Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today I am thankful - humanity, sunshine and satisfaction.

- for humanity: over the past few days, I have watched online the program which had Australia talking last week - the SBS Go Back to Where You Came From - and it has had a deep impact on me. Working an area which is one of the highest settlement areas for migrants and refugees in the country, each day I see people from all the countries featured and more. It breaks my heart to hear the stories of women who come to our Centre and seeing this program just reinforced my support of those seeking refuge. I don't condone unscrupulous people smugglers, but only from a safety perspective - I fully understand the desperation of those on the boats. And I don't judge anyone for getting here anyway they can - you see, I am the grandchild of an illegal immigrant myself! Almost 100 years ago, my Granddad came to Australia with the British Merchant navy and jumped ship in Adelaide. In the 1970s,  he was given a pardon by Al Grasby and thanked for his contribution with the Australian Army in both world wars. So, if you want, you can tell ME to go back where I came from, but given my maternal line dates back to convicts in the early 1800s, you might have to split me in two!

- for sunshine: as I drove home from work, the radio was full of wonder at the fog which had enveloped the City in the afternoon. hadn't reached  my freeway, it was blue sky and sunshine all the way.

- for satisfaction: to help a legally blind mum who returned to work full-time yesterday and is breastfeeding her 6wo baby but was bamboozled by her breast pump - turned out she was using extra parts needed to connect the manual unit to the optional electric pump, which she didn't have, and was trying to express with that all connected! Aha - light-bulb moment!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today I am thankful - dinner, project and colour

 - for dinner: mmm ... threw this together in slow cooker before I headed out to an ABA group meeting this morning and is has bubbled away all day smelling yummy!

Slow Cooker Herb and Garlic Lamb Shanks
  • 4 small or 2 large lamb shanks cut into smaller pieces (I used a small) leg
  • 2 tablespoons dried lamb herbs or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped finely
  • 1 420 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 200 g punnet button mushrooms halved
  • 1 onion chopped into eighths
  • ¾ cup good quality red wine
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 200 g tub sour cream
Combine the flour, herbs, salt and pepper in a plastic bag and shake until well combined.
Add the shanks and shake until well coated.
Put the shanks in the slow cooker and add all remaining ingredients, except the sour cream.
Add a little extra water so that the shanks are mostly covered, if required.
Cook on slow for approximately 8 hours.
Add the sour cream just before serving.
- for project: It involves a canvas (which Kieran kindly painted balck for me today), old Scrabble tiles and all the names in our family - plus kindly donated missing letters offered by a Facebook friend! Melissa and I spend some time this afternoon shuffling and rearranging before finally arriving on the format that includes everything I wanted - so I quickly took a photo so we can reproduce it with glue and the missing tiles!
- for colour: as i work away on my crochet Friendship Blanket, I have fun deciding which colours are added - complimentary, contrast or reminiscent - each gives me that little Aha! moment. And the whole project is reminding me of the last crohet blanket I made, back in the early 80s! That was granny squares, but once it covered the top of the bed, I edged it round and round in granny stripes. It was heavy and warm - but sadly  ended up as a dog blanket and eventually went to God! But its memory is living on in this one, as I go round and round!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Today I am thankful - time off, old friends, order and pelicans!

- for time off: took some time off Thankful blogging this week, as part of a rest strategy - not sure it saved me any energy LOL, but at least I can say I cut back on something!

- for old friends: how wonderful it was today to have a casual reunion with fellow students from our old school Ballam Park Tech. Organised through Facebook, about 30 people came - attendance seemed to fall between 74- the second year of the school and the first year with girls - and 1985. I think nearly everyone there still lives fairly locally - nice feeling of community. Next year will be the school's 40th anniversary (although technically it now has yet another name, the second since they merged us in the mid 90s) and I hope someone organises a big reunion for that, as the one we had in 1992 was great fun.

Who is that rainbow woman?

- for order: our office is slowly getting everything back in place - well, as well as we can when some of the places have been removed and replacements not ordered yet! It seems every spare moment involves moving something - into a box, out  of a box .... but we have also had the last of the new phone  system installed and Kintara and I have our new red Hot Seats (which she kindly assembled!) and our vision of the refreshed office is coming together.

- for pelicans: Often during my work commute, pelicans fly over-head. i can't tell you the joy I get when I see them, because they just weren't around in this area when we were growing up. They are a sign that the wetlands in the area are working and productive. Water birds also make use of the flooded drainage areas along the way, creating their own eco-sphere, which just shows you can't plan everything! And the pelicans also remind me of my father, who often quoted: A funny old bird is the pelican. His beak can hold more than his belly can. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rest versus Do

I am a few days behind in my Thankful posts - I have been Thankful, just haven't posted!

Today I am in a quandry. It is Friday and, like Monday, my week-day off. And like most other Friday/Mondays when I have no commitments on the calendar, my brain bickers with itself over the wisest use of my time.

My body is tired, the fibromyalgia is doing its winter thing and making all my connective tissue painful and I have pushed my energy level to the point where small MS symptoms are telling me to take it easy. I should be resting. My poor chiropractor is nagging me to rest - actual rest, not doing stuff in bed like crochet or blog surfing!!! Sigh. He says I don't know how, but the truth is I know only too well and have spent so much time that way in the past - and it is mind-numbing.

But there is that other part of my brain who presents a wishlist of things to do - restore my scrapbooking room after the moving-out disruptions; shop for and cook a batch of lunches for the freezer (to make my work days easier!); work on my new photo gallery wall in the living room; work on my Friendship Blanket; catch up on my ABA photo library tasks and it goes on .... None of these are things I don't want to do or won't enjoy doing but none of them are technically rest. But if I lie in bed all day resting, my brain will just churn over this list!

I can compromise with a half-day in bed and a half-day tackling the list but I know neither will be really effective. If only I could clone myself and have one body to rest and nurture and a second to get on and do!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today I am thankful - yarn, organising and chiro

- for yarn: Ever since I started working in Dandenong, nearly three years ago, I have been intrigued by the sign over a store on the highway - Knit and Purl - but it isn't near anything I visit in my work-life and is just that bit too far for there and back again in my lunch break. But today I headed there after a meeting on my day off - I am actually running low on yarn for my blanket and thought it time to check it out. Well, so glad I did! A lovely little shop with a really good atmosphere and the owner is lovely! I was actually prompted after reading an article in the local paper a couple of weeks ago, but this was the first chance I have had to investigate!

- for organising: the best thing about my daughter moving out is the fun I get to have helping her unpack! Today I got to "play" with her extensive clothing collection, which is reveling in a large walk-in robe. Between the two of us - my OCD tendencies and her work-place habits (she works in a recycled clothing store where everything is gathered into clothing type/colours) we are having a marvelous time!

- for chiropractic rescue: Shady nearly jumped with joy to spot Melissa and I in the waiting room for our first adjustments since the moving adventures! I swear he was almost rubbing his hands together in anticipation!!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today I am thankful - children, kindness and peace.

- for my children: the news that one of our volunteers has tragically lost a second adult child in as many weeks makes me want to gather my chicks under my wings and protect them. 

- for kindness: my daughter Kaitlyn happily responded to my plea to collect and transport my laptop from home to office - my morning routine was disrupted and I walked out the door without it. She had to hurry, though, as she had an appointment to get my dog's claws trimmed - after I requested her help with this urgent task. 

- for peace: on my return home from work, I stopped to enjoy the result of my cleaner's labours and the calm space of our home. I pottered around closing curtains against the dusk, lighting candles and spent five minutes refreshing the arrangement of treasures on the chest in our bedroom. Anticipating the dinner to be cooked by my son, I could just relax :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Today I am thankful - teamwork, wonderful son and rainbows

- for teamwork: problem - two spaces in our breastfeeding centre are swapping usage, which means furniture that needs emptying/moving/refilling; staff are physically unable to do so. solution - a callout on Facebook for helpers results in a last-minute working bee and the job is done! Social media for good.

- for my wonderful son: "Shopping not delivered yet?" I asked when I arrived home from work. "Yeah," he replies, I put it away already." Not many 20yo blokes would put away, without trace, a month's online grocery order without being asked. mwah!

- for rainbows: my new skirt arrived in the post, just in time to welcome the Winter Solstice.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today I am thankful - shadows, words and creation

- for long shadows: a week out from the Winter solstice, the days are short and my drive home at 4pm is accompanied by a descending sun casting long, long shadows. My commute is a freeway across what was once a large wetland, leaving flat, open space to see the light play.

- for words: the English language is an awful thing - messy, conflicting and counter-intuitive. So many of the visitors I see at work are mastering it as a second language and their usage often highlights its flaws. My favourite, common to migrants from India and the Sub-continent - their breasts or nipples are "paining". So logical, so descriptive, so emotive. 

- for woolly creation: my Friendship Blanket continues to grow in its unplanned journey. As the yarns come together, it directs me what to do next. The results surprise me each time. While I work, I think of all the people who have been friends during the first half of my life and all those I will meet in the second half.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Today I am thankful - expo, inspiration and colour

- for expo: we had a great time at the mind body and spirit expo today. I came home with things that were on my list, including a second Himalan salt lamp so I can have one beside my bed as a night light. 

- for inspiration: I spied a woman in an amazing crocheted long cardigan/jacket! ooh!!! 

- for colour: the purple wool looks wonderful against the previous row of golden yellow. The blanket grows.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Today I am thankful - rest, gorillas and holiday

- for a rest day: even though it does my head in when I have other things I would rather be doing, I give in to the need to restore some energy and have a bed day.

- for gorillas: Vale Titus, the gorilla silver-back whose life we have observed since he was a baby. A documentary tonight showed his last days, aged 35 years. Dianne Fossey would have been proud of his achievements.

- for a holiday: tomorrow, Melissa and I will go to the Mind Body Sprit expo and also pay our last respects to Borders - it is the least we can do ;)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Today I am thankful - support, accomplishment and growth

- for support: it was our MS support group today. It is held every month and I am one of the leaders but I have had prior commitments for the past two. It is good to gather with people who understand, where we laugh that three of us still can't quite remember the tea/coffee requests by the time we get to the kitchen. Where conversation about walking sticks, walking frames and wheelchairs is of a practical nature and a catalogue is passed around like it was selling Tupperware. Where the simple act of slicing and serving cake is appreciated for its complexity and praised for its success. But mostly, where irreverent laughter and empathy fill the room.

- for accomplishment: I got the dog washed and the kitty litter changed. The girls used to share the litter tray responsibility as they were owned by a cat each. Then Kaitlyn took it on while Melissa backpacked, then Melissa took it on when Kaitlyn left home. Now Melissa has left home and I get it back again! Sigh.

- for growth: my friendship blanket continues to change at my whim - random circles are attached and incorporated. Colours change as I get bored. Steadily it grows and keeps me warm - as long as I share with the fur-babies who think it is for their winter comfort!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today I am thankful - Freecycle, patience and visitors.

- for Freecycle goodness: today Melissa and I picked up a sewing cabinet from a Freecycler in Caulfield. It is now installed in her sewing room :) On Wednesday a generous local Freecycler not only gave her a dining table but dropped it off to her home! Reducing landfill and building community - is good!

- for patience: I was happily winding a ball of wool off the skien, when the cat decided to sit on it on my lap. Sigh - now it is a form of meditation.

- for visitors: this weekend, Melbourne is hosting two of my favourite people - the Dali Lama and Jane Goodall, the chimpanzee woman. Just knowing they are nearby makes me feel good about the world.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Beyond the first hour - why baby-led is the secret to successful breastfeeding

It is well-recognised that the first hour or so after a baby's birth is a magical time when - if all goes uninterrupted - a newborn baby placed straight on his mother's bare chest will search for and attach to the breast unaided.

What isn't widely-known is that the reflexes and instincts that are active at that time do not switch off or go away, but remain for weeks and even months after birth.

In our work at the Breastfeeding Centre, a lot of what we do is helping new mothers work through attachment issues in the days and weeks after they leave hospital, often with sore and damaged nipples and usually supplementing with expressed breast milk and/or artificial baby milk. By the time they see us, they are well-versed in the theories of good positioning and attachment and have had many different hands attempt to get their baby on the breast.

Here we use a different approach. A combination of strategies  variously called baby-led breastfeeding, baby-led attachment, laid-back breastfeeding, biological nurturing and, more generally, skin to skin (skin2skin, S2S). We refer to the work of Dr Christina Smilie and Suzanne Colson, using their DVDs and other resources to guide women and their babies to a more intuitive way of breastfeeding.

In its most basic form, we encourage mothers to change from mother-led attachment, where the baby is held against her body and she controls when the mouth goes on the nipple to a baby-led approach, where the baby follows his natural reflexes and goes onto the breast unaided. This apparently simple refocus has amazing results and works for the majority of mothers/babies who come to us for help. It is so simple, so effective and so different from what they have previously been shown that they ask why it is not taught in hospitals. The answer to that is complex.

Along with every other breastfeeding counsellor, midwife, child health nurse and lactation consultant practising in the 1990s, I embraced the revolution that was positioning and attachment. Led by wise women such as Chloe Fisher, we learned the mechanics of how a nipple was positioned in a baby's mouth when well-attached and developed teaching techniques for mothers and those helping them to achieve this. With diagrams, dolls and knitted breasts, we progressed from the traditional Madonna or cradle-hold to the cross-cradle hold, which allowed the mother or her health professional to control when the baby's mouth touched the breast and quickly brought the mouth onto the breast before it began to close. Midwives began checking off a list - special K mouth, lower lip turned out, more areola showing above the mouth than below, tummy to tummy, chest to chest - and none of these are or were wrong. But somewhere along the line, we all forgot the baby! 

While everyone was trying to achieve this most natural of connections, we were working against the oldest tools in the world - instinct and reflexes. Even as we learned about the magic of the breast crawl, we still persevered with sitting mothers in an upright position, juggling pillows and cushions to get the baby's body just so and making the whole process more and more complex, more reliant of professional help - and more distressing when it didn't go well.

That leaves us with an awful lot of people to re-educate, a lot of rules to retract and a lot of confidence to rebuild. Even within the breastfeeding community, there is confusion about how to incorporate the good and remove the bad from this mix of techniques and approaches. 

Put simply, all we adults need to back off and allow the baby to show us what he needs and then help him do it. Rather having the mother sitting stiffly, hunched over the baby perched on a specially-designed pillow, we need to encourage her to sit comfortably, lie back if she wishes and take her time. We need to do away with seemingly compulsory nappy changing before feeds and other delaying practices that simply distress a baby and take away his ability to transition from sleep to feeding without crying and suppressing his natural feeding cues. We need to hold our babies in that most-natural position against our body and allow them to search for the breast, attach and feed, without assessing and checking and making sure it is "right". Mothers need to tune into the feedback they get - which includes pain and discomfort - and change what they need to make it feel better. No third person can tell a woman if her baby is "on right" as only she can feel if it is comfortable.

Well, it looks like he is on right ...

So, that's mostly what we do here. Show, encourage, support and learn. And watch as the magic of a relaxed mother and calm baby help hormones, milk and tears flow and confidence return. Yes, there are times when it still doesn't click and then we look to physical barriers - mouth issues, birth trauma or other factors in the baby making it hard or impossible to feed in the comfort zone. But mostly, we just watch the baby show his mother how beautifully he can breastfeed and that is magic too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Today I am thankful - babies, joy and warmth

- for babies: our drop-in day today saw us hosting some seriously gorgeous babies - Kintara almost needed to be frisked to make sure she didn't slip one little Sudanese boy into her handbag to take home while I also fell for the tiny little boy who was born at 33 weeks and is now 6 weeks old and just home from hospital. It's a tough place to work.

- for joy: when the parents of the little premmie watched the Baby-led attachment DVD, their happiness filled the room. I so hope their own experience when they got home was as special as they hoped - they were really looking forward to spending a lot of time skin-to-skin to make up for all those weeks apart.

- for warmth! Winter has really arrived and woolly hats and wrist warmers are essential for the drive to and from work - nice to have several hand-made options to select from! Good year to take up crochet again!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My photo shoot!

Hot of the press, my photos from last Friday's shoot are live on their Facebook page, so here they are for you to enjoy!  I love them and hope you do too :)

Viva la colour!!!!

Today I am thankful - decluttered, peace and progress

- for decluttering! it is a hell of a way to achieve it, but we suddenly have space! My head is still spinning, but when I stop to look, there is room in the pantry, the linen cupboard, the lounge room ... not to mention the ex-bedroom itself! I have even just made space on my tea shelf by gathering Melissa's collection for her to take home. Sure makes up for these past weeks when I haven't done anything for the 52 week challenge!!

- for peace: I am enjoying tranquility as Kieran is (asleep) in his room - I came home to three fur babies who wanted their dinner and have only had to enjoy tea and gentle music since. I will probably have to think about dinner, though, as tonight was another of Melissa's and has been reassigned to the sleeping one ;)

- for progress: today our new office phone system was installed and instead of listening to my endless messagebank message, now you can Press on for breast pumps ... be careful what you wish for!!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Today I am thankful -

- for walking: today, Melissa,Kaitlyn, Molly and I donned our new red hats (or scarf, in the case of Molly!) and walked the 5kms around Albert Park Lake again, this time as part of the annual MS Walk. At times it was very chilly and at one point the head wind almost took Molly away, but at least we didn't have the rocky ride the swans and cygnets were having on the lake! I love that my girls so willing book this event into their calendars in support of my health and even the big move out yesterday wasn't going to get in the way :)

- for a moving experience: Yesterday was moving day, as Melissa moved into her first permanent home out of home (she had backpacked for two years in her early 20s, but has been back home for four) and family and friends rallied to relocate her stuff. Having only secured the rental on Thursday and having started her search on Monday, she was moving out before she had even begun packing. As a massive book collector, seamstress and costume maker, Melissa needed a lot more than her bedroom and the parts of the family home she had taken over, but with parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and sibling's friends, most of her treasures were transferred on the day. Living without electricity or gas until Monday, she has been back home for dinner and showers. Today I had the luxury of helping unpack by shelving her books as best we can - she needs more book-cases! I might have a 20 year head-start, but she has a collection that will rival my own! And the luxury of a sewing room will do wonders :)

- for space! The flip-side of Melissa relocating her stuff is the freeing up of room for our own! From pantry to linen cupboard to living rooms, there is space where there wasn't - not to mention the empty room earmarked for a den for her father! I can't wait to see our cleaner's face tomorrow: she last came on Thursday morning, when she heard Melissa was house-hunting - a few days later and she has left the building!!!!