Friday, October 29, 2010

Art course - scary and exciting

If push came to shove, I would label myself as CREATIVE, but I have never considered myself ARTISTIC. To me, these words have vastly different meanings.

As a crafter (scrapbooking, photographer currently - pottery and other forms previously) I have always considered ART to be the creation of something from nothing, whereas CRAFT is creating something from something. I guess.

I have the gene-pool - my maternal grandmother took to photography as a young woman more than 100 years ago. Her daughter, my mother, was a frustrated artist who could sketch 1950's women and tried to fit oil painting classes around her role as a 1960s mother (unsuccessfully trying a night class while my father "babysat" my sister and I, resulting in domestic chaos). Although I am no longer in contact with her, my memory of my mother is of a disappointed creative woman without an outlet. My father was musically talented.

My sister is a skilled theatre make-up artist and face-painter for children, her eldest daughter is studying design and is skilled with line art. My own off-spring have done well in art subjects at school, with the oldest and youngest taking it to senior high school studies. My daughter designs and creates costumes and my son is also creative.

I adore artworks by women of women and children. I fantasize about creating such works myself. My love of photography and writing still leave that small voice saying "maybe I could do that?" But how? My own days of art class at high school are decades ago and I have no knowledge of techniques for drawing or painting.

So why on Earth did I connect with a link in a young friends blog post, and rashly join another online group, one entirely focused on art? What led me, at this intensely busy time, to sign up for a free course Art, Heart & Healing? Two weeks after it officially began, so I am behind even before I begin?

Still, life was meant to be exciting, right?

Visit willowing & friends

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Detachment Parenting

UPDATE: The other two products I mentioned are now shown. 27/10/10

Attachment parenting, a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears, is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child's socio-emotional development and well being. Less sensitive and emotionally available parenting or neglect of the child's needs may result in insecure forms of attachment style, which is a risk factor for many mental health problems. (Wikipedia)
This weekend, as I have since 1991, I attended the Pregnancy, Babies and Children's Expo in Melbourne and volunteered at a stand for the Australian Breastfeeding Association. We have all three come a long way since then - I had my last baby that year, the expo has grown to become an Australia-wide phenomenon and ABA continues to grow as the provider of Information and support to parents.

In 1991, I was also fully converted to the style of baby-care referred to from around that time as "Attachment Parenting". Although I had been practicing the prinicples of the technique, it was reading William Sears books while raising my high-needs son (now a confident young man soon turning twenty!) that I became fully aware of its importance.

Which is why I am becoming increasingly concerned by some of the products thrust upon parents at this and similar expos, because it seems to me many are now moving toward the opposite end of the parenting spectrum, which I think of as Detachment Parenting.

Have a look at some of these and see what I mean:

These are Sleepy Wings
With their forearms up and with adequate flexibility to access their mouths, a baby wearing Sleepy WingsTM can self settle and soothe without scratching or harming themselves.  When worn from birth, a infant will learn to associate its wear with bed time, relaxing when worn in preparation for milk feeds and sleep.

This is the Momby feeding "pillow"
Unlike breast feeding cushions, which are designed for the baby to lay
down flat while feeding, the Momby is designed to keep your baby at the right angle, therefore eliminating unnecessary coughing and vomiting.

There was a third product, which I can't find a link to right now (which is probably a good thing)! A teddy holds a feeding bottle, which has a tube leading down to a teat, so your baby can self-feed and cuddle something at the same time. I think this was the saddest of them all.

A product that was (thankfully) not on sale at the expo, but fits in well with the above, was recently shown on Facebook: it is a set of fake adult hands, which are used to trick a baby into thinking a caring human is still holding them as they lay sleeping! I will try and find an image, but if you can imagine how you place your hands after transferring a sleeping baby from your arms to a cot ... 

That these products are deemed useful and even appealing to some parents is not in doubt. That they are contributions toward a society which values nurturing and caring, I am not convinced. And great ideas to get vulnerable parents to part with their money - of course they are!
They would be much better off investing in this:

(My attached infants grew up to be attached adults - which is just how it should be!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Misadventures of Mum, Melissa and Molly!

I have come to realise that time spent with my eldest daughter, 26yo Melissa, is never predictable! In fact, we seem to end up having the most amazing experiences together when we originally set out to do something mundane. I think we bring out the spontaneity that lingers just below the surface in both our souls and we live in the moment. Often, our dog Molly gets swept along for the ride!

On Monday, it began as a simple outing: to the local beach to take some final photos of Flat Stanley before stopping at the post office to mail him back to Arizona. Melissa tagged along with me so I could manage Stanley, Molly and the camera, without one of them ending up in the sea! Melissa was also looking for a particular stick to create a wand for an upcoming event, so combing for driftwood, we strolled away half an hour or so quite sensibly.

It was when we were back in the car and I suggested we could stop by a local creek, that mischief took over!

I grew up within walking distance of Sweetwater Creek, however back in the 70s, there wasn't a lot of sweetness about it! In fact, it was a weed-infested no-go zone that our mothers didn't even need to warn us to avoid! In the decades since, it has been nurtured with walking paths, bridges and such, but sadly the volunteer Friends have not been able to win the weed battle. However, not all weeds are ugly and it is spring, so our walk along the tracks was quite pretty and Molly enjoyed the abundant birdlife.

I had never seen the tiny waterfall there, nor the area of rock at the water's edge called the Granites. It was all quite magical, if you overlooked the mosquitoes. Flat Stanley had a wonderful time and Molly enjoyed most of it.

It was when we went up a path that wasn't that the adventure began! Melissa insisted we were following the designated track, but we had our doubts as it narrowed and then took a sharp descent. Up for the challennge (and still thinking we were on the proper path) we scrambled down, convincing Molly that she could jump over the exposed tree root and on we went. The path became less and less convincing as we went down further and we soon realised we were hiking down the gully to the waterfall! But clambering back up the hillside didn't seem very appealing either!

Our path came to a halt right alongside the top of the waterfall - and then continued upwards on the other side. We looked back up the way we had come and looked up toward the way we could go, and neither were very appealing. However, there we were with poor Flat Stanley (becoming Slightly Bent Stanley) a slightly bemused Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, my DSLR camera and us! And our phones left in the car!

(You can just see the "path" where it meets the upper creek)

I passed Stanley to Melissa, grabbed the dog under one arm, thanked the goddess I was wearing my Crocs and stepped cautiously onto the exposed rock in front of the downward flow. Thinking I would at least have an interesting reason for explaining the plaster cast at my other daughter's upcoming wedding (!), I made it across and faced the sandy track up the hillside.

Melissa was watching me (waiting to see if I survived?) so I released the dog, pointed her in the right direction and gave her a confident "UP!" command (normally reserved for stairs at the beach!). She looked back at me as if I was mad, but with a bit of a shove she scrambled up to to the path and I held onto the lead, hoping she would help pull me up too! We made it and Melissa followed across behind us, both of us laughing hysterically at the madness of it all.

We made our way back to the car and just made the post office in time. Still shaking in his paper boots, Flat Stanlety was hastily stuffed into an envelope with all his treasures and was soon on his way!

Never a dull moment with us!