Bogeys and a 5 Year Old (not what you’d think!)

Being a complete failure when it comes to any type of sport, I often find myself in a state of anxiety, when it comes to understanding what activities my sons will get into. I may as well be an alien in this respect; I just have very little affinity or passion for most sporty things. Call it a confidence thing, I guess. I’ve always been happier immersed in paper, pens, and these days, in lots of lovely tech :-).

It’s been an absolute joy, however, to see the lights flick on when Asher tries a new sport and his confidence grows hand in hand with his ability. The total opposite to his cack-handed mum, I think one day he will become a fine sportsman.

One of his favourite sports is golf, which may sound strange and somewhat sensible for a 5-year old, but his love for the greens began last year in Portugal. Blessed with a very VERY red-headed and fair younger brother, we mainly ventured out in the last of the sun, enjoying a late dinner and heading to the crazy golf. He would get so excited as the lamplights flicked on in the dusk and the air got cooler. The 18 holes were always busy, with similar aged kids getting a final burn out before bed. I think he just fell in love with the atmosphere, which I have to admit, was far more captivating and endearing than I ever would have expected.

On our return, I found an invitation from Online Golf to attend their ‘Get Kids Into Golf’ day. 17523361_1417005048358333_7024084596646424884_nWhilst we were unable to attend, the team very kindly sent Asher a goody bag of golf balls, caps and a Golf for Kids book. He now knows his pars from his bogeys, birdies and eagles (he reminded me the other day that it’s an eagle, not a seagull…). Asher donated the second cap in the goody bag to his best mate, and together they now play crazy golf at our local park, the lovely Valley Gardens in Harrogate. I really think that this is a hobby he’ll keep and I will continue to nurture it with our local junior club.

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A Postcard From: Cornwall

In a nation currently bogged down by Brexit and so much sadness, it provides me with a little bit of optimism when I think about how beautiful some of our landscapes and coastlines can be. It’s genuinely fascinating also to think of how drastically a climate can change in a Kingdom that from top to bottom, is under 900 miles long.

The experience of hopping on a domestic flight to Cornwall was amazing. It took just one hour from Leeds, rather than 8-hours on the road, minus the stops. Because there is no gentle introduction to the milder temperatures as you’d get when driving down the country, I really did get that fabulous feeling of being ‘away’.

We picked up a hire car from a family-run business, who I’d really recommend for costs and the personal service. We stayed at The Esplanade in Newquay – a family-orientated hotel, that just couldn’t do enough for us and the kids. In just one week we managed to get around the Eden Project, Land’s End, The Lizard, Falmouth, Truro, Porthcurno, St Austell and Bodmin. Phew! Here are some of my favourite pics fro the trip:

 

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Minack Theatre
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Land’s End
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Porthcurno Bay
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Fistral Beach
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The Eden Project
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Things You’ll Know When: Taking Kids to a Hotel

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I adore hotels. If anybody asks me what I’d like to do for a milestone birthday treat, invariably I’ll say that I want to check in somewhere swanky and make use of all the glorious facilities. I loved hotels before I had my kids – in fact I lived and breathed them for work – but I think I love them even more now, because time away is so rare and precious. Imagine if you never get to go to the toilet alone, how amazing it is to sit in a roll top bath, gently drinking away the mini bar?

Taking kids to a hotel is a different game. I’m the first to admit that it can be a very stressful undertaking, particularly if your offspring are also budding hotelphiles and want to be everywhere, on everything, all at once. I’ve had a few years’ experience of managing sprogs en vacances. here’s what I know:

Breakfast Tactics

Forget the days of papers, poached eggs and freshly-brewed coffee. Breakfast is now giddy carnage and I always lose part of my brain. The event becomes some parody of a military operation. Remember how you bribed the kids to go to bed last night, with the promise of Coco Pops, Frosties and waffles? Well so do they. Before you know it, you’re juggling tiny juice glasses, burning toast and glaring at the the poached eggy, chilled-out couple by the window. Best way around this is to just feed the kids first. Hungry shoppers are terrible, sweary shoppers, whereas full ones are sedate. Work as a relay team with anybody you’re travelling with. Take it in turns for eating and crowd management. Supplementary iPad or phone always helps too.

Swimming Strategy

Regardless of a child’s age, you can be sure that swimming with them can push buttons. It’s a natural thing to feel jaded, when squeezing your semi-damp body back into jeans, in the way that sausage meat is crammed into a skin. So be kind to yourself. Sometimes things are taken care of, by doing a hoppy, chilly dance from foot to foot, still in swim wear, until children are dried off, given a snack (even though it’s five minutes after breakfast) and supplied with the helpful iPad or phone.

Buddy Backup

Kids just love to make friends in the hotel’s public spaces, so embrace the opportunity to sit back and let the little mites play with their newfound friends. Bonus points for being near a bar so you can sink a drink or two. So what if it’s not yet noon? You’re on holiday, so I won’t tell if you don’t. And don’t worry about having to speak much to the other kids’ parents. They probably feel just the same as you, so it’s perfectly acceptable to just ignore each other a bit; maybe check the headlines, if there’s any charge left on your phone or iPad.

Bolstering Bedtime

Your bathed, fluffy ducklings and more hyper than Lee Evans after a litre of Sunny D. It’s getting late. There’s a feeling that this is never going to end. In all honesty? I just let them stay up until they’ve thrashed it out of their system. There’s a reason why a lot of family hotel entertainment starts way later than a typical bedtime. And a later bedtime many just mean a small lie in the next day. Hurrah! And when they finally snooze, you can blissfully sip wine from a bathroom tumbler, not daring to speak and watching TV with the sound off. Think how lovely your snoozing kids are, vowing never to do this again… until the next flash hotel sale. Happy hoteling!

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Is a VBAC Really Worth It?

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It’s not a type of hoover or a designer cross-breed dog. Vaginal birth after Cesarian (or VBAC) is a term that has most probably rung in the ears of any woman expecting her second (or third, fourth, etc) baby after a Cesarian Section.

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Asher (2012) via Cesarian, Ewan (2015) VBAC

My c-section at Harrogate Hospital almost 4 years ago was swift, precise and very last-minute. I had been in labour for 9 hours when the Doctor intervened. I didn’t have time to question my emotions, it just had to be done to save our lives.

Expecting our second baby washed up a sea of questions, to which there were no real answers. Why did I need that first Cesarian? Was it me? Am I simply ‘inefficient’ at producing a live baby? Consultants half-shrugged in my (several requested) debriefs, traced fingers down my notes from the labour and muttered about heart deceleration, head positioning; nothing firm for me to digest. Should I have a second section? Again, their non-committal shrug. Maybe. Possibly. Do what you think is right for you.

I don’t think any woman takes lightly the fact that a voluntary (elective) c-section involves booking yourself in to be numbed from the waist down — wide awake I should add — and incised, stitched up and then sent incapacitated to recover on a hospital ward. Oh, whilst managing a newborn baby.

Since there was no conclusion that I definitely should not attempt a natural birth, I got slightly obsessed with the idea of having a VBAC this time around.

Some discreet digging lead me to the VBAC UK support group on Facebook. At the time, some 5000 women were discussing their hopes and fears surrounding a ‘natural’ birth. Every day, women posted their stories of their births, those who felt they had ‘achieved’ a VBAC and also those who felt ‘defeated’ by a further c-section. I was saddened by their sadness. There was no way I wanted to feel disappointment like that in the final hour again.

Fast forward to 36 weeks and I’d decided on an elective c-section, simply to protect my feelings. I chose a 41-week section instead of the typical 39. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t stalling the operation to see if nature would actually lend a hand this time. Unfortunately I found myself in the decision-making seat again, when I was called in for a growth scan. Baby seemed small. A second ultrasound was booked for 38 weeks and if no further growth was to be detected, I would have to strongly consider bringing my c-section date forward.

I never got to have that second scan, because at 37 weeks and exactly 12 hours after my maternity leave farewell lunch, my waters broke. Within 4 intense and exhilarating hours, my second son Ewan was born, weighing a not-so-hefty 5lb 3.5oz.

He came out naturally and at considerable force, which ironically, left me with a number of stitches. When the midwife had finished stitching and cheerfully announced that I could get up and have a shower – that’s when it hit me. I had no catheter and I could use my legs to walk. It was all over and done with so strangely fast!

So, am I glad I experienced VBAC? Yes, entirely so. However, it will always stay with me that my son’s birth still wasn’t ‘textbook’. He was early, underweight and hypoglycaemic. Would it have been different if he was Term? I’m the type of person who’ll sadly always find something to lament over.

I have learned so much through my VBAC – mainly that it isn’t as straightforward as I thought it would be. The pain of a vaginal tear isn’t pleasant (so different to a c-scar, but nonetheless infuriatingly sore). Also, there’s that thing, y’know, where you sneeze and completely wet yourself. That did happen once, luckily I was at home. Also I suppose there’s more immediate expectation placed upon a VBAC or natural first time birth. You can walk, lift and drive, so you must be ready to take the world on, right?

I actually feel privileged to have experienced  both types of birth. when people ask me about a third baby (yikes), I’d always take the short and sharp VBAC over an operation, but the c-section opened my eyes to the wonders of obstetrics, and how it helps one in four women safely give birth in the UK.

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