Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Flour and salt homemade clay

Somebody must've mentioned it, because I can't remember how I thought about making beads with homemade clay.
Straight onto my friend Google... flour salt clay etc... which of course brought back a plethora of sites with recipes. Some were actually very different from each other. I mean the proportions between flour and salt and water were different! You can't really just mix and match, as of course the amount of salt will determine the hardness etc. No idea which one to try, I'm still a novice at homemade flour clay, so I thought, what the heck, whichever I choose will be good, we're talking flour and water and mess, the kids will have fun anyway!

I found this recipe on ehow to be quite good, many of the versions I found had that sort of proportion.
Next time I'll try this one,, just to see the difference.

So, because I was trying to be reasonably accurate with my measurements, I gave the kids a decoy...
flour, water, bowls, jugs, spoons: what more can a kid ask for?
mix mix mix
pouring lots of water
observing big sister
copying big sister
I could've even ended the activity here because they were both loving it so much!

So after I finished kneading the dough (it was really quite elastic, very happy with myself!), we pulled out our faithful cookie cutters and Sosi and Casi started cutting away to their hearts content!

Note to self: 4 cups of flour make a heck of a lot of dough....

Other note to self: if you set your oven at a higher temperature then a recipe recommends just so you can get the clay ready faster, you'll end up with something that puffs up and looks like golden crackers...

Regardless of what (I) considered a not-so-perfect result, the kids loved it. We started out decorating the clay shapes with markers/textas, and ended up trying paints as well. I wouldn't recommend the paints as the extra liquid on the paintbrush can wet considerably the clay again (particularly if you're a 3yo who's very liberal wit the amount of water/paint she puts on a paintbrush...), but using a paintbrush is oh so much more satisfying than a texta...

All in all, a very satisfying activity for all; waiting for the clay to cook can be tough on young kids, but I managed to time it perfectly with lunch, so while we were eating the clay was cooking.
I left the clay and markers on the craft tables all day, so the kids were free to go back to colouring as they were finishing other activities (usual play). Turned out to be a good idea, Sofia just loved it, she must've spent a total of 3 hours (not kidding you!) colouring these things! I was really stoked about that!

And indeed, making your own clay with edible materials is always a bonus when a little boy decides to try one of those pretty shapes...

yes, that's Lucas scoffing an incredibly hard (but delightfully salty...) oven baked clay decoration...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Angry post about a hospital birth

It's interesting that the last post I published was on the day a friend of mine was "due" to have her baby.

And I'm writing this one on the day she gave birth to a precious little girl.

Correction. On the day her precious baby girl was cut out of her in an emergency caesarian that closely followed her induction. I don't know all the details just as yet, but I can just fill in the blanks. 

Yet again, another perfectly healthy pregnancy, without a single complication, yet another healthy first time mother (not even 30 yet) who gets denied the possibility of a natural birth, who gets chewed up and screwed over by a system that pushed her/convinced her of the necessity of an intervention because, let's face it, it's almost Easter and, I can guess, the obstetrician is going away so really they needed to push this birth earlier. Or am I too cynical?

So, instead of an uncomplicated beautiful vaginal birth, instead of magical after-birth moments of gazing at this beautiful new life, of focusing on learning how to breastfeed and understanding the cues that this little person is giving out, she now also has the added stress of the aftermath of major surgery.

Not fair, not fair at all.

Another friend of mine gave birth a few months back. Thankfully she managed to birth vaginally. Sort of: her daughter had to be extracted by vacuum/forceps (can't remember now which one) because she got stuck in a cervix that wasn't dilating any more. That was less than 12 hours after another unnecessary induction, she was only 7 days "overdue". 
Which made her 41 weeks pregnant. Hang on, isn't a normal pregnancy anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks pregnant? So what's the rush? Ah yes, of course, private health system.

And another friend, this time in the public system, was administered so many epidural drugs (after a long and painful labour with her firstborn, she decided to have pain relief just as her 2nd labour was approaching the 24 hour mark) that she could not move or feel a thing below her neck. And that ended too in emergency caesarian. 

Another friend was planning a birth at the Family Birth Centre at the Mercy in Heidelberg, but her daughter was in such a hurry she was born at home. All good there, having already had a 1st natural birth and being an informed AP, she had no issues as to what to do. The issue started when they called the ambulance to get transported to the hospital, just to make sure all was ok, especially since she was struggling to birth the placenta. So the young doctor on duty said "let's get theatre ready". His idea was to cut her open to get the placenta out. WTF! Thankfully she was in the know, and thankfully the midwives from the FBC came to her rescue etc, but still.

I realise these are not horror stories: nobody died, nobody got paralysed, nobody got disfigured. But still, these are common stories of common women who got denied the unique opportunity to feel like an almighty child-birthing Goddess :)
These stories highlight the propensity of medical staff to intervene.

Because the reality of birth is this: unless you're a midwife or an ob-gyn yourself, as a first time mother you tend to only have a general idea of what could happen. You have a vague idea of what you want and what you hope, but really, you haven't done your research on ALL that COULD happen.
Unless of course you're one of those hippy-goddess-earthmama sort of women who is so amazingly in tune with her body and the world and has a deep knowledge of all womanly things...
Most women wouldn't have done that sort of research for their 1st birth. I know I didn't. And I got lucky that everything went according to my plan. Because really, had anything deviated from what happened (will find the time to write about my 2 kids' births...), I wouldn't have been able to stand up for myself, and I'd be writing this post as a woman who's been trampled on, rather than as a woman outraged by the treatment of other women.

As a first timer, you TRUST the caregivers around you. It's all good and well for your obstetrician/midwife etc to say they'll respect your birth plan, but really you don't know how much they will respect it when something unexpected happens. This post at Mama Birth says it all very eloquently. At the moment I'm a bit too sleepy for eloquence...

Because that's the big reality here: you can't kid yourself that the hospital wants what's best for you and your baby. The hospital is a business, and is run as such, with all policies in place to benefit the hospital and to guarantee the best outcome for the hospital.
Of course they want mother and baby to be alive and well. But they want it in a way that is convenient to them and their staff, not to the mother.

When you're giving birth in a hospital the system is in charge. Not the mother.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Things I know (about a crappy day)

  • When the day starts with me crying, I know it's not going to be a good day at all
  • Now I know that I must check the kitchen before going to bed to make sure I haven't left in the dehydrator raspberry/rhubarb roll-ups that aren't quite ready yet and left out of the fridge chicken stock that I had tended to for a whole afternoon :(
  • Except for the dress I wore at my sister-in-law's wedding last month, I haven't bought any normal (ie not maternity or nursing) clothes since 2007. Now, that's not really looking after myself, is it?
  • It's the one time I forget to put a liner on Lucas's cloth nappy that he has to do one of the most horrid poos
  • Always being the one behind the camera means I don't have many nice photos of me to choose from to use as a profile picture...
  • I know today I was an average mother
  • I know tomorrow I'll do better 
Linking up to Yay For Home

The fortnight in a nutshell

For the past month we've been busier than before. I realised I wasn't pushing myself enough in providing social opportunities for the kids. And learning opportunities too. There is just so much to do in life, particularly in this beautiful country of ours, you really have to plan for things to do.

Thankfully, because we don't have any set commitment (like kinder...), we can afford to go to events or be flexible with our catch ups or plan based on weather (I usually check weatherzone on Mondays and plan the week ahead accordingly).

In a way we are homeschooling, since I am taking charge of their education and their learning.

So this is what we did in the past fortnight:
- went to the library
- visited my cousin at her new house (note to self: when planning to drive to the other side of town, make sure there are no footy matches or the Mel Flower and Garden Show to make traffic a nightmare...)
- went to the Templestowe Village Festival
near the pet shop stall
- made homemade raspberry and rhubarb compote (rhubarb from the garden)
- went to Little Creatures, a lovely play centre in Balwyn

fairy Sosi shopping; still getting used  to seeing her girly, she's going through a dressy phase...

lunchtime (note how Casi HAD to wear a skirt after he saw Sosi had one); the playcentre doesn't frown upon food brought from home, just as well because they don't have many options there; on this day Sosi had a cheese sandwich and Casi had a ham sandwich bought there
 - Sosi and I washed the car with sponges and a bucket of water: she loves playing with water and helping out, what better way to combine them?
- went to Hays Paddock in Kew

- went to the toy library
- had Nana and Pa visiting for Sunday lunch
- went to Nanny Ange's to meet her new beau

All this interspersed with the usual time in the garden and various activities at home. Including failed attempts to do orderly Montessori activities: I've learnt you can't do them with both a 3yo and a 17 month old, will have to wait for the 17mo to be asleep next time...

Was supposed to go to playgroup on Thursday but we ended up getting ourselves sorted sooo late we missed out. Must go next week: I really miss meeting with other Natural Parents (here's a link to the NPM playgroups, we've met so many lovely people in the 2 years we've been members).

Now, better start planning the next fortnight :)

Saturday, 9 April 2011

What's in a name? About this blog

It's difficult finding a good blog name that is all encompassing of your true being and of all that you stand for in life.

After having thought of a few AP ones (like Connected Mum etc) and a few based on my personality (like Gritty Mum or Wallflower) and some personal ones (Sara's Own Path etc), I realised they definitely weren't all encompassing. I thought, hang on, I'm not just a mother, I used to be a person before I devoted all my time to these two little people!

And, deep in thought, I turned to my right, to the uber-stacked bookcases, that are starting to get so many double-parked books, stacks of books piling up vertically in front of a very neatly organised back row, screaming for someone to go to Ikea to buy more storage....

Not all of my favourite books are here. When I moved to Australia from Italy, back in 1997, I just brought a couple I could fit in my suitcase. And left behind close to a thousand books at my parent's house. So bit by bit I've been re-buying my favourites, because sending over 1000 books ain't cheap! Plus we really need a bigger house to accommodate for all of my interests...

And here is the book that I can singularly pinpoint as the one that helped me choose my path when I was at a crossroads in my life. In Italy it sat on the shelf after the Isabel Allende collection, here it's first on the fiction shelf just before 2001: A Space Odyssey, I haven't re-bought my Allendes yet because I decided to hold off till I learn Spanish and can read them in their native language...

Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

I had seen a copy in the house but as a child I assumed it was a book about volatiles...
Then at 14 I was the Outsider, the happy child that has morphed into a goofy girl that doesn't know how to fit in, the one that tries and tries without every seeming to understand her peers, the broody teenager that often considers the easy way out.

A very unlikely neighbour (long story...) suggested I read it. So I did. And I managed to give my life some sense. I realised I WAS indeed different, and not just because of my missing forearm, I WAS the gull trying to fly higher and higher when the flock is diving for fish in the sea. And I realised that's the way I am and I shouldn't change it. My difference is what made me stronger.

So thinking about this and deciding to choose a Seagull inspired blog-name, I was reading passages marvelling at the parallels with my own life. And then I stumbled across the two star-bright gulls, and realised that this is indeed Part Two of my life, the second part where I don't smoke or drink to numb my feelings of inadequacy, the part where I tackle life head on because these two little people reminded me of the little happy child that used to be.

So this blog really is about Part Two, about following my own path and choosing to embrace my being different, about making my own choices regardless of what the Flock is doing.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Things I know

I'm new at this blogging business, so here's hoping I link up stuff properly... I love reading Shae's Yay for Home, her narrative is bright and funny and I love her insights.

Things I know this week:
  • if you let the kids play with an alarm clock, they will set it to go off at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night
  • I have quick reflexes. Unfortunately not quick enough to catch this toddler before he fell down a step to meet a concrete floor :(

  • when a 3 year old starts dressing herself, she apparently has to change her outfit at least 3 times a day, resulting in a sudden increase of the amount of clothes that find their way to the laundry hamper
  • when leaving a shopping centre, you should never EVER forget to get the 3 year old to go to the toilet, just in case she falls asleep in the car and empties her bladder in the car seat while asleep :( 
  • letting the kids play in the mud before going to visit the great-grandparents is not a very time efficient idea
  • and the last thing I learnt tonight, getting the kids to do a "lentil pouring" Montessori inspired activity just before dinner was NOT a good idea at all...

Friday, 1 April 2011

NQR finger painting

A while back, when Sosi was still putting simple sentences together and I wasn't yet getting ideas from the thousands of smart bloggers out there, I bought Small Fry.
It's a really nice book and I often refer back to it for little inspirations.

Yesterday Sosi and I set out to make gingerbread biscuits during Casi's snooze, but upon the grim discovery that we had ran out of butter, I had to quickly find another activity that would satisfy her need to get her fingers dirty...

So we tried the finger paint recipe. Now, I don't know if I hadn't had enough coffee or had had too much, but as we were making it I couldn't see anywhere an indication of the cooking time.
Now, if you know anything about cooking, imagine bringing to the boil 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 of cornflour and 2 cups of water, and cooking it for over 10 minutes... you guessed it, it was more like very thick goop/jelly than paint...

Despite the consistency, Sosi loved it and, after posing for the camera...

... and pulling a couple of "can you do this?" faces...

she sat down all serious and focused and proceeded to make an aboriginal inspired dot painting (which she saw through the windows in Play School)