Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Stakeout and some bad news....


There is very little to laugh about in the Katie household at the moment, well very little involving Katie that is. The fact that I've just written that makes me feel incredibly sad.  At the moment it just feels like a daily grind, plugging away at her increasingly aggressive behaviour; dodging the blows; side stepping the spits; leaping away from the kicking legs; ignoring the rudeness; having no evening to recover or to talk to TCM because Katie refuses to go to sleep; trying to feel the love within all the negativity and battling the ever increasing frustration and anger I am feeling as nothing seems to make a difference. 

As I type this I am sitting on a stakeout outside her bedroom again in an attempt to keep her in her bed and encourage sleep.

I ask myself "where has my delightfully happy girl gone?" Did she get lost when we were playing hide and seek? Where has my sense of humour gone? Are they keeping each other company; laughing away at our expense, tucked away in the tent or in the playhouse?

Just as I finally get my Vitamin D levels back on an even keel I'm exhausted again, except now it's mental exhaustion. I'm furiously repeating to myself over and over "It's a's a phase". But Katie hasn't slept properly since March and it's been 18 months since the aggression started.  She's awake until about 10pm every night yet she is put to bed at 7pm. She's up and down and generally looking for trouble. We have to lock our bedroom door and the bathroom door to stop her going in there and wreaking havoc on the hair gel or stealing things. She will do everything in her power to stay awake because she, quite simply, doesn't want to go to bed.

So here I sit.  

I sit with a sore bum and an aching back (because my back really ain't what it used to be), putting her back to bed repeatedly, reminding her it's bedtime. She's resisting with every part of her psyche. It's a battle of who is the most stubborn.

I am!

I am!

If I repeat it to myself enough times and express it differently it will (in the words of Jean Luc Picard) "make it so".

She's yet to realise that I am. She seems to be a very slow learner on this subject which is interesting because is bright; she's generally a quick study.

The Force is strong in this one. 


I've been giving her Bach Flower Remedy Nighttime drops and spray to help her settle.  I love Bach Flower Remedies but it seems even they aren't able to conquer a strong will.

She's keeping Pip awake and the cats just want to loiter with me which isn't helping.

I'm going on a training day in Non Violence Response in a few weeks time and I've been reading up on it and talking to a friend who has used the technique successfully.  I'm hoping it will help. I'm hoping it will help de-esculate things. I'm hoping my levels of intense anger and frustration will lessen.  Something has to work surely?

She's just got out of bed about 6 times.  I've put her back. 

I've knocked my orange juice over. I might email TCM to bring me up some wine or maybe I should have tea and doughnuts...isn't that what you're supposed to have on a stakeout?

She's forgotten that she is able to go to sleep.


TCM is telepathic and has brought me wine. No need to email. 

Creak, creak, creak goes her bed as she wiggles about.

Squish, squish, squish as she fiddles with some paper.

Thump, thump, thump as she gets out of bed again.

An announcement....she's claims she's going to sleep.

She's counting sheep....... VERY LOUDLY!

She yawns at 11 sheep!

I don't think that's going to work if I'm honest....

"Get into bed please"

"Get into bed please" I say as she appears yet again to see what I'm doing. 

I'm trying hard not to speak to her but she's a master at engagement. 

Believe it or not, sitting here makes things calmer than if I was downstairs. If I was downstairs she would follow every 5 seconds. Then it would get angry. I don't care what SuperNanny says, it's not possible to out someone back to bed 50 times every night over and over again and not get angry eventually. Katie wants me to get angry. This I know.

Sometimes I do get angry. Sometimes it all gets too much. I just want to go and eat some dinner but, instead, I'm sitting on the landing, feeling incredibly uncomfortable, anticipating her next move. 


It's all gone very, very, quiet.  Dare I hope that she's actually going to sleep? If she is then it will be the earliest she's gone to sleep in months. She needs to sleep. Badly. Sleep is the key to everything I suspect. She fell asleep watching Numtums in school last week. She thought it was funny. Oddly I didn't find it amusing. 

Sssshhhhhhh, I've shooooed TCM away from the stairs with an urgent, yet silent, wave of my hand.

I'm holding my breath......


I can hear a few minimal movements. She's definitely settling. A few creaks as she settles....


For the love of Pete!!!!

"Goodnight Katie"

She's the thumping and wriggling and chatting has started again.

"Snuggly, wuggly, buggly, cuddly" mutters Katie, just to remind herself she's awake and wants to stay awake.

That's what hope does to you. It gives you....well.....hope. I almost started to dream of creeping down the stairs and eating my dinner.


Here I sit. On the landing. With my numb bum and pins and needles forming in my legs. 

At least Pip is asleep. 

Now she's trying to engage with me again. 

You're yawning. Give it up and sleep kiddo! 


Pretty please?

I've just reminded her that I will be emailing her Head Teacher to let her know  about bedtime. I've been to see her Head Teacher and appraised her of the situation at home, thankfully she is incredibly supportive. No secrets happening here which Katie hates but is necessary to help her. She needs to see us all working together to help her. 

More yawning and a little sigh.

I'm reminded of a wonderful book my lovely friend bought me for Christmas. It's called "Go the F*** to Sleep!" It's brilliant. I wish I could read it to Katie but I'm sure you can guess why I can't. I highly recommend it as a read though. Maybe I could set the text to music and sing it to myself for a laugh?  If you've not read it.  Here's Samuel L Jackson reading it.....apologies for the language of course..


It's quiet in there again. More breath holding. Goodness I want to get up and stretch but I daren't move. 

A few bed creaks and then quiet.

I'm doing it again. I'm feeling that feeling of hope again. 

Creak, creak, creak goes the bed.

Chat, chat, chat to herself.

Thank heavens for my lovely friend who is messaging me on Facebook and keeping me company. We did this last Wednesday when I wanted to be watching the Great British Bake-off as well. It keeps me calm and sane(er)

Oh sorry I didn't tell you, this isn't the first time me and my numb bum have sat here. No Siree! We've been here before and will be again, and again, night after night, until a certain someone learns how to go to sleep again. That's love and commitment. I hope one day she'll understand that.


She's chatting to herself again. On the plus side I'm not being thumped or kicked I suppose. My numb bum is a small price to pay for no aggression.


I spoke too soon.

She claimed she needed the loo and a tantrum ensued. I refused to let her get up and repeatedly put her back to bed. I would have won. She didn't need to loo although I'm sure she would have squeezed one out to make a point but.....

TCM wasn't happy and decided to undermine me totally by letting her go. I've walked away furious as the situation is now out of control. All hell is now breaking loose upstairs.


I feel a big I told you so coming from me here as she is now throwing all her ploys at him. Screaming and shouting and generally carrying on.  This is a massive lesson in not being on the same page. 


I'm back upstairs to finish what I've started. I'm not a happy bunny though. Thankfully the tantrum did not wake Pip up.

A bit of dialogue. Telling me to shut up. 

Yeah yeah. Heard it all before kiddo....... 


It's 2 hours and 10 minutes since this started. I've still had no dinner. She's calmer and yawning and settling AGAIN!

An hour ago I was hoping to create a new sleep record now I just hope she'll go to sleep before I either die of hunger or lose the will to live. Yes maybe I'm exaggerating. I could cope with losing a few pounds. 

Whilst I'm sitting here I will just say that this blog post is to highlight what it's like with a child who refuses to sleep. I'm currently using what's known as the disappearing chair technique, except the chair hasn't yet disappeared because we haven't got passed the first hurdle. We will. It clearly will just take time. If this doesn't work then I don't know what else to do. Do we resort to drugs? I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet so we'll sit here night after night and see if we can bring about some change. 


She sleeps! I celebrate!

I will eat.....then I can sleep!

Except I didn't sleep because just after 10pm we received a call to say Pops (TCM's dad) had been rushed into hospital with heart failure. We knew it was serious when the paramedic phoned and told me his heart had stopped and he wasn't breathing for himself and suggested someone went to the hospital. TCM whizzed up there but sadly arrived too late and our lovely Pops had passed away. 


TCM is home from the hospital and trying to wrap his head around what has happened and what it all means. With Nana at home with Alzheimer's we have much to sort out. I suspect that will over-shadow the grieving for a while. We will need to work out when and how to tell Katie. With everything else going on this will be the icing on the cherry in the cake. With a knot of sadness and with anxiety in my stomach I finally turn the light out and try to find some sleep.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Winter "Germies" with Boots!

I will write separately about our more personal experiences of being back at school but, for now, I'm writing along with Boots #backtoschool "Digit-ill" campaign on the serious subject of Germies!

Germs are really topical in our house at the moment because Katie has developed Emetophobia or the fear of being sick.  She is worried sick (pardon the pun) about being sick or seeing someone else (including the cats) be sick.  Before the end of year holidays she experienced a panic attack in school when another child was sick in class.  To be fair to her he was spectacularly sick and I think it might have challenged even iron-stomached old me to clean it up.  This was further compounded by a friend's child being sick during the holidays and we watched Katie's anxiety spiral out of control.  We seem to be reigning it back in again with lots of talk about germs and our bodies and the biology of being sick and how to reduce the risk of catching some of those nasty sicky germs in the first place.

Last year we got involved with the Boots Back to School campaign and we're delighted to do so again this year.  This year's theme is all about technology and how children are at risk of catching bugs and head lice from touching screens and standing in close proximity to each other whilst learning.  Katie was tasked with taking a "germie" of herself and I was tasked with painting her face to look like a scary germ.  Being artistically challenged I hope you will appreciate what a challenge this was for me.  I almost felt sick at the thought of being creative with face paints.

First of all though I would like to share some tips and information from Boots to help us poor parents who generally fear the dreaded head lice more than any other bug or insect.

Boots very kindly sent me a little package of goodies for getting involved in the campaign and I was interested to see that you can now buy an Electronic Lice Comb which might be a nice change from all those horrible chemicals.  I've had a Nitty Gritty comb sitting in the bathroom in case I ever noticed any movement in Katie's very long blonde hair but thankfully it's remained unemployed so far, which considering Katie has just started Year 2 is pretty good going.  I suspect she's benefited from my very tight French Plaits sprayed with lots of hair spray! I hope I haven't spoken too soon!

Children are using a lot more technology in the classroom nowadays.  Interactive white-boards and Ipads as well as keyboards and cameras are all regularly used and second nature to our little technological whizz-kids.  Children share pencils and other equipment and sneeze and drop bogies on classroom tables and chairs.  They rarely wash their hands when they use the toilet it would seem and they then fiddle with their faces and put their hands in their mouths and up their noses.  This makes the school classroom like a pleasure park for the average germ.  I once saw an experiment done in a classroom with a UV spray that highlighted all the places the children had touched and potentially picked up germs.  It was amazing to see how one germ could spread around an entire classroom.

The Top 5 Tips I would like to share for keeping those nits and other pesky germs at bay are:

Katie showing us her scary face!
1. Always encourage children to wash
their hands if they are using technology, especially afterwards;

2. Explain to children how germs get into their bodies i.e. through fingers in mouths and try and discourage them from fiddling with their faces.  This is easier said than done to be honest and I struggle not to fiddle!  It does make them more aware of how they can take better care of themselves though.

3. Wipe your touch screens and other technology with anti-bacterial wipes every so often.
4. If you have a girl with long hair always tie it back for school.  This is almost a religion in our household.  Katie gets to wear her hair down on the last day of term as a treat, whilst I keep my fingers tightly crossed that the little blighters don't take the opportunity to crawl in.

5. Spray hair (girls and boys) with Tea-Tree Oil.  You can buy shampoos and conditioners with it in as well but I'm a big fan of a few drops mixed in water and sprayed over the hair.  It might even prevent Kiss Chase if the smell is bad enough!

 I will just say though that I'm a big fan of letting children get mucky and don't try too hard to kill germs at home.  I give a spray with an anti-bacterial spray when cleaning but we have cats and they climb over everything and I will say that we are rarely ill in our house!

Here are some of Katie's other "Germie" pictures.  I did help her a little with these because of her attire but we did have great fun doing them.....
Katie's selfie "Germie"

  Katie showing some places she thinks the germs might hide........

Under her umbrella...

On the table......

Hiding in the bushes

What are your Top Tips for keeping children healthy over the winter? Take a minute and share your Top Tips for #bootsbacktoschool tips along with your "Germies" on Twitter using the hashtag above.

As always the views contained here are all my own.  Boots did kindly send me a lovely care package and I have shared their information but everything else is all me!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Britain's Driest Nappy?

I really feel I've missed my vocation as a scientist....well the fact that I flunked my O'Level in Physics and didn't even get close to taking an O'Level in Chemistry probably put paid to that....but I still love a little but of alchemy or a scientific experiment.  The inner-scientist in me was delighted however to be able to take part in Pampers current campaign to claim the title as Britain's Driest Nappy along with Britmums.

Pip is now nearly 23 months and still wearing nappies.  I can't see that changing for a wee (get it?) while yet.  He's currently wearing a size 5+ partly because that boy does like to wee.  In fact I suspect he might be a contender for the title of Britain's Wettest Baby!

We are already Pampers fans in the Katie household.  I have tried various other brands including the big supermarket brands and have personally found that we are both happier in Pampers (I obviously don't wear them personally but I have to deal with any leaks and the nappy rash that follows a very wet tooshie!).  I was very keen though to try out Pampers Active Fit and do the nappy test.
First of all I'll share two short video clips from Pampers all about their campaign and their nappies......

So now for the trial.  This was quite fun so if you fancy doing the trial as well you will need the following.....

A nappy; a pair of scissors; 150ml of tap water; a piece of kitchen roll; and a stop watch.
 Firstly take your Pampers nappy (or other brand if you want to try this on other nappies too) and mould it to the shape that your baby would make if he or she were wearing it and slowly pour the 150ml of water into the centre/bowl you have created in the nappy.
When all the water has been poured in, set your timer for 1 minute 30 seconds and watch the water absorbing....

It's amazing how long a minute can take when you're watching the clock....

Finally! 1m 30s!
My "Change for Life" stop-watch came in very handy for this exercise.

Once the water has soaked in for 1 minute and 30 seconds you can take your piece of kitchen roll and roll it onto the surface of the nappy...

Kitchen roll laid down all ready to go.
Applying pressure to the kitchen roll.

Then lift the kitchen roll back up again and see whether there is any liquid on the kitchen roll.
Dry as a bone!
It was totally dry!

I will admit I was quite surprised that the kitchen roll was dry because it did feel quite cold to the touch when I was applying the pressure to the kitchen roll when it was on the nappy.

For the final step of the test you will need your scissors to cut the nappy in half across the nappy....

 You can then have a good look at the construction of the nappy layers and see where all that moisture has gone.

The absorbent micro-pearls have locked away the wetness.

 As I mentioned above, I am already a fan of Pampers but I promise you that I did the test precisely as instructed because I was keen to know how that nappy feels for Pip and how dry it is against his skin.  I obviously don't fancy doing that when I remove one that is soaked in his smelly pee!  It was reassuring to feel how dry it was.   Pampers state that their absorbent micro-pearls are able to absorb liquid up to 30 times their own weight - which is the equivalent of up to 3 small bottles of milk.  Pip wears one of these nappies and sleeps for 13 hours easily a night and we rarely ever get any leaks.

Have a go at the was quite good fun. Yes I really do need to get a life!

This is a post entry for #BritainsDriestNappy trial sponsored by Pampers. Learn more at

As usual all views are my own.  I was sent a pack of Pampers Active Fit nappies to do the test with but this in no way influenced my views or test results.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Butterfly Effect.......

Over the school holidays, to try and help Katie (and me as it turned out) understand and accept change, we decided to grow some butterflies.  This came at the suggestion of Katie's Year 1 teacher who felt that it might be therapeutic for Katie to take care of the little caterpillars and watch them transform into something really beautiful.  With Katie's behaviour ever-deteriorating at home due to lack of sleep I'm pretty much prepared to try anything if it helps her feel settled and calm again.  

We ordered the caterpillar pack from Amazon.  It arrives with a habitat for the cocoons and a voucher for the caterpillars.  You can then order your 5 caterpillars online.  We placed our order before the start of the holidays and chose a delivery date just after the holidays started.  So a few days into the holidays a little pot arrived with 5 tiny caterpillars inside.  The lid is sealed and you do not need to remove the caterpillars until they become cocoons.  We excitedly watched our little caterpillars slowly munch their way through the contents of honey-like food at the bottom of their little pot.

Our tiny little caterpillars.

Day by day the little fellas grew and grew......

Some very hungry caterpillars.....

Until one rather over-achieving gifted and talented caterpillar threw a spanner in the works by doing this after about 5 days.... little bit earlier than his friends.....

You can see our first cocoon at the top left of the picture.
 We were rather nervous about what to do about our little over-achiever so we held off moving him into the habitat for a few days in the hopes that his friends would all join him as cocoons as well.  I had misplaced my sewing kit in the move which contained all my safety pins and we needed a safety pin to pin the paper the cocoons were attached to inside the habitat.  We bought some new safety pins and planned to do the big move after a visit from our Social Worker but G&T, as he became affectionately known, decided to emerge into a butterfly still in the cup on the day our SW visited so it was a slightly more delicate operation than I had first hoped.  Heart in hand I slowly transported the cocoons and G&T to their new habitat.

Cocoons safely moved to the habitat.
We then added some flowers and apple.....

Meet G&T our first-born!

And watched them grow....

Every day for 3 days, whilst our butterflies wings hardened, we fed them nectar in the form of sugared water dropped onto the flowers and fruit....

Until it was time to let them go.  Most of our footage has images of the children in so the only video footage I can share is this one....

Watching the butterflies take their first flights was wonderful and exciting.  We all loved every second of it.

So did it help us?

I think, as a project, it certainly gave us something else to focus on and it certainly helped distract Katie from some of the very challenging behaviour we experienced at the start of the school holidays.  This behaviour did continue throughout the holidays but not with the intensity we experienced during our first week and I think the butterflies along with our lock-down really helped that.  Katie struggled to leave the butterflies alone and I was concerned that they would get hurt at times (plus I saw the cats eyeing them up on more than one occasion) but thankfully that fear wasn't manifested although it did cause a lot of stress.  We were able to talk about the transformation of the butterflies and how things can change and that change can actually be really amazing.  I think that really helped Katie to settle more into our temporary house, although there is still a way to go on that front.  She is very keen to repeat the butterfly garden and there is even talk of trying it with Stick Insects.  I said we can only do it if I can name one of them "Stick Man".

I personally found the process very therapeutic as I struggle to adjust to living in the small environment we are living in due to our house build.  It was a reminder that this isn't forever and that when we move back home it will be  to a wonderful environment. It was also a reminder that we are going through a phase.  That we need to shed our skin of expectation and rebuild what has been torn down.  That is what we are doing with our house but also as parents.  We've hit a rough patch and it's a horrible rough patch.  I hope we can find our way through it and put all the pieces back together again.  I think we can and I'm trying every day to find ways of helping us all do that.  I will say that I am holding on very tightly to our butterfly experience and look forward to doing it again.  The butterflies certainly impacted on me in more ways than I ever imagined.

If you want to have a go as well here is a link to the kit we purchased....

Friday, 5 September 2014


One of the things that Katie and I enjoy doing together is making loom bands, along with half of the rest of the world it would seem.  Initially Katie was keen to have the bands and for me to make the more complicated bracelets etc for her but slowly she is getting herself involved and can now whip up a quick bracelet like a professional.

There are loom bands everywhere in our house it would seem.  My poor Henry vacuum cleaner is groaning every time I beg him to clean up for me as he fears for his innards clogging up with yet more brightly coloured bands - he secretly told me that he doesn't feel he needs a gastric band of any kind thank you very much!

We were very excited to be asked to have a play with some Rainbow Braid loom bands available from Amazon and say what we thought of them.  When I say "some" loom bands, what I mean to say is 5,400 brightly coloured loom bands.  I'm sure you can imagine Katie's excitement when she heard they were arriving.  Rainbow Braid even kindly sent us a new loom and hook as well, for which we are very grateful because we are constantly fighting over our loom.

The bands arrived within 2 days which was very impressive (even more so when you're constantly being asked when they will be arriving!) and Katie ripped open the bag enthusiastically (with me hovering behind her desperately trying to ensure I got the photographs before we had loom bands all over the floor!). 

As I expected Katie nabbed the pink before I could get a look in!

I tried to convince her to make a pink and green bracelet but she's having none of it!

 The bands are beautifully coloured.  They are very soft and stretchy which is great for little fingers, especially for children and adults who like to make their bracelets on their fingers.  The vast quantity of bands in the refill pack will keep you looming for a long time and there are 250 s-clips for the all important finishing.  Katie has been using the bands to make some pretty bracelets and giving them away as presents for her friends.  I made my nephew a flower bracelet which is fiddly but a design I've made before.  I did feel that I preferred a thicker band for that particular design because you have to slide the loom hook under the band on the hook and pull with your fingers and I found I was struggling to grab hold of the bands because they are so soft and translucent.  I am currently making Katie a head band with them however using a tri-band method and am finding that they work really well for this design.  I had hoped to have pictures of the head band when writing this post but time has over-taken me (and I got a quarter of the way through and realised I'd made a fatal error and had to restart) and it's not yet completed (Katie does like to set me a challenge and this one will take many hundreds of bands to complete - luckily I have 5,400 bands to help me along!).  I will add the picture to this review however when it's completed so you can see what it looks like.

Up close view of my flower bracelet
My nephew was delighted with his bracelet and keen to learn how to make his own
 All in all we were both totally delighted with the Rainbow Braid loom bands refill pack!

As is always the case the views in this post are all my own.  We received the bands to review and keep but have not been told what to write in any way.