Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Water Painting!

Water painting books are often found in pound shops, party bags or can be bought in bulk online (got my current stash from ebay).

It creates very little mess and needs very little prep/ equipment.

E always enjoys it, N isn't mad on any sort of painting but I did find it useful when E went through his 'don't like paint' phase. 

Surprisingly, E used a roller to great effect - I'm quite impressed and he got to use the roller he has been playing with for a few days!

It is also an easy activity to do while N is having a portly cuddle on my knee because of the chicken pox.


The Google Chromecast

Screenshot of navigation in YouTube

Fed up of handing your phone to a toddler?

Fed up of 2 toddlers squabbling over a phone or a tablet?

The Google Chromecast plugs into the back of your TV and means that you can magically* send content from selected smartphone apps straight to your TV.

*via WiFi

Until we got a Chromecast (which I believe cost MrB about £30) we would use a Western Digital media player, which was fairly cumbersome and involved typing using a remote control. 

With the ChromeCast, you use the phone apps to select content - we mostly use YouTube because N loves to watch Twenty Trucks: Truck Tunes and E loves to watch Nursery Rhymes. 

If you select a playlist, it will play all of the videos in the sequence or you can just keep adding individual videos - so easy and can help to buy me enough time to have a shower (or to console poorly boys!).

So watching TV isn't the most wholesome activity - but we learn about the trucks and sing the songs, so it can't be all bad!

We purchased the Chromecast ourselves.



Friday, 24 October 2014

don't label me!

This week's striking mums is about the labels that we give to ourselves, others and that society and the media may contribute to. 

If I was given a sticky label, and could only use 3 words to write on it, I would write, Caroline,  Hard Worker. (I was tempted to write mum, but I'm definitely a person who likes to work hard in every area of my life so hard worker is the most fitting).

I was labelled as clever and 'boffy' up until the age of 16 - I went to normal schools in a not very posh town. I probably was one of the most intelligent people in my year - so their perceptions were right although, this label then dissolved when I went to a different 6th form and University and I realised that I would have to work to be 'clever'.  

16 years after I had that thought, I am sometimes labelled as 'clever' by colleagues and 'intelligent' by doctors. I just realise that my late teens and early twenties were a particularly hard time for me with my family and psychological problems. 

I have always tried to not let my working class, very poor background hold me back - it was a big effort in my teens, but it did help a bit at sixth form and university to not discuss how hard life was for my family, financially. I was desperate to not appear 'poor'. Perhaps, this is why I like to choose branded goods over own brands - nothing too flashy, mind! I'm not rich!

I hate the 'class' labelling system in our society, #middleclassproblems is a Twitter bug bear of mine. Maybe I am middle class (Young me would think that I am posh). The thought that money and the jobs that your parents did affects your status in society really bothers me. Self improvement and striving to be better than my parents has been a huge part of my life, I hope my boys also feel it to some extent. I want them inappreciate what I can provide for them, but I want them to have a drive to succeed and to be happy. 

Being the eldest of 6 children who I helped to bring up marked me out, I took games of 'mummies and babies' seriously at primary school. 'Babies don't say goo-gee-gah-gah' I would insist to my friends. This then went deeper as my self-created 'mini mum' label made me more serious as a child and teen, with more responsibility than I should have had and then I just couldn't relate to my peers. I didn't see it then, but once it was pointed out by a counsellor a few months ago, it changed the way I think of my social skills. 

 I'm proud to be a therapy Radiographer, I'm proud that I have a job that helps people, within the structure of the NHS. I always had a flair for biological based sciences but my Dad has a degree in Physics (and my first degree was in Chemistry). So I don't feel intimidated by the physics aspect of my job. I'm proud because I can use my brain and my caring nature to be able to help lots of people and do my job to the best of my ability. 

What would I like other people to label me if they only had 3 words ? Kind, articulate, good would suit me. (Though Nobel Prize Winner would be nice!)

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

review: Cheeky Chompers Dribble Bib

I bought a Cheeky Chompers dribble bib about 10 months ago after discovering the company on Twitter - I was fed up of seeing N chew on his Funky Giraffe bibs to not much avail so I was quite excited to try!

The bibs are 100% cotton and fully reversible. The cotton is thick, good quality Jersey, so it is nice and absorbent for the super-dribbly times (when you're drying the bibs on the radiators after only 30mins wear). I liked the fact that there is a choice of plain and patterned bibs - to allow maximum flexibility with outfits. 

The bibs fasten with a single, plastic popper, which means that they can hang quite low around the neck, but I think that this allows for good manoeuvrability of the 'chomper'. The key part of the bib is a rubbery, soft, plastic chomper. It is textured and really easy for little hands to hold and chew on - it is particularly good for those first front 8 teeth. 


I would highly recommend buying one, they are a little expensive at about £9-£12 for one, however I bought one (the cheapest price was eBay) and hand washed it in hot water each night so that it was ready for the days when N really needed it. 

I bought the cheeky chomper bib myself, I have written this review as a genuine recommendation and I wasn't approached to write it by any company. 



Saturday, 11 October 2014

PND: it's ok to not be ok. Come along and see

When I was deep in the depths of the PND fog, I discovered a support network on Twitter, just by chance, reading blog posts and getting lucky. 

As I discovered a group of people who openly discussed Post Natal Depression, I began to read their tweets and blog posts both about their illness and recovery.

The words and experiences of other women really helped me to see how ill I actually was, and through self discovery, I chose to seek extra help through private therapy and a session with an NHS psychiatrist to find out about medications. 

If you are on Twitter, just follow #pndchat hash tag or just read the posts from other mums who are going through the deep abyss of mental illness or those who are recovering or well and happy to lend a supportive ear (tweet) when you most need it.

Instinctive Mum  on her Recovery from PND  @Instinctivemum

Eve's blog about her post partum psychosis @littlemissevec
Kate's PND story @edwardskatie

PND Nerves and her blog about PND, recovery and life beyond ... Including baby #2. @pndnerves

Mummy and monkeys - coping strategies for pnd @_EilidhG_

Rosey at PND and Me founder of #pndhour on twitter @pndandme

cupcake mumma - acceptance and medication - medication is often a source of worry for mums with PND. @CupcakeMumma11

i can't be mum today - I have often related with his post by the lovely Kiran, you don't have to be deep in post natal depression to feel this way. Being mum is hard and it's totally ok. @kiranchug

 an a-z of PND by Instinctive mum

 PND and recovery have been summarised in the beautiful post  What does PND feel like  by Misplaced Brit

 Emma's first post on her own PND  it's a brave step to start discussing your own mental health on your blog @LittleStarBlog1

Sophie on working as a nurse with PND @sophienurse

And my blog, here, where you are, I am as honest as I can be about my experiences

I'm  @poptartsandpnd on Twitter

This post will change and I'll add more of the lovely bloggers I come across and read regularly.

Friday, 10 October 2014

I think I'm better, sort of!

Black and white thinking is a hallmark of my depression - 'I'm depressed', when will I be 'better?', 'I'm rubbish'. 

I make it to playgroup most weeks nowadays! 

Contemplating slow, gradual recovery, I thought of a CBT technique...  a scale 0-100.

0 - is ill, depressed, sad, unable to work, unable to care for boys, crying, a very dark place. 

100 - is happy, like Pharrell and able to be normal with no mental health issues. 

Where am I on this scale? Some days I'm 50, other days I'm 80 (and some moments, I'm at 90 or even 10). I'm getting a little bit better every few weeks. 

How do i know that I'm getting better?

I don't dread being on my own with the boys quite as much - trips out with them are enjoyable, rather than being a source of stress, arguments and misery. 

How does every other mum seem to get nice pictures?

I can manage the day to day logistics of the two boys without much upset - and I can stay in the house with them and not feel like a failure!

We get the paints out, we bake (never playdoh, I'm not super-mum!) and although the boys have increased their knowledge of the CBeebies/ Disney offering, I don't feel guilty. 

We read more books, I don't feel like I have to put the TV on as soon as I get up every morning - I still do most mornings, but it's a choice. 

I don't eat chocolate for breakfast *round of applause*. This is huge, for well over 18 months, I have eaten a small chocolate bar as soon as I arrived downstairs - I eat a proper breakfast, every day!! 

I still have moments, hours, afternoons where I don't feel ok, or I create a huge argument over nothing but I'm now sure that these lows don't happen as often and aren't as deep when I fall into them. 

Getting better has been a hard journey, and the first little while, I didn't notice much improvement. I'm not sure if MrB has noticed that i'm improving... But then he still gets it in the neck when I've been nice to everyone all day, and when I am just so so angry at myself, for keeping all of my stuff inside, it all spills out with the slightest provocation. 

Onward and upward - my CBT has finished with the plan for me to:

Practise unconditional self compassion.
Accept my emotions (rather than analyse and feel guilty).
Restart my self-care writing - with a focus on treating myself like I would others on Twitter. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

is my rollercoaster actually a mental illness?

For many years, I have suspected that my mental health difficulties were more than *just* depression and anxiety. The only illnesses I knew about were bipolar and schizophrenia - I knew I didn't have those.

Over the last few months, I've connected a number of my behaviours and realised that I may have a form of Borderline Personality Disorder (using Dr Google, naturally*). 

*Dr Google is not a substitute for a real doctor, I have also used lashings of common sense and my experience as a health care worker to know which websites to trust and so on. 

The following behaviours are what I have always assumed were 'just the way I am' and MrB has accepted and learned to live with them too:

Compulsive spending - I fixed this in around 2008. I could happily spend £50 a weekend, that I didn't have, on clothes that I didn't need and, subsequently couldn't wear because I'd pretend that I hadn't bought them. 

Persistent fear of being abandoned - this is a strange one, as I didn't think I had this 'symptom'... Until I realised that every time MrB goes to work, I go into my sad 'abandonment' mode. This also goes for him going out without me - I knew it wasn't right and that I was unreasonable but it is something that I'm working on. 

Lying - my mum basically trained me to lie (but then told me off for lying when it wasn't for her gain). MrB has helped me to overcome this terribly destructive habit.

Social anxiety, shyness, not being able to relate to others, not knowing what to say. I have tried self help books, but with my next point, still resident, I can't help it much. 

Sincere belief that I am unlovable and no one wants to spend time with me. Conversely, I'm incredibly vain, shop windows, car windows, spoons (ok that one is a joke) are all an excuse for me to see how I look - I'm vain. 

Intense, unreasonable and sudden anger and mood swings!

Not enjoying motherhood like I 'feel I should'.

Finding it difficult (nigh on impossible) to maintain friendships and relationships. 

Often feel empty, misunderstood and like some people dislike me for no apparent reason. 

When I'm down I just want to eat out at restaurants and fast food outlets. I don't binge eat, per se, I just eat unhealthy food much more than I ought to and is healthy. I'm lucky that this far my good metabolism and active job have mitigated this awful self-indulgence. Perhaps Secret Eaters could help me with this??

*ping* she's going to McDonald's
*ping* she is ordering a Domino's
*ping* she is craving Nandos/ subway/ carvery/ Pizza Hut/ KFC/ Starbucks 

I'm selfish, spiteful, argumentative, prone to depression and anxiety

My saving graces are MrB (who, for no apparent reason has been with me for 16 years (with an 18 month gap when we were 17). And my job, which I truly enjoy and find satisfying. 

I'm frustrated that I have to wait months and months just to get an initial appointment with an NHS psychiatrist. 

There is hope in that I have recognised that I probably have BPD (or something similar), that I respond well to talking therapies, that I have discovered that my dad has been on a mood stabiliser for 15 years (and occasional zopiclone), that he also revealed that my grandma may have had issues. There is hope that I won't need to feel as if my husband is my mood stabiliser. 

It is going to be ok, so the next step, I suppose should be to visit my GP, to explain my history and family links and to try a drug to stabilise the roller coaster of life... My dad says it worked for him... 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

female, mum of two, likes fun and food - also an individual

People who know me, tell me that I'm quirky and a 'bit different'. This isn't something I have done consciously, my childhood and teenage years were pretty individual thanks to my dysfunctional parents and this meant that I didn't relate to others very well by my late teens - this really crystallised when I landed in halls of residence at The University of Leeds. I was there with middle class girls, who had lots of clothes, money to spend and nothing in common with me that I could use to relate to them. 

By this stage I had lived through Britpop and loved guitar music most of all. However, me and my friends went to the normal clubs both at uni and at home. Then, I met some lovely boys/lads/men (what label is the best?!??) and we went to my first ever gig, JJ72 at the Cockpit in Leeds. That night I also discovered indie disco... The freedom of dancing to the guitar fuelled music I loved was wonderful. I think that this lead to me becoming a bit more 'different', because I wasn't well off (only my student loan and wages from my job - when I bothered to turn up). About £4k a year. I didn't want to go dancing to garage and pop music anymore... It was a waste of my time and money because  indie disco stole my heart. 

I still love dancing, it's lovely, wonderful and my favourite form of exercising. 

I used to judge most mums, if they dressed their children too fancily, if they were 'posh' if they seemed to be coping, basically, I found excuses to mentally tear apart other mums, and I presume it was because I was so miserable in my deep depression that I thought it was normal. It wasn't ok. 

I have forgiven myself for lots of 'parental indiscretions': tv, occasional sugar, salt, lack of calcium, not slavishly counting fruit and veg portions. I don't label myself as a 'bad mummy' and I don't label anyone else as a bad mummy - except, perhaps for mums who are deliberately mean to their child in shops/ public. It's not nice & reminds me of the damage that did to me.

I'm not sure that I have been bullied for being different, but  I do find that my large usable vocabulary  can mean that I'm labelled as 'clever' and people make me feel singled out because I use words that they don't. I have always used complicated language, and even as a young child I was called 'clever' by friends and other children said I was acting clever on purpose. I read books and I'm just good at remembering words!

If I was to write an advert about myself, I think I would play down my 'differences and quirks' simply to make me seem more 'normal'. Perhaps that's my insecurity and willingness to please - hello negative automatic thought, 'I'm unlikeable'. 

This is me, just before I married MrB, in my lovely cotton, Paul Smith dress. I was different, but simply because I organised our wedding in a fairly man-style *minimal fuss*

 This is for the striking mums linky

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums