Thursday, 28 November 2013

Merry Christmas! Or Not..

I'm sorry.. does the title of this blog post offend you?

If so, stop reading right now. Because I will not now, and not ever, say "Happy Holidays!"

Whilst scrolling through Facebook the other day, having a good nosy as you do, I came across a status that intrigued me. Someone was asking why their local Christmas lights were being taken down.

I read through the responses with interest. Why would the council be taking Christmas lights down in November? It turns out they weren't Christmas lights at all, but in fact lights that had been put up to celebrate Eid.

That's fine. In fact it's nice to see that in a religiously diverse country, our councils are happy to help each individual celebrate their own beliefs.

The comments after that however shocked me.

The poster of the status asked when the Christmas lights were going to be put up as she would like to take her family down to the light switch on. She was met with the response that there would be no Christmas lights being put up.

Because they offend people of a different religion.

I was outraged.

The area this woman lives in is an ethically diverse community as are many other parts of Nottingham. This is no secret to anybody.

What I don't understand is how we can celebrate one religion and not the other? Especially when said religion is the belief of majority of the country.

I in no way intend this post to be racist. I am not a racist and nor will I ever be. I have respect for religion, and respect for the beliefs of others. In fact, I'm not even religious myself in the slightest, I am not Christian, Catholic, Muslim nor Hindu. But I accept and applaud the fact that others are.

I celebrate Christmas as a part of British culture. I am aware of the origin of Christmas, and am not ignorant to the fact it is a religious holiday.. but I celebrate it none the less. I could quite happily celebrate Eid or Diwali if I had more knowledge about it, but I don't.

But what I don't understand is why Christmas is offensive. Just because it doesn't follow the beliefs of others, does not mean it is offensive. If Christians can happily accommodate people of a different religion, support them in their beliefs and let them enjoy their holidays in peace.. then why can't others do the same?

"Mery Christmas!" is not offensive. A Christmas Tree decorated in lights, tinsel and baubles, is not offensive. The giving and receiving of gifts, is not offensive. And neither is a community coming together to celebrate something they believe in.

Having the right taken away to celebrate Christmas in a peaceful, merry way, is offensive.

I will not be told that I can not say "Merry Christmas". I will not remove the flashing lights from outside my house and I will most definitely not have Christmas day taken away from me and my family.

If I offend you, walk away. If you don't like my decorations, don't look at them. And if you don't want to hear "Merry Christmas!" then I suggest you go back to the country where you don't have to hear it.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Game Night!

These days, we are all fueled by technology. Whether we're sat on the bus, sat on the sofa ignoring the TV, or even sat in bed with our other halves.. the likelihood is, one of us will be using our phone.

Smart phones, tablets and even TV's seem to be the main focus in any household. I don't remember the last time I walked in to a room and at least one person wasn't using their phone.

I love my iPhone, I really do. I very much doubt I could live without it. But there is no denying that my phone sometimes takes my attention away from other more important things (damn Candy Crush!)

Recently, Ross and I decided to ditch the technology, clear the table, and play a good old fashioned board game. We're both big fans of Monopoly, but it was already 11pm and Monopoly can last for hours. Instead, we broke out Cluedo. I haven't played it since I was a young girl so had to reread the instructions seven a couple of times to refresh my memory.

Turns out it was pretty easy - after the first game I had it nailed. We both enjoyed a couple of games, coming to a draw eventually but being too tired to find the real winner.

Minus my over driven need to Instagram the event (c'mon.. it's ME playing a board game!) we remained technology free throughout all of the games. It actually turned out to be a lot of fun which surprised me. I have a short attention span so tend to get bored of games quite easily, but it was just so nice to be doing something together and actually having fun doing so. Even something as simple as Cluedo!

In fact, we enjoyed our impromptu game of Cluedo so much, we have even set a date to play it again. This time hopefully with a few more players!

It's very easy to forget how much technology rules our life. We don't need to physically be talking to someone on the phone or via text message or Twitter for it to be distracting us from the family that are right there in front of us. We're all guilty of it. 

From now on, I think Game Night might be a permanant fixture in our house. We probably need to invest in a few more games apart from Cluedo and Monopoly, but for now, they will entertain us.

Disclaimer: I was sent the game free of charge for the purpose of this post, but all comments and opinions are my own.

How NOT To Piss Off A Toddler

I'm not even sure if at the age of 3, Princess even counts as a toddler any more. She's so independent and sometimes she talks as if she's 53 instead of 3. Either way, during my time as a parent to this seemingly little angel, I have picked up some ticks, trips and handy hints as to how not to piss her off. It's hard.. but it works.

ONE - When they ask you for something, whether that be a biscuit or to be picked up, you need to do it right that second. If you wait any longer than 5 seconds, they will have changed their mind and be disgusted that you are even offering them what they originally asked for and demand something else. If you fail to comply right away, make sure you ask them again what they want otherwise it'll most probably end in a fit of rage.

TWO - Under no circumstances, pierce their carton of juice/milk for them. They like to do it themselves. If you pierce the straw in to their drink and offer it them, you may as well have just slapped them round the face. The drink is rendered un-drinkable and you will have just wasted your time and money.

THREE - Do not change the TV channel over when you think they're not watching. Even if they're in the next room, upstairs or outside, they WILL notice and they WILL make you regret it. Adult TV time is strictly for when toddlers are in bed. Asleep. For at least 2 hours.

FOUR - There is absolutely no point in trying to mix medicine in to juice. They can sniff it out like a police dog and will ultimately refuse to drink it.. or pour it all over the furniture. The trust is gone.

FIVE - Do not tidy their toys away whilst they are on the floor. They will scream and be adamant they were playing with every single item that was thrown about. Tidying it away will only result in a toddler style tornado hitting your house causing destruction beyond your wildest imagination.

SIX - If they say they've finished their food. They've finished. Calmly take it away and leave it on the side in case they change their mind again 5 seconds later. If you try and force them to eat you will more than likely end with spaghetti in your face, potato up your walls and a nice tomato sauce stain in your carpet. It's just not worth it.

SEVEN - Never argue with a toddler. They are always right. Even when they're not right.. they are. There is no point trying to reason, justify or explain to a toddler - they just don't care. Any sort of comment trying to explain why your darling toddler was wrong for throwing the cat down the stairs, will only make them angry.

So there you have it.

If you ever face these situations with your angelic little one, don't forget the rules. They'll save your life. Maybe.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Sing, Sing, Sing..

I now have the Travis song stuck in my head.. great.

Princess doesn't like it when I sing. I'll admit, I don't have the most softest of voices and I can't sing in key, but I do love singing. Whether that be along to the radio, the TV, a song that's stuck in my head, or just a general song whilst I'm tidying up, I'm always at it.

Ross moans that I sing over songs and he can't hear them. I'm not quite that loud, but I can see why it's annoying. I hate it when people sing over a song I'm trying to listen to.

I digress. Basically, because of Princess's lack of appreciation for my singing, she doesn't know many songs.

Until recently, the only song she knew was "Rain, rain, go away" and she only knew a few lines. She's never been interested in nursery rhymes or the colourful music videos she see's on the kids channels. She'll shout blue murder whenever we put music channels on - unless she wants to dance that is - but she just has no interest at all.

A few weeks ago, we bought her a Sofia The First doll from the Disney Store with her Birthday money. She adores Sofia and is absolutely in love with the doll.

The doll sings a song from the TV show "Sofia The First" and if I remember rightly, it's the episode where Sofia decides she wants to join the royal horse riding team. Something about being able to "do anything that you try".

Imagine my amazement, and my utter heart-melt when I heard her singing along to it.

She doesn't quite know all of the words, and she'll miss quite a few out in order to get to her favourite parts, but she loves singing along with the doll. I've tried to get a video recording so many times, but once she realises what I'm doing she stops singing and throws a strop.

It's so nice to hear her singing. She's still not interested in nursery rhymes, but she's started to sing along to some of the songs on TV. I'm sure once she starts nursery and there is someone else there to sing the rhymes instead of 'boring old Mum' she'll love those too.

She's still not a fan of my singing though. If I try and sing along with her she'll tell me to "shut up, Mum!" (Side note - since when was she old enough to call me MUM?)

If anyone elses little ones aren't a big fan of singing, or you're struggling to get them to remember songs - a doll like this is fantastic. Since she's learned this song, she's so eager to learn more. She sings the songs from The Aristocats, Rapunzel and even Peter Pan. It's absolutely adorable!

Does any one elses little one not enjoy singing, or is it just Princess? How did you get them to enjoy songs and music?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Parenting Myth Busting with CANparent

When you find out you're pregnant, it's supposed to be a happy and joyous time. Most of the time it is. But if you are one of the last in your group of friends to have a baby, you often find various tips, myths and problems thrown at you with absolutely no clue as to what is the truth or not.

That is where CANparent comes in.

CANparent is a Classes and Advice Network that does exactly what it says on the tin. It is directed at anyone who feels they may benefit from taking parenting classes or asking advice on any niggles, doubts or worries that they may have about this brand new world of parenting that you find yourself thrown head first in to.

I myself worried about everything. I worried about how warm should I wrap up my baby. How many blankets was enough? What if I didn't understand that my babies cry meant she had tummy ache and not ear ache?
And now that she's older, those worries just get worse. How do I know that she's on track to where she needs to be? Is there anything that we as parents can do to ensure that she's a confident and happy child?

All of these worries pile up to one huge panic and sometimes you feel like you just can't breathe. CANparent is there to offer advice and help you in those times of need.

There are always so many antenatal classes that you are encouraged by your midwife to attend, but once your baby is finally here.. there's not much help beyond that. A lot of people seem to have issues with Health Visitors and their textbook ways, many don't want to bother their GP's every time their child sneezes funny, and most just don't know where to turn to for advice. Well, all of that can change.

I think the biggest myth of parenting - and probably the most worrying - is that children who sit up, walk and talk earliest are the smartest.

When it's your first child and you're surrounded by friends with babies of a similar age, it's very difficult not to compare. It's even harder not to become worried when you notice that their children can do a lot of things that yours can't. You begin to worry that they're behind, they're going to struggle, all of the other children and babies must be smarter and more advanced.

I recently received a letter in the post from my local GP practice about what Princess should be able to do now that she's 3. One of the things on the list was that she should be able to dress herself. To be honest, I received this letter 2 days after her Birthday and I wasn't aware of any other 2 year olds who could actually dress themselves - but I turned to my online community to ask for advice. It turns out that no - it's not something that children should be doing BY the time they turn 3, but something they should be learning. Panic over. Some of the children could dress themselves, but according to the studies - this doesn't make them any more advanced or smarter than those of us with kids who couldn't.

I was glad that I didn't need to worry, but without my online community of friends, it would have been quite easy for me to panic and ring my Health Visitor asking why my child was behind.

CANparent aims to help aid these sorts of questions, whether they be from parents, grandparents or even step parents. Anyone involved with raising a child. There are also classes available for same-sex parents, fathers and step-parents where they can gain advice specifically designed for them. This advice can be accessed in a variety of ways. You can choose to attend a class in your local area where you can meet other parents and make new friends. There are classes available online or even one to one classes if you're not ready to share your concerns with a group.

CANparent have come up with an amusing video to highlight some of the myths we face as parents - some are quite hilarious, but we've all heard them!

CANparent is a brilliant campaign set up to help parents just like yourselves and they need our support to raise awareness of the fantastic services they offer.

If you could pop on over and give their Facebook page a like that would be amazing. You can find out tips, find out about classes in your area and share your own stories - something I think we could all use!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Kicked Whilst You're Down

It's no secret that I like to complain. I love a good moan. It can be about anything too, I'm not too fussy.

Right now, I am at whinging central. I am like a misunderstood toddler who has just had their favourite toy taken away.

To put it plain and simple.. I'm poorly.

After days of agony I was rushed off to the walk in centre and was quite quickly diagnosed with tonsillitis.

My first thought was: "Is that it!?"

I've had tonsillitis before. I had a sore, swollen throat, a gross mouth and a bit of a cough. This is nothing like that.

I am aching, all over. Literally from my head to my toes. My head feels like it is splitting open, I can barely swallow, my shoulders and back are in absolute agony and I have shooting pains in my stomach and it's a battle just to get out of bed. All of this is caused by tonsillitis.

I went back to the Doctors today as I'm not feeling any better despite the antibiotics. She reckons I actually have glandular fever. Great. They can't do the blood test to diagnose until I have finished my antibiotics which is 10 days away. I have been signed off work again as I am just so exhausted and ill.

I feel like an absolute and utter failure. This really couldn't have come at a worse time.

Last week one of the worst things ever happened to our family and we are all still struggling to come to grips with it. There is no time for being ill. I feel like I am letting everyone down and that I am actually stupid for being this ill. Considering the circumstances right now, I feel down right foolish.

But I can't help it. Everything is a struggle. I only just about made it to the Doctors without collapsing.

I'm hoping that this clears up quickly. On top of everything else, Princess also has a cold and a nasty virus cough just to make things even more enjoyable for all of us. She's suffering so much at the moment but as it's viral there is nothing to help her except paracetamol.

I'm at the end of my tether to say the least. I am fed up of wallowing and self pitying when there are people who need me to be strong. I am sick of feeling like a victim but mind over matter just isn't working. Usually I can pick myself up and soldier on, but not this time. I am too run down and it has taken over. I've barely eaten in the last few days due to the sheer pain of it so my energy levels are zero. 

In basic terms - fuck tonsillitis. I am sick of you. Piss off and let me look after my family.



Wednesday, 6 November 2013


I have blogged many times before about the fact that my 3 year old toddler does not sleep. I must write about it at least once a year, complaining about how little sleep she has and how tired myself and Ross are.

Then she gets in to a fantastic routine, I start to think we've cracked it.. and then it all goes tits up.

I am genuinely starting to believe there is something wrong.

It's as if the part of her brain that needs sleep needs rewiring. She can get by on as little as 3 hours sleep, leaving me and her Dad braindead wrecks.

She got in to such a good routine of dinner, bath and bed. She won't have a story at night, she just won't entertain it. She'll tell us to shut up, or rip the book from our hands. It's best just to leave her to it. A quick kiss on the forehead, tuck her in tight and say "na nights." And it works for a bit. For a few weeks, everything is wonderful. Ross and I can get our 7 hours sleep a night - BOTH of us - and we wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed.

But then it all seems to go wrong. One day, she won't want to go to sleep. She'll ask to go to bed.. but then she'll sit up there for hours screaming that she's not tired. We never relent. She doesn't come back downstairs, no matter how hard she cries. As soon as she's back down, there's not a chance of getting her back to bed for hours. However, leaving her up there to cry doesn't work either.

She will cry and scream to the point we think she's hurt herself. I know she does it to get a reaction from us, just to get us to go upstairs, but it is never worth risking not checking. Just in case. She's done it before where she's been shouting and crying for 2 hours straight, I finally gave in to go and check on her and she'd somehow given herself a bloody lip. Imagine my guilt.

I've started to keep a sleep diary. What time she goes to bed, how many times she wakes up, what she's waking up for and when she wakes up in the morning. Most nights we're lucky if she gets 6 or 7 hours. Every time these phases hit, she seems to be sleeping less and less. When she was 1, we had to cut her naps out completely. She wouldn't go to bed until 10pm (without a nap all day) wake up at least 15 times a night, but then sleep in until 9am. Now, she's not going to sleep until 2-3am and up and at 'em at 8am before I leave for work.

Nothing seems to tire her out. I can't even call her nocturnal because she doesn't sleep in the day either. In fact, if I let her nap in the day I can kiss goodbye to any sleep. We'd be pulling an all nighter.

I'm not totally sure how much more any of us can take. It's one thing to survive on 8 hours broken sleep a night when you don't have to be up in the morning, but when I have to get up for work at 7am and I've been up with her until 2am, it starts to become a bit hard to handle.

It's come to the point where Ross and I are having to sleep in separate beds. I'm climbing in to Princess's bed early hours of the morning so he can stay up with her in our bed so she doesn't disturb me. I don't remember the last time we spent the whole night in bed together without her in there too.

I've sought advice from many different people. Most people blame her lack of sleep on routine. I can categorically state that routine is not the issue. We can all keep to a routine until it comes out of our arses, but if she doesn't want to sleep, she's not sleeping. It has been the same way for 3 years now and I'm tired. We all are. There is no 'locking her in the bedroom until she falls to sleep' or 'letting her cry it out'. 3 years worth of trial and error has taught me that there does not seem to be an answer.

She just doesn't like sleep.

Friday, 1 November 2013

This is Halloween!

I absolutely love Halloween.

I love the costumes, the stories, the movies and the atmosphere.

I didn't really go trick or treating as a child, not until my friends and I were old enough to take ourselves, but that was only once or twice.

I love the scary movies that come on TV, and the classics like Hocus Pocus and Casper.

It's all good fun.

My most favourite memory of Halloween, is spending it in San Francisco when I was 8. The Americans go all-out for Halloween, the same way they do Christmas and it is amazing. Everyone joins in. I remember visiting the house of Robin Williams (yes, THE Robin Williams) and even his house was decorated with cobwebs and skulls. My sister and I carved pumpkins, dressed like witches with green facepaint and broomsticks and got to experience Halloween in a way most of us can't even dream about. 

I'm probably on my own here, but I don't really see why people have an issue with it?

This year was the first year that Princess was old enough to understand. When the costumes came out in stores, I explained to her about Halloween. I told her that people dress up in scary and funny costumes and go to parties. Then I told her about trick or treating. I explained that trick or treat was a game where children dressed up in spooky costumes, knocked on peoples doors and said "Trick or Treat" in the hopes they would get some sweeties.

I'm pretty sure she didn't fully understand and didn't really hear anything I said apart from the word 'sweets', but either way, we planned on taking her anyway. It's Ross's nephews 4th Birthday today and the tradition is to have a small get together of family and then take the kids trick or treating. It's a lot of fun! I was so looking forward to this year because it would be Princess's first time in joining in, she could experience it for herself.

And she was so excited! My manager had given her a witches costume to wear. We bought her a witches hat and wand to go with it. She'd dressed up every day this week and asked if it was Halloween yet! She was so excited and she didn't even understand it properly.


We headed out around 6.30pm and knocked on a few peoples doors. We only knock on the doors of those who have decorations in the window or a pumpkin outside.

And do you know what? The kids loved it. Neither of them could stop giggling every time they found a new house with spooky decorations, they would shout "trick or treat!" when someone opened the door and would laugh when the people inside pretended to be scared.
Princess shoved all of her treats straight in to her bag without looking. For her, it wasn't even about what she was receiving from these houses, but just the fun of it had her excited.

I don't see it as her "begging" for sweets. She's not knocking on someones door in the middle of the day asking for a biscuit. She is a little girl who has dressed up as a 'scary' witch in the hopes of getting a treat in return. In fact, I'm not even sure it's that, she just liked knocking on the doors and talking to people. It was new to her and it was exciting.

Why is that a problem?

I can see many issues with Halloween and I won't deny them. Anyone who is in secondary school (so over the age of 11 really) probably shouldn't be joining in, unless they are joined by younger family. Then you really are just begging. There were quite a few groups of older kids out tonight, obviously in their teens, dressed up and knocking on doors. I don't agree with that. I'm not saying older kids shouldn't have fun on Halloween, but they're really not doing it for sweets now are they?

Quite a few people on my Facebook have been arguing over Halloween and how they don't agree with it and how it frightens them. The answer is simple. Many newspapers, police stations and Post Office's will give you a sign to pop on your door or window that says trick or treaters are not welcome. I can promise you, no one will be knocking on your door if they know you're not going to be answering it. The problem is then solved.

Most parents will only let their children knock on the doors of houses that are decorated. If your house doesn't have a pumpkin outside or a lantern in the window, then it's probably just teenagers trying their luck and you're right not to answer your door. Adults are smarter than that.

I also don't want to hear the argument that the elderly are vulnerable. Out of all the houses we visited tonight, I'd say 85% of them were old couples who were sweet, charming and utterly smitten with the children. They don't see an issue with it, so why should anyone else? They are smart enough to check the windows before they answer.

There are so many arguments against Halloween and trick or treating, but there are so many ways that I can argue against it.

My little girl, who has just turned 3, is not begging you for sweets. She wanted to dress up as a witch, the same way she does as a Princess, and yell "trick or treat" to strangers. The sweets were an added bonus (so was the satsuma which was her most favourite of all!). I think you could give most kids a stick and they'd be quite happy with that. It's the experience that matters the most to them.

So next year when you want to post statuses and messages ago how you don't agree with Halloween, just remember that it is all in good fun. And you don't have to join in if you don't want to. At the end of the day, it's all about the children, and that's what really matters