Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shove your stigma

Back in May I wrote about all the red flags on my file for post natal depression as part of the One Million Mums in May movement by PANDA for The Shake. If this weird brain of mine was in a graduating highschool class it would be voted "brain most likely to have a breakdown" so when I'd felt a little off for a few weeks during my pregnancy I made sure my midwife knew and I went and spoke to a counsellor to have a plan in place should I need it.

I copped a bit of flack for that article. I was told that "some people" thought I was speaking about things that should remain private. Funnily, those "some people" wouldn't say this to my face and got others to do the dirty work for them.

If it is taboo to talk about the possibility of needing help for mental illness and creating a preventative mental health plan, then what hope do those who do need help have? How much longer will it carry such shame that there are those that would warn you off talking about it?

These last few weeks, those thoughts have been racing through my head. Do I appease the "some", keep my mouth shut and feel like a fake, or, do I just put it out there, knowing that there are others who can relate. Others who may have been in the same boat and can offer a word of support; others who are there now, and need that little push to ask for help.

So I'll say it. I have post natal depression. There. Did it.

This isn't the most appropriate way to let my family know, but I just couldn't find the words to say it to them face to face. How do I even start that conversation when on the outside everything looks so fine? Oh hey, this slice is delicious, you must give me the recipe, and by the way I'm looking in to inpatient treatment for my mental illness.

So I'll sit behind my computer screen, safe behind the keyboard that lets me say these things and not have to see your face. Or let you see mine. Because mine is tear streaked and seems to have more wrinkles on it than ever before. I look old. I feel old.

I've been struggling. Really struggling. There is a lot going on in my life right now and I suppose I'm a bit stupid for taking so much on, but there isn't much I can do about it now.

A few weeks ago it became glaringly obvious this was more than just a temporary low mood.

Because crying for hours after the kids are in bed because you think your latest blog post was a bit shit isn't normal.

Because not being able to turn your brain off until 1am and then waking at 4am is not normal.

Because breaking down in to tears and becoming mute when someone asks you to make a simple decision (what you want for lunch?) and you just don't know isn't normal.

Because standing in front of the fridge and eating two blocks of chocolate without taking a breath isn't normal.

Because falling to the floor in a sobbing heap when you have a bad day care drop off isn't normal.

Because shaking like a leaf and crying at a loud noise isn't normal.

My nerves are shattered. I feel like I have ants under my skin. The pressure is building and I can't seem to find that release valve. So I called for help. And I'm getting it.

Having worked tirelessly to get off medication, I find myself a little disappointed to be back on it after all these years and find it hard to admit that I'm not as strong as I thought I was. And I'm so sad that it means I can no longer donate my milk to the prems.

But here I am, medicated and back in therapy. It is helping me sleep, which is good because I'm just so tired. The lethargy goes right the way through to my bones. Map Guy has been given carers leave so that I can just chill out for a week to try and keep from needing inpatient treatment.

I've been trying to keep going out, seeing friends, doing normal things. All the things that I really don't want to do but I know I should. And I'm so lucky to have friends that could tell something was up and have been checking in on me. 

So that is that. I'm sure I should be feeling empowered, but I don't. All I want to do is just go to bed and snuggle with my family. To feel MG's arms around me and tell me it will be OK, to hear Tricky talk about cars and tell me a fart joke, see Bobbin smile and hear her giggle when I kiss her scrummy neck. Those three people are my lifeline and stopping me from going over the edge. For them, and for me, I will stand up and ask for help.

And I flat out refuse to believe that talking about this is shameful.

Shove your stigma.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Letter to Bobbin - three months old

Dear Bobbin,

You, my girl, are pure sunshine. There is no other way to describe it. Your smile is just so radiant that anyone near you is instantly transported to their happy place and starts speaking baby talk.

You are a very chilled out little bebeh. You're happy to be carried around by absolutely anyone and love to see what is going on around you. On Wednesdays when we go to kindy with Tricky the ladies whisk you away and pass you around so they can each get their baby fix. You happily oblige, beaming at each new person who cuddles you.

You already have eyes for one person and one person only. Tricky. Unless you're hungry in which case the boobs win without question. But, oh, how you gaze at him! He plays with your hands and feet, and covers you with kisses constantly. Sometimes when you're asleep. Unsurprisingly, you don't like it quite so much then.

He asks to hold you all the time and is convinced he can carry you. Sometimes he holds you nice and tight and you love it but other times you get this look on your face that says "you're not gonna let this boof of a boy drop me, are you?". You cry and he tries so hard to soothe you, calling your name and telling you everything will be alright.

He has dropped your nickname already and if I'm honest, I'm a little disappointed. Having a girl called Henry was kinda cool. 

Your milestones are all over the place. A few weeks ago you could barely do a baby pushup but you decided you would like to roll. And roll. And roll. Over and over. Back to front came first, and since you are still not the biggest fan of tummy time, it was met with much screaming. A few days later you figured out you could just push off and roll back over. Much less screaming now. Hoorah!

This all seems to have happened overnight. Quite possibly because we are living with your Perth grandparents right now and you're actually able to get down on the floor without fear of some horrid lung disorder developing.

You are quite the chatterbox and will babble your way through most of the day. We have some mighty interesting conversations and you think I'm hilarious. You chat to anyone who will talk to you plus the Christmas Tree and your own reflection.

We are hard at work to get your bedroom ready back at our house and can't wait to be back there, all settled in for our first Christmas as a family of four. Things are really stressful right now but I look at you and your Muppet smile I know that everything will be alright.

Thank you for being the light at the end of this tunnel.

Much love,

Mama xxx

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Feeding and Fashion

This is a S2 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

I do not profess to be a style icon. I know next to nothing about fashion. But I do know that the options for mamas who breastfeed can be limited so when I saw how gorgeous the clothes from Milk and Love were, I knew I had to have some.

If you follow WMG on Facebook or Instagram then you might have seen me trying out a few breastfeeding dresses from their online maternity and breastfeeding store recently (or even pre-Bobbin when I started wearing this awesome waterfall cardi that has hidden buttons to turn it into a breastfeeding wrap).

I've been reviewing a few dresses (and a couple of tops) because I am getting sick of just wearing shorts and tshirts every single day. With summer almost here, and the weather well and truly hot in Perth already, I wanted to put a few summer styles to the test.

The first one I tried out was the Zahra Applique Dress. You would never guess it was a breastfeeding dress and every single time I've worn it I've had so many compliments on it. I absolutely loved that I could wear it with a pair of nude heels, a bit of a nice hair do and a fascinator to make it in to a smart dress but that it works just as well with sandals and a sunhat to be completely casual.

It allows great breast access which is particularly important for us larger bossomed gals or newbie breastfeeders. Because it really doesn't look like a breastfeeding dress and you can't tell how it works just from the front, I put on a white bra and took a photo to show you how it opens (bottom right)!

I also tried out the Getaway Day Dress which comes in both a full length maxi dress and a knee length version. I opted for the shorter one just to show off my lily white legs and blind passers by. What I loved about it was how the breastfeeding clips are concealed by a small piece of fabric so it doesn't scream breastfeeding dress. They did make it a little trickier to refasten the strap after feeding at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly. This one comes with a built in shelf bra that offered light support and depending on where I was going (read: how many people I was likely to run in to) would determine whether I wore a bra with it for extra support. It is fully lined, but I found out the hard way that you still shouldn't wear neon blue undies with it. See? Not a fashionista!

Left: Getaway Day Dress. Right: Frills and Grace Maxi Dress.

I took the Frills and Grace Maxi Dress for a quick spin and loved the frills and the, err, grace. This one was easy to feed with because it unbuttons at the breast but still has another layer underneath to be a bit more discreet. I'm not a fan of the tops and dresses that skip this part - It just feels like so much more skin is exposed when they don't have that teeny tiny little camisole layer.

All three of the dresses are nice and roomy over the tummy without looking like tents and can be worn as maternity dresses or, in my case, cover-the-paunch dresses.

I also road tested the Myo Waist Shaper Compression Top because of said paunch. Whilst I did love the slimming look the compression band offered, I think it would be better suited to women with a smaller bust and not my ginormous knockers (I range between an E and an F depending on how long between feeds). The right size for around my tummy was just a tad too small for the boobs and the right size in the boobs meant no compression for the tum. But this is something I've always struggled with as a large chested gal.

A smaller bust size would still have great breast access through the arms, but it was a little restrictive for me. Which is a shame because I wanted to have those extra muffins without the muffin top. When Bobbin is taking some solids and I deflate a little, it will be perfect.

Milk and Love also sell the groovy necklace I'm wearing in some of these photos, the 7 Pebble Necklace in Egyptian Teal. It's one of those food grade silicone teething necklaces that mean your kid can gob on it without hurting their chompers. Because of the materials you do need to run them under the tap to stop them feeling 'furry', but if your kid is actually chewing it you'd be cleaning it more often anyway. Well, at least I hope you would be.

On a side note that shows my maturity level, I found it completely hilarious when I looked down at the largest pebble resting on my boobs and read the brand name... Nibbly Bits.

I bloody love how maternity and breastfeeding clothes are becoming more and more fashionable. Not a potato sack in sight! If you're thinking that buying online isn't the go because you can't try it on, well you don't have to worry because the lovely Corryn at Milk and Love actually lets you try on and return the ones that don't fit, which is why I bought the compression top in two different sizes.

If you feel like popping over to say hi, you can find Milk and Love on Facebook and Twitter. Tell her Glow sent you. And if you feel like buying something, chuck in GLOWING10 for 10% off your first order!

Monday, November 18, 2013

How to create the ultimate Christmas Table for kids

This is a S1 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

Do you hear that? A mixture of sleigh bells and exasperated sighs? That is the sound of Christmas zooming towards you. You’re gonna blink and it will be here already, so best you get cracking and start thinking of what will be happening at your place.

Having little ones around at Christmas makes it so magical. Their faces lighting up when they come running out to check if Santa has been yet (he has, he has!) has got to be one of the best sights in the world. But when it comes to getting toddlers and preschoolers to the table for Christmas lunch you might need to be a little creative to lure them away from their awesome new toys. A beautiful table fit for the pages of a magazine, whilst looking amazing, is not always practical when you have three foot tall bulldozers running around.

So here are a few ways to create a child-proof table that will encourage them to put down the new LEGO and actually have something to eat! Now, I’m no decorator or party planner (I don’t see an old pallet and immediately want to repurpose it into a table) so this is aimed at other creatively challenged folk like me!

Create an inviting table
Set up a fun kids table by heading to the BIG W Christmas aisle to check out all the cute (and budget friendly) things available. I used:
  • A plastic table cloth for easy clean up at the end of the meal - $2
  • A length of wrapping paper for colour - $2
  • Santa and Penguin drink bottles - $3 each
  • Display stand - $4
  • Brightly coloured bon bons - $5 for 12
  • Gingerbread house kit centrepiece - $10 
  • Goodie bags - see below

Goodie bags are goooooood
A few inexpensive toys and choccies in a goodie bag will go down a treat. I used:
  • Santa and Penguin goodie bags - 2 for $1
  • Pudding chocolates - $2 for 10
  • Chocolate coins - $2 for 10
  • Bubble blowers - $2 for 2
  • Candy canes - $2 for 30
  • Disney bauble - $2 each
Have a fun centrepiece
With a mile a minute three year old and a baby I won’t have too much spare time on my hands over Christmas so I’ve gone the easy (well, easier) route and bought the $10 BIG W Gingerbread House Kit for our table centrepiece. It’s great for time poor folk (and those too addicted to Candy Crush) because it comes all ready for you to put together. No baking, no templates and no cutting out shapes!

I’ve never actually made a gingerbread house before, I usually make gingerbread men, so my first attempt at the house, was, err, interesting. I asked Tricky to help and he was so excited, but ended up mostly wanting to watch and cover the place in sprinkles.

Serve some fun food
I’m all for kids having the same meal as the adults, but sometimes having a few finger foods that are just for the little ones is great.

Santa Hat Strawberries – Pipe some whipped cream on a small muffin or pikelet, pop on a strawberry, then add a blob of cream on top. Voila, Santa hats! If you don’t have a piping bag place the whipped cream in a sandwich bag and snip a tiny bit off the corner.

Santa Face Savoury Crackers – Cut salami in to hat shapes (I cut a circular slice in to quarters to save time). Pipe a dot of ricotta on to a cracker to ‘glue’ the hat on. Pipe more ricotta on to create a beard and the trim on the hat. Don’t forget the pom pom on top! Hint: if the ricotta is too thick to pipe, add a little water and stir thoroughly.

Sandwich Stars – OK so a cheese and vegemite sanga isn’t really gourmet, but if you use a star cutter then all of a sudden it’s a Christmas cheese and vegemite sandwich and thus tastes so much better.

Win $100 to spend at BIG W by telling me your top
Christmas table decorating tip below

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Branching out

Six months ago I was approached with a super secret squirrel offer. There were emails sent, notes taken and meetings attended. All of these were done under the cover of darkness and required a secret handshake and codenames. OK so maybe not, but it was under the strict instruction that I was to keep tight lipped about it all.

The urge to run around singing "I know something you don't know" was enormous. I can keep other people's secrets no problem, but something to do with myself? I feel like I'm going to burst! Luckily with the whole preggo thing there was no chance of getting a bit blabby after a few wines.

The enormous secret? That the Australian Writers' Centre was heading on over to the land of Sandgropers. The part where I come in that made it so hard to keep my over-sharing trap shut? Oh, nothing much, just ME teaching the Blogging for Beginners course. Me? ME! MEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I know, I was just as surprised as you are. Apparently relying on profanity to get your point across does not disqualify you from all things proper and writerly.

In what is no doubt a soul crushing blow to educators the world over, I am now technically a teacher and will be putting it right on top of my resume. I'm thinking of getting a teacher's desk to complete my transformation and I fully expect apples to be left on it (5S thanks).

I can also now be mentioned legitimately in the same sentence as some very fancy people I idolize such as Karen Edwards, Allison Tait, Valerie Khoo, Tim Gooding, Kim Berry, Kerri Sackville and Nicole Avery. And not just in a "Did you see that Glow was stalking Nicole again?" way but in a "They both teach classes at the Australian Writers' Centre" way.

Holy shit, I'm almost certain typing those words just caused me to have a small stroke. Mind = BLOWN!

There are some mighty big shoes to fill here, with my east coast counterparts being the divine Kim Berry and the inimitable Karen Andrews. The pressure! THE PRESSURE!!

Students of the class can rest assured that the content is not created by yours truly, merely delivered with a personal touch and an anecdote or two. And whilst I can't promise anything I will attempt to reign in my F bombs for the comfort of those pupils with delicate constitutions. It's just that I don't swear around my children so when they're out of earshot the words seize the opportunity and come tumbling out like Tourettes, not knowing when they'll get another chance.

If you've ever played with the idea of blogging then I'd definitely suggest you check out the course. Not just to ensure my future employment but because it is actually full of the things that will really help you start up a blog.

Bloggers: What did you wish you knew when you started your blog?
Non Bloggers: What is stopping you starting a blog?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

So close and yet so far

I did it. I cracked the shits and moved out of the dustbowl. We're now living with my parents five minutes down the round.

I'm pretty sure my mum and dad's neighbours think I've left Map Guy. They saw me single handedly (MG was at work) hauling a couple of suitcases, kids, a still limping dog, a scooter and a computer in to the house, with tears threatening to roll down my face at any moment. Because the crazy is just under the surface right now and it bubbles up to the top for all to see a couple of times a day.

We are so close to being finished with the dusty, dirty side of the renos - quite possibly only a week or two left - but I just couldn't handle it any longer. Walking around with all our belongings piled up in corners, feeling grit under foot and seeing a fresh layer of dust over everything at the end of each day despite drop sheets and high powered professional vacuums to reduce it all.

Brick dust gets fucking everywhere. I think I hate it more than the sand and that is really saying something. At least with sand I can sweep or vacuum it up myself - this shit needs a professional vacuum or it explodes the motor. I don't even want to think about what it is doing to my kids' lungs if it can fuck up German engineering.

The other day our only livable space outside of the master bedroom became off limits as a new wall went up. Tricky's bed, which had been a mattress on the floor by night, then up against the wall by day so there was at least some room to move, now doesn't fit in the space. What will be the play room is currently looking like an op shop with all the furniture crammed in there. I was climbing over a coffee table and tripping over a block trolley to get the kids clothes every morning. And when you're as anxious as I am right now, it doesn't make for the best start to the day. Plus it smells like cement and is covered in bloody brick dust.

Dusty and old (with blue rectangle of doom)

But amongst the woe is me attitude there is always time to stop and think of those less fortunate. Like the people who lived there when that wall was blue. We moved the aircon unit the other day and the thought on everyone's mind was who the hell chose that blue? Oh right, probably my dad

So we really had no choice but to leave for this last part. Because dust and a rectangle of horrid blue means the place isn't fit for human habitation right now.

Instead of living in grime we've chosen the lesser of two evils and are now living out of suitcases. And even though it is my parents house and I can help myself to food, have my kids looked after and even get my washing done if I want (and I do want), I still can't relax. I'm itching to get home even though when we get there it will still need painting, a floor and furniture. But at least I'll be able to walk around in my undies if I want (and I do want), without worrying that the neighbours are going to see me.

Shiny and new!
It's the biggest first world problem around, but bloody hell, I'm really struggling with all of this. The bookies wouldn't take your bet on whether I'll end up in the loony bin because it is almost a sure thing. But whilst in said loony bin you can bet I'd be wagging therapy to check out Pinterest to figure out how to decorate my new lounge room. Because PRIORITIES.

I'm clicking my heels together and chanting that there's no place like home but so far all that has happened is that my shoes are showing signs of wear and I'm tripping over my own feet (related: must buy new shoes). I'm hoping that taking a step away these last few weeks will stop me tipping completely over the edge. Now if only Tricky would stop being so sad that we're not seeing our builders daily.

Monday, November 11, 2013

10 steps to the perfect Christmas tree

This is a S1 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

It is nearly Christmas. You’ll already know this because people have been posting those “it’s x days til Christmas” memes on Facebook since October and the decorations are filtering in to the stores. Pretty soon you won’t be able to go anywhere without tripping over some tinsel. This means it is time to put up your own Christmas Tree! Here’s my simple ten point guide to putting up the perfect Christmas tree:

1. Pick a pine
. Small or large? Standard green or will you go for something funkier like the BIG W black Christmas tree? Be careful, once you go black…

2. Scheme your theme. I’m a rainbow gal myself but I think ombre trees will be all the rage this year.

3. Tune in.Whack on the Christmas Carols - you cannot go wrong with the Bube. Mmmmm mmmmm Santa Bay-by!

4. Tilt up the trunk. Plop it in the middle of the room and go for it. It’s almost all done for 0you before you even take it out of the box so it won’t take long. Have a vacuum handy for stray pine needles.

5. Light it up, baby. Test the lights before you put them on! Then start at the bottom with the transformer/controller and walk around the tree winding the lights all the way up. Since you were so clever and put the tree in the middle of the room this should be super easy. Except for the whole so dizzy you fall over bit. We used the 200 LED starter set from BIG W because they use very little energy (I spend enough at Christmas time as it is, I don’t need a huge power bill too) and because you can add on extra globes later.

6. Tinsel time. As above but with tinsel. Make sure you honour the time honoured tradition of using it as an impromptu feather boa. Take a selfie.

7. Location, location, location
. Now you’ve finished with the lights and tinsel, put your pine prince where you actually want it to sit. This way you only have to decorate the visible side, saving valuable egg-nog drinking time. Plus you get to hide the ugly decorations from Aunt Gertrude around the back without feeling guilty because hey, you did actually put them on the tree.

8. Beads and baubles and bling, oh my!
Make it fancy. If you’ve got small children helping you let them know that putting all the baubles on one branch isn’t really ideal. When they do it anyway, just move them when they’re not looking.

9. Skirt around the issue. Pop a tree skirt on to make it ultra fancy or grab some material if you don’t have one. That nice skirt that doesn’t fit you anymore that is still shoved at the back of the wardrobe will work well.

10. Top it like it’s hot. Angel or star? This year I’ve gone for the BIG W LED star because at night all lit up the star is always missing! This way the whole thing is a-glow. And I’ve got a thing about things being Glowless, ya know.

I went and asked some unsuspecting shoppers at my local BIG W what had to be on their tree this year:

Win $100 to spend at BIG W by telling me your
top Christmas tree decorating tip.
 To make it easy for everyone to enter you can either leave a comment using Disqus, use the entry form or comment on Facebook. Or do all three! Best answer wins. Full Ts and Cs here.

Competiton is now closed

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dear Me...

Dear Me circa June/July 2010,

Brand new baby? Check.
Set of boobs? Check.
Read everything ever written about the benefits of mama’s milk? Check.
Steely determination to reap said benefits? Check.
Supportive partner? Check.
Smooth sailing breastfeeding? Erm, lemme get back to you on that one.

Oh, Glow, look at you. You’ve got that new mama look about you – the sleepy but serene look of someone so in love. You’re also got that weird crick neck thing going on from looking at your beautiful babe for hours on end – the books never warn you about that one, it hurts after a while so remember to swap arms.

You’re about to embark on a journey that at the time will seem like an endless slog of long painful nights, but in reality, it is only a blip on the radar. I’m talking about your first few weeks and months of breastfeeding.

There will be hurdles. Oversupply. Thrush. Golden Staph (don’t worry, it doesn’t look gross). Pain. They will seem insurmountable in your sleep deprived state. You’ll sit there at night thinking “just one more week” but not really be sure what you mean by it. One more and you’ll give up? Or one more and it will all be alright?

And then, one day you’ll stop and think “Hey, it feels OK. I wonder when that happened?” When it stopped being a chore and started being beautiful. And you won’t be able to pinpoint it exactly, but somewhere, after not too long, it just all started working. Which is so great because not only is looking at chubby star fish hands patting your breast while a toothless grin erupts over your child’s face (never dropping the nipple!) just adorable, but you’re more than a bit lazy and very forgetful so we all know you’d suck at remembering bottles and would complain endlessly about washing them.

One day, not far from now, when it has become second nature for you both, you will barely remember the hassles. No, really. I know you’re struggling right this second, dreading the next feed, but time goes so fast. Trust me. It will be fantastic when you get the right advice from a lactation consultant. 

It’s important, though, to not hinge your worthiness as a parent on this fabulous milk producing malarkey your mammaries are capable of. Because when you become unwell for a few days and experience a massive drop in supply you’ll feel like a failure. And well, that’s just a bit bloody stupid.

Your aim, to get to twelve months? Girl, you’ve got that shit covered and then some so don’t stress. In fact, you’re going to feed your first born for almost triple that. Thirty two months. Some people will call you all sorts of names for doing it, but you need to trust in yourself and what you know about sustained breastfeeding and its benefits. Surround yourself with supportive people and ignore the naysayers.

But in saying that, remember to respect each mama’s right to choose how and when she feeds her precious bundle and for god’s sake share some of that abundant milk supply around to others who need it and become a milk donor sooner rather than later. Seriously, girl, your boobs don't fit in any tops, do it now.

Happy breastfeeding.

Love Glow x

P.S. Then you'll do it all again and with that bit of confidence, you'll jump the hurdles so much quicker. Believe in yourself and believe in the power of the BOOB!

What would you tell your new mama self about breastfeeding?

This post is part of the Dear Me series being run to promote the new Online Breastfeeding Cafe. Developed by the Australian Breastfeeding Association, this new initiative aims to target women who may feel ambivalent about breastfeeding and encourage them to share, discover and chat about breastfeeding via a supportive online forum and resource centre. You can also check out the Online Breastfeeding Cafe's Facebook page.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tricky and Treat. We did Halloween and loved it.

This is the first year we've celebrated Halloween. Previous years I've had a handful of chocolates to give out for the one or two Trick or Treaters than came by but we've never gone out ourselves because Tricky had no understanding of it.

This year he was so in to it. He loved seeing the spiders and skeletons popping up in the shops and was participating in things for the first time so we ran with it, doing Halloween craft every day, creating decorations for our house. Strongly American influenced? Yes, but it didn't start there and even if it did, so what? We happily take all their other cultural influences, why the big fuss over this? Overly commercial? Definitely. But so is Christmas and I celebrate that despite being a card carrying atheist.

Last night, a group of 15 kids and their parents met at our neighbour's house and together we walked house to house in our street, respecting those who did not wish to be door knocked and not "tricking" them. Some of the houses we visited had one parent home and one walking with us, so that the kids had more places to go.

It was great to chat to our neighbours. We're "wave friends". I don't know all of their names, but we always wave hello when we drive past or if we see each other at the shops. We've had a street Christmas Party before and this was just the same except in place of sausages on a BBQ it was lollies in a bag.

I loved seeing Tricky's confidence grow at each house. It is hard work for him to be around other kids, he gets very nervous, so to see him interacting with a bunch of kids he has never played with  before was amazing. He needed some encouraging along the way and a few times he hung back and asked to hold hands again, but then he'd charge off again and walk with the bigger kids.

Watching the bigger kids make sure the little ones all got a treat was brilliant. Yes, it was all about getting lollies but it wasn't at the expense of others not getting them. They'd usher the younger ones forward and if they were too timid to go, they'd hand a treat back for them. And they all had fabulous manners - the little ones didn't even need reminding because they would hear the big kids saying thank you and follow suit. It was amazing to watch.

I'm not scared to walk our neighbourhood. Not even at night. It isn't the best area, but I know crime statistics show it is very unlikely to be attacked by a stranger. I love an area with a thriving community and if Halloween can help bring that sense of community, make people get to know their neighbours and not feel scared to walk around, which it definitely did last night, then I'm all for it.

We'll be doing it again next year.


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