My Day/Night Off

was awesome!

Highlights: –

Realizing on the way to the airport that I had never tested the phone number I had put into my mobile for one of my friends.  So I sent her a text from the taxi.  I had the number right!

Almost getting on the wrong plane because they said what door but not what gate at the airport and I just joined the first queue I saw.  Belfast City Airport really needs to finish the damn construction already.

Having no seat mate.

Going up to the ticket counter a the airport train station to be told that the next train wasn’t for 15 whole minutes.  Um.  Okay.  So?  Am I suppose to turn and walk away and head back to Belfast?!

Hoping I had gotten on the right train because there was only one sign and they never made an announcement.  I had.

Phone ringing as I go to the street.  T’was my other friend.  She was there and checked into the hotel and we were roomies and come on up!!

The instant chat and gossip.

Others arriving avec champagne, chocolates and cake.  Let the party begin!

Dinner at Wegamama.

The Comedy Store new comedy night.  Glad it was only £3.  7 acts.  4 made me laugh.  1 made me smile once.  The other two sucked rocks.

Sleeping until 8!

Not being able to get the other girls’ room on the phone and theorizing that they either a.) had been abducted by aliens or b.) that one had murdered the other.  We even knew who had killed whom.

Meeting more friends (and some of their wonderful children) at Slattery.  OMG THE CHOCOLATE!

Yet another friend driving me to the airport.  And naming my new company (more on the company in a later entry).

Going to the wrong terminal at Manchester airport.

No seat mate!

Home to a big grin from my boy.

Had a great time.  Can’t wait for the next one!!!

To Schedule or Not To Schedule, That Is The Question…

The schedule versus no schedule debate is almost as hot as breast feeding versus formula.  In fact, its been in the news lately, as LibDem MP Nick Clegg basically told schedule guru Gina Ford she was an idiot. Although not to her face.

The one thing I always knew I wanted, when I had a baby, was to not have a schedule or a routine.  My whole life was one big schedule, thanks to being a PA, and I always thought it would be nice, once I had a baby, to just go with the flow.

So I did.  Adam was (and still is) fed on demand.  For his first few months he stayed up until he fell asleep.  And so on.

And then the little stinker did something that still amazes me.  He created his own schedule.

It started at bed time.  Simon and I are not stupid.  When a baby gets cranky beyond belief around 8pm? That’s when he should be going to sleep.  So we moved our dinner time earlier so we could start Adam’s bed time (gulp) routine at 7.  And if we are even a bit late starting? He let’s us know he’s ready for his bath and his bed.

And then, just recently, as he’s started to sleep through more and more often, I realized he’s also set a schedule for the day time.  He wakes up between 5 and 6, at which point whichever parent is on duty gets up, gives him his dummy and tells him to go back to sleep.  Which sometimes works.  Yesterday, for example, he woke up at 5, but I managed to get him back to sleep until 6.

So up by 6.  Bottle.  During the week, 7 is chair time as Simon and I have breakfast, or, if I need to be somewhere, I take a shower and then eat.

745 Simon is out of the shower and Adam goes and plays with Simon while Simon gets dressed.

0800? Have a good day Daddy!

0815 – 0830? Fast asleep.

0900 – 0915? Back awake, time for another bottle and some porridge please mummy!

0930?  Time to dress me mummy!  Why yes, overalls would be lovely today.

1000?  Yayaya bouncy chair!  Get in the shower mummy, I’m ready to go go go!!!!

1030?  Let’s go for a walk/to the shops/anywhere please!!!

1045? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz in my pram while mummy pushes me!!

12 – 1230?  Home again home again jiggedy jig!  Ooh, clean bottom how nice…can I have some rice and veg now? And then some milk? YUM!!

1230 Disco Saucer time!!! Who knew Mummies needed to eat too?

1330 – 1400 zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz nap time!

1430 – 1500 If mummy’s lucky I’ll sleep a whole entire hour!!!!!!

1500 – 1600 Ahh, nothing as nice as lying in mummy’s arms waking up.  Oh yes, please, I would like to play with my Mickey Mouse!

1600 More milk please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1700 Kick kick kick in my chair.  What’s mummy doing? Oooh, washing my bottles.  What a nice mummy!

1720 Snuggle in mummy’s arms again.

1730 What’s that I hear? Daddy’s HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1730 – 1830 Play with daddy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I think Mummy’s cooking dinner.

1830 – 1900 In my high chair, playing and being with mummy and daddy while they eat!

1900 Bathtime!

1930 Bottle time!

2000 zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The times are not that precise, obviously, but pretty close.

And so my wishes for no schedule have gone out the window.

Darn it.

So In Precisely One Week

We’ll be on a plane to California.

I was feeling really really anxious about the trip, but for some reason all the anxiety has just disappeared.  Those 11.5 hours on a plane with a 6 month old will go how they go.  If he cries, he cries.  If he sleeps, he sleeps.

Same as for when we are in CA.  Taking him 8 hours outside his timezone may suck.  But then again he may adapt quickly.  I certainly have plenty of people to help us look after him if Simon and I need to crash out in the afternoon because he’s been up all night.  We’ve also booked two hotel rooms so we can alternate staying up with him and sleeping, just like we do at home!

So I am really looking forward to the trip.  I haven’t been home to CA for 6 years.  Or home for Christmas for that matter.

That’s a long time.

Now Let’s Talk About The Copenhagen Summit, Shall We?

Let me start this particular blog post by acknowledging two things: –

Thing 1 – Simon  and I do not recycle.  This is because until about a year ago recycling was not made available to the apartment dwellers at Belfast City Centre.  Then, once it was, we discovered that our buildings recycling room was locked from about 430pm to 9am Monday through Friday and 24 hours on the weekends.  In other words, it was only open when we were at work.  So we had no where to put our recycling.  Now that I don’t work, I suppose we could start.

Thing 2 – Adam wears disposable diapers.  Because they are easier for me.  And I already do enough washing, thank you very much.

Those two things being said, I would suspect that Simon and I have a fairly low carbon footprint anyway.  We don’t own a car.  We go everywhere either on foot or on the bus with the occasional taxi ride.  We rarely fly any where (yes, we are going to California for Christmas, but our last trip on a plane before that was to Tuscany for Simon’s sister’s wedding in September 2008 and the one before that was Florida 2.5 years ago.  So maybe we fly once a year? Maybe?).  We are both obsessive about turning off lights, not leaving the TV on standby etc.  Our biggest electrical expense, we imagine, is the washer/dryer which is on nearly every day thanks to baby vomit etc and our dishwasher.  We have lived without, and will probably again live without, a dishwasher.  But we are enjoying it while we have it!

Now that that’s out of the way…

I have some serious doubts about what we are being told about climate change.  Yes, I’ve read both sides of the story.  I’ve seen the charts that show the average rise in temperature over the past 100 years or so.  And about the melting of the Polar Ice Cap.  I am still not sure I believe it.

Why? Because I have been told many many things over the past 40 years by so called experts about our planet that haven’t come true.  I remember being told in elementary school that by the time I was out of school there would be one long city stretching from New York to Florida.  Where is it?

I was told in high school, by my father, who worked for Kennecott Copper Corporation (who were purchased by SOHIO in the early 80s which was in turn bought by BP in the late 80s) that we would run out of copper by the beginning of this century.  I still see an awful lot of copper top batteries about.  And copper wire.

I was told, also in elementary school, that we would run out of fossil fuel just about right. Now.  Funny, still seems to be flowing.

So how on earth is anyone truly suppose to believe that the world might be in real trouble in another 40 years?  Especially with the language that is used.  Might. Possibly.  Could.

Nothing is definite.  It can’t be.  There are too many variables.

And what about this summit that is starting?

Well, first of all, why isn’t it being done via teleconference and over the web?  I read recently that the carbon footprint of the conference? Is equal to the amount of carbon being put into the air by Luxembourg over a year.  So they are off to a great start, aren’t they?

I am not precisely sure what they are hoping to get out of the summit, although I have heard that it is a do or die sort of situation.  That all the governments must come to an agreement about carbon emissions or the world will end in, maybe, 40 years. Yeah.  That’s gonna happen.  Cuz all the G8 Summits have been such big successes (really really need a sarcastic font!).

And, honestly, the planet is going to be fine.  The human race may die out, but maybe we deserve that.  But the planet will recover.  Its been around a very long time.  And will be here long after we’re all gone.

Maybe that’s a weird attitude for me to have.  If it all happens in the 40 years they predict I will probably, based on my genetics, still be alive.  And my son will be 40.  So why am I so blaise about it?

The same reason a lot of people are.  Because even 40 years is a very long way away.  Its the entire time I’ve been alive.  My whole life.  To me? That’s a very long time.

So until they (ah the infamous they!) can give me, and many others, a definite answer that something horrid is going to happen in 40 years if we don’t change our ways, we aren’t going to change our ways.


Personally, what I really hope? Is that this mythical occurrence in 40 years will give mankind the push it needs to truly reach for the stars and colonize other worlds.  Even if I don’t get to go.

So, Let’s Talk About Health Care…

Most of you may not know, but I used to work for Kaiser Permanente in California.  To be specific, I worked for KP-IT, which is exactly what it sounds like KP’s information technology division.

In fact, I just found out that the project I was assigned to, which was called something like NIS (National Insurance System), has finally gone live.  When I left KP in 2003 to move to the UK (well, actually, when I was made redundant, but I digress) the project was about 5 years overdue and about $1m over budget.  It was (and apparently finally is) a system to allow KP’s clients to access their health information online.  It was 99% ready to go when HIPAA was passed and we pretty much had to go back to the drawing board.

Anyway, I only mention this so that you, my lovely readers, realize that I have quite a bit of experience with US healthcare, at least HMOs and of course with the UK system.

Let’s also straighten that out real quick.  I don’t live in Ireland.  I live in Northern Ireland.  They are, in fact, two different countries.  Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and hence part of the NHS.  The Republic of Ireland is its own country and I know nothing about its health care system. Although I hear its about in great of shape as the US’.

Let me also state here that the NHS is a huge organization serving millions of people.  And that I already know that my experiences here in NI can be very different from the services in England.  Each ‘trust’ or area can and does have their own criteria etc.  But for the record? For the most part? The NHS does an amazing job.  For not one penny out of pocket for its users.

Yes, of course, we pay for it through our taxes.  But we don’t miss that money.  You can’t miss what you never had.  It is taken out before the pay goes into our account.  All it really is, is a number on a pay slip.

And because of that number on that pay slip I never have to think ‘OMG Adam is sick, where am I going to get the money to take him to the doctor.’  Or, in our very real case, ‘OMG Adam needs an MRI.  I hope our insurance covers it.’  Because our insurance does cover it.

Yes, we had to wait 3 months for that MRI.  But that’s, really, for a very good reason.  Because there are other people more ill than Adam who need the MRI machine first.  The Lump doesn’t affect Adam at all.  As far as he’s concerned its always been there.  Its grown with him just like his arms and legs have grown with him.  The Lump has stopped growing, which is a bit of a relief for Simon and me, but for Adam? He couldn’t care less.  He rolls onto his left side as easily onto his right.

However, if it was affecting him?  If he had needed to be seen right away? He would have been, of this I have every confidence.  Why? Because when I dropped him and he hit his head? We were seen by a doctor within about 30 minutes.

Not that we haven’t waited ages in A&E.  About 2 years ago Simon cut his finger very badly on a broken coffee mug.  We waited most of the night in A&E that time.  Because, again, there were more urgent cases in front of us.

But what about day to day, non-urgent or usual care?  Well, if I call my doctor on Monday? And I say its fairly urgent? I can usually see one of the GPs by Tuesday.  If I say its very urgent, such as when I had a cyst on my shoulder that got infected and then burst? I was seen within 2 hours.  Just the other week when Adam was exhibiting signs of an ear infection and had a croupy cough, I got him in to see one of the GPs within 2 hours of my call.

Now, it wasn’t his official GP.  But that’s okay, because part of the reason Simon and I are with this GP practice is because we both like all three of the GPs in it.  And Adam is with the same practice.  He doesn’t have a paediatrician he has a GP.

If he needed a paediatrician, like when he broke his skull and his rib, he had one.  And she was lovely as well.

Also, let’s keep in mind that my pregnancy was classed as high risk from the moment that little stick said pregnant, because of my diabetes.  And I had my first OB/Endo appointment about 3 weeks after my GP sent the referral letter.  And, again, paid not one penny out of pocket.

So, yes, you hear bad things about the NHS.  About dirty hospitals and overworked staff without enough resources.  But I haven’t experienced that here in NI.

But I would have to say, in my very humble opinion, it is better than what goes on in the US.  Where it would appear that health care, decent or otherwise, is a privilege and not a right.  Where if you aren’t rich, or don’t have health insurance, as so many don’t, you can’t afford to get sick.  Its disgusting. And heart wrenching.

If I did live in the States I would be happy to have my taxes raised so that those without coverage could get it.  Because there were times when I barely had coverage.  Where I paid outrageous premiums through COBRA or private insurance just to make sure I was covered if something horrible happened to me.  Where I didn’t go to see a doctor for about 2 years just for a check up because I didn’t want to have to pay the money for it.

Yes, people abuse benefits systems.  People abuse it here in the UK as well.  But at least here in the UK we all know, all of us are entitled to the same level of health care as everyone else.  Yes, there is private health care if you want to pay for it.  But you don’t have to have it.  And I don’t.

As an aside, do you know  how KP got started?  The organization that is now Kaiser Permanente began at the height of the Great Depression with a single inventive young surgeon and a 12-bed hospital in the middle of the Mojave Desert. When Sidney Garfield, MD, looked at the thousands of men involved in building the Los Angeles Aqueduct, he saw an opportunity. He borrowed money to build Contractors General Hospital; six miles from a tiny town called Desert Center, and began treating sick and injured workers. But financing was difficult, and Dr. Garfield was having trouble getting the insurance companies to pay his bills in a timely fashion. To compound matters, not all of the men had insurance. Dr. Garfield refused to turn away any sick or injured worker, so he often was left with no payment at all for his services. In no time, the hospital’s expenses were far exceeding its income.

Read the rest of the story.  Its the beginning of the pre-payment and co-payment insurance system.

Too bad the system is now so very broken.

Adam and Mummy’s Next Big Adventure!

So today I put Adam into his Bjorn, grabbed my sholley and my shopping bags and headed for the big Sainsbury’s.  Its a huge supermarket about 15 minutes away by bus.  Well, if you catch the right bus.  If you catch the wrong bus you go all the way through East Belfast and it takes more like 1/2 an hour.  I managed to catch the right bus both coming and going.

The only entertaining thing about our adventure was the little old ladies who kept looking at him in his Bjorn sort of like this:


Slings and Bjorns are not very common in Belfast.

It was fun.  And Adam was facing out so I could see his little head going back in forth looking at all the bright lights and pretty packages.

So we did the shopping for the next 4 days.

Including Thanksgiving dinner.  Well, except for the turkey.  Apparently they only have turkey joints of any kind around Christmas.

But don’t they know I’m an American and need my Thanksgiving turkey?!?! 🙂