Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to normality

Nothing happened. My mother must have said nothing as I did not notice any change in my father's mood. That was a good move. We both put that conversation behind and just moved on with the holiday which was calmer. A part from one of the last evenings when Oliver was given chocolate biscuits by a friend of my parents (seriously...) at around 6.30 pm. He was WILD. WILD. I did very well in controlling myself and actually directing him to run up and down the garden while I was "timing" him to burn some energy. Still it was tough. Tough to control him, tough not to loose patience, tough not to shout at him to just please calm down. My parents sort of stayed very quiet as I am sure they could see how many buttons were pushed at once and literally he was unmanageable. But we made it.
We had again a major sleep regression while on holidays which meant that we had to stay with him till he was asleep (could take 45 minutes) and read a number of stories which kept getting interrupted as soon as the end was nearing. Classic tactic which we normally don't indulge but of course, to avoid him screaming the house down and waking Martina (superchampion sleeper since she decided to sleep through the night at 10 months) and Clarissa (much less of a champion) we gave in.
So we are retraining again now that is the second night at home and this evening he was happy after the story was read, for me to sit on the stairs with my laptop dealing with emails but so that he could see me from his bed. He was asleep within 10 minutes. This is major progress. Let's hope it will continue. I would love for him not to be resisting sleep so much, i know he is 95% of the time adorable, but I swear, that 5% will make a saint go to Hell.

This brings me to introduce the education model I would like to follow and the constant battles I fight with myself not to be too much of a general when he pushes my button (and the guilt I feel when I don't manage).
I don't want to slap him (not even on the bum) and I want words to be all that is needed to deal with misbehaviour. Slaps don't make anyone behave any better, they only perpetrate fear and the idea that if someone does something you don't agree with then you slap him. I deeply believe that is wrong. However, it does happen that Oliver gets a slap on his bum, always after warnings which he happily ignores it seems.
Both Mike and I need to motivate eachother in this, obviously we both got slapped when we didn't do what we were told and I still remember it with a feeling of hopelessness as I could never react.
You read everything and its opposite when it come to slaps, so I understand if you feel this is part of a normal education for children (within reason I hope and never to harm a child!), perhaps even just as a quick way to "shock" the child out of a bad behaviour. I just don't want to be that parent.
So I am trying to read various other points of view and articles, and like always I need something that gives me power (even just psychological) to keep calm during classic toddler misbehaviour.
I think the best phrase I have read and that I have used since I read it, is to repeat to yourself that "you are the adult and you can definitely deal with this" "he is a child and does what children do" "his behaviour is not a reflection of you failing as a parent, he is just being a normal 3 and half year old" "it is a phase and it will pass".
Lately we have been dealing with awful behaviour in shops if we don't buy him something, if we don't let him out of the trolley (he inevitably runs away every time we do put him down despite the promises not to do so) etc. I have read and implemented a great strategy that felt like the discovery of hot water but I never thought of it that clearly. It is essential with toddlers to inform them of what is about to happen and to make sure they know the consequences of their behaviour. So it goes like this "we are going shopping now, we have to get what is written on the list. I know you are going to be a good boy, there is no room for misbehaviour in the shop. If it happens that you forget, I will remind you why we are in the shop, but if you forget again and still misbehave I will bring you back to the car and we will not buy anything at all, is this ok? Shall we go?" With Oliver this technique worked like magic. I was worried he was going to misbehave and I wouldn't bring home a single item, but he actually didn't. Since I have used this technique. Magic. I have also read that with smaller children it may be good to have a "magic" piece of paper in the car that you can read to them before doing whatever you have to do and the points are always 3, state what is about to happen, state what you expect the child to do and state what will happen if he does not do what you expect him to do. Keep it short and real (don't make any threats, just state a reasonable consequence for misbehaviour). This works also when we go to the playground and going home was delirious, there was always "one more slide" and "two more minutes". I was getting stressed even at the thought of going to the playground as I knew I would be that mother with that child.
Hopefully as we settle back in our routine of work and creche we will find a healthy equilibrium.
Your thoughts are much appreciated.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

She does not remember

I am on holidays in Italy. One more week till we return and already I had to endure comments and sighs from my mother on our educative methods with Oliver (having him to do 3 minutes time out if he misbehaves). On the other side my father is getting on my nerves as he takes the liberty of correcting Oliver on hideous things (which way you are supposed to roll up the spaghetti on the fork, pretending we don't throw the ball him while he tries to hit it with a racked because "that way he will never learn" etc).

This evening was one of those evening that Oliver was throwing a tantrum as he didn't want to do time out which was given to him after he had pushed his cousin (same age as Martina) for no reason whatsoever. Imagine one of those tantrums you can hear from two streets down. Mike was standing his ground and kept pausing the timer every time he wasn't sitting in the chair. My mother was behaving like we were torturing him. To which I said "what do you think we should be doing? Give in any time he says no?" and she answered "Certainly you have never been given such punishments, he doesn't even know why he is punished." I said "because when I was misbehaving I was getting a slap from dad, without that much talking". She looked bewildered and said in all my life I only got a slap on the bum and one on the face.

Now, yes I agree, I have not been beaten with a belt or anything like it, it's not like I was getting slapped every day, but I certainly got my fair share of slaps which I lived as a true violence as I wrote about a while back. I apparently pointed out the one slap she remembered when I was about 16 at friends' house and let her sit a bit on the fact that such a thing would not be normal if someone doesn't do it on other occasions too. She went so far to ask my sister who was sitting at the table (my father was out) if she remembered me being physically punished, and she just didn't answer. She always hated being put in the middle and so took no side. My mother said "we'll ask dad when he comes back". To which I said "whatever". She didn't say anything to him when he returned but they are out now, I'm sure for a chat. Oh how much I hate this. I know he will also not remember, I know he will want to convince me that nothing like I remember ever happened. What can I tell you, I know what matters is how I perceived my childhood, at least this is what I have been told by more than one psychologist.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Slliding doors

Well, I can't believe it's been so long since I posted last. And I had just said I wanted to blog more!

I am working on a photographic post about the children and Carlito as per kind request of Valery, nearly there!

I was hoping to have a post this weekend on some more DIY we are doing to the house. We are replacing the door to the en-suite for a sliding one. Mike is doing it all, following a video on youtube!! That is awesome let me tell you, and it will be perfect I have no doubt. But of course it wasn't done in 3 days, probably it won't be done before we go on holidays on sunday, but we'll be very close to have it finished.

And at the same time we kind of made up our mind we'd like to move...sell the house and buy a fixerupper so to speak, something to put our stamp on like we did with this one, but hopefully with a bit of a garden. I must admit the reason why I am set on moving is our neighbours living on the ground floor...they are lovely people but constantly smoke. We live on a toxic cloud of stale cigarette smoke. I hate it. I know I'm particularly sensitive to it, I think it's disgusting and above all it's disgraceful I cannot enjoy my balcony or have the children play there because every 5 minutes one of them is out smoking. Their place stink just as you walk by it. They are not infringing any rule of course, there'e nothing that can be done. We did last year some works to eliminate the smells coming through the vents, but there's nothing we can do about the air that comes into the apartment from outside!! Anyway, that's it, we had our place evaluated and that gives us an idea of what we can afford. So eyes peeled to the websites hoping to see something suitable at some point.

Project California is well underway, when I come back from the holidays at the end of the month I will start writing a proposal for funding, I have the full support of the College and Mike is enthusiastic too, my parents will likely come with us for a while at least, it should be good!!

Still on work, I have been asked to give an oral presentation at a conference in Belgium in October, I am so happy about this, for one reason or another I mainly presented posters to conferences, so this will work a treat to increase my visibility.

We have some serious regression in the sleeping department with Oliver, I will have another post about this as I have started to lose my temper with him and this is NOT the way I want to parent, so I will share some nice tips that are helping me which I found from reading different articles etc.

I love you all my readers, wherever you are.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Small steps towards California

I want to tell you a bit more about my intention of spending some time in California.
So when I went there  two years ago, I absolutely loved it. Not only I loved the food and the weather but I loved the variety of things that can be done and I know we just scratch the surface.
In my area of research, the top scientists and major biotech companies are in California. So back then I started playing with the idea that it would be so fantastic to spend some time in some lab over there, even a company would have been great, but I know that being an academic that would be highly unlikely. Then all plans (which were purely in my head at that point) were stalled with the FET and Martina's pregnancy. Once Martina was born I returned to work after mat leave and it really took me a while to get back into the swing of things, I have a research group on top of teaching and you know, it's not like scientific ideas grow on trees, if you are quite distracted with family life, something gotta give. And I knew if I wanted to feel inspired again I had to start going to conferences and scientific meetings so I did (in moderation of course as family is in any case my number one priority).
This last meeting in Rhode Island, like two years ago is the creme de la creme. The philosophy is that everyone is basically campus bound and conversations are easy to start and everyone there works in the same field. There are many companies and researcher and the very best scientists in the field (the kind that make you realise how small of a fish you are!) and I know I'm nowhere near that level but if I could at least breathe the same air it would do me a world of good on many different levels.
When I came back I tentatively mentioned it to Mike, perhaps expecting a sort of a cold response, but he didn't! He was immediately enthusiastic about the idea and we had to verify a few things. First we needed to make sure that he could apply for an unpaid leave of absence and get back to his job an salary (check!) and that I could on the other hand keep my salary or it would have been a serious problem (check!!). Mike was so on board that he even said "maybe I can also do some work in some lab.." wow!! I immediately emailed the colleague in Davis and I mean, who wouldn't want a very experience, hands on post doc for free? He got back within minutes saying his colleagues would be fighting over him, no question! Apparently Davis is extremely family oriented and if Mike works then we have to look into childcare, but should not be a major issue. I would hope that my parents will spend maybe even a month there and could help. Renting somewhere should also be very very easy, I'm assuming renting a car should be doable too. We will have to house Carlito (our cat) but again it should not be a major problem.
So there you have it, tomorrow I will initiate discussion on a potential project to develop and will try to apply for funding too (every little helps!)
All this excitement makes me feel over the moon and very relaxed too, long may it last!

Ps: Kd if you read, send me an email, I have no way of contacting you as I can't find an email in your profile!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The business experience

I am back, I am so happy to say that my return journey was upgraded to business class! For me that I have always travelled in economy it was fab! Pity the journey was too short to enjoy a good sleep, but my God, what a difference, the food, the service, the lounge in the airport...

The conference was good, I networked a lot and it may be possible for me to spend a few months sabbatical next year in UC Davis in California. That would be another dream becoming true, I'll try and figure out this week what do I have to do at my university, but this gave me a very nice and important focus work-wise. The weather in Rhode Island was very good, warm but breezy so overall really pleasant. This is the last time at that location, this conference will be moving to Maine in two years time, looking forward to a bit more life and the ocean view! One highlight of the trip was meeting a cyberfriend and her daughter!! Really lovely afternoon with them and the time just flew by.

Health-wise I have had the usual abdominal pain, not good but not worse than normal, I have started joining a few boards on IBS and see how I can tame it a bit.

I don't know if you remember that two years ago I came back to Dublin and Oliver had been admitted to hospital after spiking a very high fever. Well, this year I came back to Martina with chickenpox! Not as dramatic thankfully and the worse was probably over, but the funny thing was that I was collected at the airport by the same taxi driver as two years ago!!

My parents flew back this morning, they had a lovely time and just as well they were here to help between the sickness and the Mike having to work, it was a great help.

Right, that's about it for now, I'll be back soon!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Almost Boston time

Heading off tomorrow and hopefully the hurricane will have lost strength and moved further north. I am very excited about this week away. I admit, I need some me time. I need to switch off the permanently on call button, I need to listen to my music and go back to a proper 20 minutes meditation, I need (desperately) to recharge my batteries as I am exhausted. I don't feel exhausted, I simply am. I may even be able to read a book. I realised it's been two years since I had a night to myself, when I went to the same conference after our amazing trip to California.

My parents arrived yesterday with great excitement on Oliver's part and a little perplexity on Martina's side who, I think, was wondering how it was possible that the people in the computer were now here in the kitchen. But one day in and she has already warmed up to the guests!
I have packed the suitcase (almost), found a few dollars from the last trip in a jar in the kitchen and charged my ipod, laptop and phone. I have packed a swimming suit as I want to go to the pool on campus during the week. However this may be a bit of an optimistic thought as my period has decided to be late again. So it'll probably start tomorrow or sunday, just as I am travelling.

I want to get back blogging a bit more often even if it's just for myself and my soul. It is good for me to be talking about life and feelings even if the original purpose of this blog has morphed significantly. It did me a world of good when I was going through infertility, I think it will help with the anxiety too, I have to write it down. I know it is less interesting for the wider blogging community, specially for those still chasing what may seem a chimera baby (and I wish you from the bottom of my heart that it will be a reality very soon) but it may still be nice for my long time cyberfriends to see how I get on and what we are up too (thank you Valery!). I know I miss a lot my old cyber friends, those that have stopped blogging altogether and those that are now posting very seldom. Maybe there is someone left out there thinking the same about me! Don't worry if you don't have time to comment, I know this is my life and not yours and you may have nothing to say, just let me know occasionally you are stopping by, I'll love it!

I'm considering changing the title of the blog, but I am so attached to it. What do you think?

Friday, June 27, 2014

One more check (and I'll relax!)

So the pain in my upper abdomen to the left of the belly button is still there, intermittently,  and it had started in March. Add changes in bathroom trips. Add "tamed" anxiety. An explosive mix. Literally.

So after a bit of internal debate, I decided to go back to the GP. Could I have developed some food intolerance after the rounds of antibiotics this year? I knew the ultrasound was clear but I still did not feel well at all. Before going to the GP I researched a few gastroenterologists and actually made a couple of calls to find out waiting times for the visit and possible scoping. This one stood out and thank God for health insurance I could get in pretty quickly. The GP was great, suspected maybe IBS (which I never had and of course it could start any time but every guidelines said if this is suspected after the age of 40 for the first time, other, more omnous causes, must be excluded) and had no problem writing me a referral for the top GI doc. I went to GP on a friday and I had the appointment with the specialist on Monday. That's amazing fast. She was fab, Canadian, trained between Ireland and the States, a cv you could make a blanked and have some left over. She was very reassuring but said let's have a look, just to be sure to be sure it's only stress. So I had a colonoscopy the day after. Never had one before and I was sedated for the procedure so that was a breeze. What is not so much a breeze is the clean prep you do beforehand! A must-watch hylarious gig from Billy Connolly on the matter here, and he seemed to have used pills, I had to drink 2 liters of solution in the evening and 2 more litres at 5 am on the morning of the procedure!!
Anyway, as always I'm not phased at all by medical procedures so I wasn't anxious and then afterwards slept for hours at home.. I think that was totally what I needed actually!! I went back today (after an immediate reassurance that all looked quite normal bar some small diverticula) for a chat and review of the results. She tested me for celiac disease (negative) and checked my thyroid function too (all good). She also took some random biopsies (all normal) and observed this diverticula in the upper part of the colon. Nothing to worry about, they are shallow and open, but unusual at my age, normally you find them in 55 year old males. Ah well. On top of this I have a thickening of the mussels on the left side and certainly a touch of IBS. So I'm so glad I was not imagining things, yes, keeping calm and meditating and sports will help minimising the anxiety and IBS, but the pain I feel is real, thankfully a benign situation, and above all not in my head. You know the way you can really believe you are loosing your mind when every other week you have some odd physical symptom in random parts of our body? That was me.

One week to Boston!!