Saturday, 28 July 2012

School fete

The school that I work at had their fete today. I love school fetes. It's a great day with lots of activities - rides, games, stalls and food. All the money goes back to the school, so I'm usually happy to spend a bit more that I otherwise would, or to just say 'yes' to something that we didn't really need, and view the money as a donation. 

I do make a mean sno-cone, too - if I do say so myself!

Perhaps more than that though, I love the community of a school fete. Most of the families from the school are there, volunteering their time and effort. The community donates so much to the school - no just time but crafted and baked goods, second hand items and goods and services to be auctioned. There are choirs, bands and ensembles performing and everyone is proud to be part of the community.

We made sure to stop at the second hand toys, and I got all of these for $5!

The car and the barn thing match one of the sets that Chubs already has, and I was looking for more to go with it so I was glad that I found them. The nerd in me was very proud to buy her her first microscope! The bucket and spades were unopened and I had been looking for a nice set, so that will be good when we go to the beach when it warms up again. I'd also been looking for a cash register for Chubs. The scanner wand bit is missing but everything else there makes noise or clicks or opens or does whatever it is supposed to do, so for 50 cents I'm pretty happy with it! The keyboard has flat batteries, but when Chubs presses the keys the figurines move - so I'm tempted to not replace the batteries since she was enjoying it so much silently!

I'm wishing I'd bought more at the cake stall, since most of this is already spoken for. Still, yummy yummy! Thanks to the generosity of school families, both in donating ingredients and in doing the actual baking, the cake stall is one of the most profitable stalls at the whole fete.

Community, fun and a great family day out :)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Menu plan + return to study

Well people, it's official. As of tomorrow morning, I am a student again. I'm starting my postgrad studies and I've spent the afternoon printing out my course profile and study guide, organising my new stationery and freaking out over what I've gotten myself into.

I think that I'm getting less excited amnd more apprehensive with every 'first day'. I remember before I started school as a child I was desperate to get to school and learn. I kept asking my mum when I would learn to read. She said I would learn to read when I went to school. I kept waiting and waiting all day on my first day of Grade One - was this the bit when we would learn to read? What about now? I still remember my shock and dissapointment when, at about 3:30, I realised that 1) I have been to school and 2) I couldn't read yet. I promptly burst into tears - I couldn't read yet and my mum had said something that wasn't true.

When I started high school I was excited, very nervous but keen to get started. A whole new world of not only classes but extra curricular activities, timetable, lockers, textbooks and moving rooms for each class(!) awaited, and I was very excited.

By the time first year uni rolled around, I was jumping up and down with excitement too, but of course I was trying to be cool and not show it or look like a first year. You know, the one with a big map who was underage and didn't know where to go and was heading to the first year chem lecture with 1499 other students.

So, now my first day of post grad awaits. I'm much, much more nervous this time. Previously, it was all about me. If I stayed up all night studying before, it only affected me. This time around I have a husband and a toddler, and my actions affect them. I can't just do what I want, when I want. I can't stay up as long as I want and study as hard as I want. I'm panicking a bit, and I hope that all will work out. I don't want to spend hours at my desk since that means time away from Chubs and DH, but at the same time I want to make a really good go of my study, or else there is no point doing it.

So, with apprehension, anxiety, excitement and brand new stationery - here we go!

Menu plan

Since I'm adding one more pot onto the metaphorical stove, I'd better have a good idea of what I'm doing on the actual stove!

Monday: Chicken bolognese
Tuesday: stirfry (DH)
Wednesday: something from the freezer?
Thursday: Chicken bolognese
Friday: stirfry
Saturday: beef bolognese
Sunday: scavenge


Monday, 16 July 2012

Rainbow party bags + menu plan

For Chubs' first birthday we had a rainbow party - check out some of the food and decorations here.

For the party bags, I wanted something that wasn't just a bag full of sugar. I have a family full of dentists to start with, but also many of the party guests were little babies so lollies weren't really appropriate.

I made a whole lot of drawstring bags with this rainbow fabric on one side and a plain colour on the other. I split the bags up into three categories - babies, little kids and older kids. Babies got the bag, some bubbles and a foam bath toy. Little kids got the bag, a few lollies, playdough and some small plastic dinosaurs and older children got bubbles and some lollies. The bags were bigger than a normal party bag - about 30cm wide and 35cm tall - because I wanted them to be useful, not just cute.

I thought I took a photo of the rainbow playdough, but I can't find one. Basically I made up four batches of white (uncoloured) play dough, then I split it into six even balls. I coloured each ball one of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple then I kneaded and kneaded and kneaded and kneaded! (My hands were quite sore afterwards - you really can see why it's good for muscle development and find motor skills for little kids - and big people, too!) Then I rolled each colour into a thick sausage and cut it up into ten pieces. I then put one piece of each colour in a sealy/ ziplock bag.

Since the bags had different things, I named each bag just by stapling a piece of card with the child's name on it. There were a few sets of siblings invited so I made sure that each child got a different coloured back so they could tell them apart.

Many mums at the party thanked me for playdough which kept several kids occupied for a few hours that afternoon. The bags were useful too, and I've seen a 'in use' since the party which was exactly what I intended, so I'm glad they've been enjoyed.

More rainbow birthday party ideas

Menu plan for this week

I need to have some tests on Friday which means I need to have a special diet for three days before - lots and lots of carbs! So here's the plan for a high carb diet this week. Depending on what the results show it may very well be my last flirtation with carbohydrates, so I'm going to enjoy it!

Monday: Pork stir fry (plus I'll try to do some freezer cooking)
Tuesday: Spaghetti bolognese
Wednesday: Spaghetti with chicken bolognese (made the same as normal but with chicken mince)
Thursday: leftovers from Tuesday and Wednesday and a big bowl - perhaps my last - of spaghetti! I do love spaghetti.
Friday: We are going out to a birthday party for a relative so we'll eat there
Saturday: Out with other rellies
Sunday: scavenge.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Toddler craft idea - flowers

My grandmother recently moved into a new apartment near us and we wanted to give her a small welcome present.

- yellow paint
- background paper (I used white A4)
- green paper
- coloured paper in various colours
- scissors and glue

I cut out some flower shapes out of coloured paper. I used a template which I had on file. I also cut out some strips of green paper to be the grass and the flower stems. 

I put Chubs in the straight jacket high chair and painted her hand with yellow paint. I smooshed it onto the coloured paper to be the centre of the flower. It went a bit wonky because she grabbed at it and creased the paper, but it still worked out.

I then glued the flowers on top of the stems. If you are more organised than me you could wait until the paint dries to make this easier before you glue it.

I wrote a little message to Gran from her favourite (only) great grandchild on the grass as well.

Oh, make sure you have the number of wipes that you think you need to clean little hands ready. Once you have done this, get another 15 wipes and have them ready too. Oh, and if anyone can tell me how you get paint off high chair trays, that would be great!


Saturday, 14 July 2012


Well, the laundry monster has taken over. It's been raining for a week so I've been using the dryer. Most of the washing is clean, but I've got three baskets of folder things to put away and about 5 loads sitting waiting to be folder. We're out of cloth nappies. Well, some are clean and dry in the bottom of one of the baskets and some are wet in the machine that I need to put in the dryer. At least I know that we usually use cloth, and it's what we usually do that will have a lasting impact on the environment, not what happens as a once off.

So it's guilt free sposies today, and I will do my hardest to get the clothes folded and away!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

More WHO Code breaches - the sneaky tricks of advertisers

I would like to start this post repeating what I have said before. The International Code on the Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (the WHO Code) is about making sure that formula, bottles etc are marketed in a way which is safe and appropriate. It is not 'anti-formula'. Australia has agreed to follow the WHO Code, but only a portion of it is covered by law. By highlighting breaches of the WHO Code I am not making comment about one's choice to use formula or to use a dummy or to breastfeed or to introduce solids at x months or anything. It is about exposing the deceitful and unethical advertising tricks of large companies. Many of the sneaky advertising tricks used by formula companies are also used by tobacco companies. I feel that it is responsible to expose these tactics.
I went to a baby expo with Chubs recently. Actually, we went twice. Why did I decide to go to such a consumer-fest when I had no intention of spending money? Well, I was keen for free samples of nappies et cetera, and there were free kiddy concerts and activities. I had a free entry ticket (door price $14) so for the cost of a train fare in and back it was good for a rainy day.

I knew what I was going to find, and sure enough - WHO Code breaches as far as the eye can see. In Australia formula for under 12 months cannot be advertised, however the formula companies found their way around that, as ever.

Here are the 'generous' gifts they showered me with.
From Nestle:
- A branded reusable bag (branded with the 'baby club')
- A branded colouring book
- A branded cooler bag
- A whole stash of 'advice' leaflets.
From Wyeth
- a branded reuseable bag
- a branded colouring book
- a pack of branded crayons in a branded colouring tube
- a sample of toddler formula
- more 'advice' pamphlets
These 'free gifts' are full of practical, useful items and are covered in logos. Have a look at the colouring books. The Wyeth one has the S26 logo on the bottom of every page, and the pictures on the Nestle one are actually pictures of the blue bear logo doing things!

See how the logo is on each and every crayon, too?
Everything item in these bags - and the bags themselves - are designed to be used. These were given out at a baby show. Where are people who attend baby shows likely to go afterwards? Somewhere where there are other parents of small children. What's a great thing to keep small children busy? Colouring books. With crayons in a super useful travel tube. All with 'S26 Gold Toddler' written on them. The more you see something, the more normal it becomes.

The cooler bag from Nestle is one of my 'favourites'. Just like branded scale mats and branded breast pads, a cool bag is perhaps one of the worst items which could be branded by a formula company. When is it likely that a parent would be packing a cool bag which is the perfect size for a day's worth of bottles? Possibly when the child is heading off to day care, which is likely to coincide with Mum's return to work. Continuing breastfeeding while working is almost always possible at least in part, but depending on your circumstances it can be anything from super easy to really. damn. hard. So when things get tough and you're packing bottle for day care and you're stressed about if you'll have time to pump at lunch time and if you've recharged the pump batteries, there's the friendly little blue bear there on the cool bag as a reminder.

Yes, these packs did contain lots of advice saying how breast is best and that the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and that you should talk to your health professional before using infant formula. Well, some of it did. The stuff that has to, that is.

Firstly, if you look closely, you will see that the logos are either for a baby club, or for the toddler formula. As I said above, advertising of infant formula is not allowed, but toddler formula is. The toddler formula logos look very similar to the infant (0 - 6 month) and follow on (6 - 12 month) formula logos, which is very intentional. By advertising the almost-identical logos of toddler formula, then there is recognition of the advertising-prohibited logos at the point of sale. Toddler formula has no extra nutrition that a child couldn't get from a cup of full cream cows' milk and a multivitamin (which would be much cheaper) but it's the advertising loophole that it exists to jump through.

The other logo that you see a lot is the baby club. This is linked to the 'advice' pamphlets too. These are dangerous for two reasons. Firstly, they are dangerous because it promotes the idea that these companies have babies' health as a priority. (If this was the case, then why do they not follow the guidelines to protect their health which they know aren't enforced under law?) Secondly, 'information services' such as baby clubs, pamphlets and help lines are clearly and specifically defined as marketing.
"Marketing" means product promotion, distribution, selling, advertising, product public relations, and information services.
Article 3 International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes
Now, I did have to give the formula companies something in order to get my 'free' gifts. My all important email address, and the ages of my children/ estimated due dates. I needed to answer a whole series of questions about my baby - none of the nappy companies wanted to know any of that before they gave me their samples. They wanted all that information so that they can fill my inbox with age appropriate 'advice' - which can be timed to when things are probably going bad.

You'll notice that I said above that they only had the 'breast is best' spiel when they had to? Despite the fact that breastfeeding is recommened until two years and beyond, there is no mention of the 'breast is best' stuff on the sample of S26 Gold Toddler in my goodie bag. (And yes, giving out samples is against the WHO Code, too.) If Wyeth really thought that 'breastmilk is best for your baby' then why aren't they saying that on a sample for babies over 12 months - because the law doesn't make them.

So why did I get the bags? Well, to be honest, I wanted to share these unethical practises with my blog readers to expose them. I knew very well what would happen if I went into the baby expo. What will I do with the stuff? As much as I hate throwing useable things away since it's wasteful, I used the perfect- condition bags as bin liners; the garbage truck will pick them up in the morning. The Nestle colouring book and all the 'advice' marketing got tossed too. The crayons I've kept since I do love the tube - I'll see if I can cover it over somehow? The cool bag is actually the perfect size for Chubs' lunchbox (not the one I send her to daycare with, but the sections one that she eats from throughout the day if we're out and about.) It's really good quality too, so I'm going to see if I can cover the logo up somehow. The S26 sample? I'll mix it up and give it to Chubs one day instead of the soy milk or cows' milk she would have had otherwise, maybe on her breakfast cereal - but I can assure you that I won't be buying a tin any time soon.

Do I expect to change the world by whinging about a few sample bags? Well, like anything, probaby not. But if it makes a few more people aware of the sneakiness that goes on and to look at these giveaways a little more cynically and with a little more caution, well you know wht they say. They ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who sometimes do.

PS - no reply back yet from the pharmacy CEO...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Menu plan for this week

Menu plan for this week

Monday: leftover bolognese
Tuesday: beef stir fry
Wednesday: chicken curry
Thursday: going out :)
Friday: chicken bolognese (like regular but with chicken mince)
Saturday: scavenge


Sunday, 1 July 2012

New blog project coming soon!

I want to give you just a tidbit - new exciting blog project coming soon! Stay posted for more details :)
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