Monthly Archives: May 2014

Flowers and Fertility

Every year, around this time, I sit down and watch a couple of nights of the Chelsea Flower Show.  I do like gardening, but I’m an amateur that dabbles and have not really re-invigorated my passion whilst my children have been so young.

However, every year, I forget why it’s such a lovely programme for me to watch.  The crowds, the plants, the sunshine, the excitement, but mostly….

it brings back the most wonderful memories for me. The memory of hearing my unborn daughter’s heartbeat and seeing her inside of me.

After 4 years of infertility which included 5 IUI’s we got lucky on our first IVF attempt.  I really thought I wouldn’t be a mother, well not a pregnant one at least. However, there I was, getting off the tube with hordes of excited people all heading to the Chelsea Flower Show. Trying to get around the excited crowds and then finally crossing the road that sent everyone off to the entrance to the CFS and I went on ahead, towards The Thames and to the Lister Clinic.

To find out, at 6 weeks, whether I had twins, a singleton or the possibility of something far more sad.  All that hope and fear.

I was on my own as hubby had a job to do and we needed the money.  So it was just me with all that going on.

Then that delightful sound of horses hooves (a baby’s heartbeat) and the little Pickle there, in the right place with her heart fluttering, fluttering away. Nice and strong.

I floated back down the road to the tube station.  Quick call to my Mother-in-law who had helped us a bit with the treatment and was sitting and waiting to hear the news.  A text to hubby that just read “One Baby on board. Well done Daddy”.

Back through the babbling, excited crowds, clutching their pots, totes and travelcards.

I love the Chelsea Flower Show.

flowers

The Day He Couldn’t See Colour

My son is 3 and a half and has always been terrible at recognising his colours.  Awful in fact.

3 months ago I picked up on how terrible it was and got hubby to mention it to nursery, who assured me that he seemed to have no problem with colours (I beg to differ), but that they would spend more time with him on it.

One night I had a book about colours and switched between two colours and by the time I’d told him the 2nd colour and flipped back to the first, he’d forgotten what it was called. I was really cross with him. How hard could this be to remember the word RED?

On Saturday I discovered he was colourblind.

I feel awful.

It didn’t come as a big surprise because I’M colourblind. Unusual for a woman, but can happen. I really thought I couldN’ pass it on.  That it was an anomaly for me and I could only pass the carrier gene.  I was wrong.

I had posted something on Facebook where I had mentioned it (in relation to the fact that he has no problem recognising car badges) and a few old school friends who were enjoying their Saturday night with wine reminded me about my genes and started doing a bit of research online.

Whilst they did that, I found an online pic that DIDN’T involve numbers so The Monster could do a sort of test.  I will take him to an optometrist to get an official diagnosis. They key and explanation is at the bottom of this post.

colourblind test

He saw what I saw.  There was no doubt, he was severe red/green just like me.

We had studied colourblind genes in our Science class when I was 14.  In fact that is where I was diagnosed with it.  I was the weirdo in the class who saw different numbers and couldn’t see what everyone else could see.  I knew I had got my colourblindness from my dad, but what was really scary was that I was the one that helped him with all the electrical wiring in the house and cars, he hadn’t thought for a second that I would be colourblind.  Somehow we didn’t short circuit or blow anything up.

At 18 I wore a blue skirt to work for 6 months, as a white shirt and blue skirt was the uniform.  One of my colleagues mentioned that nobody wore the uniform anymore and I challenged her on it, because I did. I wore it the next day and was told my skirt was green!  In fact, as soon as I was told I then could perceive the greenish tint to it.  To me it mostly blue though.  Still, highly embarrassing.

My friend posted this up on my facebook status.  It shows the relationship really clearly and I realised I would pass the gene to every son I ever had.  Just the one now thank goodness.  I found it really useful for giving my sister a heads up too.

Table 1 and 2

Table 3 and 4

Colourblindness affects  1 in 12 boys and 1 in 200 girls.  40% of children do not know they are colour blind on leaving school, therefore teachers are not even likely to be aware that some children they teach have the condition. Likewise, most parents are unaware of their child’s condition.  Just like my parents.

Colour blind children will not just confuse red and green (in fact I don’t confuse them at all and TM recognises green but has difficulty with red), they will be unable to distinguish any colours which contain red or green, for example they will ‘see’ purple as blue because they cannot perceive the red element of the light spectrum which is added to blue to form the colour purple. Therefore all reds, greens, oranges, browns, purples, blues and greys will be impossible to identify accurately.

What worries me is the types of job he WON’T be able to do, now we know he is colourblind. These are the list I found online:

  • Join the army if your are red/gree colour blind
  • Custom and Excise officer
  • Civil Aviation Pilot, engineer, technical and maintenance staff, air traffic controller
  • Hospital laboratory technician or pharmacist
  • Paint, paper, textile manufacturer
  • Railway driver, engineer or maintence.  I won’t break this to him until he’s older.

Although colour blindness means that you can’t join the Royal Navy, Army or the Royal Air Force you might be able to do some job roles. Working for the fire brigade may be a possibility if your colour blindness isn’t too severe. They will test your eyesight to see how bad it is and whether it is acceptable.

Armed with this knowledge I feel better prepared to make the journey smoother for him.  I just wish I’d checked earlier and hadn’t got so cross with him.  Bad mummy.

*************************************************************************************

 

Key and explanation for the test

colourblind test keyThe image should be presented to a child in private. The child can be asked if they see any animals. There should be no prompting. The key for what can be seen with differing color vision can be seen to the left.

Past use of this test indicates the following:

Children with normal
vision can see the bear, deer, rabbit, and squirrel. They cannot see the
fox.
Children with a red-green color vision deficiency see a cow (instead of the deer), a fox (in the lower left), and usually the rabbit and squirrel. They cannot see the bear. Red-green colorblindness apparently occurs in varying degrees–mild to severe. Children with severe red-green color vision deficiency may have difficulty seeing the rabbit and/or squirrel. Generally, anyone with a
red-green color deficiency cannot see the bear, but can see the fox.

Children (and adults) with a red-green color deficiency have difficulty differentiating shades of the following colors from each other:    red from green,    green from brown (especially beige),    blue from purple, pink from gray. Note that most color deficient children can identify pure
primary colors.

 

 

 

Post 2013 Workfest – What happened next.

I attended Workfest last year, having won tickets and you can read all about the day here.   It was a pretty inspirational day and I left thinking the cost of the ticket (had I paid) would have been well worth it.

It was perfectly timing for me in June 2013 because I was starting to think “What’s it all about?”  Why was I working where I was working, what was my goal?  Did I want to continue with 4 days a week, go shorter, go longer?  Did I want to reignite my passion for Psychology or find a new company to inject some passion into what I do?

It was a fantastic day and although I didn’t attend the “Build your Confidence” session, I really didn’t need to. Every session did that and all the large group seminars at the beginning and the end made me feel less alone in my dilemma.

So I walked away, armed with a lot of information and food for thought and I talked about it a lot with people in my lives for a month or two afterwards.

In September 2013 we had “The Students” move in next door which caused us quite a lot of anxiety, coupled with our partying neighbours on the other side, work and home were becoming a bed of worry for me.  We started talking about what we wanted to do.

So the decision was made for me to find a new job and use that to springboard us to a new location in the country.  Although that didn’t happen in the end, because although I wrote up a pretty impressive CV using some of the info I had gained from the Workfest day, I started having doubts again and was feeling the pressure of being responsible for our move.  I found a lot of part time jobsites, which has been really helpful but I couldn’t find the ideal job for me that was partime and the right salary.

So we rethought our plan and decided to look for a house in Hampshire and I was going to speak to my company about going down to 3 days a week and commuting/staying over with family.  It seemed the perfect solution until…

One of my CV applications from 2 months previously for a full time job resulted in me getting a phone call and request to attend an interview.  I ummed and ahhed about attending. One day I was going, the next I wasn’t, but in the end armed with the confidence I had gained from the day, I decided to go.

Cut a long story short, I got the job.  Well not the exact position, but a position that would allow me to work up to the position I wanted, a fantastic supportive company that I was open with from the moment I applied.  They knew I couldn’t work more that 30 hours a week and still saw me for the job.  Not only do I get to work 30 hours a week I also get to work one of those days at home.  Perfect.

I haven’t started yet. I start in August and we will have hopefully moved out to a small village in Wiltshire by then (conveyancing currently) but I have every faith that this is the move I needed to do. Both work and home.

I’m not entirely sure I could have considered any of this without that day in London in June.  I really did and still do have it ringing in my head every day.  Did you know that 90% of all companies allow flexible working?  They just don’t advertise the fact.  That kind of spurred me on.

After attending we were asked to give our honest feedback on the day, in great detail so I would hope some of the things that didn’t work so well will be off the agenda this year. It should be slicker and contain more relevant material for everyone.

I’d recommend it anybody who is umming and ahhhing.

Workfest 2014

 

Looking Down – the Joy of using a Smart Phone

I will admit it. I’m fed up to the back teeth about the backlash against smart phone use recently.  Not just from my husband (that old chestnut) but also from …..ummmm social media.

You may have seen this you tube post on Facebook and Twitter called “Look Up” . Hell, you may have even shared it.  You might have even written “Oh this is a must watch. Everyone can learn from this”.  I do hope you didn’t share it whilst on your SMART PHONE people.  Oh the irony.

I just hate the fact everyone moans about everyone being on their phones, usually through posts on their phones, when we really have to just learn to live with the fact that they aren’t going away.

Which brings to me the BEST things about using your smart phone.  It’s nice to look up but there is a lot to be gained from LOOKING DOWN.

It’s not just Social Media that people use Phones for.

Social media is my gateway to news articles, political issues, magazine articles, online content, blogs.  Basically I don’t buy magazines or newspapers, but I can access most things on my smart phone and I do.  My head is down because I’m reading about FGM in Egypt or getting to grips with the conflict in Syria, because someone has blogged an easy to read article.  If I had a newspaper on my lap, apparently that’s alright is it?

I access the BBC website daily on my phone.  It’s the only way I get to find out about the news because I’m at work too early, have dinner at 6pm and can often go to bed before the 10pm news.

 It’s Great for Kids

Obviously, the important thing here is “moderation”. My kids love using it, but it’s a real treat for them, a great bargaining tool and is a great educational tool.  Obviously alongside all the other great things about childhood like schooling, sport, countryside and conversation.  It’s just one more useful tool for them.  My daughter improved her letter writing using a phonetics game on my ipad, when she was struggling.  It felt like she was playing a game. I don’t think I would have had the same enthusiasm from her at the dinner table with a pencil and me.

The video talks about “Swings hanging still.  No kids in the playground.” I just don’t believe this has ANYTHING to do with social media.  My children (3 and 6) would choose the playground over a smart phone any day of the week.  I imagine most children would up to a certain age.  The playgrounds are very very busy whenever I see them. Lunch time they are empty….because duh, it’s lunch.  They are busy just after school pick up. Weekends around here, it’s hell at a playground. queuing for the swings and slides. I get really fed up people think children are at home being zombies.  I have yet to see any evidence of this.   I really don’t get it.

Whilst we are on the subject, I get really bloody irate at everyone talking about the hey day of their bloody childhood.  The Golden Years is a psychological state of mind.  Our parents did it, their parents did it, their parents before them did it.  I spent an hour or two every week on the Commodore 64 (yes, I’m that old), I also played weird new zippy games that had parts to it and hours and hours playing Barbie dolls by myself.  None of which my parents did.  My mum and dad were always trying to shove me out of the house. I did go out, for hours down our BIG garden, but it’s not different to now.  WE are having the SAME conversations with our kids. Their toys are more sophisticated, as will their children’s and their children’s children.  Get over it!

 It’s Improved my Social Life

I am an introvert.  I will choose home over every other option open to me.  I hate meeting new people (although I appreciate that you have to sometimes to find new friends) and I have children and very few babysitting options.  For me, chatting on Facebook or to people on Twitter has opened my eyes to a new kind of friendship.  It’s not deep but it’s supportive.  I know a lot of gregarious people over the years that had a tonne of friends who they met up with socially in pubs and clubs but had no more understanding of who they were or anything deeper than I have with my twitter friends.  I knew one guy who constantly slagged of his loads of mates.  Just because they live in my phone, doesn’t make it any less important.

It’s Supportive and DOES show the good and bad times

The second point on the video was about not sharing the bad times and creating a great veneer of a life via social media.  You’ve obviously never seen my bloody Facebook timeline then. It is a pit of whinge, disaster, personal sadness and insecurity.  It is also a place where I get to celebrate the good times with people, watch lifelong journeys happen and join in with watching families grow despite being 10,000 miles away.

I Have Learnt so Much

Through the blogging community, twitter, articles and news feeds I have learnt so much.   I have read more feminist articles than you can poke a stick at, rounding my views, focussing my arguments.  I have glimpsed, through bloggers, a small understanding of what it is like to raise special needs children, disabled children or just challenging children.  This has not only taught me empathy, but has shown to be useful for me in real life.  I know the right things to say, the things to avoid saying and the attitudes to take. I have no one close to me with these family challenges, so I couldn’t have learnt any other way.

I have connected to a lot of people on Twitter that have proved useful to my life.  Connecting to someone who runs a website about moving out of London has been a great source of information for me.  All of which I read via my phone.

I have also learnt that I use bobby pins the wrong way up, that too many people are being drawn into UKIP’s web of lies and that Gogglebox’s posh couple have their house up for sale. Admittedly, these aren’t that important, but they are entertaining none the less.

I Still Read Books

Oh yes I do.  I do most Looking Down when the tv is on, or when I’m bored at work, or on a train, or waiting in a queue. I think it’s good use of my time.  In the evening, I read a book. On my kindle (50% of the time).  Does that count? It’s a device. I’m looking down.  I did make a conscious decision to buy a paperwhite so I wouldn’t be distracted by email or Facebook posts.

The thing is, if I was reading a political book that would be ok to most people. The fact I’m reading a political article on my phone isn’t a good thing.  I find this weird.  I’m still taking in information on both counts.

My mate was a big bookworm growing up (as was I) and she used to get into trouble reading at the dinner table.  Sounds like a familiar argument to me.  It’s still not “in the moment” is it?

I’m always reminded of this photo when I think of the good old days before using a phone.

reading newspapersSocial bunch weren’t they?

Using smart phones is not a fad, they will stay with us now, but the use of them will follow the trajectory of a fad for individuals.  Inevitably we will spend a lot of time looking down when we get them for the first time, when we are young and when we are in particular situations like standing by ourselves and feeling self-conscious.  However, we will soon work out BY OURSELVES when they are invading our lives too much. Maybe at a low point in our life or when you look around the dining table and realise we aren’t engaging.  Then we impose our own limits to things, in our own time.  Just like my friend couldn’t read at the table, so too we will impose those rules. No devices after 9pm to help me sleep. Consciously placing the phone elsewhere when you have visitors or putting them in our pocket.

It just kind of annoys me that people think it’s ok to tell me that I’m looking down too much. I’m looking down just the right amount of time at the moment thank you very much.

I’m being defensive. You bet I am. My life is better for Looking Down.

Peaches Geldof and Passing Judgement

I’m sorry. I can’t let this slide.  I’m finding it really upsetting.

I tend to follow the motto : “Walk a mile in their shoes before passing comment” and this applies to the sad news today that Peaches Geldof died as a result of a heroin overdose.

Peaches

This news has not been confirmed on the BBC but has appeared online via Sky, The Guardian and the Independent.

It is a shock, but if I’m brutally honest, it is not the most surprising bit of information I’ve ever heard.

So first I get a comment on Facebook from someone telling me that she is incredibly selfish for leaving her boys without a mother and then find out loads of people are slagging her off on social media for claiming to be a good mother when she was actually a drug addict and “how could she put drugs before her children”.

I’m sorry…………please refer back to my motto.

You were raised the way YOU were raised, YOU had whatever opportunities you have, YOU made the decisions YOU had offered to you and you inherited some of the characteristics, personality and quirks of YOUR family.

It is highly unlikely that you were raised in a bohemian household with parents who partied, took drugs, were away a lot, had A LOT of money.

You probably didn’t experience the loss of your mother at a young age in the glare of the public eye, from a drug overdose.

You probably didn’t grow up very fast, mingle with the socially elite and wealthy and have access to almost anything you ever wanted

But even if you had, maybe you were lucky not to have inherited a set of genes or pre-determined impulses that perhaps tripped you up, despite every attempt you made to overcome them.

It is unlikely we will ever know if Peaches was a regular user of heroin, whether she was depressed and had a moment where she wanted to blot things out or whether she did what she did deliberately as some sort of need to either end her own suffering or that of her young children (I know it doesn’t make sense…..people who kill themselves rarely do, but it makes sense to them).

The important thing to focus on here is that a cycle has NOT been broken and as a result 2 young boys are now going to go through life without a mother.  I have no doubt she was a good mother, she was kind and that she loved them.  There are many sorts of good mothers.

This is sad. It is a tragedy.  Please stop saying what YOU would do.  You have no idea.