Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Exquisite Timing

I love my daughter, I really do. Even when I want to strangle her.

It's been a tough week (and it's only Wednesday!), DH is away and she hasn't been well. There has been no sleep between the two of them, Widget took over 2 hours to get settled in the middle of the night, then she has been coming into bed with us and generally a good time has been had by all. In retrospect buying the caffiene free diet coke was probably a mistake.

So last night I decided enough was enough, she had to sleep in her own bed.

Now to set the scene, she'd been revolting all evening. It started with tears because she didn't want to leave daycare, yelling at her sister, taking things off her, yelling at me when I didn't do what she wanted, yelling at me when I did do what she wanted. All the hallmarks of an extremely over-tired little girl. We'd finally had a good time reading books on my bed, then started getting ready. Daddy phoned, which was good, but there was another fight over her jammies, and Midget hit her head while I was trying to get Widget dressed.

Well then I have both of them in tears, but finally manage to calm them down. We go through the toilet, drink and get Widget into bed. I say goodnight and promise faithfully that I will come back as soon as Midget is asleep, when Widget bursts into tears again. I'm pretty annoyed by this stage, but then realise what she's saying through all the sobbing.

"But Mummy, I love you so so so much."

Now how can you be angry about that? So I put Midget down, climbed into bed with her and gave her a big cuddle, ignoring Midget's yelling. When she calmed down I got Midget to sleep, and of course when I went and checked Widget was sound asleep. She slept through the whole night in her own bed, and we've had a wonderful day today.

I knew babies have a wonderful sense of self-preservation, obviously it continues for a few years.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I'm looking at an embroidery machine and want to get one that can be serviced somewhere I go regularly, rather than being sent away. So I have two choices, the major town down the road or the city. I phoned someone in the city and was talking to them about it.

"I'm interested in getting a machine I can have serviced easily, but I'm actually from the country."
"Where are you?"
"Tennant Creek."
"But that's just down the track, I thought you meant overseas."

First off, the track is NT slang for the Stuart Hwy, the road that runs from Darwin to Adelaide. So I really am just down the track.

By 12ookm.

Yes, over a thousand kilometres away from our nearest city, but it's considered local. We have a house there, we go there regularly, a lot of people from here do it in 2 days but we usually leave early and just do one.

Now to put that in perspective, if we were in Victoria, 12ookm would pretty much cover the state from east to west. If we were in the UK, it just about covers the countries (England and Scotland) from north to south. If we were in the US, you could drive across 3 states, or at least across Texas east to west. But that's our nearest city.

There are 3 other towns in the NT, Alice Springs has around 28,000, so technically it's a city, Katherine has a bit under 10,000 and Nhulunbuy has around 4000. Then Tennant has around 3000 and Maningrida about 2500, Borroloola about 1500. There are several large communities and that's it. Population of around 200 000 and bigger than the UK.

No wonder Territorians are distinctive.

Friday, May 22, 2009

PLEASE write to Oprah

Oprah Winfrey's production company has offered Jenny McCarthy her own television show. For anyone who cares about our children's health this is horrifying, as McCarthy is one of the most irrational of the anti-vaccinationists. She champions unproven and downright dangerous treatments yet is completely ignorant about health and science. Her idea of discussion is to yell down and swear at doctors, people who have spent years learning about disease and have done it because they care about children!

In her books and videos (yes, she makes money out of this) she claims that wheat and milk affect children like marijuana, this is the level of her understanding. She originally claimed that her son was a 'Crystal child' and she was an 'indigo mom,' however she has now changed her mind and blames vaccination for his possible autism. This blog post is about her latest video and shows another letter, this shows and discusses a video of her on Larry King Live. One of the reasons she is so dangerous is because of her celebrity status, she is being used as a spokesperson by the anti-vaccination lobby. An author on the Young Australian Skeptics blog has called for letters to Oprah condemning a show for McCarthy, as have other organisations.

We cannot allow our children's health to be under the influence of people so ignorant they don't even know what they don't know. This is my letter to Oprah, it required a bit of editing because there is only a 2000 character limit.

Dear Oprah,

I write as a concerned parent about the decision to give Jenny McCarthy a TV show. Your television shows are major sources mothers are turning to for the latest information and are very influential.

Your experiences in Africa will have given you an appreciation of the devastation of infectious diseases. They are killers of children, those who survive can be left with shattering disabilities including brain damage. It is vaccination that gives us our relative safety, not only directly but through herd immunity there is some safety for those who cannot be immunised. When people decide not to immunise it is a decision that affects other vulnerable children as well.

Science is our most reliable way of learning about the world. Our society is based on science – every time we switch on a TV or drive a car over a bridge, we know we are safe because science works. Science based medicine has given us treatments for cancer, diagnostic tools such as ultrasounds and the antibiotics which have saved literally millions. It has also given us vaccines, and demonstrated over and over again that they are not linked to autism. There is no link between mercury and autism, the evidence for a link between the MMR and autism was fraudulent, and you receive more antigens directly to your bloodstream from brushing your teeth than you do from a vaccination. Having an autistic child is a challenge to any family, but wasting time and money vilifying vaccines does not help those families. Let’s put that effort where it belongs – supporting autistic children.

Even without the evidence against her, is Jenny McCarthy a fit person to front one of your shows? Her language and behaviour are offensive, as a mother and a consumer I can’t support her. Maybe controversy sells on TV, but by shutting down discussion and refusing debate she is not helping children, she is hurting them. She supports ignorance and hatred rather than openness and learning. Is this the image you want to be associated with?

I can only hope that you will listen. Listen to mothers, listen to scientists, listen to people who have spent time and energy to learn. Rather than being taken in by arrogance and emotion and ultimately misusing your power and influence in a way you may come to regret.

Please write your own letter here. The more of us who write, Oprah and her production company may realise what a terrible mistake it would be to encourage those who know so little that they are truly dangerous.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I love my lint roller

This is a non-family-oriented purely selfish post.

I'm not a particularly tidy person, in fact I'm extremely messy. And I sew with fabrics such as minkee, bamboo velour, bamboo terry, and microfibre terry. If you know anything about fabrics, the first three are lint producers like you wouldn't believe because of dense pile and loops, and the microfibre is extremely 'sticky.' Add in two daughters who think my fabric boxes are treasure troves to go through and feel the pretties and all the little threads that are snipped off when sewing and scraps from overlocking and you have a recipe for disaster, or at least many hours picking threads off.

Enter the el cheapo lint roller I recently picked up for about $2. It's one with sticky paper around the top, when it gets too fluffy you peel it off and go to the next sheet. It's brilliant, a quick wipe over my table gets all the fluff and threads, and another roll over the finished product and it's clean. Even better, Widget and Midget can both use it. Widget goes around picking things up purposely, and Midget can sit on my lap and run it over the desk copying us and being part of the action.

If you sew, get a lint roller! Who would have guessed so much family togetherness for so little.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Inigo Montoya School of Baby Signing

You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you
think it means.
Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

It started with 'more.' Midget picked it up really quickly, unfortunately she thought it meant the frozen yoghurt iceblocks, because that's what she was always having 'more' of. No worries, after a few days she expanded the meaning to 'food.'

But then it all just got confusing.

For the past two days she has been desparately pointing to the bench. I have tried the water bottles, the grapes, the doll, the box, the cheese, the pasta, and basically everything off the bench she could possibly want. The barbecue sauce bottle sparked an interest, but everything else has been pushed away in disgust.

I've just asked her if she wants water, with a sign, so she's been standing in front of the fridge signing 'more water.' Now partly I'm shocked that she's combined two signs, but she doesn't want water, more or otherwise. I wish she'd use just one sign that we both know what it means.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More terry flats

How do you keep you floors clean with babies and toddlers if you don't have terry flats? We have one permanently on the kitchen and living room floor, then it's used to wipe up whatever the latest spill is.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day Care

Widget just spent her first day at day care all by herself ... and loved it!

We've been going together for ages, she is on the waiting list so we are allowed to go anytime so long as I am there. So she knows all the ladies, most of the kids, and all the routines. She also knows how to deal with any problems, by telling one of the ladies if she can't solve it herself, and has practiced everything. We generally go in the morning then leave when they have lunch, and she's been hanging out to stay with everyone else.

There still isn't a permanent place for her, but someone was away for a couple of days so they let us have the casual place. We've been talking about it over the weekend, just every now and then saying "Wow, on Monday you get to stay and have lunch with the other kids at daycare," making sure that she knew Midget and I would be leaving but emphasising who she would get to play with and some of the things she would do.

So as soon as she got up and was properly awake she got herself dressed and ready. When we got there I explained again and checked she knew where everything was, then asked if she wanted me to stay for a little while? "No Mummy, you and Midget have to leave. I'm staying here for lunch."

And she did! When I went back at 3pm after Midget's nap she complained and insisted that we had to stay so she could play longer, they'd only just gone outside. So we stayed another hour or so, when I finally tore her away she insisted she's going back tomorrow. Luckily she can, but Wednesday might be a problem!

I thought long and hard before doing this, there was something that felt vaguely wrong about putting my child in care when I'm a SAHM, sort of like it's cheating. In the end I think this is actually the more 'natural' way to go, although I really really hate that as a label. In a biologically normal situation she would be living in an extended family group, with many adults caring for her or at least interacting with her even if I was the primary carer. There would also be children of a range of ages. But we live in a very small town without any relatives. We go to playgroup once a week, but that's it. There's no library session, music group, toddler gym or anything else for that age group, and she's a bit young for brownies! We occasionally get together with some of the other playgroup people, but realistically we all have small children and most have jobs of some sort. So the only people she sees are me, DH, Midget, and people at the post office and shops to say hello to, then playgroup once a week.

She's also a bit over three and a half, so she's wanting to socialise. Any time we visit relatives she has a ball, any stray child at a park she'll try to play with. She really does want the interaction. And she's very good at it - she has great negotiating and protective skills and she's extremely caring of others, especially little kids. So I felt she was ready to try it on her own (whether I was ready is a whole 'nother question).

And obviously she was, because today has been a roaring success. I just hope it continues this way and we can keep getting some time for her, or we'll just go back to going together (although I really enjoyed the break!).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Library Bag

A quick project, I made Widget a library bag today. Her name is appliqued on scrap minkee, and the butterfly is a pocket for her library card. She chose the fabric and was so excited! You can't see on this photo, but the fabric has silver butterflies on it as well and I did the satin stitching with silver thread. I hate using metallic threads! They always seem to get caught at some stage, although I'm sort of hoping that's my machine and if I can justify getting a new one it won't happen. But I don't really use metallic threads often enough to spend hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars.

(I put a twitter button on last night, now to see if my coding worked!)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Things change when you don't notice (except I definitely noticed!)

Midget slept for 2 hours!!!!!!!!

You have to understand my children are appalling sleepers. Actually that's not strictly true, even though Widget hasn't napped since she turned 2 she is now a very good night sleeper. So I know that the pay-off will be there if I survive long enough.

Midget is worse than Widget,

I started writing this post a week or so ago, and didn't finish it because that night was a complete disaster, involving about 3 hours of playing, crying (from both of us), DH helping, etc.

Basically Midget is a really, really, really light sleeper, so the only way you can let go of her is to be lying down on the bed, putting her down wakes her up. And up until now she will only go to sleep by feeding. Rocking, cuddling, patting just results in hysterical screaming and throwing up. By screaming I don't mean crying, I mean the "Someone's trying to murder me!/I've just had a limb removed and am in great pain!" high pitched psycho-type scream. So we've ended up co-sleeping and not really enjoying it.

Then a few days ago after a mini-tantrum about how I really wasn't coping, DH tried taking Midget's first wake up. Bed time is around 8pm, I'm in there for around an hour, then she will wake up anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour after that. I go back in and feed her again, and she's gradually been getting better on these later wake-ups, from an hour down to 40 minutes, down to 10 minutes and the occasional grumble and self-settle. The first time he took her there was a bit of hysteria, but she actually went to sleep with him. The second night there were 2 self settles then she went to sleep within a couple of minutes when he went in. After that she's been self-settling several times before needing help (although as I write this she's still grizzling, so I hope I'm not jinxing it).

Last night we were up until midnight because we kept waiting for her to need us to go in!

At the same time, I've moved her nap back an hour or so, and she's got much better with that as well. There are still the days she only does 10 minutes by herself, but there are also days she'll go straight to sleep and last for an hour. That's an amazing sleep for her, and given her performance I don't really want her to sleep longer because I don't want to mess with bedtime.

In my mind I always expected things to get better around 12 months. (Yep, it was the light from the study causing a problem, all fixed.) You know, if I just make it through the first year it will change. Plus I saw an interview with some sleep researchers and they were saying they wouldn't expect babies to sleep through the whole night until 12 months, so it sort of stuck in my head that sleep changes around then.

And it has. It hasn't been some wonderful technique we've tried, and there's still a long way before I'd call her a great sleeper, but it's so much better than she was. We may even get her out of the bed! It's been tough, but in the end it's just been a matter of waiting and letting her mature and be ready.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Finish your dinner

I'm really ambivalent about food.

I don't have good eating habits, far too much junk, and neither does DH. I'd love, love, love to pass on better habits to the girls, but I'm not sure how so it makes me uptight.

I'm probably middle of the road on food choices - some would be horrified, some would consider me a food nazi. But I also know that we all tend to think we're better than we are, especially when it isn't something we're an expert in, so I have this nagging suspicion I'm not really that good.

And then it gets more complicated!

I don't like the idea of forcing a child to finish their dinner. I figure she has a better idea of how hungry she is than I do. At the same time, Widget's track record is not that great - she doesn't eat when she's hungry, but will get rattier and rattier until we make her eat, then she feels better. So while I love the idea of her self-regulating, she doesn't do it and I don't know how to teach her. This means I'm torn at dinnertime - I want her to just eat until she's full, but I know it's a long time until breakfast.

Then there's dessert. We never had it growing up, so it would never occur to me to tell someone to finish their dinner so they can have dessert. But DH does it all the time. It drives me mad, but I'm not going to contradict him in front of the kids. And given how well Midget sleeps it's a good night if we get 10 minutes without them, so it's not something I've remembered to talk to him about.

Now after 3 years of Widget happily eating foods that are mostly mixed together, she has suddenly decided she wants to see each individual ingredient. It's really been coming on for a long time, but we've been resisting. Not on purpose, but it's taking a bit of adjusting to change our cooking habits so everything can be put on the plate separately.

So I don't know whether she happily ate dinner tonight because we remembered to separate it all, or because she knew Daddy had some icecream.

This requires more work.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Not a computer one, a real one.

When we got back from Perth there was a little mouse sitting behind my computer. In the resultant jumping, screaming and pushing the desk away it came off second best. Problem solved?


We have a new mousetrap (Catch them alive humanely! So then what are you meant to do with them?) but the little bugger isn't being obliging. We have wooden furniture and the house has wooden panelling on all the walls and built in cupboards (lovely 70's stuff), so there is quite a loud echoing gnawing sound.

They're either eating my furniture or eating the house (that we're considering buying). And so far the most effective thing I've found is to throw things at the sound and scare them.