Saturday, 28 April 2012

A bedroom for the girls

It's been a long time coming, this bedroom for the girls.

Cubling so far had the box room (which was grand as she's always downstairs with us, so it's never been a play room) and the second bedroom was a study/guest room. After our roof damage we started decorating (ok, we got a decorator to do it for us), the main bedroom first and then the second bedroom.

This was followed by a game of real life traffic jam, as we moved around the furniture with precious little space for movement. Thankfully freecyclers took a few items off our hands, as did Shelter, and some bits and bobs are still to go.

But we're getting there, and at least Cubling has moved into the girls room.
She had been pestering us for months about a bunk bed, and now she's finally moved from her cotbed to the top bunk. The bunk beds were given to us by a friend which was just fab. They also double in function by being a climbing frame - to the top for Miss Cubling, to the bottom bed for Miss Snowflake (although she would go higher if she could).

The whole debate about whether or not to have a wardrobe (and in general whether to have additional furniture for storage which would make the small room under the eaves rather crammed) has for now been decided. Make do and mend all around: the few dresses that can't be folded away will go in our wardrobe (ok there's no room, but there shall be room, there are clothes that I haven't worn in years) - for now their home is the bunk bed rail.  Instead of furniture clogging up wall space, there's wall stickers and decoration (we're half way there putting things up, a name bunting and fairy lights are still missing, as are photo prints and some craft creations). The only storage will be under the bed, and we win space for a wee desk should this be needed for homework and the like.

All around the room looks nothing like what we had planned when we set out. Everything is in a different location. The room is a great collection of things that we've been given over the years. The name bunting from J, the fairy lights from our Munich friends, the fairy dress up wardrobe from N, the farm animal quilt from my Dortmund friend A, the pink blanket was successfully bid from Garterstitch's Centenary of International Women's Day event. The Princess duvet cover was a timely present from one of her forest kindergarten friends. The big butterfly was made last year at the Baby Show at The Creation Station's craft space.

You can see it's a German/British household when the mouse/elephant and Alderley of the Wombles are sitting next to each other. Both have made it from my childhood days to those of my girls, nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia. As for toys, only dressing up stuff and the playhouse/playcastle (both second hand) have made it into the room. Which means we have to contend with the rest...

And you know what? I like it. And so does Cubling. Snowflake too, and maybe soon she'll be ready for the move. Or rather I'll be. Our own bedroom turned out quite nice too, incidentally. And the box room? Ahem. Filled with junk. Work in progress.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Of health, safety, creams and bottoms

It is nothing new that I can get quite aggravated at certain health and safety regulations that seem to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Well, here's another one.

My little girl has a bit of a skin thing going. She's a ginger nut and a tad sensitive as far as her skin is concerned. Nothing too serious, some dry spots that threaten to become full blown excema but so far haven't, and then her bottom which regularly flares up big time.

I've trailed the knowledge of my wise friends on this one. I tried out every conceivable product on her bum. I tried out natural medicine, even imported German creams.
The verdict is that what was prescribed, made things worse and that the omnipresent sudocrem is a big nono on Snowflakes behind.

So we've figured out what works and what doesn't. There shouldn't be a problem, but hey, there's health and safety regulations at nursery so I was informed that I can't hand in anything without a prescription. Not even coconut oil.

As a prescription was needed, I trailed to the pharmacy for the minor ailments scheme, not wanting to bother my GP and her time with bum cream prescriptions. Pharmacies however can only give out prescriptions for sudocrem (which is a big no no on my Snowflake's bum).

So I made an appointment with my GP, who lectured me that I and the nursery were wasting her time, how there was no need at all for a prescription, citing this guideline or that. She even printed off a letter to the nursery explaining why she won't prescribe bum cream.

Reluctantly I took the letter to the nursery. In a way, I empathised with the GP's position, surely it's a waste of NHS resources having to get a prescription for bum cream from a GP? Especially when I'm looking for the mildest of creams?

The nursery made it clear that they don't care about whichever legislation was quoted but that their internal policy was to use prescribed bum cream only.

So here was my poor little girl, with a weeping sore bum and between pharmacy, GP, NHS and nursery policy there was no way to get a bit of non-sudocrem bum cream on her bottom to make it better. Explain that to her when she wails with pain at every pee and walks herself to the changing table to get that wet nappy off.

 I didn't dare go back to my GP (when she gets excited she's quite scary and I prefer to hide). I did go back to the pharmacy though and pleaded with them. Finally the pharmacist offered that I pay for a cream and she'd print off a label with Snowflake's name on it. So effectively not a prescription, just a printed label.

And that's what we're using now. Psst, don't tell the nursery. (Needless to say that I still can't use coconut oil or the magic Penaten cream from Germany which is really the bestest cream ever).

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A New Hat

So I've changed professional identity/hat/title. The last couple of months have been busy, busy completing the training that gives me the kudos for my new job. There was precious little time for much else, so less blogging, less knitting, less cooking even. All in all the training part has been fun and I even discovered that what seemed like a ridiculous week, when the training was scheduled from 8.30am to 7pm turned out to be the least stressful week I've had in roughly a year. That's because the childminder picked up the kids from nursery, fed them and dropped them off home smiling, so that all I had to do was receiving hugs, smiles and kisses from them and do bedtime.

Oh it was lovely. No cooking with two tired and hungry monkeys who really don't want to have their mummy doing dinner in the kitchen, no race to get them to bed at a decent time. Yes, they were even in bed before 8pm one night which is unheard of in this house. I may have had less time with my kids but at least the time I did spend with them was quality time.

But these are of course the minor things that happened. Above all, I have a new job which I'm actually quite excited about because I think it plays to my strengths and also is once again in an area that I'm passionate about. Not that I wasn't passionate about my previous job, it's just a different level. What I'll be doing now is something that I believe has the potential to make a real difference while being fun for everyone involved. I no longer have to convince young people that they should be working on child poverty and create an inspiring project when really they want to just have a laugh together (which is just fine and dandy).

My new job then is to be a FAST trainer. FAST stands for Families and Schools Together and it's a programme designed to strengthen parents, families and communities; all for the benefit of the child and to protect the child from the stresses around him/her that may lead to low educational attainment. And everyone involved comes out a winner - it's fun, the parents, kids, teachers, community reps involved all enjoy it and the outcomes are proven and visible. I love the holistic approach, and how it creates a positive buzz and gives everyone involved a bit of me time while also creating quality time together. So while the programme is interested in the positive outcomes for the child, it actually delivers positive outcomes for everyone involved. The founder of FAST, Dr Lynn McDonald, described people in our time as "communities in waiting", people who are isolated but wish for better interactions with people where they live, and FAST is creating an opportunity for people to become community. (And so I keep singing "we are family")

The training itself has made me reassess my own parenting style and how I could improve not just my interaction with my children, but also address my own stress buttons. I've come out of it realising how important a role a parent plays in the early years, a fact I knew but that has become even clearer and more pressing.

The only little downside of all of this is that I'll have a juggling act of childcare ahead of me what with out of hours work in locations not exactly around the corner from here, and that as of September (when Cubling will start school, yes it is already that time) I will have to work more hours than I'd like to. I wouldn't make those compromises for many jobs. This one, though, as far as I can tell right now, is so very right for me that yes, I am prepared to compromise. And my mantra shall be that other parents work full time too and get on with it without the guilt and sense of loss. In the meantime I'll make the most of my 21 hour week for the months ahead.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Look who's talking!

Finally, at 18 months, Snowflake has decided it is time to speak. During the last week, she suddenly started saying words, totally out of the blue. So the speech and language therapist won't be called after all.

I love recording those first words, the things that are special or significant to her. I also love to see how many are English and how many German (her big sister had more childcare experience from an earlier age and consequently her first words were almost exclusively English).

So here's the world according to Snowflake:

Ja (yes)
No (I just love the way she says one in English and one in German!)
Auto (car)
Baum (tree)
her own name
mehr (more)
doo (shoe/Schuh)
nom (food)
Jak! (Jacket )
baba (sheep)
bow wow (dog)
Ei (egg)
those are the ones I remember off the top of my head, there may be more. 

Plus she loves completing rhymes in nursery rhymes and books, in both languages.
I had been a bit worried that once she started nursery, her big sister would start speaking English to her, but this is not happening, at least not at home. This to me is a massive difference - she grows up having two significant people speaking German to her, and she'll be in childcare slightly less at least until she is 2. I hope this will mean that she'll start out speaking two languages, and that bilingualism will come a bit more easily to her. With Cubling, it was a massive effort to get her to speak German it seems that even at 18 months there is some indication that it will be easier for Snowflake.

I still have my slight worries about her language development in general, she's not a talker for sure but her phonetics are very limited and she consistently doesn't have any s- sounds, i.e. no s z sh. Her speech seems limited even at the level of the basics, but I have been told that by 2 years of age things usually improve. And so I try to be patient - it makes every new word extra special.

I kind of hope that this week, she'll add "Opa" to her vocabulary. That would just be wonderful.



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