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.