Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Before you make accusations, check your facts!

My neighbours have a dog, it is the only dog in our complex and we are the only house in the complex with children.  My children are not noisy or badly behaved.  The neighbour's dog is a breed which doesnt have very good eyesight and they leave him outside quite a lot of the time, especially during the day when they are working.  The dog because it cant see very well, barks at everything, every noise and lately it has been especially bad.  But what annoys me most is that even when they are home, and the dog is barking they do nothing. And they also let him poo anywhere and dont clean it up as is common in portugal.

Last week one night they were obviously out until the wee hours and the dog seemed to be barking for hours into the morning.  I was awake and couldnt sleep for his barking. 

A couple of days ago, one of the neighbours came home about 10.30pm and as usual the dog started barking, so the guy started banging on the neighbours fence and telling the dog to 'shut-up.  My neighbours flew out of the house and a five minute shouting match started.  But the best line was 'im in my house' - fair enough but does that mean the rest of us have to be disturbed.  Anyway it ended with both sides threatning to call the police etc.  Since then it has been better, but he still barks sometimes.

So anyway, my landlord calls me today and says he's had a complaint, immediately my mind starts going as to what anyone could be complaining about us.  And he asks if we have a dog in the house (when we moved in he told us he didnt want pets), the stupid neighbours think the barking dog is MINE!!!  So I tell him, its not us but the neighbours, but this neighbour who complained doesnt even want to be identified for reprecussions.   One of the neighbours knocked on my door the other night but I was bathing my girls so didnt go, but now I wonder if that's who it was. 

Im really annoyed, for two reasons, firstly if they had taken a moment to check things and walk past the back of our houses, they either would have seen the dog or if not the doghouse next door.  And secondly, Im almost sure they thought it was us because we are younger and have children, so just made the 'wrong' assumption. 

But please before you typecast me for being irresponsible for being younger and having children, check your facts!! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Time to play?

Im a WAHM and some days Im sure I almost feel as much guilt as a full-time working mum when I know I have work to do and dont feel I give the children enough attention.  The reason I wanted to work from home was to be with my children but then sometimes, I feel like it doesnt make any difference.  Im sure I am not alone.

Recently, the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) and Play England conducted a survey which found over half the parents interviewed felt that they did not have enough time to play with their children.  Playing is important to teach children vital skills for the future, such as, turn-taking, problem-solving and creativity.  Some parents even noticed negative behaviour if their children did not get time to play.  The survey also found that some parents were 'over-scheduling' their children in activities and classes, trying to make 'every minute count' but sometimes children just need their own space and time to play with their friends or sibilings, helping them to develop relationships.  Scheduling time to play is important for both physical and emotion reasons and its quality time with your children.  It doesnt have to take hours but a little time set aside each day, can make all the difference. 

For the full story and more information, see BTHA website or the facebook page for the Make Time to Play page.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not a product review

This is not a product review, I say that because I have never seen the product, but I think it is a wonderful idea and wanted to share.  Probably others have seen or heard of them, but I havent until yesterday.  Recordable storybooks, your children's favourite stories with you telling them, anytime.  What a lovely thing to have, a keepsake for all time. 

I have only seen them on the Hallmark website for the US but I think it may be possible to get them through Amazon.co.uk or if anyone has friends in the States.  Im guessing they are quite new products and so maybe havent been launched in the Uk, definately not here in Portugal!! 

If anyone has one or has seen one, I would love to hear what they think?

For more information about the ones I saw (which as far as I can tell cant be found in the UK) see Hallmark Recordable Storybooks

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Gallery - Just three Words

The Gallery theme over at Sticky Fingers is Just Three words, so today my three words are:

Today is the 'end of year' party at my daughter's kindergarten, and in their usual 'steiner' get the parents involved (and looking a bit silly) way, we all have to make a hat and decorate it with some materials etc and then make a bracelet or necklace for our child using the same materials/themes.  Now Im not a very creative person and was very tempted to boycott this as I honestly think it is a silly idea, I dont mind making a hat or outfit for my 5 year old daughter, but I get very little, actually no enjoyment out of making it for myself and looking silly.  But anyway I made it, not too bad for a non crafty person, I think.

Pop over the The Gallery at Sticky Fingers and find some more three word entries.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's nice?

My 22 month old who is just learning to talk, kept saying to me (what sounded like) 'what's nice, what's nice?' And so in my usual fashion I started answering her, so what is nice to me?

Fiji is nice

Im sure Hawaii is very nice, so my husband tells me!

A good bottle of wine and seafood on the beach

A night out without the kids

The smell of rain after a dry, hot period

An unexpected deposit in my bank account

A good cup of coffee

A surprise kiss and cuddle from my girls

A chat with a good friend you havent seen for ages

I guess you could say these are the little things which make me happy. 

What's nice to you?

Monday, June 20, 2011

The silent killer

Now you may read this post and think it doesnt apply but this is an issue that every parent has a fear of, although it is something which affects expat mums like me on a more regular basis.  Probably most of us knew of someone who had a scare at some time with their children.  Every year children die or are injured because of this, Im referring to water safety and drowning - the silent killer.  But unfortunately it is not the beaches and the sea which are the dangers, its the swimming pools, on most occasions private swimming pools.  In 2010 a BBC show claimed that there was 236,000 swimming pool accidents in Europe alone and in 2009, 17 children died in pool accidents in Portugal. 

Just yesterday I was at one of Sophie's friends birthday parties.  They have a pool at their house and all the children were inside swimming and splashing.  There were several parents by the poolside, chatting and watching them. Suddenly one of the children, who was using a tube floaty thing lost hold of it and went under the water, she wasnt completely under the water but enough that nobody could hear her, luckily one of the parents was there and saw her, but its one of those things that is so quick. 

Have you ever been on holiday, to a private villa and there has been an unprotected pool, I can imagine the stress it has caused you.  I once looked at a house to rent and outside the bedrooms was a pool, just the thought of that scenario caused me to worry, even though the door has locks. 

Every year the APSI, the Portuguese version of CAPT (Child Accident Protection Trust) runs a campaign to highlight the dangers and force the Government and local councils to enforce protection laws, but every year more children die.  It is completely unnecessary and can be avoided by erecting a fence, this of course, does not negate parental responsibility but gives more time before tragedy strikes.

Also if you are a holiday home owner who rents their home out to families, this is a big draw when trying to attract this market.  This will always put you ahead of others, without this safety precaution.  I myself would not rent a holiday home if there was free access to the poolside, its too big a risk to take with my children's safety.

This is an issue that affects every parent, whether it is at your local pool or for your summer holiday once a year. 

For more information about this please see http://www.apsi.org.pt/ (for portugal) or http://www.capt.org.uk/ (in the UK).
Or for child-safe holidays, see http://www.totstotravel.co.uk/

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The lost one

I was reading MuddlingAlongMummy's very honest post this morning about trying for another baby.  I can completely sympathise with her, our first daughter came along without even really trying, so when we went for our second child, it was much more difficult.  I have no idea why, but it took a long time and the highs and lows every month waiting for good news is very hard.  Obviously even more so, if you are trying for your first, but somehow trying for a second or third baby can be just as heartbreaking and stressful.  I remember feeling bad that I was feeling unhappy because I was one of the lucky ones who already had a child and had friends who were still trying. But for many of us, that desire, dream to make our ideal family, to give a child a sibling can be as strong as to have our first.  And all the more frustrating for not being able to the second or third time around. 

We were lucky enough to be blessed with another pregnancy last year, but sadly on this day a year ago, we found out I had miscarried. It was a hard time for us, with other big problems in our life.  But it was a complete shock as we went for our first scan to be told it wasnt to be, although I was having all the sickness, tiredness etc and even thought my tummy was growing. 

I know early miscarriage happens to alot of women, more than we are aware of, but somehow even though it is so common, I feel like people dont give it the sympathy it is worth, some people may say, but it wasnt even a person, but to me and every other mother who has experienced a miscarriage it is much more than that, it was a child who will never be and cannot be replaced by another.  You will (at least I did,) wonder what sex it will be, maybe consider names, start to make plans for the future.  Probably I shouldnt have done that, but after two pregnancies with little or no problems, it never realistically crossed my mind this was coming, even more so as I was having pregnancy symptoms and no sign of any problems.  I went into the doctors with excitement to see my new baby, hoping to maybe find out the sex, but it was not to be. 

After that my husband said no more, but lately he has changed his mind.  Honestly, I would have another, but now is not the right time for us, lets see what the future holds.

I wish Hannah, very best of luck and hope she can have the family she dreams of.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A significant day!

So today is a very important day in my life, two of my most life changing experiences happened on this day both good and bad.  And its no-one's birthday!!

Today is my third anniversary of my arrival in Portugal.  Me and my little Sophie, barely 2 and a half arrived in Faro airport to meet my husband, who had arrived two weeks earlier and started our new life.  As much as I love living here, it has not been easy and many times I have questioned that decision, but life is life and we have to deal with it.  On occasions like a blind newborn puppy trying to find our way.  Who knows what is right, until you get there.  Hopefully we are getting there.

The other event on this day, was sadly the day we lost my Mum, after fighting a long illness.  That was 15 years ago and I was 17.  I will always miss her and think of her very often.  It was a very difficult and dark time for me, but I came through hopefully to be a stronger person.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dealing with a sick child

This last week and by week I mean 9 days, my poor little Gracie has a been a poorly girl. Grace doesnt get ill very often and if she does it lasts a couple of days but this time was different.  Last wednesday, we put her down for her nap and when she woke up she was a bit grumpy and didnt want to eat, then a couple of hours later we noticed she had a temperature, so we gave the calpol, thinking nothing of it, as sometimes (rarely) she gets a fever and by morning is gone.  But not this time, the fever continued but kept coming and going, fooling me into thinking she was getting better.  So she stayed quiet and unhappy but not showing signs of any physical discomfort so I didnt know what it was, thinking it was just a virus passing round the children and would suddenly pass.  It was so strange for her to be ill so long, so after several sleepless nights and being tired of seeing my baby in discomfort and not herself I went to the doctor, who found a throat infection.  But she had also developed ulcers around her mouth, making her even more unhappy.  A day later I realised her gums were all swollen and bleeding, so back to the doctor we went to find she had gingevitus, (a pleasant spinoff from the throat infection) more medicine to take but this is a gel which has be put in her mouth, nearly impossible to put gel in a 1yr olds mouth and make them keep there.  On top of that she is teething with molars, so you can imagine.

It is a terrible thing to see your child ill and not being able to do more than give medicine, cuddles and make them comfortable.  It is a horrible feeling of helplessness that all parents feel in this situation, but I found myself becoming frustrated and annoyed after a few days and aiming that at Grace a little and I felt bad and a little ashamed to admit it. But then I realised, I wasnt annoyed at her, I was frustrated because I was powerless to make her feel better.  She will not take her medicine, so I have to force her to take it by using a syringe type thing and squirting it in the back of her mouth, which makes me feel awful but has to be done to get to the end result of being well again. I am so ready to see the back of this illness, which hopefully is on its way and she is a bit perkier and more herself today. 

But also I truly feel for parents who have children with long-term illnesses and thank god that my children are healthy, most of the time. It takes a lot to deal with a sick child.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Gallery: Dads

This is my Dad. I love my Dad and he raised me well. He is a strong and quiet man. He is a loyal man, and no matter how bad Portsmouth FC do, he is and always will be loyal!

I was a Daddy's girl when I was little and remember sitting with him in his armchair, biscuit barrel in hand feeding our faces. When I was sick, my Dad would come home from work and give me cheese (which I loved), and it would make me feel better (dont know the logic there). I remember waking early and watching my Dad shave before going to work and being completely absorbed. He had a nickname for me that only he called me.

My Dad was a hard working man, and worked for the same company his whole working life, he travelled and worked in places that nowadays people wouldnt even want to visit, let alone live, bringing important developments to these countries.

He is very clever and remembers things most people dont even know in the first place.

He helped me with my homework and didnt pressure me when it was time to decide what to do after school but helped and advised me.

He gave me opportunities I would never have had without him.

But things werent always easy for my Dad, he had tough times but stayed strong and carried the pressure, when others may have given in. He cared for my Mum in her long illness.

He loves Freddie Mercury, American Football, Rugby and Football (especially Portsmouth FC)

To me, he is a very special person, who deserves to be happy.

This is the other Dad in my life - my children's Dad and husband. He loves his children very much and would do anything for them. As with many Dad's will give them (mostly) whatever they want.
For most girls, their Dad is their prince, their knight and my girls are no exception.
He is a person who will help others and he works hard to give us a good life and we love him very much.

Unfortunately, we will not be with either Dad's this weekend, but we are sending our love out to you.
Happy Fathers Day

Come along and see the other entries in The Gallery over at Sticky Fingers

Monday, June 13, 2011

Attention-seeking behaviour

I have a couple, well a few friends who are currently struggling with attention seeking behaviour in their children and it got me to thinking what could be behind it.  Im no child psychologist, but what makes some children feel the need to 'play up' in certain ways to get attention?  In these situations that my friends are encountering there is no one factor that could be applied to all, although all the mums are stay at home mums and have two children but the children are all different ages.  In the youngest one, who is almost three, he is pushing children in his playschool, being the most prominent behaviour.  In the others who are older, there are several patterns of behaviour, the most common being, always demanding something and continously asking (even if they have been told yes) to ensure they are dealt with first and shouting. 

But is this behaviour simply caused by the parents not giving the child enough attention (or at least positive attention) or does the child just have a demanding personality, is that even possible at a young age?  It is a problem that I have never really had with my children, not on the scale as these mothers are dealing with, of course, they have their days and their moments when it feels they wont leave me alone.

I would really like to help my friends, but am not sure where the root of the behaviour comes from, what do you think?  Have you ever dealt with this kind of thing with your child?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Spare weekends

So yesterday my husband left for his new job up north and wont be back for a loooooonnnnngggg time!!  Now Im used to him being away during the week as for the past 4 months he has pretty much been working away mon-fri, but now it has come to Friday and Im not picking him up and it feels strange.  More importantly what am I going to do this weekend??  Weekends were our family time, when we are together, we chill and maybe go somewhere, but it doesnt feel the same without him and I feel a little lost.  It is a long weekend here as well, so it is quite busy around, and Im not one for large crowds, especially as they are so rare in these parts (except july and august get a bit crazee), going through the supermarket this morning was like running the gauntlet!! 

I have a couple of friends who are in the same situation with their husbands away during the week and the ocasional weekend, but we have never been apart for long periods and for a long period not so long ago were together 24/7.  Life is changing now and so do I, to adapt to this change, but it may take a couple of weeks to get used to it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My favourite Portuguese Soup

Here in Portugal, soup is an important part of the daily meal, most people eat soup as part of at least one meal a day. It took me a while to really understand this need for 'soup', coming from a british upbringing of meat and two veg and soup was a lunchtime meal or something to eat when ill (on the most part).  Here you are more likely to have soup and then your main course will be meat or fish with a 'side' of potatoes or rice and often without vegetables or minimal vegetables as your soup is kind of your vegetable side.  So here there is a much larger range of soups produced, normally always homemade (no heinz tomato soup here).

Since coming to live in portugal, I have started making soup and for someone who isnt a very good or willing cook, they are pretty good.  This is pretty much my favourite recipe for Pumpkin Soup or Sopa de Abobora, but what I like about this soup is that it isnt sweet and sugary like some pumpkin soups but garlicy and flavourful.

Heres what you need:
600g pumpkin, chopped into cubes
Chicken stock cube
1 1/2 litre of water
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into medium sized pieces
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped or crushed
1 large onion, chopped
Olive oil for frying
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste, I like it a little peppery.

In a large heavy pan, heat some olive oil, add the onion and fry until almost soft, then add the garlic and fry for a minute, do not allow to burn.
Turn the heat very low and cover, leave for about 10 minutes until it is all soft.
Add  the carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, stock cube and water, mix all together and bring to a boil.
Mix the salt and pepper and lower the heat to a simmer.
Leave to cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft (approximately an hour). 
You may need to add more water if the soup is getting too low.

Once all cooked, blend the soup to a smooth consistency and taste, add more salt or pepper as you like.  When serving, adding a dash of cream makes it a dream!

My kids love this soup and it never lasts long in our house, try it and let me know what you think.

Monday, June 6, 2011

So Portugal what happens now?

Today Portugal begins a new life, we now have a new government that promise complete transparancy and work to an absolute.  A government that 'will not rest' until they see Portugal growing.  Im all for this, this is the party I would have voted for if I could have.  I just hope they can deliver on what they promise.

Portugal is a great country, very traditional, very proud, but it has lost its way big time.  There was always quite a big social class difference although this has closed alot since the revolution in the 70's, but there is a huge difference on income bands, you are either driving a mercedes/ beemer or a 10+ year old car.  You either earn between €475 (min wage) - €800 or well over €1000, most people (dont know official figures) around 70-80% earn the lesser wage, with 10-15% earning the latter and a minority in the middle, but the spread is so uneven. It is something that always annoys me.  But hopefully now the future is looking better for portugal.
Photo from Sapo
I love this photo, it gives a great idea.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Moving on from the crossroads.....


For those of you who follow my blog or read my recent post standing at the crossroads, you will know that after a long period of difficulties we were at a point of change for the better with two potential opportunities. 

Well I am very happy to say that my husband got the job up in Porto and starts next week.  Although the downside of this is he will be away from several months but it is a worthy price to pay to move forward in our lives for our family, we will know where we are going, have financial security and as much job security as anyone these days.  The company is strong and developing in spite of these tough financial times. We are so happy.  They said they would call, at the latest, on wednesday after they had seen all candidates on tuesday, but it was getting late, and I was losing hope, but trying to stay positive.  Then he called to say he had got it, I was screaming, jumping in the air, so happy, all the more for thinking that it was lost! 

For anyone who has been in this situation, and having that feeling of not knowing where you should be or where you are going, you will know how much relief it is to finally have a direction, instead of feeling like a kite blowing in the wind and to know what you need to do.  I feel relieved, happy, and positive for the first time in a long time.  And motivated, ready to move on with our lives.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Gallery - What Im grateful for

What am I grateful for, many things but I am most grateful everyday for my family. My husband and two beautiful girls.  They are my life, my world, my strength and my reason for being.  I am very lucky as some people are not so blessed, they are healthy and happy.  When times are hard, I keep going for them. I love to see them smile and to see them grow and change and learn. 

Come see the Gallery