The weather has very quickly turned Autumnal, and after yesterday’s swimming in Eastrop Park in the near-rain, the girls needed an at home day cuddled under blankets. How many days till summer?
Day 255 – Stickygram
I’ve just discovered Stickygram. It’s awesome! Instagram images turned into magnets. They’re gorgeous!
Day 256 – Roald Dahl Day
It’s Roald Dahl Day on the 13th of September, so we made BFG ears, watched the movie and started reading the book. In fact we did loads of Roald Dahl Dayactivities.
Day 257 – Sisters
These are the moments that fill my heart with so much love and joy. For these moments, I could keep having children over and over and over again.
Day 258 – Blessingway
A beautiful friend had an early Blessingway since they are moving house when she’s 30-something weeks pregnant. Here we are with our red thread, getting her belly painted.
259 – Play Space
It’s crazy, we’ve lived where we do for over two years, and just recently I found this corner, hidden away. A perfect playspace for running around. Love it.
Day 260 – Blackberries
Picking blackberries is just such a lovely way to spend a day. I picked so many with the girls and our friends, I came home and made blackberry pies, raw blackberry crumble, and the best blackberry jam I’ve ever tasted, if I may say so myself. They were fabulous.
The theme for this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting was Sibling Revelry, as opposed to sibling rivalry. It’s a subject I’ve thought about since before deciding to add to our family after Ameli, and in the hope to avoid or lessen rivalry, I chose to continue nursing through pregnancy, and tandem breastfeed.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get my submission for the carnival in on time, but I wanted to share the beautiful sister moments between my daughters anyway. Kind of a celebration of the moments that make it all worth it.
I received this infographic in an email a couple of months ago and have been pondering it for ages. I remember reading an article in 2010 about how parents found playing with their children quite boring. I find that tough, really. I don’t find doing things with my girls boring – in fact, it can be really fun – but unstructured play or going to the park, or just ‘being’? Yes. I find that dreadfully dull, largely because I’m always thinking about what I could or should be doing!
I was reading through the information below and trying to see where my thoughts and I fit in compared to the rest of Jo Public, and well, it’s a little stark.
Not sure how to play? Just start! Included in the Mindful Nurturing Home Learning Bundle this month are two books with hundreds of play learning activities for children – all easy, simple, fun: (find out more about the bundle here)
Today I was blessed to be able to play host for The Big Latch On in Farnham, with the support of wonderful mamas who came together to beat the world record for mother’s breastfeeding at the same time.
On the 1 – 7th of August every year, to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and the need for global support, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action organises World Breastfeeding Week. World Breastfeeding Week celebrated in 120 countries and marks the signing of the WHO/UNICEF document Innocenti Declaration, which lists the benefits of breastfeeding, plus global and governmental goals.
Getting Balloons, Sign Up Sheets and Posters ready
To mark this occasion on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd August 2013 at 10:30am thousands of breastfeeding women and their babies or children across the world will gather in their own communities to take part in the Big Latch On, a synchronized breastfeeding event in multiple locations.
The first Big Latch On took place in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2005 and was introduced to Portland, Oregon in 2010 by Joanne Edwards. It has now taken off globally and in 2012 8862 children were counted breastfeeding as part of the Global Big Latch On.
Just this week I had someone on Twitter ask me why I felt the need to have a breastfeeding picture on my profile, and said that it offended them. I replied to her that that was exactly WHY I had a breastfeeding picture – so that it will become normal to see a woman breastfeeding, and will no longer be offensive. I simply can’t imagine any of the older siblings at the event today ever turning around and saying they find breastfeeding offensive: they’re growing up with it as normal. Mothers! We’re changing the world, we’re changing the future. We’re doing great!While I was running around trying to keep an eye on my toddler while at the same time making sure everyone knew what was going on and all the official bits of the Big Latch On were adhered to, I did stop at one point, and just watch. We were a community. A community of mothers and women. I didn’t know everyone who attended today, but it didn’t matter, because we were there for a common aim, and with a common goal.
I love breastfeeding events. They unite us at a base, fundamental, instinctive level. Breastfeeding events are a celebration, a peaceful demonstration, a communal drinking at the wellspring. Breastfeeding events buzz with excitement, with energy at the knowledge of making a difference, and with taking a stand, drawing our line in the sand, enjoying our right and our freedom, as women, and as mothers.
Community of women
Do we rally in anger? Do we shout and condemn, and criticise? Every mother in this group has walked a path. It hasn’t been natural and easy for everyone. It’s come at a cost to some. It’s come at tears for others, it’s come as the most natural thing in the world to others still. It’s been an active, conscious decision to others. Everyone has a story to tell about how and why they are here.
Today we feed our babies, we raise our hands, and we are counted.
I want to give a very special thank you to a group of businesses that never shy away from supporting the events and competitions I offer through this blog and today at the Big Latch On. Your prizes were loved today:
It’s been many years since I last picked up knitting needles, but after Aviya’s birth I used reusable pads for the first time ever, and I am sold on them. I’m in no hurry for that part of my life to return, but when the day does come, I will be a full on reusable pad girl. It’s so much nicer than disposables!
My fellow NPN volunteer Destany, who blogs at They Are All Of Me recently offered to share her instructions for DIY knitted pads, and I jumped at the opportunity. Maybe someone will enjoy making them so much, they’ll gift me a few. A girl can dream, right?
I once asked my mother growing up, “What did women use for their periods before we had disposable pads and tampons?” She said that they used old rags or anything they could find around the house that could be thrown away. I immediately looked at the dirty grey dust cloth I had just used and held it up to ask her if that’s what she meant.
She nodded. “Yup!”
Compared to the starkly white bleached cotton pads sitting upstairs behind the toilet, the idea of using old rags seemed a horror – poor Grandma!
Oh mother… If only we’d had internet! I always found her answer woefully inadequate. However, it wasn’t her fault. Women of the pre-Kotex era simply did not speak of menstruation or share their habits.
Fortunately these days we have the Museum of Menstruation to gain a little insight. Information is still sketchy, but it would appear that some women indeed used cloth “rags” and I can see that they may have used old fabric for this, but it wouldn’t have been a dirty dust rag. It would have been clean, you know. And there’s no telling what women of upper class may have used, but I can imagine it would have been better than what the lower class had to get by with.
The reason I asked my mother, apart from curiosity, is that there simply had to be a better way. Those disposable pads were (and still are) very uncomfortable to me. They give me rashes, dry me out, they bulk up in places, and when you have one flip over while pulling up your breeches and the sticky side gets stuck to you instead of your panties? Nightmare. Total nightmare!
And then there’s the disposal. Wadded up period packages filling up the wastebasket, the time spent on carefully unwrapping, changing, rolling up the old pad and winding the wax paper strip around the outside of it so that it could be put inside the plastic wrapper without sticking to the sides of it. It’s a huge hassle.
Fortunately, women these days have many options. I don’t have to choose between a wad of chemical laced paper or a dingy old rag!1 Many companies make reusable cloth pads and menstrual cups are becoming increasingly popular. As a seamstress, I have been making my own cloth pads. However, one day when I was knitting up a new kitchen towel that felt super soft and thick, I was struck with inspiration to knit some new cloth pads!
Before you get wigged out at how complicated or off putting it would be to reuse cloth sanitary napkins, let me break this down for you.
This is me on disposable pads:
Get my period. Look in the cupboard. Count how many pads I have before I need to hightail it to the store to buy more (or argue with the husband about going up and getting me some if I’m laid up with cramps). Spend the week changing out pad after pad, leaving the used ones in the can beside the toilet.2 Run out and buy more pads when I’m wearing my last one. At the end of the week, take out the bathroom trash. *When using disposable pads, my periods lasted anywhere from 4 to 6 days.
This is me on reusable pads and a menstrual cup:
Get my period. Insert my cup and grab a clean cloth pad from my dresser drawer. Count the pads. I have six, just like always. Twice a day I change the pad and put the old one in a ceramic lidded pot that I keep beneath the bathroom sink. At the end of my period, dump the ceramic pot into the washing machine with a load of towels. Launder. Place fresh clean pads back into my dresser drawer for next month and clean/sanitize the cup. *Using a menstrual cup and reusable pads, my period lasts 2 to 3 days.3
I find reusable products are much easier, more convenient, and frankly, a lot more sanitary not having a pile of gross pads filling up the trash. Mold on unused tampons is far more common than you’d guess. And you won’t know if the tampon you’re using has any mold on it because you’re not allowed to see it before inserting it.
Now onto the pattern!
This pattern is highly versatile. Use it to make plain panty liners for very light days or back up to a cup; use it to make slightly more absorbent pads with wings; add a sturdy backing to it to handle your heavy days.
If you have very heavy periods, you can even knit an extra top piece to place on top of your finished pad, for extra absorbency.
Knitted Basic Panty Liner:
Use WW cotton yarn, size 2 needles.
CO 8 stitches
k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p
p, m1, k, p, k, p, k, p, m1, k
k, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, p
p, m1, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, m1, k
k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p
p, m1, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, m1, k
k, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, p
p, m1, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, m1, k
*k, p, *all the way across
*p, k, *all the way across
Repeat the last two rows until you have the length of liner you wish. 60 rows or six inches for medium, 80 rows or eight inches for large.
**Your last row before beginning to decrease should end with a knit stitch.
K2tog, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p2tog
*p, k, *all the way across
p2tog, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k2tog
*k, p, *all the way across
k2tog, p, k, p, k, p, k, p, k, p2tog
*p, k, *all the way across
p2tog, k, p, k, p, k, p, k2tog
*k, p, *all the way across
Bind off and weave in ends.
You can use the basic liners for light spotting, or as a double up for heavy days.
I decided to give them wings and it was really easy.
Find the horizontal stitches on the very edge of the liner. These are the purls. Noting the center, slide your needle beneath ten of these stitches on either side of the center, so that you have 20 stitches on your needle. Beginning from the right side, knit across to form a base of your wing. Knit as follows:
*k, *all the way across
k, k, p16, k, k
k2tog, k16, k2tog
k, k, p14, k, k,
k2tog, k14, k2tog
k, k, p12, k, k
k2tog, k12, k2tog
k, k, p10, k, k
k2tog, k10, k2tog
k, k, p8, k, k
k2tog, k8, k2tog
k, k, p6, k, k
k2tog, k6, k2tog
k, k, p4, k, k
k2tog, k4, k2tog
k, k, p2, k, k
k2tog, k2, k2tog
k, k, k, k
Do this on the other side as well. Weave in all of your ends, and apply the snaps according to the package directions.
I know many women prefer a more protective backing on their liners, and that is easy enough to add to these. I chose denim, but other sturdy fabrics such as corduroy will also work. You may choose to use PUL, or polyurethane lined (waterproof) fabric.
Place your liner facing down onto a piece of paper and trace around it. Use this template as guide, and cut your backing fabric about a quarter of an inche larger all the way around. Snip the rounded edges of your backing fabric to minimize puckering or bunching.
Line up your backing and your top pieces, and place a strip of terrycloth between the two layers.
Pin it and stitch it down, an eighth of an inch from the edge.
Use a nice thickly woven terrycloth for your liners.
When pinning, try to eliminate any bulky areas.
I handstitched my backing on, if you machine stitch, you a long stitch setting.
That is it, your liners are complete! Here are some links that explain proper care of cloth menstrual products:
1. Despite the fact that women are known to absorb chemicals into their bodies by means of vaginal exposure (through tampons and even sanitary napkins), menstrual product companies are not expected to disclose the ingredients they use on their packaging. Tampons and napkins are known to contain many harmful substances including dioxins (according to the FDA).
2. Personally, I find the use of over the counter sanitary pads incredibly messy I require a bit of extra upkeep throughout my menstrual week, including diligent cleaning. This is not true with a menstrual cup. The menses is contained within the vagina until I choose to conveniently dispose of it and normal bathing is more than sufficient. I get to feel clean and fresh as always, and have numerous times even forgotten that I’m having a period. Becoming Cruncy
3. No one knows for certain why foregoing disposable mass produced period protection leads to shorter, lighter periods but the stories are far too common to dismiss. Personally, I didn’t believe it and was completely shocked when my periods began lasting only half as long as they did before within only 3 months. This phenomenon has led some to conclude that the chemicals in these products are causing the prolonged/heavier bleeding and some have even accused the companies of adding asbestos to them in order to prompt the excess bleeding. Whatever the reason, I’m pretty amazed and grateful! Natural Parents Network – Reusasable Menstural Products
We’re making the most of summer, as far as we can. We know it won’t be around for too long, so now’s the time, really! Also, this is my 1000’s post on Diary of a First Child. Somehow, that feels like a milestone! Yay me 🙂
We don’t have a water tap in our back yard, so I put the hose through the kitchen window into the communal garden. The older folks around our square all came out to say how much fun it looked. They were all very sweet.
200 –An I Need A Drink Day
I don’t drink much at all these days. Maybe once a month, usually at events, but at the end of this particular day, I needed to add a shot of chocolate liqueur into my iced coffee. Everyone has days like that, right?
201 – Polka Dot Party
Another birthday party for us, and the theme was ‘polka dots’. The girls met the theme, all right!
202 – Fresh
We were busy making dinner when I decided to add some fresh herbs. We went to the garden to pick some. I love that Ameli knows and loves herbs. Not bad for a 3 year old.
203 – Make Up
Oh dear. Someone found my make up bag and got into it. When I asked if I could clean her up she said, “but I like my face just the way it is!”
It’s been a few weeks now, since the Britmums conference, which Hillary’s Blinds kindly sponsored me to attend.
I arrived in London on Friday, brewing a major headache and feeling positively hung over for reasons totally beyond my understanding, so I checked in to my hotel, the gorgeous Montecalm, right on the steps of the conference. I had a shower and lay on the bed for a while, before heading into the conference.
Worth it, just for the night at the Montcalm
Still feeling a little fragile – I didn’t have anything to drink the night before, just felt like it! – I had a wander around the sponsors lounge, to see if there was anything I was particularly interested in, or any brands I was specifically interested in working with. One that immediately caught my eye was Parragon Books, who were starting up a ‘book club’, so you’ll be seeing more on that soon, and Butlins, but every time I went over to them to sign up for their Ambassador program, they’d run out of application forms, so I guess that wasn’t meant to be, this year.
Excited to be part of the Parragon Book Buddies
While I really enjoy the Britmums conferences, and have made an effort to go every year, I rarely walk away from the sessions feeling like I’ve learned much – I’ve been blogging for more than 6 years, and journalling online for about 4 more, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing, most of the time, but every now and then you pick up a tip, or a speaker says something that helps you refocus where you’re going or what you want from your blog, and for that it’s well worth attending.
Travel Blogging with Jaume Marin
Another thing I enjoy about Britmums is seeing some of the same faces year in and year out. I think the first conference I went to with 8 month old, just walking Ameli, had about 80 or so attendees? This year there were many, many more and each year it grows and grows. It’s pretty amazing, actually. Seeing people I’ve met on this journey is always nice and seeing others go from strength to strength is great too. It was, as always, lovely to see Uju from Babes About Town (best blog to read if you’re a mum in London), Amanda from The Family Patch (Amanda’s writing a book on Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Hats off to her!) and Chelle from Social Sparkle (who you definitely want to look up if you’re a small business owner!). I saw loads of people but spent most of my time with these three.
Uju from Babes About Town
On Friday evening I was still struggling with feeling unwell, so I went to a local restaurant and had a lovely plate of food, on my own, without sharing food off my plate, or helping anyone else eat, or cutting anyone’s food for them or any of the other things that normally summarise dinner time. It was just me, peacefully eating, before returning to the hotel and lying in bed on my own, undisturbed. It was pretty heavenly.
Dinner alone, and a browse through the Parragon books
The following morning I was up bright and early, and after a leisurely phone call to my babies, I returned to Britmums Live, feeling much better and more than ready for a day of engaging, networking, and being part of the UK blogging community.
My favourite session for the day was the Food Blogging session, partly because as a new food blogger – check out Keeper of the Kitchen, if you’re interested in healthier foods! – I think I have a lot to learn still and was hoping to come away with inspiration and motivation. I can say I did, and have started implementing a lot of it in the way I post there.
As always, Britmums 2013 was moving, inspirational, exciting, and fun. I go in with the expectation of those things, and have never come away disappointed. I do realise that while I’m in the UK and on the UK parent blogger charts, I don’t really socialise with UK parent bloggers much beyond events, and I’m really not sure where I should try to fit the network into my days, but one thing I know for sure is that I need to spend a bit more time with the Britmums network, because there are amazing mothers, women and bloggers in it, and our yearly get together is a great way to spend a weekend.
*Now I just need to find a sponsor for the Food conference in November. Let me know if you know anyone who’d like to sponsor me!
I feel like a broken record. Seriously. I seem to spend my life decluttering, but somehow never get to the point of no longer having clutter around me! I sometimes look around our house and just feel like giving up.
It’s only when I open the cupboards – the few that we have – and when things aren’t falling down on me anymore, is when I realise that we have already gone a long way to simplifying our lives. I’d probably say we’re about half way. But it’s here where momentum is lost or gained. So to refocus my mind, I’m sharing my five step plan with you:
books and clothes waiting to be re-homed
I uhmed and ahed a bit as to whether Recycle or Bin should be first on my list, but in the end I decided recycle first. This is pretty simple. Take the purple recycling bag the council gives us – or however you recycle – and fill it with everything recyclable. For me this is normally piles of junk mail and supermarket magazines I always pick up thinking this time I’ll have a chance to read it. I never do.
I have vivid memories of my mother walking through the house just binning stuff. It used to drive me crazy, but now I totally understand.
If it can’t be recycled, and it can’t be reused, bin it and move on with your life. This includes stuff like dead leaves on plants – they really bring a room down. After a decent recycling bag session, I normally don’t find my bin bag very full.
An old extendible shower rail is now a hanging rail for Ameli’s fancy dresses. An old telephone cupboard is now a contained bookshelf for my home education books. If it can’t be reused, recycle it, or get rid of it.
We had a car boot sale recently for all the things we didn’t really know what to do with. Oddly, toiletries sold better than anything else.
You can use eBay or local Facebook selling groups, but it all takes time. Alternatively you can use one of the all purpose sites to sell your stuff for cash. It’s not much, but it’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s done without the hassle and most of them you can now sell clothes, music, movies and anything else that’s time consuming on other places. There’s also no cash outlay, like at a carboot sale, and you’ll probably fetch similar prices.
When all else fails and no one wants to buy your goods, give it away. Charities can always use it, and may have more of a market for it. I struggle to give stuff away, because I know what it cost me, but the clarity and release that comes from the breathing room is worth more than the pennies you were going to get for it anyway.
What other advice can you give me to help me declutter my home?
The sudden and long awaited turn in the weather this last week has finally meant I’ve been able to move all the large vegetable pots off the table in the conservatory and out into the garden.
This has had a down side as now we’re back to fighting snails again, as well as the ever hungry slugs and aphids we were already dealing with. Turns out an adult snail can demolish two courgette plants in one night. Oh joy.
On the up side, the last remaining courgette, the one I bought ready to be repotted, is growing at a beautiful rate and I can see some flowers headed this way. It’s first flower was beautiful but the courgette itself was tiny, no bigger than my baby finger. It pretty much rotted while I was waiting for it to grow.
The fated aubergine, or egg plant, has also been victim of the snails, and its leaves are looking paltry – but there are some buds showing too, so hopefully, hopefully.
The tomatoes we got from Heinz are finally doing really well. They seem to have grown every time I look. No flowers yet, and no tomatoes but again, I’m hopeful!
I harvested all the Kale this week, and made an incredible salad that I really loved. I’ll post the recipe on Keeper of the Kitchen this week.
It seemed to like being harvested though because new leaves are popping up all over the place, which is great.
I also had the first potato harvest this week. By the time I got to planting the potatoes, they had long roots already and I didn’t have much hope for them, or much soil, so I dumped them all on one bag and let them get on with it.
I thought I’d have a rummage for some new potatoes a few days ago and proceeded to break most of the foliage. Who knew potatoes were so fragile?
I did manage to find some new potatoes though – my first ever potato harvest, so they accompanied dinner tonight. Yum.
We’ll see what happens to the potatoes from here on out though. I did find as many exploding rotten ones as ready to eat ones though, and I’m curious about that. Why has that happened? Is that to do with the slugs? Have I left them too log? I do wish I was doing this with someone who knew what they were doing.
The apps on my phone are pretty useless. They’re telling me I should be reaping like mad right now! Which, clearly, I’m not.
I’m glad we’re doing this in the pots though, rather than straight in the ground. It’s made meeting the needs of my seedlings so much easier. It’s like attachment gardening.