Thursday, 27 June 2013

I Like to Knit. Is Something Wrong with Me?

It's winter - and for some reason when winter comes I just want to grab some knitting needles or a crochet hook and make something.  My mother and grandmother taught me the basics - but I don't know how to do anything fancy.  But that's okay.  I've had fun making scarves each winter with all the wonderful new yarn that comes out.

I'm a bit unique in my generation.  My mother taught me how to sew and cook and knit and iron.  I had the skills to be a good housewife before I left primary school.  But in my generation you couldn't be a stay-at-home mum.  The expectation of two incomes has been factored into the price of everything so you can't be one even if you want to be.  And so off to university I went.  Many of my peers didn't get taught these skills.  They say to me "Oh you can sew!  You are so lucky!  I wish my mum had taught me to sew!  I really want to take lessons somewhere!!"  I tell them they aren't missing out on anything.  By the time you factor in the cost of a pattern, material, thread, buttons/zips you are better off buying off the shelf.  And that is before you consider your time and that your creation may not suit you or fit very well.  At least with off the shelf you can try it on before you buy it.  My arguments never seem to convince them though – they still feel like they missed out.

Now don't get me wrong - my mother was not setting me up to be a housewife - sewing was a school holiday project we would both choose and work on together.  I would ask her if we could sew something.  I would tell her that I wanted to cook something.  I wanted to be able to do the things I saw her doing and I very much enjoyed learning these skills.  Most of these skills sadly get used very often.  Watching waistlines means I never bake cakes and the cost of sewing means I never sew anything from scratch - I just do repairs and take up hems.

But somehow knitting made its way into my life.  Knitting has recently hit the news in the Australian Media.  Our former Prime Minister Julia Gillard (toppled just two days ago now) posed knitting for a famous Australian Women’s magazine called the “Australian Women’s Weekly”.  Here is a link to the photos of Julia Gillard knitting.  It is quite a strange look for her.  From the career-orientated Prime Minister of Australia to a homely woman knitting.  There was a huge backlash against her posing in this way.  Julia has made it known for a long time that knitting is her pastime – it was not a setup.  It really does represent what she likes to do.  But had they photographed her painting a picture, or taking photos, or working in her garden would the backlash have been the same?  I don’t think it would.  I think knitting is bundled up with the tasks that women once had no choice but to do.  So to see Australia’s first female Prime Minister choosing to do it presents an uncomfortable picture to some.

Change often comes with a pendulum swing.  Total rejection is ultimately followed by a smaller return to the old.  Feminism is talked about in waves.  Initially all traditional activities were considered bad by feminists.  The current wave of feminism says that it is okay to take part in traditional activities as you are doing so through choice and not because you are being forced to due to your sex.  So from that point of view Julia Gillard can knit away as much as she likes.

The fact is that women are still knitting – for a whole variety of reasons.  For me I knit for others.  I loved knitting pink scarves for my nieces using pom-pom yarn and loved hearing about how much they loved them.  I am currently working on a few items for my fiancĂ© – I love that I can give him something that he can’t buy in a store.  It is made exclusively for him by me in colours that he likes.  And he knows how much time and effort I put into it for him.  You just can’t replicate that with something you buy from a store.  We are all familiar with women saying they show their love to their family through their cooking.  I guess I’m showing my love to my family through my knitting!

Finally I’d like to share this little presentation with you done by the maker’s of Lion Brand yarn.  We all have our own reasons for what we do – and they have put together a lovely slideshow of the reasons people have told them how knitting and crochet make them better.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Wedding Planning Made Easy with e-mail!

It can be difficult to organize a wedding - most of the people you want to talk to work 9-5 - just like you do!  Often you don't make contact straight away and they call you back during work hours.  And the last thing you want your boss seeing is you ducking off every 10 minutes to take a wedding related call. 
The other thing is that it costs money to make all those phone calls - especially if you are planning an interstate or overseas wedding.  And let’s face it - it isn't fun to be told that a service provider already has a booking for that day. 
This is where e-mail comes in.  Let’s say you are looking for a mobile hairdresser.  Do your research and find a few who you think could do the job in your local area.  Make sure you include your wish list providers even if you think they are really popular and are sure to be booked out already - an email costs nothing!  And then send all those providers an email when you are home from work in the evenings or the weekends.  Give it a day or two for the responses to come in.  You will then have a shortlist of available mobile hairdressers to work with.  You can then consider their prices and do research on them at your own leisure without any pressure.  I've just done this myself - I emailed 5 mobile hairdressers.  Two told me they weren't available but my number one choice was!  And the response time from the mobile hairdressers was much faster than I would have thought - a couple of hours for most through to just over a day for the final reply. 
Of course phone will always be a better way to get an instant response and get things moving faster - but if you have the time then email is a stress free way of organizing your wedding.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Ovulation Predictor Kits

Increasing I've been hearing of people using Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) to help them get pregnant.  It makes sense right?  When you are ready you are ready and you don't want to wait!  But it seems their use could be problematic.

What are OPKs?

There are two types of OPKs available.  One is a mini microscope that is reusable.  I found one for $38.99 on the Chemist Warehouse website just to give you an idea of price.  It allows you to look at a dried sample of your saliva.  If your oestrogen levels are high, your saliva will dry in a fern pattern.  High oestrogen levels accompany ovulation.  If you are trying for a while, or use it for multiple pregnancies, you could save a lot of money using this type.

The other type is similar to a home pregnancy test and are not reusable.  I found the Chemist Direct website offering 7 OPKs + 1 pregnancy test for $19.95 so they aren't cheap especially if you are trying for a while.  Though I  have heard though you can get them for cheaper and in bulk through some websites - so if you do buy them you might want to investigate this option.  These OPKs detect a surge in Luteinizing Hormone (LH).  This LH surge causes the egg to be released so it is also used as a predictor for ovulation. 

All OPKs are just a predictor - they don't tell you if an egg was actually released.

Problems with using OPKs

I've come across a few articles on the Internet which point out problems with using OPKs.  According to this website, OPKs don’t test for actual ovulation and nor do they test for when the cervical mucus is conducive to fertilization.  And for some women (over 40 or on fertility drugs) they aren't as reliable.  Another website says that you may gear up for ovulation multiple times before it happens.  If you take just the first indication using OPKs, you may miss the actual ovulation as you assumed the window of opportunity had closed.

So if you rely solely on OPKs, you could be missing out on opportunities to conceive or even miss the right time.  Charting where you rely on both the characteristics of the cervical mucus and the basal body temperature will give you much more information about what is happening,.  But used in conjunction with charting your cycle, they could help increase your knowledge of your cycle and help back up your conclusions.

Some Further Reading

An OPK maker's FAQ page - good for some nitty gritty details about strip OPKs

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Welcome to My Splendid Family

Hello and welcome to My Splendid Family.  We all want our families to be splendid.  We want access to all the information to make the right choices.  We want our kids to have the best possible start.  We want, we want, we want .. you get the picture.  We want a lot!  But what we don't have a lot of is time.  So we want access to good information that gets to the crux of the issue and helps us make a decision.

That's where My Splendid Family comes in.  Join me in my journey to make a splendid family.  I'm at the start of the journey - so expect to see lots of posts on weddings and planning for pregnancy to start off with.  My Splendid Family will evolve along with me - but the posts will remain as a resource for you no matter where you are in your own personal journey.

Enough said - lets get splendid!
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