Thursday, July 31

Eco-Kindergarten


Kindergarten
Originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness]
Now this to me represents about as perfect as life can get ( i mostly just want to be one of the kids). This pic is of a kindergarten worker biking her charges en route for an excursion, apparently (not in view) there is another worker on another bike full of kids cycling up the rear. The joy for everyone being out in and a part of your environment and an environment that is incredibly supportive of biking, oh my! *sigh* I love copenhagen cycle chic because it reminds me of how life can be; fun, relaxed, sustainable, cohesive, productive, healthy. Its also choc full of images of fabulous women (and their kids) powering around on their bikes. I just wish i lived somewhere a bit flatter, then i would be building a cargo bike of my own. Its sooo hilly where i am that i walk to the library, shops, post office etc and car/public transport it down a freeway to work. Ohh, next life time i want to be born a Dane!
( or at least live somewhere flat).

Tuesday, July 29

Chris Evans, I love you

*party blowers, whistles, champagne cork popping, feet stomping, tears of joy*
Finally, this government is finally doing something about ending mandatory detention for people seeking assylum in Australia. It's a great day. Those places where we kept men, women and children imprisoned for years on end are cactus if Chris Evans gets his way. Maybe I can feel proud to be an Aussie again. I can only imagine the feeling of hope all those still awaiting a judgement on their status from inside detention centres are feeling. Lets hope the Coalition supports this move.
Chris Evans, ASRC, Amnesty, A Just Australia, Chilout, National Council of Churches, Oxfam, Project SafeCom, the Refugee Council, Uniting Care, Get Up and every individual who stood up for the human rights for detainees, I love you!

would you dress your kid in this?


Now Im trying to be appreciative, really I am. This t-shirt was presented to me on the weekend by B1's 'bestie' "its so cuuuuuuuute", as a gift for the boybean. Not quite what i would have chosen... Im no volvo mum with gold padded handbag but dont think i quite fit the goth mum scene either...

So, would you ?

पम्पेर्स अपडेट wtf? Pampers update

This is the email i recieved from the poster of the You Tube Pampers add that I posted last week.

"They shouldn't [ americans having a bad reputation]. I guess its too bad that America helps everywhere else and happens to help give countries freedom. But okay, think what you like. I think this commercial shows how if everyone would quit judging and thinking of self, we might could get something done; like help the babies of the planet. We have a bad reputation for HELPING"

My response: If you were really interested in 'helping', then it wouldnt take an add full of clean healthy 'cute' kids representing the plight of the poor in developing nations to do it. What a shame that 'helping' is attached to consuming. Dont you get it? You're being used!

Her response: The "healthy cute kids" were representing all the people of the world. Last I checked, consuming is what makes the world go round, its a cycle, I buy stuff, someone gets money, they buy stuff, etc. So if me buying something helps more than just the person selling it, I'm all in. I guess you need to just travel to those countries and see the plight of poor developing countries for yourself. I'd rather sit at home and see adds that tell me to help, and I help. You are just selfish, that's all. .

I'll leave it at that.

Sunday, July 27

bottled water carbon footprint [and a hole or two in your teeth]

This is my enviro-public health blog post, coz i love yews all.
Yesterday I was reading an article on Grist about bottled water and the environmental costs both to local communities and the broader population...I mean , seriously folks, bottled water per litre is more expensive than petrol and according to The Age, costs aussies 314,000 barrels of oil a year. And for most of us, it gets delivered to our houses, in pipes, for free!!

Now as an epidemiologist in an oral health research institute, the trend of increased consumption of bottled water is even more close to my heart. When you purchase bottled water, not only do you effectively consume an equivalent of a third of the volume of the bottle in crude oil, but you are depriving your teeth or your children's teeth of a good dose of anti-cavity medicine... bottled spring water contains no flouride, the addition of which to our mains drinking water has been the most successful public health measure in Australian history.

The thing is, as a nation we had had one of the best rates of (or lack of) dental caries in children in the world. At age 12, the average aussie kid had NO caries. This is how the picture used to look until about 3 years ago. Our research is showing that the rate is increasing. This is the first time the trend has reversed, and significantly and the research shows that the only change to oral hygiene and food consumption was an increased intake of bottled water to the detriment of tap water.
So do both your oral health and the health of the environment a favour, buy the equivalent of a water 'Green bag', fill it with tap water and give commercially bottled water the flick.

*hops off soap box*

"so, how does it feel being an older mother?"

As my mind was replaying the mornings events while i was 'recovering' in the bath alone after giving the boybean a bath this afternoon , my mind stumbled over an off the cuff remark made on the phone by the father of B1s friend earlier on. Which got me thinking and that led to the realisation that i have been fending off peoples queries about being a parent to a small baby 'this late in life' for the past 12 weeks. The thing is, i dont think Im old, not even close. i dont consider myself at 38 to be an 'older mother'. Ive forgotten the term used by the medical profession for 'older mothers'(defined as 35+) but by memory, it's something hideous and doesn't even remotely sound like something I'd be into but apparently everyone else is thinking the same thing. They are all trying to work out if it's a shock, awful, stressful... "are you coping dear?, "regretting the romantic decision to have another one with a new father?" Now here's the deal, being a parent to a new small person who was very much planned is 100% easier so far at 38 than it was parenting planned babies at 24 and 28. So yes, Ive had 10 years between night feeds, nappy changes and unfathomable crying but the maturity, wisdom and consequently laid back approach more than compensates for parenting in my relative 'youth'. I certainly don't go running at the first wimper anymore, i know they survive. Throw what are effectively 4 adults into the mix and you've got minimal parenting at all to do, bar breastfeeding at this stage. So much so that i have to fight for a cuddle and a nappy change. So, to anyone thinking about having another baby after a considerable break I'd say, its heaven, blissful even, and the delight in watching older siblings fall in love and express their tender selves towards this divine new being is just priceless. I just need a back replacement, thats all.

Saturday, July 26

blogging on the weekend

well, now that the kids are home from holidays away and back in the house finding time to get back on my pc is proving rather troublesome. Not only do i have to fight off my own kids, but they bring hoardes of others in with them who also eat the food, lounge on the lounge, use the toilet, put compost in the recycle bin and non recyclabes in the compost and spend hours online in my study on my pc. Effectively i now have 7 children. Thank god they have all finally gone off to be cool in town for a few hours, Ive had enough cool lurking around the kitchen bench for this weekend. Im over cool, what-ev-a.

addendum: Really, i looove, i adore, i'd do just about anything for my kids and their friends, dont get me wrong. They're sweet, funny, naive, curious, enthusiatic but man, i cant wait till my daughter saves up enough for the dream laptop with wireless shes been coveting for months. If i was smart/stoopid, Id say to hell with my principles and go buy one for her myself, but i have this rule about saving your own money, delayed gratificaion, learning ...what am i learning...that when it comes to my pc Im a hog and all rules might just go out the window.

Friday, July 25

Modern day baby bathing

We thought we were saving water for bathing The Bean by using a Tummy Tub; an ergonomic bucket-like baby bath which is easy on the back, easy to move and uses a fraction of water that traditional baby baths, even sinks, use. Well, our new washing machine arrived after the old dude gave up the ghost 5 DAYS AGO! Yes, thats how long we have been without a machine, could have hand or foot washed (when you dump on shower floor and stomp whilst showering), but didnt fancy it with those nappies. So I was pretty chuffed when it arrived this morning but upon unpacking it, our super dooper LG water and energy saving eco-washer, Im even more chuffed...look..it does babies too!

Haiku Friday

lids drooping slowly
head snaps forward like a whip
horizontal please!

Wednesday, July 23

tithing for social and environmental change

I am currently reading 'Giving' by Bill Clinton. As a literary work, well...its crap. The word 'friend' gets used a little too much for my liking and makes the text appear a little too much like a 'look who i know' fest, but it is an interesting compilation of the different approaches and examples of people from all backgrounds trying to make a difference in the lives and communities of fellow global citizens. No impact man has linked an article by ethicist peter singer which is an interesting read on the subject. Now by all accounts, the Rising Family are '10%+ givers' but it doesnt sit 100% happily with me, it smacks a little of paternalism and offsetting a bad conscience for 'immoral' living. I was raised a marxist-atheist (i know, do such things still happen!) seriously, i was, we even used to sing 'keep the red flag flying here' as a christmas carol (not that we celebrated Christmas per se) I digress. What does being raised a Marxist have to do with 'giving' and the issues i have? Well, philanthropy by its very nature can be viewed as a very capitalist/christian based concept (is it any wonder that its a huge part of American culture?). Someone who has some (whatever it may be) to spare gives to someone/something in need. In the Marxist paradigm of providing for/ recieving for each according to their need, philanthropy becomes obsolete. So, when confronted with someone from the Salvos asking for a donation, my family justified their refusal on the grounds that 'the state' should be responsible, is in fact morally obliged to provide for its citizens. So to donate to the Salvos would be akin to approving of the system as it stood and sending a message of 'letting them', the government, off the moral hook to look after all its citizens well. Citizens individually choosing whether or not to assist others in the community (whether it be individuals or a cause)should not be condoned. All citizens should be responsible for looking after each other and their environment by way of organising society in a very different manner.

Now essentially, i still agree with the essence of these arguments and it has taken me a long time to get to a more balanced place in regard to such matters. However, i have also come to the conclusion that whilst I must do all i can to make our government a more socially just and environmentally responsible one through the process of choosing to participate actively in the democratic process (which I believe is a responsibility for us all), agitating and voting for change, if i wait for the enviro-socialist paradigm to be expressed in our organisation of society, then the good i can do, the possible difference i can make whilst I wait will be an opportunity squandered. So, now i try to embrace the concept of giving as the least i can do, its all about compassion i guess, while waiting for governments to 'get it' but i still have some leftover issues around the bougeoise nature of it all.

Tuesday, July 22

back into it

so here i am , blogging when i should be working on my PhD. I made a promise to myself over the weekend gone, that come school term starting (today) i would pick up the task of finishing my PhD. Part of me resists and goes ' bugga off- im on maternity leave and i just want to chill and enjoy this unique time' and the rational part of me says 'you'll relax and enjoy life more with this monkey off your back'. Ive chosen to get rid of the monkey. Realistically, Ive not that much more to do, the bulk of it is done. My methods and results chapters are well edited, my lit review needs about 3 days of polishing and I need to start work on developing the discussion. 2 hours a day is what i am aiming for and if the weather keeps on being so disgusting it shouldnt be a problem. I just need some discipline (some enthusiasm might help). Im a little over the rational/scientific. I just want to be emotional and flighty for a while longer. After 13 years of workin, studying and single parenting i just really want to ree-lax for a while and enjoy this time. Dig in the garden, play with the boy, potter in the kitchen, be silly with the girls, sit back with some music and a bottle of wine with my man and chat. Ugh, Ok, Im off, one page at a time...wish me luck!

Monday, July 21

loca vore

its been a very cold and busy weekend. High tea at The Apothecary on Saturday afternoon (very posh but a great chance to wear the vintage black Astrakan coat gifted years ago, only worn it once before when in Paris on my honeymoon) with a bunch of lovely wimmin celebrating a big number, followed very soon after by dinner at East Taste with a friend on a flying work visit into town and friends with their kids visiting Sunday. Throw breastfeeding a 10 week old, managing a broken washing machine when you use cloth nappies, readying for the school term into the mix and a 10yo with a M.A.J.O.R fashion crisis (Im so unsympathetic) and you've got some idea why i slept in until 11am with the boy this morning. This pic was taken on the way out to tea, walking down a laneway we came upon a building that had thousands of toy cars stuck on each brick, beginning at about 20ft up. It was raining, dark and i was pressed against the wall looking up and hoping the zoom was good enough. It has no relvance here except i thought it looked kinda interesting and wanted to share.
All that's a precursor to something thats been on my mind and i have been meaning to explore in a post. The media, well the media I read/listen/watch/look in discussing sustainability and food production talk about 'eating seasonally' in an effort to reduce costs and waste assocated with food production and transportation. Eating seasonally as i see it acts like the Trojan Horse; by eating only what is 'in season' you inherently avoid foods which have been either trucked in from far away places or heavily 'subsidised' and by implication eat locally produced foods (loca vore). However, here lies my concern. This is all well and good if you grow your own food or just happen to be very in touch with planting and cropping seasons. My guess is that most people would have NO IDEA about what should be in season at any particular time in their region and whether that asparagus has a 'seasonal' right to be in their shopping basket. Its a bit like telling people to 'just say no'. So any campaign to get people to eat seasonally i reckon would require a major effort to get people back in tune with natures cycles and an awareness that ya cant really expect to pick strawberries in winter and that brussell sprouts are no summer crop. Informing the public that the oranges are from California or that kiwis are from new zealand doesnt really help, it doesnt join the dots to make the big picture argument for those who are not thinking. Maybe they were grown in season in THAT place? Ha

Friday, July 18

on being blended


its a challenge being a 'blended' family and as the adult who is the 'bridge' between the two; my husband and my kids, its sometimes very painful and confusing. Sometimes it feels like i have to determine who is right and manage 'sides' when there is no right and no side to take. Im conducting a show without a script and trying to make sure everyone feels heard when personal styles and expectations between step parent, mother and kids are not always aligned. When a moment is heated and lightening is striking it can be hard to keep yourself focussed on the issue at hand, my rational brain switches off to 'mute all' and my emotions turn me into mother bear and overwhelm me. Being a grown up and the biological piggy in the middle sucks and sometimes you really just want to put your hands over your ears and mutter blablahblahblahblah. When you layer that with children who feel abandoned by their biological father and are struggling to come to terms with a very painful loss precipitated by a move interstate to be with his girlfriend and her 3 boys, things get pretty whacky sometimes. So yesterday, when B1 and B2 declared baby bean really lucky to have Simon as his natural dad and they wished he was their dad too and could they call him dad just 2 days after arriving back from 2 weeks holiday with their bio-dad, my heart stood still and ached. I was at once rendered so melancholic for them whilst simultaneously feeling overjoyed that they recognised Simons' worth. What do you say? Do you focus on the bio-dad issues or the step dad issues? Then whatever you decide, your respnse has to be condensed into a 'bite sized piece' coz you dont want to freak them out with a lecture about the who, whats and whys of the emotional dilemma inherent in such a statement. So i said, oh so casually (if only they knew) something like "yes, simons lovely, were lucky to have him and its up to you what you call him, he's happy with whatever you choose", to which they said ok and then happily wandered off to look at some books completely oblivious to the emotional maelstrom they left in their wake.Where is the previous life experience and pareting manual that helps you deal with a moment like that? Crikey.

Anyway, those damn sprouting potatoes finally were put to rest in their little holes in the ground and i can cross them of that list. You know the one.

Haiku Friday

my heart is pounding
blood rushes through me like fire
his mouth presses mine

*thats my ode to Harlequin Haiku! ;-)

Thursday, July 17

Mamma Mia!

My girls came home yesterday (soooo nice to see them) and so today we trundled off to the movies, all 4 of us; 2 adult beans and two walking beans (left the boybean with my mum). Now, Im not sure whereabouts on the cool scale being musical fans sits, but we are all really into musicals and we dont even care. We all saw high school musical on stage like 4 times (granted my husband was doing the lighting and we could watch for free) but thats still like 6 hours of your life that you chose to spend watching teenagers singing cheesy high school songs, Grease, well...Yup, we love Grease, billy elliot, uh huh, did that too, and 'Tomorrow' is always the song of choice for theatre auditions around here, you get the picture. So we fair ran into the theatre to see Mamma Mia and we tapped our feet and hummed and sang along under our breath the whole way. It was great; thin on plot, lack of character development, very linear etc , all the things i usually hate in a movie but all the things Im very willing to accept and overlook in a musical. It was so great that not only did we stop off to buy ABBA Gold on the way home (to continue the love) i actually managed to develop a very short term movie induced crush on Pierce Brosnan who i havent even thought about since Remington Steele and the crush was a little more serious. Im a musical tragic.

tree of life


Some of you may be very familair with prints like this, some of you may have never even imagined it was possible. You may agree with some that its the product of a biohazard, some of you may think its beautiful. I will leave you to ponder on it.

Tuesday, July 15

white people saving the world, one [disposable] nappy at a time

Now i'm not sure of the citation/reposting etiquette for blogging (now im not even sure how to spell etiquette!?)and couldnt find a 'how to' or a 'do not' on her website, but the following post was written entirely by bluemilk. I had to repost it here as it's just too bloody good. Cross-posted at Hoyden About Town.

No wonder I’m so tuckered out all the time. It is very difficult being white. We have a lot of work to do and that work starts young. White babies are saving the world even while they are wetting their nappies. That’s just how it is when you’re white, you’re always on duty. We don’t just buy any nappies for our babies, we buy special nappies from an extra special company that puts tiny, almost insignificant, amounts towards vaccines for those other babies. We like to combine our philanthropy with our grocery shopping, it saves time and it helps capitalism, which is our way of also bringing freedom to the world. We’re helping all you black people, brown people, yellow people, we don’t have time to learn all your “nationalities” so we just like to think of you as the people of the rainbow, and we love to think of you in costume, your national dress is so cute. And how cute are your babies, we love your babies? Sooo cute. Colonialism, slavery, exploitation of natural resources, missionaries, political interference, the arbitrary re-zoning of borders, sex tourism, cultural imperialism.. and 5 cents with every pack of pampers towards your vaccine program. Rainbow people, you’re welcome!



If you think I have a cold, dark heart then you will really think that after you’ve read the comments left by others about this advertisement on YouTube. Thanks Lauredhel for the Pampers tip off.

Monday, July 14

Birth Story

As promised many posts ago, Jaspers' birth story. My story followed by Simons'.
I love how right from the start our stories are different! LOL

I woke up Saturday morning knowing that I was about to start labour. I had been having intermittent contractions for the last 3 days and had been hoping something would begin soon. Something felt different; I really did feel ripe deep down below. I went to the toilet and found a very faint pink smear of show and thought to myself, “Yup, today’s the day”. I went back into the bedroom and suggested we have coffee downstairs this morning not in bed as I was going into labour”. My last 2 births had started just after I woke as well, both times with a rush of my waters as I had stepped out of bed and I was expecting my waters to break soon and figured that the kitchen floorboards were a better bet than the bedroom carpet. So we went down stairs for coffee and to get the house ready for the arrival of this baby. I made coffee while Simon organised my chosen birth space in the lounge room and fetched the birth pool. We’d had the pool pretty well fully inflated in anticipation of a speedy labour and didn’t want to be caught out inflating the pool while baby was crowning! While he was doing this, my eldest daughter Maia came down the stairs and asked what was going on and I said that I was going into labour and today was the day. I got a pretty good contraction then and another one in a pretty short space of time so, knowing my history (OP baby born in 6 hours at home and OA baby born in 40 minutes at home), I called our midwife Lisa to let her know I was having a baby this day. Lisa asked if she should come over and I said not yet as they were pretty mild. I called my other support people to let them know to get organised and make their way over sometime this morning. After this phone call my contractions had begun to get heavier and I needed to concentrate so I called Lisa back to say that maybe she should come over after all, to which she replied that she already was! About now, my memories become patchy and temporal sequences uncertain.
Simon began filling the pool. I recall wandering around the lounge/dining/kitchen area managing mild contractions and when the pool was ready I hopped in. I had been anticipating this moment for months, knowing the really deep pleasure of that warm pool water from my previous birth experience. My recollection is spending hours in the pool, the kids were playing cards with my friend Bruce or just sitting on the couch watching my labour progress, Rosie (our other support person) was taking pictures, Simon was supporting me either by assisting me to the toilet or giving me a hand to squeeze. He stayed by my side the whole time, loving me. At some point Lisa organised steaming hot towels for my lower back, which was not quite covered by the water in the pool. The relief and pleasure they brought were something to be experienced, who would have thought something so simple would bring such immense relief? They were heavenly and I remember getting cranky and grumpy when the usually seamless replacement of a cooling one with a fresh hot one wasn’t quite seamless enough. At some point in the pool my waters broke. The rush of water around my inner thighs was such a surprise, like someone had turned on a spa jet between my legs and I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t think you’d feel your waters breaking when you’re already in the water. I began to get hungry and asked one of the girls to bring some chocolate covered ‘squashed fly biscuits’ and ate quite a few in between contractions and laughing with everyone. It was pretty normal labour; me enjoying myself, chatting and laughing in between moments of incredible intensity. After about 3 hours (I think it was about 3 hours, I lost all concept of any time) I began whimpering and moaning for someone to please save me and thinking to myself that I must be in transition. Finally. I began to feel a bit pushy, and began pushing for a while and Lisa asking me if I could feel anything if I reached my hand in. Nope, nothing. Lisa said it was ok to keep on pushing and maybe I needed to change positions. Sequence and timing is blurry here. I remember Lisa asking me to go the toilet, climbing out of the pool and waddling to the loo. I think I said ‘I know what you’re trying to do you know’, thinking how clever I was to be wise to her sneaky midwife techniques for changing positions, emptying the bladder to encourage progress when I just wanted to stay put in the safety of the pool. I had a big contraction just after I had a wee in the bathroom and clutching simon, hanging from him and moaning very loudly. I wandered back and climbed back into the pool. Taking up a new position in the pool, I leant back into the birth pool, hanging my arms over the side with simon supporting my underarms and kept with the pushing. Lisa could see his head emerging and I began to feel a sense of relief and joy, knowing that soon he would be born. I had been in second stage for hours. The kids were up one end of the pool together with the support team, it was like swimming an Olympic final! I began to feel deep pain in my lower abdomen, which was making concentrating on managing contractions really difficult. The pain kept with me and I began feeling unnerved and telling Lisa that I was feeling this pain and it was different to contractions. I was still pushy and after lots of effort I managed to birth Jaspers head. Once his head was born, I felt my contractions suddenly stop; it was like an empty feeling, it felt very strange. Lisa kept encouraging me to push and I remember saying that I was trying, but I had no contractions to work with. I remember crying out when I felt the baby kicking vigorously inside me; I had never felt anything so surreal, head out, legs and feet squirming inside. I could really feel him pushing around in there. Things were appearing, in my haze, to get a little stressful, something wasn’t right. Lisa asked someone to call an ambulance NOW and told me to change positions again to see if that would encourage Jaspers' body to be born. Nope. I remember the edge in her voice as she was telling me to keep my body low in the water as I tried some more pushes. After a short while she told me very firmly to get out of the pool and to lie on my back on the floor and I think she said something like “your babies shoulders are stuck and im going to have to try and get him out” (I learnt afterwards that it was a prolapsed cord as well). My last memory of labour was saying “oh no, I hit his head on the side of the pool” (climbing out of a pool unassisted (I was doing it FAST) with a babys head between your legs is not easy), Lisa telling me not to matter about it and feeling a sinking of fear in my stomach. I cannot remember actually getting out of the pool, lying on the floor or Lisa putting her hand inside my vagina to grip Jaspers armpit to pull him out. I cannot remember him being born. My next memory is lying exhausted on the floor thinking I had done everything I could do and hearing Lisa and Rosie saying “c’mon baby, c’mon baby” and asking me to come over and talk to my baby. The cord was quite long so I was laying quite a way away from where the action was, and I recall slowly crawling over thinking just how weak and exhausted I felt and that I had nothing more to give, there was nothing more I could do and just have to let the professionals do what hey knw to do. Lisa and Rosie were crouched over him, Lisa was giving him mouth to mouth interspersed with bagging and Rosie was using 2 fingers to do CPR on his chest. Jasper was white, floppy and unresponsive and I remember thinking "oh no, 9 months and hard labour and its come to this terrible end" and thinking I couldn’t feel anything in case he didn’t make, it as I crawled over. I remember seeing Lisa’s hands shaking while she was attaching the mouthpiece onto the oxygen tube and at that point the real enormity of the situation really hit me. I remember Lisa asking Rosie if she could feel a heart beat and Rosie saying 'yes' and feeling relieved that we had at the least that; he had an Apgar of just 1. There was vigorous rubbing of his floppy body with a towel, mouth to mouth, oxygen, CPR, everyone saying “c’mon baby”, c’mon baby”, it was a very busy, intense and stressful couple of minutes. It was a glorious moment when he took that first little breath, everyone cheered and waited anxiously for another one that seemed to take forever, then after that second breath everyone cheered again and then he appeared to dubiously open just one eye. At that moment I felt like I could finally take a breath myself and let my love and anticipation for this new little being flow. As soon as Lisa was confident that Jasper had a firm grip on the world, she turned her attention to me to check my blood loss, which was fine and the placenta was born soon thereafter. We sort of looked down and there it was half out. They are so soft and EASY after labour. The ambos arrived, and the kids emerged too, having left the situation when I got out of the pool, and said that everyone was managing the situation well, keep doing what we were doing. When the situation had stabilised; his Apgar was up to 7, they checked Jasper and myself to see if anyone needed to go to hospital for monitoring, another ambo crew arrived, saw everything was fine and left. The two ambulance officers chatted, stayed an hour and left, confident that everything was well. They really were a fabulous crew (the female officer was gorgeous, left saying what a wonderful way to birth a baby and that her sister was training to be a midwife and wanted to be a HB midwife!) After Jasper and I were cleaned up and settled on the couch, everyone flopped on the couches, downed about a bottle of champagne each in about half an hour and recovered from such an intense birth. Lisa stayed for about 7 hours after wards to make sure everything was fine and to help ensure Jasper was feeding. The girls decided to go out to a friend’s party for a few hours with Bruce so Simon and I were able to spend some time alone with our new boy.

It took me 3 weeks to get enough courage to Google ‘severe shoulder dystocia’ and from what I had read, I realised even more just how fortunate we were to have had Lisa attending our birth and how lucky we were to have Jasper; hospital born babies with shoulder dystocia have a mortality rate of 50%. The pain I had felt just before his head was born and just after were his shoulders stuck in my pelvis. Her quick responses and appropriate management of such a rare, difficult and unforeseeable presentation are truly appreciated and meant a wonderful outcome. Dare I say ‘ its good thing we had a home birth with Lisa in attendance, because we had some difficulties in labour and he needed every moment possible attached to his placenta while he took his time to take a breath. If we’d been in hospital they most likely would have cut that cord immediately, taken him away from me to do the resus and he may not have made it. I cried intermittently for a week after his birth, the shock of looking at the moment of life and death in front of you and waiting to see, after having done everything humanly possible, what pathway a new soul is going to take is powerful. Jasper is now 10 weeks old, thriving, happy and one content little boy. His birth was not ideal in many ways but it was the birth we had, it was wonderful in its own way and I can now look back on the day with pleasure and know we all made good decisions.


Simons story
I was expecting something amazing, I wasn't disappointed, but it was in every way different from what I had thought it might be.
The morning started bright and sunny with no sign of the day to come until we drank our morning coffee in bed and Kel started to feel the first signs of "something different", we had done a few false starts so we carried on to breakfast before she told me "this is it!"..... what a moment! an incredible sense of the present stripping away my mind and bringing me into focus, quickly followed by it's reengagement with a list of "what to do next's" as long as my arm, not being that wonderful at multitasking ( yes I am after all only a man ) I charged off on my single mission to get that birthing pool filled asap ( Kel had previously had a 40 minute birth with her second baby, Lily ). I had left it semi inflated for quick deployment and with the help of Lily and Maia soon had it up to pressure and filling from a hose off the washing machine tap. Kel was going into light 5 minute contractions which seemed steady and she looked supremely calm and focussed which gave me a lot of reassurance. Our 2 doulas, Bruce and Rosie, had turned up by now and Lisa was relaxed and attentive with Kel. At this point I ran out of hot water from the tank ( we had a few showers that morning ) so it was pots, pans and kettles to the rescue to get the pool that last third filled and Kel into the soothing waters. Rosie, Bruce and I rotated with hot towels on her lower back ( very effective ) while she crouched kneeling supported with her arms on the pool wall. Kel looked so beautiful to me then, sun shining in the water and down her back, totally involved in that ultimate expression of womanhood, birthing.
The mood moved from soft relaxed laughter to intense focus and back as the waves of contraction came and went. The morning passed this way with no sudden changes as labour progressed into it's full expression. At times l felt meaningless and insufficient, at others empowered and connected. To be there holding the woman I love as she was drawn into this incredible process was awe inspiring, I was totally disconnected from "reality" and yet this was the ultimate reality, one we all experience in some way, one that opens our eyes to the wonderful raw beauty of life. The woman I loved before was now the woman I worshipped, respected, admired for her humanity and fertility, her trust and her courage, her strength and focus.
As the birth approached it became more and more obvious that he was a very big boy and things were going to be tough, as his head crowned I began to relax, thinking that the "worst" was over, but there he stopped and there we all started. Kel had run out of contractions and could not push him out, Lisa climbed in the pool fully clothed and I knew we were in "emergency" mode, Bruce called the Ambos as Lisa ordered Kel out of the pool and onto the floor on her back ( all with his little head between her legs ), and her years of experience as a midwife came into full use as she physically reached into Kel to free his stuck shoulders.
As he came across the floor onto a towel it was obvious he was spent, coloured between mauve and cream, completely limp and not breathing. It was the moment I came closest to despair as Lisa gave him mouth to mouth and Rosie kept a steady 2 finger tap on his little chest, we waited and called to him, we encouraged him on, pleaded for him to make it, to breathe that first breath before his umbilical cord gave up its final bit of oxygenated blood.
It seemed like hours but as 2 minutes passed he gave that first tiny gasp and groan, 20 seconds and another, 10 and another, he was here ! he was coming to stay ! our little boy had made it !
With much massaging and a few peeks from one eye he pinked up and almost looked the picture of health by the time the Ambos arrived just 7 minutes after our call. They were great, accepted we had things back in control and after a few minutes left us to, finally, enjoy the successful birth of Jasper William Gregory, 11 lbs 5 oz ( 5.5 kgs ).
Kel, amazingly, needed no stitches, we took prints from the placenta and buried it under the lemon tree, Jasper slept solid for the first week and is now a robust picture of health and alertness mixed with a healthy appetite and love of fun.
Mother and child are now doing very well, Dad however has been transported to another realm that could be mistaken for madness ( he is my first baby ), I love nappy changing and pulling stupid faces while making idiot noises, use language l last used below the age of 5 and proudly feast on his beautifulness with my eyes and hands at every opportunity.
I could fully expect Kel to be very jealous, except she is just as bad as I am.

Sunday, July 13

losing the Strine*

Recent blog cruising has reinforced a pet peev that I have had for years about the increasing use of 'Americanisms' in our language. Now i know all language evolves over time, but its usually a bit slower than the infiltration i see before my eyes. Randoms in life and Aussie bloggers, probably me at times ( let me know if you spot one), using standard, non-slang terms like ...

cookies - not, its a biscuit
frosting - no, its icing
store - a shop
soda - uhhuh, its soft drink
vacation - we go 'on holidays'
thrift store - op shop, second hand shop, Vinnies
trash - rubbish
yard sale - we should probably use this term, never actually been in a garage at a garage sale, maybe under the carport and on the lawn...

Niow, if this incroising arptake of stindid Merrykin lingwidge is tapeal too ah Merrykin blogin roidership or ta hilp roiders unnerstin whad we're tawkinbout, then jist splainit, use the Merrykin term boy all moins, but asn addendum to hilpem terpret the kalowkwial.

Language helps defines us as a culture, lets not lose ourselves in the bloggersphere. (If you're the grammar police, then please ignore all my posts).

Nothing personal going on here, its all academic, heck (LOL) my sister in law and mother in law both live in California, but lets avoid the cultural cringe.

*Strine - The term is a syncope, derived from a phonetic rendition of the pronunciation of the word "Australian" in an exaggerated Broad Australian accent.

(can you tell im lacking in adult company?)

Saturday, July 12

energy [r]evoloutions' proud wife


Thats him, thats my main man, the one on the left, where? there, behind the smoke. Whoohoo! First sighting in a week. There are still 4 activists on the roof of the stack and they're blogging up there. If you're interested, join them.

Friday, July 11

Haiku Friday

can't sleep anymore
what will the next posting be
bloggings' the new drug

* for Haiku freaks out there, I know you're supposed to have a reference to the weather in a traditional Haiku but im over the weather.
** also to anyone who is interested, I hate reading poetry, Haikus' included, but i love writing both, always have. I even did my whole final Yr 12 australian history assessment in the form of a bunch of poems and not essays; covered WW1 WW2, the depression, the invasion, the lot. Topped the state with those poems!

he's been busted again...

oops. we knew it would happen, but this is simons second arrest in under 8 months. Good thing he's not looking for work or to rent a house! Greenpeace entered Swanbank B power station this morning sometime and scaled the stacks. Swanbank B causes more than two million tonnes of carbon emissions a year. That's the same pollution as 300,000 cars a year. Queensland is the best solar state in the world, so its a bit tragic they dont do more. I hope his prospective day in jail will be better than the last one which he spent in a rather cold cell in his boxers as they confiscated his orange suit as evidence. Guess what the standard police meal for remandees or whatever they call them, is? MacDonalds! Too funny. Poor copper went in and offerred 13 Greenpeace activists McDonalds for lunch. * rolling on the floor laughing* Apparently the police force have a corporate deal with Maccas. Needless to say they said no thanks. I think their lawyer ended up bringing over wholegrain sandwiches or something. Precious.
Anyways, will have to wait and see when he is coming home. He's out saving the world and im at home making cordial, hmmm...there's a few feminist threads in that statement i could run with..

Thursday, July 10

Sustainable birth

Peoples reaction when i tell them that i homebirthed my 3 kids is generally a comment on "how brave" i am, the underlying paradigm being that homebirth is a risky choice. I think "how dangerous" is really what people are trying to express. As with everything, ignorance is the biggest culprit for peoples' misperceptions. Homebirth is not just for 'hippies', in fact the fastest growing demographic of homebirth women in Australia are educated middle-class professional women who have done the research and discovered for themselves that birth at home for low risk women is not more dangerous than hospital birth, it actually results in lower morbidity for mothers and babies and mortality rates are statistically the same. The iatrogenic interventions in birth accounts for a large proportion of the "im so glad i was in hospital because the baby got distressed and i needed a cesarean" births. Click here for interesting story. Satisfaction with the birthing experience is systematically always higher for women who birth at home. Why? homebirth allows control and choice and supports birthing to be what its supposed to be; labour. In a hospital context, every stage of your labour is timed and when that time is up, you are set along the pathway of the next intervention to speed things up (resist if you dare!). Besides being a safe, life enhancing, exhiliarating, affirming and estatic choice for the individual woman and her partner, homebirth also has a public health context which sits in the debate about about appropriate use of social resources and the connections between environmental problems and community health , community cohesion etc. At a very basic level of economic and environmental impact, surgical birth and hospital birth requires more people, more drugs and more equipment, costs more and produces more waste than a home birth. Between 35-50% of birthing women in Australia will end up with a surgical removal of her baby. The WHO recommends a C- section rate between 5-10%; currently only independent midwives achieve such low rates with their hospital transfers. Choosing to view birth in a way that fits within greener, sustainable values is possible however this is not why i chose to homebirth; i wanted a safer and more grounded, non-medical birth for my babies and myself. Homebirth requires being present, mindful and educated and ultimately taking responsibility for ones own health and the health of your child, just like choosing to live in a sustainable way, homebirth is a part of the philosophy of SLOW.

Wednesday, July 9

how to live a low-carbon life [for Mummies]

Last night I finished Chris Goodalls' book 'How to live a low-carbon life' and I was struck towards the end by a sentence which pleased me no end. Now, I have tried to live by this principle for many, many years now and children have solidified this principle but to have it sanctified as carbon friendly...magic!
"..we can choose to wash our clothes less frequently...[and] rather than wear lightly coloured clothes, likely to be marked on one wearing, we could switch to deeper colours upon which the impact of day to day activities would be less visible." Urban chic black is now eco-de rigueur. Im way ahead.
Apologies for the gender typing title- but mummies rhymed with dummies and its to late and im too tired to come up with anything better.

ta dah! leftover lemon kaw-dial


Took all day, but i did it. Somthing so simple with about 3 ingredients becomes a days work with a new baby; feed baby, change baby, play with baby, put baby to bed, squeeze lemons, oh yeah, have some breakfast (oops its lunchtime) have some lunch, change baby, feed baby, play with baby, go to shops, put baby to bed, combine all ingredients ( oh no! i need zest, pick lemons, zest lemons), find bottles, sterilise the damn things ( in my case remove thick layer of dust/strange sticky substance that bottles get when stored in pantry for a long time without use), pour into bottles, feed baby, you get the idea... here's the recipe if you are up for it and have a lot of lemons you need/want to do something with (recipe below is double the original due to lemon problem mentioned in previous post!)

Storable lemon Kaw-dial adapted from Stephanie Alexander
Juice from 40 lemons (1200 ml)
Zest from 10 lemons
4 cups boiling water
Sugar to taste (i used 2.5 kgs)
1/2 cup citric acid
2 tsp tartaric acid

Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar dissolved. Let rest for couple of hours for colour to develop and oils to infuse. Strain through fine seive or cloth and pour into sterilised bottles. Makes a very thick rich syrupy cordial.

Tuesday, July 8

Limoncello


i woke up ready to go today. Not too sure that i got all that much done but i havent stopped. First off was the pea and ham soup. Now, personally, I hate the stuff but i have had a ham bone in the freezer since the caterers left it behind last year ( in that incarnation it was the leftover from a whole shoulder of ham) and i didnt want to waste it knowing there are people out there who love the stuff. So, last week i mentioned said ham bone to a friend who sounded interested in relieving me of it. when i reflected further, the though of just handing over a frozen bone sounded a bit weird, so i decided to value-add before i passed it on. We had dried peas in the pantry so why not make the soup? and i really wanted some more freezer space (for the limoncello of course). One Google search later i had my recipe, veges chopped, stock out of the freezer and bones defrosting. Too easy. Blend, add, cook...VIOLA! pea and ham soup. The house really stinks.
When the boy bean woke up, i bundled him into his hat, jacket and trolley and we sprinted up to the local grog shop to buy some Vodka for the Limoncello, just missing the next downpour. With the help of the lads behind the bar, i managed to come home with some grape vodka which is a bit more like the Grappa that the Italians use to traditionally make their Limoncello, so, Hoorah! and its made locally here in Adelaide. Bought 3 bottles, only needed 2. Spare one for the freezer! Boy bean went back to bed, washing was removed from machine then i ventured out into the downpour to pick lemons, trying hard not to pull too hard to avoid that great extra sprinkle of water. Next up, babybean woke and was duly placed into chair-contraption thing on kitchen bench to watch me peel a mountain of 30 lemons, trying hard not to get too much pith on the shaved skins. My pumpkin peeler worked a treat for this, resulting in nice thin zest. i tossed the skins into a large jar, added the 2 bottles of vodka and stuck it in the cellar to sit and stew for about a month or two. Stage 1 limoncello complete. Peeled lemons dont keep long so i think i'd better do something with those 30 peeled lemons but i feel like collapsing on the couch with a glass of wine when the boy goes to bed not juicing lemons and making cordial.., maybe if i have a glass of wine when juicing the lemons ...
Tomorrow the potatoes really need planting as they have sprouted!

Limoncello:
15-30 lemons - clean/washed with good scent
2 (750-ml) bottles 80-proof vodka/grappa
4-6 cups water
2-4 cups sugar (more if you want it thicker or sweeter)

Stage 1: Peel/zest lemons making sure minimal or no pith is left on the zest/peel
Put peel/zest into big clean jar and add vodka/grappa and leave to steep in cool dark place for 2 weeks to 3 months (your choice)

Stage 2:Put the water and sugar in a saucepan, stir and slowly boil until it turns clear. Let the syrup cool. Put the cooled syrup in the jar with the lemon peel/zest (you might have to divide the batch into two jars at this point, depending on the size of your jar). Put the jars back in the closet for at least two weeks. Peel will be white and should 'snap' when bent and no longer be flexible.

Step 3:Strain out the lemon peel/zest through a coffee filter/muslin/cheesecloth.
Put the liqueur into clean bottles, seal tightly and leave the finished bottles for at least 1 week before using. Store in freezer until ready to drink. It shouldn't freeze because of how much alcohol is in it and it's meant to be drunk ice cold.

* read Limoncello Stage 2 here

Monday, July 7

ok, problem solved

What do you get when you mix 2 bottles of vodka, a tonne of sugar and as much lemon zest as you can manage, together? Limoncello! Adult cordial! Whoohoo. Will post pics when I'm done making the stuff.

up up and away (again)

well, now its just me and the baby boy. Said goodbye to the girls last week and this morning my man took off to Sydney for a week, bound for some Greenpeace adventure. They never tell you where or when if they are doing an action, but something's up- Simon's the yacht and knot specialist and its his second call-up by GP this year. Our carbon miles not looking good for this year at all. The last action was the stopping of processing at the Munmorah coal-fired power plant and this one could be anything...the Esperanza is on the move up the coast on its Energy Revoloution Tour of the country (sounds a bit rock n roll, no? but click the link, watch the vid and sign the petition)...there's coal mining...dunno...just have to watch the news everynight to see what they are up to this time. The last time Si did an action I saw from my loungeroom, through the lense of a TV camera, a zoom shot through the wire fence and watched him bundled into a white police van in his orange suit, shackled and shuffling like a Guantanamo hostage. Kids had a field day with that one at show 'n' share. "My step dad got arrested this morning" (biological father tearing his hair out...) Thats parenting 101.
So in contrast to such high moral action, I'm baking (you can justify pretty much any food when you're feeding a baby- the trick however is to stop when they wean! I learnt that last time round) I have wanted to cook (...eat) these since I came across them on The Sugar Bar. Peanut and almond filled chocolate cupcakes with a matcha (green tea) icing. Its the complete comfort food, maybe a complete meal in itself! - well, i had 2 for breakfast. Please, those of you who care, ignore the energy intensive, wasteful cupcake pans please, I KNOW, OK?! They were in the pantry. I used them. Its really raining outside, the creek is flowing so fast the waterfalls are running horizontal, ducks have flown in, the fire's on...ahhhhh. No gardening for me today but i will plan where the potatoes, beetroot and parsnips will be planted out tomorrow if the weather improves and maybe another cake...

Saturday, July 5

instructions for duck

i have never cooked duck before. Here's a tip...if a recipe tells you to cook the duck breast for just 6 minutes and that doesnt sound long enough, just DO IT like the recipe says.
I will cook duck breast again, but this time for just 6 minutes

Friday, July 4

Haiku Friday

looking through the glass
into our garden of life
blooming a new day

Thursday, July 3

up up and away

I waved the girls goodbye today, watched them disappear down the ramp and into the glass walkway that separates real life from the dream and their hazy forms step into the plane. It was a teary goodbye on both sides, B1 declaring undying love for her new brother (she said she felt like she was leaving her son! hehe) and wondering how she will live without him for the 2 weeks she will spend with her father and me feeling how i always feel when i put them on the plane; negligent. Negligent that my decisions in life have put them in a position wherby they have to go through this every school holidays to get the love and attention of their father. Ugh. I have to calm myself with reassurances that it was his decision to move to the other side of the country but it doesnt lessen my feelings of grief when i see them alone and facing their own selves squarely in that moment. letting go is hard, they hate flying! zen moment required.
On the brighter side- i get my computer to myself! no more sharing my pc with a teen. party hat on. Blog on!

Tuesday, July 1

Purging the Poo

Its over. Our time as a 2 car family is cactus, kaput, gawn. We made the decision last night to get rid of one our cars;the Peugot, affectionatley known around here as 'the Poo' and finally pare ouselves down to just 1 gas guzzling energy sucker which we will convert to liquid gas. We did the numbers and reckon that even if we spend $1000 a year on taxis' or hire cars we can save about 4 thousand annually with all associated costs. Its pretty easy for us to have one car really, even with 3 kids. Our logic...

1# we could just get a little better organised with our time
2# B1 already busses it to school
3# B2 bussess home from school
4# we live within walking distance from the centre of town
5# there is a bus stop at the end of our street
6# I only need to catch 1 bus to work (when Im not on maternity leave) and the bus drops me nearly right outside the door
7# if we need to pack the car with gear for a family of 5 for holiday travel we just hire a bigger car or borrow one from my mum (thanks mum, havent asked her yet to be a part of our downsizing equation)
8# Simon is a stay home dad so no need to shuffle work/kids and car

So, when ya look at it, its hard to justify having had 2 in the first place!

Now comes the big dilemma... when we decided to sell the car we all went 'great 4 grand saved, lets go to Indonesia for a family holiday!'. Ummm, hello!
Is it all just swings and roundabouts? Can we ever justify another OS trip when using our carbon footprint/consumption of resources as a measure against which to evaluate and live our lives? We sponsor 3 girls in India and Thailand, 1 monk in Tibet, sank a well in Africa when we married, make loans via Kiva, monthly fund medicins sans frontiers and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and Greenpeace, are life members of Trees for Life, never eat red meat, restrict our fresh fish intake, purchase only biodynamic hormone,antibiotic free chook n eggs, run the house on PV solar, harvest thousands of litres of rainwater, grow some of our own food, compost, recycle, buy second hand for almost everything (we love eBay), shop seasonally, buy locally, line dry ( can you believe its ILLEGAL to dry using outside clothes line in some US states parts of the US?!- clotheslines are an Aussie institution) support SLOW... yaddah yaddah yaddah.. its a bit like being kosher- hehe eco-kosher... We tithe within an inch of our lives, say 'no' to almost everything, hell we even recycled our old wedding bands - from our past relationships, had the jeweller melt them down and add some extras for our new ones (i even part paid the jeweller with some gold teeth i happened to have lying around which i aquired from my ex-mother in law -that does sound very odd I agree!!) Does all this bloody holier than thou living attone for contributing to jet fuel burn? CAN WE GO TO INDONESIA FOR A HOLIDAY?!!! Im on Kermies side- its not easy being green.