Friday, November 19, 2010


How do you discipline a 15 month old?

James is starting to get to that "temper tantrum" stage at the moment. Anything from not wanting to eat his breakfast, to getting his nappy changed, taking something off him, putting the cat outside can start a tantrum. How do I deal with this?

This morning James needed his nappy changed as I could detect a whiff of number 2's inside. After searching the house for the elusive box of homemade wet wipes that always manages to disappear when you need it, I took James into his bedroom to change him. We have always changed James either on the floor or bed as we didn't feel the need to go to the extra expense of a change table. After struggling to lie him down I proceeded to attempt to take off his nappy. James put on an award winning performance of a victim of the "Jaws" movie getting eaten by a shark, thrashing from side to side, screaming as if in agony, pellets of poop flying. I tried in vain to calm him down and stop the mess until finally I did what I have never wanted to do. I smacked him on the thigh. Shock. Horror. I can't believe I just did that.

I am not against smacking as a discipline method but personally have wanted to avoid it. From my experience with other children who have been smacked they tend to then smack others when things don't go their way or they get frustrated. I wanted to try and avoid this scenario.

Although I didn't smack very hard, soon little pink finger marks showed on his little thigh. James had stopped thrashing about and was just lying still crying. I quickly finished changing him and then picked him up and comforted him, apologizing and feeling wretched. Within moments he was his happy, giggly self again and ran off to play with his tractor. I was left sitting there feeling like the worst mother in the world.

And so I am left with the problem. How do you discipline a child who is barely speaking (other than Mummy, Daddy, Kitty, Cat, Star, Car, Cup and Ta) and expect them to understand you? A friend suggested a time out. This may just work for James. My new project is to make a 'time-out' mat. I will use this mat to place him on for a minute per age (e.g. 1 min at the moment). It will be a mat that can be easily transported so that when we visit Nana and Poppa we can bring it with us.

Stay tuned for the tutorial including photos! Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Frugal Living Series - #1 Baby Wipes

Welcome to the first of my Frugal Living Series blogs! My weekend blog each week will be a Frugal Living blog which will have tips, pointers and examples of ways to stretch the dollar that little bit further. These days it's important to learn ways to live simply, saving money where we can and doing our bit to help the environment. These tips will hopefully help us do this.

Baby Wipes

In our early days with our son James we used purely water and cotton balls when changing his nappy. James seemed to react to anything else we would try to use on him. However, when he started solids the water and cotton balls just weren't going to cut it! We looked into other options for wipes. We tried normal wipes, sensitive skin wipes, eco wipes (which cost the earth we are trying to save!).... Nothing seemed to work on him or if it did - was way too expensive for our budget with the amount of "number 2's" we were trying to cope with.

I stumbled across a book I brought years ago when I was first married called "Miserly Moms" written by Jonni McCoy. In this book I discovered a fantastic recipe for home-made baby wipes. I tried them out and sure enough - they worked on James with no bad reaction! These wipes are not only friendly on bub's little bottom but they are very economical. They work just as good as leading brands such as Huggies but for a 5th of the price!

2 cups of warm water
1 Tablespoon of baby oil or lotion
2 Tablespoons of baby bath (sensitive if your child is that way inclined)
1 roll of strong paper towels*

*having tried many different types of paper towels since I have been using this recipe I recommend Viva Ultra Strong. They work really well.

Combine the water, baby oil and baby bath to form a liquid. Remove the cardboard tube from the middle of the tube. Stand the paper towels in either an old bowl or perhaps an old ice-cream container. Pour the liquid mixture over the towels, concentrating on the centre and working your way out. Squeeze the towels and pour the remaining mixture back into your cup. Pour mixture over repeatedly until the towels are completely saturated. Squeeze excess liquid out of towels and store them in an a container. I use an old Huggies large wipes box but a Tupperware container or Glad bags with an airtight seal would work just as well.

My estimate is that each set of wipes (i.e. 1 roll) costs approx $1.40.

Baby oil  125ml = $3.50 (20 uses)
Baby bath 1000ml  = $8.00 (60 + uses)
Viva paper towels 3 pack = $4.40 (3 uses)

$1.40 for the same amount of wipes as a large pack of Huggies wipes which cost $5.60 approx. Now thats awesome!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Buy shorts vs make shorts....

What a dilemma. I hate buying shorts. They never fit me right and always end up looking like pants that are too short on my 5 foot frame. So I decided to make some.

I searched the internet looking for tutorials or patterns to teach me how to make my own. I found this amazing design for wrap-around shorts / pants and headed to spotlight in search of material. I decided on a cotton for shorts that looks like denim but is lightweight and nice and cool for summer, and a nice black cotton for long pants. Here are the results of the shorts:

front of shorts (although you can tie them the other way around as well)

back of shorts

And so ends my quest for new shorts. I have been asked to make a few pairs for people and have quoted $25 for shorts and $30 for pants. However - here is the tutorial I made them from for those of you who are handy and would like to make some for yourself!

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thanks - and baking soda

First of all - I want to say thanks to everyone who responded to my post "PND - the pits". It is truly humbling to know that I am not alone and that many of your suffer or know someone who has suffered from this debilitating illness. I urge you to speak up about it and make it known. You can't get help if no-one knows you need it!

While I may occasionally post about my journey, my main purpose of this blog is to write about my creative doings and helpful things I have learnt. And so without further ado - baking soda.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered the amazing, miraculous qualities of this fluffy white stuff. Of course I have used it in my baking and cooking but to really see what this stuff can do - you need to use it in cleaning!

I must admit, I am not the best at cleaning my shower. I tend to leave it and do it "tomorrow" which of course is "only a day away!!!" So when it does come time to clean my shower it can be a little uhh... dirty. I know I know. The shame. The horror! My mother would have a heart attack!

On this one particular day however, I decided that "tomorrow" would be "today" (no Daddy Warbucks in sight, sigh). I began to prepare my cleaning products. I only really ever use one thing to do the whole entire house. I use white vinegar. I had a premonition however that I had best check the internet and make sure you can use vinegar in the shower with tiles and grout. Thank goodness I checked! Note to self: vinegar will make your grout in between your tiles disintegrate! 

What to do, what to do. With no other cleaning agents other than toilet cleaned and James' wet wipes in the house, I decided to research a home-made cleaner for showers. My search led me to discover baking soda! I quickly made up a paste of baking soda and water, gathered an old (actually new but cheap) toothbrush and headed to my bathroom.

Setting to work with James trying to climb in the shower with me and constantly trying to keep him from putting things in the toilet, I soon was amazed by the miracle powers! Do I sound like a commercial yet?

"Try the new, improved baking soda! It's good for the environment, friendly on your hands and works miracles in the bathroom! For those stubborn stains and annoying dark spots - reach for your baking soda and say goodbye to dirt!"

After trying so many different products over the years and just not getting the showers back to how they looked in the beginning, I had finally found my answer to prayer. It is so cheap! It doesn't even require much effort. Just pop some on the end of your old toothbrush and scrub gently on the tile and grout and it cleans like nothing you've ever seen before! I am always out for ways to save money and so instead of spending $5 or more on those bathroom cleaners that don't really ever completely solve the problem, I will just head down to the supermarket and pick up a $1.50 box of baking soda.

And so in the end what can I say. Baking soda is my new best friend.

PND - the pits

PND - what is it?

Post-natal Depression is the pits. It really sucks. Honest.

For over a year now I have been battling PND, some days I win, some days I lose. Yesterday was one of them.

I ended up on the floor of the kitchen, spoon in hand, open container of yoghurt on the counter, and James in his highchair looking at my quietly as I sobbed the unattractive type of sob. I picked James up out of the highchair when he started to cry and became irrational with fear that something was going to happen to him if I put him down. After a while I was just so out of it that I found myself sitting on my bed as James pushed a box around and a friend arrived after I had supposedly text her for help. Hearing her son say "Miss Ali looks sad mummy" as they walked out the door, James in tow, in order for me to sleep and take a breath. My husband hurried home and spent the rest of the day looking after me and being concerned.

A woman with PND feels lost and alone yet they often don't want to tell anyone as they are "embarrassed" that they aren't handling things well. I have hidden most of what I've been going through out of sight. I am embarrassed, I am shy, I am too full of pride to admit I'm struggling. But enough is enough. I am through. No longer will I hide in shame and in my deep dark hole. I am going to be brave and take a leap that scares me - I am going to speak out.

I have had some very bright days in this last year of being James' Mummy. The day he started to smile, the day he said "dada", the day he started to sit, stand and walk. James is a little light in my life. He is one of the most precious things in my life. I could not imagine a better son and cheerier little boy to spend my days with.

I have also had some very dark days. Days where I just can't move. Days where I just sit, staring at the wall, unable to find the energy to get James up as he screams from his cot. Days where I have, to my shame and disbelief, yelled and screamed at him to "shut up" because Mummy can't handle it and doesn't know what to do.

Panic attacks are not a rare thing in my house. In some of my darkest times I have had more that 4 a day. I feel paralyzed, unable to help myself, panicking about everything and nothing. I am scared that if I move a tiny inch I will explode and not be able to contain myself. So my amazingly understanding and supportive husband has come accustomed to finding me, sitting very still, trying to make it through this latest attack. Contrary to what you may think - panic attacks are not all blowing into a paper bag, outwardly panicking. Sure they can be but there are other ways that people deal with them.

And so, what to do with all this gloom and doom? How can you help? What can you do if you suffer from PND and anxiety?

Here is a list of things that I have found helpful from my husband, friends and family. If you know someone who suffers - these things may help:

- Just hold me. I just need to sit in the quiet and know that I'm safe.
- I am embarrassed that my house looks like a war has been through. Please help me and remind me that your house isn't always spotless either.
- I need to sleep - take my child and give him a happy time so I can recharge my batteries and have a shower in peace!
- Let me talk. I know it may come as a shock to you the depth of what I'm going through but please just let me get it out.
- Encourage me to be outside, enjoying a walk.
- Help me eat nutritious meals and fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Pray with me and let me cry. Prayer and worship helps me to redirect my thoughts off myself and onto God.
- Encourage me to seek help. Give me permission that I might not be willing to give myself to see a counsellor and get some help.
- Love me. My husband has really made a difference when he has constantly told me that he loves me and cares for me. When I feel that I am not worth the effort due to my troubles, he comes and hugs me and tells me I mean more than anything to him.
- Tell me that you are worried. There is nothing more of a wake up call to me than to hear that despite the financial troubles, house troubles, car troubles - despite all that, you are more concerned with my wellbeing. It is surprising when I'm feeling worthless to know that I am more important that all the material things.

What can you do if you suffer?

- Turn to someone you trust and confide in them. If they brush you off - try someone else. Keep trying until someone takes you seriously.
- See a doctor. Make sure they refer you to a counsellor or someone trained to make a proper assessment. If you are told as I was to "come back in 6 months if you still feel bad" after you have cried your heart out and admitted you just can't do it anymore - SEE SOMEONE ELSE AND REPORT THE DOCTOR!!!
- Ask for help. I realise it can be embarrassing and hard to admit to someone that you need help with bub, house, food or just time out but you need to ask. Most people will  be glad they can do something practical to help.
- Remind yourself that you really are not alone. Speak up at mum's group or play group and you will be surprised at how it gives others the strength to speak up too.
- As cliche as it sounds, take things one day at a time.
- Get out of the house. Walk the block with a pram. Go to the mall. Visit someone. Go to mum's group.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. I know it can be hard with a young child/baby. Consider asking your husband or even a family member or friend to take the morning shift. I have known friends who have rung their mother and asked her to come and watch their children at 5am so they can just sleep. These parents understood that it is important to make sure they are coping in order for things to not get out of hand. Nana enjoyed the time with the grandkids too!
- This is not your fault. You are not a failure.

I am still working through this. It is not over. I still need help. But I am going to be brave. I will not hide any longer. It's time we speak up. We owe it not only to ourselves but to other mothers. Post-natal Depression and Anxiety is not something to be ashamed of. It is something that needs to be recognised.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Who am I?

I guess it's a basic question. Who am I? What do I do? How do I live?

I am a 24yr old mother of one and wife of another. My hubby is an Invertebrate Zoologist (yes - if you figure out what that means please let me in!). Our darling son has just celebrated his first birthday and has entered the tiring (for mummy) stage of walking and running.

Our family are members of a local church which is a smaller campus of a much larger church in the south of our city. We love being a part of this community life and its great being in a church with so many young families with little bubs to play with darling son!

We are a one-income, mortgage, bills, car payments family who like many others struggle from time-to-time to keep things afloat. One of my proudest accomplishments is being able to (usually) feed out little family of 3 for $100 a fortnight (and no we don't just eat bread and water!!) I will make sure to include a post on how I do this in an Australian economy! I try to manage the household finances well in order to have the luxury of being a stay-at-home-mum for darling son. Yes it can actually be done people!

As my blog name suggests, I am a bit of a creative Mummy. I try to do something creative every day. My previous attempts have included handmade rugs, paintings, cross-stitch, knitting, sewing, hand-sewing.... I really enjoy making children's items and am currently on a completely hand-sewn baby bootie craze.

Well thats enough about me for now. I look forward to sharing with you all a bit about my life, creative adventures, discoveries and moments of joy that I come across in daily life.

xx - Creative Mummy