Thursday, 29 March 2012

The prize for...

.. my favourite outside place to knit is the beach. I know that they don't really go together, but I love the relaxation.

This is a picture of me (several years ago) knitting on World Heritage listed Fraser Island. I had dropped a stitch and was trying to pick it up - hence the frown. In the photo I was knitting this slipover and beanie - here's the finished product.

It was a wonderful week of swimming, relaxing, drinking beers, fishing (for my Dear Husband and my sister) and knitting for me.

What's your favourite outside place to knit or craft?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


The toy monster is taking over. Chubs' room, our room, the living room, the car, the stroller, other people's houses - everywhere! We're doing a bit of a purge and a clean up at the moment. A beautiful problem to have; too many toys for a special, beautiful girl. What's your way of corraling the toys?

Tackle It Tuesday

Monday, 26 March 2012

Miscellaneous thoughts for Mondays

As I said yesterday, over the weekend we had sunshine after weeks of rain - yay! We also had our state election with unprecidented results. Plays at the park, time with Ruby's grandma Nanny Tops and Dear Husband's return home and all the other happenings on the weekend made for a lovely time.

The new laundry system seems to be working well, although we're only one week in! I do feel better during the week about having it pile up, since that's part of the plan and I know I'll deal with it on Sunday nights. I didn't get the ironing done, but all the folding and putting away happened.

I got some knitting done over the weekend too. I'm working on some squares and a blog related venture - stay tuned to see what it is!

Last week's round up

Monday: Chicken stir fry - him All good
Tuesday: Chicken curry (from the freezer - me) We went with freezer Bolognese instead of the curry
Wednesday: Beef stir fry - him All good
Thursday: Bolognese (from the freezer - me) I cooked previously frozen mince up and made enough for dinner for the two of us in Thursday, plus two more dinners. Since the meat had been previously frozen I couldn't refreeze. I put the other two servings in the fridge, one with spahghetti for my dinner on Friday night since Dear Husband would be away, and the other serving I though he might have on toast for breakfast on Friday. Unfortunately neither was eaten and since I couldn't refreeze them they got thrown out :( I also cooked up 1kg of fresh mince into eight servings which went into the freezer for another day.
Friday: Hmmmm... I had a last minute invitation from my mum to go over for dinner. She and I had a fantastic meal of homemade pesto (with home grown basil) wholemeal pasta and garden salad. Chubs had the pasta with basil leaves and cheddar (no nuts or goat's cheese) and a banana for dessert.
Saturday: Scavenge I had a BBQ with a lovely group of local mums, their partners and children. A lovely afternoon with great company, great food, great coversation and a baby who fell asleep :)
Sunday: Bolognese (from the freezer - me)

This week's plan
Monday: Slow cooker curry
Tuesday: Beef stir fry
Wednesday: Bolognese from the freezer
Thursday: Chicken stir fry
Friday: I have a meeting so I'll just snack and leave Dear Husband to scavenge
Saturday: Scavenge
Sunday: Bolognese from the freezer

Sunday, 25 March 2012

(Almost) perfect day

Yesterday Chubs and I had an almost perfect day. She had a great night's sleep and then woke up early. I was a bit worried about how I would get a shower, as Dear Husband is away with work and now that's she's mobile it's a bit harder. Thankfully she went down for a nap without any worries and I transferred her to her cot so I could shower without worry - yay!

It was a sunny day yesterday - the first in weeks. I popped her in the stroller and we walked down to the nearby church hall to vote in the state election. I take my opportunity to vote as a huge responsibility. Many have fought hard and died - are still dying - for their right to vote. Even in Australia, it has only been 110 years since non indigenous women have been allowed to vote (1902 for federal elections, 1905 in my state). Shamefully, the voting rights of indigneous men and women were not acknowledged until sixty years later. Despite all the failings of our political systems, all the petty games, lip service and rhetoric, the right and responsibility to vote should never be belittled, taken for granted or wasted.

We went in to vote (Dear Husband did a pre poll vote earlier in the week since he's interstate) and I wanted to get a photo of Chubs' first election, but sadly she was not obliging :( We visited the democratic sausage sizzle and cake stall and then went to the park.

Chubs had a play in the dirt, chewed some sand, had a swing and generally got a lot of her energy out. We both missed going to the park while it was raining. We came home and both had a nap without argument - yay!

We had been invited to a BBQ with friends and we were bringing sausages and breadrolls, so we were on our way to buy them when we ran into my mum, so we had impromptu coffee and cuddles too :)

Off to the BBQ which was great. A bunch of friends and their partners, heaps of young kids, good food and great company makes for a great afternoon and evening. Election night news coverage always appeals to me too - even if the results were unprecidented. Chubs had dinner and a bath there and fell asleep in the car on the way home - perfect.

Another great thing is that Chubs has been going through a stage where she bites while breastfeeding. I've been trying just about everything with no luck - but she hasn't bitten me once in two days. I hope that this is the end of it at last!

It's only almost perfect because Dear Husband missed it, but he will be home soon - this was only a very short trip away.

A lovely Saturday - what did you do on the weekend?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Saturday Snippets: Knit-a-Square

Remember KAS? I've blogged about this wonderful charity before.

Distrubition day

The Knit-a-Square forum is a treasure trove of ideas for knitting for charity, patterns, photos and companionship. The photo section has over 4500 picture of knitted and crocheted goodies. I find it very heartwarming to see what others have done and to get ideas. The patterns section gives detailed instructions on how to make squares, beanies, slipover vests, 'Go-Over' simple jumpers, toys and many other items. There's friendship and fellowship too, as people are linked across the oceans - stitch by stitch.

The gift of a blanket

The Knit-a-Square website give the history of KAS, information about the children, postage information and heaps more. To warm your heart, have a look through the ezines which are truly magical.

Babies at one of the creches receiving beanies

This beautiful post reminds us that a blanket provides more than just shelter from the cold, but comfort too.

Well loved comfort blankies

Friday, 23 March 2012

Cooking and politics

The ABC has a new political program called Kitchen Cabinet with political journalist Annabel Crabb. I watched an earlier episode with Julie Bishop, but I must admit that I turned off part way through. I think that probably due to the fact that, in general, I don't enjoy cooking or conservative politics I wasn't too excited about the program.

However, my faith in the series has been restored this week, when Annabel Crabb interviewed Tanya Plibersek. For those who aren't familiar with the show, Crabb is hosted for a meal by a politician in his or her home, and it's a bit of a cooking show too. Plibersek prepared a trout spaghetti, cheese and olive balls and stuffed zucchini flowers. Crabb brings with her a dessert each episode; in this case a roasted strawberry and ginger nut delight.

As an aside - if I never see another ginger nut biscuit in my life, it will be too soon. I ate - and vomited - far too many of them during my pregnancy. As a second aside, I recall the state - by - state differences were discussed in a Nick Earls novel. I digress.

Plibersek discusses a wide range of topics. These include her views as a ten-year-old of Thatcher's policies, her parent's immigration to Australia, factional politics, uranium mining and export, redemption and forgiveness, deep fried cheese, having a young family and media attention, drug addiction and rehabilitation, breastfeeding and working, herb gardens, national infrastructure and salami sandwiches, among other things.

For those who can view the program, I strongly recommend that you do. It's only viewable in Australia, or by those with enough IT skills to make the computer think that you're in Australia. Here's the link:

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

As wet as a bug in a tub WFMW

We've been through a few different ways of bathing Chubs depending on the circumstances, so I would like share with you what has worked for us at different times. We don't have a bath in our bathroom (only a shower) and our laundry is a separate outside shed, so using the laundry tub wasn't really an option either.

Since space is at a premium for us (and because I'm a cheapskate frugal) we never purchased a hard plastic baby bath. I had this plastic storage tub which the lid had broken for years ago. I had been using it as a laundry basket, but when Chubs was born we just turned it into her bath.

Bath Number One

When Chubs was a newborn; however, it was easier to put her into the shower with us. Usually I would undress and de-nappy her and then hand her into Dear Husband who was already in the shower. He would hold her while I washed her with two washers. As a newborn, it was pretty much only her bum and the fat rolls on her chubby neck which ever got dirty. He would then pass her out into my towel- draped arms and I would then dry and dress her on the change table.

This worked well as it was much easier for one of us to hold her in the shower than to try to hold her in the tub, and it meant more free hands since there were two of us. Even if one of us tried to hold her in the tub and the other one washed, there was too many arms in the way and not enough room. Chubs didn't really like reclining in the tub anyway. She also was born with heaps of beautiful hair which didn't fall out. Her hair gets knotty and covered in spit up (then) and food (now) so it was easier to shampoo her hair in the shower than in the tub.

The biggest problem with the shower is that it's definatly a two adult plan. One person needs to be ready in the shower, and the other one needs to pass the baby. There's no way that one person has enough arms to hold a slippery baby, operate the taps and wash the baby all while being wet and slippery themselves. When Dear Husband is away with work and I am home alone with Chubs, I only ever bathe her in the tub, not the shower.

A friend of mine had a toddler and newborn twins, as well as a frequently travelling husband. She tried putting the twins in a Bumbo seat in the bath so she could do all three at once, but I hear that the Bumbos didn't fare too well. She said they kind of fell apart from the water, which I think is quite disappointing, especially considering how expensive they are. (To clarify, she still has the girls, they just aren't newborns and a toddler any more :)  )

When Chubs was five to six months old, we all went away for five weeks with Dear Huband's work. His work arranged for us to have this inflatable baby bath, which is like a teeny-tiny wading pool.

Bath Number Two

I love love love this bath! One of the great things about this bath is the inflatable stopper bit in the middle. At five months, Chubs was just beginning to sit up, but hadn't quite worked it out yet - and definately not reliably. I was able to let her sit in the tub with one hand on her shoulder to stop her falling back, and the bar in the middle stopped her bottom from slipping forward and her legs from shooting out underneath her.

The other great thing about this bath was that it's soft and inflatable. Because it's soft, she couldn't bump her head or anything. We were able to let the air out and bring it home on the plane. It's great if you don't have much space. We certainly didn't deflate and reinflate it everyday, but it would be much smaller for storing between babies and for travel (as I said) than a normal hard plastic bath.

However, the inflatable bath was a pain to clean as it never really dried in all the crevices, so it got mouldy and was hard to get out. It was also hard to fill and empty since it was flexible, so it all had to be done with multiple buckets-ful. These were minor issues though, and I really could have coped with them quite easily. The reason that we stopped using the inflatable bath was that as Chubs got bigger, she got more mobile. By about eight months, she could sit up very well unassisted and could grab the side and try to stand up, pushing the flexible walls down in the process. You can imaging what the flood in our bathroom looked like.

Bath Number One Three
So we are now on to Bath Number Three. It looks mightly similar to Bath Number One, hey? Chubs can sit up in this one now and it's working much better than it did when she was a newborn. She still comes in for a shower every now and again, but she will usually play for 20 minutes or so in the tub - which is great to get us through the cranky evening hours.

So that's our scrub-a-bub-tub story until now. I wonder what happens next?

Linked to WFMW

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Laundry. Ugh. Again.

Out of all the housework that there is to do, I actually hate laundry the least. I'm a bit of a freak who likes looking at clean, well sorted laundry hanging on the line, and having things folded in neat piles satisfies me more than I think it should. I also like that usually you can do laundry in one big go, and then you're ok for a while. Letting the dishes pile up for a few days = unsanitary and bad. Leaving the laundry for a week and then doing it all in one go = perfectly acceptable.

The part where my plan falls down, though, is the folding and putting away part. Since Chubs arrived I get less time to do anything, so I do the most urgent parts - washing, hanging out and bringing in, and leave the folding and putting away until later. Later rarely comes though, or when it does three or four more loads of laundry have come with it.

I also hate sifting through an unfolded basket of laundry looking for something you need or worse - sifting though a basket of clean, folded laundry looking for something you need. Since I only really get to fold when Chubs is in bed, then I can't put either Dear Husband and my clothes away (since she's asleep on our bed) or put her clothes and the linen away if she's in her cot (our linen cupboard is in her room).

My new plan is to do all the folding and any ironing (I only iron what has to be ironed - usually only my work clothes) on Sunday nights. There are some TV shows on Sunday night that I like to watch, but feel guilty when I do because I should be doing something else. So the new plan is to let myself enjoy the TV shows and to get the folding done at the same time. Hopefully, this means that I won't feel guilty during the week about not getting the folding done nor about watching TV, and the clothes will all get folded and put away.

The flaw in this plan, which is hopefully overcome-able, is that Chubs will be asleep while all this folding and putting away should be happening, like I said above. Hopefully I can get one room's folding away and I'll do the other room's first thing on Monday.

This is the plan, and I'm really hoping that it will work (which can be seen by the number of times I've said 'hopefully' in this post). The huge pile of folding as pictured above is hopefully the last time that it will be like that.
How do you tame the laundry monster?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Miscellaneous thoughts for Mondays

It's been a bit crazy here the last week. Chubs was still getting over her gastro, so even though she was fine in herself daycare thought she was contagious so she got send home Tuesday and couldn't go Wednesday. Thankfully we have two cars this week (borrowing a friend's car while she's away) so that made doing the juggle a bit easier. I'm fighting a cold and Dear Husband is getting over his gastro too, so we're all lying low.

The house is a disaster which is stressing me out. I usually have a pretty high tolerance for mess, but this mess has gotten to the stage where it's counter productive. I can't find anything and am well into 'get through the next five minutes' mode, at the expense of the next five hours. For example, I need bench space so I just move everything to somewhere else, but then when I need something that was actually supposed to be in that spot on the bench, I can't find it because it's messed in with everything else which wasn't supposed to be on the bench. Needless to say, this needs to be fixed as it's not working.

I've been knitting a bit more (mostly when Dear Husband is driving in the car and I'm a passenger) in an effort to have some me-time. Ugh - the car needs cleaning too. I’m working on a slipover, a few squares for an idea I have forming in my head, and a baby beanie for friends of our who have just welcomed their precious bundle Earthside.

The laundry monster has been particularly fierce the last two weeks. Gastro means more washing at the best of times, let alone with a little baby who can't use the toilet or a vomit bucket, poor girl :( . It's all clean and dry now, but as usual, it's the folding and putting away which is my rate limiting step.

The menu plan went better this week. Last week's plan was
Monday: Chicken curry (slow cooker) - me. Went very well and I made a double batch, so there's one in the freezer
Tuesday: Stir fry - him . All good :)
Wednesday: Bolognese (from the freezer) - me Thankfully this was a freezer night. Chubs, who usually goes to bed at 7 - 7:30, didn't go down until after 11pm. We tried everything, including taking her for a drive which didn't work. Thankfully this was done and only needed to be microwaved, and Dear Husband cooked me up some spaghetti to go with it. I love love love freezer cooking.
Thursday: Steak and veggies - him. There weren't any nice steaks at the shop on Monday so Dear Husband did stir fry again. he did a pork one which I wasn't really fussed on since we usually have beef, but it was certainly sufficient.
Friday: Bolognese (from the freezer) - me Didn't happen. Neither of us was very hungry and I bought Dear Husband some sushi for late lunch, but he didn't eat it until about 6pm. I was happy to scavenge too so I left the Bolognese in the freezer. I did have some fresh mince in the freezer which I had bought on Monday (and forgot about) so I cooked it up into two dinners for the freezer. It's good to know that this week I've put more into the freezer than I've taken out.
Saturday: BBQ chicken and veggies - chook from shop We went around to my mum's for a BBQ to celebrate my grandma's birthday, so we didn't need to cook that night. We did take over a nibblies platter. I made apricots with cream cheese and walnuts, and then some cheese and dips with crackers. Fairly simple but quite adequate none the less.
Sunday: Scavenge for leftovers We defrosted one of the Bologneses from the freezer and had that.

This week's menu plan

Dear Husband is away for the latter part of the week, so it's just me for some nights. This is good and bad as far as meal planning is concerned, so we'll see how it goes.

Monday: Chicken stir fry - him
Tuesday: Chicken curry (from the freezer - me)
Wednesday: Beef stir fry - him
Thursday: Bolognese (from the freezer - me)
Friday: Hmmmmm - see how we go?
Saturday: Scavenge
Sunday: Bolognese (from the freezer - me)

We will see what this week brings. What do you have in store?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Knit-a-Square creche distributions

This video shows some of the precious children at the Humble Little Achievers creche in an informal settlement in South Africa. The information I have been given says that

56 Children between the ages of 0 and 6 are looked after in two small converted shipping containers. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement - for 3 months. They have been there for over a year, with an estimate of having to wait a further 2 years before they can be relocated.

Ronda from Knit-a-Square handed out blankets, toys, beanies, vests (slipovers) and jumpers (go overs) to these children, who have little else. This informal creche is in need of nappies, plastic cups and bowls, more blankets, books and toys. To help with these items contact SLICE. To contribute crochet or knit squares for blankets, beanies or vests please visit KAS.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Saturday Snippets: Cakewrecks

When I stumbled upon Cakewrecks, it changed my life. Warning - do not read when you have a sleeping baby on your chest, because the baby will wake up.

Comical misspellings, unfortunate juxtapositions and the just plain amusing stuff ups on cakes from professional bakeries just tickle my sense of humour. There's a fair amount of geekiness, but there's something there for everyone.

As well as the hilarious disasters (or cakewrecks as the are called), on Sundays the blog runs Sunday Sweets. Amazingly beautiful and detailed cakes are showcased on a different them every week. Pop over for some mohawk sporting, carrot riding naked baby fun.

Friday, 16 March 2012


1. a stone uniting two masonry walls at an intersection.
2. a stone representing the nominal starting place in the construction of a monumental building, usually carved with the date and laid with appropriate ceremonies.
3. something that is essential, indispensable, or basic: The cornerstone of democratic government is a free press.
4. the chief foundation on which something is constructed or developed: The cornerstone of his argument was that all people are created equal.

Your cornerstone is what your life is measured from. For me, that is loving my family, being with them and caring for them. It is making a difference in the world, discovering new adventures and basking in the joy of life. To share with others this journey, to love, to laugh, to hold each other. To discover new things, to be challenged. To set off on new adventures, and return home to loving arms. To share beauty, to offer comfort, to create and explore and grow and love.

What is your cornerstone?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The prize for...

... what I would do with an uninterrupted day is sew. Finding half an hour or so to do some sewing itself isn't really the problem. The thing is that I need to clear a space, get out the sewing machine and overlocker and ironing board and iron. I need to get out the fabric and thread and scissors and pins and interfacing and wadding and ribbon and Velcro and elastic. I also need to pack everything away when I'm finished and then clean up the eleventy billion bits of thread and tiny fabric bits on the floor. How often do you think I actually clean up?

Because I never actually pack everything away, I'm reluctant to get it all out. I avoid it so that I'm not stepping over piles of fabric and pulling tape measures away from Chubs for a week afterwards. It just seems so useless to spend ten minutes setting up, to do ten minutes of sewing and the start the pack up/ clean up again. I don't think I'll be getting a whole uninterruped day anytime soon, and if I did there are more pressing things to be done than sewing. I will keep trying to fit bits in here and there because I really do enjoy all parts of sewing (except the set up and pack up, of course).

What would you do with an uninterrupted day?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Pi day shirt

Happy Pi Day everyone!

March 14 (or 3.14 if you write the date the American way) gives us 3.14159265... reasons to celebrate irrationality.

In celebration, here's what I'm wearing today.

The pi is cut from a repurposed knit shirt and hand stitched on because I'm all crafty and edgy and stuff. (Also, the sewing machine is in Chubs' room and I didn't get it out before she went to bed and I'm too scared to make noise bringing it out in case I wake her up...)

Around the neck band is 135 dots representing pi to 29 decimal places, and the decimal point too.

Happy Birthday Einstein, too. How cool is that? What Pi Day activities do you have planned?

Linked with Kirsten and Jo.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Kids activity links I'd love to try

Baby game ideas We've done a few of these; the list is a good reminder for me on a long day though!

Lego puzzles I can't wait to try this one when Chubs is older.

Community service activities Have you tried any of these with your kiddos? How did they go?

Baked dough people or just regular playdough to smoosh and moosh.

Making comic books looks like fun, but might be some way off for Chubs. I don't think her fine motor skills are quite up to it yet.

Please share any other activity links that you like.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Menu Plan Monday - second try!

Well, last week's menu plan was a bit of a disaster.

On Monday I had plenty of curry left over, so we had curry and some other leftovers for dinner on Tuesday. There wasn't any nice stea at the shop so we were going to have another stir fry on Thursday. Then Chubs got sick and we were all at the hospital so needless to say cooking dinner was the last thing on my mind. Dear Husband then came down with gastro too, so we pretty much gave up on the menu plan.

So, I'm going to repeat last week's plan for this week

Monday: Chicken curry (slow cooker) - me
Tuesday: Stir fry - him
Wednesday: Bolognese (from the freezer) - me
Thursday: Steak and veggies - him
Friday: Bolognese (from the freezer) - me
Saturday: BBQ chicken and veggies - chook from shop
Sunday: Scavenge for leftovers
I'll need to cook up some more freezer bolognese and I also need to do some more veggies for Chubs for the freezer. Most of the other meat is still in the freezer so I shouldn't have to buy much. I'm about to check what we have then make the shopping list and head to the supermarket. Fingers crossed this week is less eventful!

Part of Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie

Thursday, 8 March 2012

DELAYED: Girls and Women Change our World series

I need to apologise to my readers. My daughter has been very sick and in hospital. She is home now and hopefully over the worst of it. However, she required my attention more than this blog. She has been sick for a few days but some posts I had written in advance and were scheduled to be posted when they were. I will return soon to finish this series and to blogging in general, hopefully in a few days.

Girls and Women Change our World: You don't exactly look like a feminist...

Happy International Women's Day everyone!

Series introduction

Some of you may be suprised to have found such unapologetically feminist posts on a 'Mummy blog'. To recap some things about me:

I am very happily married, and enjoy every moment of being a mother. I spend my days surrounded by nappies, toys and laundry with a baby strapped to my front and often latched onto my breast. I took my husband's name when we got married, and I call myself 'Mrs husband's surname', not 'Ms'. I asked for a demotion at work so that I could spend more time at home with my family, and have gone 'backwards' in my career over the last two years. I chose to have less responsibility at work now than when I was a graduate. I think that it's very important that mother and baby are close to each other around the clock, especially in the newborn months. I have smooth legs and get blond foils in my straightened hair (when I have enough time to pull out the straightener during nap time so that a chubby baby doesn't chew on the cord.) I love high heels and pretty dresses. My baby daughter has pink sheets, pink curtains and wears dresses. I iron my husband's shirts. For crying out loud, I even blog about housework and meal planning. I don't exactly sound like a bra burning feminist, do I?

Well, as a breastfeeding mother, I need a good bra, so the bra burning option is out.

Seriously though, every single thing that I have listed above has been a choice for me. I chose to get married. I chose to take my husband's surname. We chose to have children. I chose to take a demotion at work and go part time, so that I had more time with my family. I chose to still work a little bit, as I still wanted to contribute my professional skills and my tax dollars. I even choose to blog about my pathetic attempts at housekeeping. All of these choices are exactly that - choices, not expectations or things that I have been forced to do which I don't want to.

There are many things which I do not choose and which I will speak out about. I have fought, and will continue to fight, for my rights to not be sexually discriminated against in public and in the workplace.  I hate when I am referred to as "Mrs Husband's first name and surname". I know that it is the 'correct' etiquette for formal invitations, but I find it offensive as I feel I am entitled to my own name. (I realise that this may seem like a contradiction, but please be assured that I am happy with this decision, even if it may appear inconsistent to some.) I hate being referred to a 'the ball and chain' (my husband doesn't do this, but some other people do.) My husband and I discuss things and reach agreements, he does not give me orders and I do not obey, like a child or an animal. I hate being referred to as a 'girl' in a professional setting. There are some women who would be happy to choose some of these things, and there are other women who would not choose what I have chosen for myself.

If a woman feels that she's not 'allowed' to get married, or to stay home with her children, or to wear dresses because she thinks that that would be against being a feminist, then that is not the point of feminism. Women's rights is about women having choices. If a woman chooses to be a stay at home mum who bakes for her children and folds her husband's socks, and she is happy doing that, then good on her. Other women should be able to choose what they want. Heck, if someone else chooses to 'love, honour and obey' both in their wedding vows and in the day to day life of their marriage, then that's great, as long as it is their choice and it works for them.

Women should be able to choose the life that they want for themselves - whatever that life happens to look like. At its core, being a feminist is not about your name, your clothes, your marital status or your career. It is about the fundamental value and worth of women, how they are viewed by society and how they view themselves, not about if you shave your armpits or not.

Part 3: What about the men?
Part 5: Women's roles in economic contributions (tomorrow)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Girls and Women Change our World: What about the men?

Series introduction

One of the biggest disservices that we can do to IWD and women’s rights in general is to think – and perpetuate the idea – that IWD and women’s rights are only about women.

Women’s rights are not solely the concern of women, just as other issues are not solely the concern of those affected. Human beings take action when they feel it is required. We can call for action to prevent the spread of infectious diseases without having AIDS or malaria. We can participate in a fun run fundraiser for cancer research without having cancer. We can call for marriage equality without being gay – we can be straight but not narrow. We can Stand Up against poverty, even though we aren’t malnourished children facing death from preventable illness before our fifth birthdays. Heck, we can even buy fundraising chocolate bars from the local footy club without playing junior footy. One does not need to be directly involved in a problem to see that it is unjust and to cry for change, healing and hope.

It is not just possible for men to care about women’s rights, but essential. Men need to be strong role models to other men and boys about how to act. Men need to teach their sons and nephews and students and mates and brothers and fathers and neighbours what is acceptable. ‘Locker room banter’ is disrespectful to men, as well as to women. How will a young man ever learn to treat his girlfriend with respect, if he has never seen that modelled?

As asked my husband if he had changed his thinking about women’s issues now that he is a father of a daughter; and his answer was yes. He said that he is more conscious of thinking about women’s safety and equality, and also the messages that the media sends. He is concerned about the ‘deification of people like Paris Hilton’ and how that will impact on our precious daughter.

I am also reminded of when I completed a teaching practicum when I was at university. It was in my final year, and I had a ten week prac in a co-educational school. During those ten weeks I was astounded at the ways that boys and girls interacted. One of the boys once dropped a pencil from his desk, so he said to the female student next to him ‘pick it up girl’ and she did. It wasn’t playful banter, but an order, and she obeyed. The sexist jokes and gutter humour abounded – in the playground and the staffroom. One student was subjected to disciplinary action due to his comments to me of an inappropriate nature. Another student, who was going to drop the subject I was teaching before I arrived, suddenly decided that he wanted to attend extra lunchtime tutorials now that I was running them, and my supervising teacher encouraged me to do this as it got kids interested and engaged. (She did go on to tell me that I couldn’t rely on my looks as one day they would fade and I would need other methods to teach, but it bothered me that my appearance was considered part of my teaching repertoire when teaching teenaged boys. She was an excellent supervising teacher in many other ways and I feel privileged to have learned from her, but this one piece of ‘advice’ has left a bitter taste in my mouth.)   

Until this point in time, most of my work with teenagers had been in all-girl environments. I had worked in two all-girls boarding schools, and had been a Girl Guide leader for years. I myself had attended an all-girls high school. I thought that this was normal behaviour – for boys to look down on girls, and for girls to accept it.

For my final ten week prac, I was placed in a different, but still co-ed, school. I could not believe the difference in the atmosphere at this second school. Male and female students were polite to each other, and engaged as equals. Not only were sexist jokes absent from the playground and staffroom, but the students were vocal in their disapproval of sexist, racist and homophobic ‘jokes’. Indeed, the student body was concerned about some aspects of these creeping in, and they organised a formal response and statement of disapproval which was read on Assembly and published in the school newsletter. I felt comfortable walking around campus – something which I hadn’t been able to do at the previous school. It worried me that I thought that feeling uncomfortable was a normal way to feel around male students.

Strong, kind, respectful, generous, fun, caring, fierce and compassionate male role models are needed to teach boys how to behave, how to treat each other and how to treat girls. These men are also needed to teach their daughters and sisters and nieces and neighbours and friends - and student teachers - that feeling uncomfortable because of one’s gender should not be normal. These girls need to see that men are kind and caring and respectful, not to be feared or dismissed. This is why International Women’s Day is important for everyone, not just the girls.

Part 2: The girl child
Part 4: You don't exactly look like a feminist...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Girls and Women Change our World: The girl child

Series introduction

I previously spoke of when I travelled to India with Girl Guides. The reason for this was to attend a conference on children's rights advocacy. One issue which we kept returning too was the fact that whatever the issue was, it was generally worse for girls. Girls have less education, poorer health and are more likely to be in situations where they are unable to help themselves.

Educational disadvantages
- Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school. (Cynthia B. Lloyd, ed., Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing
Countries [Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2005].)
- Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls. (Human Rights Watch, “Promises Broken: An Assessment of Children’s Rights on the 10th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” [December 1999].)

Child marriage issues
- One girl in seven in developing countries marries before age 15, and 38% marry before 18. (Population Council, “Transitions to Adulthood: Child Marriage/Married Adolescents,” [updated May 13, 2008] and Cynthia B. Lloyd, ed., Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries [Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2005].)
- Girls who have not been to school are far more likely to be married as a child than those girls who have gone to school. (International Center for Research on Women, Too Young to Wed: Education & Action Toward Ending Child Marriage, [2007].)
- A survey in India found that girls who married before age 18 were twice as likely to report being beaten, slapped, or threatened by their husbands as were girls who married later. (International Center for Research on Women, Development Initiative on Supporting Healthy Adolescents [2005], analysis of quantitative baseline survey data collected in select sites in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand, India [survey conducted in 2004].)

Girls are uniquely positioned to have a positive effect on our world.

For more information head over to The Girl Effect.

Part 1: What are the issues?
Part 3: What about the men?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Girls and Women Change our World: What are the issues?

Series introduction

The issues which I have listed below are by no means exhaustive, and there’s a very strong baby/ pregnancy bias, which is indicative of my current stage in life. The issues below are things which I would point out to people who make statements like ‘women have equality now, get over it and stop playing the victim’ and ‘maternity leave is sexist’.

Access to paid maternity leave is crucially important, for mother and baby as well as for the family and society at large. It is healthy for both mother and baby to be together during the newborn months. This is crucial to establishing the breastfeeding relationship, and to provide security to both mother and child.

Being close to one’s baby and not returning to work too early is also important to a woman’s recovery from pregnancy and childbirth (aside from the benefits to baby). Some women have very easy pregnancies and births and are ready to go very soon after, but many are not. Breastfeeding (more than pumping) ensures that a woman sits still and rests for large portions of the day, and feeding helps to contract the uterus and therefore aids in recovery.

Of course, this is not always possible even aside from the paid work and maternity leave considerations, particularly for very ill babies who are hospitalised or for babies who have sadly lost their mothers. Paid maternity leave allows the mother, baby and the rest of the family to decide when they are ready to separate if the mother chooses to return to work, rather than being forced into it for financial or industrial reasons.

Paid maternity leave is not only for mother and baby. Paid maternity leave is good for the economy. Generally, it is not a money leech where women can scam the system and get free leave. It is usually cheaper for the business/ industry if women are paid maternity leave that it is for them to resign. If a woman (or anyone for that matter) leaves the paid workforce, then she takes all of her professional skills and training with her. By staying engaged in the workforce, then these skills are not lost. The Productivity Commission supported this view in 2009, which was followed by the introduction of Paid Parental Leave. I will discuss this more later in the week.

Access to affordable and competent prenatal, birth and postnatal care

Me at 32 Weeks

Medical complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for females aged 15 – 19 worldwide. (United Nations Children’s Fund, Equality, Development and Peace, [New York: UNICEF, 2000], 19.) That’s more than car accidents, cancer or infectious diseases.

Medical care needs to be competent and affordable, both in developing and developed countries. I was very sick in my pregnancy with hyperemesis gravadrium. The medication which I needed to take daily or twice daily from Week 7 to Week 41 was about $15 a dose, so I spent over $5000 on that medication. This medication is not listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for HG. However, all of my other pregnancy and postnatal care was very affordable. The gap fee of a few GP visits, and parking at the hospital – which came to about $300 – were the only other costs to me. The Medicare portion of my GP visits, all my prenatal midwife and obstetrician appointments, prenatal classes, four ultrasounds, anti D injections, five visits to Emergency for intravenous antiemetics and fluid, eight days hospital accommodation and food for me, midwife care for two days of labour and six days postnatal, an epidural, a Caesarean, IV antibiotics, anticoagulants, post surgery painkillers, oxygen treatment and a visit from the physiotherapist were all ‘free’. For Chubs we received time in the Special Care Nursery, IV antibiotics, six days of neonatal care, numerous paediatrician visits, midwife care for six days, a renal ultrasound, a midwife home visit, two echocardiograms and a cardiologist consultation. All of this was ‘free’ too.

When I say ‘free’, of course I know this is not free, but paid for by the taxpayer. This is why it is crucially important that women can contribute to the workforce and pay taxes. Just as paid maternity leave is beneficial economically, so is competent and affordable pre and post natal care. Again, I will discuss this more later in the week.

Many women in the world do not have access to competent, affordable and available care like I do. Increasing access should be a priority, and was identified as such in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG 5: Improve maternal health). 2015 is rapidly approaching, and we cannot waste any more time.  

It is also important that women are given choice in their prenatal care. If women cannot access care which is suitable to them, then some choose riskier options (such as no care) if the available care choices are too hard or traumatic for them to endure. A greater variety of care options would help with this.

Legal protection of one's right to breastfeed or express milk, and protection from sexual discrimination. No woman should be discriminated against for caring for her child. This included blatant discrimination (for example, being refused service in a café) as well as less obvious discrimination (for example, not being allowed breaks to express milk during the work day, therefore preventing a woman from working). I spoke more about this previously and I will again address the economic considerations later in the week.

Flexible working arrangements which are family friendly benefit both mothers and fathers. The option of part time work, being able to bank flexi time, to alter work hours either regularly or as a one off, to work from home and many other options can help to keep parents and caregivers of both genders engaged in the work force. Different jobs and industries have varying abilities to be flexible. Schools and shops for instance are limited by their opening hours, and there are many jobs which just cannot be completed off site. If employers and employees are creative and committed however, then flexibility can be maximised where possible.

Available, affordable and flexible childcare is also essential to allowing parents and caregivers to be part of the work force. If someone has one child and works regular business hours in a large city, then generally a suitable arrangement can be found. However, shift workers, those with a rotating roster or irregular hours, those in a small town with limited options for childcare, or with many children may experience more difficulty in getting care for their children.

One of the ways in which the Knit-a-Square team distribute the hand knitted blankets is through informal crèches. These carers look after these children with barely nothing – one place was run out of an old shipping container. The children are left here so that their caregivers can look for work. This is a long way from acceptable care, however it’s the best option that these precious children have.

There are certainly many, many other issues which are facing women and girls in today’s world. This list is a starting point, however, for those who suggest that IWD is no longer relevant – it most certainly is.

Part 2: The girl child

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Girls and Women Change our World: Introduction

This week's internationally important event is International Women's Day.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8th across the world.
IWD is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future. It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements, regardless of divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.
It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.

There are many complex issues facing women and girls across the globe, and IWD is still crucially important. Anyone who thinks that 'Women's Lib' is a thing of the past is gravely mistaken.

In honour of this week, I would like to post a series entitled 'Girls and Women Change our World' to highlight issues of critical importance to girls and women, and to celebrate girls and women.

Part 1: What are the issues?

Part 2: The girl child

Part 3: What about the men?

Part 4: You don't exactly look like a feminist...

Part 5: Women’s roles in economic contribution

Part 6: Saturday Snippets: Girls and Women Change our World edition.

Part 7: Profiles of contributions


Meal Planning: Week One

Dear Husband and I have decided to start menu planning to help things run more smoothly. Breakfasts we generally eat the same things each day (him - muesli or eggs, me - toast or museli). Lunch we cobble together, except on my work days when I make ham and cheese sandwiches, carrot sticks and a muesli bar. Yes, I eat like a five year old. Chubs has her own meals, which only leaves us with dinner to plan. So, here goes!

Monday: Chicken curry (slow cooker) - me
Tuesday: Stir fry - him
Wednesday: Bolognese (from the freezer) - me
Thursday: Steak and veggies - him
Friday: Bolognese (from the freezer) - me
Saturday: BBQ chicken and veggies - chook from shop
Sunday: Scavenge for leftovers

Linked to Menu Plan Mondays

Pi day

Pi day is fast approaching. (Pi day is 14 March, or 3.14 if the date is written in the American way.) Do you have anything planned? (If you're not a maths teacher, then you probably don't, but I certainly do!)

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Knitted vests

Last night I finished off this pink vest. It's been sitting there for months and months (I may have even started it while I was pregnant, I'm not sure.) It only took about ten minutes to finish off the neckband and tie off.

I also finished off this green and yellow vest.

Both of these vests are knitted with two strands of 8 ply acrylic yarn. The green and yellow was done on 8mm needles, and the pink on 10mm needles. Both are similar to this slipover, but are knitted in the round from the bottom up and then back and forward for the shoulder straps. The neck band is finished in the round.

I made a mistake on the pink vest, where the straps need to be partially stitched to the front panel. It's a bit of a tricky bit where the knitting in the round changes to the straight knitting, and I need to go back later and stitch about five stitches closed. The problem is that I forgot to leave allowance for this on one side only, which is why the straps are a little uneven.

I could have unpicked all the neckline and the straps, but I was able to get it so it looked ok (not great, but ok) and it is secure. I think that my knitting time is better spent making more good items, than less perfect ones, as I previously discussed. If it wasn't ok then I wouldn't send it, but since I was able to muddle through I will send it, and thankfully I didn't need to unpick the top section.

These slipover vests need to be very stretchy (think big needles). They need to be long in the body so that there's no revealing midrift, and the arm and neck holes need to be quite large. For a very simple pattern see here, or here for an intermediate pattern.

I will have to post off a packet to Knit- a- Square soon. I have these two vests, some beanies and some squares ready to go. If I get them in the post soon hopefully they will get there in time for winter.

Saturday Snippets: Parenting in Crappy Pictures

Parenting in crappy pictures is a blog by Amber who said that she wanted to start a blog about her kids' adventures, but she was really crap at taking photos, so she started drawing crappy pictures.

I. Love. Her. Blog.It's pure genius. Two of my favourite posts are about cosleeping and germs . It's gold - go check it out.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Why flowers?

It has always astonished me the way that we view flowers. We give them to sweethearts we want to woo, we grow them in our gardens for their beauty, we have them at funerals and send them to new mothers. I not only carried the roses in this photo on my wedding day, but I had them dried and framed and they are now on display in our home.

You're probably thinking - why is she against flowers? Isn't that like being against cuddles, or learning, or puppies, or rainbows? Why does it seem so strange to me that flowers are so entwined with our concept of beauty, love and caring? Well, it's because of what flowers are.

Flowers are cut off plant genitals.

Doesn't seem quite so pretty now, does it?

I love flowers, I really do. I love looking at them, I loved picking them as a child. I had plenty of flowers at our wedding and I love that the ones above are preserved and will always remind me of our special, magical day. I felt loved when friends and family sent floral arrangements to the maternity hospital when Chubs was born, and I treasure all the flowers that Dear Husband has given me. I think they are beautiful and wonderful and I wish I had more in my life.

I guess it's the inner nerdy biologist in me that has a little chuckle that lovers everywhere are trying to win each other over with cut off reproductive organs.

I hope I haven't ruined flowers for you. At least be glad that I didn't do this. Blooming marvelous!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The prize for...

... something I'm grateful for is having a wheelie bin garbage service! I must admit I enjoy the modern luxury of having a truck come and pick up our garbage and take it away - wherever 'away' is.

I've blogged before about how we used cloth nappies, but we still have some sposies which fill up the bin quite quickly. We don't have a compost bin since we don't have a garden, and we recycle what we can. (The recycling bins are around the corner in the photo.) I use reuseable containers for Chubs' and my lunches and we try to avoid food that is in individual packaging to cut down on rubbish.

I still get the feeling though that we are making way too much rubbish for three people. What do you to to cut down on the amount of garbage your household produces? Do you have any suggestions for me?

Lots of people are Thankful on Thursdays!

ETA: Not all the bins in the photos are mine; they are the bins for the whole building complex, in case you thought I had four binsfull per week.
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