Friday, 29 June 2012

#FailFriday 29th June 2012

Welcome to another Fail Friday.

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Confession time: For most of today I have been calling the twins by the wrong names. Not completely wrong names, obviously - but swapping them over. My twins are 16 months old so are not in the habit of correcting me, although my four-year-old did. Several times. I ignored her. Told her she was the mistaken one. She wasn't. In my defence, my supposed non-identical girls are very, very similar. They go through phases of looking alike, and then growing apart again. Today was a looking alike day. Ah well, no harm done. Fingers crossed. I still feel like a failure though. But it happens to the best of us. And to me.

To Fail Friday. Link up your fail stories below, and leave us a comment. Tweet us if you want with the URL of your post. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Take my Mother in law....

 The battle of the biscuits

What's your relationship like with your Mother-in-law? It's a notoriously tricky one and can have such an effect on your happiness. MIL's have a vested interest in what you do - your closest relationships with your children and husband. It's the stuff of nightmares really. 

Now my MIL is alright. Mostly. She doesn't come round very often. We go to hers a lot but she spends most of the time in the kitchen. We were very lucky when my eldest was born as she was busy with her social life and while we didn't get much help at least she didn't interfere. In fact she was so disinterested that when we rang her to tell her we had some exciting news and could we come round to tell her? She said no she was going out to the bingo and are you pregnant? Well yes we said, can we come round to celebrate? Um.... no, she knows now and the phone call has already made her late for the bingo.

She's more interested now and has actually had the children long enough to learn their names and sit and talk to them for more than five minutes. I am grateful because she will babysit and they can be a handful. The only problem is that every single time we goes round we have to have the battle of the biscuit. Now I can be a bit of a food fascist. I care about what the children eat and while I let them have a few treats - the emphasis is on a few. My MIL has no such restraint. She has given some of the children in her care so many treats they have been sick. She has no idea of a healthy diet. When she cooks most things are fried and her dinner for the children is chicken nuggets and chips - with no vegetables in sight.

Then the biscuits come out. If she gave them one biscuit or even two then I wouldn't complain. If biscuits were the only treat then I wouldn't complain. What happens is that the children will go off to the kitchen and come back with a whole packet of biscuits - A WHOLE PACKET! When questioned she just says "well they asked for it." Children have no concept of eating healthily - they will eat a whole packet of biscuits. This is usually after we have already said no and when it is an hour before dinner - or just after dinner when she has already given them mammoth adult sized portions and ice cream for pudding.

So why don't I do anything about it? Well families are tricky, aren't they. For a start I have a deep seated politeness. She is my elder and my husband's mother, she deserves my respect. Secondly it is always when I'm feeling grateful to her. She has just done me a favour - how can I then turn around and throw it back in her face? Finally we've tried, repeatedly. She doesn't listen. She thinks she knows best.

The thing is she doesn't. Three of her children have serious weight problems. That isn't being mean, they are morbidly obese and it is a real concern to me. My husband and I try really hard to keep our children from this but it's tricky. I could deliver an ultimatum except that it would be pointless. So instead we battle on. Every time the same. The sad thing is my daughter is trying to make sense of it. She knows we get cross at her grandparents. When we go round she says "nanny gives us too many biscuits because she's trying to be nice." That is the thing, she is trying to be nice, but over feeding someone isn't nice - providing children with unhealthy role models isn't nice, teaching them that food is to be stuffed into your faces isn't nice. 

So any ideas how I can win the MIL war? Or is it a losing battle

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Maintaining intimate relationships with your closest ally

Thank you to an undercover trooper for this anonymous guest post.

Since having children my husband and I have been really struggling to keep up with our more intimate duties to each other and sometimes it does feel like a duty after spending a day running round after 2yo and having been up every two hours of the night with six month old. The last thing on my mind has been sex! And in fairness, hubby has been really patient with me and let me come to him when I’m ready. He’s really good like that, but it has been causing problems. And a lot of frustration for the both of us. Mismatched sex drives are bad!

So we’ve been talking for a while about how we can maintain our passion for each other despite the fact that we have two children and a cat that likes to get in the way! I think she doesn’t want any more screaming babies and toddlers! We’ve thought about a lot of things to help get me more involved.

Role Play: This was a bad idea because I kept laughing! He showed me nurses outfits. You know the ones I mean! And I just found them funny! Probably because I had a conversation with my mother about buying underwear for hubby and I stressed that it was dignified and her response was that she wears undignified things for my father. A mental picture of my mother in a sexy nurses outfit really put me off the thought of role play!

Mutual Massage: This was good, but it really got boring after a while, if you know what I mean! Although someone I spoke to in confidence about this suggested I buy a vibrator that we can use while playing.

Having Sex In Different Places: This we’ve done a lot! In fact 6mth old was conceived in my brother in law’s bed (Fact!) I think it’s just the idea that we might get caught that really turns me on!

Good Old Fashion Romance: You know what I mean! Candlelit Chinese, a bottle of wine, nice music... And then the baby wakes up for a feed. Yeah! That! Really annoying! Though now we’re bottle feeding, we can now farm the kids off somewhere and have a proper date night!

Today though, our desire to keep the passion reached a new level! We left the children at hubby’s parent’s house because they were both asleep and went for a walk. We weren’t planning on being intimate, we just wanted to spend some time together alone! We really just wanted to sit and talk and enjoy each other’s company. Well, we were sat on the bench talking and laughing and kissing. Let’s just say one thing led to another and we ended up in an empty field doing slightly more than playing! It was so much fun!!! I really enjoyed it anyway and I haven’t really enjoyed anything like that with hubby since we had the baby. Having post natal depression hasn’t really helped though. But it’s really reinvigorated my desire for hubby! And I’ve had a naughty smile on my face all afternoon!

If nothing else that’s got to be one more item ticked off the bucket list!

Is there anything else we can do to keep up our passion and intimacy do you think? What have you done?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Protecting your children online.

Digital technology is so much a part of everyday life, it isn't surprising that children would grab on to the newest trends and want to experience all that the Internet has to offer. While there are clearly benefits that children derive from Internet use, such as becoming more technologically savvy, learning to find information, being able to quickly share files with friends and having to read more because online communication is mostly written, there are also significant disadvantages to allowing children the freedom to use computers and access the Internet at will. As a proactive parent, there are many apps, as well as services and features within your computer's operating system that will allow you to monitor your child's Internet activity or take advantage of controls that will prevent them from accessing sites you deem unsuitable.

Households that use computers with Windows Vista or Windows 7 operating systems have built in parental controls that should be used. Microsoft enlisted the assistance of the American Academy of Pediatricians to develop age-based guidelines for Internet use, along with the parental controls. Their Age-Based Guidelines are divided into three age groups: one for children between the ages of two and 10, another for children between the ages of 11 and 14, and the last one for children between the ages of 15 and 18.

Children between the ages of two and 10 shouldn’t be allowed to use the Internet without supervision. Establish clear rules regarding their Internet use, such as how much time they can spend online, how often they can use the computer, sites that are age-appropriate for them to visit and revealing information. Make sure that they know that they should never reveal any personal information about themselves, their family members, where they live or anything that a resourceful person could use to find out more about them.

For children between the ages of 11 and 14, you need to be aware that they probably already know a lot about accessing the Internet, so although it may not be necessary for you to sit with them when they use the computer, they should know that you will monitor their activity, the sites they visit and what they do. Stress the importance to them of not sharing information or posting pictures that could allow anyone surfing the Internet to figure out where you live. If you intend to allow your tween to join any social networking sites, make sure he/she creates an online profile with you, and that they feel comfortable enough to talk to you about their online activities.

By age 15, children are even more familiar with things they can do on the Internet, and they are likely using it a lot for their schoolwork. One way to protect your teens and to ensure that you are able to monitor their online activity is by not allowing them to have a computer in their room. By having a computer in the common areas of the home, and requiring that they use it there, you are able to maintain a semblance of control over what they do and how they handle themselves in the scary world of cyberspace. Help them understand that you want them to feel free to come to you about anything that concerns them, bothers them, frightens them or confuses them. Make sure they know they won't be punished, regardless of what happens, as long as they communicate with you.

Create a Digital Toolbox
A digital toolbox generally consists of tools that are available in the form of protective software. One of the tools is a white list that parents can create after choosing websites that they think are appropriate for their children to see or use. As a parent, you can also create filters within those white lists to limit access your child has to certain sites, domains or programs when you aren't present.

Take advantage of warning tools that are designed to warn you when your child tries to access certain types of content. These warning tools may also allow you to tracks the history of your child's Internet activity so you can monitor their behavior more closely. The most extreme types of digital tools are software programs that allow parents to decide what websites and content they want to block so their child cannot access it at all.

Setting Limits
Parents need to set limits as to what their children can and cannot do on the Internet. If you're going to allow your child to join Facebook, make sure that they don't upload or publish their profile until you approve it. Monitor the way your child interacts with people when they are on Facebook. The Wall Street Journal warns parents about some of the very real problems that children may encounter while using the Internet.

As a parent, it’s important that children know, understand and accept that you have control over their Internet use. The same goes for their smartphone use. Use filters to prevent your children from accessing inappropriate and potentially dangerous sites. Talk to them about spam and phishing so they understand that there are people who try to take advantage of innocent, unsuspecting people. Make sure that your children understand that they should never give out personal information to anyone on the Internet, and they should be cautious about posting images as well.

Most importantly, however, despite all the rules, your children need to feel comfortable enough with you and trust you to come to you with their concerns. By monitoring their Internet activity, you ensure that they still get to enjoy their childhood because they have a loving family that cares for them.

This is a guest post from Cameron Tyler, a regular contributor to and big proponent of technology and internet security. 

"Growing up with younger siblings, I've always felt the need to protect the ones that I care about. I wanted to be able to combine my love of technology and security to help parents protect their children online. I hope parents can take this information and apply it to their own lives to help monitor their child's digital life."
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