Thursday, April 24, 2014

Breasts and Bottles: Shielded



One of the most popular posts on this blog is this one, where I talk about my own experience with (attempting) breastfeeding and formula feeding Dear Boy. Quite a few of the ladies who find their way here seem to come via a search for a baby-feeding story that resonates with their own experience. With this new Breasts and Bottles series, I'm keen to share some of those other stories. I've asked friends and family and strangers to send me the story of their own experience with feeding their babies. Because if a first-time pregnant lady asks me about my breastfeeding experience, I want to be able to offer something other than just my own rawness. I would have loved to know, back then, that there's no one right way to do this (I would have also liked to know that formula-feeding wasn't a bad choice, it's just a choice - although I deal with that in my own post). This next story is from S, who did battle with nipple shields and a complete cow of a community nurse.

***

I wasn’t worried about breastfeeding at all until Bub was born and he just wouldn’t latch onto my breast. No-one seemed very worried about it and I just kept trying. But my nipples ended up blistered and bleeding because of the bad latch. I was covered in Lansinoh and putting cold packs on my breasts afterwards, but they weren’t healing and it just kept being painful anytime Bub’s mouth touched me. A Mothercare nurse gave me a nipple shield to try and it was much better. It gave my nipples a chance to heal (oh, and that is so gross – the skin on my nipples peeled off before they got better). I bought some nice thin ones when I left the hospital, the Medela ones, and just kept using them at home.

When the community nurse came to visit she was really demanding that I didn’t use it, and basically threw it away and spent an hour with us, trying to jam Bub’s mouth onto my breast. She said he’d never get enough milk with a shield and would start to get unhealthy. I just felt like such a failure after her visit I cried and cried even though Bub’s always been fine with weight and wet nappies and all of that. But my husband told me to just use the shield again if that’s what I felt comfortable with. Basically he said it’s either use it or give up breast feeding if I didn’t want to keep trying without it.

I’m so glad I listened to him and not that nurse. I saw a proper lactation consultant a few weeks later who was much more supportive. Instead of being negative about the shield, she helped me see that if it was helping me continue to breastfeed then it’s not a big no-no. Because I did want to stop using the shield eventually (cause it is a pain having to always have it on hand and mess around with it whenever he wants to feed), she taught me some techniques I could try when I felt comfortable, stuff like starting with the shield then removing it after a few minutes and getting him to latch back on. It didn’t work at all the first few times but maybe once a week I’d give it a go and sometimes he would latch and sometimes he wouldn’t.

I finally weaned him off the shield at four and a half months old when his mouth was obviously bigger and I think my breasts were softer from a couple of months of feeding. Now we’ve been going for nine months. Without the shield, we wouldn’t have lasted anywhere near this long.

***

If you'd also like to share your breastfeeding story, short or long, happy or sad, boring or weird, please email me at: lilybett[at]gmail[dot]com 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Meatless Monday: Quest for the perfect rice paper roll

Meatless Monday, vegetarian, rice paper roll

I am not a sushi person. Besides not eating seafood, I'm not a huge fan of nori or the sugary rice. And those weirdly coloured bean-curd wraps just weird me out. But rice paper rolls are something else. In summer or just in general, they're a great lightweight meal - lunch, dinner, whatever. Full of fresh veg, a smattering of protein, and a handful of noodles. No oven required.

But few shops actually sell them and they are a bit fiddly to make. And entirely messy. And a complete pain if you lack bench space.

Or so I thought.

When a Roll'd open at our local shopping centre and I devoured my weight in tofu rolls (and the odd banh mi), I was determined to figure out the secret of rolling your own at home: a quest, if you will, for the perfect rice paper roll. I've had a few goes now and I'm ready to deliver on a few of the secrets I've uncovered.

Meatless Monday, rice paper roll, vegetarian, tofu






Secret no 1. Go easy on the water. One of the most fiddly parts of making a rice paper roll is managing the rice paper without tearing it or folding it over on itself in weird ways. The professionals, it seems, only give the rice paper the barest of dunks in water: a few seconds and then a swipe at the excess water. Pull them out while they're still crunchy as they keep softening while you work them on a bench.

The same thing applies to the rice noodles. I like to use day-old or leftover noodles that have had a chance to dry out and get a little sticky. Fresh cooked and they're likely to still hold a lot of water that can dilute the flavours of your rice paper roll.

Secret no 2. Scatter the rice paper with a good strong and aromatic herb. Thai basil or Vietnamese mint are fantastic (although the regular varieties are also good). These give a complex flavour through the mouth and nose without resorting to artificial sauces or flavourings.

Secret no 3. Use a combination of veggie cuts. Don't grate all the veg; don't slice it all into sticks. Go for a variety of long, short, fine, fat-wedged, etc.

Secret no 4. Extra crunch is a must. You're not only layering flavours but textures. If you're using tofu, fry that sucker up. Scatter some toasted sesame seeds amongst the herbs. The noodles give enough softness to the rolls.

Secret no 5. The best crunch and my new must-have are fried onions/shallots. These babies give it that extra push towards authenticity, or store-boughtedness that I sometimes search for. I buy mine at the local Chinese grocer rather than making my own.

There is no secret to the actual rolling part itself. Just fold in the sides and go. Don't be afraid of fat or stumpy rolls: they taste just the same. I'm going for perfection in realms outside the aesthetic here.

I love these as they are or will make up a little dipping sauce of soy, sweet chilli and lime juice. A little sweet soy or hoisin also works in a pinch.

Meatless Monday, rice paper roll, vegetarian, tofu

Have you ever watched a professional at work and then tried to replicate it at home? How'd it work for you? These are delicious - give them a try.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Intentional Play (April): All Eastered out


I'll admit I'm already worn out with this month's Intentional Play theme. Easter's a much bigger holiday than any of the others we've included so far and with an abundance of craft and activities, our little house has been littered with (plastic/cardboard) eggs, fluffy chicks and rabbits. The eggs and chicks above were my well-lets-see-if-this-works centrepiece for an Easter dinner with friends. I adore the subtle green of that egg in the middle although these are really a great big Pinterest fail after attempting ombre eggs and those suckers just not standing up in a cup and my dyes not being serious enough for the job.





In an attempt to avoid a diabetic coma, I've included all manner of non-consumables in our Easter Egg hunt. These little chicks aren't all that durable (eeep, scary faceless chicks!) but they added some serious cute to the festivities. Dear Boy cradled them ever so gently in his chubbsy little fists hands and came running back to me with each one (only somewhat smooshed).


Even trying to cut down, we still ended up with a metric crap-tonne of chocolate. Family and friends kept appearing with shiny, foiled-wrapped bunnies and eggs. Now my wardrobe is housing the bulk of the leftovers and will soon be (mostly) rehoused to the work kitchenette where they'll be devoured by hangry academics in search of sugar.

That poor boy of mine crashed pretty hard after an egg or two right after breakfast and was parked in front of a happy, cheery music DVD until he calmed the eff down. Afterwards we took down the toilet-roll bunnies he'd helped me make last week and he discovered the most definitely non-chocolate bits and pieces I'd hidden in the middle: a small stash of crayons and a few printed Easter Bilby pictures for colouring and drawing all over. Perfect for a little vegemite in need of a few sugar-free moments of calm.

Have you had a very chocolate-y Easter? Do you have any non-chocolate Easter traditions (I'm on the look out for more of those for next year)?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

New (Australian) Songs on a Saturday Morning: Lenka

As part of my ongoing effort to increase the range of my cultural consumption, I undertook a challenge to listen to a metric crap-tonne of new songs. I hit that goal at the end of January, notching up a cool 1000 new songs. My favourites can be found here. But after all was said and done, I was feeling a little bereft without the project to work on. It was there, humming in the background of this blog for so long, that it felt like a friend had moved away. I noticed when I was going through my favourites list that there were quite a few Australians featured, so I thought I might make myself a new project, aiming to listen to more local artists and showcase some of the ones I included on my list. This week I am moving on to more of Lenka.

Lenka is one of Lovely Husband's wispy voiced ladies that he listens to. I think he's especially enamoured with this one because she hosted Cheez TV back in the day (not to mention GP and a small stints on Home and Away, Wildside and All Saints), which I guess may have fuelled a few early teen fantasies. Who knows. I included her single, 'The Show', at number 68.


She's got a fair passel of quirk about her and it works. Especially here, in 'Everything at Once', with a carnival/carousel wurlitzer humming in the background. I'm not sure I'd feel the same about it though after hearing it in the new Windows 8 ad.


I'm in love with the little cuties in this video, face-painted and ready to play. I'm also a little in love with this tune: 'Heart to the Party'.


Finally, 'Two' is a little piece of happy-clappy-ness. Some days I'm all about the happy-clappy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Science of the Clothesline: Drying optimisation, peg-mark reduction and time/space efficiency


** Warning ** I’m about to spend quite a long time talking about hanging washing on a clothesline. Bear with me.

When I was younger I read the book Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth. I had a thing about big families, but this family was even more interesting because their parents Frank Bunker Gilbreth Snr and his wife Lillian Gilbreth were some of the earliest experts in scientific management or time and motion studies – essentially how to do things more efficiently.

The Gilbreths applied this to their home life, using all twelve of their kids as guinea pigs for time and motion observations. This applied to chores, homework, dressing and bathing – to maximise what would otherwise be wasted time bathing, the children all listened to gramophone recordings of language lessons, to learn French or Latin while scrubbing their dirty feet.

I later taught a class on organisations, technology and change with a basic overview of some of the earliest organisational studies, including that of the Gilbreths and others working to make workers (labourers and factory workers mostly) work faster. The Gilbreth’s focus was not just on increasing work speed like colleague Frederick Winslow Taylor (Faster! Faster! Faster!), but also on worker welfare by increasing productivity or efficiency by reducing the number of motions or the amount of energy needed to perform a task. They filmed workers and analysed posture as well as the number and nature of motions. This video is one of their films with the recommendations included.

As a new mum, a lot of these ideas kept coming back to me. How do I maximise productivity with the least amount of energy expenditure – because, essentially, I was buggered simply from looking after the baby. Every other household chore on top of that was a weight around my neck.

Hanging out the washing feels like an exception to me, though. It’s one of the ones I like. I am not at all a fan of folding and putting away the clothes afterwards, but some days the only time I went outside and took time to breathe was putting the clothes on the line. And while hanging, I pondered the nature of the Gilbreths’ work and how I could apply their methods to this small part of my day. I pondered it a lot. And then I hypothesized, which was really the slippery slope down into this (quasi-scientific) study of hanging clothes. There were no other humans involved in this study so no ethics clearance was sought or granted.  

***

There are a few different issues at play when hanging washing. And like that building trinity (faster, better, cheaper: where you can only ever have two of the three at any one time), there are some overlaps but generally, these issues are antithetical when it comes to how you hang your clothes:

  • Faster drying
  • Space saving
  • Time saving
  • Avoiding peg marks
I should mention that this is an Australian study, so refers to my bloody awesome Hills Hoist (a rotary clothesline) rather than single or parallel lines strung between poles or attached to buildings, etc (although some of these ideas may still apply). Indoor clothes horses or drying racks have their own issues – we use these in winter, but there’s a completely different science at work with indoor drying.

Faster drying

Let’s start with physics, or centrifugal forces, to be exact... or not... seeing as it’s not a real force at all but the inertia of motion (Lovely Husband is muttering that I mean centripetal forces but that’s not quite what I’m after and bugger it, the formula is the same for both: Fc = mv2/r, if you’re interested, and cause I wanted to show I did some research). What is boils down to is rotary clotheslines are flipping awesome because they spin. Not only do they offer the opportunity for general wind effects (as on other lines) but they also allow centrifugal (not real) forces to act on the washing.

In terms of our issue here (faster drying), what is important is that the drying effect is greater/faster the further the object is placed from the central tether. In essence, if there is any line movement at all, stuff hung on the furthest lines from the centre will be dry faster than equal stuff hung closer to the centre. Combine this centrifugal force with the fact that items hung on the outer line have a greater exposure to sun (less chance of  shadow from other items) and you’re laughing.

Where: If you have a single load and a hint of breeze – hang it all on the outer lines; if you have multiple loads, hang bulkier items on the outer lines and smaller, lighter items on the inner ones.

Using our basic formula for line placement (that Greater Movement = Faster Drying Time or GM=FDT), we can then extrapolate optimal peg/item configurations to achieve faster drying times. Given pegs limit movement, greater distance from the peg would allow greater movement. If both of these things are true, then distancing dense, bulky or layered fabrics from the peg would ensure faster drying time overall. On trousers, for example, the layered fabric of the waistband and pockets dries more slowly than other areas. It follows then that pegging trousers by the hems of the trouser legs (with a minimal fold over the line) would allow greater movement of the thickest areas, and thereby ensure faster drying time for the garment overall.

How: Keep pegs away from the thickest folds, layers or parts of the garment. Peg to allow these areas greater movement

Other examples:
  • T-shirts, jumpers and hoodies – peg at the hemline to allow greater movement around the armpits, shoulders and collar
  • Undies - peg at the hip to allow greater air flow through the gusset/crotch and the waistband
  • Socks – variable depending on thickness/type of sock; I use Bonds Cushion Feet which have thicker fabric around the foot, so are hung by one side of the top – this leaves the sock ‘open’ to more airflow

 Space saving

Ever played Tetris? Sometimes hanging multiple loads of washing on a single rotary line feels a lot like that. Ideally, you would have an awesomely windy and scorchingly hot day that'd allow you dry a single load of washing before the next had finished its cycle. But unless it’s February or you live some place like Marble Bar in WA, chances are you’re going to have to shuffle, rearrange or think ahead.

Some items (but not all) lend themselves to being folded or otherwise manipulated in order to minimise their hanging size. Thin and flat items like hankies, tea-towels or bed sheets, for example, can be folded by length or width and then pegged for drying. Other thin items such as business trousers or cotton pants can be folded in half, reducing their hanging space to a single leg-width. Problematic here is that folded items may require refolding in order to expose and dry the inner fabric areas and avoid longer drying times.

An alternative strategy is to make creative use of space, rejecting standard procedure to hang items along the length of a single line. Hanging single items across parallel lines, for instance, dramatically increases the number of items that can be hung in that same space. Even allowing for a slightly smaller inner line, engaging parallel lines permits me to hang up to twenty adult sized t-shirts and shirts with a 10cm gap, compared to 8.5 similar items hanging along the length of the same two lines. This method does increase peg-mark visibility owing to a slight twist in the fabric as you peg to a line running perpendicular to the garment.

How: minimise hanging size or choose alternate hanging methods

Other examples:
  • Business/school shirts/t-shirts – can be hung on coat hangers and placed on the line to dry as they would be placed on a wardrobe rack (pegs placed between hangers can prevent them from sliding and bunching together). This method can help reduce the need for ironing
  • Trousers/jeans – can be hung on clip hangers by the waistband or by the hems of the legs (any trousers that require crisp pleats can be hung using this method to avoid ironing them in)
  •  Underwear and socks – can be hung on a separate clip rack like this or pegged along a wire coat hanger, both of which can then be hung on the clothesline

Time saving

According to the traditional time and motion studies, minimising the number and length of movements while maximising their efficiency helps to reduce overall time needed to perform a task. In terms of hanging the washing and the time spent actually hanging items (as opposed to time spent drying items), this means considering the placement of the basket of clothes and pegs, manipulation of clothes and pegs as well as sorting subsystems.

As in the Gilbreth’s video of bricklayers, bending to ground level to pick up single items is incredibly inefficient whether you’re hoping to get a brick wall built or clothes hung on a line. Raising the clothes basket on a chair, bench or trolley limits the range of motion necessary to pick up clothes and hence speeds up the process.

Picking up multiple items can also increase speed, depending on individual abilities to manipulate pegs or a pre-distribution of pegs on the line (leaving pegs on a line can speed up the process of hanging if they are distributed at appropriate distances along the line for the size of the garment that needs to be hung, effectively eliminating peg gathering from the equation). To reduce peg decay and breakage, I choose to remove pegs from the line and keep them indoors between uses. As such, I acquire both pegs and clothes with each motion. From considered observation, I know I am only able to hold and manipulate a maximum of six wooden pegs at any given time and therefore pick up a number of items requiring said number of pegs. This may be, for example, three t-shirts (3 items x 2 pegs) or six socks or pieces of underwear (6 items x 1 peg). Slinging these items across a shoulder, they are immediately available for hanging rather than requiring additional motions to the basket.

Motion efficiency can also be found in the greater scheme of hanging, utilizing zones and sorting subsystems. As you remove clothes from the washing machine, doing a quick sort of items (putting clothes in a smaller to larger or larger to smaller order into the basket) can assist in maintaining a single direction for hanging starting at either the outer or inner lines (depending on how you have sorted your clothing into the basket). This effectively limits the number of motions needed to reach different parts of the line, if you move the raised clothes basket with each movement to another line (a trolley with wheels will also reduce energy expenditure here).

How: pre-sort items into the basket; raise clothes and peg baskets from ground level; observe personal peg manipulation and adjust number of items accordingly; work in a single direction

Other things to consider:
  • Do you want to sling wet washing across your shoulder? If no, then reduce the number of items to what you can carry in your non-peg hand.
  • Assistants can greatly reduce hanging time by handing you clothes and pegs. This is only a time saving if assistants are well-trained and unlikely to drop clean clothes on the ground.

Avoiding peg marks

Peg marks are a contentious category. Rather than being one of concern over time, space or energy savings, this one’s mostly personal preference or vanity for how one looks or presents to the world. Regardless, I think it’s a category that’s influenced and been handed down to quite a few women.

There are a number of ways to eliminate concern for peg marks entirely: use a tumble dryer, hang clothes on a line without pegs or to stop caring about having peg marks on your clothes. Not all of these are viable options though. In order to reduce marks on clothes hung on a line with pegs, there are two primary strategies: place pegs in places where marks won’t be seen or employ pads or buffers to reduce the pressure of the peg on the garment.

Placing pegs in places where marks won’t be seen is a fine art. It’s an art I learned from my own mother who had a tremendous collection of 80s and 90s business clothes that she didn’t wish to be sullied (and were probably a bit dangerous to put inside a hot tumble dryer). I was taught, for instance, to peg trousers and skirts along the back waistband, t-shirts under the armpits and button-up shirts at the side-seams of the hemline. There are compromises here, though, in terms of drying time given reduced movement of thicker fabrics and increased folds over the line.

An alternative (although one that compromises on hanging time and drying time to a lesser extent) is the use of make-shift pads to act as a buffer between the fabric and the peg. The pad needed really depends on the fabric of the garment but I’ve used dry wash clothes, folded garment bags and even breast pads that have sprung loose from swimmers.

How: place pegs in places where the marks won’t be seen or use make-shift pads to buffer garment fabric.

Other examples:

  • Hanging some garments inside out can reduce visible peg marks
  • Hang shirts, t-shirts or dresses on coat hangers
  • Dresses – hang under the armpits
  • Underpants (?!) or swimmers – by the gusset or crotch
  • Socks and tights – by the toes
Hanging clothes on the line is such a weirdly personal thing. Not only are you hanging up items that touch your skin and the skin of your loved ones, but techniques are generally handed down from parent to child (or parent to adult-child, if they're lazy as). Most of us have pegged automatically and in the same way for years. 

Do you have a strategy for how to hang your clothes? Does it save you time or space, reduce peg marks or help the clothes dry more quickly? Did you learn it from your own mum? 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Breasts and Bottles: Different kids, different experiences



One of the most popular posts on this blog is this one, where I talk about my own experience with (attempting) breastfeeding and formula feeding Dear Boy. Quite a few of the ladies who find their way here seem to come via a search for a baby-feeding story that resonates with their own experience. When there's quite a lot of shame or guilt or anxiety surrounding formula-feeding, it's not really that surprising that sometimes these stories are hard to find. They're hard to tell. I wept writing my own down as I relived the rawness of those months. 

My story, though, isn't unique. There are plenty of other women who've struggled: some struggled on through and kept breastfeeding, some turned to pumping and bottle feeding only; and some went down the formula route. But my story is also not typical. There are still plenty of women who have great breastfeeding experiences, for whom it is natural and easy, or for whom it becomes second nature. There are some women who never tried to breastfeed but went straight to formula for a variety of reasons. There are some who tandem feed their newborns and older children. There are some who fully breastfeed their twins. There are some who formula-fed one child and breast-fed the next or vice versa. So many experiences in so many different permutations. 

With this new Breasts and Bottles series, I'm keen to share some of those other stories. I've asked friends and family and strangers to send me the story of their own experience with feeding their babies. Because if a first-time pregnant lady asks me about my breastfeeding experience, I want to be able to offer something other than just my own rawness. I would have loved to know, back then, that there's no one right way to do this (I would have also liked to know that formula-feeding wasn't a bad choice, it's just a choice - although I deal with that in my own post). I started this series with a post on donor milk, but now I want to turn it over to other mums (and dads too) to tell their stories, stories that are deeply personal and yet universal. This first story is from T, who is a champion among women for taking the time to write and share it. Thank you.

***

I began the breastfeeding process when my Sweet Daughter was born in 2009. I was anxious I wouldn’t get it right or that I wouldn’t be able to feed her due to a teenage decision about having nipple piercings. Either that or I would be squirting milk in 6 different directions.

We began breastfeeding within an hour or two of birth. At first it was just the two of us taking a stab at how this would work; we thought we had it worked out. We were wrong. Later that evening, for the next feed, I remember a nurse manually manipulating my nipples into the right shape for sweet daughter to latch on. It was a little confronting having a woman I didn’t know touching my breasts but the latch we got from this was much better and sweet daughter had a good feed. Over the coming days we thought we were doing OK, we mustn’t have been. My nipples were sore and my left nipple looked like someone had taken a knife and tried to cut it off. I had a big split across the top. Yes, I was sore but the feeds themselves weren’t hurting me which is the part they tell you indicates it's a latching issue. It was only after the feeds that would cause me any pain. 

This went on for three or four days and it wasn’t until Sweet Daughter emptied the contents of her stomach onto a towel and there was blood in the vomit, that I freaked out. This wasn’t normal, or so I thought. I rang the ABA and after a short conversation they had me reassured that it was normal, she was just rejecting the milk due to the blood content from my cut nipples that she swallowed while feeding. I made an appointment for a lactation community nurse to come visit me the following day. 

She was wonderful. She watched me do a feed with Sweet Daughter and then offered her advice. She changed my sitting position: what a difference an extra pillow makes! I was bringing my breast to the baby too much. I had E sized cups originally, and when milk comes in you can only imagine how much bigger they got. It seemed easier to arch my back down to her than to bring her higher. She also explained how to correctly shape my nipple prior to letting her latch. My husband watched too which, in the coming days, made such a difference to my mental state. I was told I had to correct Sweet Daughter's method. Yes, she was feeding but I was in pain and it should be painless. Both of us spent the following few days crying, Sweet Daughter because she was frustrated that I was removing her from my nipple if she didn’t get it right and me because it was hurting to put her on and take her off, not to mention the hormones your body goes through within a week of giving birth. I would get my husband to help me get it right: he would correct either of our positions or tell me if my nipple looked to be the correct shape or if I was holding my nipple in the correct position before letting sweet daughter latch.

What an improvement! Within two days she was feeding correctly, my nipples had all but healed and we were all feeling so much better. We didn’t want our children to use dummies, but the community nurse had told me that sweet daughter was comfort suckling on me as well as feeding which was contributing heavily to the poor latch. So now we had a baby who fed correctly and would take a dummy to soothe those comforts. The rest was a breeze for me with Sweet Daughter.

I had wanted to feed her for 12 months up to about 18 months. By the age of nine to ten months she was down to one feed daily, first thing in the morning after she woke. At 12 months and one week she weaned herself. It took three days, and by the third day she flat out refused the boob and we were done. I was proud of my efforts.

In February 2012 my monster-sized boy was born. He was 4.5kg and hungry! Within minutes of birth he was searching for boob: this time round I knew what I was doing although I had doubts. But he latched perfectly and fed for the first 2 hours of his life. It was another six hours before he took another feed and the ward nurses were pressuring me to feed him again after two hours. He didn’t want it. I knew he was full and needed his sleep, I just knew. When he woke he fed perfectly again and we never once had an issue.

Here we are: Monster Boy is now two years and two months and still occasionally breastfeeding. For about nine months we have just been doing a feed as soon as he wakes as he weaned himself off the other feeds. I had given myself a limit of two years, not thinking we would reach it. But when two years rolled around and he was still interested and we weren’t hurting anyone, the bonding continued. 

This is our special connection. I wont force him to finish. It won't last much longer: he fed this morning for the first time in four days. He only receives it if he asks for “boobies”. He only ever asks first thing in the morning and on the rare occasion I’ve forgotten or am unavailable to feed him there isn’t a second thought on his behalf. Surely my milk is running out when he only feeds every few days (??). I’m OK with this. I achieved what I set out to achieve. For me, personally, this was: breast milk in all instances, no formula and no bottles. I haven’t expressed once in the three years (total) I have breastfed. These are my choices, no one else’s and we all do what works for us individually.

***

If you'd also like to share your breastfeeding story, short or long, happy or sad, boring or weird, please email me at: lilybett[at]gmail[dot]com 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Egg Hunting Practice: Non-chocolate fillers and games

Easter eggs, plastic eggs, intentional play, egg hunt, toddler fun

Can I just say a two year old with basket in hand and a pair of bunny ears on his head is just about the cutest thing ever. We've been "practicing" hunting for eggs for the last few days and Dear Boy is digging it. As part of our Intentional Play theme for this month, we've been talking Easter, bunnies and bilbies as well as that old chicken and the egg chestnut. So after a week or so of playing with his set of wooden eggs (a matching game with each half of the egg sporting a different animal and Velcro) I pulled out the dozen plastic eggs I'd picked up for $2 in a junk shop. As the rain's set in and it's less fun outside, these have been such a godsend, giving us something fun to do inside that doesn't involve wheels (okay, maybe it involves wheels - read on, McDuff).

I've taken to filling these hollow eggs with little bits and pieces from around the house, and then hiding them in a single room. He gets so excited by the prospect that he actually waits patiently in the kitchen or his bedroom while I hide them -no peeking attempts at all. Patient little bunny that he is. Sometimes he needs clues and sometimes he opens each one as he goes, but he hasn't tired of it yet.

The eggs are a game in and of themselves, with opening and closing them taking a fair bit of concentration and fine-motor skill, but here's my list of stuffers:*

  • pompoms
  • scrunched crepe paper balls from a previous craft project
  • little animals
  • pictures cut from old magazines or junk mail
  • small cars (okay, so there are wheels involved sometimes)
  • small soft toys
  • handkerchiefs or squares of coloured fabric/silks
  • bouncy balls
  • stickers
  • shells
  • non-valuable items from my jewellery box (old bracelets or necklaces)
  • crackers/dried fruit/popcorn (although then you have to wipe them out really well)
  • little fluffy chicks (these are his favourite) 
Getting a bit more complex, I've also stuffed the eggs with components for playing the next game or doing another activity. There are so many options here:*

  • pieces from his Leapfrog matching game (putting the halves in the same coloured eggs)
  • jingle bells
  • big wooden beads (which turns into a threading game)
  • real or cardboard coins (which turns into 'shopkeeper' game)
  • blocks/Duplo
  • letter/number magnets
  • finger puppets
  • playdough
  • crayons (the broken ones) and bunny/chick/bilby themed colouring-in pages (cut to size and folded)
The only thing we specifically purchased were the eggs themselves and the little fluffy chicken (a set of 9 for $2 at the same junkshop). Everything else were just bits and pieces I've scrounged from around the house. I think $4 for several hours of play is a bargain.

What else would you use as a filler? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.


*All of these items are small (by necessity given the size of the eggs). Please use your judgement about your child's propensity to swallow small items and choking hazards.

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