Oh Bhalle Bhalle!!

Image courtesy of Pieway.com and paklink.com

Well, for those of you not of Indian origin, that heading must sound absolutely like nonsense! Well it is a well known Punjabi exclamation which can mean one of many things including ” hey lets dance”, “hey you’re indian”, just hey! I am of Indian origin though not Punjabi and this topic recently came up in conversation in our house. Both our children were born in Britain and at home we don’t speak any Indian languages .I am not making excuses, but this is due to the fact that both my husband and myself speak totally different Indian languages and the only common language we know is English.

The reason this became a hot topic was my husband was chatting to our 5 and a half year old daughter and telling her about the fact she was Indian. She proceeded to say that she wasn’t Indian, but British. My husband kept in siting that she was Indian. She then carried on and said “You and mummy are Indian but I am British!”. Then there transpired a 10 minute “conversation” between hubby and daughter about this topic. In the end I decreed that enough was enough and yes she is British. A few days later hubby reminded her of her Indianness and she conceded that she was half British but wasn’t sure what the other half was!  What a hilarious conversation and got me thinking about what makes you who you are?

Is it where you were born? Is it the place of your parents and grandparents birth? Is it the place you emigrated to ? A complicated and emotive subject.

My own account is, all my family are from India, I was born and brought up in India and came to Britain aged 16 years. I can clearly say I feel more British than Indian, though have firm Indian cultural roots, but would not be happy living in India. My hubby on the other hand definitely feels more Indian.

How do you define yourself as a person.I think it becomes more of an issue when you are of a race of colour, as people from the western subcontinent will always view you as being from another country. I am always  asked “where are you originally from?” .

This is an issue which has become a hot potato especially as we are trying to define what makes a British person who they are and trying to increase patriotic feeling in this country.

I however feel there can be space to be both, why can’t you say you are from many places, Indian and British and whatever else has contributed to your life? That is how cultures are enriched. Look what India has brought to Britain with Indian food, Bollywood and musical influences and even with the problems of the Empire, what Britian brought to India including the Railways and courts.

I do feel Indian culture has influenced me greatly and I love the music and the movies that I grew up with.

Luckily even with  all her talk of being British ,my daughter still loves Indian music and loves dressing in Indian clothes. We will teach her an Indian language and she has visited India many times already. I am looking forward to us taking her and her brother to discover parts of India even I haven’t been to and absorbing that into her as a person.

 

What do you think defines a persons nationality and culture?

 

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Blogging

So much for being a regular blogger! I am too busy reading everyone else’s blogs rather than updating my own. I thinks there is such an over run of blogs now especially fashion blogs and I am trying to find my niche in the bloggers world. I want my blog to be funny, thoughtful, an outlet for my creative writing and so much more. But am finding it really hard to get the will to blog regularly , what with work, 2 children and just life.

However I will persevere as if nothing else, my kids can read a little bit about what happened when they were little and maybe also put into context the culture of the world during this time, sort of a diary but on the web.

Kudos to all you bloggers who are plugging away on a daily or weekly basis. I hope to catch up with you one day!

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Work-life balance

Ah the inevitability! If you work and have children ,complaints about work life balance are a given, and now with 24 hour culture even those without children struggle to pack their social life in. Technology is supposed to make us more efficient with our time, the 21st century was supposed to bring more leisure time. Well that never came about did it? People now even go on holidays and answer emails and cannot switch off-as demonstrated by me answering my emails whilst on holiday. The only time I don’t answer emails is if I go abroad and don’t have wifi, then switch off my data. Ah the bliss of not knowing whats going on at work! I only work part time, but seem to get sucked into answering emails, etc in the time I am not at work and can’t then switch my brain off. Smart phones have a lot to answer for!

How do we get away from this 24 hour culture and wind down adequately and give ourselves time to breathe, relax, read and do all the other fun things we know are out there? A ban on emails when on holiday is one, organising fun activities for yourself and your children is another. Theme parks are a great way to unwind and having been to Legoland and Thorpe park recently , the fun of thrills and spills certainly makes you forget about work. I also arranged pampering treats for myself including haircut, nails done, shopping alone(bliss!).  I also managed to read several books on my iPad which was good for my soul and my brain.

Now I know its difficult to find time out when we are rushing around, but surely when we have holidays we can claim a no work zone and try and enjoy our down time with kids, spouse, friends or family?

Here is a link to a brilliant TED talk about work life balance- try this website , its full of lots of thinkers, creative people, business people giving inspiring, persuasive, funny and mind-blowing talks.

I think being part time does enable more opportunities for being balanced, but it has taught me nothing is worth sacrificing the times with your children and those moments spent relaxing, unwinding and feeding my own mind.

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The prodigal blogger returns!

Wow , what a slack blogger I have been, not posted for a long, long time. Unfortunately work and laziness took over! I returned back to work after maternity leave last September 2011 and since then found millions or reasons (and excuses!) not to posts.

All rectified and will try and post more regularly.

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Would you like salad with your breastmilk?

Hi all, sorry for the tardiness in the posts, but those with children will know the time consuming nature of the task!

Anyway today an amazing thing happened to me and I mean amazing in a ‘not very nice’ way. Our whole family went to Pizza Hut to sample the delights of pizza and unlimited salad at around 5pm. We had been there for over an hour and I was breastfeeding my little 5 month old boy, very discreetly I may add with nothing but my forearms showing! We then heard a woman come over and say,” That is disgusting! This is a restaurant you know .” Anyway initially I was a bit bemused and made a funny face at my husband, she proceeded to say again,” its disgusting” and then started to walk. That definitely got my attention and I said to her , well its perfectly natural,you are being quite rude by coming up to us and my husband also echoed this comment.As she continued to mutter, I got very angry and asked her to call the police if she thought it was an offence and we would see!  She left muttering, and I was so cross and angry . Both my husband and myself were really disgusted ourselves at this lady’s rude behaviour ,especially as my 4 year old daughter was sitting there whilst this was going on. Is this the message that we want to pass on to our children, that feeding them breastmilk is an abnormal situation?

This really does outline how backwards a proportion of the British population is in regards to breastfeeding. And we dare to call ourselves a ‘developed nation’? I kept mulling over this lady’s behaviour long after it had happened, and surprisingly this is the first time this had happened to me. I have breastfed in all kinds of places, with no problems whatsoever. I don’t ask permission , do those who bottle feed their babies ask permission? I am not a ‘breastfeeding nazi’ , as some brand those who are pro- breastfeeding, and I am feeding my son one bottle of formula milk a day , so am not against formula feeding whatsoever. But when are we going to get to the stage, as some Scandinavian countries, where breastfeeding is totally protected by law, not ‘at the discretion of the manager’ and where over 90% of the population continues breastfeeding after 6 months. Certainly not if we still have ignorant people like that woman and it will also put off women who already feel shy and uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public.

I give kudos to those who were involved in the breastfeeding flash mob this year at Paddington station:(Beware those who are of a prudish nature- boobs are present!)

Now I will have to pummel some sort of soft pillow to get rid of all that anger!!!

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There is no such thing as “new parenting”

Last week I took my daughter to a soft play area as it was raining and wanted her to tire herself out- so she couldn’t ask me any more damn questions!! Anyway I encountered an exchange between a young daughter and her mum. The girl was in her school uniform and wasn’t much older than 6 years I would say. She had proceeded to push a friend, apparently after that girl had first pushed her. (I wasn’t eavesdropping honest!). Anyway this girl proceeded to push her so -called friend at least 4 times, whilst the mum just kept talking to her and telling her not to do it. She once threatened to leave the centre if she didn’t obey, but didn’t follow through with the threat. I swear that this mum was chatting to her daughter for over 10 minutes. Now if that was my daughter, she would have had a good talking to and we would have left the centre  5 minutes earlier. What is the point of threats if you don’t carry them out?

I personally think we talk to children far too much these days as if they are reasoning logical adults, (which even adults aren’t most of the time) and don’t give enough boundaries. Discipline and boundaries are what keep children on track, something the schools and parents used to do well. Rules are useful for telling children what is acceptable and what isn’t. We have to have rules at home too, in order for children to know what is good behaviour.

Here’s an old fashioned way of disciplining children:( I think its hilarious!)

The question is always asked why are kids these days so bolshy and uncontrollable? I fear it is due to lack of discipline and boundaries. I am not advocating going back to the days of the cane , but rather the days when parents were parents, not their children’s friends.

My (unsolicited) advice to that mother is, don’t keep talking to your child, allow her a set amount of time to cry and moan, but give a warning and a consequence and carry through with the consequence if she doesn’t comply.

However at the end of the day we are all human and all have off days.For these days I highly recommend chocolate cake and a glass of Prosecco!

PS I certainly have off days and don’t judge people for having days of giving in to their children, but we must all, as a society, ensure these are not too often so that we are raising, well behaved, fun, enquiring children and children with a good moral compass.

Here are some of the books I have found useful through the years with raising my own daughter and that should hopefully work with my son:

  1. New Toddler Taming by Dr Christopher Green
  2. What to Expect:the Toddler Years by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
  3. The Best Friends Guide to Toddlers: A Survival Manual to the ‘Terrible Twos’ (and Ones and Threes) from the First Step, the First Potty and the First Word ‘No’to the Last Blanket by Vicki Iovine
  4. Child of our Time by Tessa Livingstone
  5. Toddlers:The Mumsnet Guide
  6. What to expect :the First Year
  7. Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer For Toddlers

Would you believe I have read all these books?! No I didn’t either! That’s what happens when you are a first time mum, second time around you read absolutely nothing! Most of the time you also forget your midwife appointments!

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Life begins at 40

Over the weekend, we attended a friends 40th birthday barbecue. She hadn’t really wanted to celebrate it, as birthdays are not her thing, but after all of us hounded her for a party she gave in!

I have never had an issue with birthdays and to be honest have never shied away from a good shindig!  But birthdays are one of those things that polarize people, you either want to celebrate in style or allow them to slink away like a snake. I love birthday parties and its an excuse to celebrate that you have managed another year in this fast paced, uncertain time we live in. I think this is even more important in a recession ,when there are so many depressing reports daily, on how houses have been repossessed, food shopping is expensive and redundancies. What better reason to get all your friends and family together to drink, eat, be merry and do karaoke? ( Oops , sorry the karaoke part is just my idea of a party!)

Frankly, for me , I am convinced my forties are going to be a brilliant decade. The fripperies of youth are well behind me, sartorially ,I think I have found my fashion style, my skin still has enough collagen left in it, my health is still good, my children still think I am cool( though how long that will last is anyone’s guess, as one starts school and the other is just a baby!) and I am looking forward to taking my kids travelling and generally having fun.

A lot of the women I admire now are well over forty such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Sharon Stone, Helen Mirren, in fact a few of them are pushing their 50s and 60s. This shows age isn’t a barrier to your talent, good looks and sense of humour.

The song above, life begins at 40, expresses how I feel, and as we are only midway through it, lots more enjoyment to come.

(to clarify though, I am still a few years away from forty yet!)

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Breast is best?

I have now been breastfeeding R for 3 and a half months and feel very proud about it. I breastfed my daughter (with one bottle of formula a day) till 6 months and intend to do the same for R (though without needing the formula).
Now breastfeeding is a word that brings about all kinds of extreme reactions in mums, including guilt, competitiveness, selfishness and arrogance to name a few. Probably on par with the stay at home vs the working mum debate!

A recent study ,reviewing the evidence of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, published in the BMJ suggested that sole breastfeeding for 6 months was not as beneficial and that there were some areas of concern. These were mainly that there was a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia, concerns over higher incidences of food allergies and a higher risk of coeliac disease with its associated implications. You can read the article here. Now you can imagine the uproar that caused!

I myself have become very pro breastfeeding, though never really gave it much thought before having my daughter. I found after having her, this intense need to feed her from my own body, at times detrimental to her own health I have to say. However I have found it much easier the second time round , though each child is different in terms of their needs and weight gain.

A friend of  my daughter asked me what I was doing when I was breastfeeding R , and I said giving him his milk. She then proceeded to tell me babies don’t drink milk like that , you have to put it in a  bottle!  I was gobsmacked! I did gently correct her and tell her that this was the way a lot of mummies fed their children and was completely natural. But this demonstrates the difficulty with acknowledging breastfeeding as a normal activity.

I would say to any mum to try breastfeeding from the word go, but make no bones about saying that it can be painful,exhausting and difficult for the first 4-6 weeks. Its a bit like labour, in that you have to get through the pain to get to the good bit! I also think breastfeeding needs to be made more acceptable and common, so that new mums or mums -to- be can see other women breastfeeding comfortably in public, without exposure or shame and they are more likely to follow the same route.

Good luck to all those planning to breastfeed and those who are already doing it. Those who have chosen not to breastfeed or who have had difficulty, I also wish you the best with your little ones, though I would highly recommend attending a breastfeeding clinic, or get one-to -one support in the home if possible and maybe for your next child breastfeeding may become a pleasurable experience.

What do you think of breastfeeding?  Do you agree with choosing not to breastfeed without having tried?

Here are some studies and contact details of breastfeeding centres/specialists to get you started:

La Leche League

The Breastfeeding Network

NHS Breastfeeding guide

The Journal of Perinatal Education

Breast feeding and child behaviour in the Millennium Cohort Study

 

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Wardrobe malfunction

Hello everyone, I bet you all have been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we have been having. It reached 35 degrees Celsius in my car yesterday!! And to top it all I was stuck in traffic in London for over an hour.

Anyway there is a good reason for all you girls to pull out the dresses, shorts, and maxi dresses that you have been hoarding over the last couple of months, just waiting for the summer weather to appear.  I unfortunately couldn’t resist the sales and ended up buying 2 maxi dresses from Top shop . They are rather lovely though and I felt cool and stylish when wearing it yesterday.

But on this note I wanted to mention a fabulous website that I found when scouring through several blogs, which is the most practical website I have seen on dressing , trends and also how not to spend more than a 100 pounds on clothes per month and normally less. The site is J\’s everyday fashion.  J is a woman who knows how to dress and more importantly how to accessorise!  The site really shows you how to make the most of your wardrobe and utilise every single piece of clothing and accessory you have. She has given me so many ideas for clearing my wardrobe and also creating wonderful outfits. There is also a link to her 1st TV episode in her blog, which I recommend watching.

I am currently making a list for a capsule wardrobe which once completed I shall post, but in the meantime, here is a link to a Mumsnet thread on the perfect capsule wardrobe which is a great starting point.

 

 

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“And all that jazz!”

Last weekend I attended my daughter’s first medal test for her ballet, where she had to perform a little number from Annie for which she had been practising for a few months. Now its safe to say I was a nervous wreck and practically in tears the entire morning, as compared to A who was perfectly composed and excited!  The thing that freaked both my husband and me out the most though was the fact that she had to have curled hair,thick black eyeliner and bright red lipstick!  In fact at the audition we were told off, as her lipstick wasn’t red enough!  God almighty, I thought I was in an episode of toddlers and tiaras!

On the day of the audition, arriving in the dressing room, I realised I was in the last bastion of bad taste in fashion. You wondered where that leopard print catsuit or Heidi outfit had gone? Well I can confirm they have been outed in dance competitions all over the country!!  It really was quite bizarre seeing 4 year olds in sequined tutus and leotards with full on stage show makeup.
However, the dance performance was fantastic and my daughter did extremely well, especially dancing in front of over 30 adults and 4 judges. We were so proud and hope she continues to enjoy performing and dancing for many years to come.

Now next year she is hoping they will let her dance to Lady Gaga\’s Poker face as she has the dance moves down to a fine art after practising on the Xbox Kinect!

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