Friday, 31 October 2008

Halloween 2008

Halloween is almost over. I've tucked an exhausted Barney into bed after a day of desperately waiting for sweets, and then over indulging to the extreme. Annabelle has gone for a sleepover at her friends house, and Jimmie is out in the front garden with 4 of his friends who are awaiting their lifts home.

He has spent the last few days organising a Halloween party for his friends, and I must say that I'm quite impressed with his efforts. He demolished my kitchen making a pumpkin shaped pinyana (I can't work out how to spell that for the life of me, sorry) which he filled with sweets, decorated his bedroom with various spooky banners and wall hangings, then lit the room with various spooky glowing balloons and lamps. It looked very impressive.

So this evening 4 of his school friends arrived, dressed up for trick or treating. This is the first time we have met his school friends and they were delightfully polite and generally likable. They went trick or treating, then hung about in Jimmies bedroom, before heading out to the garden to burn off steam on the trampoline and to break the pinyana. They were all very hospitable to little Barney, despite him being 8 years their junior, and included him in all their games, which made him one happy boy.

Dan took Barney, Annabelle and Annabelle's best friend trick or treating around the estate. Barney, who dressed as a power ranger, was beside him self with impatience all day long, waiting for Halloween to start. Dan distracted him for a while by carving a pumpkin together. They came back from their efforts with a full bag of sweets each, enough to keep him going for weeks.

Barney had also spent days preparing his bedroom for a Halloween party, which Dan and I were both invited to. He had decorated his room with spooky posters, drawings and stickers. I was amazed to discover that he had made us all party bags full of sweets, had a box full of sweety prizes, a rubbish bin at the ready for all our sweety wrappers, and various party games all set up. I discovered half the food I thought had been stolen from our kitchen was actually being given out as prizes at his party! I was the proud recipient of some plastic witchy fingers, which I wore through out the party. We played sleeping lions, musical statues, had a treasure hunt, listened to Barneys spooky stories and generally had a great time. It was great to be sitting in his bedroom at 9pm playing games and watching him lap up all the attention. I was very impressed with his organisational skills. He had thought out every detail.

This week the kids have been off school with half term and its been a good week for them. On Tuesday we took them swimming at the leisure centre with the pirate ship, flumes and crazy river in Lisburn. Dan took them to the cinema on Monday afternoon while I enjoyed the peace. On Wednesday evening Daddy had a sleep-0ver in Barneys room which made him feel oh so special. Daddy slept on a futon, and they ate sweets whilst watching the Bee Movie together. What a great Dad! I took Jimmie out for lunch yesterday and then treated him to some new jeans and jumpers (the poor boy had grown out of all his clothes). Then today I took Annabelle out for lunch and we mooched around the shops together. I wanted to spend some time with each of them, just to chat and make them feel special. Tomorrow I shall take Barney out for his lunch and chat.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Latest update...

I received a letter this week from my consultant at the maternity hospital. At my first appointment with him I mentioned that I was worried about giving birth naturally since I have had a lot of surgery and was told at the time that having more children would be dangerous. He basically said "oh don't worry, I'm sure you will be fine". I wasn't impressed and talked to my own midwife who said there were various degrees of severity in the operation that I'd had. It seemed the consultant was presuming that I had been at the minor end of the scale. She told me to talk to him again. So at my second appointment I spoke to him again, explaining that I really did not want to risk having the same surgery or worse again, and that my doctor thought a c-section was an option. To this the consultant said something along the lines of "I'm sure a c-section can be arranged, but don't worry about it yet as you have months left". Then a few weeks ago I went for my third appointment and was booked in with the wrong consultant who was very nonchalant about the c-section option and once again said "no my dear, you will be fine to give birth naturally". To this, I almost fainted. So far no one had even looked at my operation notes to see what I'd actually had done to me! The midwife attending this consultant seemed to have her head screwed on and organised for my surgical notes to be found, and promised that she would get my consultant to read them. She obviously kept to her word as this week I received a letter from my consultant saying he had read my notes and that I had indeed had a very serious repair operation three years ago. Considering this he has decided that a c-section is indeed the safest option for me and I will be booked in to have one a week before the baby's due date. Well, I can't tell you the flood of relief I felt reading that letter. It just makes me cross that if I hadn't pushed to be listened to, that no one would have read my surgical notes until I was already in labour and it would become obvious that childbirth was dangerous for me.

So only another 7 weeks to go until we get to meet our baby daughter. I can't wait, let me tell you. I feel so uncomfortable last week and am fed up of waddling like a duck.

Here are a couple of photos of Annabelle and Barney taken this week. I just like the one of Barney. The pic of Annabelle was taken last night when she went to the school disco on what is officially her first date! (Do I feel old now? Yes.)

Thursday, 23 October 2008


I've just returned from a relaxing weekend away in Birmingham, thanks to my darling husband Dan and my friend 'Shanksy' who organised for some flights for me. Dan was adamant that I had a bit of a break before the baby arrives so we found some extremely cheap flights and off I went.

I had a lovely weekend and was thoroughly spoilt and looked after. It was great to see my friend 'Darwi' before she moves away to California in a few weeks time. We took a wander around Birmingham City Centre (an extremely slow 8 months pregnant speed wander - in which I almost fell over at one point!) where I met the 'floozy in the jacuzzi', walked along the canals and saw the barges trying to turn. We sat in a pub along the canal where we drank tea and chatted for hours, and where I discovered that Darwi has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of everything. I loved learning about her job and the study of the sun and outer space. It was intriguing. Especially as at the moment I have a severe case of pregnancy brain and can't remember facts at all.

Neil took me on a drive around Warwick and Stratford-Upon-Avon. I really miss the English countryside and started to feel quite home sick for the country that I grew up in. We stopped to see Warwick Castle from the outside and then walked around Stratford visiting some of the Shakespearean sites. We saw the house that Shakespeare grew up in (theres a photo of me standing in front of it below) and stopped for a well earned cuppa and a cheese toastie.

I ate a lot of bad food over the weekend, and nearly died when I weighed myself for the first time in this pregnancy. That probably wasn't a good idea. I almost died of shock. All in all it was a lovely weekend away and I was glad of the break before the madness of having a new baby in the house unfolds. Thanks Dan and Neil for organising it, and thanks to Neil for feeding and driving me all over the place. I never realised that Birmingham was such a nice place. Well, I've never been there, but it was far more like the England I grew up in than I had expected.

Friday, 17 October 2008

31 weeks

31 week baby bump...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Our family, this week

It's Wednesday evening at 11.20pm and I've climbed into bed to read a book, but somehow ended up with the laptop on my knee. I like Wednesday evenings. It's the night Jimmie (13) and I watch 'The Family' together. It's one of the rare times these days when he comes to sit with me for any length of time. We watch it together and discuss how the family deals with situations, and how we would deal with them. It's really a good time for us both. He always comes and sits and hugs me afterwards, which makes me so happy I could cry. I think watching it helps him to see how parents worry about their kids, and how we only nag and moan because we care. And he sees the teenagers in it behaving the way he does, upsetting their parents, and making up again. It's good for both of us to see, and there's always a good feeling in our house afterwards. I guess its a relief to see that other families face the same issues as we do.

On the subject of teenagers (one in particular) Jimmie came sheepishly up to me this afternoon after school and asked "who is in a better mood? you or Dad?" So right then I knew something was up. He came and sat on the bed with his homework diary and started to explain that he is on report this week for repeated bad behaviour. He had to tell me as there was a note from his form tutor which I have to sign every night. Apparently I will be receiving a letter in the mail from her too, and she has invited me to contact her. So its not good news. He has had Monday detentions three weeks in a row, and a few lunch time detentions, for various things - wearing his uniform too scruffy, talking in class, forgetting homework or books, being late for class. It's one thing after another. His main problem is laziness and a lack of organisation I think. So I sat and had a good talk with him. He obviously thought he was going to be in immense trouble, as he generally agreed with everything I said and agreed to improve his behaviour. I guess he didn't want to push his luck any further. It remains to be seen if we will see a marked improvement. If not I guess a trip to the school will be in order.
We talked about his schoolwork as well. His English homework last night was to describe a room in his house. He chose to talk about the utility room and the reasons that he likes it. He described the smell of bread baking, the smell of the cupboard that holds all the washing powders, the smell of the shoe cupboard, all so imaginatively. It was a really creative piece of writing, but not very long. He told me when he read it to me that it was supposed to be short. So today he came to me and said his English teacher called him to one side to talk to him. She told him that he has a great creative talent for writing, and that she thinks he could take it far, but that he is so lazy and just doesn't put the effort into his work. She feels he is wasting a great talent. So we discussed this and I tried to inspire him to work harder on English. I explained that not everyone can be good at everything. That we all may only find a few things in life that we are truly exceptional at. And when we find such things we should nurture that talent and make the most of it. I told him that he may well only be very good at a couple of subjects, so instead of feeling bad at everything, try to excel in the areas where he can. He seemed to understand and agree. But it remains to be seen whether he can overcome his laziness. He truly is the most lazy person I have ever met. (And I guess my Mum will tell me that he gets that from me!)

Moving on from Jimmie then... Barney has been absent from school one or two days a week since he suffered from a cold about a month ago. He kept waking up at night with excruciating headaches, blocked nose, a croup sounding cough, and a few times even a temperature. So eventually I was forced to take him to the doctors. The doctor thought his sinuses had become infected from the cold, and so gave him some antibiotics to take. He seems a lot better a few days after starting the medication. But while we were at the doctors I pointed out a lump on Barneys chest that I have recently noticed. As his father has Neurofibromatosis (a genetically inherited disease) I thought I should mention it. At first the doctor seemed unconcerned. But then he started feeling up and down Barneys chest wall, and counting. The counting startled me a bit, then eventually he said 'hmm, I think we should get a chest x-ray". So I thought OK, 3 months waiting for an x-ray appointment, but no, the doctor wanted me to get one right away - that afternoon! The 'lump' is hard, like bone, and kind of looks like a broken rib that has healed. I can notice it through his t-shirts, but I know it hasn't been like that since he was born. The doctor asked if I remember a time he could have broken his ribs, but I cant think of anything like that happening. He went on to explain that he couldn't find the right number of ribs on Barneys right chest wall. Two of the ribs seem fused together by bone or something. He said that it could just be a genetic abnormality - that he does actually have two fused ribs - but that an x-ray was needed to make sure it is nothing more sinister. So I took him straight over for his chest x-ray and now we have a 3 week wait for the results.
Annabelle has been mostly a darling the last few weeks. She does her homework without being asked, she generally keeps her room tidy, she is kind to Barney, and she helps me when asked. Hence I don't have much to blog about her. But I don't take it for granted that she's being so great. I know it probably wont last forever, so I appreciate it while I can. Lol. It wont be long until her 12th birthday. She is looking forward to having a little sister to take care of. I think I will barely get to cuddle little Emily once Annabelle gets her hands on her. When I mentioned that she's going to be like a second mother to Emily, Barney piped up with "and I'm going to be like a second Daddy - but I'm not going to change any smelly nappies!"

We are almost 31 weeks pregnant now. I was looking at photos today of babies who were born at 31 weeks gestation and lived to be perfectly healthy children. Our little girl weighs about 4lbs now and is fully grown in length, although she will put on about 1/2lb a week from now until birth. She has moved into the head down position ready for birth and kicks far stronger than any of my other three babies did. Her kicks actually hurt me. It's like being beaten up from the inside. I remember very strong kicks at the end of pregnancy with my others, but they were never so painful. I have started to play a song to her in the womb. I had a song for each of my babies, which they all recognised and calmed down to after birth. You can hear Emily's song by clicking here if you wish to.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Happy 5th Birthday Barney!

Yesterday saw my baby boy turn 5 years old. And boy was he excited about it. (OK, well what little boy doesn't get extremely excited about a birthday?) We all woke up early so that he could open a few presents before school, and then he opened the rest when he got home. Presents included lots of power rangers toys, an ant farm, lush bath bombs, the Bee Movie DVD, stickers, sweets and a puzzle. I had to laugh when he opened a present from me containing a new set of clothes - jeans, t-shirts, new striped casual shirt and a jumper - and exclaimed "Mummy! Why on earth did you think I'd want clothes for my birthday?!?!" Ha ha. Poor kid.

I was feeling really migrainey so Dan dropped the kids off to school while I went back to sleep for a few hours. After school Nanny came to visit and gave Barney the present he'd been wishing for - a Power Rangers Megazord! Which is basically 5 power rangers which can be stuck together and transformed into a huge giant megezord. A bit like transformers. I had the joy of spending an hour last night working out how to stick the darn things together to make the longed for megazord, but I got there in the end. (Let's hope I can remember for next time!) Nanny and Daddy had almost as much fun playing Power Rangers as Barney did.

As an added bonus we have had my sisters dog Leila staying with us for 2 nights, which has delighted all 3 of the kids.

I'm sure Dan will be writing a blog post on his often neglected blog about his trip to England with the kids, sometime in the next few weeks. When he does I'll be sure to mention it here.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

A bit of me time.

It's Saturday lunch time and I'm in bed with a cup of tea, and my laptop, listening to the pouring rain beating down on the skylights. It feels so comfy to be snuggled up in bed during a rain storm. Of course, as a mother of three (nearly four) I don't often get the chance to stay in bed until lunch time, but this weekend my darling family have gone off to England to visit Dan's family. So I have the house to myself and lots of time on my hands.

As much as I miss them, it is nice to have a bit of me time. And I have discovered during this me time, that I'm a much messier person than I gave myself credit for! Much of today will be spent washing dishes, tidying up and washing clothes. But until then I'm just going to relax in bed.

I've been busy this week trying to get lots of birthday and Christmas shopping done before our little baby girl arrives (in about 9 weeks time). I took a trip to Belfast and spent a small fortune in Primark (great place for young teen girls clothes) and yesterday I drove to Newry and spent a bit more money. Barney is having his 5th birthday on Monday and I think I'm now ready for that at least. Then it wont be long until Annabelle's 12th birthday. Then the birth of Emily, and then Christmas and my birthday. Its an expensive time of year, what with all the baby stuff we are having to purchase too.

After shopping in Belfast I ventured back to my old belly dance class with Mum. I haven't been dancing since December, before our trip to America. So that's 10 months of no dance, 7 months of which I've been pregnant... and well, as you can imagine, I was less than hot on the dance floor. The lesson was a practice of veil dancing, which typically involves lots of spinning, jumping, gliding gracefully whist twirling round a veil. Oh my goodness, I looked a sight. A heavily pregnant woman trying to spin gracefully with a veil. Well, it was fun if nothing else. And it's only going to get harder for me over the coming weeks.

Here is a photo of my gorgeous Jimmie, my teenage son, who despite his teenage mood swings is still totally adorable and lovely to his Mum (at times). I took him out to get his hair cut and styled this week as he'd been complaining that it was too long and curly, and generally looked messy (the before photo can be seen here). He is growing up so fast, now towering a good two inches taller than me, and still growing at a rapid rate. I'm sure the family in England won't believe the size of him. Jimmie and I have been watching the new documentary series 'The Family' together on Channel 4. The series follows an average family with teenagers over 100 days in their own home. There are cameras in every room and we get to see family life unfolding. It's been good for Jimmie and I to sit and watch it together, as I get to see how other teenagers behave, and he gets to see how other parents cope or struggle with bringing up a large family. I've loved every second of the show, and think the family on it are just delightful (despite the rows and fights that any family inevitably has). The kids on the show fight and argue but obviously have a deep love and care for one another which is good for Jimmie to see. And at age 14, 17 and 19 they still hug their parents! Wonderful.

Today Barney is having a little birthday party in England with his grandparents and his cousins. No doubt he will phone me later to tell me all about it in great detail. I love the little phone calls he makes to me while they are away. He phoned when they got off the plane to tell me that he thought he needed a poo! Boy did that make me chuckle. He phones me about four times a day, just to tell me that he loves me, and to keep me up to date with all the goss. They will be home again tomorrow and I'll be lonely no more. It's nice to have some time to myself, but I do miss them all. My gorgeous, precious, beautiful family.