Sunday, February 19, 2012

Slow Sunday

I've been going at it rather hell for leather since September and today I feel the need for a bit of a go slow. A day to connect with my children, to catch up with blog land, to catch up with some 'proper' housework ie. to bleach the floors rather than just give them a quick sweep and to take photos and cook - all the things that make me feel calm.
I've submitted my essay, the lit review is underway and my shifts are sorted for the next few weeks.

Whenever I feel that life is flying past me somewhat I actually visit some of my favourite blogs to make sure I slow down. Sometimes they don't use many words, it's just pictures, but it is like my private 'little book of calm'.

This is one of my favourites: Beauty that Moves Her home is always emitting peacefulness. I'm sure she'd tell you that at times it is as chaotic as mine, but she does inspire me to find solace in the corners of my own home and life.
Amanda teaches me practical things. I had lots of her books when the children were younger and loved her simplicity and rhythm in her life. She also has a beautiful home that radiates love and grace. Maybe there is a common theme  her in 'other people's homes' rather than 'finding peace' ;-)

So today I have cleaned (which isn't calming, but needed to be done) and now I can watch the rays of the late winter sun dancing on clean windowsills rather than getting stressed by the amount of dust I can see!

My lovely hubby helped me to fix my new 'dresser' corner yesterday evening, so I can look at all my old and shabby things that tickle me. I think I need to find a long kilim style runner for the top of the unit at some point just to give it the final touch!

I am now sitting with music in the background, a bowl of these yummy kale chips and a coffee, life is sweet!

until the treadmill starts again tomorrow morning at 7am! How are you spending your Sunday?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Parents of the 21st century unite!

An interesting conversation came up with my eldest the other day whilst we were driving. He wanted to know what my favourite car was that we'd had.
I'm always conscious with conversations like this that make me question my motives and behaviour and I'm grateful for his asking because it does make me reflect on our choices.

Being a family of six (that includes our au pair) and then two dogs, we are unable to get away with a 'small' car. A small car would mean we would need to take two everywhere,  one decent sized car means we all fit, we can put a roof box on the top and thus, hopefully reducing our emissions. However, a large car, means less miles to the gallon, more resistance and then I find myself being fussy too. Our 'perfect' car was the Ford explorer that we had in the US. It dealt with snow, dogs, children, clutter, shopping (that stayed upright in the boot) and my most favourite 'gadget' was the dual opening for the boot, which meant that after shopping or out with the dogs, we can 'lift the lid' and the lower section remains shut ensuring the dogs' safety and keeping my shopping from flying all over the driveway (which happens now!) I am so easily pleased in odd little ways ;-)

However, the Ford explorer is a 4 x 4 and did about 1/2 mile to the gallon *sigh*.
So, next year our car is up for a renewal on its lease, bear in mind that I travel sometimes up to 400 miles a week that simply cannot be done on public transport, carry a plethora of my kids and other people's children, barnyard paraphenalia and animals. I'd like something green but that I can count on to get me around country roads with all this in tow. Any ideas?

Staying on this green theme we have also had our current energy tariff come to the end of its fixed deal, so we are on the hunt for a new energy supplier. Bear in mind we do have the solar panels and we use wood burners as much as we can. Our heating is oil and we don't have piped gas, we are on the lookout for someone here too.

I do try to reduce our footprint as much as I possibly can, we don't own a tumble dryer, instead my kitchen becomes a chinese laundry at weekends and the wood burner, whilst heating the kitchen, also drys the clothes, we use cloth bags for as much shopping as possible - I also use a local veg box service to deliver locally farmed (relatively) seasonal fruit and veg. We use washable cleaning cloths for the kitchen and cleaning the bathrooms. The children's lunchboxes, which have always been a real bone of contention with me due to the wicked amounts of packaging that we are convinced we need: Is there really a need to buy a box of crackers or muffins that are all individually wrapped as they are sold as 'lunchbox'. We use stainless steel canteens, bento box style lunchboxes and reusable wrappers for sandwiches.

I actually enjoy challenging myself to think about how to reuse things or recycle, however, as the children get older and my hand knits take way too long for me to knit up or they won't wear what I sew for them, it is proving more challenging.

There was a time when they'd happily play with wooden blocks and beautifully carved sustainable wooden toys, they'd wear what I made them and sit in their cloth nappies making me feel very smug and happy with my ability to reduce. Then they started to grow, not only in size but in mind and opinion too! Barbie began to knock her disgustingly manicured plastic hand on my door and leave her bunion inducing five inch 1cm stilletos all over my floors. They wanted comics that came with plastic tat, then there was the, the, the DS3d (I've not given in to that one!). The eldest needs a laptop for his school work, the middle one needs a new IPod, because despite me trying to get one second hand and died! The girl, oh, the girl, she needs plastic fantastic in every possible direction: hair clips, dolls, then there is the desire to put glitter on her face and nail polish on her nails.

I'm not going to deny everything, they have to live in the 21st century and know what is going on around them and we live in the age of technology where my 9 year old is more computer savvy than me and he does my power point presentations for me! BUT, there is still a desire to not keep buying new and give into commercial pressures.

I do feel sad for today's youngsters. They may be clear and happy in their own minds, but they are continually told by advertising that they are not. They saved up their money to buy a DSi, but within a week or two, they don't 'really want that', what they 'really want' is the 3D version! What message is this sending to our kids? It's not just about the materialistic, it's about telling our children that they don't know their own minds. It's not just telling our children that they won't be happy until they have the next of something, it's telling our children that they must rely on someone else to tell them when they are happy.
I feel it more now as my eldest is at secondary school. He's not content to muck about in the trees in our garden or play with his lego as much these days - although he will still spend several hours a week. He is being carried along on the tide of gadgets and sometimes really struggles to reason with his dad and my feelings towards some of it. He fails to see the problem in an iPhone for example when he has a great camera, a video camera,  a touch screen phone and an iPod. All on one iPhone means all lost in one go too....

I'm sure I was probably just as bad as a teenager, but I'm not sure I got quite so excited over Pong on our old Atari, but I bet I made as much of a fuss and my mother had palpitations when the walkmans came out rather than good old vinyl!! They'd 'ruin' our ears and turn us into delinquents!!

Ah well, I guess if he becomes too much of a delinquent I can always find a way to recycle him!!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Before I kid you all into thinking that the life of a midwife is all cutsie babies and wonderful births, there is a flip side to this coin. Sometimes births don't go as well as you want them to and sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent this. It is hard to remember that although we are there to help women and we want to help women, we cannot control nature and nature has a cruel streak. Think about it: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, these are all examples of times where nature reminds us that it has the upper hand.

Sometimes as a midwife you are put between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand you have the mama's wishes in the back of your mind and want to help her achieve these, on the other, you have reality and the knowledge of how quickly things can change and put both mama and baby at risk and you don't want to even cross remotely into this territory. Whatever you do, you are accountable for your actions, which makes you answerable to everyone.

As a first year student, you just observe it all unfold. There is nothing much you can do, other than observe and write things down as they occur. When it is all over, you reflect, you don't sleep, you eat crap, you spend your life picking your eye bags up from your chin, you don't wear make up, your hair is scraped back, you're vomited on, pooped on, shouted at, carry tea and toast, don't sit down, don't wee, you read up on what happened, what it all means and what the risks are and what you can watch out for in the future.

Learning points are spewing forth, essays are being written, literature reviews organised, meals cooked, sleep lost and I even forgot to take my son to his school bus on Thursday morning, missing it for him and his school friend, meaning that her mother ended up having to drive them all the way. For a whole six hours, I did wonder whether I would be better off working in a bookshop! No real responsibilities that involved life threatening decisions, no work to bring home, surrounded by lots of lovely books....Just for a while, I wondered; did I really want this responsibility? Wouldn't I be better just being a proper mum to the children, cooking them proper food rather than relying on tins of baked beans a few times more than I'd like to, giving them more of my attention rather than saying 'please go away because I need to study', taking my dog for long walks in the day rather than thinking all the while I'm walking - 'I shouldn't be here, this is wasting my day'.

But, you know what, then there was a PPH on my next shift. I wrote the notes, I made cups of tea for the dad and helped him dress his new baby as his wife was taken to theatre. I helped a few more babies into the world and watched the looks on the faces of the mothers, adoration, exhaustion, fear and elation and you know what...

For three years, the world will survive on baked beans!