Saturday, October 29, 2011

this saturday i'm grateful for winston churchill

Picture from here

I had to laugh when I read the title to this post - it seems a bit out there :-) Anyways, this Saturday I'm grateful for:

* winston churchill - winston had a saying "never never never give up" and we've adopted it as a mantra for the family. I love the power of positive thinking.

* perseverance - Little B has decided it's time to ride his bike without training wheels. And even if he is a bit wobbly he is mastering it (on flat ground anyways). But he just keeps on trying!!

* honesty - I have to say that I felt yesterday's post kind of freeing. I havent had the motivation to blog recently as regularly as I used to. Instead I felt boxed in and like my life prevented me from saying much at all.

Check out Maxabella loves for more grateful loveliness this Saturday xx

Friday, October 28, 2011

I am a dragon mum

Three interesting things happened to me yesterday. Firstly, I read this article. Secondly, I had a confrontation with a potential new preschool for Little B (it's joined to the primary school he will go to) and finally, a close friend told me that my blog wasnt a true reflection of me if I wasnt honest about my life.

So here goes...I am the mum to a gorgeous little boy who also happens to have additional needs. In June this year, Little B was diagnosed with developmental coordination disorder (or dcd). This disorder used to be known as dyspraxia and in his case would be considered motor dyspraxia. He was born with hip dyplasia (complete dislocation of one hip) despite not having any of the call signs...he was a boy, not a breech and we had no family history. I now know that the bad bleed I had at 18 weeks was probably the cause (if any) of his additional needs, with hip dysplasia being the first indication.

So what does this mean?? On the face of it to the outside world - nothing. Most people wouldnt guess that there is anything "wrong" with Little B. But when I took him to a occupational therapist (ot) on advice from his preschool and then onto a paed physiotherapist on their recommendation, I could clearly see the differences. Little B struggles with balance, coordination, muscle tone, fine motor control to name a few. We now do 18 hours a week of physio and ot (a mixture of appointments & home based therapy) to improve his life - get him to grow some muscles. Little B had no muscle memory and no natural premonition for things that come next - his body quite simply does not respond to him naturally the same way that yours or mine does.

I'm lucky that my insistence on attachment parenting, lack of tv and therefore immersement in outdoor play / craft / reading books etc has actually meant that he has more skills than they normally see. But this process of physio intervention and so forth will be a life long one. He wont "get better" from this.

So how was yesterday interesting? Unlike Emily in the article above, my child is not going to die young. But he has a lifelong disorder...we are learning to parent a child who has in some instances a very difficult future ahead of him.

"This requires a new ferocity, a new way of thinking, a new animal. We are dragon parents: fierce and loyal and loving as hell" - Emily Rapp

I am a dragon mum - fierce and loyal and loving as hell. The last 4 months have shown me the challenges of fighting for your child in a system that is happy to let all the balls fall down. That would happily consign your child to the cracks. The difficulty in fighting a 4.5 year old to do physio everyday without fail when he doesnt want to.

So this is me being real and honest. And proud - I adore my son and as Emily says I would walk through a tunnel of fire for him. So instead I take my fierce nature and I fight for him, I help him, I train with him, I love him...I never never never give up. And if that's all he ever learns from me than I have done a brilliant job.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Home-made Icecream

With some lovely warm weather our thoughts turned to ice cream today. So we whipped out our icecream machine and away we went.

 Look at the lovely yellow yolks - nothing like free range home grown eggs

We used a really simple recipe which can be adapted to any kind of milk (cow, rice, soy)

100g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk

* Put caster sugar, cornflour and eggs yolk into a bowl and cream together until egg yolk gets lighter
* Heat milk until it just starts to boil. 
* Pour into bowl and mix with egg yolk mixture. 
* Put back in saucepan over low heat and mix together until it feels slightly thicker (dont let it come to the boil or simmer). 
* Put in fridge to chill for 6-12 hours.
* Add 1 tsp vanilla or 1/4 cup cocoa to mixture.
* Then put into ice cream machine and voila you have ice cream.

For an egg free option - replace the egg yolks with 1.5 tbsp rice brain oil (as it has no flavour). I make rice milk ice cream this way.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Renovation Central

This is how you find me most days - engrossed in green living and building magazines that I borrow enmass from my local library. Unlike our previous renovations we are intent on doing a bunch of things before we even move in. Structural work is a given - the house is being restumped and re-roofed before Christmas (yay!) but I am also absolutely intent on doing everything as green and sustainably as possible (as much as our budget allows as well LOL).

But it's been a challenge so far. Finding a roofer was mission impossible and then finding one who doesnt use toxic products was like finding a needle in a haystack. But I'm keeping lists of the products I've found and investigated and that we want to use. Magazines such as Green Living and Sanctuary are such a great starting point for ideas. My current obsession is paint - we've tried eco paints in the past (total disaster) but I'm hoping to not have to resort to Wattyl ID paints this time around (but am cool if that's what eventuates).

I loved Gavin's post last week about retrofitting and this is fundamentally what our new house is about. We want to retrofit it to the best of our abilities to account for life now but also in the future. We are starting with double insulation in the roof cavity after the roof is fixed. Then come the ceiling fans in the bedrooms. The rest will come as our budget allows but we hope to get underfloor insulation pretty quickly, then solar hot water and a wood heater installed into the fireplace.

And since we lost all our stuff from the old house, we are also trying to kit out the house as sustainably and minimally as possible. Friends and family have given us some 2nd hand furniture and I've found some friendly secondhand and vintage stores who understand about my mold allergy and let me know when they have found a "clean" item for me to see. And since the house is art deco we also want to make sure that the house has a vintage feel to fit in with the period pieces that it has.

I love the promise that a new house brings and have to say love the idea of renovating (until the actual work begins - then I'll be the first one moaning about how much I hate painting LOL - ironic considering I'm always the wall painter in the house, whilst Mr B is the fixer of all things fixable!!)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

this saturday i'm grateful for being organised

Pic came from here..drool....

With only 6 weeks to go until settlement on the new house, my days feel jam packed full of things to do. So this Saturday I'm grateful for..

* being organised - I have lists everywhere of what we need to do, have and accomplish before starting our next renovating project at the new house.

* books that change your focus - I've been reading some great books at the moment and the side effect has been their take on positive living and positive home environments. Sometimes you just need to be at the right place and the right time and something clicks. 

* comfort food when it's raining - you can never have too much spaghetti or pancakes if you ask me :-)

Checkout Maxabella loves for more grateful goodies this weekend...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

School Readiness

School readiness is a hot topic right about now. Everywhere we seem to go people are talking about it...kindy, the library, play dates, even people I dont even know at the supermarket have spoken to me about it.

We made the decision early on to send Little B to school when he is 6. This was for a variety of reasons not least that Mr B & I were young ones during our final years of school (in my case, seriously younger). This had quite dramatic repercussions for Mr B in the form of being badly bullied and also my younger brother struggled at school because he wasnt ready for the sit down, be quiet aspect of school at 5.

We also based our decision on discussions with preschool teachers, research overseas, after seeing talks about school readiness by Kathy Walker and also on reflection that due to a trend in Victoria to send boys later, if Little B did go at 5 he would be a year younger than 60% of the boys in his class. But ultimately, I believe that Little B deserves another year of freedom to grow, play, learn at his own pace, jiggle, wiggle and mature. So that he is socially mature enough for the playground.

The response to this from friends has been quite dramatic. Approximately half support our decision (either simply from friendship or because they agree with us). The other half are almost aggressively opposed. My closest friend believes quite strongly that I'm doing the wrong thing - she believes we are limiting his educational prospects. Others say that I am selfish and part of the problem of older kids in prep.

The response from acquaintances, strangers, teachers, work colleagues has been amazingly supportive. I've lost track of the number of women who have told me they wish their sons or brothers had been given a chance to start later, had that extra chance to mature and develop before the pressure of the school system began.

But ultimately it's a family decision that you need to base on your child. Little B is a highly sociable child but he is not socially mature. He would get lost in a school playground in a heartbeat as he can be quite shy with other children. He loves to ask questions and his thirst for knowledge is amazing but in our opinion he is not ready for the grind of a school classroom.

I found the interest in my choice quite confronting at the start and felt bombarded and even a bit defensive. Even though we had thought through this decision more than any other decision in our lives so far. But now I've made peace with the interest, and so I leave you with this poem which sums up how I feel completely...

I Took His Hand and Followed
  by Mrs. Roy L. Peifer

My dishes went unwashed today,
I didn't make the bed,
I took his hand and followed
Where his eager footsteps led.

Oh yes, we went adventuring,
My little son and I...
Exploring all the great outdoors
Beneath the summer sky

We waded in a crystal stream,
We wandered through a wood...
My kitchen wasn't swept today
But life was gay and good.

We found a cool, sun-dappled glade
And now my small son knows
How Mother Bunny hides her nest,
Where jack-in-the-pulpit grows.

We watched a robin feed her young,
We climbed a sunlit hill...
Saw cloud-sheep scamper through the sky,
We plucked a daffodil.

That my house was neglected,
That I didn't brush the stairs,
In twenty years, no one on earth
Will know, or even care.

But that I've helped my little boy
To noble manhood grow,
In twenty years, the whole wide world
May look and see and know.

Some really great reading on the subject:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sustainable Table

"Up to 60% of our personal eco-footprint is embodied in the food that we buy".

"Every dollar we spend is a vote for the type of food system and earth we want to be a part of" - The Sustainable Table

What can I say - this really is an incredibly interesting book. It mixes interviews with a wide range of people (chefs, transition groups, kitchen garden schools etc) with predominantly vegetarian recipes. It also has a fantastically detailed section at the back about shopping and eating sustainably.

And I think it's put in such a way that it is accessible to so many different people.  Plus even though I knew a lot of the info inside, there was still enough to make me re-think how I shop and cook. Sort of refining my system - it made me realise how I had fallen into the habit of going to the mainstream supermarkets to buy organic items like pasta and oats, when I really should support smaller Australia businesses (like Four Leaf Organics).

And the two quotes above really resonate with me. So often you come across people who say that how they shop cant possibly make a difference. And it's this sort of book that you want them to read, that you want to inspire them to change they way they shop and cook and eat.

I've now added this to my gift giving list for Christmas. I always like to give things that inspire change or make people think. For example, if I dont know someone very well I generally give them a porcelain reusable cup and / or a reusable shopping bag.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ride to Work Day

"Today over one hundred and fifty thousand Australian workers are expected to join the commuter revolution and ride to work" - Bicycle Victoria 

Mr B decided to take part today in Ride to Work Day - an event instigated by Bicycle Victoria. As part of his job at a large public health organisation, he organised for many staff members who already ride as well as those new to riding to take part as well.


So how did Mr B get to work this morning?? By recumbant trike of course :-) Mr B borrowed a Greenspeed Glyde from a friend to promote this event rather than use his normal everyday bike. This is one cool little machine and stands out in a crowd. 

So last night Mr B and Little B sat inside it for some faux driving. We then watched Mr B do some riding on a small side street. Little B adored it and made me promise when he is big enough that he can graduate from his training wheel bike to one of these LOL. Mr B is a big fan too - he already has the chassis and has it down as a future project (aahh the joys of being married to an engineer and bike/scooter/engine enthusiast).

" So you know the benefits of riding to work (saving money and time, getting fit, staying healthy, green travel…the list goes on), but maybe you don’t know where to start. Ride to Work Day is the perfect opportunity to have a go" - Bicycle Victoria

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Keep Calm & Rock On :-)

I had the most gorgeous birthday weekend just gone. I woke up to my gorgeous little boy singing happy birthday to me in bed while having a snuggle. Family phoned, came and visited..much cake was eaten :-) It really was a lovely heartfelt day.

And then I got to spend all Sunday out in the gardening...digging and planting. Think tomatoes, beans, eggplants, pumpkins and zucchinis. I finished up the last of that planting this morning with more pumpkin and zucchini seedlings going in.

See great review on this book here

Looking at my presents was a bit of a giggle...I think I can definitely say people have me pegged as an eco living gardening chicky babe. I got some dramatic fashionable gumboots, some inspirational reading (see above) plus this and this, and a fridge reminder to keep me going amongst it all!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Toys du jour

Little B has two favourite toys at the moment, which he plays with daily: dominoes and marbles.

Our days are spent building domino tracks to knock over or blow over. Little B thinks of as many different variations as he can and it's not uncommon to find domino tracks anywhere in the house :-)

He loves marbles just as much. He spends just as much time making marble tracks with his blocks and long offcuts of wood and having "races". All his marbles have names and they compete against each other, often with Mr B or I designated as the commentator.

It's lovely to have these things to cheer him up as the poor little thing has been unfortunate enough to catch the slapped cheek virus. This has us in isolation at home for 4-5 days and has put paid to the rest of our school holiday plans. But with time in the sandpit and garden, and playing with his favourite toys, Little B doesnt seem to have noticed that we cant go to parks or pools as much as we normally do during school holidays.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Spring Garden

It has been cold and seriously rainy in Melbourne for the last 4 days. So I didnt quite know what I'd find when I finally ventured out into the garden. Autumn / winter was sort of slow because I didnt plant much other than snowpeas and garlic. So with the warmer weather I've been really gung ho about getting out and planting in the garden.

Our potatoes have had massive growth and are growing so much better for us in these potato bags. Also when the rain got too much we were able to move them under cover on the deck.

Our almond tree is growing it's first almonds this year!! :-)

Shame you cant eat nasturtiums as a meal as we could feast on them LOL

8 of our 10 asparagus plants have taken and grown amazingly well and quickly. This is my first time / year with asparagus and other than some day to day care until they filled up their trenches, I'm impressed daily with them. Not bad considering possums dug up a few in the first weeks and I had to replant and protect the bed with chicken wire.

With all this unseasonal warm weather this spring, I threw caution to the wind and planted out some early tomato plants. And they have been doing really well too. Normally I wouldnt plant much out until Cup Day due to our climate but thought the weather warranted some experimentation. I'm also trying more bush tomatoes this year as they take up less space and they are dotted around the yard in pots. Free's up the vegie beds for other food stuffs.

The thing that has lurved this cold wet weather has been the garlic. Whether its an optical illusion or not, it looks like it grows daily. Yum!! I cant wait to eat our own garlic.

And with lots of lemons on our lemon tree, we've been making bottle loads of lemon cordial.

I've started planting carrots out (rainbows for Little B), and have one more vegie bed that needs digging over which I have ear marked for pumpkins and zucchinis. I'm intent on getting a bigger harvest this year, so am trying to fill up every space available.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

RIP Sarah

Sara Douglass died last Tuesday 27 Sept from ovarian cancer. She was best known as an Australian fantasy writer. And as you can see from her Facebook page many people have been moved by her passing.

But I first knew Sara through forums for simple living. She was one of my first inspirations for immersing myself in vegie gardening, for taking up preserving, for being prepared and for making a move to a more simpler life. She was kind and knowledgeable and shared her information willingly and wisely with everyone. I followed her adventures at Nonsuch Gardens on her blog and the ultimately her brave fight against cancer through this blog as well.

I admired Sara immensely and even though I didnt know her personally, I am saddened by this loss for the wider community. Like she lived life, she fought her personal fight bravely, with fire and the world is emptier place without her. Farewell Sara xx