Monday, 24 November 2014

Hear we go again

Since Millie was about 6 months old she has been full of snot! Pleasant, I know, but it's true. If I was to count up all the days when she didn't have a streaming nose since then, I'd say they would amount to about 10 weeks.

You may say "but she is a child and children are snotty" but this is more than what I would consider acceptable for a snotty child. Even Millie's nursery queried it with me and they thought she had hayfever.

Then just as we would be at the point of going to the doctor, she would clear up for a few days. 

In July, on the advice of a health visitor I was working with, I rang my own health visitor. I didn't want to be branded a neurotic mother so was pleased my colleague felt it was worth a phonecall.

So I finally plucked up the courage to call and she wasn't there so someone took a message and she would call me back. But the phonecall never came and again Millie cleared up for a bit so I didn't chase it. She was due her 2 year check so I would wait until then. 

She finally got her 2 year check in the October half term. 

I explained my concerns to the Nursery Nurse, who got to see how snotty and dribbly she was and agreed what she saw and heard was excessive. This combined with the family history and her speech being on the slow side, it was definitely worth her making a referral to get checked out. 

She asked if we had any concerns about her hearing and I explained that I hadn't noticed any signs her hearing was affected but I hadn't noticed it with Callum at first. So the first step would be audiology and then audiology could refer on to ENT (Ears, Nose & Throat) if there were any concerns. 

The appointment for audiology came without too much wait and we went last Wednesday. 

I was intrigued as to how they would guage the level of a 2 year old's hearing as Callum was older (4) so could follow instructions better and play the people in the boat game they set up. 

It was quite clever what they did with Millie.  They played a noise and showed her a cabinet with a light on and inside was an electronic puppet moving. Once she associated the noise with the puppet they tried to keep her attention playing with another health professional and then play the noise at different levels to see if she responded, looking for the puppet. She was a bit of a challenge as she kept looking at the cabinets asking for the puppets to come back rather than play with the lady but we got there and the test showed her hearing was reduced. 

They then had to test whether it was her hearing that was damaged or just the middle ear functions (i.e. glue ear). This was more of a challenge as I had to hold a little probe behind her ear which she wasn't happy with but it was immediately obvious her actual hearing was working fine. 

The final test was the tool they put in the ear to bounce a signal back that tests whether there is fluid behind the ear drum (again signalling glue ear) and we got the flat line as we expected we would, confirming the diagnosis. 

It is common for children to have glue ear and it to clear up on its own so the test needs to be carried out again in 3 months. If still getting the same results, the child is referred on further.

Due to Millie's near constant congestion and speech, they made the referral straight away although she will still need the second check. The clinician felt it was important to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.

I had read all the info when Callum had his grommets fitted so I know that Millie's ears could still get better and they rarely operate or take any further action until after they are three and usually over 4 so I expect she will still have a wait or maybe they will run more tests. After all, maybe she has allergies, no one has questioned that yet. However, at least we are on the books and she will be treated earlier than Callum. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

And so I'm back

I'm sorry I've been away so long. I've missed blogging desperately. The break has shown me just how much I rely on blogging to deal with my thoughts and emotions - my mental wellbeing has suffered.

I'm not in a bad place but I'm a little out of sorts.

The reason for my break has been for a couple of reasons. Since starting work over a year ago I've struggled to find the time as, in the evenings, I'm often exhausted and the last thing I want to do is pick up a computer. Then, just as I was about to get back in to my swing again, my laptop died...Along with my phone. Technology and I have had a bit of a falling out. Not good for an IT trainer really, is it?!
But I'm back now and hopefully going to get my blog on again (did I really just say that?).

So, to bring you up to date, Callum is 6 and now in year 1 at school and seems to be getting on really well. Picked up an award this week for 'outstanding independent maths' - he counts constantly!  He goes to football with Stuart on a Saturday mornings and seems to be enjoying it. We have new neighbours down the road which had brought Callum a new best friend who loves riding his bike as much as Callum does and they are always out playing together of a weekend.

Millie is still a mischievous little madam and a stubborn mule to boot! Terrible twos are well and truly upon us. But she is so damn cute! She knows how to play us all. She is a performer and loves dancing. She is definitely going to be on a stage one day. She is the snottiest child I've ever known and we are back on the audiology, adenoids and grommets path with Millie following in callum's footprints but we are getting the ball rolling early this time.

There's so much to tell you about both of them so watch this space for more posts and plenty of cheers, tears & fears!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Camping with Kids Revisited

When Callum was 20 months old, I thought I would surprise Stuart and I took us all camping. In secret, I booked the pitch at a campsite on the Kent-Sussex border, packed the tent and all the gear into the back of the car and instructed Stuart to come home early from work on the Friday of the May Day Bank Holiday and off we went to Romney.

I was so excited.

However, it was pretty much a disaster. We arrived after Callum’s bedtime, it took me an hour to boil pasta for our dinner due to the cold and wind, it rained most of the time, the nights were freezing, Callum refused to sleep between us on the blow up (plus there wasn’t really enough room) and Stuart vowed never to take a child camping again and definitely never to go camping in May!

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I was a little less deterred and chalked it down as a learning experience. That said, I was in less of a hurry to repeat the experience with Millie.

Yet, along came May just after Millie turned 21 months and Stuart and I found ourselves in a camping shop looking at tents and planning a May bank-holiday camping trip!

But this time was going to be different!

We were actually planning the camping trip for a week in August but were keen to purchase this new style of tent which you inflate instead of using poles which means it can be put up in a matter of minutes and by one person. We were also going Super-size! Our memory of our previous camping trip with Callum not entirely forgotten, we figured it’d be a good idea to take the tent for a tester trip for a weekend close to home.

We decided on the, potential to be slightly warmer, Whitsun bank-holiday and we headed less than 30 miles away to a town near Swanage called Langton Matravers. We took the ferry so we could pretend it was like a ‘proper’ holiday in a different country and not just down the road in the same county!

Due to me being out on the Friday night, we also left it until the Saturday morning to go so there were no over-tired and over-excited children waiting for their tea and not going to sleep!

We were still nervous as the weather was ‘iffy’ and this was to be the first time Millie would be sleeping in a ready-bed.

We arrived at the basic but clean Acton Field Campsite. It already looked busy and we struggled to find a pitch big and flat enough for our huge new 8 man tent that was the required 6 meters away from neighbouring tents but we finally settled on somewhere which had an amazing view too.

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The weather was holding (despite the torrential downpour that was flooding our back garden earlier that morning) and after shopping for some supplies I managed to cook a dinner of rice and chicken curry in 30 minutes and just before the rains returned.

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Come bed time, Millie was asleep in record time whereas the excitement for Callum was making him want the wee every 5 minutes, resulting in several trips to the loos in the pouring rain. By this time it was amazing how busy the campsite had got. Our previously dismissed pitches which we had considered too bumpy were now home for campers and tents of all shapes and sizes and many were still arriving or having to leave due to lack of space and tents were being erected in the pouring rain.

It was a very cold night and Callum woke the once then being the first to wake at 6am who woke his sister shortly after as he had to get the wipes from her room (yes she had her own room – they both did!). I hadn’t slept well at all due to the cold and the slope causing me to roll into Stuart until he got fed up and I perched on the edge of the mattress using all my muscles to stay put. Every muscle ached by morning! We didn’t hear a peep from Millie.

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The Sunday was much better weather and we had an enjoyable day at nearby Putlake Adventure Farm.

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That evening, we attempted a bbq with a disposable I had bought ‘just in case’ the previous year but the absence of matches and the old bbq meant that weren’t gonna happen (even after borrowing a lighter from a neighbour) so it was fried burgers and sausages instead and an enjoyable chill out with a glass of vino as the sun went down.

Callum had made a friend with an older girl (check him out!) in a nearby caravan and I was reminded of my own childhood enjoying the freedom and friends that camping and caravanning promoted.

As a nice surprise, friends of ours had also pitched up at the same campsite with their camper van so we enjoyed a tipple or two with them before settling in for our night 2. Millie hadn’t gone to sleep quite so easily that night and when we thought she had gone quiet some time later, discovered she had instead decided to investigate her travel bag and discovered the face softening powers of sudocreme (or she thought Christmas had come early, it is hard to say!)

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Well if you can’t beat them, join them eh?

She did eventually drift off and they both slept to a respectable 7.30am for what was a much warmer night.

Monday meant time for home so we packed up the tent which, after the joys of being a one man job to put up, proved to be a more involved and challenging job to put down and squeeze back into the bag from which it came.

We joined our friends for a pasty and pint over at The Star and Compass in nearby Worth Matravers before making our way back home after, what we considered a much more successful camping trip though still came away with lessons learnt for next time. But confident there would still be a next time…in August!

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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Cat's in the Cradle

I love music, but what I love more than music is the lyrics. The story they tell swallows me up and spits me out either smiling or in tears or sometimes leaves me determined, powerful, ready to make a stand. 

I have an amazing ability to store lyrics in my head. If only I realised when I did my exams that if I'd put my revision in to music I would've remembered the lot! 

I come from a musical family and I have had exposure to a wide range of tastes and flavours which has left me with my own eclectic music taste across many genres and generations. 

Seriously, anything from Neil Diamond, The Carpenters, to Brian Adams, to BonJovi, The Killers, Green Day, Paolo Nutini, Adele, to Trance, Psytrance, Hard House, Techno to....er...Gene Pitney! Yeah! I know but it reminds me of my mum and happy memories. That's what music does, evoke memories.

Then every once in a while, I realise I've been listening to a song, I know I like it and I've more than likely (anyone who knows me knows what I'm like) sung along but haven't actually 'listened' to the words. 

Well, this has been a long intro to say today I did just that. The song was 'Cats in the Cradle' by many artists, the original being Harry Chapin.

If you haven't heard it, first, make sure you go and listen now, and if you need persuading, this is what it is about.

A man has a baby but is so caught up with being busy with life and work he misses his son growing up. Not stopping to spend time and play with his son but his son doesn't mind or know any different and idolises his dad wanting to be like his dad when he grows up. Then, before the man knows it, his son has grown up and gone to college and has no time for his dad because he has his own life then when the dad has time and wants to spend it with his son, his son is too busy with his own family and own life. Life has come full circle and indeed the boy who wanted to grow up to be just like his dad has done just that.

This song really touched me today. 

How many times have the parents amongst us dismissed their child who wants to play this, read that, do whatever, just wants to spend time with us and yet we are too busy doing probably something that is nowhere near as important as we think it is at the time. All we do is complain about time going so fast and before we know it our little ones will be grown up and moving away and gone. 

My own Dad and I recently shared a conversation about what I do for a job. He said it was the first time he had had a proper conversation with me about what I actually do for a living and finally an opportunity to get to know me. I'm 34 and my Dad feels he has only just stopped to have that conversation. 

"I'm gonna be like him, yeah, You know I'm gonna be like him"

Friday, 4 April 2014

Key Worker Translator

I love going into nursery to pick up Millie and listening to her key worker and other nursery staff tell me what a great day my daughter has had…who doesn’t love to hear good things about their kids, especially when I miss so much of her day. Then recently I realised that maybe their smile was a little bit pinched at the corners, and the teeth a little bit gritted and maybe they weren’t being entirely truthful – well not all the time.

So I’ve thought a bit more about what they are telling me and remembering back to when Callum was at nursery and think possibly nursery workers are clever at disguising what they really mean. But I think I’ve worked out their translation! Below are things I have heard nursery workers say about Millie, Callum and other children too and I’ve translated what I think they are really saying.

“She knows what she wants, doesn’t she?”
She is stubborn, bossy and spoilt

“Does she play rough with Callum?”
She is the nursery bully

“She is such a little character”
She is a little madam

“His teddy has been well loved”
It’s so filthy it must be harbouring all sort of undiscovered life

“S/He likes his food and eats everything we give him”
We only give them small portions so we can tell you that and so they go home and eat your food instead of ours

“He got a bit over-excited at play time”
He purposefully pushed her over

“He loves sitting on the double bike while Little Jonny loves to peddle him round the garden”
He is lazy and Little Jonny is a mug

3.30pm on a Friday: “she’s not herself and has a temperature”
It’s Friday and I want to go home early to crack open the wine

“You’re early today”
You’re early for once

“I was just about to change her nappy, would you like to do it?”
You’re her mummy, you should do it…plus it’s a stinky one!

What do they say at your child’s nursery or childcare centre?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

M is for Millie…and Mischief

Maybe as time has past, my memory has blurred. We do tend to pick out the bits we like or are more eventful in life. However, how I remember Callum is that he rarely had the aspiration to get up to too much mischief.

We had a cat yet only twice did he show an interest with playing sandcastles with the cat litter and never showed any desire to eat cat food or squidge it between his fingers. If we nipped to the loo, we could leave him playing safe in the knowledge he would highly likely be exactly where we left him when we returned. There was a period where he found it much fun to pull out all the CDs in the CD rack about 100 times a day but I do not recall any other relentless mischief!

Then along came Millie!

Don’t be fooled by that butter wouldn’t melt cheeky smile!

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Yeah that one!

From before she could move we could tell that knowing look in her eye that as soon as she would learn to crawl she would be into EVERYTHING! And she was, except she became a bottom shuffler rather than a crawler. It was a wonder it took her so long to bottom shuffle with her insatiable curiosity!

Callum quite quickly grew out of the insistent throwing of food on the floor but no, Millie still finds it fascinating to see the reaction (even when I’m determined not to give her one) of throwing food, cutlery, plastic bowls, not so plastic bowls…oooh look, they don’t bounce!

Also, I never knew how fascinating it could be to see what happens when you tip bottles and cups upside down. You may not quite notice the first time, or the second, or even the third, fourth or fifth for that matter. In fact, maybe you should try it fifty times and you get an even better reaction if you pour it over your Daddy’s head.

It’s so lovely that she likes to draw and colour so much. Callum was never interested in colouring really, only getting into it in the last year. She has mastered the tripod grip on a pencil, I was so proud…until she decided to decorate the carpet, the toilet seat, the bedside table, the dressing table stool, the door…need I go on! And the continuous temptation of Callum’s felt tip pens is too great – queue big tantrums dare we deny her!

The latest game is seeing what happens when the dry cat food is thrown into the water bowl!

And the most infuriating thing is, you just can’t be cross! We’ve tried! Many a time! But she just looks and laughs and pulls the most adorable faces and your eyebrows start to quiver, your cheek twitches then before you know it you are hiding a giggle behind your hand!

She is relentless, exhausting, infuriating, but goddamn bloody cute and adorable too! Rah!