Friday, November 28, 2008

Teeny tiny things

Newborn stuff is so fun to make-it's all so miniscule. It'll be more fun when it's finally in use-36 weeks today!
A cotton outer/suedecloth inner pocket, made to the Shar's Newborn pattern.
A teeny weeny fitted, also to Shar's pattern. Some NB cotton outer PUL/suedecloth covers, home drafted pattern.
A fitted (froggy) and cotton PUL outer AIO, made to my pattern. These are S/M-in the first pic the rise is snapped down to newborn, in the second opened to medium. Two red minky/black fleece blankies. The theory is that these can act as nappy covers as well-after all, he'll be a December Queensland baby, nappy and singlet will probably be all he'll wear a lot of the time. So while he's kicking around on the floor, the grass, or in his rocker he can just have a fitted or flat on and be laying on one of these. That's the theory anyway, i'll have to test it-but even if it doesn't work he still has two lush blankies. Sling, to the Karma Baby pattern. I'm kicking myself that I ever bought slings, it literally took under half an hour to make and cost about $4 in fabric. And better yet, it fits-I have a somewhat small but not tiny build and most slings are too big for me. Asha (3.5 years, 13.5 kilos) was more than happy to hop in and try it out for me, it should be more comfortable once I get rid of this big belly! I want to try a mei tai next.
Front carry

And warning, ick factor for the faint hearted :P! More pads for me, i'm so happy I won't be wearing icky sweaty plastic next to my poor battered bits this time. They're topped with cotton velour, with a few layers of bamboo fleece, then the base is PUL and flannelette. The shape is from the 11inch pattern from shewhorunsintheforest, I meant to make them a bit differently but they had a mind of their own in the end. Not perfect, but hey, no-one will be looking at them :P

Plus i've made a pile of bamboo terry wipes and some bamboo terry/needlefelt prefolds-but they're pretty boring looking.

About time I displayed something productive here instead of just blathering on, eh?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My little genius

Tonight, the kids wanted a mint leaf each-the horrible things were still hanging around in the fridge from my birthday cake. So D pulled the bag out and there were three left. 'OK' he said to the kids, sitting them on the bench. 'There's two of us parents and four of you kids-how will we share three mint leaves?' With barely a second's hesitation Gabrielle replied 'Chop them in half and then there'll be six!' I am so impressed-she's two months shy of five years and this is about the fifth example she's given us of being able to work out fractions. She can do basic addition and subtraction, and even added up 8+4 the other day-in her head, no fingers or manipulatives required.

The bit that impresses me the most is that no-one has ever sat down with her and attempted to teach her maths. Never. We do a lot of cooking with all its half and quarter cups, and we talk about maths we encounter (like adding up all the bits of fruit we have, or dividing up items so everyone in the family gets some), but that's about it. But they just seem to absorb everything intuitively, process it all then apply it properly-they don't need to be 'taught' in the conventional way, simply exposing them to lots of different things really does do the trick.

I was so dismissive of unschooling to begin with. How on earth could simply being give you an education? Don't you need textbooks and tests, rote learning and spelling lists, and experts to tell you what you 'should' be learning at each stage? But since deciding to try unschooling (after all, they're so young that if it all fell apart it wasn't going to put them behind-they're still not supposed to be at school) i've gained a lot of confidence in it. Kids really do just learn massive amounts from being given quality items and experiences and some basic guidance and explanation-and what's better, it's all retained. They want to learn it so they do, and because they're applying the knowledge in a practical way it sticks with them. It's given me lots to think about in relation to my own education, but i'll save that one for another day. For now i'll just continue to wallow in pride at what my kids can do :D

Why I hate drunks

We encountered a moron on our walk tonight. As we walked past one house we could hear a domestic in full force, and a teenaged girl came running out of the house and down the road with an older guy appearing on the steps to scream and swear at her. As is usual in those situations, we ignored it all and carried on. Until he appeared behind me a few houses down, asking if we knew which way she'd gone. He stunk of booze and had a drink in his hand and couldn't speak nor stand properly (at 6pm on a Tuesday, not a bad effort), so I told him I didn't know. So did D-we both did know, but I didn't want to inflict him on her any more. We were very polite about it, and explained that we weren't paying attention to other people when he continued to badger us. So then we were the baddies-I really had to bite my tongue when he started telling me he hoped people looked out for my kids more when they were older. Um, hello, you're the one who lost your kid! Hopefully i'll be looking out for them more myself rather than relying on strangers out for a walk!

We walked off, so he turned around and spied her off on another street, then we copped more abuse-all the really inventive things along the lines of fuckwit and such, and all to do with how stupid we were for not knowing where she was.

Drunks are so entertaining. It reinforces my perception of alcohol as a generally bad thing-i'm always amazed at the attitude that regular drinking is quite acceptable. I know many people who see it as totally normal to drink a 6 pack every night and a slab over a weekend-it's just what blokes do. Not to mention women who down numerous bottles of wine a week. I've been pressured to drink both while pregnant and breastfeeding, and poor D gets nagged mercilessly if he refuses a drink while we're out. Now, neither of us are non-drinkers but neither do we do it on a regular basis. Both of us growing up with idiot alcoholic stepfathers is most likely responsible-when you see adults become blathering idiots who use their clothes drawers as toilets on a regular basis it tends to take the coolness away from it.

So i'll continue to be dumbfounded at the fact that whitegoods stores can run promotions giving away massive amounts of alcohol when you buy a fridge, that you can drink at some school fetes and that the supermarkets in Canberra sold alcohol. Because to me, it all helps to normalise and encourage the behaviour of the idiot above.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ethical Eating

Here I was thinking that pregnancy had just totally killed all brain and energy I had and I was doomed to a couple of months of doing not much and only being able to read moronic chick-lit type books-turned out I was just iron deficient. Once I worked that out and started treating it I felt great!

So when I came across the ethics section of the library I stocked up. The Ethics of What we Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason was first up. Many people hate Singer but I find his books quite interesting and thought provoking-the one about Bush's ethics and morals (The President of Good and Evil?) was very good. Ethics of eating is rather relevant to our situation now. Before I fell pregnant I was loving cooking, and we were eating mostly fresh and homegrown food with very little meat. However when morning sickness kicked in I lost all interest in food and cooking-moving interstate didn't help, and even now i'm not particularly into it. So our diet has slid somewhat-some convenience food crept in, meat consumption increased and junk increased. Reading this has given me enough of a guilt trip to pull my socks up.

So the goals now are

Animal cruelty-no more meat. We'll eat what we have and that'll be it. We don't have much, but I did turn to meat products to fix my iron deficiency. So once it's out it's out, and we won't be eating it when we go out anymore either, we've been dithering for years and I think it's time for total vegetarianism. In regards to other animal products, we're dairy fiends so milk, cheese and other dairy products will remain. I've started replacing some cows milk with soy and that'll do until we get settled back into non-meat eating again, reducing it can be my next goal. Eggs-I don't believe any supermarket eggs are ethical to eat. Even 'free-range' hens aren't kept in anywhere near optimal conditions. I put in a request weeks ago to get some chooks but our RE agent is absolutely useless and can't seem to return calls-i'm thinking of getting them anyway, screw them, it's not like i'm asking to get a rottweiler. Until then i'll use the vegan Orgran Egg Replacer for eggs in cooking-we don't eat egg meals anymore because I can't stand the rubbery tasteless things i've been buying after our completely free-range eggs from our chooks. I'd already cut out most other non-necessary animal products a while back (eg Massel vegan stocks) so that's easy to continue. I also need to do more research on the 'hidden' animal products, like rennet.

Environmental-Cutting back on animal products goes a long way towards minimising environmental harm-one thing i've never considered before was disposal of animal waste from factory farming which is hugely polluting. An intriguing part of the book investigated the newish fad of locavores which is basically eating as locally as possible in order to reduce food miles. Their conclusion was that a lot of the time eating locally will produce more pollution if you have to go out of your way to buy it, due to the food making smaller trips from the producer to stores/market then home to you. I'll keep getting vegies from the local markets because they're so much fresher and better quality and it's less than 2kms away. I used to walk there, and will do so again once i'm not so huge. We're getting more organised with the garden now as well and focussing on fast-growing, high yielding foods rather than all our whimsical things (really, I don't need to be growing giant gourds in a rental). Until we buy we're somewhat limited in growing, but producing some part of every meal is my current goal-we're about halfway there.

Health-i'm making much more of an effort to cook from scratch again, I got pretty lazy there for a while. This generally means we eat masses of grains, fruit and veg because that's what I know how to prepare the best. I'll stick to making loaves of bread from scratch but will stop beating myself up about buying other breads like rolls-it can be a future goal when I get a better oven. I also now have a pasta maker which is awesome-how did I live with that terrible bagged stuff?? The snack foods I do buy can generally be bought 'better' so i'm doing that-eg organic, low packaging rice and corn cakes.

Another interesting part was about freegans who obtain all their food for free, mainly by 'dumpster diving'. I've heard of this before and was revolted, I suppose picturing eating from my bin. But the way it was explained here made it look like a much better idea, bringing up how much food supermarkets turf which is still completely packaged and within date. It wouldn't really fit into my lifestyle now, being rather time-intensive (but less so than slaving away at work to pay the supermarket) but I think i'd be open to it if it was just me to feed-i'd definitely go along for a trip.

That's it for the food for now-but I still have the rest of the lifestyle to bring back in line. A book about waste is next on the shelf, should be interesting.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The garden

Is both very good and very bad.

I'll get the bad out of the way first. The zucchinis were all going fantastically after their early bout of mildew. Then, just before harvest, they all got end rot, then succumbed to yellow mosaic virus (I think anyway, it's all self-diagnosed). So did the pumpkins, bar one golden nugget, and the squash. So they all went in the bin. The tomatoes were taking ages to ripen for some reason I haven't yet determined, so all got infested with fruit fly. In the bin. I'm still not having much luck in the herb department, I really don't think i'm meant to grow them. And I ended up realising that our ladybugs are the plant eating type, but not before they decimated the potato plants.

In positives, we've got lots of corn and banana capsicums nearing readiness, and are eating quite a bit of silverbeet and shallots. We got a lot of potatoes even though they were attacked, and the garlic is nearly ready. Parsley, basil, stevia and apple mint can all be munched on infrequently. One pumpkin is still going, fingers crossed it'll remain healthy. I've also germinated fenugreek, marjoram, coriander and chives inside and hopefully continuing to have them under my nose will mean they'll survive. There's also a sweet potato on the kitchen bench in a tray of water in dire need of planting, there's tendrils up to the ceiling that are growing over a foot a day-but it's pretty fun to watch and I have nowhere to put it!

We're concentrating now on leafy, heat tolerant plants as the temperature is hovering around 30, so more silverbeet, some leaf lettuces, malabar spinach and shallots, plus some beetroot. I've got a couple of the quickest maturing cherry tomatoes in and plan to hurry them along to avoid more fruit fly. And I couldn't resist melons, but i'm sticking to one of each (water, rock and honey) for now. Plus just one straightneck zucchini, it did the best. Hopefully sticking to small and manageable for now will mean a better success rate!