Sunday, 20 November 2016

Life Hack: Emergency Lint Remover

Sometimes you misplace the tool you need to do a job and so you put the job off.  But if that job requires a lint remover, it is often something that can't be easily put off such as cleaning pet hair off the clothes you are going to wear to work that day.

Emergency Lint Remover 
That's where this handy little idea for an emergency lint remover comes in.  I was inspired by the sticky washable lint removers and thought what else is sticky that could do the job.  Sticky tape of course!  Simply wrap sticky tape around your fingers a few times sticky side out and drag or dab your fingers over the fabric.  When the sticky tape looses its stick, cut it off your fingers and wrap some more around your fingers.

Emergency Lint Remover After Use
You will need to do it a few times to get through most jobs so it doesn't replace a real lint remover, but it is good enough to get you out of a bind.  How effective it is will also depend on the material - I found it didn't do a great job with interfacing as interfacing quickly makes the tape ineffective, but for  clothing like work pants it does a good job.




Sunday, 13 November 2016

Homemade Paper Mache Kid's Glue


Homemade Paper Mache Glue
My 2 yo has been super excited every time she sees paper mache so today we decided to try it. But with only a glue stick in the house, I had to make up some glue for the project. There are various recipes on the web but here is the one I used.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons of salt to preserve
Method:
  • Sift flour to help remove lumps
  • Add water and stir until smooth
  • Add salt and stir
  • Thin with water if desired
I just loved this glue!  We made a mess but because it is just flour and water it is REALLY easy to clean up.  The glue on my 2 yo's clothes dried up and flaked off. And glue spilt on the table cleaned up with water and a cloth.  As parents we are always time poor and the idea of making anything that we can buy fairly cheaply from the shops seems like a time consuming hassle.  But this is one thing that is really worth it for little kids. 

This glue won't be suitable for all projects but here is why you should consider it.
  1. It is non-toxic and made from cooking ingredients which is good if your kids like to put their fingers in their mouths or taste it.
  2. Your kids can help make it.
  3. It is super cheap to make.
  4. You probably have the ingredients in your kitchen cupboard right now.
  5. It is very quick to whip up and don't need to be made in advance of your project.
  6. It is very easy to make.
  7. It is very easy to clean up - its water soluble.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Why Trump will Fail


As the dust settles on the US presidential election we see the world transitioning to a wait and see approach with Donald Trump.  But Trump will fail to be the President that many hope for.  This is not a Republican vs. Democrat argument.  This is not a feminist argument.  This is not an argument for an experienced political leader.  This is not an argument for an inclusive President.  This is about our expectations of an ideal country leader and how we will only ever be disappointed when they are set so high.

The world has been transitioning from innocence.  We know that the people who should protect our children, sick, and elderly do despicable things to them.  We know that many people are only out for themselves and don't care who they hurt along the way.  We know and expect most politicians to be in it for the power and not for the betterment of the country.  And yet we expect greatness from the next country leader.  We have grown up and know that the world is not a nice place but we still hang on to our childish dreams of a leader to look up to.

Who was the last truly great world leader?  I can't think of one truly great one.  Often those considered good have flawed personal lives.  Often those who perform well in front of the camera are obnoxious to staff and colleagues behind the scenes.  Those that look promising seem to always fail to deliver when given a chance.

Obama is a recent example of a leader who the people had high hopes for but proved to be nothing spectacular.  But not all blame can be placed with the leader themselves.  They are part of a party and a system that forces them to act in certain ways.  Their plans need to go through the system and their party needs to approve of their plans.  Both the system and political parties regularly get in the way of change.  And if either of these put up too much resistance, it doesn't matter how good the leader is.  Unfortunately resistance is often only due to politicians trying to ensure themselves a political future.  These days this is achieved by leading by opinion poll which ensures that all politicians are carbon copies who change their mind with every opinion poll and stand for nothing.




So Trump will fail to be great  He will fail because he belongs to a party.  He will fail because he is in a system.  He will fail because too many people in that system are only there for themselves.  He will fail because politicians ultimately no longer stand for anything except the current opinion poll.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Blob Painting with Kids




My eldest is now 2 years old and our activities are now encompassing cooking, science and art.  I am constantly on the lookout for ideas and I'll be posting the good ones here.

Today was our first foray into paint.  Yes, very scary with a two year old, but this activity can be very controlled - well ... relatively speaking!

Activity: blob painting
Category: art
Age tested: young 2 yo
Verdict: great results and very easy

Equipment -

Paper for picture - printer paper works fine
Paint - non toxic and washable is best for younger kids
Plastic spoons - my paint comes in pots
Newspaper - to lay out completed paintings and for covering tables and putting spoons down on
Baby wipes - great for cleaning hands and little accidents before they turn into bigger accidents
Art smock



Method -

1. Fold paper in half and the open it again.
2. If your child is young, pour portions of paint into spoons. Older kids might be able to do this themselves.
3. Encourage child to put the paint on to one half of the paper.  Don't worry if they don't quite get it right or if there are any splashes as this is a very forgiving painting - mistakes won't be noticeable and will probably look like they were intended!
4. Repeat 2 and 3 for as many colours as you like
5. Fold paper in half again
6. Smooth paper with fingers
7. Open up and enjoy the results!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Book Review: What to Expect When You're Expecting: Heidi Murkoff & Sharon Mazel

What to Expect When You're Expecting  Book Cover - Australian & NZ Edition
What to Expect When You're Expecting Book Cover - Australian & NZ Edition
Who hasn't heard of this book??!!  Surely no one!  But is it any good?  Read on to find out what I thought of this book.

Prior to reading this book, I read the prequel - What to Expect Before You're Expecting.  I've also put up a review of What to Expect Before You're Expecting if you are interested.  One of the criticisms I had of that prequel is how it is a bit over the top with the cutesy just-wait-till-that-bundle-o-joy-is-in-your-arms-and-you-are-complete language.  But I am glad to say that while it is still present it this book, it isn't a problem.  I suspect this is because there is so much to cover in this book that they don't have the room for it. With the prequel it felt like they were using it to pad the book out a bit.  So it is well worth considering this book even if the prequel wasn't to your taste due to the cutesy embellishments.

There is also a bit of overlap between the two books - clearly they are attempting to cater for the "surprised" audience who never got the chance to read the prequel!  However I still do think the prequel has enough in it to justify reading it.  But it is a shame that they don't combine the two books together into one slick, all inclusive reference book - but perhaps that isn't so profitable!  So I found myself skipping over some of the earlier repeated content.  When I read this book I was pregnant and needed to get up to speed on the relevant chapters ASAP thank-you very much!

This book is designed to be a reference book for all - so there will be sections that just don't apply to your - for instance multiple births when you are only expecting one.  When I read the prequel I had all the time in the world and I was truly interested to know just what women with/who <insert disease/lifestyle> could expect to have happen.  But with pregnancy / labor / child-rearing ahead of me for the very first time I preferred to only focus on the relevant topics and skipped the irrelevant sections.  And it is here that I have to add a criticism of the book.  The book tries to be a reference book AND hold your hand as you go along. So it gives you a month-by-month breakdown of what to expect and adds a few extra topics it deems you may now want to know about at the end of each month.  But by doing so it puts reference material in hard to find places for you to read at the time it deems you should read them - which doesn't necessarily match up to your information needs.

The book covers labor in a very matter-of-fact style.  I came away from it feeling like I was still quite unsure about what I may want to do even though I knew what would happen in a labor.  For instance I had read about pain-management options - but was really no clearer on what I might like to use.  I also felt like there was a whole world around my mental state (e.g. Hipnobirthing) and birth positions that could perhaps help with my labor but again I didn't gain much information apart from the basics from this book.  I ended up having to look elsewhere for these topics to be covered.

I have since read some other books and have found that this book offers a very middle of the road opinion that is probably designed not to offend anyone - a good financial move perhaps?  For instance it will say that breast-feeding is best - but that formula feeding is very okay too.  Other books will tell you that breast-feeding is the absolutely best thing you can do and that formula feeding can never hope to be as good. What to Expect When You're Expecting goes to great lengths to ensure what it says wouldn't possibly offend anyone when other books aren't ashamed to put forward their point of view.

I purchased my copy of the book from iTunes.  By doing it through iTunes I was given the Australian and NZ edition because iTunes is smart enough to know I need the local edition - which was great because I ordered the prequel through The Book Depository and ended up with an American edition.  These books contain lots of references to local bodies to contact for more information / help so it really is a disadvantage to not be reading the one intended for your country.  So if you are purchasing online - do try to make sure you get an edition relevant for your country if it exists!  I assume if you are purchasing it from a physical bookstore they only stock the local edition if it exists.

Unfortunately there is a bit of an issue with the references in my iTunes copy - which is really bad for a reference book!  The page numbers in the index don't match up - if you try to look up any of the page numbers listed, you will be taken to a random spot in the book.  Perhaps this is just a fault with the iTunes version or just the Australian & NZ edition of this book?  Either way it is disappointing for something that cost ~$20.  You can still do a search for words in the book and find the matching pages - but it isn't anywhere near as convenient.  Also, these references are not links - you have to look them up by hand. And when there is a reference to another section only the title of the section is included - there is no link to follow. Perhaps consider the paper version if you want a book you can come back to reference after you have read it cover-to-cover.

All in all it is a pretty good book that covers a lot of ground to settle down the expectant mother with information.  It is not an exhaustive reference - should your health care provider tell you that you have an elevated / lowered level showing in XYZ pathology test then chances are you will be running to the internet to find out more.  But it is still a worthwhile read.  I give it 7/10 .. if you buy the paperback version!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Maternity Clothes - Part 1

One of my little gripes when I was pregnant for the very first time was not knowing what I needed in the way of maternity clothes.  I knew I'd need them of course - but I had no idea what size I'd grow to be and what size I should be buying.  I had no idea when I'd need them and how much use I'd get out of them - but I knew for certain that I didn't want to spend more money than I needed to!

If you are finding yourself in this position, then this series of articles are for you!  In it I go through my experience with maternity clothes in the hope that it will help you make the best decision.  There are many different experiences with maternity clothes - when your baby is due and what the weather will be like when you are growing will have a big impact on your choices.  If you have anything else you think would be of help to other women out there then please feel free to share your Splendid knowledge at the end of this article.

Maternity Bras (~8 weeks)

By 8 weeks I was already favoring bras softer bras with less padding and therefore a bit more room over those without.  I was still making do with what I had but knew it wouldn't last for long.  But I was very unsure about what to do.  Exactly how big would I become? Maternity bras are expensive right?  Do I really want to have to buy several different sizes of maternity bras? I couldn't help but think that second time mums are lucky they know exactly what is going to happen!

What put me into action was my 8 week appointment with my obstetrician.  She told me it was now time to stop wearing underwire bras to prevent mastitis.  All my bras had underwire so that meant it was time to go shopping.  She also told me it was never too early to get a maternity fitting.  Up until then I thought maternity bras were just for breast feeding women and assumed I'd just get some under-wire free bras in bigger sizes until the baby was born.

To be honest - a bra fitting put me off.  They are only offered in stores where the bras are expensive and I'd never had one in my life.  I didn't particularly feel like starting now.  I was also still in the "I don't really feel pregnant and I'm not yet past the 12 week safe mark" stage.  So I avoided that route and went to my local Kmart to see what their options were.  To my great surprise I found that they had wireless maternity bras for between $8 and $10.  Bargain!  At that price I was happy to get a few and happy to come back if I needed a larger size in the future.   I tried on an array of sizes.  I found one that fit perfectly now - and then tried the next two cup sizes up as well.  2 cup sizes up felt like an apron and so I knew that wasn't an option for now. 1 cup size up felt fine so I went with that with the logic being that I would have a bit more growing room. Even if I didn't grow any more, I had read that when your milk comes in you do grow even more so I figured that cup size could potentially be perfect for then.

Once I got the bras home and washed and wore them, I found that they were perhaps a bit too big and creased a little bit underneath, but they still felt supportive and not too big.  These maternity bras reminded me a bit of teenage bras - triangular shaped with little structure so they are more forgiving than your normal under-wire structured bra that either fits or doesn't.  So you do have a bit more freedom in choosing sizes and getting away with one that is "too big".

Maternity Work Pants (~13 weeks)

One of the things that shocked me the most was how early I thought I started to show.  I thought that everyone at work MUST know that I was pregnant.  It turned out that they didn't - I had a desk job and most of the time my figure was tucked away behind a computer.  But I knew I was changing.  I knew only the fat pants were fitting and getting tight even though I wasn't yet 12 weeks.  I very much thought that you wouldn't show at all before 12 weeks with your first pregnancy - and even then you would have a bit of leeway in not needing to tell anyone until some time after that.  But in my experience, by 13 weeks, my fat work pants had thrown in the towel!  On the weekend of my 13th week, I wore my work pants out as I wanted something a little more dressier than stretchy gym pants.  All my other dressy pants had already stopped fitting.  But even my fat work pants were feeling tight and constrictive.  I straight away said that this was no good and headed straight to the nearest variety store to buy a pair of maternity work pants.  

At the beginning of April I was right on the season changeover period.  I'd been monitoring the shops in the weeks leading up and they still had Summer stock only.  But I was in luck - there were now long work pants.  I tried a couple of pairs on and it was clear which size I needed to purchase.  If I needed a larger pair in the future that would have to wait.  The relief was fantastic.  The maternity pants felt soooo comfortable that I told everyone they should be wearing them normally!  And for $25 it was well worth the investment!

Maternity tops (~17 weeks)

What you realize quickly is that stretch fabric is your new best friend.  Items made out of stretchy material will still be doing the job for you when you have already put non-stretch shirts and pants to the back of your wardrobe.  But by 17 weeks I started to find that my baby bump - even though it was comfy - was starting to show under my normal t-shirts. So if you aren't a fan of the bare belly look, then you will be needing to look for maternity tops from around now to give you the extra length to get over your baby bump. 

Baby Daddy's Clothes (anytime!)

Jump on "The Boyfriend" look craze and raid your husband or partner's wardrobe.  This can be done ANY time.  Men have a lot of stretch material items in their closets - super comfy and big enough to get around your bump.  Ideal for lounging around in on the weekends or when you run out of your limited supply of maternity clothes.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Preparing for Birth and Children with Free Online Subjects

Open Universities is well known in Australia for providing distance education.  May years ago they provided content via the television in the early hours of the morning on the public broadcast channels.  But with the age of the internet their delivery mechanism has modernized to use the internet.

As a promotional tool, they have free classes in many topics that you can enroll in.  It is on a separate website called Open2Study.  If you are planning, or already have a Splendid Family, then two of their free classes will be of particular interest to you.

The "Midwifery" class from the Open2Study website


The "Early Childhood Education" class from the Open2Study website

Despite being based in Australia, there is no restriction on who can enroll.  I've enrolled in both of these classes myself to get a heads-up on giving birth and the development of children and the other students come from all over the world - India, China, USA, Colombia are a few countries that students are from studying these classes.

The "Early Childhood Education" class website from Open2Study


The classes started on the 17th of February, 2014 but you can still enroll.  They include videos covering content, pop quizzes and assessment at the end of each module that is a multiple choice quiz.  You can watch the videos at your own pace and the course finishes up on the 18th of March, 2014.  No doubt new classes will start after those dates if you miss out on the classes this time.

You can't get any credit for the classes, but my experience of them so far is that they are very professional. And if you were toying with the idea of doing some more study, its a great way to dip your toes back into study if your memories of study are distant and you are a bit nervous - it doesn't cost a thing and failure to complete a class or pass wont go on your academic record!

To enroll in these or other classes, go to https://www.open2study.com/
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