Katja, Parenthood

Telling Tales

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As I approached the kindergarten I had no idea about the drama that had happened inside. No sooner had I walked inside when I heard “Katja’s Mummy!” from one of the little boys and found a group of small people rushing up to me. They were all desperate to tell me the news – “A**** bit Katja!” “A was naughty!” “No biting!”

So I asked Katja for confirmation which she gave me most emphatically then turned around to A**** and said loudly “A**** is naughty, no bite!”. (Apparently the staff are not allowed to call a child naughty, but that doesn’t stop the kids from doing so!.) In the few seconds all of this took I could see out of the corner of my eye Katja’s key worker all but falling over her feet to try to get to me before the kids blurted out the news, but no adult can hope to compete with a toddler who has quality gossip to impart.

And so the full story came out. Katja and A**** were playing with a doll. A**** snatched the doll, Katja snatched it back then A**** bit – hard. I was given the incident report and could tell that there was an air of slight alarm.

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Perhaps I’m doing this mummy thing wrong. I found the kids all rushing to dob in the criminal, A**** keeping to herself – clearly shunned from play circles and the rush by the staff to get to me first rather amusing.

The truth is that I’m actually quite impressed that there have been so few incidents in the time that Katja has been there. I fully expect toddlers to bite, pinch, push and more. It’s what they do. It’s part of growing up and learning what’s right and what’s wrong.

I’m also relieved that it wasn’t Katja doing the biting. And it means that she’s learnt a valuable lesson about how much biting can hurt. But I get the feeling that many mothers would react differently.

News & Updates, Parenthood

Visiting

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Sometimes when I pick up Katja from kindergarten she runs to me yelling “Mummy! Mummy!” which is absolutely lovely. Other times she doesn’t want to come home at all. On those days she’ll develop a sudden urge to hide under the play sink, or under tables or a burning need to create all the things with the play-doh.

So it was last Friday and we finally managed to get out 20 mins after I had arrived. Once out the door Katja decided that she was not going to get the next bus, in fact she was not going to cross the road. She wanted to go “this way Mummy”, pointing up the street in the opposite direction to home. Since we had no plans and the weather was reasonable I decided to see where she would take me.

And she seemed to know exactly where she was going, round the corner and to the canal. At this point I thought I’d better check in.

Me: Katja, where are we going?
K: Alexander’s house
Me: Alexander’s not at home, he’s at Alexander’s kindergarten
K: Thinking… “Alexander’s m├Ądchen Mummy
Me: Alexander’s mummy is at work. There’s noone at home. We can visit Alexander another day
K: But Mummy, Alexander’s house is fun.
Me: I know, but Alexander is not at home so we can’t visit him

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At this she ran off ahead – stopping only to tell me “twenty-three seven” and then ran straight to the front door of Alexander’s flat where she pointed out the number 37 (twenty-three seven apparently). She then told me to “press the number, Mummy. Number 6”. Naturally this proved fruitless and it took a little bit more time to convince her that no-one was coming home soon and we should go and get the bus.

I have to admit I was gobsmacked. It’s fair enough that she remembers the way to the flats, but to know the block number AND the flat number is impressive indeed. I didn’t even realise that she’d paid any attention – shows you that you have to be really careful what you do in front of a toddler!

Wonder how she will cope when Alexander moves house in a week?

News & Updates, Parenthood

Pain in the Head… again

Migraine

Today is yet another migraine day. It started at 2am or thereabouts. I took the sumatriptan and managed to get back to sleep. At 6:30 it was still there, more sumatriptan but wide awake wee people means sleep is not an option.

This is the fourth migraine in the last week. I know that it’s hormonal – it’s the 3 month anniversary of Elisa joining us so my hormones are a total train wreck at the moment. But knowing the cause does not make them hurt less. It also doesn’t make it easier to deal with the accompanying fuzzy feeling, the lack of hand-eye coordination and the underlying terror that somehow my brain being out of action will lead to one or both of my children being hurt.

How could I hurt my kids? Consider these possible scenarios – How much formula did I add to the water? Walking through a doorway with a baby and missing the opening. Carrying children up stairs and missing a step. Not seeing a car on the road because of blind spots. Not being able to react fast enough to catch a toddler. Even once the pain has gone thanks to the drugs, the general brain wrapped in cotton wool effects will linger.

So today we do as little as possible. Cancelled my planned shopping trip. Cancelled hot lunch plans and cancelled playground trip plans. The goal today is simply to get through until Papa can get home from work.

My Lifestream, My Week in Pictures, Parenthood, Shopping

To Market, To Market…

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Friday morning Elisa and I headed into town to check out the new market that will be held at Waverly Station. It’s great to see an undercover market in Edinburgh – it’s something that is sorely missing. There was roughly 20 stalls selling handcarfts, vintage goods, and artisan food/drink. The only ready to eat foods were breads and cupcakes. And no fresh veggies.

God how I miss the Queen Vic with it’s 7 hectares of undercover goods. The noise, the crowds, the smells and the colours. It’s one of the top Melbourne things that I honestly wish I could just transport over to every city I live in.

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After the market I popped into Next and had a look at the kids clothes. I was struck by the shoe wall. The boys side included quite a few pairs of rugged, sturdy, stay-on shoes with decent treads – perfect for running in hot weather. The girls side was full of thin-soled things with flowers or butterflies and lots of thongs (flip-flops for the non-Aussies). Nothing suitable for running at all.

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I had a realisation that if this is what is available in the affordable market then what message does that send? Boys get to choose function over form, girls get to choose pretty over practical. Do the stereotypes start before a child is even aware of gender? Is this where the glass ceiling really begins, with the boys running and the girls sitting on the sidelines watching? I know that I can find good shoes that are also pretty, but I shouldn’t have to spend 4 times as much and go out of my way to seek them out – not everyone is in a posiion to do that.

News & Updates, Parenthood

Welcome Elisa

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As we headed into the hospital on Monday morning we had every expectation of being home on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. This expectation was based on prior experience – when induced for Katja I was delivered just 7 hours later. However it soon became clear that this would be a very different experience.

Finally on Thursday came the welcome news that my waters could be broken. We waited for Christian to finish up at home and make his way in and then we headed to delivery room 8.

Now I’ll spare you all of the details and just say that after my waters being broken it took just 4 intense hours until little Elisa was placed on my chest just past 1 on Friday morning. It was fabulous having Christian there – he asked for the morphine injection once he judged that my pain level was close to when I had needed it for Katja.

But that was not to be the end of the story. After being judged low risk and being installed in the birthing centre’s plush post natal ward I lost some blood, reckoned to be about a litre and enough that when you added my ghost white face and the fact that all I wanted to do was sleep meant that I was soon wheeled back down to a room where there were lots of machines going ping, hooked up to monitors and drips and became the centre of attention for a while.

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In the end it wasn’t until Sunday evening that they were finally happy with us leaving – an entire week in hospital, the longest I ever have spent before and hopefully the longest stint for a long time to come.

I have to say that all of the staff I encountered were absolutely wonderful, and all of the interactions I witnessed between staff and students (Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is a teaching hospital) leave me confident that anyone who gives birth there in the future will also have as great an experience as possible.

My only complaints were that one of the meals labelled a “real Cornish pasty” really was not at all, and that one of the women on my shared ward decided that making a continuous round of shouty phone calls until past 11pm was an acceptable thing to do. Oh and the internet access was woeful – which meant that I couldn’t look up the how to vids and find out how to finish my socks!

Anyway, it’s wonderful to be home. It’s delightful watching Katja interacting with “Baby” and so lovely to have our completed family.

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Parenthood

My Two Cents – Dad’s at the Birth

Nick and Jessica KnowlesThere’s been a bit of a minor outcry this last week here in the UK when a local celebrity, Nick Knowles and his second wife Jessica announced in a magazine that they were a)pregnant and that b)Nick would not be at his wife’s bedside when their son is born in August. Jessica is quoted as saying that she would prefer her husband not to see her in such a “vulnerable state”.

To be fair, the couple have discussed it between themselves. Nick was at the birth of 2 of his children from his previous marriage so he’s seen it all so to speak and will be just outside the room. If this is indeed the wish of Jessica then it’s very good of him to respect that and I applaud the couple for making up their own mind about what is right for them. At the end of the day it’s about what is right for them.

Gordon and Tana RamsayOn the heels of this I’ve also read that Gordon Ramsey was not at the birth of any of his 4 children because he apparently feared it would turn him off his wife and has spoken about that repeatedly.

However, personally I’m baffled. In my most vulnerable state with various medical persons coming in and out there’s noone I would want near me as much as my husband. With Katja he was the one person I could focus on, the one person who knew when it was too much for me and it was his voice saying that she’d crowned that gave me the strength for those last pushes – I barely remember the other voices, they were background noise and I couldn’t even tell you how many other people were in the room at that precise time.

The reactions I’ve seen to the Knowles story are fairly predictable –

  • He was there at the conception he should be there at the birth
  • She shouldn’t deny him the opportunity to see his child born
  • I’m sure she doesn’t want to be there either

However, I think they’re missing what I see as the main point here – to NOT want to be seen at our most vulnerable by the one man who loves you as much as your own father* would be a very sad state to be in. There are plenty of other medical situations that leave you equally vulnerable, would she want him to not be there then?

And as for the Ramsay thing, well I’d be quite concerned if I were with someone who expressed those sentiments that as soon as I got a couple of wrinkles or some grey hair that I’d be traded in for a younger model. What kind of security can his wife have with a husband like that?

What about you? Would you want your partner in the room with you or not?

* assuming a normal, healthy father-daughter relationship here. If you don’t have that then your husband should love you more than your father! Otherwise, why marry the man?

Katja, Parenthood, sewing

Katja’s First Halloween Costume

When I picked Katja up from nursery last week there was a little slip of paper waiting for me. It announced that on the 31st they would like it if kids could turn up in a costume.

Now a 16 month old child going to nursery during a bitterly cold day in Edinburgh is going to need to be warm, so that’s my first requirement. The next is no attachments – it’s hard enough keeping a bib on her, a hat is impossible and wings/extra legs would be a nightmare.
No problem, I thought, with all the supermarkets here that sell quite decent kids clothes it should be a simple matter of pop down and pick up something cute.

Well, more fool me – it turns out that as soon as a child grows out of the very first pumpkin sleep suit it’s on to adult style costumes. Here’s a few of the boys’ costumes:

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They’re all practical, they’re all ghoulish as you’d expect from halloween.

Now, let’s take a look at the selection offered for girls:

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With any of these, MissK will be freezing! Plus hats and wings, not going to stay on so a waste of effort. They all look remarkably like the “sexy ___” variety of costumes that you find for adults and quite frankly I’m underwhelmed.

So, I did some searching online and came up with a few options – ladybird was a good one, as was cat or skeleton, but they all require black suits and black is a lot harder to get for toddler girls than insipid pink. I also found a post that showed little girls dressed as female scientists (sorry can’t locate the links now but if I do I’ll add them in the comments). Trouble with that is that noone of Katja’s generation is going to understand who Ada Lovelace was and there’s no way I could get her hair like that yet.

And then it hit me – Nina and the Neurons!

This is a TV show on CBeebies fronted by Nina, an outgoing, cheery neuroscientist who works at the Glasgow Science Centre. She loves experimenting and finding the answer to everyday questions with the help of her five animated neurons. Katja seems to like the show and the songs and Nina is dressed so practically. And so I set about making up a quick and dirty Nina and the Neurons costume and this is how I did it:

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First things first, I bought a sleep suit in plain white for 6 months older than Katja is now, I was after deliberately too big for her.

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Next, I cut the suit just above the crotch buttons and hemmed using a zig zag stitch. No need to be too fabulous, this is not likely to be worn beyond one day and there’s no prizes for best finished costume. I also cut off one of the feet to make a little pocket and cut off the ends of the sleeves.

I had some brightly coloured fabric from previous projects, so I cut some strips of that to make a pocket top and cuffs. To be honest it would have been a much neater job if I’d managed to find the right ribbon. Another alternative would have been to draw decorations on the top to match Nina’s.

I coloured in the buttons with various permanent markers to hand (again, doesn’t have to last) and I was done.

This morning all I had to do was dress her in her usual skinny jeans, tights and a brightly coloured tshirt then put on the “lab coat” and put her hair in bunches (that was the hardest part!) and we were done.

Naturally madam was far too busy to stop and pose for photographs, there’s a lab to get cleaned up you know! I’m quite chuffed with the result.