Monday, 30 April 2012

A-Z Challenge Z is for.....

Zapped

I have to admit that is how I feel 'zapped' of all brain power.

I have never done so much blogging!

I have struggled with finding the time to blog daily and to find something to blog about.

Have I enjoyed it though - yes despite not really having the time. I have enjoyed the way this challenge has taken to new and interesting blogs, I have enjoyed the increased traffic to my blog and the new followers. I have enjoyed being made to think outside my normal blog and to find new and other things to blog about.

it has left me feeling pretty zapped though which is not good seeing as though I am sinking in work as well and have been for a while.

so on the note, I am zooming out of the A-Z Challenge to get on with it!

A-Z Challenge Y is for....

Yearning

Definition : an intense or overpowering longing, desire, or need; craving

Its there, I yearn for another child, a baby to hold, enjoy, nourish and watch grow.

My youngest is 5 and he is no longer a baby.

I have had what they call empty cot syndrome since, well, since he grew out of it!

I miss that complete trust in you, that dependance on you. Nothing can beat the way they lie and look at you while they feed, the smell and the warmth of a baby.

Despite having suffered bad post natal depression following my 2nd son, I would still do it again. It is so worth it.

Despite have had 2 premature babies and pregnancies that were not really as I had expected, I would still do it again.

I yearn for the labour I feel cheated out of.

I yearn to hold a new born baby within minutes of birth.

I yearn to get big and fat, and waddle about.

I yearn to have the chance to take my baby home when I leave the hospital.

Feeling like this makes me wonder how all the wonderful couples out there who are fighting for the chance to have their first babies and are going through the horrendous ordeal of IVF and infertility cope, for them it must be so much worse and that thought grounds me, makes me realise I am greedy and I should be thankful for the 2 I have. And I am, truely thankful.

It was not meant to be.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A-Z Challenge X is for.......

X-Rays

How do X-Rays work?
X-Rays were discovered by accident back in the late 1800's when a German scientist (not called Dr X-Ray) was using electron beams in a tube which was covered by cardboard and noticed a fluorescent screen next to it glow after the electron beam passed through his insulated tube, therefore the radiation was capable of passing through materials. He already knew that fluorescent screens would glow when exposed to radiation but in this case the special tube he was using was surrounded by thick cardboard so he realised the radiation was passing through it. He began placing different objects between this insulated tube and the fluorescent screen to see what happened. When he placed his hand in front of it he saw a silhouette of his hand and his bones. This German scientist (Wilheim Roentgen) had made one of the most important discoveries in medical history - imaging and the examination of bones, allowing doctors to see if any bones were broken. The letter X was designated as this new type of radiation was unknown and there was no name for it, so it became known as X.

X-rays are beams of light, more specifically highly energetic electromagnetic waves of radiation which we can not see. In our body soft tissue can not absorb the high energy rays so it passes straight through it like the skin and muscle, whereas the dense material in our body such as bone which is made of calcium absorb the radiation. When the X-rays hit the film, they are exposed to light in exactly the same way a photograph is. The black areas on the film are the exposed areas and show the parts of the body the X-rays can pass through while the white areas show the parts of the body which have absorbed the radiation such as the bone.

The X-Ray machine is essentially a camera with the patient placed between the camera and a piece of film and a photograph taken. This is now viewed on computers rather than the big pieces of films they use to use.

So there you have it, you now know how an X-Ray works!























A-Z Challenge W is for........

Won't fail at this late stage!

I WILL NOT be beaten! I WILL NOT fall off the A-Z Challenge right near the end.

I had all my posts carefully planned and you miss one and it is a slippery slope. I am now behind, really behind and worried I will not finish this challenge in time. I am going to have to publish more than 1 post in a day in order to do it now.

Why am I behind? No other reason than work. Work has been really manic the last few days with a few deadlines being pulled forwards and I am away at a meeting next week, so running against the clock to get work in good shape before being out for 3 days and then on Friday we are at a wedding.

So this is a very brief post for the A-Z Challenge, just to say I Wont fail and I Will complete this challenge in time

A-Z Challenge V is for....

Ventricular Septal Defect

Mini Man was born by planned c-section at 34 weeks after not such a good pregnancy with grade 4 placental previa. He was a massive 4lb 9oz which is pretty good for a 34 weeker (my 31 weeker had been 2lb 9oz).
However, he was a very sleepy baby who didn't want to feed and didn't tolerate his feeds well. Initially there was little concern about this as apparently 34 weeks is not the best gestation to be born at. At this stage in a babies development, everything vital has developed and the baby is gearing up to the outside world. His main concern at 34 weeks is growing and putting weight on so in effect all vital systems go into low maintenance mode to allow these 2 things to happen. As a result a baby born at 34 -35 weeks can really struggle with the world and can be in a worse condition than say a 32 weeker. So his sleepiness and lack of interest in feeding was initially put down to his gestation.

When his oxygen requirements started going up though and he rapidly started losing weight further investigations were performed. At 1 week old we were given the news that our baby had a congenital heart condition known as a VSD - ventricular septal defect. The visiting cardiologist from the Royal Brompton told us the VSD - basically a hole in the heart was large and may require surgery. It was a lot to take in and it had nothing to do with being premature.
Many babies are born with holes in their hearts. There are 3 main types - a PDA (Patent ductus arteriosus). This is caused when the duct (vessel) which carried blood from one side of the heart to the other before the baby is born remains open. Once a baby is born and starts using his lungs, the duct closes spontaneously. Often is does not fully close at birth however can quickly resolve itself or be resolved with a short course of medication. It is quite common in premature babies and can in some cases require surgery. Then there is an ASD - atrial septal disorder and a VSD - ventricular spetal disorder.

As you can see on the diagram the heart has 4 main chambers, the lower 2 are the ventricles, the upper 2 the left and right atrium and running down the middle is the septum. An ASD or VSD is a hole in this septum either between the ventricles or the atrium. The flappy bits (good medical terminology there) are the bicuspid (also known as the mitral valve) and tricuspid valve. Quick biology lesson here - the pulmonary vein carries blood from the lungs containing oxygen into the left side of the heart. As the heart contracts it pushes the blood downwards through the values into the ventricle. When the ventricle is full the values clamp shut to prevent the blood going back upwards. This oxygenated blood is then pushed round the body where is deposits the oxygen and nutrients in the organs and cells of the body, and picks up the carbon dioxide and waste products and brings it back to the heart. This returning blood enters the heart on the right side through the superior and inferior vena cava, and again the value clamp shut to prevent back flow. From the right side of the heart the blood is returned to the lungs, lets go of the carbon dioxide which we then breath out and picks up more oxygen and the journey starts again.  If there is a hole in the septum, this allows this rich oxygenated blood from the left side of the heart to flow into the right side of the heart where there is deoxygenated blood. Less oxygenated blood then gets delivered to the body. Symptoms can be sleepiness, blueness below the nose and round the lips, breathlessness etc.

Mini Man had a large VSD. We didn't really know what this meant, how it would effect him. He was losing weight rapidly and did nothing but feed, but he only took an ounce or so before he was too tired and would be asleep again. I preserved for 3 weeks with the breast feeding but when he was labelled failure to thrive, we agreed his health was the most important and he was put onto high calorie prescription milk (infatrini), steroids and 2 different types of diuretics as although he had fallen over 2 centiles in his weight he was also retaining water. The steroids and the diuretics help ease the amount of work his little heart was trying to do. He was officially declared to be in heart failure and stayed that way for 18 months.

Over the course of Mini Man's first year, he had several readmissions for chest infections, he had 7 perforated ear drums due to infections, he was resistant to penicillin by 6 months old as he had had so many courses. Until the age of 2 Mini Man was on a daily antibiotic to keep all the chest and ear infections at bay.  At the time I didn't realise how ill my baby was. The words heart failure no longer scared us, we lived with it and almost forgot it was there. The daily antibiotic, the steroids, the diuretics and then the domperidone, ranitidine, and gaviscon for reflux were normal to us. I look back at photos though and see a grey baby.

Three times we travelled to the Royal Brompton for a pre- heart surgery assessment and 3 times they decided there might of been a slight improvement in the size of his hole. The first time we were re-seen a month later, told actually he did need surgery and to book another pre-op assessment, Off we trotted again to the Royal Brompton, had a whole day of tests and seeing people to be told again at the end of it, that infact there maybe was an improvement and to see the cardiologist in another month. Which we did and repeated the same thing. However after this third time of maybe seeing an improvement there really was one and from 9 months old, the hole began to close. By the age of 2 the diuretics, the steroids and the daily antibiotic stopped. However Mini Man didn't talk until he was 30 months, he didn't chew any form of food until he was 16 months and it was all due to tiredness.
At the age of 4, Mini Man's cardiologist told us the hole was small enough for them to be no longer concerned, but there was a problem now with his tricupsid and aortic valve. The cardiologist explained as the hole had repaired itself it had pulled the tissue from near the values towards itself and therefore pulled the valve open slightly. This now meant that there was a minor back flow of blood through these value. This is known as value regurgitation or valve leakage which can be mild, moderate or severe but will never repair itself and will either remain the same or get worse very slowly over time. When it is severe heart surgery is required. Mini Man was only showing signs of mild regurgitation but at some point in his life, most likely when he is 60 or something, he will require surgery to his heart value and until that day we would just need a yearly check up. After 4 years of 6 weekly check up's, the longest period being 3 monthly, this was music to our ears and we were happy. Valve leakage has no effect on his life and if he hadn't of had the hole, its the kind of thing that often goes undetected.

At the age of 5 Mini Man had his yearly check up but with a new cardiologist in Leeds due to us moving. Leeds has a very good heart unit so I was more than happy to be referred there. Mini Man was very naughty though the day of his check up and would not lie still for the cardiologist and did nothing but mess around. The cardiologist was less than pleased. The cardiologist declared there was nothing wrong with Mini Man's heart and he was happy to discharge us. I was very confused after all out last cardiologist who we knew well, really liked and trusted had told us he needed yearly check ups for the rest of his life, had leaky valves and would at some point need surgery. This new cardiologist who made no bones about being cross with Mini Man for messing around and had little patience, was suddenly telling us there were no leaky valves and we never need be seen again. I questioned it which did not go down well, he was quite shirty with me and told me he knew what he had seen and there was no evidence of anything being wrong with the valves or heart. I still questioned though as it was very different to what we were told the previous year, and in the end we were begrudgingly offered another appointment for a final check up when Mini Man is 8, as it is hoped he will lie still enough for a good examination (the cardiologist did admit Mini man had been so active on the bed he might not of had a full view). He did make it clear we were only getting this extra appointment to put my mind at rest. I have been more than happy with waiting 3 years as Mini Man is healthy, he is thriving and despite his rough start in life is never ill, so I would only feel the need to demand to be seen earlier if he suddenly started getting tired or looked grey again. In hind sight I do wonder if we should of pushed for a 2nd opinion but as he is not ill I guess we felt he could wait. In some respects I wish we could return to the Royal Brompton and get a 2nd opinion there.

As an aside the left side of the heart is more muscular and stronger as it has to pump the blood right the way round the body while the right side only has to pump it a short distance to the lungs. The heart is actually quite central in the chest cavity but the heart beat can be felt strongest on the left side due to the left side being stronger.

So V has given you a biology lesson in the heart!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A-Z Challenge U is for....

Unanimous

Being of one mind; agreeing in opinion, design, or determination; consentient; not discordant or dissentient; harmonious; as, the assembly was unanimous; the members of the council were unanimous.
I have to be honest finding something to blog about beginning with U initially seemed a real challenge but then.....

I saw a post on Twitter from Kate on Thin Ice advertising her latest linky to How to be a Groovy Mum and it dawned on me, Groovy mums are a group of mums who are all of one mind, agreeing on changing their lives, with determination, we are harmonious and unanimous in supporting each other and being part of a network, and there it was, the word unanimous.

So for those who don't know anything about Groovy mums it is simple. It is a linky for anyone out there who is looking for their mojo, who feels they have lost some of themselves since becoming a mum, who would like to find themselves again, time for themselves, rebuild confidence, form new friendships and remembering to put themselves first once in a while. For some it is a journey to share weight loss success (and of course the not so good weeks), or the courage they have had to do something. In Kate's words 'If you are a blogger, you write a blog post about how you are making tiny or huge changes towards a new you. This might be as simple as going for a walk or as radical as setting up a new business. It might mean talking to someone new or buying a treat just for you. It can be anything that makes sense to you as you try to get your va-va voom back or perhaps to discover it for the first time'.

It is never too late to join in, each week new people are joining and there is now a network as well The Groovy Mum's Ning network.

Each week Kate sets some challenges and it is up to you if you do them , some of us just add a blog post to celebrate something we may have done which has made us feel good (I promise not to harp on about running my first half marathon here - again, oops sorry I seem to have inadvertently mentioned it - again :))

Below are my response to this weeks challenges

1. Body – What new ways can you find to take exercise? 
Sorry I may just have to mention running again. I have also got my Davina DVD out again which I was very excited about when I first got it, I did it twice and then it fell by the way side but I was a little upset with a few of the photos from the half marathon so have more of an incentive now.

2. Mind – It is Depression Awareness Week. Have you experienced depression? Do you know how to spot the signs of depression in your loved ones and others? Check out http://blackdogtribe.com for information and support with mental health issues. They are also asking for your stories.
I blogged about this only last week. I suffered depression following the birth of my 2nd son who was very sick as a baby, 2 prem babies and the feeling of being cheated out of a full pregnancy and labour (yes I wish I could of experienced labour pains), not being able to hold my new born baby and then being in intensive care myself after my 2nd son left me in a pretty bad way. I have recently been suffering again and have just made the trip to the doctors. Not enough is done for depression awareness.

3. Blogging – Did you know http://britmums.com publish round-ups of good posts on certain issues such a food, politics, special needs, green issues, health and more? Why not promote your posts to the editors of these round-ups and raise your profile?
Now that would take confidence and when you don;t have a huge following or a huge amount of comments, some days it doesn't seem worth it.

4. Special Days – This week saw us marking St George’s Day. Is there a dragon that you need to tackle in your life?
I think work is my dragon, oh and maybe the dragon that seems to have taken over my ironing pile

5. Charity Connections- Get shopping online and hundreds of retailers will give a percentage of what you spend to a charity of your choice. Click here http://www.give.as/kateonthinice and register for free for Give As You Live with your name and email address. Do it today! You don’t have to spend any money now but it means when you do shop online you can ensure some of the money goes to a good cause. Why wouldn’t you? When you click, you will see poppies because I am personally raising money for the Royal British Legion but you can register here and then when you shop, you can select a charity of your choice.
I will look into this

6, The Big Question – What has the last year brought you? Are you happy with it?
14 months ago I started to freelance and although I often feel overwhelmed with the work, I really shouldn't complain. I am earning a nice amount and I have very regular work, it sometimes feels too much. I have learnt a great deal from being home based and my own boss, the pros and cons of having no colleagues or office to go to. Overall I am very content with it but just wish I could handle it better and juggle work and the boys and home more efficiently. We also relocated 18 months ago and to see the boys so happy makes it all worthwhile. It has turned Little Man around so for what it has done for him alone has made this last year worth every second.

Now why not write a post about how you are changing things for you and link it up.

A-Z Challenge T is for.......

Travel

So in my 30 something years I have been incredibly lucky to have travelled a fair bit. I have never been abroad with my parents instead all of our holidays were UK based, sometimes holidays were a tent less than 30 miles away from home up in the Dales but the bonus is I have seen the country I live in and the UK can be proud of its heritage, it boasts some beautiful places - Cornwall, Devon, the New Forest, the Peak District and the list goes on.
France
My first adventure abroad was at 13 with school when we caught the ferry to Bologna, France and spent 1 night in a hotel by the port!

My first time flying was at 14 to France again on the school French exchange to a town near Lake Annecy. Within 2 days of being there the girl I was exchanging with told me she didn't like me and just wanted a trip to England. I didn't have a very happy time there but did get to go into the Alps skiing and fell in love with Chamonix - the wooden cabins, the glacier, the mountains, it looked spectacular.
Canada and America
Next trip was a school band tour to America and Canada where we stayed in Salem, Ohio for 1 week with families. It was a tiny Quaker town but I have never experienced a welcome like it. I felt like I was family and am still in touch with them today. They really did love the British, everywhere we went people wanted to know more about us. I was on awe of the Malls and got my first taste and life long addiction to Jelly Belly's.

From Ohio we crossed Lake Eire, saw Niagara falls (image from Google) and went on The Maid of the Mist under them. The falls are well worth seeing, it was also October so we were treated to the beautiful colours of fall as well, only adding to the beauty of the falls. The town was too touristy for me, even at the age of 16, no doubt a product of my UK holidays as a child which always avoided the touristy places. We then spent a week in Ontario (image from Google). Another place I would recommend is Lake Ontario - again beautiful and climbing the CN Tower. I have cousins in Ontario do got to see them and an elderly great Aunt and Uncle. I would dearly love to return to Canada and see more of it.
Israel
Following this at 19, I spent 6 months in Israel on a kibbutz by the sea of Galilee. I love Israel. I could of lived there and have very, very happy memories. A kibbutz is like an escape from reality, working the land, growing avocados, citrus fruit, watermelons, driving tractors and picking bananas was an ideal job for me. While there I travelled and got well and truly bitten by the bug. I slept on roof tops in Jerusalem (image Google), climbed Mount Olives, left a prayer in the wailing wall, saw the horrors of the holocaust, met amazing people, lazed on the beach in Tel Aviv, swam in the sea of Galilee and floated in the dead sea. I spent 2 weeks trekking over the Negev desert with camels and a Bedouin tribe, sleeping under the stars and in their tents. I climbed Masada and saw sun rise. In Eilat I snorkeled and saw corals like I'd never seen before in the Red Sea. I slept on the beach and was woken by local soldiers pointing riffles at us telling us to move on.

Egypt
From here I crossed the border with 3 people I had met on the trek, spent 12 very long hot hours in a taxi with the Beatles blaring out. We saw Cairo, countless number of Mosques, the British museum with Tutankhamen's exhibit there. We galloped on horse back round the pyramids and were invited into the tour guides home to use his families toilet which turned out to be a grate in the middle of the one room, with the family sat round it on their rolled up bedding. We hired a Felucca and spent 3 days sailing from Cairo to Luxor down the Nile. On one side we would pass expensive cruise ships, turn your head the other way and you saw farmers cooling their cattle, girls collecting water and women washing clothes.


Luxor was beautiful. It was totally unspoilt. I believe it is now quite commercialised. We toured the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Kings. We saw temple upon temple but never bored. Onwards we went to Aswan and then back to Cairo. We spent our last week in a place called Dahab in the shadow of Mount Sinai. Here we met someone with a boat who took us out diving to shama sheikh, caught fish and BBQ'd them on board and provided all the drinks we wanted. All we did was get the alcohol with their money using our passports. In hind sight we could of been taken off to be sold but at 19 it's one big adventure. I then hitch hiked back to Tel Aviv and back to my kibbutz. I only returned home as my visa ran out!

Central America
Mexico
The following summer I set off to Central America during my first year of Uni holidays with someone I barely knew. Landing in Mexico we took in the sights of the east coast working our way to the Guatemalan border, saw the pyramids of the sun and the moon, Acapulco (horrid place), remote travellers beaches off the beaten track renting hammocks on the beach or beach huts, loads of temples and ruins again never boring. One place I loved was called Oaxaca (pronounced Who-hacka) with their cafes on the streets and small traditional bands to serenade you. The markets were amazing, the people friendly. My eyes were open to true poverty with street children and lepers begging on the street. We climbed mountains to remote villages and attractions and lazed on some idyllic beaches. Another favourite place was an untouched island off the West coast of Mexico, near Cancun called Isla Mujeres which was out of this world, and here I will insert a photo. I have never been on beaches like it, you could wade out in the clearest sea I have ever been in for about a mile. There were no hotels, we rented hammocks on the beach to sleep in, there was only a basic town and the small market. I believe now it has sadly become a much more popular tourist destination.

Guatemala
Another country I have fallen in love with. It is breathtaking. The first place we ended up was Chichicastenango, if the name is not enough to fall in love with the markets were.

We then stayed in the old capital of Guatemala - Antigua which again is beautiful and we discovered the best chocolate cake shop in the world while there. There is still an active volcano near Antigua which we could see smoking. One night in a bar we met a Guatemalan girl - their culture is so different, you are either very poor or very rich there is no inbetween. You go from rich marble floored buildings to shacks in a mere few metres. This girl was from the rich camp and had spent her summer travelling Europe. She invited us to her home (with marble floors, 6 cars and an indoor pool) and we stayed there for a night with her family.
Honduras
Honduras was horrid, I didn't enjoy it there that much, we felt very vulnerable but did the tourist attractions and the ruins and temples but didn't stay as long as planned.
Our plan was then to go up through Belize back into Mexico and do the West coast up to Cancun. However, half way from Honduras to Belize the bus driver turned round as the bus in front had been stopped by Gorillas and it was too dangerous. Our desire to see Belize was not strong enough to risk life and limb so we happily went back to Guatemala!.
Travelling for me then was holidays which included:
Greece
Rhodes - this was the first holiday I took staying in a proper hotel with my now hubby. I would love to back to Greece.
Tunisia
We took in the sights of Tunisia in 1997 on a 2 week all inclusive deal which we got last minute and paid £260.00 each. It was an amazing holiday as we didn't pay for anything!
Malta
This was where we spent our honeymoon. It is a lovely island although lacks any beaches but has a great history if you are interested in things like that. We also took a boat trip to Sicily and climbed Mount Etna which had only erupted 3 weeks before hand the lava in some places was still glowing.
Spain
This was a very sad trip as my father in law died in a car accident while living here so the purpose of this trip was to sort out his affairs. We spent the week over there though and enjoyed a few trips out and some shopping.

And then came trips with work.
San Antonio, Texas
I went to San Antonio for a weekend in 2009 for a works meeting I was running. The meeting was on for one hour but I got to spend 3 days there. It is a lovely town again with a great history - The Alamo, is a former Catholic mission and fortress compound, and the site of the Battle of the Alamo which took place in 1836. It is now a museum which I visited.

New Orleans
I was fortunate enough to visit New Orleans again for a works conference. I have mixed feelings about the place. It is actually very seedy and reminded me a little of Acapulco. Since the flooding the crime rate has really risen. The famous Bourbon street is incredibly seedy but well worth a walk down. By myself I would not of gone into any of the bars though!
This is another place where when taking a bus trip round you went from very rich affluent areas to very run down neighbourhoods. New Orleans did introduce me to their traditional foods like the Po Boy and the beignets desert which is mmmm.
Paris
This was my next destination with work for a conference but I was lucky enough to get an afternoon off to go and do the tourist things - I have always wanted to see the Eiffel tower, the Louvre, the triomphe etc. The only place I wanted to see which I didn't have time for was Moulin Rouge.
Switzerland
I trotted off in June 2011 to yet another conference for work to Lugano. I have never had much interest in travelling in Europe but was truly blown away by Switzerland. i would return there tomorrow if I could, who wouldn't want to wake up to this view every morning? Need I say more!
I again managed a bit of time to look around on my last afternoon and my friend who now lives in Switzerland came and stayed a night in the hotel with me and we climbed the alps the next day, took a boat trip etc.
Vancouver
Yet another meeting in July 2011 but sadly my trip to Vancouver consisted of airport - fly-taxi ride to hotel-meeting - sleep - meeting - meal out on same road as hotel - sleep -meeting - taxi ride-airport-home. I did see the Rocky's from the plane though!
Stockholm, Sweden
Yet another conference in Sept 2011. Again I was fortunate enough to get a little bit of time to look to look around - I got the train from the airport and was reliably told the hotel I was in was a 10 minute walk in 'that' direction. 'That' direction took me out of the city and on a very long walk. However on a plus side the 2 hours I spent walking to find the hotel was infact 10 minutes in the other direction from the station meant I got a good feel for Stockholm. It is a lovely place, again with plenty to see. it is also very expensive though.
Rome
Another place I have always wanted to see and never made and thanks to a works meeting in January 2012, i got to go and I paid for a nights extra accommodation so I could do the touristy things. The Vatican is something else, the artwork needs to be seen. ll over the town there are ruins and history. I got as far a as the Colosseum only to be told I could not go inside as I had a small wheel along suitcase with me. I would love to go back especially with t'hubby. The people I was with for the meeting said they would use it again and told me to make sure I was working on the meeting so we could make a weekend of it!
Frankfurt, Germany
This was the latest destination for work. I got a 2 hour walk around the town which was unexpected. I love seeing new places, their building, their shops and they way they live. This was only a snap shot of it but it was nice all the same.

Next week I am out in Madrid for a meeting, place I have never been and thanks to Northern airports and their flights time I need to go a day early so am looking forwards to a nice morning of sightseeing!

One day soon we hope to take the boys aboard and have a family holiday.

There are still many, many places I would love to go like Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Russia, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Brazil, India and those are only the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
I have been incredibly fortunate with the amount of places I have already seen. I would not have the confidence to just jump on a plane like I did to Israel many years ago by myself or trek across a country alone. At least the work trips, although alone are well planned! Maybe one day in my old age, i will get a camper van and just go and drive across the world!


Monday, 23 April 2012

A-Z Challenge S is for.....

St Georges Day

I am English and I am proud of it - so as a nation why don't we do more to celebrate St Georges Day? The Irish really go to town for St Patricks Day, the Welsh celebrate St David's day - my friends little girls go to school in traditional costumes, and the Scots all celebrate St Andrews day - they even have it as an official bank holiday.

How many of us even know it is St George’s day? Certainly as a student if someone said March 17th to me, I immediately thought of St Patricks day (or was that because is heralded a damned good drinking session with all my Irish friends?), April 23rd doesn’t immediately spring to mind as St George’s day and it was only because of Google I even realised. In recent years organisations like the English heritage have been trying to increase support for St Georges Day with organised events and radio and TV are doing more to promote it.

Does everyone even know what St Georges Day is about even? Until I decided to do this post, off the top of my head I could have only given a very sketchy idea of what it is, so here is a little history lesson courtesy of my friends Wikipedia and Google.

Saint George's Day is the feast day of Saint George. It is celebrated by various Christian churches and by the several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint. Saint George's Day is celebrated on 23 April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George's death in AD 303. Incidentally the 23rd April is also thought to be date of death and possibly anniversary of birth of William Shakespeare.

Saint George (c. 275/281 – 23 April 303) was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria, Palaetina and a soldier in the Guard of Diocletian. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the dragon and is one of the 14 holy helpers. He is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints as well.


Saint George and the Dragon - is a legend brought back with the Crusaders and retold. The earliest known depiction of the legend is from early eleventh-century; George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the seventh century; the earliest known surviving narrative text is an eleventh-century Georgian text.

The legend goes that a dragon makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of "Silene". Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest for a time, to collect water. To do so, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, and if no sheep can be found, then a maiden must go instead of the sheep. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but there appears Saint George on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the cross, slays the dragon, and rescues the princess.

If St George is from Syria, why is he the patron Saint of England?

St George's emblem, a red cross on a white background was adopted by Richard the Lion Heart and brought to England in the 12th century, now forming the national flag of England and incorporated into the Union jack. The king's soldiers wore it on their tunics to avoid confusion in battle.

St George was known to be a brave Roman soldier who protested against the Romans' torture of Christians and died for his beliefs. The popularity of St George in England stems from the time of the early Crusades when it is said that the Normans saw him in a vision and were victorious. By the fourteenth century the saint had been declared both the patron saint and the protector of the royal family.

So there you go, a brief history lesson about the patron saint of England. I personally think it is a shame not more is done to celebrate the day and will be telling the boys about him so they can learn a little about their country and culture. I have leant something from just writing this post!


Sunday, 22 April 2012

A-Z Challenge R is for.....

Running

It had to be done I am afraid. I couldn't resist the opportunity to mention one of the biggest achievements of my life again - sorry!

This time last week I was nervously making my way to Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. I had left t'hubby and the boys packing our belongings and checking out of the hotel. I was glad of the down time alone, to collect my thoughts. My main thought was 'what the hell am I doing?'.

I was about to embark on a huge challenge for me - a half marathon. The Edinburgh Rock and Roll half marathon to be precise.

I am no runner, never have been. I hated running at school. I have tried to run in the past and always given up. I am not sure what was different but 6 months ago I decided to give it another go. This time though I was realistic, I didn't expect much, I increased by distance by 1 lamp post at a time and soon surprised myself with an easy 3 mile run. That's was a huge confidence boost. From there I gradually built up to 6 miles. I learnt to control my breathing and pace, I learnt to push on and push through the stitches or hills. I was very proud of myself.

Then came a spate of illness 5 weeks before the actual event. 5 weeks prior to the event I ran about twice and struggled with 2 miles.

I was therefore not confident about the half marathon. I was starting it thinking I would not complete it and knowing I would walk the majority.

I had to run to the toilet in the train station due to nerves. I almost turned round.

The waiting at the start line was nerve racking, especially hearing people chatting about what distances they had been doing and what time they were aiming for. I was aiming for the maximum time, I simply wanted to complete the course one way or another - maximum time was 4 hours I think.

I set off running, I kept running. At 2 miles we turned onto the sea front and I saw a friend who does alot of running. I used her as my pacer and I kept up with her - I bloody kept up! That gave me the biggest boost, forget the sports drink I was supping and the gels I was swallowing - I was keeping up with someone who does triathlons. At mile 8 I was on a high (possibly due to the sugar and energy things!). Then we hit the hill to Arthur's seat, but everyone was slowing to a fast walk, so I did the same, once near the brow I set off running again. next thing I know it is mile 10. Flipping heck, how did I get here? how can I still see the 2 and a half hour pacer? But I could and I kept going. Yes by this stage I was walking up the hills, but I made it across the finish line in 2.36.13 hours.

I am so proud of myself. Now for someone who does alot of running that is probably quite slow but for someone who expected to cross the finish line on her hands and knees and around 4 hours, it is bloody amazing. And my maratrhon/triathlon friend crossed the line with me and was 35 seconds slower than me!! (OK we ignore the calf injury we had).

I now have the running bug. I am resting myself for a week or 2 but can't wait to get out and do another run. I am already looking for the next half marathon to enter - why? I want to better my time! Mad I know!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A-Z Challenge - Q is for......

Questions and Quality time

Initially this post was meant to be about Quality time but having logged onto blogger this morning I have Questions also

What the hell has happened to blogger? I don't particularly like change!

Is this meant to make blogging easier? I haven't got a flipping clue now where everything is.

To be honest I don't think I like it, why can't they leave things be? 

I am a very much 'if it ain't broke, don;t fix it' kind of girl.

I know I will get use to it but hey a girl is allowed a moan every now and again.

So second Q - Quality time with my family

What does this mean? To me, it means spending uninterrupted time with them, doing fun things or just enjoying each others company.

Since working for myself and from home, I feel my amount of quality time with the boys has actually decreased from when I was working in an office full time. Odd I know seeing as though I do 90% of school runs now.

Working full time in an office - I did the morning school run twice a week and loved it - Tuesday and Friday's were mornings to look forward to, I would often drive my car to school the night before, run home so we could walk together in the morning, often collecting leaves and conkers in the Autumn or stones and sticks the boys found interesting. My car would then be waiting so I could get into work on time. 3 mornings a week t'hubby would take the boys and he loved that. Now he is out of the door and gone to work by 8am.

Once a week I had an early day and picked up from school. Without fail we would walk home via the canal or playground or pop to town and have a coffee and juice together. Now we walk to school and home again, every day, there is nothing special about it.

Holidays were also more special, each week t'hubby and I would alternate taking either 2 days and 1 day off work so the kids were only at the childminder 2 days a week, or Grannie and Grandad would come down and stay. The days we had off we would be out and about making the most of it. Now the days drift by as there is always tomorrow to do something. I am at home so t'hubby doesn't get his time off with the boys. Visits to Grannie and Grandad are a popping for a quick cuppa now they are down the road. Things have changed.

It a shame, obviously there are many plus sides to all this but I do sometimes think when we lived 200 miles away the boys got more 'quality' time with their grandparents (although they both say the best thing about moving is seeing Grannie and Grandad whenever they want) and working full time was better. Rose tinted glasses possibly?

Easter holidays we tried to change this, to recapture some of that time. I turned the computer off, put my out of office on and we went out - museums, train rides, swimming, parks, woods. We sat down one Saturday with sweets and popcorn as a family and watched a film. We went away. It was bliss.

It made me realise how easy it is to take time for granted but not actually appreciate it.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A-Z Challenge P is for....

Panic!

Right now I am feeling  mild sense of panic. It does keep happening, it is a bit of recurring theme but I have yet to get a handle on it. I will, at some stage but I am just not quite seeing when yet.

My panic is about my work. 18 months ago we relocated to Yorkshire where I grew up so it was a move we all wanted. It did mean however I had to leave a job behind I loved, and although I survived 3 rounds of redundancy in the last year I was there, I felt very secure in my role.

I work in Medical Communications and in Yorkshire there is a grand total of 0 Med Comms agencies making work very difficult for me unless I was prepared to do a 2 hour drive over the pennines each day to Macclesfield. So I bit the bullet, took the bull by the horns etc and set up by myself.

3 months in I managed to get my CV on the desk of a virtual agency. 80% of their staff are homebased, freelancers. We are self employed but if they like you and you become one of their preferred freelancers it is almost like you are working for them as they provide regular work and you take on long term projects. They liked me which was great and they give me 90% of my work.

In between my regular work I have done a few bit jobs for other people. One didn't go well, it was the first time I had done work like it and quite frankly I cocked it up but it was a learning experience. The other work I do is for my old agency which I left to move here.

They have just offered me regular hours as well, not a huge amount 40 over the course of 3 months but its nice to know I am not reliant on just 1 place now for my work, as this will be a rolling agreement.

I am now in panic though. I have so much work I am unsure how to go about completing it all, and the problem is it is all wanted now and therefore my brain has gone into panic mode. I don't deliver and I don't get repeat work. It really is quite a pressurised feeling. On top of this I need to get a handle on the school PTA finances as I was nominated (against my wishes as treasurer) and have no idea what is what. This is going to bit me on the bum soon as my record keeping is not like I would like it to be. I have everything but I need to order it like I want and not like the last person had it. Everything is handwritten rather on the spreadsheets they like etc. I also have an untold amount of work to do in the house, half decorated rooms and finished floors are simply getting me down now.

I need to get off this, find out why the dog is crying and then write a list (and not spend too much time on writing a list!).

Wish me luck x

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A-Z Challenge O is for....

ONE mum
Over the past few weeks numerous posts have been written in support of One Mum. Kate over at the fa Kateonthinice, has been actively promoting the One Mum campaign and Michelle from Mummyfromtheheart. Its not about donating money but more about your voice as a mum. Here is a little background.

I was in London today and it was a poster with the following on and a picture of a young African girl that prompted me to write this post:

Remember your first period?
Leaving school?
Getting married?
Having your first child?
Aneni does. She's twelve.

While Ones new campaign is entitled Thrive: Food, Farming, Future with more funding to improve living conditions, medical facilities and their agriculture and therefore food supplies, children in Africa would have a much brighter future. Girls like Aneni leave school to work the land, get married very young and have children while they themselves are still children in the hope that some of those children survive. With better medical facilities, available food, better farming, more children would survive and the need to have so many would be decreased and hopefully children could be children for longer.

At twelve I remember just finishing my first year at senior school, I had a whole new world lying open before, I was picked up from school by my mum who would have a snack in her bag for the walk home, I was playing with my dolls, or outside with my friends while my mum cooked our tea, something different every night to provide her family with a well balanced diet. Children like Aneni do not have this luxury, children like Aneni are lucky to eat one meal a day and while Aneni is under-nourished herself, she will now be trying to feed and nourish her own baby, possibly more than one.  By adding your voice to this campaign, you can help.

ONE is a grassroots campaign of more than 2.5 million people committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease particularly in Africa.

ONE’s new campaign – Thrive: Food. Farming. Future.



One have launched a new campaign called Thrive: Food. Farming. Future, to ensure that those children thrive and grow into healthy adults who are able to feed and sustain themselves with the promise of a bright future.

The key aims of the Thrive campaign are that by 2015 we could see 15 million fewer children chronically malnourished and 50 million people lifted out of extreme poverty.

So what am I signing up to do? And what can you do to help?

1. I’ve signed up and offered my voice to ONE.org and so can you. They already have more than 2.5 million people worldwide supporting them but it is important that this number continues to grow and we can help them to put pressure on African leaders, donor governments and the private sector to focus on thirty of the poorest countries that have smart agriculture and nutrition plans. Those plans are tested, costed and affordable. They need to be put into practice. For that they need two things: political leadership and financial backing. ONE’s campaign will insist on both. But we know leaders won’t act unless lots of people urge them to do so. ONE’s strength is its collective action – one plus one plus one quickly adds up to a giant roar which it will be impossible to ignore.

2. I’m spreading the word with this blogpost. Please put a post up on your blog or share about the ONE Thrive campaign as a facebook status. Check out this Google Doc for some simple information you can use in your post. If you do blog about this then please link back to Mummy from the Heart here. Thrive can use this blog post full of linked up posts to show to our Government and influential institutions that there is a strength of opinion in our blogsphere. Our voices count! Do you remember what we managed to do for Save the Children last September? Let’s do that again – we really can….

3. Tweet about the campaign using the hashtag #LetsThrive and urge people to sign up to ONE and offer their voice

4. Keep an eye on the Mummy from the Heart blog later this week to find out about a fun, quick and easy way that you can make a difference and really add your voice ready for the G8 Summit on 18 and 19th May 2012.
Will you be the ONE Mum to add your voice?

Visit http://www.one.org and add your ONE voice because it really will make a difference.

All they are really asking you to do is to spread the word about the amazing achievements that UK aid makes and can make to Africa.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A-Z Challenge N is for .......

No idea of an appropriate N!

OK so this A-Z Challenge is proving difficult to come up with a daily topic beginning with a particular letter! I am struggling today with the 'N'. If I really put my mind to it I could find a number of things beginning with 'N' to write about but I don't want to as I want to shout from the rooftops about my recent achievement! So I am going with N is for No idea of an N.

What is my recent achievement - Yesterday I ran my first half marathon and I completed it, not on my knees crawling but actually still running and not at the maximum time limit but in 2 hours 35 minutes!

Other than the boys, this has got to be the biggest achievement of my life.

I have never been a runner, at school I was one of those who dreaded cross country, I was always at the back and struggling. I have tried over the years to run and always given up. This time though I set off running and increased by one lamp post at a time per run.

Major pre-run nerves kicked in though as the most I have ever run was about 6 miles and that was 1 month ago. For the last month I have been dogged with colds, sinusitis and tonsillitis so done no running. Pre-registration to pick up your timing chip and t-shirt was on Saturday and t'hubby had to convince me to even go down and register as I was not even going to enter the race on Sunday I felt that disappointed in my training.

Yet here I am, proudly looking at my medal, struggling to walk (and don't even mention lowering myself onto the toilet) and I did it!!!!! I ran the first 8 miles, used my friend who has done countless number of half marathons, full ones and triathlons as my pacer and kept up with her, and then at 8 miles we hit the hill to take us up Arthur's Seat so I walked/ran this and each hill after this did the same. I think I can safely say I ran at least 10.5 miles of the 13 if not more.

Problem now is I am already thinking about the next one, glutton for punishment. I would like to better my time and my training and yes, if I am totally honest I am now thinking that entering and running the London Marathon may not be as out of my reach as I thought it might be (in a few years time!).

Sunday, 15 April 2012

A-Z Challenge M is for............

MADNESS

This will be a very quick post and quite possibly my last one as I am on a train in Edinburgh on my way to Holyrood Park where the Rock and Roll Hlaf Marathon is due to start. I am incredibly unprepared having not been well for the last month or so, so running has been none existent. I am really disappointed as I worked so hard initially. I am also going to kill the stupid person who advised me 1. Edinburgh course is flat - is it hell it's like a flipping mountain and 2. It would be a good place to do my first one.

So folks I am attempting it, I an under no illusions I will walk more than run - it apparently goes up past Arthur's seat which is a mega hill but my aim this time is to complete it! Even if I have to crawl.

Wish my luck, and hope I live to tell you about it, oh and it's not looking good right now as when I'm nervous I end up with the squits and right now I am in the train station toilets :-)

Friday, 13 April 2012

A-Z Challenge L is for.........

Learning disability

This is not going to a hugely intellectual post with lots of facts and figures or research, it is simply based on our experience.

Little Man is classed as having a learning disability. He is struggling to read, write and grasp the concept of maths. At 8 he is still young and has time to catch up but having said that, the biggest thing we have to do is ensure his self esteem and confidence is not affected.

Reading wise he seems to be flying through the reading level suddenly. Even though we are praising him and telling him how well he is doing, and I hate myself for this, I don't actually believe he is doing as well as everyone thinks. Cover the picture over or given him a book that doesn't involve Kipper, Chip and Biff and he is struggling with the simple words such as 'and' 'in' 'that' 'the' - you get the picture. He reads the pictures and not the words. His teacher said just before Easter that she has realised he has an amazing memory for books as she has discovered he can recite word for word stories that interest him. He loves the Kipper, Biff and Chip books. To encourage him when he gets his 1:1 reading, the teacher goes through his new reading book with him before he has to 'read'; it. I don't want to believe it but he is not 'reading'his book. No picture - very little reading, random words and signs of words he 'reads' in his books - no comprehension.

What can we do though? I have found a reading scheme on the Internet which claims it can help. It claims to just use words and not pictures for children like Little Man. I intend to check it out. However I am also scared of setting him back.

Writing is well, a scrawl at best. We are now practising our writing and until he sounds his words out properly and reads, his spelling is going to take time in coming.

Maths - well what can I say. his 3 and 5 and 7 are always backwards but the teachers claim this is entirely normal - really for an 8 year old? He is still struggling to count to 20 - he seems to have an issue with the number 17 and won;t remember it. We are being asked to work on his 2 times table, addition and subtraction. Surely we need the basic counting to be mastered first. He gets so upset every time we approach maths. It is so hard to know how to best support him at home.

The school are great. The school offer a lot of support. The school constantly reassure us we are doing well at home and a great job as parents. But are we? Could we do more? Do we push him too much?

It is so hard to know.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A-Z Challenge K is for.........

K is for KNACKERED!!

For the last 4 or 5 weeks I have been truly exhausted.

In 2 days I am running a half marathon. Actually let me rephrase that more realistically - I am 'meant' to be running a half marathon. In reality I am attempting a half marathon and am under no illusion it will be walked, run and crawled in order to complete it.

I set about my training months ago - October I think and did really well. I am not a runner, never have been and I literally started by trying to run to the end of my road and each run made myself run 1 lamp post further. it worked and I got up to being able to run 4 miles comfortably without stopping/walking and I was amazed at myself.

I then started trying to build on my 4 miles. At 5 miles I did something to my knee and it was not pleasant so 3 weeks passed of resting. I then tried to get back into it, got back to 4 miles comfortably and got a cold, still I tried. I reached 6 miles but on this 6 miles run, within 500 yards of setting off my stupid dog tripped me over and I fell flat on my face, really hurting not only my knee and hip but also my pride. I made myself carry on but I really pushed myself to reach that 6 miles. It was a proper struggle.

Since then, I have hit a huge barrier. Not only have I been run off my feet with work, I have had another cold, a sinus infection and now have swollen glands and am exhausted or as my blog title says Knackered.

I think I have overdone things. I am constantly trying to keep on top of my work which as a freelancer I have no choice in so often work very early in the morning before everyone else is up for a couple of hours or late into the night. I have also done a fair amount of travelling and running about. Put training on top of that and a lot of personal stress and feeling very low into the mix and I have overdone things and my body is in shut down mode.

As a teenager I was pretty ill with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/yuppie flu whatever you want to call it. It went on for 5 years. At its worse I didn't even have the energy to get from my bedroom to the bathroom on foot and use to crawl, my Dad use to have to carry me up the stairs, eating was an effort. I was one  of the very lucky ones and came through it.

I am now so exhausted that I am petrified it is coming back. I need to take a step back and take things easy but if I don't do the half marathon I think I will feel I am giving into myself. In my mind by even attempting it I am sticking the 2 fingers up at feeling ill and not letting it beat me. I need to sort my head out and get into a better place emotionally and I need to catch up on sleep. I also need to get a handle on work and stop wasting my days away feeling low and sorry for myself then panic working until the wee hours or getting up at 4.30am.

I know what I need to do but it is actually doing it that seems to be the problem!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A-Z Challenge J is for.........

Justification

With a son who has ADHD and aspergers justification is something we have become very use to doing. Justification is defined as:

To demonstrate or prove to be just, right, or valid: justified each budgetary expense as necessary; anger that is justified by the circumstances.

It is not a nice thing to have to do.

His aspergers is mild so to observe him in a room full of children you wouldn't immediately pick him out as different. It is only on observing him for long periods or getting to know him that you would realise he has his quirks, his obsessions.

One of my earliest memories of having to justify his actions was at a farm where there was a handle which could be turned to make a tractor back up and tip a scoop of feed into the pen for the pigs, you paid 20p for a small scoop. He just wanted to stand and turn the handle regardless if whether it was actually tipping anything. Totally unrelated to our visit, another little boy came over and was fascinated by this as well. He stood there flapping his hands and making a strange sound - between this other little boy and Little Man there was a little battle for who would stand continually turning the wheel. A family close by voiced their opinion very loudly that my Little Man 'should of known better, and the other one was obviously autistic so it was understandable why he was wanting to turn the wheel'. In their eyes they were showing compassion for the child with needs, never for a moment wondering if infact the 'normal' looking little boy was indeed normal.

Another instant was while in nursery school. The school was very affluent and 85% of mothers didn't work. At this stage we were pre-diagnosis and Little Man was having a tough time (as were we) as everyday he had done something else that wasn't acceptable. I had 2 mothers corner me and tell me that perhaps if I didn't work and was there a little more for my children, Little man would not be crying out for attention,would behave better and learn more acceptable behaviour'.

it has been hard over the years. As soon as you say actually my son has aspergers, ADHD and learning disabilities, people will accept him more.

What amazes me most though and I think this is why I now feel the need to constantly justify Little Man, is children who don't know him will just accept him. They work out very quickly he is a loner, or prefers to play next to, rather than with them, that he can;t read very well, or write very well, that he has one topic of conversation. The children immediately realise he needs guidance and give it without question.

Adults though are a different kettle of fish. I hear them comment on him not being able to read or the standard of his writing. There are never comments about him perhaps having a learning disability, instead they tend to ask each other if he is behind or if he is at a school who don;t perform well, if he is seen doing something he shouldn't or not responding to something like 'Can you shut the door' - in his mind he is thinking 'yes thank you, I can shut a door'. adults are thinking 'look at that child, blatantly ignoring that request. Nope, say 'Please go and shut the door' and off he will trot and do it. Outwardly you would never know there was anything wrong.

We always feel the need to explain and justify incase anyone sees some odd behaviour. As a society I find we are very judgemental of people and not as accepting as perhaps we should be.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A-Z Challenge I is for......

Intensive Care Unit - ICU

At 8 weeks old, still minus 1 week gestation, my 4lb 5oz baby stopped breathing. As a premature baby we had dealt with a number of 'blue' occasions but a little wake up & movement was normally enough to remind him to breathe and of course there was oxygen right there at the side of us.

This day he failed to wake for his feed. 2 trips to our GP in as many hours had me down as an over anxious mother having only had her 8 week old son home for 10 days. He had a mild cold. 5 hours later we had a seriously ill baby receiving constant heart massage and bagging to keep him going. He was so tiny our local hospital didn't have small enough needles, lines or oxygen masks for him.

The specialist transfer team (CATS - Child Acute Transport Services) from Great Ormond Street arrived and ventilated him, put him in a specialised pod and transported him & me to Great Ormond Street paediatric ICU. I will never forget that blue light journey - I was thanking each & every car that moved over for us.
He was diagnosed with RSV (respiratory syncytal virus), double pneumonia & suspected meningitis. We spent the next 5 days at his bedside. The kindness of the staff was out of this world. One nurse sticks firmly on my mind. He was the one who care for Little Man, welcomed us to the unit, explained to me what was happening, showed me to a room across the street to stay in, found me when t'husband got the first train in. Tom - he was amazing. He travelled to Central London daily from Essex through love of his job.

At day 5 we were told Little Man was responding well, they wanted to lower the ventilator and told us to expect many recurrent chest infections and hospital admissions in his younger years & prepared us to possibly go home on oxygen. After a shaky first go, Little Man obviously had had enough and within a couple of hours was off it and 4 days later we returned home minus oxygen and in the next 8 years have not had 1 single chest infection.

Little Man was looking the photos and asked if we had thanked them for saving his life and this is what he did which we have sent. Perhaps someone there will remember.



In the meantime I owe my sons life to those doctors and nurses, not only at Great Ormond Street but more so in our local children's ward. Without the doctors and nurses at Hemel Hempstead our Little Man wouldn't of even got to GOSH. Those NHS doctors on more than one occasion have done both my boys and me proud as I also owe them my life and Mini Mans, so from the bottom of my heart - Thank You x

PS I also fee l it is important to add that in no way what so ever do we blame our local GPs for how ill our son became. All babies but more so premature babies can deteriorate in a matter for hours and become dangerously ill.  When he was seen by the GP, he was suffering a cold, the third time I rang them to say he had gone blue and we were already on the way, they acted immediately and arranged for us to be met at the hospital door by a paediatrician

Monday, 9 April 2012

A-Z Challenge H is for......

Head Lice
For the first time in 8 years, head lice or nits are paying us a visit. This is what Wikepedia says
Head lice are wingless insects spending their entire life on human scalp and feeding exclusively on human blood. Humans are the only known hosts of this specific parasite



I first noticed Little Man scratching his head while out on a walk yesterday and once I realised this was being repeated continually I decided to check him, and there they were tiny black specs on the crown of his head and to my horror I saw 1 moving – urggghhh!

This is my first experience of them, thankfully I could only see 5 or 6 tiny specs, so as soon as we got home I text a friend whose daughter suffers with them and asked her advice, bearing in mind it was Easter Sunday and everywhere was shut. Luckily I hoard things and was given a nit comb when Little Man started nursery, so I dig that out, found the conditioner and got to work.

After de-nitting Little Man, my own head felt like they were crawling so I set to work on myself and my skin is crawling as I think I have them as well – I can see Little Man is clear now although I will keep checking for the next week or so to make sure I didn’t miss any eggs. As I have long hair and very thick hair, I am about to go and get in the shower and re-do myself. My head was stinging by the time I had finished yesterday so I imagine it will be a little delicate today!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

A-Z Challenge G is for ........

Groovy Mums
If you haven't heard about Groovy Mum's then please do check it out and join in. Back in September Kate over at Kate on Thin Ice started Groovy mums - this is her explanation (blatant plagiarism here Kate so apologies but you explain it so much better than me!).

Kate's wording:
Have you ever felt one or more of the following …
1. You lack time to do your own thing
2. You have forgotten what you like
3. You can’t quite remember who you are
4. You feel frumpy, fat and/or old
5. You feel you never put yourself first
6. Your energy and joie de vivre has gone
7. You are not sure what the future holds
8. You feel powerless
9. You feel isolated
10. You sense something is missing
I felt most of these things when I established the #groovingmums blog hop and Twitter support group.
I was amazed that by sharing my feelings, I seemed to help others on their own individual journeys towards a more positive future. To read the full description see here

So to get to this weeks challenges which I love as they give me focus

1. Body - Do you use or would you consider using complementary therapies?  Is it time you looked into them further? 

Yes I was very ill as a teenager with post viral syndrome/ME/chronic fatigue syndrome. It was at the time little was known about it and it was deemed 'yuppie flu'. I discovered though it was very real and some days could not even climb a flight of stairs. I was one of the lucky ones and started to make a recovery after 5 years or so. I underwent every test known to man, had more blood taken then I had in my body I think and got the stage where at 16 my dad had to physically manhandle me into the car to gt me to hospital appointments as I refused to go and had no faith in them. As a last resort they took me to a homoeopath. At an ill, stroppy teenager who wasn't well enough to start going to parties, it was the last place I wanted to me. But that man was a genius. Maybe I was just ready to get better, who know but within a year I was a different person. I used homoeopathy and acupuncture and would always try and alternative medicine now. My eldest son has aspergers and ADHD and we attended the London Homeopathic hospital for 6 months to see if it can help. Alternative medicine is not for everyone and there are certain things I believe traditional medicine is essential for, but I would certainly recommend giving it a go.

2. Mind - Have a think about what topic/s you would like to see covered in the next Groovy Mums Twitter Party and let me know via comment, tweet, dm or email to kateonthinice@gmail.com
This is one I will continue to think about - I think it will just be nice to be able to sit and chat to other people trying t find their groove and themselves again.

3. Spirit - Easter is just around the corner.  What does it mean to you?  I am planning a little bit of fun on Easter Sunday but more of that later.
To me Easter is another excuse for a family occasion. it is Easter Sunday today and we have spent the day at my Mum and Dad's for a family meal with my brother and his family. The kids had an Easter egg hunt and it was lovely. We started the day with church and a church Easter egg hunt so the boys have lots of choc to get through (or should that read mummy has lots to get through?). I have surprised myself as well as now the boys are older I was determined they should know the true reason we celebrate Easter as well. Easter Saturday we spent at a friends for a little do which was great as well.

4. Blogging - Check out some of the nominees for the MAD Blog Awards by clicking here http://www.the-mads.com/ and don't forget it is not too late to nominate your blog or the ones you love.  What I love about the awards shortlists is how they make you discover new blogs and then new blogging pals.  There is a badge in my sidebar if you would like to vote for me.  There is absolutely no pressure though.  I would much prefer to be nominated on merit and not to have to sell my soul.
As you know I have voted, there are so many to choose from and some great ones as well.

5. Charity Connections - This week, if you have not already done so please join the Charity Connections Group over on http://britmums.com and please read this positive post http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/are-you-the-one-mum-that-can-make-a-difference/ about how things ARE changing for the better in Africa in so many ways and then consider signing  up to support ONE.  I know some of you have done so already and thank you for that.  It is a great way to help our Groovy Mums sisters in Africa.
I will check this out once t'hubby is back to work and out of my hair and I dont have to keep sneaking off to blog, read others or using my phone to do it!

6. - Big Question - Do you have the right balance in your life?  Do you know what that would look like?  How could you achieve it?


SO that is Groovy mum's, some people just blog about what they have done for themselves or their relationship - all steps towards finding yourself again.

This was written as part of Groovy mums and the A-Z blogging challenge x

A-Z Challenge F is for........

Family and Friends.

My family are the most important people to me in the world. I am fortunate to be very close to my brother and my mum and dad. I always have been. I have been brought up in what would be termed a nuclear family I.e. one where we are close to grandparents, cousins , aunts and uncles. We all look out for each other. I saw both sets of Grandparents weekly when growing up. When at University I would drive home and come off the motorway near my Grandma's some 20 miles before my own home but I never failed to call in to have a quick cuppa. I know no matter what my family would always be there for me with open arms. This is how I want my boys to feel.

There is however the old saying you can choose your friends but not your family. My husband has never been close to his family. He was close to his paternal Grandparents but not his mum, dad or brother. He never had much respect for his Dad as he always felt his Dad was very downtrodden by his mum and never did anything about it. In his last year of life though his Dad moved to Spain and we have since learnt seemed to have a very different existence.

His relationship with his mum blows hot and cold. She does live about 2 hours from us but she never visits, our visits must fit in with her. When our Little Man was born 9 and a half weeks early it took his parents 3 weeks to visit despite Little Man being in ICU for 10 days because his mum didn't want to take time off from Sainsburys. T'hubby has never forgiven them for that. In recent years their relationship has improved.

A few months after Little Man was born, my father in law tragically died in a car accident. Since his death we have discovered he was very proud of his son going to university, his first grandchild and when living in Spain alone led a very different and happy life. Anyhow t'hubby & his mother have in more recent years been building bridges. They have their blips but on the whole relationships are much improved. She likes to give the boys money, and the older the boys get when we do see her the better they get on. Anyhow he apparently fell out with her - again the other day, t'hubby telling her to stick her money & not to bother contacting him again. He feels she is too absent from the boys life and only rings to tell us about her, never speaks to the boys or asks after them. She rang the other year on Little Man's bday and talked to me for ages and it was only when she said bye & I asked if she wanted to speak to him did she remember. Nethertheless I am not sure I agree with falling out with her to this extent. She is his mother at the end of the day, the boys nan. Family is family. But what can I say? When hubby asked me not to talk to her if she rang I did refuse, I said it was his beef not mine. I don't want to be part of a family feud.

As for friends, well they are just as important to me and infact the very close ones I consider as family. Friend are always there for you. True friends tell you the truth even if they know it will hurt. True friends can just pick up with each other where they left off even if they don't see each other or speak for month or even years. Over the last few years I have been guilty of not making enough time for my friends, not ringing enough or writing or seeing and I want to change that. This afternoon I had a lovely time or rather we had a lovely time at one of my oldest friends house, 8 adults, 9 kids and it was so relaxed and nice. I have known S since we met at play group as 3 year olds. Friends are so important and I think I sometimes forget that.

Friday, 6 April 2012

A-Z Challenge E is for ......

Edinburgh



This time next week t'hubby, t'boys and my good self will be in Edinburgh. I am not very enthraled by the reason why but I am stupidly excited as it will be the first weekend away as a family in a hotel, just the 4 of us since Mini Man was born. Actually it will be the first time away just the 4 of us in 5 years. That in itself is causing excitement.

Secondly adding to that excitement is the fact I have always longed to go to Edinburgh. It's one of those places I hear people talk about or see on TV and I want to see. I hear it's got beaches, stunning views, the famous streets, Arthur's Seat and of course the castle. I can't wait.

From wikipedia here is a little bit about Edinburgh we have to look forward to....

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. The city is one of the historical major centres of the Enlightenment, led by the University of Edinburgh, helping to earn it the nickname Athens of the North. The Old Town and New Town districts of Edinburgh were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 in recognition of the unique character of the Medieval Old Town and the planned Georgian New Town. It covers both the Old and New Towns together with the Dean Village and the Calton Hill areas. There are over 4,500 listed buildings within the city. In May 2010, it had a total of 40 conservation areas covering 23% of the building stock and 23% of the population, the highest such ratios of any major city in the UK. In the 2010 mid-year population estimates, Edinburgh had a total resident population of 486,120

Places to visit include Arthur's seat, Gilmerton Cove , Camera Obscura and rooftop terrace, Royal yatch Britannia, Holyrood Park is a unique historic landscape in the heart of the city, whose dramatic crags and hills give Edinburgh its distinctive skyline, which is where the run starts and finishes (see below) and of course the zoo and many more place.

The reason I am not so enthralled with the idea is on the Sunday I am meant to be running the Rock and Roll half marathon. I use the term 'running' very lightly though. I have never been a runner and over the last 6 months have worked really hard to build up my stamina and distance. I literally did it by making myself run one lamp post further each run and I got up to 6 miles quite comfortably. I then got very busy with work and was away quite a bit and for the last 3 weeks have had a horrid sinus infection I can't throw off which has left me tired, feeling pathetic and unable to breathe properly ad my running has dive bombed. The last 5 weeks of training so carefully planned to build me up to 11 - 12 miles has fallen apart and I am currently struggling to climb a flight of stairs without aching legs, let alone run even 2 miles. I am still going to attempt it. I am under no illusion that I am going to run it though but I figure if I do a mix of run and walk, maybe run 2 miles, walk half a mile, I might make it and its something to build on for the next time! I can only try, as long as I reach the end, i don't care if I am crawling.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

A-Z Challenge 'D' is for......

D could be for many things and I have spent the day trying to decide between Depression, Doctors or Dating and in the absence of being able to make a decision (another D there) I will mention all 3.

Dating first - I have recently embarked on a new dating idea with t'husband in order to try and spend more time together and get some fun back in our lives and relationship. We have hit a point where all we seem to do and talk is about is either work or the kids. So we have started alphabet dating which was part of my A-Z Challenge blog for A.

Yesterday was date 1 so it had to begin with A. This proved surprisingly difficult and in the end it was a strange plan but one which made us giggle. I had it planned we would drive to the viewing place at the local airport and have a bit of an old times sake picnic (at Uni there was a garage round the corner from t'husbands house and after a night out and a bit of bedroom fun (nudge nudge wink wink) he would pull his jeans on at about 4am and run round to the garage and come back with 2 bags of pickled onion monster munch, a Pepsi, and dairy milk for him, diet coke and galaxy for me and a pack of fruit pastels which we would then sit and trough in bed, and then go to sleep), so I had planned to drive to the airport and pig out on the same. However the freezing weather, snow which I think I may of dreamt after being back in t-shirts today and the fact he wanted a beer saw us in a pub in town that began with A. I wasn't too keen as going to the pub is not something different but this was a different one and infact we had a great night, chatted, laughed and watch the Chelsea game and I really, really enjoyed it. 

So next week is a date beginning with B.

2nd D is Depression - I have spoken about depression before. I had a really bad dose of post natal depression following the birth of my second son - it was a horrid time. I look back now and do not know how I got through each day, it was literally going through the motions to simply do things for the boys. All I wanted to do was stay in bed and cry. Simple tasks were out of my reach but if you want to know the full story, I would say read this.  I have recently been feeling very, very low again which has featured in quite a few posts as well.

I then blogged quite recently about whether our system is failing people who are depressed - the full post is here but in short it was inspired by a story in the local paper of a teacher who had committed suicide and the family said the health authority had failed him as he had asked for help and was waiting for an appointment and in the 8 weeks it took to come through he reached a point where he could no longer go on. It was incredibly sad. I blogged as I feel many depressed people reach out for help, but after that initial appointment they sink further and don't return to their doctor and no-one follows up. No one flags the system to say 'Patient seen 01/10/11 asked to return within 2 weeks - not heard from them' I know ask secretary to give a call and say 'I understand Dr Watson wanted to see you again, can I book your appointment now'. it can't be that difficult.

This brings me to the 3rd D - Doctors

I bit the bullet and went to the doctor about 4-5 weeks ago now and told her exactly how I was feeling and said I thought I needed help. I was asked to fill in a questionnaire (she was fantastic incidentally, made me feel so much better for going to see her and also wonder why I had held off so long, it was much easier once there than I ever thought it would be). Anyhow I filled in the questionnaire but then I am one of the stats I mention above and have never made that follow up appointment, instead trying to convince myself that I could do it myself and use St John's wart. Well I have finally realised it is not going to work. I am having some better days but not enough to not go back and so I took a positive step and made that follow up appointment today. Its not for another 2 weeks but it is made. In the mean time I think some time off work and enjoying things with the kids, a few more date nights with t'hubby and a catch up on sleep may all help me find that person I use to be.

And as this is about doing lots of positive things for me, my well being and for my relationship I am going to also link it to kateonThinIce's brilliant Groovy mums so if you havent come across this already, I would highly recommend popping over and taking a look x