21 December 2009

Useful reference on global temperatures

See Brave New Climate on 21 November 2009, for a post on global temperatures by James Hansen.

If you ever find yourself at a dinner party with one of those annoying people who are in denial about the whole global warming thing, get their email address and send them this post. It has graphs showing temperatures, and explains where the data is from. It offers insights into the sorts of problems that arise when analysing large data sets, and how mistakes can be made, and exploited by those hoping to cast doubt in people's minds about whether the world is warming and what is causing it, and how they are inundated with "Freedom of Information" requests from people who aim to dispute the conclusions drawn from their data. This research group now publishes their data in a private domain first, so that they can check the data thoroughly before going public on the internet - they learned the hard way that their mistakes are siezed upon.

26 November 2009

Calling for your favourite vegetarian recipes

So after a few years of saying "I'd like to eat more vegetarian food and cut down on my red meat", but not doing much about it, I have finally bitten the bullet and started to seek out some vegetarian meals that are suitable for our family dinners.

I'm ashamed to say that I've known that beef and lamb are the big resource users, when compared with pork, chicken, and other types of protein, but in the end I got a scare this week when I read that more than 2 meals a week of red meat is a contributing factor to bowel cancer. It sunk in that my mother's father has had bowel cancer (and luckily survived it, but still...) and I should probably start making a bit more of an effort to diversify my diet. And there is a higher level of heritability with bowel cancer than with some other cancers.

Anyway - vegetarian meals in our household come with a few challenges:
- my 3-year-old is allergic to egg, sesame and cashew. NO HOMMOUS OR TAHINI!! boo hoo! no cashew stir fries! no scrambled eggs, frittatas or quiches!
- the jury is out as to whether or not we should be feeding him other nuts such as peanuts. Not clear whether or not this will increase his risk of developing other allergies.
- I need to eat tomato and chilli in moderation - too much and I break out in eczema.

I kicked things off tonight with Lentil Shephard's Pie which was delicious, but will take my son a bit of getting used to (they say you have to offer a toddler something as many as 10 times before they will stop turning their nose up at it). But it wasn't exactly quick and easy - more of a special occasion meal. I used french brown lentils, which don't require soaking prior to cooking.

I was just wondering - what are your favourite quick and easy vegetarian meals?

10 November 2009

Bamboozled, and the OSM

I've thought it odd since moving into our current residence - part of a strata complex - how much good stuff just gets thrown out when people move out or put their houses up for sale and cull stuff for the inspection. So far, we have nabbed a few largish canvases (which we'll paint white and use for something else), a perfectly good plant pot, a watering can, and the odd bit of furniture. But this takes the cake. They were was left in our common courtyard, and after a few months of promising to collect these, the owner finally admitted she didn't want them after all, and anyone was welcome to take them.

See picture. The pots alone probably cost around $100 each. We have been thinking for a while that we'd like to get some larger pot plants as a bit of a privacy screen, as you can see right into our neighbours living room when you stand to the far left of this picture. It was a major effort to move them into our courtyard, but I'm glad we did. The bamboo itself needs work. They are overgrown, and need thinning at the roots, which will be a major effort (anyone want to offer their assistance?!). There is a third pot like this which has cracked right down the length of the pot, obviously because the roots have multiplied too many times. But I like them, I like that we finally have some substantial greenery to soften our courtyard, and that I can use some of our waste water a 2nd time rather than have it go down the drain! Let's see if I can get them growing well without killing them off!

The "Oh S**t!" moment
One of Crikey's blogs had a story about the "OSM", where readers were encouraged to write in about the moment when they realised fully that climate change was due to carbon pollution, and that the effects on the climate were going to be significant. Makes interesting reading, although some respondants do go off the point a bit.


And so I find myself out of work again when on maternity leave. This time, things are a bit sweetened by a fairly good severance pay out. Despite being on contracts, and performing various roles, I have clocked up > 5 years service for my employer. This sweetens the news that there isn't enough certain funding to employ me on next year considerably.

I think now is probably a good time to put an effort into finding a job in an area where I have a passion and/or considerable background - I've experimented in working in different fields for a few years for the sake of working part time, and that has given me some new skills and taught me more things about my strengths and weaknesses. BUT at the end of the day, when you care less about the subject matter of your work than other fields or causes, it can be hard to stay motivated when other parts of your job aren't going well.

So I felt flat for about half a day after receiving this news, but moved on quickly. After all, it means my 2nd and last baby can wait a bit longer before starting child care! :-)

06 November 2009

Where Sydney's water goes...

When I have looked closely on the star rating (energy or water) on washing machines, I've been stunned to see that they are based on daily usage on a certain setting. "Well really!" thought I, "who does 7 loads of washing a week?!". I thought that surely these people were obsessive compulsive clean freaks.

And now I am one of them. Not an obsessive compulsive clean freak, but someone who does at least 5 loads of washing a week. Our whole family re-wears clothes until they are dirty/smelly enough to need a wash, we use towels multiple times before washing, we wash sheets once a forthnight (I really can't be bothered doing them weekly...), I use bibs and cloths on my baby and 3 year old to save outfits. But all this washing adds up now that there are 4 of us, even though our machine is a 7.5kg capacity (rather large). Kids have accidents, babies vomit, wipe their grottly little hands and lips on your clothes

I'm trying my hardest to save water in other ways - watering pot plants for e.g. - but not having a garden to throw extra water into means that a lot of waste water sadly goes down the sink. And past attempts to accumulate water in a bucket has just resulted in attracting mozzies...

04 November 2009

Whoa! has it been 3 months already?!!

Hello there!

With the blink of an eye, our darling little baby girl (let's call her Astro Girl, online) is already 3 months old! No longer a newborn, she is transitioning to size 00 clothing, and very aware of her hands all of a sudden. You can hear her sucking away on them in her cot. And she can giggle! It's a beautiful, hearty chuckle, which is interspersed with cute little goo-ing noises.

Parenthood this time around is different, easier. Is it because we are more relaxed, experienced parents? Is it because she is a girl? or because she is a 2nd child, who has to get lugged around everywhere, and hauled in and out of the car/cot/pram mid-sleep to keep up with her big brother's activities? Who knows! Maybe it's all three. But so far, we've been blessed with a baby with a very easygoing nature.

It's rarely hard to get her to sleep, and she prefers to settle on her own much of the time, after a bit of one-on-one cuddle and giggle time, and maybe some singing. She has mostly one overnight feed, sometimes two, and while I do hear her make noises in her sleep, I seem to be able to sleep through the irrelevant noises more easily these days. So we are keeping her in our room until the summer is over, and will think about shifting her in with her brother next year, perhaps when their eating and sleeping habits are a bit more similar.

Any my other baby? The three-year-old, I mean... He's doing well too. Can't stop him talking. Will enthusiastically soak up any new material to talk about, and talk to anyone he has at hand. This morning, he was watching the TV show of the daughter of a certain deceased Australian "icon" (hint: crikey!), and saw a story about deforestation in Indonesia threatening the habitat of orangutans. This was assimilated in his brain, mixed in with something about dinosaurs, and regurgitated back to us in one hilarious story with accompanying hand gestures! (I'm thinking this will make it easier for me to explain to him why he shouldn't waste tissues - thanks Bindi!).

But he's also a wonderful big brother. He helps with the baby whenever I ask him to (ie by talking to her while I get ready for her feed, fetching me things while I'm feeding etc etc). He seems interested in her, and he asks where she is if she's not in the room. She, in return, is fascinated by him, watches him from her capsule in the car, and throws him beaming smiles! How idyllic! I wonder how long this will last!!

So relative domestic bliss for the time being. Just need to work on E-chan's fussy appetite, his pleases and thankyous, and putting his toys away instead of leaving toy cars in the middle of the floor....

05 September 2009


(Remember that trick you do with the calculator, where you end up with "5318008", and get the person holding the calculator to turn it upside down and read it, and it's a rude word?! This is my oh so clever way of avoiding spam....)

So, 5318008.

This will be my last ever post on the matter, promise! You may remember me mentioning* this last time I had a baby. I had a bit of trouble with breastfeeding. Main trouble was my baby didn't latch on properly for 9 weeks or so, and I couldn't produce enough milk, had to top up with formula, express milk, take pills of various kinds etc etc. There was also some possibility that my 8008's just didn't produce much milk. Something to do with boob shape - the midwives have been a lot more honest with me about it this time (last time they were frustratingly sketchy about it).

Well this time, with all other issues not an issue (ie Astrid feeds well, and like last time, I've done everything possible** to increase my supply), we still find we produce a woeful amount of milk. Plateauing at about 1/2 to 2/3 of what she needs. So it seems that yes, I do have the type of 8008's that don't produce much milk.

Non-mothers out there probably accept this without much question. But I find there are some breastfeeding advocates who don't accept this. They read in baby books sentences like "Only a small proportion of mothers will not have enough milk for their baby..." and for some reason interpret it as if everyone should have enough, when in fact a small proportion don't, and I'm one of them! I tell them I'd have to feed hourly around the clock or more often to satisfy my baby's needs, and maybe still not have enough, and their response is "well I had to feed every 2 hours for a while..." as if having to do that for a few weeks in the late afternoon while establishing supply or during a growth spurt is the same as having a baby that doesn't gain weight and has no energy. Anyway, enough of my whinging. I'm going to talk to the lactation nurse to find out the official medical term for someone like me, and have it ready to throw at the next "breastfeeding nazi" I come across! Also, people accept that some women have "fast flow" of milk without judgement, so why not slow flow too?

So what about the shape of my 8008's? See picture above. I found this courtesy of the Post Secret site, and was excited, as I rarely ever, in this silicone age, see breasts in images that look like mine! But they exist! Mine aren't tatooed, unfortunately, and are a little more rounded as I am breastfeeding. But they are kind of like the image above. I'm at peace with them now - they are how they are, even though poorly equipt with milk ducts. My husband likes them. And they produce roughly half of what my baby needs. Fortunately I also live in a 1st world country with adequate hygiene for formula feeding, formulas are a lot better these days, and I can co-bottle feed, and I don't have to hire a wet-nurse to feed my baby (or much, much worse...). So we're doing the unusual feeding method of breastfeeding at each feed, and topping up with a bottle. I'd love to just breastfeed, but can't. I'm not lazy, and nor am I ignorant about what needs to be done to maximize milk supply. So there!
All is going well! She's lovely, and we love her to bits. Nuff said.
* just a bit.
** believe me

18 August 2009

21st century girl

Here's our little girl, Astrid Kate!

She's doing well, and we are all happy, even E-chan who is coping quite well with having to share our attention.

Some things of note (no time for full elaborations!):
- She is lovely - an absolute joy.
- I'm enjoying having a girl more than I thought I would, although there is little difference between newborn boys and girls (besides their genitalia).
- I'm coping with the lack of sleep better than I thought I would.
- Parenting 2nd time around is a comparative breeze - I'm nowhere near as anxious this time.

Will post again another day - today I suffer mummy-brain... my brain changes topics on me before I can commit them to type, and I just want to veg on the couch.

21 July 2009

Now there are 3...

The baby is only a few days away now.

After months of this being in the background, as something that will happen, we're suddenly almost there. The baby things are more or less ready, and family is set to visit (including "Grandma" - my Mum - arriving today). C-chan and I more or less know what we're in for.

Now as we focus on our son, we realise how much this is going to rock his world. He can't fully comprehend what is ahead of him, as much as we tell him and hope he understands. C-chan and I have a bit of a difficult task trying to keep things normal for him over the coming months while his world changes. Loving grandparents will be here, but that won't be the same as when it was just Mum, Dad and him.

At the same time, he's being an absolute trooper most of the time. He kisses the baby's things, seems to be accepting that some things aren't his but belong to the baby (a difficult concept for him so far). He's being adorable, despite feeling rotten with a cold recently. He walks along, holding my hand, proud of wearing his new dinosaur back pack, and he is my little friend.

Sorry - must be hormones. I keep bursting into tears today. Dropping E-chan off at Kindy seemed to be the hardest thing ever this morning, and he wanted to stay with me rather than play with anyone. But I need to rest, and get over this cold before Friday... somehow...

17 July 2009

So much for resting...

So work wrapped up last week, and it took a grand total of 4 days for E-chan to come down with a cold. He spent Monday home with me with runny nose and goobery eye, Tuesday having a short day at Kindy, and Wednesday at Kindy, and yesterday coughing and spluttering with me at home. Today seems have a return of a snotty nose PLUS a bonus worsening cough.

I seem to have that feeling between my eyes that I'm coming down with it too (or is that from being woken 5 times last night!?).

Getting cabin fever big time - I'd rather be out seeing friends, or sleeping. Yesterday my attempt at a nap resulted in 30 mins lying down, whilst darling son crawled around my bed, showed me how clever he was at naming things on his flashcards, built a pillow fort, and said "mummy open eyes!!" whenever it looked like I might actually doze off!!

I'm beginning to think "thank goodness for Playschool, The Land Before Time, Chuggington, Charlie and Lola, and Skunk Fu" (see ABC Kids website if any of those need interpretation). And at least I'm getting through the many loads of washing I need to do before visitors and new baby descend upon our house!! And a few boxes of eco-nappies (well the best you can do if you're not doing cloth) were delivered this morning, very conveniently at 8am, only a day after I ordered them!

Outside, it is cool and blustery today. They are recommending that pregnant women wear masks when they go out, due to a few Flu hospitalisations that have happened out west of Sydney. But I might need to venture out for our sanity - maybe a bandanna will do? But E-chan's cough is a worry. Trips to inside shopping centres might be all we manage...

11 July 2009

Parental leave

So here we are again, on parental leave. Different this time... last time, it was me enjoying time pretty much entirely to myself, with a few minor things to get done before the baby came, catching up with friends, and waiting... waiting... my mum came to visit, my mum had to leave again as she was rostered on to work she couldn't get out of, but still no baby! Waiting... for a baby that came 10 days "late". And we didn't really have a clue what we were in for.

This time - things are brought forward about 10 days due to the birth being a planned caesarian, I have about 2 weeks between finishing work (last Wed) and the baby (just under 2 weeks away! yeeeheee!), only part of that time will I will have to myself, and there seem to be endless little bits and pieces to do. I'm seriously gonna have to factor in some rest time somehow. But the days when Ethan goes to kindy go ridiculously fast. This time we hope we are ready to metaphorically sit back and enjoy the baby more, to not be so anxious. We know pretty much what is coming.

3 good friends have had babies recently - welcome to the world Patrick, Charley and Jesse. 2 of these are in the same city and I'm hoping I will now have time to visit them and bring their Mums food!

The last few weeks of work were hectic as you'd expect, but I got some good stuff done. This time it seems I have a job to go back to (but it's still reliant on contracts and funding...). At least my employers seem keen, and there might even be someone doing my job in my absence, which a week ago wasn't even discussed, but is kind of a relief.

09 June 2009

Arthur? Martha? What? Who? How? WHEN?

Things are busy here at Chateau Meri. I realised over the weekend that there are only around 6 weeks until the arrival of the baby (by caesarian, I've decided), and had a bit of a melt down. On top of work being busy (don't want to talk about that, though), tomorrow is E-chan's birthday, and it is the first time he really gets what is going on, wants a party, and wanted to invite friends. Cute. It's a busy time of year for birthdays, because most of my Mother's group have birthdays around this time. Makes sense - that's how we met. But means there is something on each weekend.


I don't think I'm going to have much time between going on Mat leave and baby, so we have been packing all sorts of things into our weekends and week days. Fixing windows, painting oppressively dark bookshelves white, taking stock of our newborn clothes, bedding, bottles and bunny rugs, putting the rail back on the cot, re-arranging E-chan's room to accomodate his baby sister*, doctor's appointments, keeping toddlers amused, and mediating fights and tantrums caused by not wanting to share toys.

On top of that, a housing development - which is opposed by most residents in the area AND the council - has come back "revised" but not really any better, and residents in our area have had only a few weeks to gather responses (as opposed to those who propose the developments, who do it as a full-time job). We have reason to fear Council and resident objections will be ignored, the development will go ahead, and a precious patch of winter light and natural heating will be lost.

Health-wise we are OK. I had a cold, which has cleared mostly, but at the Dr's I recorded possibly my lowest ever blood pressure reading. Better than having hypertension, yes, but also means I can feel lethargic and dizzy. Baby is bearing down hard on my cervix lately, yet my lungs feel compressed and I feel breathless. Pregnancy is feeling much more undignified this time around. I probably have more on my plate this time, but it's partly age I think. Amazing what a difference it makes being only 3 years older. Greatest of respect to those to manage pregnancy in their 40's.

I am so far behind in writting letters/emails to dear friends, it's not funny. My hair hasn't had a trim for half a year. I better stop listing this stuff or I will have another melt down...


* too hard to keep it a secret this time - looks like we're having a girl.

28 May 2009

Re-feathering the nest

Little E-chan has moments when he is keen as mustard to take on the big brother role – this is particularly after he sees other sets of siblings behaving in a positive way. But I suppose we can only expect that it will be normal from now on for him to embrace change in spurts, and downright reject it at other times. Sometimes within 30 minutes of each other. Not completely unlike adults, just different issues, I suppose.

Lately he’s quite interested in the baby in my belly and talking about how it's going to be once his sibling is here. He even hugs and kisses my belly, which is sweet. Sometimes he runs off to kindy all enthusiastic, waving goodbye to us like a little boy, sometimes he almost cries when we leave. Sometimes he runs into our room crying in the middle of the night, scared of something, sometimes he strolls into our room beaming at us as soon as we show signs of being awake in the morning. But overall, he's adjusting well, being adorable, and toilet training is going really well - not sure when he'll be out of night nappies, but for the timebeing, few accidents in the day time.


One thing I’m excited about is re-feathering the nest.

I've gone through E-chan’s baby clothes, sorted through them, and started to give away the ones we don’t think we’ll need. Friends are lending us a baby capsule for the car, a carrier and a baby bath. Time to make sure the clothes, toys and other stuff for 0-6 month-olds are all clean and not dusty and ready for use. Time to clear out the spare half of the wardrobe in the kid’s room and make sure there is room for baby stuff to go in! Time to look into BPA-free baby bottles and pumps, and prams/transport arrangements that will work with 2 of them...

20 May 2009

Climate fighting chicks


This campaign challenges 1 million (Australian?) women to reduce their carbon emissions by a tonne.

Also some discussion forums where people share tips on being green. Early days yet, but it looks good. Sign up, and get your employer to sponsor/be a partner!

08 May 2009

Minding other people's children - a great test of parenthood

I've done the odd spot of babysitting, and most of those times, the kids have already been in bed asleep before I arrived.

Today I am venturing into new territory. I have a polite little boy called Louis playing at our place this morning. I know him quite well, and they just live around the corner. But haven't done this before.

Safety isn't really a problem. Our open plan living room means I can see much of what goes on without having to budge. I hope I have the toilet and food and drinks covered, and I'm trying to be interested but not intervene too much. My bossy, talkative little boy keeps trying to tell Louis what to do, but Louis, the relatively quiet 2nd child, puts up with it like a trooper... so far...

06 May 2009

Denial all around us...

I'm trying not to get too depressed about the lack of government action on climate change. I'm trying not to get too worried about how easy it is for climate change denialists to convince most average and many well educated people that climate change has nothing to do with atmospheric carbon. What sort of world am I bringing children into? (and please don't point out overpopulation to me... am aware of this, and at least I am stopping at 2 children - everything going well).

So what am I doing in my own "backyard"? Well we currently have silly European-style (except not double glazed) push-out windows. We've been looking into how we could put insect screens in, so we can leave windows open for ventilation without the bother of mosquitos and flies. The best solution, all things such as blinds considered, was to convert them to wind-out windows. The other benefit of this conversion is we can now lock our windows slightly open, without worrying about certain little people working out how to climb up and falling out. Next step: insect screens some time before September, which is when the nocturnal mozzies started bothering us last year....

Second - am investigating the retrofitting of ceiling insulation on behalf of our unit complex. More than half of the units have uninsulated corrugated iron rooves (the rest are underneath other apartments). They planned to insulate at the time of building 10 years ago, but Shonky Bros builders didn't manage to get around to installing. Or something. People are putting in air conditioning to micromanage their climates, but some of us would rather insulate and use fans and better ventilation. So far, have investgated the Govt rebate scheme, clarified how strata units are eligible, and now I need to get quotes (some rooves are v high up, some ceilings have down lights, no ceilings have internal access...).

Third - I have a tub of borax under my sink. Haven't managed to use it yet, but it's there!!

Fourth - have worked out how to hang my sheets out to dry without having to use the dryer.

So much more I could do...

30 April 2009

Who needs toilet training now?

E-chan had been going a bit backwards with the old toilet training, so we decided to do the one thing we hadn't done successfully yet, and that most toilet training guides recommend: not react to accidents. Sounds easy, but you try and always maintain a cheerful "oopsie!" attitude, even when your toddler is on their 6th pair of pants for the day, and most of the times they'd had accidents, you'd asked them a minute prior if they needed to go, and their answer was a resolute "no!".

But anyway, we did it, and now he's being a big going to the toilet himself champ! Finally. Now we just need to stop the night nappies. All in due time.

Perhaps I should work on me first? On top of the pregnancy-related poor pelvic floor muscle strength issues (ahem), I just had an accident...

Just then, he was on the potty. He wanted to watch playschool while he widdled. Fair enough. So when he finished, I picked up his potty to empty it, and crashed into a chair, spilling its contents on the floor and a nearby chair.

Good one, Mum!

25 April 2009

Favourite things...

Roll over rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens. OK so mine don't rhyme, but here's a current list:
- Walking along a footpath on a sunny, crisp autumn day, holding hands with my nearly three-year old who semi-skips (gallops?) from time to time.
- Singing "I love E-chan!", and getting a "I love mummy!" in response in roughly the same tune.
- Making anzac biscuits with E-chan. I started getting things ready, and he went and grabbed his step stool, put it next to me to stand on and said "I want to help lou!" (he doesn't quite say "y"s yet, and kind of says something that sounds more like an "L"). He helped me to pour cupfuls of dry ingredients into the mixing bowl.
- funny and adorable half-asleep conversations and gestures.
- Going around to friends houses to play. E-chan was invited to play at his friend Louis' house - he goes to the same kindy, and lives just around the corner. They greet each other with a hug, and have a whale of a time! Meanwhile, I scoot around town, getting stuff done for the morning(including picking up E-chan's new bed! finally we can put his mattress up off the floor!).
- Baby-sitting vouchers as birthday presents. This rocked. Thanks J!

Now I just have to spend some time on many emails that seem to be piling up in my inbox, not responded to...

16 April 2009

Dancing to own beat

There's a junkie who lives or hangs out near my work. I often see him on my way home, gesticulating to the sky/talking to God, taking photos of random things with a mobile phone, dancing and skipping along to his own beat. He's often wearing only jeans, which hang dangerously low on his hips, exposing the creases that go diagonally down from the hip to between the legs on skinny men's bodies.

A few weeks ago, I was having a lunch-time catch up with my boss outside the tea room on the 5th floor of my building. I was looking outwards, over her shoulder, where I could see junkie-guy doing the most intense dance ever on the top of a nearby multi-storey car park. You know, a re-enacting Flashdance kind or dance. It was quite distracting.

10 April 2009

pregnancy pragmatism

How's the pregnancy going? Have you been very sick?
Yes - foul morning sickness.
Oh you must be having a girl! I have a feeling you might...
I had dreadful morning sickness last time too. I think I have a 49% chance of having a girl.
---(change of topic)---

So do you find as you approach the latter stages of pregnancy - I hear - that pregnant women start to find they feel happy and are looking forward to the baby once they feel less tired and sick...
Uh, dunno. Suppose it depends on your personal situation. If you have uncertainty with your housing or job or finances, it would make things even more stressful.
---(change of topic)---

Listen to hissy fit over the phone as someone jumps the gun and over-reacts. Can feel eyelids sitting half way down my lids, patiently wait for it to end, and calmly state my point of view.


Nice to be feeling rational and confident. A month or two ago I was a mess every time I saw a child get hurt on TV for example.

27 March 2009

Consumerism gone bonkers

I grew up in a different state from my relatives. I got the odd letter from my grandparents and on occasion, from favoured Aunties. Many of Grandma's letters in particular I still have, because they make me laugh and remember what she was like. I think I got a present (nb - singular) for birthdays and Christmas. I don't really remember - it can't have been that important. We agreed amongst family that this would stop when we turned 18. I do remember (most ungratefully) that many of the clothes sent to me from interstate relos were really not my style (e.g. pink or disney), or were ill fitting (even then, I had broad shoulders and muscular legs).

So now I look at what is sent over to my son. He gets:
- multiple birthday presents from each set of grandparents and from each uncle (ie toys plus clothes)
- multiple Christmas presents from each set of grandparents and from each uncle
- and 3-5 parcels per year, for no apparent reason usually with 3-5 things for him

And, in his short life, he has accumulated:
- 50 gazillion matchbox cars, planes, helicopters*
- a sizable train set and more trains and carriages than he can fit on the track
- 5 teddy bears, plus another 10 or so soft toys
- 5-6 tip trucks
- Over 20 DVD's of TV series and kids movies
- Gazillions of baby toys, rattles, things to teethe with etc (which were about as interesting to him as a plastic bottle filled with dried rice or chickpeas).
- 2 and a half shelves of books (some of them my old books from when I was a kid, and includes Harry Potter, which we bought relatively recently, but still...)
- and much much more.

* more than my brother and I had combined by the time we were 8-9 years old.

So here is my conundrum. I'm trying to cut down the stuff we have, and not get things we don't need. I'm ashamed of all the stuff and clutter we have, yet I know most of the stuff we have isn't stuff we've bought. However, it's ungrategul to say you don't want the gifts you are given out of generosity and love. But did my Grandparents love me any less because they gave me less stuff? No, of course not.

One grandparent's view is that if we don't want something, we can get rid of it. Sounds simple, but in reality, it means:
- storing stuff somewhere to take to a charity bin (none very close to my place, and I keep forgetting, therefore have bags of stuff at home to get rid of).
- saving stuff somewhere to give away to closer friends when the time is right (again, I forget about them, and invariably find them a year later)
- throwing out perfectly good stuff in the trash (WASTE WASTE WASTE!)
- Videos - what do you do with them? Charities don't want them, e-bay maybe (I'd rather not go there), or garage sale (don't really have somewhere to do it).

All the above is fine when you have plenty of time and mobility, but we don't at the moment, having both of us working, and a toddler, and me pregnant. I would argue that them compulsively buying stuff makes them feel warm and fuzzy, helps them to express their feelings. At times the presents are thoughtful or something we don't have already, but much of the time, it is just more "stuff".**

I've told my mum many times not to give me clothes, because she never ever buys anything that I like (it was getting ridiculous - I had to say something to her bluntly in my early 20's ...), and when she gives me her old clothes, they are always in colours that she knows I never wear. Yet SHE STILL DOES IT to this day !! Getting hand-me-downs in general is fine, by the way, as I don't feel like resources are being wasted making them. But really - does anyone have the same taste in clothes as their mother? I suppose I should at least be grateful that she does shop in her local St Vinnes sometimes for clothes for E-chan rather than buying brand new. Babies sometimes wear things for 3 months or less before they grow out of them.

Anyway, I've tried dropping hints, discussing gently the possibility that presents are being given to make up for not being able to be living in the same city, and that while we appreciate that sentiment, it's way more than I was given as a kid, and I never felt like I went without. They agree. But as C-chan and I were talking about the other night, a lot of people acknowledge their behaviour, then keep on doing it. I also talk about trying to keep down the amount of "stuff" we have (particularly when we lived in the 2 br unit). But it falls on deaf ears. Except with my Father, who I know has similar feelings to me about buying stuff, but it's not him doing the buying, anyway.

I'm thinking maybe in future visits from the grandparents in particular, I'll get them involved with helping me get rid of all the stuff we don't need... But really, can people not control their urges to shop for new things all the time? Does loving your grandchild justify all the wasted resources? I know I should look more at my own buying behaviour more rather than worrying about theirs, but all this "stuff" is our problem to sort out too...

11 March 2009

Watch this if you're planning on having a baby soonish...


Insight last night had a discussion about birthing and the system as is is here in Australia. A few women talked about how they were shoe-horned into a certain approach or procedure here in Asutralia, just because of the public/private system dichotomy, or the midwife vs obstetrician choice you may have to make. Well worth a look, and also features Claire Bowditch, who tried to have a home birth twice, but was thwarted, at first by the high cost (insurance), and second by having twins and feeling more comfortable in a hospital on her second delivery.

Also a lot of discussion about elective caesarians vs required ones, and the grey area in between where women are being told they need one, but aren't really sure they want to, and aren't really being given all the info they need to make an informed choice. Many first time mums go with whatever they're told has to happen, while it takes a more assertive mum-to-be to demand more information, question what they have been told, and actually seek second opinions - this is not how it should be.

Also, there isn't much flexibility to change tack part way down the process - ie to start off a preganancy with one approach (ie seeing a midwife) then switching to an Obstetrician down the track if you have a complication arise, whilst keeping your midwife on board. And there is a lack of continued care - ie obstetricians don't really know much about breastfeeding and routine neonatal issues, and you're "handed over" to local area midwives who are fantastic, but have no prior relationship to you.

I've only had 2 appointments with my Obst this pregnancy, and I chose to see an Obstetrician because of the complication I had last time, and the fact that a caesarian was flagged as a good idea by specialists after the injury I suffered giving birth. So far I haven't been given a lot of information about the complications around caesars, and much of what I know is from having talked to others who have had one, and reading Mermaidgrrrls blog.

So far our strategy is to pencil in a caesar, but have a scan at 36 weeks, see how the baby is going for size, and make a decision then. But I'm finding the idea of delivering vaginally is scarier for me still at the moment. I'm not sure if there is data on pelvis size to baby head size ratios and what the the likelihood is of another nerve injury, and there are other matters - every baby is different, mother's pelvises are more elastic second time around, girls tend to be smaller than boys, and second babies tend to be bigger etc.

But the risk to me of suffering a permanent leg injury that affects my ability to walk is getting more stressful rather than less stressful with time. And I haven't even begun to discuss the issues around the scarring I have from my last delivery either - info on this is non-existant in birthing books. I know caesars bring many complications, but perhaps it is the better option for me. After all, it will be a decision that could affect the rest of my life.... but it's not something I really want either - it's just the best option for me, I think.

Home and sick. Siiiiiiick....

I was surprised that we managed to go back to child care this year and avoid getting colds etc, saw may kids with green goozies hanging down from their nostrils, and thought "it's only a matter of time....". But alas, E-chan has avoided getting sick this year, and it's me that's somehow managed to come down with something. It's no surprise, as there is lots going on - our to-do list is never-ending it seems, and is making weekends busy.

We've had to buy a new fridge, because our old one is alternating between freezing things, and not being warm enough (despite the settings not being changed), is just about too small (and will certainly be come the end of July). Our poor little 10-year old fridge served us well through our DINKy days, moving states and moving house many times, but it's now time to upscale to the family sized version. I hope our new one lasts us much longer. Am looking forward to having more fridge space, and being able to freeze more leftovers, as our freezer didn't have much room for that once all the frozen peas etc took up their place, and I was beginning to be bugged by how much food was going off before we used it. What a waste! But the logistics of getting a new fridge - working out what has to be thrown out, what can survive a few hours unrefridgerated, what must stay frozen, and what will last in an esky bag with ice for a bit. Our neighbours have offered to help with some fridge space, which is handy.*

Also, I'm looking into buying us all non-plastic drink bottles (such as the stainless steel ones made by Ecotank, Earthlust, or Kleen Kanteen - they're quite hard to get, and you have to order them over the internet). I sometimes buy water in a plastic bottle, on the occasions when I forget to take my own drink and there is no water fountain, and I really don't like soft drinks, so even though I know I'm being ripped off, I'd rather drink water and pay for it. I reuse the bottle many times, but am beginning to be (more) concerned about plastics, the resource intensity of their production, their impact on the environment, and possible toxins. I also like a bottle by my bedside, so there are no annoying 3am spillages as I fumble around in the dark to have a drink of water. While I'm at it, I'm looking into baby bottles for baby #2 that are BPA-free. 6 fairly major brands have just announced they will release a BPA-free baby bottle range this year in the US (and at least one of them will release that range here too - hopefully in time for our bub) - yah to the consumer lobbyists who campaigned so long for this.

We had our 19-week ultrasound yesterday. Baby is displaying all the normal characteristics, with 1o digits on its hands and feet, normal size, normal heart etc, which is great news. Time soon to start going through all the teeny, tiny baby clothes and give away the ones we know we won't use this time around. Soon E-chan's big boy bed will arrive - he's currently on a single mattress on the floor, and we are gradually accumulating single bedlinen for him. The cot is now empty for next baby, and we're trying to sort out their room and the best configuration for the furniture.

On top of this, my allergies have returned, as I haven't been getting my desensitising shots for a few months, and my system needs another few years of the injections for the dust and pollen allergies to stop bothering me permanently. It seems the warm, humid weather we're having is dust-mite heaven. Am having to buy new dust covers for pillows and mattresses (all the old ones had worn out), and vacuum the floor and hot wash all the bedding ideally every week (more like 1.5 to 2 weeks) to kill off all the dust mites. It's good to realise my hayfever and asthma symptoms had amost gone while I was being desensitised, and once I have finished breastfeeding, I'll start on the shots again - definitely worthwhile not to be troubled with frequent runny noses and wheezes. The eczema, while also caused by food intolerances and detergent exposure, was also a bit milder while I had the shots.

So, going to have a rest now, and vege out....

*I'm sorry that this post is a bit of an "updating all my friends" kind of post. Feel free to tune out if you're bored by it...

03 March 2009


I'm currently notching up acquaintances of the newborn variety – they are all special of course, and I would have mentioned some of these earlier had I not been a bit flustered of late!

1) My new niece – Lena-chan, who was born in mid-January. First girl of the family, and absolutely lovely! I’d love to see and cuddle her, but will have to be content with images over the computer until either I can get my family to Japan or my brother can get his (now with 3 kids – argh!) here. Her big brother is being good and responsible, her middle brother doesn’t quite understand…
2) Young Isaac, dear first born of friends Angel and Dr J, who was born the next day. He is thriving and doing all the sorts of things newborns are supposed to do, and even went to sleep for a few hours when we were visiting on Saturday night so Mum and Dad could relax and enjoy dinner! Good boy!
3) Twins next door! My neighbour finally had her twin boys this morning, after a long gestation as far as twins are concerned (38 weeks!). Poor neighbours have been freaking out at the thought of having two of them – hope they manage to work out some sort of routine soon.


We also have had a family with 3 kids recently move in over the corridor. They’re an academic family, accustomed to moving cities, and the Mum is a pragmatic type who gets to know her neighbours quickly so she has someone to ask about where to go for shopping, doctors etc etc. We also had a bizarre shared phone line (telco’s stuff up…) for a few days, and had to try to sort that out, which was weird, but another storey entirely. Only problem is they all have hard-to-pronounce Hebrew names. I’ve committed the parent’s names to memory, though.

Last night, their middle child (roughly 7 years old?) knocked on the door:

Child: Hello! Mom wants to know if we could borrow your can opener. We have one but it doesn’t work.
Me: Sure

I lent them the can opener and sent her on her way. 10 minutes later, knock on the door again:

Child: Hi. Mom wants me to say “thanks very much”
Me: Not a problem – tell her it’s fine!

This is the first time anyone has ever knocked on our door and asked to borrow anything, and it’s kind of nice, actually. I’ve always thought people are over-cautious about intruding on privacy in inner-city areas (especially where renters move in and out of high density areas all the time). Sure you run the risk of interrupting something. But when I knock on my neighbours door, they always invite me in it seems – you wouldn’t do that if you are too busy… Our neighbours who just had twins were so worried about the noise their babies will make. I told them not to be silly – newborns are quiet compared to toddlers (I reckon), and we can’t hear through the walls anyway. I’d rather hear noise from babies or kids, than party music past 11pm, loud television noise, or power tools early or late in the day…

For giggles...

Check out this link at the onion: http://www.theonion.com/content/video/sony_releases_new_stupid_piece_of

Made me giggle. I found this via Lavartus Prodeo.

27 February 2009

What's more important? Global meltdowns of the financial or ice-shelf kind?

I seem to be becoming a regular reader of Crikey's Rooted Blog, which has an almost daily update on selected environmental issues of all kinds.

This latest post, by Greenpeace's John Hepburn expresses better than I could the frustration I feel about politicians who are dilly-dallying about whether or not to introduce some sort of carbon reduction scheme now or delay it yet again:

Also, can someone remind me what we actually have to do now Australia has signed the Kyoto Protocol?

25 February 2009

What other parents don't tell you...

So back to toilet training. We had over three weeks of getting somewhere, going backwards and not ever seeming to make that full step into going to the potty on our own. While 3 weeks isn't really that long in the big scheme of things, we could see our little boy could technically go to the toilet fine (with a bit of help getting pants back on and things like that), he would never initiate it himself. Also, whenever he was asked if he needed to go, the answer was always "no", which it became obvious wasn't always the truth.

Result: we had to watch him like a hawk for signs that he was about to go, then somehow entice or convince him to go on the potty. It started to become a battle. It was nervewracking when we went out (e.g. to obstetrician), not knowing if he would pee on the carpet. Going back to nappies (except at night time) seemed like a backward step.

We knew what the problem was - he lacked motivation to do this of his own accord. He'd rather sit in a puddle and keep doing what he was doing than stop and go to the loo for a bit. We'd tried everything we could to encourage him - high five, praise, hugs, sticker charts, pointing out the habits of slighly older, toilet trained kids.... then the only advice we could get was "keep going with it, it will click", or "stop and try again in a few weeks". None of these felt like the right thing to do for us.

So we changed tack. After a visit to a friend's house where he had 3 accidents within 2 hours (despite having been asked moments before if he needed to go the toilet), I told him he couldn't visit his friends again until he stopped weeing on the floor and started using the potty properly. This sunk in pretty quick, and we saw some response. On Sunday, C-chan offered him a marshmallow if he used the potty!

"Oh dear!", we thought! "What are we doing?" What ideas are we instilling in him? BUT IT WORKED! He's taking himself off to the potty now where he wasn't before, and accidents have reduced to one a day at the most!! We don't give him sweets often, and we don't give him a marshmallow at breakfast or after dinner. We'll keep that up with the other strategies above, and gradually wean out the bribery as using the potty becomes commonplace. There are times already (just 4 days later) where he goes to the potty but doesn't ask for a marshmallow either.

So anyway, we felt a bit guilty for resorting to bribery, but last night I was talking to one of E-chan's friends mum. I told her about our strategy. "Oh, we used the marshmallow also! It was the only thing that worked in the end!". I had talked to her before about toilet training, and she never mentioned this! She must have felt guilty too! Then 2 more mums 'fessed up to using bribery in the end (smarties or whatever) to get their kids motivated to go to the toilet on their own. "It's the only way!" they all say - NOW.

Reunions. Hmmm

So my position on high school reunions has pretty much been that of disinterest. I had a disastrous last year of high school socially in which I grew apart from just about all my friends (it was complex), couldn't found a crowd I fitted in, and had my sights fixed on my next year at Uni, where in enjoyed the idea of redefining myself AND meeting people who gave a shit about the same sort of stuff as me (fortunately, I met some lovely friends, amongst others not in the bloggosphere right at the beginning of Uni). An that is how my opinion stayed. My school had a 10-year reunion, and I wasn't really interested enough to make a special trip back to 'Delaide for it, so I sent my apologies and well wishings.

Then a friend sent me one of those Schmacebook invitations, and you kind of have to join up to see what it is. Then you see half your friends and family are already on Schmacebook. Then it kind of becomes a handy tool for keeping in touch with far flung friends and relatives. Then you find yourself joining a school based group in the off chance you might come across people you are interested in getting in touch with. Result (a) lots of annoying friend requests from people you later realise don't really want daily updates from but can't de-friend them without feeling bad (b) developing skills in politely messaging people back expressing vague interest in their well being, but not befriending them, and (c) the occasional instance where you are thrilled to be back in touch with an old school chum - ratbags you never really intended to lose touch with but somehow did.

Some in my school year are trying to arrange a spontaneous reunion because they decided they can't wait until the 20-year one in a few years time (eek), and have started an event site for it. Someone else posted photos from the 10 year reunion on it. So weird! Some people stay exactly the same in appearance, some change dramatically, some gain weight, some lose weight. There are people in those photos I haven't thought about since I left school. I can now sort of see the value in turning up for a night, having a few minutes of conversation with some people I remember fondly, then going back to my life. I like the idea of finding out that once awkward people are now comfortable with themselves, and that some people have been quietly doing amazing things. Kind of like watching the next installment of the 7-Up series of doco films.

But I am perfectly content to wait for the 20-year reunion for this, if I can make it.

12 February 2009

Before and after bath shots

This is a real estate agent shot of our main bathroom, until a week or so ago. That - on the floor, behind the sink - is *supposed* to be a bath. A "Roman Bath", as if it wasn't just a tiled rectangular shower floor, and romans dressed in togas could actually sit around it and discuss politics. A glass screen blocks off the shower partition so that if you were prepared to use 5 million L of water, you could half fill it up, but not recline comfortably at all. These roman baths are the running joke of all the apartment owners in our block. We've been bathing our son in a blue plastic crate since we moved in.

This is our shiney new bath, baby! The blue tiles are no longer available, so we went with a retro multicoloured tile with similar colours to surround the bath. Last night, I gave it a wash down, and E-chan had his first bath in it. So, so much better than the blue crate, which he had refused to even sit in lately. And tonight's the night... I will have a bath of my own. [Note also plenty of ledge space for candles, books etc to perch on.]

In case you were left with any doubt...

...that southern Australia is warming, the BOM's report on the recent heatwave is summarised and paraphrased here. Yikes!

The Brave New Climate blog is written by Prof Barry Brook - Director of Climate Science at The Environment Institute, University of Adelaide.

10 February 2009


I have started spilling food down my top again – I seem to remember having the same problem last time I was pregnant. However, my 15-week bump is hardly jutting out enough to excuse this yet.


Along with everyone else, I have been horrified whilst following TV, internet and radio coverage of Victoria’s bushfires.

I was further horrified with people* writing drivel like this: “Our national character will emerge stronger from this disaster…” . I can’t really stand breakfast TV, but I did notice they sent the “big guns” (Kochie and Mel) down from Sydney to the Bushfire (as if Melbourne doesn’t have its own TV “personalities” to whom they could cross to, live…) Just like the media circus that went down to the sleepy Tasmanian town of Beaconsfield after the last National disaster we had. I don’t want to be insensitive so soon, but the only reason most of us will remember the date is that each year, the so called news networks will pull it up from their databases of anniversaries, and remind us that it happened a year, five, ten years ago, and they can pull up archive footage and use up a minute of the news bulletin instead of paying journalists to go out there and report on real news.

*Who are they?!! No explanation who this opinion piece was written by!

I am fortunate to have no loved ones or friends (that I know of) who are affected by these fires. I’ve met the odd person over the years who had properties burnt in SA’s Ash Wednesday fires.

But this whole experience has been bringing back memories for my Mother, who was just starting her nursing training when Hobart had devastating fires in 1967. She remembers the injuries and burns of the patients admitted to hospital, and parts of the city grinding to a halt… power cuts… the damaged electric tram lines never to run again and instead replaced by buses. My Nanna’s sister lived on the city’s outskirts on an orchard. At one stage she was literally running away from a fire with 2 little ones in tow, and her family lost their house and everything in it and their orchard. It took 3 days before my Nanna and Poppa could get down there to see if they were alive. They lived in a packing shed for 18 months while their town rebuilt. It took Mt Wellington a long time to look post-card pretty again.

09 February 2009

Toilet training

E-chan started toilet training on Thursday. It was a hot day, he spent a few hours with no clothes on in the morning, and I thought, well, why not give it a go? I had 4 days in a row with him, and I'm feeling a lot more energetic and prepared to go 'round mopping up messes.

So first day we went 5 hours, the second a bit longer, the third longer still, and yesterday, from dusk until dawn PLUS a visit to the pool and shopping centre sans nappy. He's doing well. He seems to have gotten a grasp for knowing when he needs to do #2's, and by yesterday, we seemed to be able to hold on for around a minute once he told us he needed to do wees. So proud of him! He's off to kindy today - hope it goes as well there, but he'll have less one-on-one attention...

One of the best things is our nappy usage has dropped substantially to one a day. This feels good. Another thing of note is all the little boy undies on the clothes line!! And his clothes-on shape has transitioned from toddler with extra nappy padding around the middle, to little boy!

And my final point on this post is that toilet training is not just about the kid learning - it's training us parents. You have to listen to your child carefully. After 4 days, experience says that if we ask E-chan if he needs to go, and he says "no", he means it (wasn't always the case with nappies for some reason - perhaps he didn't want to have to stop what he was going and go upstairs to have a nappy change...?). Also, if you're busy and you hear "oops" or "I do wee wee" (meant as "I'm about to do wee"), you have to have everything at hand and be ready to drop everything and go help. And going out... you need to consider toilet facilities, whether or not to take a potty, and if you do.... forward planning. It's a bit like having a newborn again!

05 February 2009

Themes for the week

Yargh! I’ve had enough of them interrupting my sleep! It’s bad enough that it’s hot, and that my bladder capacity is fast shrinking, requiring me to get up at least once a night!

Financial crises.
I’m too upper middle class to be affected by this yet. But I do hear 2nd hand accounts of layoffs. So at this stage the saturated media coverage of financial crises is a bit tiring. All the signs are there that things are going to get worse for us affluent westies, but the symptoms haven’t really kicked in. But this is bigger than just coping with different economic times – this goes hand in hand with all of us learning to be more resourceful, managing with less, leaving a smaller footprint, and we should be doing this anyway.
However, I know a recession doesn’t bite everyone a little bit – a chunk of the population will be just fine, a majority of the population will cut back on luxuries or hold off on major expenses, and a chunk of the population will sink into or remain in poverty. See Beesharp's latest post for more discussion on this and associated comments...


I live for when it’s time to go pick up my little boy at the end of work days. He’s loving Kindy this year, and has moved up a year from the nursery to “K1”, where he gets a smaller group with other kids between 2-3, but also the chance to mix with older kids during unstructured play times. I have to say I’m loving our child care centre too – it seems to be the right place for my child at the right time, and all the staff seem really good, and there are parents there I want to make friends with. I have no complaints, whereas I do hear them from some parents with kids at other centres.

Last week I went to pick up E-chan, and we sat down as he finished his afternoon tea and a drink of water. Another slightly older kid sat next to us, and I noticed he had a cool UFO kiddy watch on:

Me: That’s a nice watch!
Kid: Yeah – my mum gave it to me.
Me: can you tell the time on it?
Kid: Yes
Me: ! [momentarily impressed]
Kid: When the big hand gets to here [points at the “10”], it means it’s half past the hour, and this here [points to the “11”] is the equals sign.
Me: Oh really?!
Kid: Mmmmm.

My hit single...
Last night I dreamed up a song. In my dream, it was a hit 70's Cher song (!), but when I woke up this morning, I realised the song isn't one I've actually heard before (I think), and I just may have composed a song in my sleep. This puts me up there with Paul McCartney and others who dreamed up hit singles. Except mine isn't a hit single. And all I remembered when I woke up was 2 lines of it, and the words didn't make sense. And now I've forgotten it entirely....

Bun in the oven
Am now beginning to get moments when I don’t feel sick/full-bellied/tired/full-bladdered, and I momentarily forget I’m pregnant. Then – “that’s right, there’s another baby in my belly!”. It’s a nice thing to remember. I’m beginning to show, but I don’t think you can see it unless you know what you’re looking for, and I’m wearing a tight top.

01 February 2009


Thought this link deserved a post of it's own!

Thanks Alison - that made me laugh!

: )

30 January 2009

Doing it all again

So as I hinted in my last post, we’re having another baby. Most of my friends have been guessing due to odd behaviours such as not swimming laps, having blood tests, cutting back on coffee and cutting out alcohol, soft cheeses, throwing up in car on way from picking them up from airport without an alcohol fuelled night beforehand, eating monstrous amounts, and random questions about whether or not they’d recommend their obstetricians. Or I’ve gradually told other friends because it felt odd not to given things we were talking about, and because they understand that you don’t blab about these things until the end of the first trimester public announcement, because of the higher risk of miscarriage in those first 3 months of pregnancy (speaking of which, we did have a scare just before Christmas, but all is OK, and baby is now 13.5 weeks old).

Now all I have to do is tell work. That’s another topic for another day.

We’re looking forward to having another baby. We love our little boy, and wouldn’t swap him for anything. He is a source of so much more happiness than we could ever have imagined. Sure the first 3 or so years of a child’s life is challenging, until you have toilet training and communication going well. But the journey is lifelong, and we love it so far.

So here are some of the things that have been occupying my mind regarding the birth and soon after:

- The delivery. We have to have a c-section this time. This is due to my injured nerve in my leg last time (see posts around July 2006 - probably a bit melodramatic, I daren't go back there), which we can’t rule out happening again, and could cripple me. You can’t really tell whether bub #2’s head will do it to me again. Depends on gestation time, gender, size, how the delivery goes, genetics (will they inherit their grandfathers unusually large head size?). The worry of not being able to walk properly again would do my head in. On top of that I had another injury during birth that I prefer not to discuss in polite circles. But it hurt, still does sometimes.

- Recovery from major abdominal surgery. Sewing up of 7 layers of flesh including abdominal muscles. Eeek. Gross. And EEEK! Not being able to walk at first, pain, not being able to lift, reach up, drive for 2-6 weeks. I need to talk to the few people I know who have had a Caesars and hear how they managed, where they needed help. But millions of women do it every year, so it must be manageable. I have 6 months to get used to the idea...

- On the upside, having a pretty good idea when baby will be born and how, and being able to plan family visits around then and the looking after of E-chan. And given experience from last time, perhaps coming up with some ground rules with house guests, or being ahead of the game enough so that we can agree on tasks so that our personal space isn’t invaded too far. Parents – mothers in particular – take liberties as house guests that others wouldn’t dare. All with helpful intentions, but often without just checking with you first.

- Breastfeeding. Where do I start? Didn’t go well last time, due to what I think was 4 major factors – 1) E-chan had difficulty sucking properly for the first 9 weeks of his life, 2) my body was in shock due to injuries mentioned above, 3) stress from not being able to feed ("I’m a failure, Ow that hurts, I’m so tired from feeds taking an hour or more when you add in expressing milk and having to supplement with a bottle" etc), 4) supply issues. Despite that I managed to partially breastfeed for 8 months. I know breast milk is best, and am going to put as much effort as I can into being able to breastfeed my 2nd child as I did my first. I personally can’t do it any differently. I can only hope this one is able to attach a lot quicker, I am a lot more relaxed about it this time, and I manage to get through the challenges that having a c-section imposes on feeding establishment.

4) is the big unknown – my physiological capacity to produce breast milk. I suspected last time that in the range of physiological ability to produce breast milk, I was at the lower end of the scale. I tried everything to increase supply, but couldn’t really produce enough. It’s hard when you leave hospital co-formula feeding to get to a stage where you are producing everything your child needs yourself. But it was the right thing to do at the time, I have no doubt about that. We got off to a bad start, we all did the best we could, but throw attachment issues into the mix, and it doesn’t give you much of a chance. So assuming we get off to a better start next time, I should be able to see what my full potential is. It will be interesting. If I could do away with needing bottles at just about every feed, it would be lovely. If I can do away with bottles almost entirely, I’ll be ecstatic!

And I don’t mind if we have a boy or a girl. Either would be nice! We may find out beforehand so we can plan the name, but we won’t announce it to anyone outside family until the birth.

29 January 2009

Why is science important?

Came across this site debating why science is important. Ever been asked by a child, teenager, anyone really, about why anyone should bother with studying science, why science should be funded etc? You may find your answer here...

I quite like this answer...

adjustments, adjustments

I do hear of children who go to bed at a set time every night, without fuss, and who have a day nap every day, without argument. Not our little boy. Our little boy is a routine smasher. As soon as you feel like you’re getting into a routine of some kind, he will start struggling against it, and will enforce a change. We think he thinks too much. It runs in the family. Sometimes something else will break a routine – a visiting relative, a trip interstate, moving house, getting sick - which happens often and disrupts sleep patterns big time. But much of the time, he just works out what is going on with his bedtime routine, decides to throw a new thing into the mix to keep us on our toes, and we need to work out how to reign him in so we can get him to bed at a reasonable hour and have some time to ourselves to discuss, well, adult things.

For example: we read to him every evening before he gets into bed, and have done so since he was tiny. It’s time alone with him, time to look at pictures, learn, cuddle, and hear stories. For a long time we’d read 3 books, then put him to bed. Then at some time he started to demand “more?”. Then before you know it, he has tantrums when you stop reading! Tired at the end of our days too, it can take us a few nights to come up with the right counter argument.

Multiply the above negotiation by 10 as you add in all the little necessary steps that have to happen before going to bed. On a bad night, every one of these steps can require negotiation:
1) going upstairs
2) washing/bathing
3) nudie streaking from the bathroom to the bedroom (lately has included bonus shrieking – not very conducive to toning things down for bed time)
4) Nappy change and PJ’s
5) Getting room set up for sleep (soft lighting, toys away, comfort items such as teddy and cup of water at hand)
6) Choosing a book or 3
7) Reading books
8) Hopping into bed (and staying there)
9) Low-key end of day conversations, singing lullabyes, cuddles
10) Going to sleep

So at any given stage (or all of the above stages), our little boy can throw something new into the mix, refusing to do something, or insisting on something new. I hear you all saying “so don’t put up with nonsense – what’s wrong with you?”. Well to that I say we are no-nonsense parents, but it ain’t that easy. Toddlers get upset when they can't make themselves understood, and when they feel they haven't been getting their way all day which is unavoidable some days.

It’s down to how you say “no”. If you say "no" the wrong way, it leads to whole new conversations, or worse – tantrums. And at the end of a long day, your brain isn’t always at its most inventive. Once I got cross with him and told him in a very firm voice that “Be quiet and go to bed NOW, you are making me very cross!”. And it worked once, but never again. It only seems that on those odd days when I feel well fed and rested at the end of a day, I respond to these challenges thrown at me in a way I’m proud of, that leaves me beaming with parental wisdom. I often think it would all be easier if my little boy would just have a day nap and give us a moment to ourselves to recharge. But it’s been over 6 months since that has happened reliably - time to give up that dream.

I’ve had “morning” sickness* for the last month and a half, which hasn’t made it easier. Add to the equation me feeling pathetic, tired, on the verge of throwing up, or actually throwing up, as many as 4 times in a day. Hardly equates to an influx of innovative parenting ideas. Blargh. Literally. But the nausea is easing off, and is now a dry retch before breakfast every 2nd or 3rd day.

Saying all that – we’re getting there, and things are getting easier lately. And happy toddler = happy parent = happier toddler, and so on, in one massive feedback loop mechanism. I feel infinitely better equipped to deal with all this 2nd time around. Except there will be two of them. But by the time #2 hits toddlerhood, E-chan will be a big, responsible 5-year-old, so the collective wisdom of my parents and friends with older kids tells me. I can’t help but think it will be easier....

* by the way, we’re pregnant again!