in reverse. I began to treat myself to a coffee on the way to work just to get through the day. 

Week five saw more looping as my second son was at a special needs summer scheme, but couldn’t be dropped off until 9.00am so more annual leave hours used getting into work and leaving work early. We’re now on week six and first son is at a different summer scheme and we’re still looping.

Luckily it’s nearly over. One more summer scheme week, then a family holiday week (yay!) then my partner is taking another leave week (he has more leave than me – long story) and then 2 September – back to school! And the cost? One summer scheme was £75 a week, the second one £110, the coffees are mounting up, and my mum? She didn’t charge!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

First year of school and the four p's...

So what did I learn from my first year of having a child in school?

Well, first lesson was don't leave it until the week before school starts to buy uniform. Two frantic trips to two separate Marks and Spencer and an emergency online order meant we did get all the uniform in time but it was a close run thing!

The rest of my lessons can be summed up as the four Ps...

Packed lunches
I hate making packed lunches. Come teatime I just want to clear up and relax. I know it doesn't take long but I just find it a total chore. I also found that when I'm doing the shopping I always seem to forget one key element so end up rushing to the shops on a Sunday for juice or fruit or something. We've also gone through more tupperware than I thought was possible and have amassed a huge collection of mis-matched lids and boxes. So top tips, get lots of small, good quality, same sized tupperware boxes. I also found that I was packing too much food and lots was coming home un-eaten, other parents had the same experience saying the kids didn't have enough time to eat a big lunch, so try making a smaller lunch and then increasing it if they say they are still hungry.

Or just opt for school dinners.

Anyone who's read a party thread on mumsnet will know this is a can of worms! For lots of parents its the first time they will have organised a party that goes beyond a family only one and there is much stressing over who to invite, where to have it, what to do at it and how much to spend.

We opted for a full class party. It's hard to admit but when my child didn't get invited to parties that I knew others were invited to it made me sad - silly, but there you go. So for this first year I decided whole class invite was the way to go. I know for lots of parents that's not an option due to space or budget issues, but it just felt right for us. We went for a hired venue and hired entertainer, plus some party games. It worked out well, but was exhausting and expensive!

Another P is 'presents'. Wow, we could not believe the presents he got. Some of them are still hidden away in cupboards to bring out at the right moment. And then the thorny issue of what to spend on a present for another child. A quick poll says £10-£15, but I could tell some of the ones we got were way more! Best advice here? If you see a bargain buy it! Or ask the parents what they would like you to get, or more importantly - not get!

Oh my. Phonics. If you're a parent of a certain age this will be totally new to you. No more learning by rote, it all seems to be a combination of guesswork, sounds and signs. I really didn't get phonics until it was too late. We were getting stuff sent home but it was never clear if it was proper homework or an optional activity (I realised too late it was proper homework). So read up on it, and get stuck in from the very start and soon you will be t-t-t-t-op of the c-c-c-c-lass!!

Other parents are your friends. Remember this. Yes they might look at what you're wearing. Yes, they might have more or less money than you. Yes, they might want to talk to the teacher every day. And yes, they might have vastly different ideas on how to bring up children. But they're also just doing their best, whether they're rushing out of the gates, dressed to the nines to work, or standing chatting for hours in the morning. Be nice. Smile at everyone. Go on at least one of the nights out for 'mummies'. You might make some new friends, you might not. Just don't think you're making enemies!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Well. That went badly.

As usual work got in the way and my resolution to do more blogging went no-where. And, once again, I'm coming to the end of a contract and facing the prospect of (a) job hunting, (b) being at home with my children and (c) slumping into a jeremy-kyle watching blob!

So, what else has changed? Well son number one has finished his first year of P1 - hard to believe, there's been some ups and downs and lessons learnt - maybe that's the next blog post though!

Son number one - aka Rowan

Son number two - aka Toby

Son number two has finished his special needs nursery, and will be starting mainstream in September. We're going through statementing at the minute and that's another blog right there - so hard to know if you're doing the right thing.

Resolutions re running were out the window - again, where is my motivation?? Feeble attempt at 5:2 diet, where I seemed to lose and regain the same three kgs over and over again.

So that's it for now.

Monday, 7 January 2013

All change!

Well, when I started the blog it was all about how I was a stay at home mum and how I was going to fill my children's lives with enriching experiences and, you know, stuff. Then real life and finances got in the way, and I got a job and went back to work. Looking back those months off with the boys were great; it was less stressful than 'proper' work, no Sunday night blues, I made some new friends and got to spend lots of time with my children.

The flip side? Days could be really long, being at home can be surprisingly expensive (those coffees mount up!) and I got to spend lots of time with my children!

So, I'm back at work (communications manager for a charity) and my days have got even busier! The school run (bleurg - I hate that expression) with two children being dropped and collected at different places, at different times, depending on which day it is can be fun (sometimes I have to stop and think, where am I supposed to be going), plus a whole array of parties, and swimming lessons and squirrels and playball and drama make the weeks and weekends fly by.

Anyway, new years resolution number six (behind date nights, going running, and various other worthy activities) is to start blogging again and trying to get some real people to read what I'm writing!

Wish me luck!