Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Like a Duck

Littletree can swim! My little girl, who started out in life with major water issues is swimming, without floaties or anything, even with her face in the water!

This is the same girl who had serious sensory processing disorder, who would become hysterical if so much as a single droplet of water got on her clothes and scream as if tortured if any splashed on her face.

She used to go weeks without a bath – I’d grab her and give her a wipe with a washcloth, and she’d be totally traumatised by it. Slowly, slowly, I’ve been patient, supporting her, and letting her work through it.

She’s been making amazing progress, first getting into a the pool with a float ring, but still not going past where she could touch the bottom, then moving out into the water in her ring. Then she started with arm floaties, and got more and more comfortable in the water. (you can read a little about the journey here and here and an article I wrote here.)

Last week we went to the pool for homeschool group, and one of Littletree’s friends gave her a pair of flippers – she tried out swimming without any floaties for the first time ever, and she was actually swimming!

Then today we went to the pool in town with Littletree’s friend, Princess. Littletree actually tried out swimming without even the flippers, and she put on her goggles and put her whole head under the water!

69 swimming

For most people, I know it’s not such a big deal, but for me, it’s huge. To see my kid put her face in the water and enjoy it is huge. And knowing that she got through her fears in her own time, without major trauma or pressure from me or someone pushing her to “get over it” is huge.

67 swimming

At this point, she’s just dog-paddling, we can work on swimming properly this summer, but for her to be happy in the water fills me with a lot of joy :)

68 swimming 

Friday, 25 September 2009

Spring Dust Storm

We had a major dust storm here on Wednesday – it was the Spring Equinox, and I had an awesome day planned for home school group; I was going to make rice paper spring rolls with the kids, and do some spring-themed crafts, and then in the afternoon Littletree was going on a play-date while I went to a pre-natal at a new client’s house.

Only there was a massive wind ripping through the valley, which was followed by massive clouds of red dust.

This was the view from our balcony at 10:30am

63 dust storm

And this is how it looked an hour later:

64 dust storm 1 hour later

Here’s how it looked the next morning, after everything cleared:

65 after the dust storm

Life on Mars alright!

So home school group was cancelled, we closed all our doors and windows and spent the day cooped up inside the house, marvelling at the online pictures of the dust storm in Sydney. This thing was huge; it covered half of the East coast. The excitement never stops around here.

And now everything is dusty! At least we can console ourselves with ice cream ;)

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

I Scream! Raw Ice Cream

Littletree and I made raw, organic ice cream last night.

It’s SO outrageously delicious, and it was so easy.


1 cup raw organic cream

3 cups raw organic milk

2/3 cup raw organic rapadura sugar

3 raw organic local fresh eggs

58 raw ice cream making

Put all ingredients into a bowl and stir, stir, stir

59 raw ice cream making

Keep stirring till it’s good and frothy, then put it into the freezer. Every 15 minutes or so, take it out and give it another stir with a beater or fork to break up the ice crystals

60 raw ice cream making

Keep freezing and stirring till it’s ice cream! The finished product:

61 raw ice cream making

And the result?


62 raw ice cream making

Yeah, that’s Littletree eating our super healthy, raw, organic, fresh, home-made ice cream on a crapola Home Brand cone… funnily enough, she refused to eat the cone, but wanted it anyway, to hold the ice cream LOL

I can’t wait to start experimenting with flavours… mmm mocha swirl, carob fudge, fresh berries…

Monday, 21 September 2009


We’re a co-sleeping family, and it’s been an awesome part of our lives (especially the bit where I didn’t have to get up out of bed several times each night to feed the baby when she was still breastfeeding).

But we started talking lately about the idea of Littletree sleeping in her own room. She has her own room in our new house; a very nice, big one with lots of windows and sunshine, and pink sparkly things and a closet full of clothes and toys… however she doesn’t play or sleep in there.

The room was basically a glorified toy box. I asked Littletree why she didn’t like to play in there or sleep in there, and she said that it’s “spooky” and too far away from us – it is the opposite end of the house from where Purple and I have our office spaces set up.

She also said that she wanted to have a “proper” bed, rather than what I prefer, being a thin futon on the floor.

So while she was out at a friend’s house one day, I went to the charity thrift store in town and bought a second-hand bunk bed! It’s one with a single bed on top and a double at the bottom, which means I can still co-sleep with her if she needs it.

We snuck it home, and set it up in my bedroom (where we all usually sleep), and moved all of Littletree’s toys and furniture in there, her desk, craft stuff, play mat and all.

When she got home, I said there’s a surprise for you in the bedroom…

44 new bed

She was so excited! :) She spent the rest of the evening in there, playing, only to come out every 10 minutes to say “thank you so much for my new room, mama!”

She’s slept in there no problems the last three nights, and since the room opens on to the living room where Purple and I are both working, she’s been hanging out in there and playing a lot too.

Best of all; I’ve been able to sleep all stretched out :D

And unrelatedly, I went to my second life drawing class – all of the pictures I did can be seen on my flickr page, but the best two were these:

An attempt at single-line drawing – this whole picture is just one line, done without taking the charcoal off the page at all – even the shading

47 life drawing

My first attempt at using pastels:

46 life drawing

I’m really enjoying the drawing class, and discovering a freedom of expression :)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

LaborPro – Just Say No!

Some bright spark has invented a totally non-invasive machine that will use continuous ultrasound to measure contractions, progress, foetal position, station and presentation, while having a couple of little alligator clips in the woman’s cervix to continuously measure dilation, and has a little probe that is screwed into the unborn baby’s scalp to monitor the foetus’ heart rate and status.

Wow. this is awesome. It basically means that no one working in labour and delivery will ever need to know anything about caring for birthing women, and midwives will become all but obsolete!

NursingBirth, in her recent post, The WORST Idea Since Routine Continuous Fetal Monitoring for Low Risk Mothers gives a pretty good rundown.

I honestly fail to see how anyone could count having 4 electrodes stuck on your abdomen, clips on your cervix and an electrode literally screwed in to your unborn baby’s scalp (which means that the waters must be artificially ruptured and the cervix possibly manually or chemically dilated), as “non-invasive”.

Why on earth would anyone want to expose babies to lengthy doses of ultrasound, the safety of which has never been proven? Here’s what Marsden Wagner, the former head of Maternal and Child Health in the European region in the World Health Organisation has to say about it: http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasoundwagner.asp

The LaborPro people keep using that “non-invasive” word, but I don’t think it means what they think it means.

Honestly, I think I’m going to be sick.


Monday, 14 September 2009

As High As the Mountains!

92 wollumbinOn our recent adventure up to the Border Ranges, Littletree got really interested in Wollumbin (Mt Warning), which you can see really well from up on the range.

Littletree has long been interested in Mt Everest, because it’s the highest mountain in the world, and she was thinking that Wollumbin must be almost as high as Everest.

It was a bit tricky to explain the relative heights of the mountains to her in a way that she could conceptualise, and since we didn’t even know how high Wollumbin is, Purple sat down with her to work it out.

First, the had to google to find out the exact height of Wollumbin (1.156 Metres)

78 mountain project 

Then Purple helped Littletree to work out a scale drawing of Wollumbin next to Mt Everest

80 mountain project

Then they worked out how other mountains Littletree knows of, like Mt Fuji and Har Hermon.

81 mountain project

Littletree was fascinated with the concept of being able to draw things to scale and working out how to do it :)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Mother of All Rallies

I got back from my trip to Canberra for the homebirth rally yesterday morning. It was quite a hectic adventure! Incredibly, I managed to drive 2200km, (1400mi) spend 24 hours in Canberra, breakdown and get stuck in nowhereseville overnight and still make it home again in less than 4 days!


I had thought I was going to do the drive on my own, but at the last minute one of my clients called up and asked to come with, so I had an 8 months pregnant woman and her 2 year old son with me in the car.

The drive was pretty easy and we took lots of breaks – it’s so nice to have a van with a bed in the back so we could take comfy naps at rest stops.

Canberra was freezing cold – 14C when I’m used to 30! and on the day of the rally it rained (of course). That didn’t stop around 2500 people coming to show support for homebirth.

27 homebirth rally 

People gathered in front of the Old Parliament House, by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy where there was a ceremonial fire and some speeches made. Then the crowd marched, banners and placards waving, to the front of the New Parliament House for the demonstration.

29 homebirth rally

32 homebirth rally

The crowd was pretty thick – mostly pregnant mamas, and mamas with babies in slings, or toting children. There were heaps of children and babies toting signs (or with signs pinned to their slings or clothing) saying which room of the house they were born in. This one was particularly cool :)

34 homebirth rally

It was almost impossible to get in near enough to see the stage!

33 homebirth rally

I walked around to the front to snap a photo, but it was still hard to see.

 35 homebirth rally

Mostly I was meeting and catching up with friends. It was awesome to meet so many friends from Liberated Learning that I’d never met in real life before! And it was great to catch up with old friends, and see other independent midwives.

I even got to meet Lisa Barrett which was quite an honour

39 homebirth rally

And best of all; Currawong was up on the stage playing her awesome homebirth song.

42 homebirth rally

After the rally, we went for lunch with Artemis of the Eucalypts and her family, and my friend J to the Asian Noodle House in Dickson for the best Laksa ever (yeah, they have weird place names in Canberra – funnier than Dickson, they have a suburb called Downer)!

Then it was back on the road, trying to get home by Tuesday night. However, about an hour out of Canberra, the car broke down. We stopped for petrol and the car wouldn’t start again – totally flat battery.

Thankfully I’m in the NRMA (AAA equivalent), so I called them, and was informed there would be a 90 minute wait for a patrol to come out. I mentioned that I had a pregnant woman and a baby in the car with me, and we were put on priority – someone came within half an hour.

The NRMA guy was very nice, and managed to jump start the car, but he said the battery wasn’t charging at all because the alternator was dead and we’d have to be towed to a mechanic. He called the NRMA tow-truck, and told us there’d be a 2 hour wait.

I called them back and mentioned again the pregnant woman and baby, we were again put on a priority list, and the tow truck came within half an hour. All the time we were waiting, the 2 women working in the petrol station were so nice – gave us hot soup to eat (artificial instant soup, but in the words of the woman who gave it “more nutritious than McDonalds” LOL), old magazines, coffee, and even offered to drive us to town.

Anyway, the tow truck came and took us with the car to a mechanic, and then to a hotel for the night (being that it was after 5pm). Thank goodness I remembered to mention to the NRMA rep who booked us into the hotel that I am travelling with a pregnant woman and baby, so they paid for us to get a bigger room, and to check us in for 2 nights so we wouldn’t have to check out at 10am before the car was ready!

At noon the next day the mechanic said there was nothing at all wrong with the car and we were good to go! Grrrr! Turned out it was a really simple thing – the battery terminals weren’t screwed down tight enough; something the NRMA patrol man should have seen and fixed in 30 seconds.

Oh well – the universe wanted us to stay a night in Mittagong, coincidentally, just up the road from where my friend’s son’s great-grandfather lived, so while we were waiting for the car to be “fixed” she went up to visit him.

Finally, we got on the road again, and made good time; we stopped to sleep at midnight, just 2 hours from home, and got up early in the morning for the last bit of the journey, arriving at 8am. 

It was a fun adventure, but it’s good to be home and see Littletree!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Life Drawing

I went to my first Life Drawing class this week. I’ve never been very good at drawing; my level is generally in the area of stick figures. If I draw a picture, people often comment, “wow, did Littletree do that?”

So I was pretty sceptical about the possibility of me getting anything out of the class, or not embarrassing myself, but I gave it a go anyway, and the results were amazing.

The first pictures were done on short poses, and I was thinking, ‘this is terrible, what am I doing here.’ As you can see – nothing really to be proud of

09 life drawing

But the next ones were getting a bit better

10 life drawing

Then we did some longer poses – 5 minute ones, and I could really get into it

11 life drawing 

I got a few tips from the teacher and started working more on shading

12 life drawing 

Then we worked on some longer poses – this one was 15 minutes so I had time to really develop it

13 life drawing 

Finally, we spent 20 minutes on one pose, and I’m so amazed by the result. The teacher put on some trance music, and I started really grooving to it, not worrying so much about drawing a “perfect” picture, but just flowing with the moment. I spent ages shading in time with the music and the end product:

25 life drawing

I’m so proud of myself for letting go of my fear that I can’t draw, and plunging in, risking looking stupid, and surrendering to it. And I love this picture! I stuck it up on my wall. Every time I see it I marvel at how I could have possibly created such a thing. It’s been such a transformational experience on so many levels – I can’t wait for the next class!

Though I will miss next week’s class, because tomorrow I’m leaving to drive to Canberra for the Homebirth Rally

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Antarctic Beech

On the weekend we went for a drive up to the Border Ranges National Park, which is absolutely spectacular ancient rainforest with stunning views out over the Wollumbin caldera.

91 wollumbin

We had a lovely picnic and then ventured deep into the rainforest to the stand of Antarctic Beech trees.

94 antarctic beech

It’s such a powerful, ancient tree. What looks like 6 or 7 trees that we are playing in here is actually one tree!

95 antarctic beech

I lay in the tree for a while, just feeling the energy, recharging… and I loved how my hair mingled with the tangled roots, feeling my true faerie self come out :)

97 antarctic beech 

It was a beautiful day in the forest. Then we drove back down the hill to a party and finished the day having a good dance with lots of friends.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Cycles of Life

Littletree can now officially ride a bicycle on her own!

The trick of taking the pedals off worked a treat. I can’t believe it was barely a month ago that we took the pedals and training wheels off, and about 2 weeks ago we put the pedals back on!

It really was I guess three and a half weeks of riding maybe 20 minutes 2-3 times a week to go from barely able to ride even with training wheels to being a fully independent bicycle rider :)

90 bike

We spent the last 10 days or so riding with me holding on to the handlebars to help Littletree balance while she got the hang of it, and slowly letting go, and then one day, she did it!

She’s so excited to be riding, and gets better and better at it every day.