Friday, December 26, 2008

Shopping centre crawl

We were in Darwin doing a big food shop. While DH was paying and loading the trolley I took the girls into the open section in front of the shop and got Midget out of the pram so she could stretch and Widget could run around. There weren't too many people around, so we didn't bother putting her back in and let her crawl through the shopping centre to the car park.

Widget crawled ahead of her to be chased, but of course went really fast and so kept coming back and forth. DH and I went slowly behind and next to her so no-one could trip over her. It was probably around 60m and she had a ball. Everyone else thought it was gorgeous, especially when she started talking too and you could hear "aaaah-aaaah-aaaah-aaaah" echoing through the shops. Most people smiled and slowed down to watch, except for the one woman who harumphed and muttered "Where are the parents?" Um, we're the ones behind her with an empty pram.

Why is it such a novelty to see babies crawling around in public? Obviously it would be too dangerous in a supermarket itself with all the trolleys around. And I wouldn't do it somewhere crowded. But there are many other places that babies can get out of the pram or down from the sling and explore, such as pedestrian malls and quiet shopping centres. We have a fairly child-unfriendly society, but at least part of that is because of parents - there are many things we could do to make babies and toddlers more visible and normal. Planners won't take them into account if they don't remember they're there. (Although they're pretty good in Darwin, with a playground and big fountain in the middle of the main mall and heaps of parks everywhere.)

A lot of it has to do with attitude and planning. It took Midget a good 7 minutes to crawl the 60m, because there was so much stopping and changing direction. If we'd been in a hurry it would never have happened. If the goal had been to get the shopping done and get home to cook dinner there would never have been the time, but we were just on a family outing that happened to involve shopping. There are so many things that can be like that - maybe living somewhere where there's not much to do changes your perceptions, but our grocery shop has been a fun outing for many years and we've just continued that with the girls. When we're in the city Bunnings is a particular favourite because of all the lovely wide aisles and it usually isn't crowded.

Having children and doing the household chores don't have to be separate jobs, they are all just part of life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Damned if you do ...

Have you noticed how many things with children are about making decisions and you'll never know if you were right? You can't rewind and try the other way, so you never know if you made the right choice. And it's a fractal pattern (I love that phrase!) which means it repeats at all different scales, from the trivial to the most important.

The current musing is caused by Midget's sleeping. With Widget I made various decisions, and I won't say I regret them but I do wonder if I just made the situation worse. Midget is even more apalling than Widget was, and has just gone through several weeks of not sleeping unless she's sucking. No slings, no cuddles, no comfort suck for a while then let go, if it's not in her mouth she's awake (and it MUST be the real thing!!!!). We've been working on it and have got to the point where I can put her down for a nap which will last 20-40 minutes, then DH can hold her to extend it. He's actually quite happy with this, he missed his Daddy naps and has had more sleep than in the whole year. She will also let go after about midnight so has gone back to having a few distinct feeds and cuddle the rest of the time, rather than screaming if she lost the nipple. I can get her down for the first nap of the night, but about 20 minutes later that's it and I'm stuck there for several hours.

The other day I had a little decision - she was showing tired signs, so do I put her down at the first opportunity or try to keep her happy until she's really tired? She's a very light sleeper which is part of the problem - she wakes so easily and you have to go through the whole rigmarole again, or she decides that she's had a nap and is now awake. I know that being overtired makes it worse, but the 20 minute naps just mean she is tired and grumpy until the next nap. (She's generally a very happy little baby, she's getting enough sleep it's me who can't cope with having to hold her all the time.)

Then last night it was a big decision - I just got sick of it and tried to hold her for a while instead of having her suck. Big mistake! She screamed hysterically, and I don't mean crying I mean screaming, until she threw up. This is with someone holding, rocking and singing to her. So it looks like we will be going back to the softly softly approach. As DH said as we were calming her down in the lounge room, at least she's very forgiving.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bats and thermal pools

We are up in the city for the holidays, very nice to be back in our own house. We've done the trip heaps of times before, but we're changing things now Widget is a bit older. Instead of going straight through we took a couple of days and did some sight seeing, stopping at the thermal pools overnight.

It was a lovely swim in the rain, it's not really a natural pool but has had a wall and steps put in, plus a ledge all around that Widget could stand on. But it still has beautiful sand floors and a current flowing through and is an amazing place to swim. It is in a National Park and all around are huge palm trees with an enormous flying fox colony. So you can sit in the warm water and watch the bats flying above you.

For the driving I sat in the back because Midget doesn't like travelling alone facing the back. Widget was fantastic playing with her, and she had a great book where she looks for things in the pictures. She has also got the idea of 'I Spy' using colours, so we had a good time playing games.

It reminded me of all the great holidays we had when I was a kid, and it was so exciting to be showing Widget these things for the first time and watching her being fascinated. Much nicer than 10 hours stuck in a car with a DVD player and some toys.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I love hankies!

I've been meaning to do this for ages and not got around to it, but we all have colds at the moment and are going through a ridiculous number of tissues. So I cut up some of my soft fabric scraps and tried them out.

They're fantastic! I love them! We're probably the only people in the world using bamboo velour for hankies, but it is so yummy and soft, who needs aloe vera in the tissues. They washed really well and stayed soft.

So my new project to add to the list is to get/make some little boxes or bags to store them in. I'm not going back to tissues.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Never happy

For the past couple of weeks Midget has been velcro baby, and especially won't sleep without sucking. I've ended up spending about 5 hours a day holding her and trying to get her to sleep. At night it's gone on and on until I give up and go to bed myself, at which point she sucks all night.

We've tried carriers and all sorts of things, but the couple of times DH held her so I could go to the toilet she got so hysterical she threw up, so I've just been holding on until the holidays started and we could work on a plan.

Well DH started holidays and we've been working on her naps, and she's getting the idea that maybe she can sleep without a nipple. Last night was brilliant, I got to put her down, DH settled her later, then she actually had a couple of feeds after midnight rather than sucking constantly.

So now my boob is incredibly sore because it wasn't emptied for several hours! I think that's the longest it's gone in her entire 7 1/2 months! This is a problem I could learn to get used to.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


We were off to the pool and I had just dressed Midget in her bathers.

"Doesn't she look like a little pink swimmer?"

"No Mummy, she's not a swimmer, she's too little. She needs Mummy or
Daddy or she will go down to the bottom."

Ooookay. I suppose there's a certain simplicity to the toddler outlook.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Never work with children or animals.

I had to go away unexpectedly, plus I've been flat out getting WAHMtique up and running but it's finally here!
I had a fun time getting modelled photos of the fairy outfit, hence the title. I'm going to be self-indulgent and put lots of photos of my little girl in, and I have photos of them in their Christmas outfits to add later as well. But this is what a photo shoot with a 3 year old looks like!

Told her to run around. Great action shot, but doesn't show the outfit very well. Actually I have a whole series of photos as she ran round and round me in a circle which look pretty weird, so this one I told her to run straight to me.

Told her to stand still, hmmm, not very happy about it.

So just run around and have a good time, which means


and near misses,

and shots taken at just the wrong time.

Let's get some standing still.

Don't forget the baby climbing up my leg while I'm taking the photos (that's my excuse).

But my gorgeous girl had a good time.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My baby is too short to stand up

according to the toy manufacturers.

Midget is pulling up to stand on everything, so I got out a big toy we have for crawling and standing. Better for her to pull up on something stable and designed for it rather than random boxes, chairs and furniture that falls over, right?

She can't reach the handles!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Second down - fairy skirt and wings.

Fairy skirt and wings are also done, the wings are double sided with purple and silver hearts on one side, blue with the appliques on the other.

It's a hankerchief skirt with a drawstring waist and some elastic gathers pulling it up so it's all floaty. The little flowers worked really well, they're suffolk puffs and gathered daisies.

I want to get some modelled photos with Widget, but I'll have to keep telling her it's not hers - she has her own fairy skirt!

Widget and I painted some shirts for her and Midget this afternoon, nothing ever quite comes out the way you imagined when a 3-year old is involved! But these are just the basis, I want to sew on them as well. I've thought of a great way to put tinsel on the tree type shirts using frills, plus I thought I'd put some little puffs on the bottom shirt for Midget now I've learnt how to do them :) The singlet ran a lot more than I wanted, so the spiral hasn't really come out nicely, but singlets are a pain to sew on. I'll have to think about that one.

Next - the minkee nappy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


OK, first thing is ticked off. These are the nappies ready to go!

Friday, November 21, 2008

To Do List

  • Finish packaging nappies and send them off to Little Rompers.
  • Tiger nappy.
  • Skirt and fairy wings for WAHMtique - needs to be ready for next week!
  • Minkee nappy for WAHMtique - practice appliqueing. - Ditto.
  • Mark III side snapped nappy, in a Christmas print for Midget. Matching T-shirt - For next weeks' Christmas party???
  • Gathered skirt and matching T-shirt for Widget - For next weeks' Christmas party yeah right.
  • Dora dressing gown and PJs for Widget - Christmas present.
  • Silk scarf with flowers for Mum for Christmas.
  • Sheer vest I cut out a couple of months ago for me.
  • Blue shorts.
  • Scrunchies and hair clips.
  • Hankies.

Hmm, and that's just the sewing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So now nothing's safe.

This pulling to stand has knobs on it. Today she's climbed up me, transferred to the table and got my hat down to chew, stood up on the laundry basket and got all the washing out (pretty cute, actually) and pulled up on the side of the wading pool where Widget was playing.

And it's even better when her big sister gets worried about her and 'helps' her sit down again!

But she's just so pleased with herself and having such a fun time exploring.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And she's off!

Midget has been doing the caterpillar crawl for a while now. On Thursday she started pushing up to stand a lot, and on Friday we put foam tiles over the floor - the ones that slot together and have letters and numbers in them. This makes it much softer and she suddenly got quicker. Then on Sunday she suddenly started moving her knees and doing a proper crawl! She's not very good at it and usually goes back to throwing herself forwards pretty quickly, but she's crawling.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Take a deep breath and start again.

Having a child really changed me. Not just in the obvious ways, but it changed the way I live and operate. I've always been into plans and been a bit of a control freak, while being completely disorganised physically I've always had a clear direction mentally.

Having a child meant that went out the window. Not without some angst, I never tried a routine but I did desperately worry over Widget's sleep (or lack thereof). I learnt to go with the flow, to enjoy things as they were happening and live not even one day at a time, but in 10 minute segments.

Having a second child and a toddler has changed it all again.

Midget sleeps no better than Widget did, but it doesn't worry me. Up until now I've just put her down when she is tired and not bothered about what time it is. (Although at the moment I'm trying to convince her that 6 months is too young to only have one nap!) We're actually getting a bit of a routine happening though. Not a time based one, but more cutting the day and week into segments. Mornings are outside, when it gets hot we come in for a play, during one of Midget's naps we do some cooking, then in the afternoon we do a bit of craft. Mondays we try to get out to daycare, Tuesday is swimming, Wednesday is a quiet day at home, Thursday daycare again and Friday is playgroup.

Paradoxically, while the overall scheme is becoming more organised, minute to minute is becoming more chaotic. A big part of that is exhaustion. 6 months without time off is taking its toll, especially with the late nights to have five minutes to myself. It's been hard to be consistent with Widget, because I always seem to be reacting to her behaviour. She's actually pretty amazing compared to other toddlers, but when you've put up with an annoying habit what feels like a million times a day for the last 6 months and can't even go to the toilet without refereeing it's pretty easy to snap.

So I've been doing a lot of deep breathing and starting again. Just because I've yelled, or snapped, or said the wrong thing I'm trying not to dwell on it and store it up for guilt, because that makes my next reaction worse. Just apologise and concentrate on doing it better this time. I'm also breaking things down into small bits I can cope with and looking for victories there. For example one of the things I struggle with is her reaction to being told no, the whining yell is so annoying it will flash me over to instant rage. But I feel bad telling her not to do it, because if she is upset I want her to be able to express that. So today we talked about how else she could express being very upset. We practiced her sad face, and saying 'Mummy I'm very very sad.' So now I feel like I have a bit of control, I have something to work on with her. I know it will take a while, but rather than saying "Don't" I can tell her what to do. Then we can work on the next thing.

Another thing I'm working on is to remember there are two of us in this. I heard a great suggestion about using coloured faces that I want to set up, so she knows what mood I'm in. So rather than getting snappier, I can change the face and she can see that the temper is fraying. And it can be linked to her or not - I can use it to warn her, or to say look I'm tired, so be careful.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thinking Time

The other day I was putting clothes away in Widget's room and found Elmo in a drawer.

"Oh, look what I've found! What was Elmo doing all by himself in
"No, Mummy. Elmo was mean. He needs to think by himself."

Just for the record, I have never put Widget in a drawer. However we have started having 'thinking time' on her 'thinking spot' which is basically the kitchen. I started with her in front of a cupboard where I could see her, but she has chosen to hide in a corner and I'm not going to fight about it. It's usually more 'protection time' when I've just rescued her sister from being sat on.

It's always a big fight, it turns into lots of screaming and yelling. But I need the time for me to calm down. I doubt she's there for 3 minutes, but it just gives me enough time give Midget a hug then calm down and not yell at her. Then I go and talk to her and she has a hug.

I don't think she is actually getting anything from the talks, but maybe repetition will have something sink in. And it's a nice way to end a fight, with a calm quiet talk and a hug rather than yelling.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

But Mummy, I don't want to dance!

Widget has suddenly discovered singing and dancing. It seems to be a bit later than other kids, up until now she has flatly refused. And no Wiggles or Hi-5 here, thank you very much. She dances to Allegria, Bare Naked Ladies, and general rock.

Her dancing style is rather, um, vigorous. As well as arm and head wiggles there is lots of running and jumping. This morning she was 'singing' outside running up and down the driveway yelling "oKAAAAY, awwwRIGHT," and to be fair there is a bit of a tune there. The problem is when she wants to share with her little sister. I've had to go and rescue Midget 3 times today as her sister 'dances' with her. For someone who's just learnt how to sit it's all a bit overwhelming.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

If it wasn't for the boobs, ...

I'd definitely be second in the popularity stakes.

Midget is completely, head over heels in love with Widget. Which is great, especially as Widget seems to love her right back. Of course she takes toys off her, but that is typical of being 3, and I'm amazed she hasn't done major damage with trying to move her around. She's just trying to love her, but it must be painful and often ends in tears, or at least grizzling and a rescue dash from the toilet.

However the boobs win, and Midget is just as much of an obsessive little sucker as Widget was (is!). Which really makes me wonder how on earth women who don't/can't feed cope. Obviously they find their own ways to solve problems, but it must be a very different way of raising a baby.

I didn't do it on purpose, but both my girls have been raised in a way fairly close to biologically normal. I purposely don't say natural, I think that's both a silly and nasty label, but I do try to step back when I'm frustrated and think about life on the savannah with the hunter/gatherers. Not in the sense of 'this is how it was done' - even chimps show cultural variation, so anything that could possibly be called human will have had it, which means that there is no such thing as the one true way. But more to work out why they are doing whatever is frustrating me, so if we were out there, what would our babies need?

Fairly obvious answer - to be carried, fed and protected. It doesn't have to be Mum doing these things, but in our current household I'm elected because of the boobs.

The girls are both snackers, in fact I sometimes think I encourage it, maybe I offer a feed when I want a bit of time on the computer *blush*. I think Midget's gone longer than 2 hours about 3 times in her life, and that's night and day. It doesn't worry me because Widget was the same, but when she went out and had other things to look at she didn't miss me, so it was convenience rather than starvation. They both feed/fed to sleep, and that's pretty much the only way I can get them to sleep. Again, when I wasn't available Widget would sleep happily for grandparents, so I know Midget would be fine if I wasn't around. Midget is in the bed and currently feeding a lot at night, I don't know how much because I'm asleep, but I'm getting frustrated at not being able to roll over so it's more than it used to be. And they both comfort feed. Widget has had a bad run the last couple of days with falling over and she's asked for feeds.

So just look how many things in a day would have to be done differently if I didn't breastfeed - all feeds, obviously, a couple of naps, settling during the night, comforting from a bump or overenthusiastic sister, grizzling, being overtired, and we haven't even hit teething or tantrums yet! Basically all Midget's needs except playing and nappy changing are based around the boobs. I would be a completely different parent if I couldn't or didn't use them, and it's something I find difficult to even imagine. (not worse, different)

I think this is something that needs to be said more openly by Mums and breastfeeding advocates. One of the reasons formula marketing is so successful is that we are accepting their definitions, and that's half the battle. The ONLY way in which formula can be compared to breastfeeding is as a food, so that is what they do. Or they have somehow turned it into a medication - for reflux, to make them sleep longer, or whatever other claims are made. And by concentrating on and answering those claims we are accepting them. Even the name - breastfeeding - agrees that it's all about food.

I know it's not so simple, because making your boobs available to your baby isn't just about getting them out. You also have to accept that your baby isn't manipulating you, and maybe they do know what they need. There is a lot of pressure not to give in and spoil them. But whenever there are a lot of things contributing to a problem, that also means there are a lot of opportunities to chip away slowly, and we can all just do the bits we feel comfortable with.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Toddler Cooking

  • Stick toothpicks along a banana, use a butter or eating knife to cut it up, freeze it.
  • Cut up a piece of toast and some frankfurters, put on toothpicks.
  • Scrambled eggs - she can use an eating knife to cut up mushrooms, then mixes the eggs.
  • Banana biscuits - cream a banana, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup butter, mix in an egg, vanilla, nutmeg and 3/4 cup plain flour, drop dough onto a tray and cook for about 10mins at 190 degrees. I generally make it with a sugar substitute and wholemeal flour.
  • Apricot slice - pretty much the same, but she is very good at chopping up tinned apricots into big chunks.
  • All sorts of baking that just needs to be mixed.
  • Frozen yoghurt - use a teaspoon to put yoghurt into flexible icecube trays.
  • Jelly - mix it in a tall jug so she can mix it without it splashing or going anywhere.
  • Use a spoon to get 'applecado' out of the skin.
  • Anything made in a bread mixer.

Friday, October 31, 2008


OK there are lots of things I've mentioned, I thought I'd do a bit of a round up.

  • Midget is loving solids, she has had carrot, cauliflower and apple. I don't think she's actually swallowed anything, but she has a good old chew and suck on them.

  • She's six months (eek!) and pretty much crawling. Not the full on action, but she's mobile in a forward direction.

  • She's just gone through a stage of not sleeping unless she's attached, but fingers crossed seems to be coming out of it.

  • Widget has lost the imaginary friends and has picked up monsters :( She spends the day saying she can't go to the toilet because it's dark in my bedroom (???)and asking what sounds are.

  • We cook just about every day, she loves making banana biscuits and apricot slice.

  • I have put her on the waiting list for daycare one afternoon a week. Because she is on the list we are allowed to go in any time for 'orientation,' which is perfect. We are going in once a week or so and she gets to play with the other kids and get used to it with me there.

  • I'm being quite positive at the moment and seem to be coping well.

  • We've rearranged the living room to give me a place to work, somewhere Widget can do craft and a big space for Midget to crawl around in. This has had an impact on the amount of TV.

  • I finally made the water sling that's been on the to-do list for about 2 years and it was fantastic! I could go swimming with both girls and Midget had a ball.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

OK, I know this is twee,

but look at my two gorgeous girls! The fabric came already shirred and I just had to put a seam in the back, hem it and add straps.

Widget thinks it's just wonderful having the same dress as Midget!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

There, but for the grace of God, go I

All for want of a horseshoe nail.

A butterfly flaps its wings in China.

Sliding doors.

We have all sorts of images to express contingency - if it weren't for this tiny little thing, something completely different would have happened.

I was brought face to face with it yesterday at playgroup. There is another 6 month old baby there, in fact she was born two hours earlier than Midget in the next birth suite. It's fun seeing her, but yesterday it was such a shock to see her hoeing in to apple puree and eating more than half the jar, it obviously wasn't her first time, and apparently she is on formula full time as well. Midget is currently sitting on my lap enjoying her first food, a large carrot stick she's been gumming and sucking on and off all afternoon. She's having a ball but won't actually eat any of it - it's too hard for her to get any off. We will move on to softer food, this was just something for her to play with today.

Is one way better or worse? No, I don't think so. But the point is, if I hadn't found the ABA website, that would probably have been us. If I hadn't lived in the middle of nowhere, I wouldn't have gone looking for company on the internet. If I hadn't had problems getting Widget to open her mouth, I wouldn't have gone looking for the ABA. A large number of tiny things led to that search, and that search has had huge implications for my life.

If it weren't for the ABA forum I doubt I would have heard of baby led solids. I would not have fed to sleep. I seriously doubt I would still be feeding Widget at 3 years old. I quite possibly wouldn't have found the cloth nappy forum, in which case I wouldn't be running a cloth nappy business. I wouldn't have started sewing clothes for myself and the girls, I don't know what I would be doing for a hobby. I probably wouldn't have had the idea for the science educational business which is my long-term plan.

My life would be completely different.

And contingency is fractal - it happens at all scales. It happens in individual lives. It happens to communities - I've just voted in a local council election. It happens to nations - what would the global economic situation be if 9/11 hadn't occurred? It happens to species - what would life for the last few million years have been like without the icecaps?

My all-time favourite writer, Stephen Jay Gould, wrote a book about contingency in evolution called "Wonderful Life," using the movie as a modern example and the Burgess Shale pre-Cambrian fossils (seriously old, seriously important) to help demonstrate the hypothesis that we are here in this form by accident. Many, many years ago I studied human evolution and worked with contingency on a professional basis. Then I moved on, changed careers and had kids. Now here I am looking at my 6 month old baby and realising contingency is still with me.

I'm definitely not talking about fate - in fact contingency is the opposite, saying that we can be blown around by tiny, unpredictable events. And I find that rather refreshing. It gives us the space, the freedom to exercise our own judgement, make our own decisions. It creates a paradox, that we can be influenced by tiny things, but still take charge and be responsible for our own lives.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

For better or worse?

There's been a thread running on a forum about 'feminine hygiene products' that's been a bit of an eye opener.

An amazing number of women have admitted to hating them.

I always did myself, to the extent of free bleeding as much as I could. That means using nothing, just going to the toilet often and washing. I'm lucky I have a very light flow and could do that. It was a major factor in my choosing cloth nappies - if I hate them so much, I wasn't putting that on my baby. And that led to me discovering menstrual cups and cloth pads, which are fantastic. They are so much more comfortable than icky, creased, dry, cotton and paper.

But rather than talking about the products themselves, what about the marketing? What a colossal con job has been pulled on us! This is a product that a large percentage of its customers hate, loathe and despise, yet we are still buying them (At least until you try a cup! Go on!). Somehow we have been tricked into thinking there is no choice, that this is the way things have to be. If we stop and think about it for a moment it is obvious that there were once alternatives, we know the surfboards haven't been around all that long. But there is an unconscious assumption that they must have been worse. Part of that is logical - I mean why would you give up something that works for an inferior product? - but you have to wonder what other social factors were part of it.

Was there an assumption that modern is better? Technology forging onward and upward? Was it more a social thing, that menstruation should be hidden, folded into neat little packages and thrown away rather than soaked, washed and hung on the line for all to see? Was it part of moving into a 'man's world,' symbolically giving up domestic duties such as laundry? Were they genuinely more convenient for women who were spending more time outside the home? Because of course the non-disposable pads of 50 years ago wouldn't have been like modern pads, maybe the surfboards were better at the time.

Menstrual products are largely (and literally!) invisible in our society, so it is easy to see how women would never realise how many of us are unhappy with them. But I wonder how many other products we have accepted and put up with that we don't have to. The marketing of breast milk substitutes is an obvious example, but I bet technology is full of them - have a look at your typewriter keyboard.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

They're very yummy darling, but not for you.

When Widget was much younger she had a very distressing reaction to tomato, actually screaming as she wee'd because it burnt her. She was still in nappies and I would race to get it off her and get her into a trough or bath and run water over her. I wasn't too worried, (although obviously we cut out tomato!) because I know that fresh tomato reactions are relatively common. Plus we have geographic tongues running in my family and I noticed Widget had it too, and for most of us (including me) fresh tomato is a trigger.

As she got older we gradually re-introduced it in small amounts, and there seemed to be no more problems.

Now she toilets independently, and occasionally complains of being sore and is a bit red. We assumed it was because she doesn't wipe very well yet, and have been making an effort to help her and wash everything well. Then the other day she was extremely sore and red, crying when we tried to wash her.

That night I was flicking through a forum and read someone talking about their child reacting to salicylates with disturbed sleep.

The next day DH realised she had had a lot of strawberries lately, another common trigger, and I remembered the cherry tomatoes that she adores. That was when I realised that maybe the shocking sleep she'd had lately could also be connected. She often wakes up at night but generally goes back to sleep easily. This last week she's been staying awake literally for hours.

We cut out the strawberries and tomatoes, and lo and behold her bottom is better and that night she slept through. So it appears we still have a sensitivity, hopefully if she has any other triggers we will be aware and pick them up quicker. It's so difficult, who would guess that eating strawberries would stop her sleeping? She didn't complain of any pains or discomfort, and she's 3 - you expect little kids to have sleeping and toileting problems. It's also not immediate, but happens later that day or the next day as it works it's way through her system. I suppose we're lucky that it's so minor, although maybe if it was spectacular it would be easier to pick up.

At the same time it's important not to go too far the other way. The next day she was absolutely revolting after lunch, but when I checked what she'd eaten there was nothing she could possibly have reacted too. Darn it, sometimes they just behave like that. (And sometimes Mummy wishes she would have a nap.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Breaking the rules

Well, I'm a naughty Mummy. I've broken so many rules.

  • I have no idea how many times a night Midget feeds. When she first wakes up she comes into bed with us. When my legs get stiff I wake up and roll over a bit, when I realise she's been on one side a long time I roll her over.
  • I have no idea how many times a day Midget feeds. When she gets grizzly?
  • Her naps are all over the place. Poor little thing fits in with whatever is happening. The first one tends to be very early - she only makes it about 1 1/2 hours after getting up, which usually means we've just finished breakfast - but the second one happens whenever.
  • Mummy's magic sleeping potion is the only way to get her to sleep, except occasionally in the car if she's exhausted.

  • Widget seems to be terrified of monsters. I'm not really sure how scared she is - she says she is and sort of looks like she is, but it also looks like she's playing.
  • She gets a drink whenever we go shopping. It may be bribery, but I figure a drink a couple of times a week is ok in the larger scheme of things.
  • She's still breastfeeding, and in fact is at the point where she will organise Daddy to look after Midget before she even asks me.
  • She loves 'writing' both on the computer and paper, but doesn't know any letters. She loves counting for games like hide and seek and likes numbers, but she doesn't actually count things. This is an interesting one - I have a strong educational belief in kids learning these things when they are ready and teaching all the pre-reading and numeracy behaviours and concepts, rather than letters and numbers. But when everyone else's kid knows their letters and numbers ... Plus I get to the point of wondering if she wants to know them and am I holding her back.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sensitive little sponges - very scary

DH and I had a massive fight last night. No yelling or shouting, just lots of tension and avoiding each other until after the girls were in bed, then crying.

Widget woke up in the middle of the night and wouldn't go back to sleep for hours, she kept calling for both of us and asking me if I was there. I ended up putting her in the bed with DH because Midget woke up, so she and I spent the night in Widget's bed (which was really uncomfortable amongst the menagerie of stuffed animals).

Then today both of them have been disturbed. Midget grizzled every time she was put down and Widget re-discovered every annoying habit she's ever had, from climbing over the lounge to screaming, whinging and even hitting Midget. We had lots of good times too, but they were on edge.

DH came home at lunchtime to talk and Widget insisted on sitting on both of us. Luckily we did manage to sort things out so we're OK, but she wouldn't eat lunch and continued the behaviour. Luckily it was cool in the evening and we took them outside and had a good play and run around and they went to bed fairly easily and happily.

It's really scary how it affected them. We did our best not to show them and I would have said we acted normally with them, but they picked it up anyway. And of course I was exhausted and upset today, so I wasn't up to dealing with them the best. It makes me really sad for kids who come from tense homes long term - we've had maybe 2 fights in 3 years and work really hard to keep communication open and look what it did to them. Imagine poor little kids who are around that all the time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

To care or not to care

I'm tossing up trying to get Widget a spot at daycare for one morning a week.

She's just had a wonderful time while we've been away playing with her brother, cousins and random children she adopted at the park. She's definitely past the parallel play stage and wants to play with other children. She's great with Midget and plays with me a lot, but I think she needs more variety.

We do playgroup once a week and it can be a bit hit and miss - one day there are two babies, the next week there are 20 children up to 4. Unfortunately there is only one other child her age and he just wants to play with his big brother. There is a little girl she really likes, but she is only 2 and not up to playing with Widget. There are several older kids but they don't really know how to play with someone younger - as the littlest she doesn't understand what they are doing and they don't know how to include her.

I just don't like the idea of not being with her. While we are at play group she will ignore me for long stretches of time, but if she needs me I'm there.

In some ways the solution is having other kids over or visiting. I know there are other kids her age in town, but I don't know them because they don't come to playgroup. I think most of them are at daycare! So if she went there she could meet some of them and then we could look at visiting. But visiting is hard for me. I'm a loner, I don't know how to make friends and socialise and I don't even particularly want to.

Sometimes I think wistfully of what it would be like to have a friend to talk to, but what do you talk about? You have to have something in common! My life at the moment is my children and my nappies, and I love talking about sewing, science, maths and education. But there aren't that many others out there who are into those things. I suppose with other mothers we could talk about our children, but I'm really wary of that because I don't want to get into comparing. I have an incredibly competetive family and I'm insecure enough about my kids and my parenting as it is. It's ridiculous, because I don't seem to have any middle ground. If my kids are "behind" in some way, I get worried and think everyone notices and thinks I'm a bad mother. But at the same time I'm (not so) secretly convinced that they are advanced, and I don't want to make other Mums feel bad. And of course if they are the same as other kids I'm disappointed that they're not advanced.

Widget's speech delay has been a huge trial to me. It was the one milestone I really cared about because speech is linked to intelligence. She was way ahead on most of the physical milestones, and who knows where that came from because my family is completely unco-ordinated and can trip over thin air. But I didn't care about how mobile she was, I wanted her to talk. OK that doesn't sound right. Obviously I thought she was wonderful and clever when she started crawling and walking and doing all those things, and I loved every minute of it. But it wouldn't have worried me if she had taken longer. Not talking really worried me, and I'm so glad we seem to be dealing with that. It turned out that it's not actually a language problem it's a speech production problem, she has all the concepts she should but has difficulties in physically saying things. Midget's going the same way - meeting all the physical milestones early, so I'm making sure I do all the right things with her speech!

But I digress. The other problem, and to be honest the big stumbling block, is the house. It's just such a mess I would be embarrassed to have other people here. And I don't want to put that pressure on someone else if their house is like this! I suppose we could meet at the park, and it's not getting too hot yet. A group of us used to go swimming but it's too cold for the kids for a couple more weeks. (It's ridiculous, there are only a couple of weeks that it's pleasant outside and we still don't have a cover over the play equipment.)

What it comes down to is that I'm really aware that Widget needs more people. It's that whole village thing - I think she needs more than me and Midget all week and I see how happy she is whenever she gets to interact with other people. The easiest thing for me is daycare, if I can get over leaving her which is a huge problem. It would also give me some one on one time with Midget, which she's never had because Widget doesn't sleep, and possibly even a break if Midget would actually sleep in the cot. I suspect the best thing for Widget would be playdates, but then I would have to interact with other people and clean the house. Both things that are good for me, but sort of like brussel sprouts. And I just don't know if I could cope with anything more on my plate right now. Of course it could be easier - less time I have to think about activities for Widget, and she does enjoy helping to clean.

While I've been tossing all this up one Mum who has a younger girl is pregnant, which is very exciting. She is the closest I have to a friend here and she might like the idea of getting meetings going now so she can have a bit of time out when the baby comes. And someone else I like but don't know very well is back, it turns out they haven't moved they were visiting family for a few months. So after all that ramble I might suggest to these two that we go to the park or something, ease into it gradually. I've been thinking about this on and off for months, this ramble really helped sort it out.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Two days on the new regime ...

I let the TV, and to be honest pretty much everything, get a bit out of control while learning to cope with two children. So being back from a holiday seems like a good time to get a new routine happening and have a bit of a makeover. In the last two days:

  • Widget has slept in!!! I had to wake her up at 9am yesterday. This has been good because it means no TV in the morning, we've had breakfast as a picnic on the mat or outside.
  • We've filled the line twice and still haven't finished the washing. Actually the room looks like a bomb's hit it because I'm trying to sort the girls' clothes and put away the ones that are too small or the winter clothes.
  • I've cleaned the shower head with CLR so the water can get out and washed the vanity and sink. We've been in this house for almost 2 years and DH didn't realise one of the taps leaks.
  • I've got the dining table cleared. Unfortunately eating there is a bit difficult because Midget tends to have a feed and nap around dinner time, so we'll have to do a bit of rearranging.
  • Widget and I took the highchair outside and gave it a good scrub. So when we work out how to eat at the table Midget has somewhere to sit.
  • Widget is only watching DVDs when I'm feeding Midget to sleep, and she has another activity happening too.
  • I've got some new clothes and I'm wearing them rather than the old Bali shorts, I look darn good 2 sizes smaller :)
  • I'm getting photos of Widget doing different activities. The idea is to make a book or poster showing her doing lots of different things so she can choose activities to do rather than what I think of at the time or the same things over and over.
  • I'm really concentrating on getting her attention first and having her follow instructions straight away, rather than asking lots of times and getting frustrated.
  • When we went shopping I planned several meals in advance, including different things to have for snacks rather than fruit and toast. I got lots of fresh veges for crudites and I'm going to make some guacamole and dips and do a roast and carve the leftover meat.

Things I need to do:

  • Work out how to rig a hanging rack at Widget's height, the girls both have lots of nice dresses that are forgotten because they are hanging up in the wardrobe.
  • Get the clothes sorted and either put away, ready to sell or throw out.
  • Get the craft gear and books re-organised (again, I seem to do this regularly).
  • Get the clam shells out of the shed, it's getting warm enough for swimming here.
  • Rotate the toys.
  • Finish the hand sewing on the shirt I've almost finished for Widget.
  • Get my orders finished.
  • Get the side-snap pattern finished.
  • I'm sure there's lots more!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

People are really nice

Well we're home. DH was in Darwin and I was in Perth with the girls, so we flew to Alice Springs and met up there. I was a bit nervous about flying on my own with the two girls, but people were so nice and the girls were fantastic.

On the plane one of the stewards took Midget for a few minutes while we were eating, I didn't actually try to eat then I just cut everything up and dealt with Widget, when he gave her back I could eat it all one-handed :) Then when I went to change her nappy someone in the toilet queue offered to let us go first in case it was a toddler emergency, but we were fine. Midget was her usual happy self and talked and smiled at everyone, when we were leaving I could hear someone saying how she had been flirting with him.

At Alice they helped me get the carrier and backpack on, then someone leapt up the stairs and carried Widget down. On our way to the baggage claim two older people who'd been on the plane actually came over to tell me what lovely children I had! After we had the baggage we realised DH's plane was delayed an hour and a half (on a two hour flight) so we started playing. When there were no people it was actually a great place to play, all that open space around the baggage carousel meant Widget could run around to her heart's content. Midget and I were chasing her and we jumped on the carpet designs and played hide and seek. Widget chatted to anyone who walked past and everyone was lovely to her.

After we'd been there a while the airport police came to check if we had a lift organised, and had a little chat with Widget when she explained that Daddy's plane was late so we had to wait. I did get frustrated with her a couple of times, once when Midget was throwing up everywhere (don't feed the baby cardboard) and she wouldn't give me the nappy, and then she took off when Midget had just fallen asleep in my arms. When I went after her she was on her way back and told me that she was very clever because she was going to the toilet all by herself and the lady told her off. Which would make sense if you were 3. The very kind lady who was keeping an eye on her thought it was hilarious. We had a little discussion about how it was great when we were at home but she needed to tell me if we were anywhere else, and that night at the motel she was very careful to come and tell me every time she wanted to go to the toilet!

It was a really good day, the girls were amazing, and it was reassuring to see how caring people in general can be of our little ones.

Friday, October 3, 2008

OMG! Midget looks like me!

It's so strange. Widget definitely had her father's colouring so I was a blonde, blue-eyed mumma with a black-haired, brown-eyed baby. It was really funny, especially because once she lost the real baby look she wasn't much like him at all but everyone said she was because the colouring was so unlike me. Now she is very much herself, her hair is brown and getting lighter although she still has the most gorgeous brown eyes (DHs are actually a fairly light hazel, so who knows where they came from). She is lucky she has his skin like leather, which helps when she runs around naked all the time.

Midget started with dark hair, but it lightened very quickly. It is now a light brown with a bit of a reddish tinge. I could always see features that were like my family - she has our eyes, blue with a yellow ring around the pupil, and the square jaw (somewhere under the rolls). Now we are seeing lots of people down here and everyone keeps saying she looks like me. The other day I was rolling around on the bed with her without my glasses and suddenly there it was - my own little face staring back at me.

I remember watching Widget trying to work out where her features came from, mainly the curiosity of a human biologist but also trying to see what I had passed on. I was a bit sad because it looked like all my recessive features were going to disappear under DH's dominants, especially given that both his boys look like him too. But they all seem to have come out in Midget, which is nice. It's almost like we've got one each. I don't think it will actually make a difference, I certainly don't have a different relationship with Widget because she has brown eyes, but it will be interesting to see how their personalities develop. Given how placid and happy Midget is so far, she may have got my looks but the inside is definitely not me!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Royal Show

Woohoo! I haven't been to the show for about 15 years, but we're in Perth and Widget's getting old enough so we went.

I had a great time, I think everyone else did too. Widget was amazing, she walked for miles. Once she got tired and went in the pram she said she was cold, so DH got her a blanket and she slept for two hours!!! This is the child who hasn't napped for a year. Midget was too busy taking it all in, she had a few quick naps in people's arms.

DH's eldest son and his girlfriend came as well, it was great to spend some time with them and he spent lots of time holding Midget and showing Widget the animals. We saw the baby animals and the regional displays, plus a couple of pavilions of general stalls and produce. Widget went on a helicopter ride (like in shops, not a real helicopter) and thought she was the best, steering it and waving to us as she came around.

We got the show bags while she was asleep, she got a Dora one and Fifi (and the flowertops). We got her a Freddo bag as well and have already had one major tantrum over the rationing on that, but she'll learn. We also got ourselves some big people bags, I got a King Island Dairy cheese bag and some dried fruits that are amazing - plums and nectarines, I loooove stone fruit. I also got my Dad a beer bag. When we were going to the show as kids he always used to say he was looking for a beer bag, and now I found him one. I got some finger puppets, which I've been after for ages, and some fun textas.

Some bits have changed a lot since I was a kid but others are the same. It was beautiful and clean, the displays were great, and we didn't have any trouble getting seats or with long queues (although the fact that the weather was miserable probably had something to do with it). Isn't it nice when you can take out some memories and find they are still good.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Junk up your neighbourhood

Otherwise known as kerbside pickup.

There is one happening at my parents and everyone has been putting things out for the last few days. It's amazing all the things being thrown away - chest freezers, microwaves, lots of computer monitors, a dishwasher and a heap of mattresses. If you were a struggling student trying to move out of home all you'd have to do is cruise around with a trailer and you'd get everything you need. All the cliches about one man's trash are out in force.

My parents have picked up a lovely pedal car that Widget is playing with and the neighbours put out some children's chairs which we grabbed. The neighbours are actually getting ready to move, so they have put out lots which has all disappeared. My brother came up for the weekend so Mum snaffled a folda bed and some pillows, which she put back out when he left and they have disappeared again. We even got some Christmas wrapping paper for some presents we are going to leave here to be opened later.

I'm sure this all says something fascinating about modern society. Is it good we're recycling or bad people are throwing things out? Are people simplifying and decluttering their lives or picking up more junk that will sit there and gather dust? Will people use the things they take or is it the thrill of something for nothing? If nothing else, there's something voyeuristic about seeing what people have had, and what they think is still good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Tale of Two Grannies

We're down seeing the relatives, all is fairly smooth so far.

Widget is the eldest grandchild on my side but about the 8th on DH's, so there were negotiations about what to call everyone. Unfortunately my Mum has always been very clear that she will be Granny, because she has bad memories of her Nanna, but DH's older sons already call his mother Granny.

For a while there it didn't matter because Poppy was the only name she could handle and she had a lot of contact with my parents, so my Mum and Dad were both Poppy and the ILs weren't anything. Gradually my Mum became Poppy Mummy, then she managed Ganny. She talks on the phone to my Mum and gets little cards regularly so all was going swimmingly, she knew who Ganny was.

But then the ILs started sending things to her, which of course is nice, but confusing because she had no idea who they were. I couldn't say they were from Granny, because she thought that was my Mum. So my Mum said she should be Granny Darling. This is an old family joke, when we were kids we used to say "Please Mummy Darling," and that's what we called her a lot of the time, so Granny Darling was an obvious name.

So now she can say Ganny and Gampa and Poppy and Ganny Darling and she knows who they all are. Great, no problem, right?

"And how did she get to be Granny Darling?"

Well you've had 8 grandkids, if you didn't get yourself organised earlier that's your problem. I need a banging head emoticon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Packing is an exercise in family relations

We're doing a flying visit to Perth to do all the relative type things, introduce Midget to one of her brothers, see his graduation and do Widget's 3rd birthday. And isn't packing fun!!!!

First there's the fact that I'll be coming back with the girls on my own, so I want to get it all into one bag if I can. Then there are the nappies. I know we could go with sposies, but I actually find it easier to stick with cloth. We've travelled with it lots and I'm used to it, plus I have a stash of flats at Mum's house. It's quite easy really, I just take all my pocket nappies and fitteds with covers for nights. It's not how I like doing it at home, but Midget can go a long time in a pocket (I think 7 hours is the record) and I set her up in a night nappy with a PUL cover for the drive. Apparently it's cold down in Perth, but I think I'll raid the store for a pretty nappy for her although she has got two new ones. I just have to decide whether to go the pink camo, the hand painted or if she's more your pretty folk art flowers type.

So that's the easy bit, then we have all the clothes. Widget helped pack, so I have no idea what she's put in of hers. I put in lots of trousers and long sleeve tops for her and we carefully counted the undies so she should be ok (must remember to find her sneakers). But then there's the tricky bit. My Mum tends to give quality going-out clothes, absolutely gorgeous but not for playing in the sand pit. The sort I actually have to iron (I've admitted to Mum that I don't iron but I think she's trying to reform me). MIL tends to give playclothes with lots of frills and sequins. Widget loves them but they don't last long before the seams go and they're not the sort of thing I like the girls wearing when we go out. Then there are all the baby clothes that Midget was given that I'm not sure who they are from. So I just try to pack it all and hope people see us wearing the right things :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hmm, pirates

How's that for timing.

I honestly didn't realise International Talk Like a Pirate Day had just happened, my little pirate rant was set off by something completely different.

However looking at these, I don't feel bad at all.

Pirates attack cattle ship

60 attacks around Somalia

Greek ship attacked

Pirate Attack News - this is such a common problem they have a news service devoted to it!

Monday, September 22, 2008


I've just sent off something I made for an up-cycling swap, I won't say what it was because it's a secret swap. (Plus I forgot to take photos, I'll get some when I'm outed.)

Up-cycling is an interesting concept, it's basically using recycled materials to make something else, so giving it more life. It's a cool new name, but really a very old concept. Think of cupboards and chairs made out of kerosene tins, curtains and clothes made from flour bags, sandals made from old tyres. So what's happening is that many people are now dabbling or choosing to do something that in the past was normal, a necessity.

So do we need to? Well really, no. In spite of various doomsayers the world isn't about to end. In fact, if anything we live in a Golden age. Our children and ourselves are healthy, we have more than enough resources to live, we have freedom to do pretty much anything we want.

Even environmentally we can't actually damage the planet too much. We can make it very uncomfortable for ourselves and other large mammals, but we're honestly not that important. It's a tiny fraction of what makes the biosystem and the planet has dealt with much worse than we can dish out. But call me selfish, I think keeping things comfortable for ourselves is pretty important, I care more about people than I do about beetles.

So back to the up-cycling, do we need to?

I choose to for two reasons. Firstly, even if the bucket is much larger than we may think, it does have a bottom. There's something a bit embarrassing about taking more than our fair share, which is what is happening at the moment. So it may not be dooming the environment, but I would rather work for equality with other people and at least nod to the other life forms sharing living space with us.

Secondly, creativity is a skill like any other that needs to be practiced. It is too easy to passively take other people's ideas, rather than solve our own problems. And creativity is so important in so many areas. From the intensely personal, thinking of things to do with our toddlers, to the largest and most abstract - how do we make the world a fairer place?

So going through my linen closet and using some of it to make something new is a great way to practice my creativity. Giving the results to someone else is a wonderful bonus.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Am I the only one???

Who can't stand pirates.

OK, this is a fairly petty vent in the scheme of things, but I really don't get why on earth people think pirates are fun or use them as a kid's decoration.

They were, and for that matter still are, rapists, murderers, thieves, slavers, scum. They are the lowest of the low - criminals who ganged up on other people, who tortured, burned, terrorised. The ultimate bullies.

There is nothing romantic about them. There is nothing fun about them. As for the charity pushing "Talk like a pirate day" - well you've lost any chance of ever getting anything out of me.

I know there is a dearth of fun clothes for little boys, but you might as well have them wear a white sheet and hood.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

At least she was happy???

I left Widget with a DVD and lunch to go and put Midget to sleep. While I was gone I heard her playing with coins, so I thought she must have got into one of the jars on the bench and was a little bit prepared.

I walked out and the first thing I could see was Widget washing the dishes, with her chair pulled up to the sink that had been "soaking." She wasn't actually doing a bad job, but there was a fairly large puddle on the chair and water all over the place, and she was lining up the things she had washed along the edge of the bench. Sounds reasonable? Unfortunately there was also a distinctive smell everywhere. Then I got further into the room and saw the little sculpture on the kitchen bench.

A (glass!) jar was upended on the cutting board and there were coins piled on top of it. So was the salt grinder, and around the cutting board there were more piles of coins. Over all of it was sprinkled one of the spices.

At that point I decided I could handle some broken coffee cups, moved everything she'd washed onto the draining board, told her what a great job she was doing and left her occupied while I cleaned up. It wasn't all that bad, I just dug all the coins out and put them back in the jar, but I couldn't find the spice container.

"Darling where's the container for this?"
"In the bin!"

Hey, I'm impressed. It was on top and clean so I managed to rescue some of the spice then swept the rest onto the floor and vacuumed it all up. I've discovered over the last year that vacuuming cleans all sorts of things.

And to think that when I was pregnant I was worried that she never ever played independently! She seems to be coping with me disappearing quite happily, and considering what she could have got up to I can handle washing dishes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Children's panadol is red

And so is apple, bolognaise, frankfurters, tomato sauce and watered down apple and blackcurrent juice.

All of which Widget ate (not in one go!) just before coming down with gastro. She woke up Thursday morning with a temp of 39, hence the panadol, and a lot of cleaning that needed to be done. Poor little thing ended up on the couch all day, I had to carry her through to the potty and bathroom and a lot of it looked just like blood, which is why I'm going to hunt down some colourless panadol. The nurofen was clear, but unfortunately she sucked it in too quickly and threw it up everywhere, then flatly refused to take it anymore.

I was very lucky that DH came home. Not that I absolutely needed someone else around, but with the high temp I thought we might end up at the hospital and it was good to have a backup, and someone to help keep up with all the washing!

Friday was a bit better, at least she now realised when she needed to get to the potty and could make it there and had several baths to keep her temp down. Then Saturday I came down with it. I spent the day feeling like I'd been hit by a truck, but didn't know if it was exhaustion, gastro, or a hangover (blush, I haven't drunk in a VERY long time). Saturday night was awful, but Midget was brilliant. I got her to sleep and just left her in our bed, then forgot she was there and lay down on her! She didn't even move. But she was great that night.

Sunday I stayed in bed and DH took both girls out, just bringing Midget in to feed. She was her normal happy, chubby self and was so excited to see me she wouldn't go to sleep. I staggered out sometime that evening and had to give both of them big cuddles and lots of attention. Monday was fairly painful, but we are getting there today. We're still not 100% and the house looks like a bomb's hit it, but all the anti-bacterial hand wash seems to have paid off because Midget is fine so far.

So that's were I've been!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Smile on the Face of the Tiger

When I was in Highschool that was the name of one of our poetry books.

I loved it. How exotic! How mysterious! It sparked so much in my imagination. What could make a tiger smile? What was it thinking? Planning? How did a tiger view the world? What other human qualities did it have? I couldn't wait to read that poem.

It was a trite little limerick.

There once was a lady from Niger,
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They came back from the ride,
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.

So I was disappointed, my grand dreams empty.

But really, of course, they weren't. Because I was the one who had dreamed them, not the author of the limerick. I still had my fantastic images, my imagination could still roam.

And so that one little poem and title became more than the author or editor dreamed (or maybe it didn't, maybe they felt this too). It has become a hugely complex and rich metaphor in my life. It reminds me that things that look awesome and fantastic may actually be prosaic, which can be positive if I am overwhelmed. It reminds me that something simple may be the spark that inspires someone. It reminds me that you never know what may hold the seeds of greatness.

And it reminds me that there are disappointments.

But I have the choice. I can limit myself to the limerick, when I was expecting so much more. Or I can disappear into the jungle, to follow the tiger and find out if he's still smiling.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

DH's Challenge

In the evenings I take both the girls in the shower with me then hand Midget out to DH to get into her pyjamas. So DH is in charge of things like night nappies, and he has set himself a little challenge.

He is seeing how many layers he can get into the nappy.

She's now into large covers (on the to do list, we only have one!) and I'm not sure if that's her or if it's because he's stuffing so much in there. And she is wetting much more at night than Widget ever did, so it's all getting wet.

He's not content unless she's lying on the change mat with her legs waving around in the air because her bum is so high, the other night he managed to get a whole large bamboo flat folded in there, plus the snap in booster that goes with that fitted! And it's not just the engineering challenge - he came home the next day and asked if I'd noticed!

At least I have a husband who understands the fun of cloth nappies :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

A bit of fun

I've been doing a bit of sewing for us.

I've had this fabric sitting there for ages, I loved it but it didn't work for what I originally bought it for. So I found a really simple vest pattern and made the fabric into the feature, it's to go over plain blouses and T-shirts. I'm really into brown rather than black, so the back and lining are brown and the topstitching is brown and gold, which matches the bamboo pattern. Unfortunately between cutting it out and sewing it I've lost 9kg and it's too big! I'm thinking I might add some buttons, but I'm not sure. I've also cut out some light denim to make the same pattern, I'm playing around with how to embellish it, and now I'm going to have to check the size.

These are Widget's Butterfly/fairy wings. I've been meaning to make her a cape for ages and then one day when we were drawing butterflies outside I had a blinding flash of how to make some wings. So here they are! She's also wearing the fairy skirt i made for her ages ago.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Widget's Breastfeeding Story Part 2

Sucking in her sleep.

In the first days.

Early feed in hospital.

When we got out of hospital we had to travel about 1000km to get to our new home, that I had never seen.

My left side was sore because of the nipple damage, but it was getting better. But Widget was spending a lot of time coughing and choking, some feeds were just awful. At about 3 weeks she also started screaming every night, absolutely red faced, tight tummy, sounding really in pain. At DH's insistence I gave up onion and it worked! Looking back it was a bit of a fluke that we got it first go, but the screaming stopped so I wasn't going to question it.

There was still something else going on. On advice from a nurse (we had no doctor or pharmacy in our community, it was all we had) we tried a bit of Mylanta, basically sticking our finger in and letting her suck it. That seemed to help, so the next day I got on the internet and found everything I could about reflux. It didn't seem quite right, but I tried some of the suggestions like upright feeding and they seemed to help. There was one line I can still remember reading, it said that oversupply and fast letdown could sometimes mimic reflux. That sounded much more like it.

So I seriously started looking for the ABA site. I was actually looking for Nursing Mothers, because I knew my mother had been a member. (Mum is a nurse, and we grew up with the red cook book and playing with her mei tai. For years I thought Nursing Mothers was a group for mothers who were nurses.) It was amazing finding a forum of women with the same worries I had. I read a post by someone describing the clicking sound! I wasn't imagining it! Turns out it was the oversupply and fast letdown interfering with her attachment, so I learnt to feed lying on my back with her above me to slow it down a bit and block feed. We also did some simple things like putting a pillow under her cot mattress to tilt it up, and I expressed the beginning of a feed. That was great because it not only slowed the flow down, it stopped her overloading on lactose in the foremilk and helped some of the tummy problems.

The results of oversupply! 3 1/2 months

The forum became my lifeline, Mel P suggested a sleep, feed, play, feed routine and suddenly I could get Widget to sleep. Other women had babies who woke up after 10 minutes, and I learnt about hormonal control of sleep. Around 9 or 10 months she started waking every hour and wanting to feed and after a week I couldn't cope anymore, so we decided to night wean. It took lots of crying, but DH did all the night duties and would take her out to the couch and cuddle her until she slept.

She didn't get her first tooth until 10 months, so we never had a biting problem - she bit me about 3 times and learnt very quickly that the feed was over if she did that! We really got into the swing of it and did baby-led solids, so by 12 months she was eating but still having around 10 feeds a day. At that point I started weaning because I wanted to do it very gradually until about 18 months, because that's when we wanted to TTC.

Stopping feeding to sleep was very painful, she's never been a good sleeper and it just got worse. And she definitely didn't want to give up. By 21 months she was down to one or two feeds a day and I bit the bullet. We drove up to Darwin so she missed that day, and DH got her up and kept her busy for the next few days and that was it. It took about 3 days for my breasts to stop being painful but they were never really bad.

Luckily I got pregnant that time. A few months later she wanted to suck again and I let her try, but she seemed to have forgotten how. It was really painful combined with the pregnancy, but she really wanted to do it so we kept trying. She would feed every few days, sometimes go without for a couple of weeks then every day for a while. She copied me to open her mouth really wide and take the nipple right back, and we worked out how to get her tongue forwards as well. It was still quite painful, but we went through the pregnancy like that. I had a bit of aversion, it was different to being touched out I just did NOT want to feed her. So there were days I said no, but it was also a way to get a bit of extra time in bed.

Once Midget was born and the milk was back she thought it was wonderful! I still had aversion, especially comparing her feeding to Midget. But she has been excellent about learning the new rules. She went through a stage of whinging really badly and some huge tantrums, but now she is really good and always stops when I say to. It is feeling better as well, and I am relaxing more so it gets even better. It still feels weird, but if I relax it's ok. So here we are, almost 3 and still feeding!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Widget's Breastfeeding Story Part 1

I've been thinking about some comments about breastfeeding, especially away from the nice safe haven of the ABA forum. As humans we love horror stories and triumphs against the odds, so they are the sort of breastfeeding stories we usually hear. However breastfeeding is normal, and one of the ways we can help people see that is to tell the normal stories as well.

I swear Widget came out sucking. We actually have film of her in the hospital sound asleep and sucking. She just loved to suck. Unfortunately it didn't seem to occur to her to open her mouth first. So getting her to attach was difficult and took a lot of goes. I seemed to spend most of my time sitting with her on a pillow drawing my nipple down from her nose to try to get her to open her mouth, but it never occurred to me to stop because I'd been warned that it was a learnt skill. I just assumed we would learn.

By the end of the second day the milk was in with a vengeance and I was engorged. This created an additional problem because my letdown was very fast, and that interfered with her attachment and made her slip back. I described the clicking sound to every midwife, but no-one else could hear it and they didn't know what was going on.

Unfortunately the bad attachment grated the ends of my nipples. One side was so painful I was in tears and just couldn't put her on, complicated by the third day baby blues. DH made me admit to a midwife how painful it was, and they were fantastic. They got me a pump and showed me how to express that side and syringe feed her to give the nipple a break for 24 hours. When we were ready to try again they were there to help me with attachment, and we started to get it together.

Sometime in here I had some advice that was actually fine, but I mis-interpreted it. A midwife who had just had mastitis herself was telling me that if your breasts weren't draining and you had any lumps you had to massage them towards the nipple. Knowing absolutely nothing I thought the enormous milk ducts I had from the engorgement were the sort of lumps she meant, and they definitely weren't draining! So I ended up bruising myself quite badly trying to massage them. I do wonder if that sort of stimulation contributed to the massive oversupply I had, but probably not because I've had it this time as well.

We stayed in hospital for a week because Widget had jaundice and they knew we lived in a community, so we might as well stay there as a hotel. When we got home one nipple had healed and the other was on the way, but it took about 3 weeks before I had feeds on that side truly sorted. Unfortunately once you've got the damage it doesn't matter if you get attachment right, it's still going to hurt until it heals properly.

So a week to get it mostly happening is pretty good going. To be continued!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Is how much Midget weighs. We had the four month checkup and needles today.

  • She's been rolling front to back for a while always with a look of How did I get here??!!
  • Yesterday she rolled back to front twice, I think the slope off the edge of the mat helped.
  • She discovered her toes a couple of days ago. It's really funny she's been going cross-eyed trying to see them and patting them.
  • She has an enormous wet patch on the front of every outfit from the drool.
  • Anything she gets is going in that mouth.
  • There's no point checking her hips or joints because you can't find them!
  • Even if she's grizzly or hungry she's far too busy to feed during the day.
  • She only laughs if she's being held upside down or thrown around, I mean played with vigorously.
  • She has the most gorgeous smile that lights up her whole face.
  • She loves Widget.
  • I don't think she's poo'd for 3 days. I'm not worried because I know it's normal, I'm just not looking forward to it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Little Luxuries

  • DH got both girls out of the shower quickly this evening and there was enough hot water left for me to have some time by myself.
  • They are both going to bed relatively easily and I can have a hot drink in the evening.
  • They are both going to bed relatively easily!
  • Widget seems to be learning to stop whatever she's doing if Midget cries, so I can go to the toilet without having to race back.
  • DH brought lovely fresh grapes and watermelon back from Darwin.
  • Midget actually lets go and doesn't comfort suck all night, so she can stay in the bed with us. I'm getting reasonable sleep rather than having to get up several times a night.
  • I have lots of enforced leisure time to read while Midget is feeding.
  • DH brought me back some deodorant - Widget helpfully brings it out to me if I leave it where she can reach and it disappeared. I now smell like waterlilies and mint.
  • Midget has enough clothes that it doesn't matter that the washing all got wet in the rain. (This is the desert!!!)
  • DH covered Widget's window and made it dark, and she slept much longer this morning. On the other hand, when she woke up I had to go and get her because "she could hear something in her room."
  • Midget doesn't scream for a couple of hours every night.
  • When Widget was "cooking" with rice she kept most of it in one place.
  • We finally have screen doors front and back and can open the doors without millions of flies coming in.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Great Down Under Nappy Hunt

DH is back, Yay! I actually got a sleep this afternoon, so I'm only a little bit behind.
I've been trying to sort out my mini-hunt for the GDUNH all day. I only upload files twice a year for the hunt, so I had to get a new FTP application and try to remember how to do it. I've just set it all up and checked it and it works. Now I need some people who think the same way I do!

I've got a heap of nappies ready to go, I hope some of them sell. I could be in a bit of trouble though - I'm out of hemp and I'm supposed to be giving hemp inserts as bonuses with the pocket nappies! It should arrive this week, so fingers crossed. Honestly I'd love to have that problem, it's so depressing getting all these things ready then not selling any.

I finally got a photo organised of Widget. Here she is in the dress I made her. I was a bit upstaged because I made her a dress, then some frilly sequinny things arrived from her grandparents on the same day, then DH got home next day with a whole pile of Dora gear! My poor dress was a bit forgotten, so I made her put it on to take photos.

DH brought the giant crayon back, it's full of craft gear. We were actually hiding it so I could bring it out this week, but she found it and has been carrying it around all night.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Red Rooster is empowering

I have spent most of my adult life bordering on obese. My self-image is fat, but when I look at photos of myself as a kid I wasn't really. Must come from all that ballet and comparing myself to the other little girls. I've dieted a few times and got it down, but never completely and it's always crept back again.

When I had a child my perception of my body changed completely. I'd read a bit about separation of body and self, but then a friend made a comment while I was pregnant that really stuck with me. She said your body is doing an amazing thing - you are creating and nurturing a whole new person.

There is no separation of ME and MY BODY. It is all me. I cannot dislike or hate my body, because I cannot hate myself. The part of me that is my body has done awesome things - I have created and nurtured two children, I have opened and pushed them out into the world, I have sustained and grown them with my milk, I hold and comfort them when they need it or even just because we enjoy it. I have done other amazing things, including giving and taking pleasure as a lover. My husband and my children don't care what I look like, they need, enjoy and love me any way I am.

Since Widget started eating I've been a bit obsessive, just because I know what bad eating habits DH and I have and don't want to pass them on. So when he decided to lose weight I agreed and we began dieting with one of the well-known companies.

I don't know what the difference is, but we are finding it extremely easy. I've been going for 5 weeks now and it isn't a strain at all, it feels normal. It helps that we are supporting each other and are doing it for the right reasons, but there is also something different inside me. I don't feel deprived, even though I've cut right down on what I'm eating. I'm loving the difference that I can see, and of course it helps that other people are noticing and complimenting me. I'm finding that I feel in control rather than like I have rules I have to follow. I'm sure part of it is that I am in my own home and control what food is available. And being home means that I eat when I need to, rather than at set times.

The last few days have been tough on my own. I'm staying up far too late because after 15 hours with children attached I need a break, which makes me tired, which makes the next day harder. But today has been really good. It's Friday and although it was lovely of DH to stock the fridge up for me before he left, I'm sick of leftovers. So I planned to have takeaway. I don't feel guilty, I don't feel like I snuck something, have been naughty or have ruined anything. It was a planned decision and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And that is very empowering.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I told you so.

Well this morning did not start well.

Widget woke up early, usually DH either gets her back to sleep or deals with her but of course not today. So I tried to get her to snuggle down with us but "Me need feed!" started. And went, and went and went. It's that struggle between peace and not giving in to whinging because next time will be worse. It was way too early for her to get up, plus I'd had Midget attached most of the night, and I really don't enjoy being woken up and whinged at! I tried all the usual things to get her to be quiet and in the end I got up, but that just prompted lots of screaming and crying. I finally got her calmed down and to accept the original deal, which was have a little sleep and then you can have a feed, but of course with all the fuss Midget was awake.

She was pretty happy so I still made Widget wait and "sleep" for about 2 minutes, then let her have a feed. It wasn't one of the nicer ones because I was so angry at her and kept getting whacked in the back by Midget who was doing the whole Wow! I've got arms! thing.

We got up, but by the time I grabbed Midget and walked out to the lounge Widget had knocked over an open drink bottle (water!) all over the floor, the arm of the lounge and the TV remote. We have a constant battle over water bottles, she needs to drink more and is usually pretty good about closing them, but whenever she doesn't it seems to be a major disaster with water everywhere. And now she was whinging for a DVD to watch.

I managed not to bite her head off and even got breakfast ready, but because I had Midget I didn't help Widget and she refused to eat it. So now she was tired and hungry, I was tired and angry, and Midget was just tired. I decided to play with Midget on the mat to try to do something different, and Widget joined in and we actually had a good time.

Unfortunately Widget decided she wanted to go outside just when Midget really needed a sleep. Because of the state she was in she went straight to whinging, but I managed to explain that I was getting Midget dressed. Widget stayed in the lounge and kept calling Muuum! Muuum! This is another battle - she's allowed to call once but then is supposed to come through and ask, not keep yelling. Again, she is usually pretty good at it, but the combined hunger, tiredness and anger guaranteed that it was not our morning. When I tried to get her to come through she threw herself down and cried, so I have no idea what she wanted. Eventually I put a DVD in for her (that's part of the normal routine when I'm putting Midget to bed) and went off with Midget. She was tired enough that she went straight off to sleep.

When I came out Widget had self-served herself an apple and the butter from the fridge, but luckily it wasn't everywhere. I've just cut it up for her (the apple!) and the TV remote seems to have dried out and is working again. So I'm taking a deep breath and going to start the morning again!

I just have this overwhelming need to say to her "See! I told you it was too early! You should have had a sleep and then none of this would have happened!"
This is definitely a time for ignoring some of the whinging and trying to catch her being good.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DH is away.

Actually had a pretty good day, very long though. Widget was almost brilliant with a few little hiccups. I need to get on to Weight Watchers (lost 7 kg so far!) and find out how many points I get for playing chasey with a 2 year old while carrying an 8kg baby.

Bedtime was fun - they both go to bed at the same time, usually DH does Widget and I feed Midget. Unfortunately Midget crashed an hour before bed, so she was wide awake! Widget had only just realised Daddy wasn't coming home, although she was more excited about me and Widget putting her to bed than sad. (I must find the sad face she did when I was out at bedtime a week ago. DH had to take a photo so she could show me how sad she was.)I'd explained to her that if Midget got upset I would have to go out and calm her down, I was just next door etc. but of course as soon as I had to go out it started - Mum, Mum! Muuum! MUUM! MUUUUUM!

I was so frustrated I ended up slamming the door as hard as I could, and speaking in a very loud, annoyed voice (although not actually screaming). It was actually good in a way because I realised she was boiling hot and changed the quilt, and they both went to sleep fairly easily after that. In fact Midget hasn't called out again, which is unheard of.

I feel bad, because she is only 2 and had her entire routine put out and her father isn't here. It wasn't actually anything to do with her, it was the fact that I hadn't had a break at all and was getting to the end of my energy. So all I can do is try to do better tomorrow, and hope that she will understand what is going on so it will be easier.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And it's not even lunch time!

  1. Midget has dreadlocks. She has fairly long, baby-fine hair and the back has gone all fuzzy and knotted.
  2. We were outside and Widget was walking around a pole, wrapping a piece of rope around it. Suddenly she announced she was stuck - she'd managed to wrap her t-shirt around it too and couldn't move.
  3. I left Midget on the change table and put the nappies in the laundry, then decided to put a load on. Widget came running and told me Midget was all clean. I went back into the bedroom and she was suspiciously damp, but there wasn't water all over the place.

"Did you wash Midget?"

"Yes! All over!"

"Did you wash her face?"

"Yes! All her face!"

"Where's the bottle?" (of water I use for wipes)

"Yes! Whole bottle!"

"Darling, what did you wash?"

"Whole bottle! Wash Midget's tummy, wash Midget's face, wash bed, wash toys, wash floor, wash table."

"Thank you sweetheart."

What else do you say? It wasn't too bad, she'd used a hemp cloth and that had soaked most of it up. I've spent a lot of this morning laughing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Work, sleep, or family?

Following on from Michelle's comment ...

I hadn't thought about maternity leave. I had a fairly generous entitlement (for Australia), 14 weeks paid and I chose to have 12 months off. There was a 6 year option I could have taken, and in that case I could have swapped with DH as we both had the same employer. So we would have been allowed to have one of us on leave for 6 years, unpaid but our positions would be held. In the end I chose to resign, mainly because I know that as a maths/science teacher in the country I am a rare commodity so I'll always be able to get a job.

In some ways it's, hmmm, annoying? I'm good at my job, I have been studying as well so have a Master's degree, I've done various extra bits of training in staff management and I'm more experienced than 90% of teachers in the type of area we live in. But if I go back I'll still end up at the bottom of the rung and have to start climbing again. So that's part of the reason I'm looking at other jobs. I'm passionate about education, but I feel there are better ways for me to promote better education than being in a classroom.

And it's not luck that we can afford for me to stay home. We have a careful plan for our finances, our lifestyle and our future. Of course it's flexible, but it's something we have worked hard at.

But parental leave and those sorts of choices are only the beginning of the problem. Remember Labour Day? It's not just a holiday, it's meant to celebrate the 40-hour work week. How many people do that today? I don't know actual figures, but I do know that the sorts of hours we work in Australia are actually illegal in Germany. Yes, companies have to have special permission and agreements to work over 40 hour weeks. Most professionals in Australia work at least 50 hour weeks, 70 hours is not unusual. Tradesmen, especially if they are self-employed, work similar hours. Small business owners work pretty much all day every day.

So where are our families? If you're working a 70 hour week you don't have a weekend. You don't have time in the afternoon with your toddlers. There are only so many things you can physically do, so how many of us are making the choice between family and sleep? And why on earth did we decide that work was the most important?

I'm not one to talk, I'm under completely self-inflicted pressure. I am a SAHM to a toddler and a new baby, plus I'm trying to run a business and a couple of blogs, plus I have a plan for the future I want to get started on. I know I'm never going to get it to more than a hobby unless I get serious about time, but I'm not prepared to put my kids into care. So instead of doing the sensible thing, I'm staying up until all hours.

I'm sure a sociologist could give us the answers, it probably has something to do with the 80s and the global recession, plus a hefty dose of the protestant work ethic. And unfortunately the last few months means that it isn't the best time to make decisions that could affect us financially. But maybe it's time for us, as a society, to have a good hard look at our priorities. And the only way I know to do that is for us to start as individuals.