The other day we braved the shops for a visit and photo-op with Santa. Mister Nearly Three showed all the excitement of a favourite Uncle who’d consumed too much Christmas spirit. Mister Twenty-Months, not so much. While Mister Nearly Three chanted ‘Santa, Santa, Santa’, Mister Twenty-Months cried, ‘No, no, no, no’ while shaking his gorgeous head from side to side.
I didn’t feel good about coercing my youngest child onto a strange man’s lap, even if he was Santa. But I must admit, I tried.
“Look sweetheart, your big brother is sitting on Santa’s knee.”
He replied by screaming, arching his back and an even louder cascade of No’s. I knew we weren’t going to get anywhere and confirmed my theory that (most) kids aged eighteen months to two and a half/three years do not want a bar of Santa. It is just a fact of life. Don’t try to fight it. Last year, the youngest was eight months old and did what the eldest had done in his first Santa pic – pull Santa’s beard with a cheeky grin plastered all over his face. This year, he was right in the prime ‘Santa can go and get f***ed’ stage. Too young to fully understand he brings presents, too old to bounce on his knee without fear.
The clever photo-taking people, who I am sure must see it all the time and want to ensure you spend your $50 on a Santa pack of photos, suggested the kids sit on the chair and Santa hides behind them.
The overall effect is Santa playing Peek-a-boo. It is equal parts effective and creepy.
On the bright side, the final photo has both of the boys looking at the camera and fifty percent of them are smiling. It was worth the fifty bucks.
What are your thoughts on photos with Santa?
Entries for the Childhood Memories giveaway have closed and I would like to thank everyone who entered and took the time to share their memorable childhood moments. There were some excellent entries and it was very hard to choose a winner.
The winner of the Canvas Print by PhotoBox is…..drumroll….
Emily from Have A Laugh On Me
Here is Emily’s response to the question ‘What is your most memorable childhood moment?’
“I grew up in about 40 minutes from the nearest shop, rural NZ, and went to a small primary school that had about 15 students, of varying ages. I remember one day I dressed myself in this AWESOME lemon yellow skirt and stripey jacket. We used to have football field to play in, trees to climb and bushes to make huts in! I used to think I was a bit of a tomboy so tried to do what the boys did so I followed them up a BIG tree and then the bell went, you know the teacher/principle actually rang a big bell like a town cryer, everyone went running up the field and as I tried to jump down the tree my skirt go snagged on a branch and I was left hanging there, but the worst part was I didn’t have any knickers on that day! I’m not quite sure why but it was horrible and I made one of my friends tell the teacher and she didn’t do it discreetly so everyone came down to look as I was ‘released’ from the tree. To this day I remember the humiliation of it all. I can’t have been more than 7 or 8, but still pretty bad I forgot knickers!”
Congratulations Emily. I couldn’t go past a comment which involved misplaced underwear and getting stuck up a tree! Emily has won a personalised Premium Canvas Print (40.6 x 30.5cm) from PhotoBox valued at $99.95. I will be in touch via email to advise how to claim your prize.
Thanks again everyone for participating and I hope to bring you all another giveaway soon.
Mister Nearly Three (actually next week…eek!) graduated to a big boy bed this week. I was concerned he would fret for his cot because we hadn’t converted it to a toddler bed and he was very used to it - we liked him jailed at bedtime. Wrong, but true.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Little boys lose their shit over the idea of a Racing Car bed. But first, we had to decipher the instructions.
I offered to do it as Hubby had man-flu….and we all know how serious that can be. He insisted it was a job for manly men and I insisted on assisting. We were both glad we did. It took a lot of furrowed brows, cursing and removing parts we had assembled to turn them around and reassemble the other way. Three hours later, it was almost ready. We had to plug-in the lights and put on the bedding, which we did, just in time for Mister Nearly Three to get home and lose the plot (in a good way).
What I didn’t expect was the excitement of his little brother. He climbed straight up on it, bouncing on the mattress, yelling ‘GO’ over and over. I think he thought it could drive him somewhere. I’m looking forward to him getting one in about 16 months time, or less if he pushes the issue. I don’t know why I was surprised – I think all the men in the family are a little jealous of the Racing Car bed.
The other development this week is I have decided to give up Chocolate. Now before you say we can no longer be friends – I’m not saying it will be a total, life-long ban. Please, I’m only human.
But I have put on five kilos in the past few months and my clothes feel yuck. I hate it when your pants start straining and you feel like yelling ‘NOOOOOOOO – I WILL NOT BUY THE NEXT SIZE UP!!!’
So far, so good – but is only Day 2. Talk to me in another week, especially with a birthday party and Christmas coming up *sigh*. I am also starting to feel a bit flat and chocolate is always my go to when depressed. I will be strong.
* Note – no chocolate was hurt in the writing of this blog. It is safely wrapped in plastic bags and hidden deep, deep down in the dark pantry.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Emily from Have A Laugh On Me on the weekend. She was having a garage sale and I needed things from a garage sale – the stars aligned and there you have it. Bloggers meet. She is just as awesome in real life as she is on her blog. Cool chick.
Just a reminder about my personalised Canvas Print giveaway. All you have to do is share your most memorable childhood moment in the comments on my Childhood Memories and a Fantastic Giveaway post. Entries close midnight Wednesday 4 December 2013.
Hope you are all having a good week.
Now that I have children of my own, I find I reflect more on my childhood memories. While I don’t think many of us got away with a picture perfect upbringing, reminiscent of the Cleavers, there were plenty of silly and happy times in my childhood. Like the time our incredibly clever dog turned up at Nanna’s house, about six kilometres away, because I was there and she missed me. My failed experiment with cordial and milk in the same glass (Bleh). Discovering I was continually singing the wrong words to songs after I asked Mum what a ‘Womba’ was (the song was ‘When you’re in love with a beautiful wom-an’. Showing my age).
Mum laughing at me telling her to fill my cup ‘up the up’, before I knew how to say ‘to the top’. Going to an amazing concert when I was four and dancing in the aisles.
The time I went exploring with my friends and fell into the muddy creek, just before I was about to go out with my folks, ruining my corduroy pants. Playing Monopoly with the adults for five straight hours and I am (pretty) sure they didn’t let me win. Visiting the Zoo and wanting to live with the Lions, Giraffes and Elephants. Playing dress-ups and Mum taking photos with every outfit change.
I have photos of some of these memories and the rest reside in my head. I take a lot of photos and videos of my boys and it’s great to be able to record their lives so easily. These days, we have amazing technology at our fingertips to capture memories. When I was kid, we had film in the cameras, with a mere twenty-four chances to take a decent photo. You couldn’t see what you had taken. You had to send it off for development and pray something good came back.
This brings me to our giveaway!
PhotoBox helps remind us of our special memories by providing personalised photo items. Using their website, you can create personalised photo books, cards, cases, calendars and canvas’s. They also make great gifts.
One lucky Mummylovestowrite reader will win a Canvas print by PhotoBox. This is a Premium canvas print (40.6 x 30.5cm) valued at $99.95.
To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment below answering the following question.
‘What is your most memorable childhood moment?’
The winner will be chosen by me and based on the most touching and/or funny answer. Entries close midnight AEST, Wednesday 4 December 2013. Please see below for further Terms & Conditions.
Note – Apologies to overseas readers. For legal reasons, this giveaway is only open to Australian residents.
I look forward to reading all of your comments and to announcing the winner on this blog soon. Thank you to PhotoBox for providing this fantastic giveaway to my wonderful readers.
Terms & Conditions
- This is a giveaway based on skill and the best answer as chosen by me will be deemed the winner of the giveaway. This is not a game of chance.
- Giveaway commences Thursday 28 November 2013 and closes at midnight AEST Wednesday 4 December 2013.
- One entry per person only.
- Open to Australian residents only.
- The winner will receive a personalised Premium Canvas Print, courtesy of PhotoBox to the value of $99.95. Shipping will be included for the winner.
- Prize is not redeemable for cash.
- Winner will be contacted by email on Thursday 5 December 2013. Please ensure you leave your email address for contact with your comment. If the winner has not replied via email by midnight Thursday 12 December, another winner will be selected and advised.
- Entries remain the property of Mummylovestowrite.com.
- You are not required to visit PhotoBox.com.au, follow this blog, Mummylovestowrite on Facebook or @ShellCHolland on Twitter to enter this giveaway.
This week I have come across a multitude of things that I think are cool and want to share with you. I reiterate – this is not a sponsored post.
Help with Grey Hair
I have an issue with greying hair and being in my thirties it is pretty freaking annoying. I came across this blog post by Maggie Alderson, recommending (unpaid too shall I say) a new product called Color Wow. It is like makeup for your hair and covers up the wrong-colour roots. I tried it and the results are above. This was a very quick attempt in the kid’s playroom mirror while they were distracted by my Mother for a couple of minutes. I was happy with the results and even happier the next time when I was able to do it more carefully. It feels a little strange to be putting makeup on my hair…perhaps how those balding blokes feel with their spray-on hair, but I assure you, I reconciled it with being no worse than applying colour to my naturally greying locks.
Color Wow is water-resistant, but comes off when you shampoo. I found it really easy to apply. If you do buy it, I recommend watching the video tutorial to get an idea of how it’s done. I used the Medium Brown on my hair and bought it online for $49.95 (Australia).
Thick Eyebrows Are Back In
Also beauty-related – while I was otherwise occupied, thick eyebrows came back in! A model called Cara Delevigne (centre bottom in photo above) seems to have brought back the trend Brooke Shields made popular in the 80’s (and Aubrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor decades earlier). This is a good thing for an Aussie girl with some Maltese heritage, as I have hair everywhere. After carefully waxing my eyebrows throughout the past two decades, I was grateful to find I can now relax and let my natural arch show…
After becoming a little brow-obsessed and doing extensive online research, I discovered that the look is still manicured, just fuller. It isn’t a ‘let-it-all-hang-out’ fest - for that I would have to be transported back to the 60’s. Damn. Well anyway, I’ll let my eye slugs grow back in a bit and see how it looks.
We are toilet training Mister Nearly-Three and I do and don’t recommend Pull-Ups. It look us weeks to get him to put them on, even with Lightning McQueen plastered all over them. They felt different enough from normal nappies that he wasn’t sure. When he finally started wearing them, I found that although it says they allow the wetness to be felt before it is drawn away, he had no idea he was weeing and would still use them like nappies – peeing and pooing without a care.
So we went to Defcon 3 – normal underwear. We chased him around with disinfectant spray and paper towel for the day and by the afternoon, every wee was going into the toilet. He didn’t like feeling wet and he started to ‘get’ it.
In saying that, the Pull-Ups are still handy while he is still learning – mostly on trips outside the house. I do not want to deal with a urine-soaked car seat or a spontaneously created puddle at the shops. I have ordered a Piddle Pad for his car seat for use when he is toilet trained enough to progress from the Pull-Ups (just in case he has an accident). He is yet to poo in the loo, but I am sure we will get there. He is starting to realise even in the Pull-Ups now when he is wet or dirty, so he is telling us as well.
The Humans by Matt Haig
I have heard great things about this book and am excited to finally be reading it. The author is a fellow depression sufferer and although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I think it allows him to tap into the human condition in such an honest way. And it is funny! Matt Haig is a great writer and I am loving it.
I resisted getting an E-Reader until recently. I was a traditionalist who thought all books should be paper-based and anything less was inferior and potentially bad for your eyes. I received the Sony E-Reader for my birthday months ago and I am kicking myself that I let it sit in the box for ages. I LOVE IT. I have finished reading my first book on it and have downloaded more (including ‘The Humans’ above which I am reading currently). I was also concurrently reading a paperback and every time I switched to the old-fashioned book, I would find it awkward. The E-reader is so light and I have a few books all ready to go, so I will never run out of things to read.
The only drawback has been waiting for my cover to arrive from Japan as the local stores didn’t really have stock of the covers. The cover comes with a built-in light because although it is a touch-screen, it doesn’t have a light. I find that ok though because I am used to reading with a light on anyway and the E-Ink is just like reading a normal book.
Hubby bought this Reader for me as it supports the E-Pub format, which means you can download books from many different sources. I was going to get a Kindle, but you are restricted to buying from Amazon, and being in Australia you are limited to what you can get from there. They don’t allow you to buy US content.
What are your thoughts on these recommendations?
The New Normal
For those of you, like me, who suffer from a mental health condition such as Depression, Anxiety or Bipolar Disorder, how do we define ‘normal’? I know ‘normal’ people don’t go through these stupid mood changes and have the weird thoughts that I do. My husband (normal) confirmed that he doesn’t experience these things. So after years of suffering and striving to reach this elusive state, I wonder, what does it all mean? *stares at bellybutton fluff*
Normal for me is more about the absence of things rather than the presence of something else. It is the lack of the anxious knot in my gut and subsequent shaking when I attempt something like going to the supermarket to buy nappies. (I know the online supermarket delivery people by name). It is not having ruminating thoughts keep me awake til 3am (poor husband having to listen to me come up with one hundred more ways we all might die in the night). It is not being unable to move from the bed in the morning despite my best efforts. Also missing is the ‘I will rip off your head and shit down your neck’ irritability.
With these things absent, I feel normal. Based on my mood diary, I have spent 95% of the past year feeling abnormal. Wow. That is all kinds of wrong.
But is this passing feeling of normality really normal anyway? I must admit, I have battle scars and trauma from the unrelenting unwellness. In these brief periods of ‘normal’, I live with a stranglehold of fear it will return. I have real concerns about a future with undulating moods and the impact it will have on my marriage and children. Will I ruin my children’s lives with my illness? What if they get it? Can my husband keep putting his life on hold for me? Will I ever have a proper career again?
Sometimes I believe I can get better, but I know I’m nowhere near there yet. I live in hope that my hubby can go back to working full-time and I will be able to look after myself, the kids and do some work. I know if I do, it will be a ‘new normal’. I will never be exactly who I was before, which is probably a good thing in many ways. I was either going a hundred miles an hour, being a perfectionist overachiever or asleep in my bed, unmotivated and gloomy. I did everything with 110% commitment. When I partied, it was hard (not drugs, just drinking – but a lot at times). If it was a diet or fitness, it was extreme. I worked really hard in my jobs (yes, many different kinds) and in my university degree (the only thing I’ve ever finished). When I was unwell, I would suffer from persistent anxiety and then major depression. There was very little middle ground or balance in my life.
I’m doing everything I can to achieve so called ‘normal’ – taking my medication as prescribed, forcing myself to do the opposite of what my moods demand and keeping a sleep/wake routine as best as I can. I keep a mood diary and see my therapist-lady and psychiatrist. I try to log off the internet most nights by 8.30pm. It is either too stimulating or depressing. I get on Twitter/Facebook and chat too much or I get upset by every little thing. The children are all dying or starving, puppies are being hurt and the world is in tatters. It is too overwhelming.
The bummers are; I can’t drink, take unplanned overseas trips or stay up all night. Not that I have the money to take overseas trips, but it would be nice to know I could just go if I wanted to (which I have done in the past on short notice). If I am lucky enough to have holidays in my future, it would have to be well planned, taking into account the impact of sleep and crossing time-zones. As for drinking alcohol, I do miss Mojito’s. I may not ever get over that. But the risk of seizures kind of makes it an unattractive idea.
I am a bit over this medication thing because it still isn’t quite right and as they try to increase doses, I tend to get sick. My liver is a bit of a sulky la-la, which is probably why I threw up for months with both pregnancies and can only handle low-doses of medication (and some not at all).
Anyway, after years of being mentally unwell – the new normal doesn’t look so bad. If I could live without having panic attacks in my lounge room, the feeling of lead which keeps me from doing anything at all and the speedy thoughts which make me paranoid and weird – then that would be a very good thing. I could just hug my husband and kids and know that everything was going to be ok.
What does ‘normal’ mean to you?
We haven’t much opportunity to leave the house with the kids, except for Childcare (Hallelujah) and the odd trip to a relative’s house. Between my health issues and the demands of two boys under three, I am amazed we ever get out the front door.
Routine-wise it can be hard to socialise. Between one and two o’clock they turn into feral Gremlins without their naps. It’s not worth the screaming (them) and crying (me). Dinner is between five and six o’clock, then bath and bed at seven. So when we do go out it is for morning tea, an early lunch or an early dinner. Nursing Home hours.
The amount of crap you have to pack is ridiculous, even at this age. There is always a Baby bag, my handbag and a bag of toys. We cart around spare clothes, nappy paraphernalia, hats, sunscreen, water bottles and lots of snacks because they both appear to have hollow legs. Or worms. I’m not quite sure, but they aren’t scratching so I’m going with hungry/growth spurt.
I get a lot of anticipatory anxiety when we do take them out. The downside of having beautiful children is they have a brain and personalities all their own, making them unpredictable and dangerous. One minute they are sweet, sociable and playing nicely, the next bashing their brother (or me) while squealing loud enough to summons dolphins or the dead.
The other week we went out to a local club for lunch. We were joining family because…safety in numbers. The Donkey (me) was loaded up with enough stuff for a week’s holiday. We arrived for an 11.30am lunch (like I said, Nursing Home hours) to avoid the busy time and give us the best chance of avoiding Child Armageddon.
Mister Eighteen Months wouldn’t have a bar of being sociable. He didn’t want to sit in the plastic, grey high chair and cried and cried. He wants to crawl under the tables on the grotty carpet which may not have seen cleaning products since 1974. When I don’t let him down, he unleashes his freshly minted tantrum-throwing skills. He yells, he arches his back and his fists are clenched and thumping. He is surprisingly strong. The glares come thick and fast and I can feel the heat of embarrassment rising up inside me.
We offer toys. He swats them away, shaking his head. Cuddles with Nanny? Nope. In amongst all of this, I manage to inhale my $10 roast lunch. I then take him to have his nappy changed, hoping it will help. I visit two sets of toilets to find a baby change station with no luck (I secretly hope it is a place where you can actually change your baby for one who isn’t being a massive pain in the butt). I ask a nice, uniformed lady where I can please change the baby’s nappy. She replies with a wave of her hand, “Toilet in the Gaming Room love. Just near the Cashier.”
I shit you not.
So here I am, lugging a giant, non-walking Toddler and a giant, non-walking Baby-bag through the pokies to get to the ONLY loo with a baby change table. I have never seen this child open his eyes so wide. His face is a wonder at the lights, the sounds…he momentarily forgets he was just throwing a very industrious tantrum. He then remembers halfway to the toilet, protesting loudly as we crossed the Gaming Room floor. Every gambler in the place shoots me a look of, ‘Why is there a baby in here? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING WOMAN?’
Back at the table, I put him in the pram and take him outside to do laps of the carpark. Fun times.
Later in the day, after I return from my unforeseen walk in the blaring sun, it is reported that Mister Nearly-Three has been perfectly behaved the whole time. There is hope.
Do you have any tips for managing kids in public?
I finally saw my Psychiatrist again yesterday to ask why I’m having such extreme mood changes. The picture above is an example of what has been going on. The grey bar is normal mood. Even on ’normal’ days, I often have residual anxiety and/or irritability symptoms. The black lines show hypomania, depression or mixed symptoms of both, which I think is the worst state to be in.
As you can see, it is all over the place. All we need is a dot for a nose to make the time between days 11 and 14 a grumpy face. Day 6 looks like it is giving the finger…..
Seven weeks ago, the Doctor increased my Lamotrigine (also called Lamictal), which is a mood stabiliser best for the depressive side of Bipolar 2. It is for the depression I’m still experiencing, despite being on medication since I was in the psychiatric hospital in March. It was only a small increase. Yesterday, the psychiatrist said he believes due to my sensitivity to medications, the dose has become too much like an anti-depressant and is causing hypomanic/mixed symptoms. Yes, effectively making my rapid cycling Bipolar 2 more unstable. I have felt like this before while taking anti-depressants and they were discontinued last year when Bipolar became a suspect. Lamotrigine is not really meant to do this, as it is an anti-convulsant drug used for epilepsy and not a true anti-depressant. However, anecdotally it can be stimulating at some doses for some people.
So he has dropped me back to the dose I was on before the increase and we are in ‘wait and see’ mode. The next option is to increase my Lithium, which is at a sub-therapeutic dose and therefore mostly useless at containing my hypomania. When I had difficulty tolerating a higher dose, the Psychiatrist at the hospital discharged me saying we would see how I managed on the lower dose for now.
With the help of the Psychologist, I have had major improvements with my wee-wee problem. I’ve been challenging myself to hold on for hours, first at home and even once at a shopping centre. Admittedly, I was hypomanic this particular day and speeding through Westfield like someone on….well, speed; buying sheets, quilt covers and towels like there was going to be a linen apocalypse. I was zipping along buying up for the kids, I desperately needed two hats for myself and clothes, a handbag and a wallet. Even the dog scored new stuff. Luckily, number one carer was there to restrain me to the best of his ability.
We thought it best to leave when I announced sounds were getting louder and lights were getting brighter. We knew paranoia was just around the corner and the last place you want to be when paranoid is a busy shopping centre. The brief euphoria shifted into a distressing mix of racing thoughts and wanting to be anywhere except in my own skin. We spent the rest of the day at home, trying to keep me quiet and calm – to not ‘feed’ the beast. I have been told to do the opposite of what I feel like doing, so when depressed to be active and when hypomanic to be quiet. I don’t know what I am meant to do when things are mixed. Anyway, these strategies do seem to help, although it is hard to get motivated when depressed, or stay chilled when hypomanic.
This too shall pass.
How is your mental health?
*Warning – this post contains swearing. Content may trigger some readers.
I am writing this post in lieu of swallowing all the pills or driving my car off a cliff. My logical brain doesn’t want to leave my husband and two little boys. I just don’t want to endure this pain anymore. So I am here, hoping if I share how I am feeling it will help me and maybe someone else.
I am severely depressed at the moment, according to a test I did yesterday. I have been through this many times before and although the symptoms vary slightly each time, the underlying despair of it all remains the same. At the moment, I have irritability, suicidal thoughts and am perfecting a ‘Can’t Be Fucked’ attitude. I even started a Twitter hashtag, encouraging others to share what they #CantBeFucked doing today. Motivating stuff, I know.
The hateful negativity is directed at everyone and no-one. The constant is directing it at myself. I am fat, lazy and a shit mother. I am never going to finish the novel I am writing or get over my anxieties. Everything is inflaming my rage at the moment. I hate the eight-year old girl on morning TV who composed a symphony. Her achievement not only reinforces my inadequacy, it feels spoilt and precocious on her part. She is probably a lovely, obviously gifted girl (says my logical brain). I am ashamed to say, my depressed brain only sees an annoying little fucker.
I am trying very hard and my wonderful husband acknowledges I am doing well at disguising my true feelings from him and the boys. At times, the tip of the iceberg rears it’s ugly head. Yesterday, he was sharing details of a friend’s overseas trip (from Facebook) and Hateful Shell surfaced for a moment. Doesn’t he understand I don’t want to hear about someone’s glorious fucking holiday?! The irony is, he does understand – I have just been doing such a good job of hiding how bad I am feeling, that he didn’t realise how bad things are.
I can’t concentrate properly and big decisions, like what should we have for dinner, or what I should wear when I finally have a shower, leave me in tears. Unlike other depressions, I am not sleeping ten to twelve hours a day. I am struggling to get six hours of interrupted sleep and it is taking me hours to drift off. I am kept awake by catastrophic thoughts and caught up in sorrow.
The thoughts go something like this;
“Oh shit, my heart is racing really fast. Something bad is going to happen. (Horror-like visions of blood and death of loved-ones fill my mind). I’m freaking out. Stop thinking you are freaking out, you will make it worse. Ok, but…but I am freaking out. Maybe I should go and get in the car. I need to get away. From what? Oh, from me. I can’t get away from me (cue despair). I’m never going to get better. I’ve been trying to get help for years and even on medication I’m not fucking getting better. It’s so unfair. I wish I had a broken leg. Yes, a broken leg would be much better than this. At least painkillers would help that. And it would get better. And it wouldn’t keep coming back. I fucking hate everything. I should just die (feels guilt at thoughts of death). Poor hubby and babies if I died. I am a horrible mother & wife. I don’t deserve them. Maybe they are better off without me? I am a burden.”
I try to distract myself from the thoughts. I try to separate myself from the thoughts. I know they are my illness and not me. I know the real me doesn’t hate everything and laughs a lot. I know the real me cares for my family and would never want to do anything to hurt them. The real me likes to read, write, enjoy music and interact with others.
But the thoughts keep coming.
Hubby reminds they will pass, as they always do – eventually.
If you suffer from depression, how does it feel to you?
If you are distressed and are in Australia, please call Lifeline 13 11 14 or dial 000. Alternatively, tell a loved-one and see your Doctor.
If overseas, please call your local emergency number, mental health helpline or visit your Doctor.