In Which Blogs And Babies Are My Church

You can tell I’ve been reading Sarah Bessey when I want to start all the post titles with ‘In which’… 😉

So, did not end up travelling out to camp after all. In the middle of the night I woke feeling like it probably wasn’t a good idea, and then in the morning I got a message from dad, who had been going to drive me out there (me being carless and all), and when I rang and spoke to him we decided that yes, it would probably be more sensible if I stayed at home.

When I stay home all day, it’s very, very, oh-far-too-easy for one day to become exactly like the others. It’s hard to maintain a sense of separation, and it’s especially hard when I’m home alone, or alone with the small boy, to make my Saturday a Sabbath. Much as I love listening to music, our collection is a mess (has been for years, that’s why I stopped listening to music all the way back at the end of highschool), we have no particularly convenient way to listen to it, and I usually have the TV off when I’m home by myself anyway. So how is the day any different?

Today, two things. Rather than going indiscriminately through my feed reader and reading All Teh Blogz, I decided I would concentrate on the blogs that to me, are church: Sarah Bessey and Elizabeth Esther in particular today. The main posts I read and loved today are listed below.

The other thing – the verse I read last night before bed – I’m reading the Bible again, on my phone, a short devotion with a verse or two, I’ve read the whole thing cover to cover and I don’t know how to read it any more, I’m relying on my phone devotionals, but the last set I chose fizzled, it’s been a while since I’ve been reading regularly – was about love and self sacrifice, the verse about no man having any greater love than to lay down his life for a friend, and every time I beg God for direction of late, crying out for something to do, a difference to make, the answer is always, every time: Small Person.

And so I thought that maybe today would be about laying aside myself for the Small Boy, and so I tried, and we looked at the dogs until he’d had enough for once (which took over half an hour), and I sat him in the big kitchen sink with a towel and filled up the small sink with warm water and cups and spoons and drink bottles, and we played and poured and splashed, and we read stories and watched the dogs some more, and played a little on the ipad, and ate oranges and watermelon and grapes and pretended it was summer. For one day, I put aside the computer except when he was sleeping, I didn’t try to do anything but Be, and I Was, and it was hard, and required so much less multi-tasking than I am used to, and so much more patience – but you know what?

It was church.

 

7 Worst International Aid Ideas

Why Disappearing Into Motherhood Is Not A Betrayal of Feminism

In Which I Admit To Being Afraid Of Poverty

Can You Be Christian And Drive A BMW?

I Asked God To Break My Heart

Running is My Religion

True Tolerance

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!

The Pornification of Marriage

Advertisements

Sidetrack: Do We Really NEED To Eat Faster??

**Random sidetrack while I am writing today’s real post** (for which I am WELL KNOWN in the classroom, especially ask my year 8 extension class this year :D)

Harry Potter 4 is on in the background and the ads just came on. KFC have a new product out, I can’t find the name of it, the internet does not seem to know, but it’s something on a stick, and the tagline is “Live Life on the Run” (oh look, Snax, here’s the ad). Is it just me, or does this strike you as a Really Bad Idea? I mean, superficially, sure – look! food is quicker and more portable! #FTW!

But REALLY? SERIOUSLY? Because, you know, we really NEED to rush through our meals even more than we already do, we NEED yet another excuse to be busy-busy-busy, we NEED another enabler in the clutter-making of our lives. Urgh. Just, urgh.

In Which I Am Seven Months Old Again

I’m being irresponsible tomorrow. I’m ditching the baby and I’m driving (being driven) out to the camp where currently resides my husband, and I’m going because I feel like there is a husband-shaped hole in my chest, even though he’s only been gone a night and a half so far, but I can’t breathe without him around, and he keeps me sane.

I’m going, because I miss him already, even though he would only have gotten home two hours ago if this had been a regular work day, and I remember all the reasons why I’m not an army wife, like so many of my dearest, most-adored friends, and I am grateful, and I am ashamed, because I am not as strong as they are.

But also, it occurs to me that I am going tomorrow because it is camp, not just because it is where my husband is. Packing him off, sending him to camp with one of my scripts and no way to ever see it performed, to know if the message was Right, and clear, and true – it is wrong. It is not, really, because I have a small person, and he is my world at the moment, because I am his. But it felt wrong. I need camp.

Church has been hit and miss over the last term – hard with a small child, especially a baby far too young to sit quietly and play, but also too old to sleep through the service – just exactly the right age to know that people mean fun, and attention, and to crave it. And it occurs to me that the husband-shaped hole is not as big as the God-shaped hole.

And that is why I am like a seven-month old: I know who God is, and I know that I want him around, but I’m the child who’s crawled out into the middle of the floor and forgotten her way back. I can’t remember which way I came from, where I left Him, which room He was in… and I’m out of strength to crawl, and I can’t walk, and all I can do is sit in the middle of the floor sobbing – Mummy, I need you, come find me – God, where are you, please pick me up. I need a hug.

I’m seven months old, and I can’t walk to God, and I’ve forgotten which way to crawl – so tomorrow, I am going to be irresponsible, and go to the camp I’m not supposed to be at, and leave the small person behind – but maybe, just maybe, I will find Him there.

Oils, Oils, Magical Oils

The last couple of weeks have been a haze and a blur of pain, aches, and snuffed-up noses. I mananged to contract a pretty decent cold on top of recovering from surgery, WELL DONE ME. To make things even more fun, the Boyo had it last week when he was home baby-wrangling while I was still only semi-conscious, and then Small Person got it on the weekend, and now I have it too, and SP still has it and Boyo has just departed for the long weekend >.<

Suffice to say, I love all the parentals, who have been/are dropping in and out to keep me sane and help with the dinner/bath/bed routine.

ANYWAY, despite all this I’ve been feeling like I’m neglecting the blog, and I figured that I could at least manage a simple copy and paste tonight (though apparently I have also managed a Whinge, Class 1): the research I’ve done into the various usefulnesses of various oils. Variously. And yes, that first one is true – some vegetable/fruit oils actually have an SPF value, though it’s not allowed to be avertised as such without lab testing blah blah blah – but raspberry seed oil, well, estimates have it at at least 30+. Woot. I gots to get me some of that.

Raspberry Seed for sunscreen
Rosehip Seed Oil for face
Grape Seed for body generally (this is what we are bathing the SP in – even better because I don’t have to worry when he drinks half the bath liquid)
Tamanu for eyes, dry/damaged skin, hair shiner
Coconut RDB for (liquid) soap
Sweet Almond for massage base
Blueberry Seed for face serums + everything; berry seed oils are pretty much just magical
Coconut oil for moisture by itself or in stuff (fractionate version as an essential oil carrier for massage etc)
Cranberry Seed as an emollient, for skin, hair, lip, baby – often used for itchy/scaly/irritated skin conditions (again with the magical berries)
Cucumber oil for skin-tightening
Coffee for anything damaged (coffee OIL, people; just to clarify)
Camellia for dry/sundamaged skin/hair (also hand, nail, face)
Borage is anti-aging
Pomegranate for menopause & post-menopause everything
Pine nuts are an appetite suppressant, both the oil and the nuts themselves
Peach/apricot kernel penetrates quickly, so is good to combine with other oils
Macadamia nut oil absorbed very easily also
Castor oil for soaps and cleansing – mix it with another oil for face cleanser (more castor for oily skin, less castor for dry)
Meadowfoam Seed oil for shampoo (especially for dry scalp), soaps and lip balm

So there you have it: the wondrous properties of a bunch of vegetable, fruit and seed oils. For an AWESOME and DEAD EASY example of something you can make with oils (other than my body scrub), Steph over at My Kitchen Crowd just posted a recipe for the most amazing body butter in the world. (Bonus: it smells like chocolate, AND it’s edible. Body butter you can also use to butter your toast, that tastes and smells like chocolate. I told you: MOST. AMAZING. BODY BUTTER. EVER.)

It’s ALIIIIIIIVE!

And by ‘it’, I obviously mean ‘me’. Just checking in to say that despite the fact I’ve thought of a couple of posts over the last nearly-three weeks, I haven’t been able to connect them with a computer to get them posted. Don’t even remember what they were, now. Eh. But the last three weeks have been an epic flurry of getting two weeks’ worth of lessons prepared, written out, and resourced (for the duration of my sick leave), doing all the things I needed done before the end of term which was two weeks earlier than it should have been, cooking for an impending wedding, and then, of course, the surgery itself.

Let me tell you, tonsillectomies? VERY. NOT. FUN. Though tbh I don’t have a horror story (YET) like some peoples on the netz do. Ohmigosh, the terror. No, mostly I have just been literally zonked for the last five days, sleeping about 20 hours out of every 24 – which, I confess, has actually been awesome O:) I do love my sleep. Of course, this has only been possible because I have THE BEST HUSBAND EVER, who has taken (unpaid) time off work to be mum, dad, housecleaner, cook, nurse, etc etc etc – beacuse the 7-mth old still wants attention, and food, and nappy changes. Bizarre child.

I am rambling. What was I saying? Did I even actually have a point here? …

>.>

<.<

>.>

I think someone stole it. (Also, when you read that sentence and start having visions of someone trying to wear a point as a stole – is it even spelled like that? – you know the meds are kicking in and it’s time for a nap. Again.)

ANYWAY. Despite appearances, I think that I am a little better today than I was yesterday, although I still had to resort to the Painkillers Of Doom (which I didn’t on day 3, oddly enough), so hopefully the worst is over. That would be nice.

I was going to tell you about the awesome cooking I did for the wedding, but I think I’ll save that until after the actual wedding, which is this coming Sunday, and then there will be pretty pictures and everything, and maybe, y’know, actual coherency. I hear it’s recommended.

…And now, I’d conclude the post properly, but let’s face it: I don’t think there’s anything I can say here that will make this post magically cogent. And if segues are for the weak, then conclusions are for the lost. ❤

And We Shall Change The World (If But Slowly)

Sort of as a follow-up to the last post, and because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about the last few days, I wanted to make a list of all the things I’ve done/am doing to work towards my manifesto. It’s nice, when things get overwhelmingly BIG, to focus on the small picture sometimes. In fact, I’ve found that works in all aspects of life; invariably, when I’m getting overwhelmed it’s because I’m tired (though that too) focusing on either the big picture of the little details too much. Rebalancing is often as simple as remembering to look in the opposite direction for a bit.

But anyway, list.

1) Get rid of excess stuff.

The facebook declutter. Basically, I rounded up a whole bunch of things I no longer wanted (a lot of clothes and books), took photos, posted the pics in an album on my FB, and people could comment to claim things they wanted. Not everything was claimed, but at least 2/3 of it was, probably more like 3/4, and it was FUN! I knew my stuff was going to ppl who actually wanted it, and I got rid of stuff. This was so much fun I definitely plan on doing it again at some point.
2) Find homes for rest of stuff.

Yeah, nothing much acheived here. Really need to do something with my floordrobe, and the front room.
3) Eat more sustainably.

I convinced the Boyo to join me at the local farmers’ markets, which I had just discovered, a few weekends ago. With much protestation, he came – only to discover that lo, the food was better quality, fresh, tasty, and pretty much an equivalent price to supermarket goodies. #WIN. Though we have discovered also that it IS important to be careful which stalls you buy from, because some of them are not farmers, but agents, and their food might as well be supermarket food. But the potatoes and honey in particular are worth the trip.
4) Eat real food.

Ever since the Boyo discovered how easy it was to make your own butter (i.e. I casually mentioned it one day, and he latched onto it with verve and enthusiasm), he has been making it for us – which has two benefits. 1), no artificial crap (though to be fair, we’d been buying mainland spreadable for a while, which has only cream, water and salt) and 2) we’re actually eating a lot less butter, because it’s been hard to get the ‘spreadable’ bit right (we still haven’t), so while it’s more spreadable than pure butter when we add a bit of water, it’s still not great for nonsense bread*.

Making our own bread. This is a bit of a long story, revolving around the fact that I’ve developed a yeast intolerance in recent years. I can eat small amounts of it, but if I eat too much, especially paired with sugar to feed it (and by ‘too much’ I mean maybe two or three times in a week, depending on how much sugar I’m having – a ‘time’ being pizza for dinner, or a sandwich for lunch, or a croissant, or something – or once a week consistently for an extended period of time), I end up with debilitating exhaustion (which is JUST what I need with a 7 month old), blood sugar crashes (so I have to eat every couple of hours or CRASH), and if I let it go on long enough, depression. Yay! Sigh. ANYWAY, this paired with the fact that Boyo has apparently long been entranced by the art of breadmaking means we’ve successfully grown a shoggoth and today made our first successful loaf of fully-sourdough bread. YUM!!

Also, because I got really quite sick with the yeast-thing in 2010, I became a compulsive label-reader (sugar hides in everything), so we tend to avoid anything that isn’t ‘real’ food now too (which is to say, food made exclusively from ingredients your grandmother would recognise, or that are pronounceable for the average six year old, or that are not highly processed, etc etc, pick your definition). This has also extended to making our own baby food, which is so ridiculously easy it’s hard to see why you’d bother buying a packet of the stuff, especially when, for example, we have soup for dinner and ‘baby food’ just means taking some soup out before I add the salt at the end.

*Nonsense bread: any overly-fluffy bread that tears if you even hover a knife near it, made so overtly soft by the inclusion of such wonders as plaster of paris (I kid you not). Especially refers to white bread, which has so little substance so as to render it nonsense, but also any over-processed, additive-packed, easily-torn bread-like-thing.
5) Consume less/waste less.

Boyo has developed a rather passionate loathing for my Tupperware lunch containers, mostly from having to deal with one too many left on the bench too long mould episodes, and the fact that the container never seems to come 100% clean. He’s been on at me for a while to replace with glass/pyrex, and a few months ago I gave in and bought some glassware, and it’s so easy to clean and sterilise, and is environmentally friendly, and isn’t going to leech anything nasty into my food when I heat it (plastic is okay at cold temps, but when you heat it it leaks into your food). So, it seems we are now on a mision to progressively replace plastic with glass, at least for anything likely to be reheated (pantry will stay Tupperware, though I insist on the actual expensive Tupperware, because the cheap stuff I have noted makes the food smell like plastic, which quite besides all the stuff that means it’s leeching, tastes gross).

We’re also slowly making the switch to cloth nappies. A friend recommended the Bambooty brand, and we ordered a day’s worth to test, and we LOVE THEM. Well, I love them; Boyo is probably merely satisfied with them, as I don’t think it would ever cross his mind to love nappies O:) 😀 hehe. So, we have ordered more, and will progressively add to our collection.

I’m also in the process of trying to work out a better system for replacing disposables like paper towels and wet wipes, at least on a partial basis. Nearly there.
6) Consume responsibly (sustainably).

I take this to mean ‘use things that will not irrepairably damage the environment’, among other things. I’ve tried using eco-friendly laundry detergent and dish washing detergent at various points; but despite my protestations to the contrary, Boyo couldn’t deal with the fact that the dish liquid didn’t foam enough, and who can compete with super cheap bulk laundry powder at Costco? HA! One of my most recent discoveries can: soap nuts. After ordering a sample pack for a mere $7.50 the other day, I completely forgot about them, and was puzzled by the parcel on my doorstep on Friday. But I opened, remembered, and trialled – and promptly fell in love. All-natural detergent that literally grows on trees, is eco-friendly, reusable, cheap, low-allergenic, and leaves my clothes at least as soft as if I’d used fabric softener (which I basically never do because of the effort :P)? #WIN.

Also, there was the freak-out over small person’s bubble bath wash stuff thingo, which has led to me slowly going through my stash of bath and beauty products with www.ewg.org/skindeep and putting up for regifting products that I’m not happy to keep using. I’ll use up the stuff I have left, but then I’m planning to investigate natural alternatives, especially for shampoo and hand soaps, since detergents (basically, think anything that foams) are the worst culprits both environmentally and human-healthily. Apparently bubbles = bad!!

(Also, it’s ridiculously, laughably easy to make your own body butter – one recipe I found is just 50/50 cocoa butter and choose-a-vegetable-oil, like coconut or grape seed.)
7) Spend time intentionally.

I’m trying to put the computer away earlier at night, make sure I enforce my ‘no coulds or shoulds’ attitude, and prioritise my time better. No specific strategies here, though.

Wow. This was a long post, but I guess it just goes to show that little steps really do add up. I feel like I’m still doing so much that I want to try to avoid – but looking at this list, I guess I’m doing pretty darn well compared to where I was a few months ago. Hurray! 😀

(Also, when the Boyo is next to me and comments on an ad for microwave meals by wondering how many preservatives and other rubbish must be in them, I am MADE HAPPY 😀 #PROGRESSWIN.)

Flame Retardants (But Don’t Freak Out)

Look, in the interest of a) actually getting this post, which has been sitting in drafts for a week, posted and b) preserving the spirit of this blog, which is very much a place for me to just hang out, and not feel pressure to be official and all, I’m just going to fudge this a bit. If you’re interested, a quick google will bring heaps of hits, and read the links at the end of the post.
Basically, because of a whole bunch of legislation, a LOT of stuff in AU/US is required by law to have flame retardants in it. Now, I’m not against this idea, because I appreciate my laptop not blowing up on my lap or a plane exploding in midair as much as the next person – but things can go too far, which I think is where babies’/children’s clothing fits in. If you look at the stats, only a very small number of children die from burns each year (and each death is tragic, I fully acknowledge that). Also, the majority of ‘injuries’ from fire, esp house fires, are smoke-related, not flame-related.

Despite this, governments like ot be seen to be doing things, and it’s now a legal requirement that children’s and babies’ sleepwear be doused in flame retardant chemicals – which is all well and good until you do the research and see that these chemicals are increasingly being found to be detrimental to human health generally, implicated in delayed development and developmental disorders, and potentially carcinogenic – especially brominated FRs. Wanna know why we’re seeing so many more cancers in our modern age? I’m betting our longer life spans are not actually the only reason, and that the increasing useage of chemicals and plastics in our everyday lives are related. Do the research (hi, google scholar) – I’m not the only one who thinks so. Obvs, because I had to read about all this SOMEWHERE 😛

Flame retardants aren’t just in kids’ clothing – they’re in aeroplanes, electronics, drapery, carpets, and upholstered furniture. So, growing people, who have a higher surface to mass ratio and a higher food-ingested to mass ratio than adults, and are comparative fragile and susceptible, spend the majority of their lives surrounded by these lovely flame retardants (FRs). Mm, sounds like a sensible plan to me.

So, I was kind of freaking out about this, after having spent about a month ignoring it since I first stumbled acorss it, because really, what can I do? Stop buying upholstered furniture, toss our new lounge (oh yeah, THAT would go down well), buy only organic clothing, rip up all the carpet… Shelve that in the ‘too hard’ basket!!!

But, instead of freaking out I told myself to put on my mature, responsible adult hat and FIGURE OUT WHAT I ACTUALLY COULD DO. So, here’s what you can do if you’re interested in minimising exposure to all sorts of fun-time chemicals.

  • In the US, items manufactured post-2005 are not as likely to have the FRs in them, so if you’re up for new furniture, #win.
  • Wash clothes with soap rather than detergent and soak overnight in either 50/50 vinegar/water or 4 litres (1 gallon) water with 1 cup lemon juice.
  • For clothing, buy secondhand (FR lose their effectiveness after a year or so) or buy organic.
  • Wash hands regularly to prevent ingestion of chemicals picked up in handling everyday items.
  • Vacuum regularly, esp with a HEPA filter. (Yeah, need to work on that one. Vacuuming is the household chore most likely to induce perfectionism-paralysis in me, so I tend to avoid it until absolutely necessary :S)
  • Try to avoid buying furniture with foam – opt for wood, or furniture stuffed with polyester, down, wool or cotton.
  • For upholstered furniture, try to buy furniture that is tightly upholstered and where the foam is wrapped inside the seat cushions – extra layers mean extra barriers to FR seepage/gassing off. For other foam products (car seats etc), try to ensure the foam is completely wrapped, and for all foam products, replace as soon as the foam starts wearing out/breaking down. Don’t reupholster foam furniture. (Urgh, the feeding chair in small person’s room – totes need to make an internal cover for the seat cushion.)
  • Avoid letting children/babies mouth electronics. (Presumably avoid letting anyone mouth electronics :P) (Also urgh, because he was totes doing this at the parental’s house today)
  • Minimise use of carpetting and drapery (not always practical, but I guess at least try to avoid letting the kids eating these? Soak drapes in 50/50 vinegar/water where possible? And vacuum regularly…)
  • Be careful when removing old carpet underlay – try to contain the area and vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly to prevent particles spreading.
  • When purchasing new, opt for naturally fire-retardant fibres (eg leather – #win; the lounge we bought last December is leather), or, if you can’t avoid FRs altogether, try to at least opt for fabrics that are ‘inherently’ FR, which means the FR has been bonded to the fabric fibers and is less likely to transfer.
  • When buying electronics, try to buy from brands that are aware of the issue and are taking steps to address it. Acer, Apple, Eizo Nanao, LG Electronics, Lenovo, Matsushita, Microsoft, Nokia, Phillips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony-Ericsson, and Toshiba Panasonic have all agreed to completely phase out brominated FRs from their phones and computers by 2011, so any new devices by these companies should be at least comparatively safe.
  • The following companies are phasing out Deca, the most common brominated culprit, but may or may not be using other brominated FRs as replacements: Canon, Daikin, Intel, IBM, HP (Hewlett Packard), Minolta, Mitsubishi, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Xerox.

So. There are some things to do that are practical and not at all freak-out ish. See me be adult. #win. Linkies below to get you started if you’re interested in the issue.

http://www.ewg.org/pbdefree

http://www.ucsfchildcarehealth.org/pdfs/factsheets/ToxicFlameRetardants_en0710.pdf (this is a PDF! download warning!)

http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/index.asp?fetch=babycare#cloth

http://www.couriermail.com.au/spike/columnists/our-kids-silent-threat/story-e6frerex-1225859036341

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/pbdes_are_flame_retardants_safe_growing_evidence_says_no/2446/