Sunday, 17 June 2012

Nordic Naturals

Perhaps I should be embarrassed that it took a freebie to tempt me back into writing my blog. I've been so busy of late, and so wrapped up in all manner of dramas large and small that I haven't felt the urge to post for months and months.

But here I am. And I intend to stay.

A PR lady recently contacted me to see if I'd like to try the Nordic Naturals omega supplements on my kids. Seeing as I'm big on diet and supplements I said 'yes please' and am glad I did.

I had fairly low expectations. After all, even the best omegas suitable for toddlers taste like fishy fruit pastilles. We've tried a few and I currently buy the Lil Critters which my two year old loves but my nine year old refuses to eat.

Well, they're amazing. Not fishy at all. Tangeriney and  moreish. My big girl was so impressed she asked for more 'it's just like having a really nice sweetie at breakfast!' she gushed. We're converts. At nearly £20 for 60 chews though cheap they ain't. The Lil Critters are about £8. Less than half the price.

I had a quick look on the back and the nutritional values of the two products seemed to be similar. So for now, I'll be keeping the Nordics for my eldest as she actually eats them and keep buying the Lil Critters cos they're much better value.

I would definitely buy the Nordics again but not regularly as the cost is prohibitive. I'll just have to cook big girl more fish instead!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Birth Matters

I just read a blog post about why birth matters and some of the stories in the comments below.

I had a difficult first birth in hospital and a much more satisfying second birth experience at home with my good friend acting as a doula. The labour was really long and often arduous but I felt safe, nurtured and supported throughout by my husband, my friend and the midwife.

The two different birth experiences have turned me on to becoming a doula and a childbirth educator because I feel – like the author of that blog post – that birth matters and mothers matter.

Since the home birth of Lissy, I have started to blossom into a bit of a birth warrior. I want to change the way birth is viewed and managed in our culture. I want to let people know that it can be a positive experience. That home birth isn't weird or dangerous. That hypnobirthing and other birth techniques can be really effective. That the environment and even the well-meaning staff within a hospital need to be managed by the birthing woman's supporters so she can have the best, safest birth possible.

I have started to discover a whole community of like-minded souls and birthing experts at One World Birth

I enjoy my day job (freelance marketing consultant for a technology company) but have always felt the urge to make a difference, to do something special and important that makes the world a better place. It doesn't have to be on a grand scale. I just want to know that I'm adding to the sum total of happiness in the world.

The standard approach to birth in the UK is over medicalised and often at loggerheads with the emotional, psychological - and even spiritual - needs of the birthing woman. Routine interventions in labour can adversely affect otherwise normal births. See this short video clip by a Professor of Midwifery to find out how. 30% of births in my local hospital end in C-section. The World Health Organization recommends that the caesarean section rate should not be higher than 10% to 15%

Many pregnant women dread the birth process and aren't given the knowledge and the practical support they need to realise their bodies are designed to birth. After doing an NCT course with my first pregnancy (a total waste of time, I'd recommend a Natal Hypnotherapy course or similar instead). I came away with a lot of information on what drugs I could take in labour and exactly what could go wrong but no real tools I could use to have a safe, natural birth and to help manage pain without medical aid. I didn't realise that with the right conditions birth can be an empowering, calm, satisfying experience.

Yes it hurts, but pain without fear is easier to deal with. Simple things helped me immesaurably - like my birth partners pressing hard on my sacrum during a contraction, blowing out steady, long breaths and focusing on them, receiving light touch massage to calm me and boost my endorphins, and being encouraged throughout that I was doing well, that I could do it.

Also the Natal Hypnotherapy CD I listened to before bed from 32 weeks pregnant really helped to counteract my negative cultural conditioning around birth and allow me trust the process and let my body get on with it.

I think I would be honoured to give that support, emotional and physical, to a labouring woman. To help create the conditions that every birthing mammal needs to be able to birth without fear and difficulty: warmth, dark (or low light), privacy, safety. And for us humans, love and encouragement.

It's a big step for me. Even though I'm not planning to change careers, just include another one, having been a technology marketeer for most of my adult life it feels weird and scary to be contamplating something so different.

Is birth really the right area for me? Will I be good at guiding people through their birth journeys? Can I cope with the strange hours and complicated childcare needs that must arise when your committed to be a doula for someone whose birth could happen at any time three weeks either side of her "due date"?

Well, I'm going to start finding out. I've booked myself on the Introduction to the Work of a Doula Day in November.

A while back I sent off for a distance learning hypnobirthing course, thinking it would be easier to do around a small baby (who is now a small toddler!). I have enjoyed the reading but am disappointed with quite a few aspects of the course and keener than ever to be a childbirth educator but to do it my way.

I want to amalgamate the best techniques from all the different styles of hypnobirthing, and incorporate other tips and techniques from things like the Active Birth movement and the advice of respected childbirth experts such as Michel Odent and Ina May Gaskin.

I recently had the chance to make a difference to a friend, Jewels. She asked me to come over and teach her and her best friend and birth support partner some hypnobirthing basics. I went over for a few hours and over tea and cake talked about how to be a good birth partner and went through a few techniques for both mother and birthing partner.

She's had her baby and texted me to say she just kept thinking of the things we talked about and it really helped. Her friend texted me to say that Jewels had made birth look easy.

I can't wait to see her and find out more. I feel honoured to have been a small part of her beautiful birth, and only wish I could have been there physically for her too. She did invite me, but I was in France :-(

I am in the lucky position of having a good job that is part-time and so I can explore this avenue without having to leave the security of my job. I'm not sure how it will all pan out but I'm excited to be following a newly-discovered interest.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Les Bonnes Vacances

We've just got back from our first ever holiday park break, We LOVED it. It is so the way forward for families with young kids.

For £235 we enjoyed nine nights in a comfortable mobile home with:

+three swimming pools

+baby and bigger kids clubs

+nightly entertainment - OK it was pretty naff but Els loved it and I did find myself singing along and even doing some weird French 'Do the Macarena'-style dance on the last night.

Actually it wasn't £235 it was actually free. I'd been squirrelling away my Tesco Clubcard vouchers for ages (well over a year I think). I had £110 worth of vouchers and exchanged them before Christmas to get four times the value in my choice of experiences and goodies from the Rewards website. As of this year, you can now only get three times the value but that's not to be sniffed at.

So, Tescos covered our Eurotunnel and accommodation. Super bien!

We stayed at the Domain Du Kerlann Siblu resort in Brittany. The weather was good, the local beaches beautiful, the natives friendly and very accommodating of me practising my rusty, schoolgirl French.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Where Children Sleep

My one year old and eight year old girls share a very small bedroom.

Ella has a cabin bed, Lissy has a cot bed, there's a small wardrobe with drawers for Ella's clothes and Lissy's clothes are stored in our bedroom because there's nowhere else to put them. Both girls' toys and books are in the recess under Ella's bed.

I love where we live but the lack of space can sometimes get me down. My hubby and I go round in circles discussing the 'what ifs-maybes-but hows' of bringing up our family in a nice area (pretty, lots of green, safe, quiet), near to most of our friends and also to Ella's dad (due to our shared childcare arrangement) but with a more liveable amount of space. On one average income that's a tall order in Oxfordshire.

A documentary photographer from Oxford has a new book out that shows children from different cultures and their bedrooms. Where Children Sleep shows a 4 year old from Romania who sleeps outside on a mattress, an 8 year old who lives with his family on top of a large dump and a 15 year old trainee geisha who sleeps on the floor in a teahouse. Have a look and let me know what you think. I, for one, realise how hugely lucky both me and my girls are.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Free Kids Tights Please!

I got sent some super cute, super soft tights for my one year old and eight year old from a company called 'Tights Please' asking if I'd like to offer my blog readers a chance to win some free tights.

Well, times are hard for many of us and while I hope that buying tights for your daughter(s) won't break the bank, getting something (anything!) for free has gotta be a good thing.

And since there are only 70 odd people (I'm not saying you're odd, you know what I mean..) who subscribe to my blog and many of those may not have girl children - or even children at all - and there are ten pairs of tights to win I'd say you're in with a pretty good chance of getting your hands on a freebie.

Seeing as it's nearly back to school time, (is that the sound of jubilant whooping and ecstatic ululations I can hear? Not from me matey, me n my ex operate a 'one week with me, one week with you' policy in the summer hols so my time with my biggest little darling goes by in a flash) Tights Please are offering opaques in any colour to fit in with your child's school uniform. Not got a school-aged child? They do them in sizes baby to 14 yrs so fear not.

You can enter here and if the landing page hasn't been updated please rest assured that the closing date for entries is now 4th September so you still have time.

Check out the rest of their school tights here.

Oh, and if you have the legs for it check out these fab bondage-style tights cool or what?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Breastfeeding Flashmob Video!!

To mark the close of World Breastfeeding week, here's a video I'm very proud of.

Well done Rose from Nurture With Soul for pulling together such an awesome event (with a little help from yours truly!). It was a very special thing to be part of and I'm glad our hours on the phone and at our PCs were fruitful in the end.

Thank you to the 170(ish)nursing mamas who took the time to come to London and help us highlight the UK's low breastfeeding rates and prudish attitudes to breastfeeding mums.

Breastfeeding Flashmob Video - London Paddington.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Larmer Tree Festival

Larmer Tree was sweet, small and safe. There were lots of interesting workshops - we took Lissy to a baby music session and Ella did loads in the craft tent including making a photo frame and a puppet.

The weather was awful - too much wind and rain which really dampened our spirits. Coupled with a teething baby in the grips of a heavy cold the weekend was more trying than fun.

But there were some lovely moments: Ella and I dancing in the woods; escaping from the rain into a yurt where we ended up making friendship bracelets and God's eyes from colourful yarn; doing a Bollywood dance workshop in 1950s fancy dress and wellies and - best of all - Ella refusing to come and watch the headlining band, Asian Dub Foundation, because she wanted to keep watching the performance poetry. A proud moment.

We have now decided that next year we will only do local festivals where we can retreat top the comforts of home afterwards and we will leave ticket-buying to the last minute so we can check weather forecasts. I must be getting old! But it's not as much fun being at an outdoor event in torrential rain - unless you can numb/warm yourself with copious amounts of alcohol, cover yourself in mud and become one with the elements. Something I would opt to do sans enfants...