Saturday, July 30, 2011

Green Frog

This is the story of Green Frog...

Butterfly and I often look around the yard for frogs, its our favourite thing to do! Unfortunately there are SO many dead ones around, all black and dried, its frog jerky city! Its the first Butterfly has seen of death... "oh, dead frog. So sad" she tells me. Occasionally we find a live green one! Thats so much fun, we usually pick him up and pat him (gently) and put him back. More often than not, we go back the next day and that frog has also succumbed, and is all black.

That is really hard for me, having ONE frog in your yard in Brisbane is like winning the lottery! So seeing a dead one makes me so so sad. Out here, though, they are everywhere! Around the time of the floods we also had a cricket plague, so I guess frog numbers exploded and now there isn't enough to eat (NOT helped by our landlords getting the house sprayed for pests). Thats my theory, as they all look so frightfully skinny!


The other day we found a green one in the shed. We gently lifted him out from his hidey-hole but he was not very well. He could crawl but not jump. I didn't say anything to Butterfly as she was so happy to see a live one! We said hello then put him back (home to his Mummy, as Butterfly says), and I was very sad for him.

The next day we went back into the shed and he was still alive! Strong little bugger! BUT he was even weaker, hubby turned him over in his hand and he just lay there. I couldn't stand to see another frog die! SO we got Butterfly's bug catcher, a small bowl of water and set him up a new home. Butterfly and I went and fished a bunch of live bugs from the swimming pool while hubby dug up some worms (I love him for indulging me, he knew the frog was a goner!). Then we put him in an empty snake cage with the light on for the night. Not very hopeful he'd be alive in the morning.

The next day hubby went to check. He found him flat on his back, dead. He came back in the house "the "you know what" is "you know what" I was devastated! Poor froggie!

BUT that afternoon he says to me, "did you replace the frog in the snake cage with a live one?" Because our little froggie miraculously JUMPED back into life! He was alert and active and ALIVE! YAY! Butterfly and I immediately caught him some more to eat and took him inside into the warmth. I made hubby buy insects from the pet shop to feed him too! He is going great guns now, he is getting more colour in him and is gaining strength!

I asked Butterfly what she wants to name him and she said his name is "Green Frog". So Green Frog it is! She's a very literal namer, she has horses named Friday, Phillip, Mummy horse and Boy horse. At any rate, Green Frog sums him up perfectly, because GREEN means ALIVE!

Its illegal for us to keep him forever, but we will until he is fit and able to look after his royal frogginess by himself :)

That concludes our feelgood story of this eve!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I don't need you to be WRONG...

I am an attached parent. I don't go onto facebook sites for sleep trainers and try to change their minds. I really couldn't be bothered, and I don't think I would change many minds. I also don't fancy opening myself up for the ensuing drama.

Others do. They feel so passionate about the correct treatment of babies and children that they can't let harmful advice go unchallenged.

Who is right? I honestly don't know. I hate it when people "troll" our AP pages... but is my decision to keep out of it more a selfish one?

When we debate with the "mainstreamers", as happens from time to time, sometimes its very satisfying to throw links and research at them, telling them how harmful their methods are, and the potential damage they are doing to their children. I'm starting to think that all this achieves is to embarrass and anger a parent, who DOES love their child, and make them dig their heels in deeper. Nobody wants to be wrong when your child's health and mental state are on the line!

Thing is, though, I am not AP because of what would happen if I wasn't...

I breastfeed... because its so easy and awesome! A good friend of mine lovingly referred to it as the "parenting toolbox": always there ready to soothe a hurt/upset/hungry child! Breastfeeding is so bonding, such an easy way to nourish and love your child. I believe I will mourn it when our journey is finally at an end. I love that its the most nutritious thing in the world, immune building, and the perfect thing for cuts and bruises ("milk it, Mumma!")

I cosleep... because when Butterfly wakes during the night I don't have to get up! I love sleeping next to my beautiful daughter, to be able to hear her breaths and know she is safe all night long. Its so AWESOME that when I am really tired in the mornings, we can talk and sing and read books for as long as an hour until I'm functioning well enough to get up!

I babywear... because I love interacting with my child at eye level when we are out and about. I love the cuddles! Also because its so easy to feed her when we are on the go.

I parent peacefully... because it creates a loving and trusting relationship between Butterfly and I! I love that she feels so safe and valued that she can remind me to "ask nicely Mummy" if I am in a bit of a mood. When she says "thankyou Mumma" "your welcome" or "sorry Mummy" (complete with sign language) it melts my heart! *I've never pushed manners or apologies on her

I live chemical free/eat mostly organic/additive free... because I can! And my family are healthier for it.

I will be homebirthing... because I want to welcome my next baby directly into our loving home! I want to experience labour and birth in its most intimate and primal form. I want my baby to recieve the benefits of an uninterrupted hormonal cascade, to be bright and alert on our first meeting and breastfeed!

I use cloth nappies... because they are adorable! And great for the planet! And more natural on pure, smooth little botbots.

I don't need for "mainstreamers" to be wrong, to know that I am doing the right thing by Butterfly. I don't HOPE their kids suffer ill effects, just to prove my point. I HOPE that every baby and child feels loved, secure and happy. I hope that no adult has issues stemming from their childhood!

Is that the reality? Doubtful. As parents we are the biggest influences in our children's lives, and we have to make conscious decisions about how we will foster their self esteem, meet their needs and make sure they know how much they are loved. Unfortunately I often see children being treated so horribly that I literally hold back tears. Which is why I am not suggesting we never speak out against injustices.

My point, today, is that we know the consequences of certain parenting practices. Next time we find ourselves in the position to educate, however, maybe we should start with the POSITIVES of AP instead of the negatives of the alternative? I don't know how much of a difference it would make, but GAWD its worth a shot! Notice how I said "START with the positives"... sometimes the cold, hard truth is called for. And sometimes people just piss us off! None of us are perfect.

Love your babies. Respect your babies. Treat your babies as you'd like to be treated.

They love you.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

How to ROCK a baby shower!

I have just come home from a friend's baby shower. It was so much fun... but when it came to present time, there was literally NOTHING I would use/let near on my baby! Except the organic Ergo baby carrier and organic infant insert... that was an awesome present! YES, that was the one I gave!

Most people are content to buy stuff from the supermarket with the mindset of "if it was toxic they wouldn't be allowed to sell it" (SIGH. If ONLY this were true!) or "My Mum used it on me and I'm fine!" (I want my kids to be BETTER than FINE! I want them to be AMAZING!)

In my home, plastics are a rarity. Those that ARE allowed in, are BPA free. Read more about the dangers of BPA by clicking here. I feel it is EXTREMELY important to limit BPA in your home, especially when your children put everything in their mouths and are at a crucial stage of development.

In the bathroom, I don't tolerate toxic chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulphate (click here for more info) in my shampoo and soaps etc. It is found in most personal care products sold at the supermarket. Don't be fooled by packaging that claims its "natural" or even "organic"... the amount of times I've turned the bottle over and been gobsmacked at the ingredients! "No more tears" does NOT mean SAFE. Most of these just have ADDED chemicals to prevent stinging. Some products will be mostly natural with a sneaky bit of phenoxyethanol or betaine, this is better than most but I still don't tolerate these ingredients in anything I put on my skin! I won't mention brands, but the leading baby product company is not allowed in my house! Get to know your toxic ingredients. I recommend "The Chemical Maze: Shopping Companion" by Bill Statham as a great resource. For more information "Chemical Free Kids" by Dr Sarah Lantz is the bees knees (this would make a GREAT baby shower gift!).

This information is such a drag, ain't it? BUT there is hope! You CAN be a great baby shower gift giver, even if the mother is a tie dye wearing, tree huggin' hippy like me! Where the text is a different colour, click the word to be taken to a link where you can purchase the items! Lets begin...

resist the temptation to bung a packet of disposables into the basket. Nappies take SO long to break down, every single disposable EVER made is still sitting in landfill, WHOLE. YUCK! PS unless YOU wear plastic undies, don't expect a baby to. Elimination communication is where its at, but if thats not your bag, here are some of my favourite options for Modern Cloth Nappies (cute and easy to use!)

Itti Bittis
Sustainable Hemp Products (Lushies get the prize for newborns!)

Nappy Accessories
PlanetWise wetbags (mums will need a large or hanging bag for home, and smaller ones for the nappy bag)
Cloth Wipes

Lotions and Potions
Miessence Baby Barrier Balm (organic)
Miessence Baby Bottom Mist (organic)
Bath Wash: don't bother! Give her some advice instead... Oats in a sock! BUT if you really want to give something Miessence Baby Cream Wash
Miessence Baby Lotion (although totally unnecessary in my opinion!)
Miessence Baby Body Powder (or at least something based on cornstarch, NOT talc!)
(yeah I know, but Miessence are 100% trustworthy when it comes to their ingredients)

For Mum
Miessence Belly and Breast Balm
Cloth Breast Pads
Cloth Post Partum Pads (best go on a case by case basis on this one, excellent if they already use cloth, could be a waste of time for a disposable fan!)
Cheeki 1L stainless steel drink bottle, also available from most health food shops. Breastfeeding mothers get VERY thirsty!
Apple and Bee baby bag

The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff (This is my favourite book!)
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Dr Sarah Buckley
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Chemical Free Kids by Dr Sarah Lantz
Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley
The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
Sleeping Like a Baby by Pinky Mckay

The Business of Being Born by Ricki Lake

Wooden Teethers
Sophie the Giraffe
A Baltic Amber Teething Necklace from Mumma Rocks, or these can be bought in Eco Vida (Gold Coast), Nest Nappies (Brisbane) or your local health food store if you are lucky enough!
Under the Nile Organic Teethers

Natursutten Natural Soother (although unless you know the mother is dead set on using one, I'd steer clear!)

Boon! Best BPA bath toys including duckies!
Anything and everything from Eco Toys!

Baby Carriers + accessories
Organic Ergo
Organic Ergo Insert

Baby bedding
Organic! The Natural Newborn has a great selection

Baby Clothing
Organic gorgeousness from Eco Vida!
Rock Your Baby gear (not organic, just amazingly cute!)
Ecocubs organic clothing section

Feeding Accessories
Boon BPA free range
Agoo Stainless Steel Drink Bottles
*I wouldn't get a new mother newborn bottles of any description, but thats just me*
Babyushka bibs

Something Special
Ninky Bear Gifts! I would LOVE to get one of these!

Don't underestimate the help that you can give a new mum by taking around cooked dinners, offering to do the cleaning for a day, supplying information such as a recipe for lactation cookies or the phone number of the ABA!

If you aren't an online shopper, look out for organic and natural baby items where possible. If you live on the Gold Coast, get into Eco Vida at Burleigh Heads (then pop over the road to Urban Groove for Rock Your Baby gear!). ANYTHING from Eco Vida is RAD! If you live near Brisbane, try Nest Nappies in Paddington, they have more than just modern cloth nappies! Eco Toys have their shopfront in Melbourne.

If you just want to browse, the stores I have linked above are:
The Natural Newborn
Eco Vida
Ninky Bear
Eco Toys
Nest Nappies
Sustainable Hemp Products

None of the companies I have linked have asked, or paid, me to do so. That would defeat the purpose of providing a comprehensive list of the things I believe to be the best! So if I get pregnant again, my friends have my permission to start at the top and buy your way to the bottom! Hahaha I jest, I jest *narrows eyes at Jitter Bubs and Sausage Mama*

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mud Washes Off...

I'm loving living in my new town! I have always loved nature and living in the city drove me nuts. Out here, you can actually SEE the horizon. You don't realise how boxed in you are in suburbia until you can see the horizon on all sides... it is so relaxing, beautiful, and makes you realise how small you are in relation to the world around you.

There are birds in every tree, and not just magpies and introduced pest birds, but galahs! Cockatoos! Red Rumps and Rosellas! Our small backyard is abundant in frogs and lizards and insects. Butterfly saw her first witchety grubs! We found about 10 under a log.

I was in the backyard with Butterfly the other day and she went to stick her hand in the mud. I stopped her. Then I thought to myself "when did I become THAT mother?" and apologised to her and let her go for it!

So she got a little dirty. She felt the earth between her fingers, delighted in its texture and giggled at her covered hands. THIS is why we moved here! I vowed to relax and go with the flow.

So yesterday we were checking our "frog log" but there were none to see... but I spied a small slug and showed it to Butterfly. "Pat 'im?" she asked. GROSS! I didn't really want to touch it, or have her get slimy, but I let go. "Sure honey" I said and she gently stroked him. "Simy Mummy! Mummy Pat 'im!" So I did. I don't want her to be grossed out by the world around her, and I knew she'd be watching for my reaction too. Sure he was slimy, but harmless!

Be aware that your children will mirror your reactions to the world. Sure spiders are disgusting but if you scream and run and lock yourself in a room should one turn up on your wall, you are setting your kids up to be fearful. I do realise children need a healthy respect for creatures that can bite and sting, but do you really want your children inheriting your irrational fears?

Butterfly is LOVING our new life here. She can get up close to nature, pat new creatures (her favourite thing in the world! Frogs definitely regret being discovered by us! She is gentle but relentless) and get dirty. The larger properties around mean that we can walk 5 minutes in one direction and feed some sheep (they LOVE oats and birdseed!) or go for a long walk alongside farmland and feed the horses (if they are in the mood). I love that Butterfly is fearless when it comes to animals, and is always willing to get up close. She got bitten by the sheep twice the other day, she hasn't quite grasped the concept of holding out a flat palm, and it made her cry. BUT she got right back in there a few minutes later. Bless her!

The house we are looking to buy is over an acre, hardly a farm but large enough for us to reconnect with outdoor living! It backs onto council land and so we will never be built in. It has a dam where we can all get good and muddy! We will grow vegetables and fruit trees, plant native vegetation to encourage wildlife in. I'll set up a mud kitchen for Butterfly, and would LOVE to try a living sunflower cubby house! It will be awesome to have my home birth in such beautiful surroundings, with plenty of great spots for planting placenta!

The future is very exciting, but until we can move forward I have to make the most of what we have. Butterfly and I will continue to explore the yard we have and all the creatures within it!

When was the last time you spent a whole day in your garden? Walked barefoot on the earth? Got dirty? Lay in the sun and gazed at the sky? You might find it very therapeutic, and your children will love it!

Remember: mud washes off!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Healthify My Recipe! Choc Chick Cookies...

I may have started The Smallest Carbon Footprint facebook page, but I am in no WAY the most knowledgable of the lot of you! Going organic, earth friendly and healthy is not something that is easy, or that we all know how to do instinctually. We learn from each other, each having something to contribute at one point or another.

I am attempting to create a healthier family, and at the moment my focus is on what we are eating (since we have succeeded in going chemical free in the home!). I have bought "The Chemical Maze Shopping Companion" by Bill Statham, and I do try to get to the health food shop to find healthier ingredients. Trouble is, I see a lot of things that are unfamiliar to me, and I don't know what to do with them! For example Chia seeds... I know they are awesome for health but like... HOW? What makes them so special? And what do I DO with them?

So here is what I propose: I want to post recipes to favourite dishes (some of them mine, if you would like help with a dish feel free to email me your recipe! and I need YOUR help in suggesting healthier substitutes for ingredients. Like, I LOVE choc chick cookies from Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" but it contains a LOT of sugar and white flour etc. I would love to tweak it to maximise nutrition and decrease additives and calories.

Perhaps some of you would like a recipe adapted to be gluten, meat or dairy free? You may have allergies (or need to cook for someone who does). Or, like me, you are just searching for some better options! It would be awesome if you could also let us know where you get your ingredients (link, if you have it) if it is obscure. And let us know what health benefits there are, if you know this also. Of course, it will be experimental and may require some trial and error!

So here goes... help me Healthify Choc Chick Cookies!


Nonstick Cooking Spray
Brown Sugar
Margarine Spread
Egg Whites
Vanilla Extract
Semisweet Chocolate Chips
All purpose flour
Baking Soda

I use butter instead of margarine and wholemeal flour (bought some spelt to try) and always get organic where I can. I need to get some organic chocolate chips, I went against my social conscience today and bought up the nestle ones because they were on sale... and now I hate myself for it! Last ones, I shwear...


Saturday, July 2, 2011


I LOVE peaceful parenting! I don't discipline with yelling or smacking. I encourage Butterfly to make good choices by modelling good behaviour, and by respecting her. Sure, sometimes she pushes the boundaries, all kids will, and I have no problem telling her not to do something. But, like the courtesy I extend to others, I ask her nicely instead of berating her for being naughty... after all, a toddler rarely knows she is doing something she ought not to... she's just trying to have fun!

And Butterfly is an awesome kid for it. She doesn't throw tantrums (she has in the past, but there was major life changes happening and she was entitled to them!) She is happy, she listens most of the time and says sorry if she knows she's acted inappropriately (hurt mum or dad etc).

Even still... today I managed to treat her as though she is the worst kid in the world.

I have a feeling my hormones are playing up (MP is still missing after my ectopic but feeding is tender)... at least that would be an awesome excuse. Lately I just haven't been coping very well. After a chat with a good friend I realised how isolated I'd become in my new town. I don't have any friends here... true I've met people, nice people, but you don't make a best friend in a day. I miss the weekly catchups with my girls, where we could hang out with each other and talk like adults while our kids played.

Here Butterfly and I stay at home a lot, and I guess we are sick of each others company. Its super hard being so attentive and peaceful (patience does take great effort sometimes!) without a break. Usually she wakes at 8.30 or 9am and then stays awake till 6pm when she goes to bed. So at least I get a few hours at night to myself.

Today she woke at 6.30am. I was SO tired but I thought, "Oh well, at least she'll have a nap today and I'll get a break". Well, as tired as she was she WOULDN'T NAP. This drives me INSANE. I spend aaaages lying there breastfeeding her trying to get her to sleep. Only for her to look sleepy then pull off an launch into an animated story about SeaWorld. FRUSTRATING.

So I say horrible things like "I don't WANT to hear you talk! Its time to sleep!" or worse. Sometimes she bursts into tears and says "No push me mummy! Very sad!" (she says push for emotional pushing, too). This makes me feel like SHIT.

Then later in the afternoon she wouldn't get off someone's driveway when they were backing out. In all fairness to her she was looking in the wrong direction and didn't compute what I was asking. But I lost it. I told her to move NOW! And dragged her roughly off the driveway. This broke her little heart. She was SO upset. And so was I. I knew I'd been a bitch for no reason and I desperately wished I could take it back!

I had to apologise to her SO many times today for my behaviour, it wasn't good enough. She deserves SO much better.

I have told my hubby I need a break. Not an hour here or there, but a whole day. I NEED it. For both of our sakes.

Tonight I got an invitation to go back to the Gold Coast and stay with a friend. I am SO excited! I think its exactly what we need. A break, some socialisation, an adventure!

So why am I writing this blog, admitting my worst when I could pretend it didn't happen? Because sometimes I feel so inadequate reading AP blogs, that other people's lives are all sunshine and puppy dogs. Maybe one of you is going through something similar. Maybe you have some advice.

I KNOW how to parent well. Its just not easy to apply ALL the time. I hope that Butterfly forgives me, and that tomorrow we can have a better day.

I love you Butterfly, and I'm sorry. You deserve the best Mum in the whole world, and none of what happened today was your fault. Please forgive me darling! *SOB*

Friday, July 1, 2011

I'll unschool! No wait... Private School? No, um, distance ed?

Some may think I'm jumping the gun by obsessing over Butterfly's education. She is, after all, only two. But to me its a big decision and I don't want to be furiously researching at the last minute...

Sometimes I get very excited by the idea of homeschooling. There is a lot that appeals to me about it. Firstly, my children won't have to get up early and rush to get to school. I HATED getting up early for school, I was a real sleeper as a kid. Not that I want my kids sleeping in till 10am and staying up to midnight, thats not what I mean. Flexibility would just be nice should Butterfly be kept up late at a family function, or by a sick sibling etc. It also means we can make sure we all get a full, nutritious breakfast, not a peice of toast as they head out the door.

School holidays... wouldn't it be awesome to be able to go on an educational (/FUN!) holiday to Thailand outside of peak times? Go camping at a moments notice? My husband has trouble getting holidays during school holidays, and he works shiftwork. So choosing our own school days and holidays would help the kids to spend more time with him. Who cares if we do school on a Monday or a Saturday?

I read an article recently about how kids are getting frustrated in school playgrounds because the teachers hover too much. They aren't given any freedom, they aren't allowed to climb trees or pick up sticks... heck when I was at school they started banning chasing games. All in the name of keeping the kids "safe". I would much prefer my kids to cop a few scratches and bruises being KIDS.

I also don't believe in homework. Not for primary schoolers. Hometime is time with the family. Time to play.

I just want my kids to have a full and carefree childhood! Imagine spending the day at a creek catching tadpoles, fish, bugs and worms! We could bring books and identify species, or draw them, or discuss life cycles. We could go to a coffee shop and learn about counting and money.

It may sound like I've decided to homeschool. I haven't...

I am still in two minds. Some days are so mind numbing and tiring at our house, I worry that I wouldn't find the energy to actually teach the kids anything. Then again, I can see the unschoolers point of view: Butterfly can already count to 15, just from playing hide and seek. She knows all her colours from general talk around the house. And she is only two! Kids learn a lot just from participating in life. Oh, and she can identify a corroboree frog... could YOU?

The social issue bugs me sometimes. I loved seeing my friends every day! If I homeschool I plan to join a homeschooling group and get my kids involved in a sport, an instrument and an art in order to keep touch with kids their own age. And when you think about it, at school you only get around 2 or less hours of lunchtime/recess to play, in the classroom socialisation is stamped on much of the time. Didn't you hate those teachers with seating plans!

I am making my decisions based on the assumption that Butterfly will be intelligent, and therefore will be bored with mainstream schooling. I was. I was put in special programs while the other kids grappled with basic maths. On the other hand, if she ends up with a learning difficulty, I wouldn't want her getting lost in the system.

What to do, what to dooooo? Send her to a private school? Homeschool by distance ed? Unschool? I totally wish there was a part time school option!

I would love to hear what you do in regards to schooling!