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.