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Preview: Melanie's Daily Blurb

Melanie's Daily Blurb



A collection of thoughts, musings, ramblings, observations and the occasional rant on living positively, holistic child centred parenting, ethical consumerism, vegan and vegetarian living, social justice, complementary health, and spirituality!



Updated: 2017-11-14T15:16:56.726+00:00

 



Upsy Daisy White Washed

2007-10-20T20:04:39.961+01:00

Anyone who has a baby is likely to have seen the sweet little programme "In the Night Garden". It is a magical garden that the main character Iggle Piggle goes to at night when he falls asleep, to play with the other characters Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka, the Tombliboos, the Pontipines and the Wottingers, unique wildlife - the Titifers and Hahoos and even sentient transportation in the form of the Ninky Nonk and the Pinky Ponk. Everything in this programme is magical and great fun, reminiscent for me of Bagpuss, The Clangers and The Teletubbies. Jasmine loves the programme and the characters and claps and smiles and dances to the songs. All the parents I know who have little ones tell me their kids love it too. Now that a toy range has been manufactured, its set to make a killing. Anyway hearing that the toys were available and Jasmine having received birthday money I decided to get her the doll Upsy Daisy, one of the main characters and the only female character available. When I saw the doll I was shocked. Upsy Daisy is black doll in the show, but the doll available for sale is not. The doll is identical to the TV character in every other way. Now Jasmine being the product of a mixed race couple, I feel that the messages we, her parents give her about race, particularly at this early stage of her development are vital to her confidence and pride as an adult, especially if we are to counteract the overwhelming negativity of the both subliminal and overt messages portrayed about black and mixed race people in the media and in the marketplace. I felt that in addition to the charming story and characters, to make one of the main characters of this mainstream children's show a black character was a very positive thing. I thought kudos to the BBC and Ragdoll Worldwide for their positive reflection of a multicultural society. Sadly that positivity did not extend to their merchandising. You can see more views on this here http://www.newstatesman.com/200708020019 and http://news.scotsman.com/entertainment.cfm?id=1351362007 I quote from news.scotsman.com"Ragdoll Worldwide, the production company which makes In the Night Garden for the BBC, told The Scotsman it had decided that toys from the series did not have to exactly resemble those seen on screen. Andrew Kerr, its spokesman for global licensing and marketing, said: "In spite of their various differences, the characters co-exist and interact in simple and charming ways. The toy range reflects this diversity. "We decided that their colours, shapes and sizes would be dealt with playfully, as they are in the television programme, and as a result do not always bear an exact resemblance to what is seen on screen. "Regarding Upsy Daisy, her face-tone will no doubt vary both darker and lighter in future interpretations." Now Ragdoll worldwide may have decided that the toys do not have to replicate the shows characters and interpret the toys "playfully" but why is it that the only thing the have "played" with is Upsy Daisy's complexion while all the toys including Upsy Daisy remain identical and true to the characters in every other respect? As for varying Upsy Daisy's face-tone, it seems this will not be happening anytime this side of Christmas. If you would like to tell Ragdoll Worldwide what you think, nickk@ragdoll.co.uk (Nick Kirkpatrick, Head of International Sales) matts@ragdoll.co.uk (Matt Schweitzer, Senior Manager Media and Merchandising) lynng@ragdoll.co.uk (Lynn Godfrey Senior Director of Marketing). Also quoted from the news.scotsman.com article is "A spokeswoman for the National Assembly Against Racism said: "By replacing the only brown character with a white-tinted doll, it looks as if the producers of the doll have reverted to racist 1950s attitudes. The BBC should pull its contract with the manufacturers immediately.""The NAAR site can be found at http://www.naar.org.uk/index.asp. This statement brought to mind this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0BxFRu_SOw&mode=related&search= where a 17 year old student Kiri Davis examines opinions regarding skin colo[...]



Happy Birthday Jasmine!

2007-10-11T14:03:44.864+01:00

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Its official, Jasmine is 1 (her birthday was yesterday)! The day was great and I have had a busy few days, getting presents, baking a cake (organic vegan double layer carrot cake with lemon butter icing and covered in slices of fresh strawberries, yummy), you know the type of thing. She had visitors Tuesday, yesterday, and she will get some more tomorrow. She has been well and truly spoiled! For me it seems this year has gone by in a whirlwind, and yet it also feels as though there wasn't a time that she was with us. The occasion was the excuse for a moment of nostalgia, to look through Jasmine's "keepsake box". It is a box of mementos and has an assortment of items in it, such as all the congratulations cards, her wristbands, a ceramic plaque with her hand and foot prints, from a mould taken of her feet and hands about 3 days after she born, the very first babygro she wore, her "babies first Christmas stocking" the umbilical cord clamp and in a small malachite box the remainder of her umbilical cord that dropped off. (The plan was for this to be buried and a tree planted over it, (to tie her to the earth) by her grandfather in Jamaica, but for one reason and another this hasn't happened (yet). So now I will be adding 1 birthday cake candle. I wonder what she will make of this odd collection when she is older? I remember coming across a small collection of teeth in an ornamental box on my Mum's dressing table. I can't remember if they were mine or my sisters but I thought it was gross. When I said so, my Mum said well they are mine, I paid for them! So much for the tooth fairy. So much has happened in this past year. I have become a mother and Jasmine can communicate, she can feed herself, walk and has become part of a community. (People come up to me to introduce themselves and say "we haven't met yet my name is (xxx), Hello Jasmine". It seems my daughter already has a separate social life and personal fan club. But that is how it should be. Her successes are in some way my successes. I will always represent her past, and Jasmine will always represent my future. I am her teacher and she is mine.
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Defending The Indefensible

2007-10-09T01:03:29.406+01:00

Daisy Goodwin Executive Producer of Bringing Up BabyI have been prompted to write a second post about the Channel 4 programme Bringing Up Baby after reading an article in The Sunday Times News Review. The article can be read in full here. Daisy Goodwin, who devised the idea behind the programme and in the article defends the programme and Claire Verity. The premise of the programme could, had it not been an "reality TV" experiment on babies unable to provide consent and parents at a time when most vulnerable to the opinions of others, have been an interesting exploration of childcare ideologies, especially if there had been recognition of the vast improvements and new discoveries in childcare made over the time scale chosen 50's - 70's and been inclusive of developing awareness of the cognitive and emotional development in an infant. As it was , to me in this article Daisy Goodwin is defending the indefensible. The article begins by claiming that Claire Verity has received death threats, as though we should feel sorry for her. Now let me be clear on this point, I do not advocate violence or the threat of violence against anyone, but I am not surprised that Claire Verity's behaviour towards babies has elicited this response and I do not feel sorry for her, I feel sorry for the babies who have been emotionally and physiologically scarred by this so called child care expert's regime and their parents, who while they may reap the rewards of quiet nights from their traumatised babies now, are likely to raise a withdrawn or angry, emotionally detached child who has difficulties with anxiety, forming relationships and depression and later may look back with regret.Claire Verity claims to be a "victim". She says she has received death threats. In another article from The Times http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article2490406.ece She complains that the NCT are "bullying her and about a blog that has been created to get rid of her (anyone know the web addy of that blog and of heckled at events she has spoken at. Here are quotes from that article.“Oh yes,” she says, “I’ve been hung, drawn and quartered by the National Childbirth Trust. The last lot looked like they had just come off some peace camp. They accuse me of being a bully: I think they are the bullies. They have their opinions and their boxes to tick and they stick to them. But they’re just as rigid as any of my routines. “They look appalling – and they are appalling. I just loathe them. They’ve even started a blog to get rid of me,” she continues, warming to her theme. “There they were, barricading the back of the room, bitching about me. What does she know? She doesn’t have any children of her own.’ Well, I always say: does a heart surgeon have to operate on himself?” I rather think that a heart surgeon may not have to operate on himself to know how to do it, but he/she would still need to have a heart, something that seems to be lacking in Ms Verity's makeup. The comparison with a surgeon is telling for me, as Claire Verity reminds me of those medical professionals who have become desensitised, for whom a patient is no longer a person but a task, or even worse a chore or inconvenience. Hilariously in the comments section of the article I found these two gems that seem closer to the truth to my mind, especially as I have seen the same observation made on other sites."Jo, Wolverhampton, UKAs a mother stood at a recent baby show with my happy child in a sling talking to other happy mothers I presume I am a heckler who barricaded the room? That comment is nonsense as is the fact it was the NCT. Claire Verity was asked why she goes against DoH and SIDS guidelines by one lady in a polite manner. She was not heckled, yet she called security as she has no way of defending her outdated and damaging methods. As a nanny she claims to have bedded Mick Jagger with his wife and child in the next room. If you refuse to let a mother hold her child why not sleep with her husb[...]



I Love Cakes

2007-10-08T21:42:18.873+01:00

Little Jasmine will be 1 year old on Wednesday, so with this in mind my thoughts are turning to cake. I havent decided what kind of cake to cook yet, bearing in mind lil J has never tasted cake. (Cake is for mummies.) I think I'll cook her a carrot cake, but haven't decided for sure yet, as double choc chip is the other option I am considering. Whenever my thoughts turn to cake, I think of my favourite. Ginger Cake. (In particular my own recipe for Vegan Ginger Cake). I bake it when the number of people offering me cake/biscuits etc that are non vegan has hit critical mass, just to remind myself that I can eat cake too, I just prefer to eat cruelty free, additive free cake that is flavour-some instead of contains "flavourings"! We have friends and family coming to visit on her birthday, before her birthday and after her birthday, so I think I might bake a ginger cake too! I thought I'd share my recipe with you. By the way the photo of the Ginger cake is not my ginger cake, its just some generic ginger cake photo that I found, but mine does look a bit like this. I love ginger, its a great tonic for digestion, the urinary system, soothing for period pain, anti-inflammatory, can ease chills and sore throats, nausea and is often recommended for morning sickness and can be useful with migraine and arthritic conditions when eaten in foods, as a tea or applied as a blended oil, so indulge in some cake in the knowledge that as well as being yummy, it may be doing you some good too! ;0)Melanie's Vegan Ginger CakeSoya Milk 4fl oz / 4 TablespoonsGolden Syrup 2fl oz / 2 Tablespoons Black Molasses Treacle 2fl oz / 2 TablespoonsOil (any of your choice) 2fl oz / 2 TablespoonsSelf Raising Flour 6 oz / 6 Tablespoons Raw Cane Sugar 2 oz / 2 TablespoonsFine Chopped Fresh Root Ginger 1 oz / 1 Tablespoon finely choppedGround Ginger 1 teaspoonSpices (vary according to taste from a combination of ginger, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice (pimento), coriander and cardamom)Salt 1 pinchCook in preheated oven at 190C, 380F or Gas mark 6 fpr 25-30minsSift flour, spices and salt into a bowlIn a mixing bowl place all wet ingredients and sugar Sieve dry ingredients into the wet ingredients (double sifting is important)Fold dry ingredients into mixture lightly. Be careful not to overmixFold in chopped ginger and any additional ingredients. (eg chopped walnuts)Enjoy![...]



The Art Of Communication & Listening

2007-10-06T22:40:36.998+01:00

I have a sweet little story to tell on the art of communication and perhaps more importantly, listening. I will also warn you that there will be a small but controlled bout of maternal bragging, but I'll try to keep it short. Shortish. Now if you have read previous posts you may be aware that I am a highly enthusiastic promoter of baby signing. This is a method of developing language and communication skills with your baby, before they have the ability to talk. Babies brain development shows that babies have the ability cognitively to understand communication and language at a far earlier stage than the stage at which babies vocal chords are sufficiently developed to allow speech. What you have in between those two stages is frustration and tears for both parent and child. Much of the tantrums of the toddler stage has been attributed to this inability to express themselves and be understood in a way that matches the child's cognitive capabilities. Baby signing bridges that gap, giving the child tools to both understand and express. Many babies will develop their own signs spontaneously, usually around the time they start pointing at things and waving hello and goodbye. There a number of methods and classes available in the UK and it is an approach that is growing in popularity in other countries too. Here in the UK most classes use either Makaton which is based on BSL (British Sign Language) but adapted for children with special needs and which also incorporates the use of signs. UK readers who are parents may be familiar with the children's programme Something Special which uses Makaton.(http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/somethingspecial/signs/) Other classes use signs that are strictly BSL based. On the whole there are variation between signs even within BSL, and some signs you may come across are adapted for easier use by babies. Still generally speaking you can get by with a combination. If you can't find a BSL sign for something but you can get a Makaton sign instead, then why not.I have been using baby signs with Jasmine since she was 4 months old. At times I thought there seemed like little point in continuing, but once she started with her first few signs, it became like an avalanche of new words. Jasmine often sees something interesting and will turn to me or Daddy to see if we can give her a sign for it. That period of time where nothing at all seems to be happening is most likely when the biggest discoveries in your child's learning of language is taking place. Baby is learning that things have names, people have names and feelings have names etc, and that those names or words have a consistent relationship with the thing they represent. Using words can help you get what you want or need. Signs and words can have a relationship that is consistent. You may think your baby is contemplating their toes and pondering their next filled nappy, but they are actually working out some major stuff! Because Baby signing is both physical/visual and a language skill, it combines right brain and left brain activity and boosts development as a result!So far, with her 1st birthday a mere 4 days away Jasmine knows and uses signs for the following: All Gone; Bed (Not one she uses very often, strangely); Bird; Bite (as in don't bite Mummy); Brush Teeth; Clap (usually this means I am so clever); Clean; Clean or Wash Face; Daddy (far too over used IMO); Dance (Jasmine is a funky groover); Dog; Don't Touch; Eat / Food; Fan /Fan Me (Sounds decadent but Jasmine made this one up herself when I took a fan out with us for use on the bus in hot weather); Flower; Get Up; Good; Hello / Goodbye; Hurt / Pain; Light / Sun (Baby is obsessed with light fittings. Perhaps she will be an interior designer); Look/See; Milk (2nd most used sign after Daddy); More (often used with milk); Mummy (for when the Milk sign hasn't had the desired effect with Daddy); Music (Jasmine really loves music and asks us to put the radio on in the morning); Nappy ([...]



Dying To Be Beautiful

2007-10-07T15:40:17.942+01:00

I'm having a bit of an "ugly day" today. My hair won't go right, I have a cold sore and my eyes are those of a woman whose little angel woke her up one time too many the night before. So we have had a stay at home day today, for me to rest and recharge the batteries and hopefully tomorrow when I wake up I'll feel more like my usual self. We are constantly bombarded with unachievable, unrealistic images of "beauty" that when you have an off day its hard not to feel like a cross between a yeti and elephant man, and that perhaps you should be wearing a paper bag over your head to protect the rest of the world from your hideousness!Just how unattainable these visions of beauty, that smile down at us benignly from bill board adverts, shop windows, newspapers, magazines, television programmes, cinema screens and just about every type of media you can think of are, was brought home to me by a website I came across on Stumble Upon : http://www.digitalphotoshopretouching.com/retouching.htmIt shows pictures of women who are absolutely gorgeous who are then, using the magic powers of photographic trickery, "improved". The truth is that no-one looks like the men and women who are chosen to represent what is considered to be the apex of beauty, not even those said same models! Need a chin-remodel, rhinoplasty, eyebrow lift, wrinkle removal, etc, etc, etc? You got it. A click of a mouse button here, a blend there and hey presto, now they look good! So if these naturally beautiful, leggy, lithe, never had a stretch mark, spot or bar of chocolate, paragons of beauty are additionally "improved", what hope do the rest of us have of approaching this ideal? Not a hope in hell.But what is the end result of this body fascism? People, especially women, then feel that they need to have these operations for real! They think they need to nip, tuck, chop, vacuum and enlarge various parts of their anatomy, just to look normal, as if there even was such a thing. There are endless programmes on TV that take a person who does not feel good about themselves and feels that they are so ugly they must need drastic surgery to look even halfway decent, tells them that "you are so right! You do need surgery!" then subjects them to all manner of unnecessary procedures on camera to then turn out the homogenised "look how good you look now, and all you needed was life endangering surgery!" beautiful person. The person is so grateful to have been humiliated, dissected and made to look like a different person, as though their own original, unique, characteristics had no value. These programmes, of which there are so many, simply reinforce to others who also are feeling bad about themselves that for them also, surgery is the only answer.See http://westwardbound.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/the-necessary-adjustments-mommy-makeovers/ for a brilliant article on this. She discusses the emphasis now being placed on mothers specifically, to "sort out" post baby bellies, saggy boobs and wobbly thighs. Like being mother to a little one doesn't give you enough insecurities as it is! Hey whats wrong with the 9 months on 9months off concept, rest, healthy eating, exercise, and most importantly, self acceptance. I too" want to live in a society where women are not embarrassed by the way their bodies change over time, as they live their lives. Furthermore, I want the lower breasts, pad of belly fat, and thicker thighs that often come with motherhood exalted as the medals of what our bodies have achieved." Beautifully said Westwardbound!The incidence of body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia and bulimia nervosa seem to me to be symptoms of a society that constantly gives the message that we mere mortals are ugly and imperfect. Our babies, particularly our daughters are picking up these messages from much earlier stages in their lives than ever before, as mothers insecurities are heightened, and the sexualisation of children becomes ever more pervasive[...]



First Steps!!

2007-10-06T17:36:40.052+01:00

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I just had to share my joy. On the 3rd of October, exactly 1 week before her first birthday, Jasmine decided to take her first steps! Her show stopping performance brought tears to my eyes, tears to her Daddy's eyes and it made my friend who was on the phone with me at the time well up too. That girl will do anything to get my attention when I am on the phone! :0) I'm so happy just thinking about it!
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The Not So Daily Blog, "Melanie's Daily Blurb"

2007-10-05T00:15:01.228+01:00

It seemed such a simple and appropriate name for my new blog. I thought it was cute and catchy too. I was full of hope, enthusiastic and naive. How was I to know it would turn round and bite me on the behind? First I discover that the word blurb does not mean what I thought it did. I quote http://uk.encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861690955/blurb.htmlblurbblurb [ blurb ] (plural blurbs)nounDefinition:paragraph promoting product: a short piece of writing that praises and promotes something, especially a paragraph on the cover of a book[Early 20th century. Coined by Gelett Burgess (1866-1951), US humorist]blurb transitive verb A paragraph? !!! I don't do short, I do long winded, wordy, rambling and sometimes ranting posts. I do not do blurbs. I thought that blurb meant long winded, wordy and rambling. I thought that was what blurbing was. The other point of contention. Daily..........Now I do actually know what daily means. I have no excuse on that score. It's just that daily blogging when you have a very nearly 1 year old demanding your constant attention morning noon and night is easier said than done. Also you may have noticed, I don't do short. I can take a couple of days to write a post, depending on the needs of my lil baby, my DSLP (Dear, Sweet Life Partner) and me. Yes I have a need for me time too! I did intend to post daily. It's definitely my ultimate goal, but I just haven't found my posting rhythm, and I'm beginning to suspect that that rhythm wont be daily, for now at least. The problem is that once you have chosen the name for your blog, there it is. For posterity, and no turning back. I would change it to "Melanie's Not Quite Daily But Almost Regular And Quite Frequent Rambling Long Winded Babbling" Catchy, don't you think? So I apologise to any readers who have not quite found what they expected to from the description. I'm working on it though :o) Oh and before I forget, can anyone explain to me what a meme is? [...]



15 Easy Ways To Improve Your Health & Be Happier

2007-10-04T00:36:16.441+01:00

I imagine that the idea of being able to incorporate 15 simple changes to your lifestyle that will very quickly make you feel healthier and happier sounds like an unrealistic claim. Believe me when I tell you that it really is that simple! Taking care of yourself should be fundamental, but with busy demanding lives, often we can easily overlook certain aspects of our physical, mental and emotional health. What follows is a list of recommendations that you can follow to revitalise yourself in every way, giving you more energy and a more positive outlook. This list is not exhaustive, there are many, many other things you can also do to improve your quality of life, but these are things that are easily achievable and require no special equipment and won't take a great deal of time to do. Most of the recommendations here simply require you to make alternative and informed choices. It is simply a matter of taking care of yourself. Taking care of yourself equates to loving yourself, and as we all know, you can't love others until you love yourself!Drink Well & Wisely. Drink enough water! Water is essential to good health and a general daily recommendation for the daily amount a person needs to drink is 1.5 litres. That might seem like a lot, but that is the equivalent of eight glasses in a 24 hour period. The human body is, in a healthy adult, approximately 75% water. Water is necessary for all for all biological and chemical changes, elimination and cell renewal. The effects of mild dehydration can lead to lowered immunity, illness, headaches, constipation, bad skin and feeling sluggish, which over a long period of time can radically deplete your energy levels. Severe dehydration is how you feel when you are hung over and too much severe dehydration can lead to serious problems. It is a good idea to cut out or at least cut down on alcohol, because as I have just indicated, alcohol dehydrates you, which is why after drinking you feel that way! Now it is known that the occasional glass of red wine can contain anti-oxidants and that stout contains iron etc, so if you decide not to abstain, please remember to have two glasses of water for every glass of alcohol you drink! Tea and coffee are the morning pick me up of choice for most people, but are addictive and because they are stimulants, give you a little energy high that is followed by an energy low, that requires another cup to recover from! Tea and coffee are also diuretic (which means they make you urinate more) so can actually increase your need for fluids. They have also been linked to migraines. Why not try alternatives such as herbal teas or fruit juice (fresh and unsweetened). It is important not to indulge in fizzy drinks for three reasons, the sugar and/or caffeine content leads to the energy high.....energy slump pattern, carbonated drinks play havoc with the digestive system and actually leach calcium from the bones (women especially are often warned of the dangers of osteoporosis but rarely is this mentioned) and the acidity is very damaging to teeth enamel. Drinking enough and choosing what to drink is as important as choosing what to eat. Often thirst is interpreted as hunger by the body. You may find that as you increase your fluid intake, you become more aware of the symptoms of thirst.Eat Healthily & Regularly Throughout The Day. So what does eating healthy really mean? The fundamental requirements from the diet are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Now if you have read my personal information you will be aware that I am a vegan, and I do advocate vegetable proteins as the most easily digestible and healthy source of protein. The aim of this article is not to convert though. Suffice to say it is common knowledge that the conventional western diet is too rich in proteins and that this causes many health problems. For more info I recommen[...]



Children Over Exposed

2007-10-04T13:05:44.642+01:00

In order to start my blog, being completely new to the idea, I did a little research, reading other peoples blogs and websites that were called things like "How to Write A Good Blog". I knew roughly the kind of things I wanted to write about, and because I have recently had a baby, I knew parenting would be one of them. Many of the blogs with parenting as a theme show regular photo's of the authors beautiful child/children on various daily adventures. The blogs that I find the most readable are the ones that share quite a lot of personal information and photo's. I had a chat with a dear friend of mine who was totally horrified that I had put my "actual!" photo on my blog, as though I was now known to the entire universe and "PEOPLE WILL KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!", Well I basically said that I had little to hide and that although I had put my first name and photo online it wasn't like I had posted my address, national insurance number and a copy of my birth certificate, so my identity is unlikely to be stolen, no-one that doesn't already know me can really be sure that my name is my name and besides so many people have shared photos and other personal things online that my blog is like a drop in the ocean. I compared it to not going outside in case people see you. Anyway I have found that rather than being revealed to the world, it really isn't that easy attracting people to view your blog in the first place! My easygoing attitude doesn't extend to my daughter though. I have no trouble sharing cute baby stories about what she did today. (I will try to keep a lid on any maternal bragging, but sometimes its easier said than done) but having given the topic some thought I don't think I could be comfortable sharing photos of her online. It's a subject that has come up before. When Baby J was about 5 months old we decided to get some professional family photos taken. The photographer went on and on about how photogenic she was and how children's modelling agencies would snap her up given a chance. At the time I was really worried about my impending return to work, as I had decided that the best thing for all of us was for me to stay home and look after her, but I couldn't see how we could make things work financially. So I am ashamed to say I considered it for a nanosecond. Sanity did regain hold pretty sharpish because deep down I felt it was unethical. Children have no say on how we use their image or what experiences we expose them too. Not being able to make a personal informed choice, how could I make that choice for her? Alternatively I have a friend who has a daughter who is absolutely stunning and is very into fashion and has her own very individual style who has told her mum she would like to try some modelling. She is 15 and more than able to make an informed choice and her mum is willing to support her choice. So for me the matter is one of permission and choice. My baby has not given me permission to share her photo and she has not made a choice to share her image. The long and short of it is that there may be plenty of cute parental anecdotes, but there will be no baby photos here!Photo's of children taken at home is a subject that came up in a conversation with my sister. We were talking about all the photos taken of me, of her and pretty much everyone of our age group running around starkers in the garden or splashing about in the bath. These photos seemed pretty unremarkable then. Now my sister feels she couldn't take the same kind of photos of her little ones. At first I said that I didn't really think it was an issue. Then I remembered just three weeks before I went to the coast and I was walking along the beach when I saw a family, and their little boy of about 8 years old was running around naked, laughing and giggling. It stuck in my mind not because I saw anything wrong[...]



Bringing Up Baby

2007-10-01T02:21:35.905+01:00

Claire Verity: Evil Personified, Vile DictatorI have been deliberating how to write this post for nearly a week. The emotions that this topic raised in me are not pretty. So whats got me feeling so mad? Channel 4's "Bringing Up Baby" Tuesdays at 9.00pm. For those of you who haven't seen or heard of this programme the basic premise is to compare three methods of raising an infant which are: a routine based method based on the regime Dr Frederic Truby King from the 1950'sthe Childcare philosophy of Dr Spock from the 1960's the method of The Continuum Concept devised by Jean Liedloff. Three experts, each an enthusiastic proponent of their chosen childcare method assist a family to implement one of the methods. (At this point I should tell you that my own parenting style is somewhere between that advocated by Dr Spock and Jean Liedloff with Jean Liedloff representing my ideals and Dr Spock representing my compromises. I am also very drawn to the work by John Mostyn Bowlby and William Sears who pioneered work on the Attachment Parenting philosophy which is broadly the same as The Continuum Concept, Frederic Leboyer who wrote "Birth Without Violence" and Dr Gowri Motha author of "The Gentle First Year" and Childbirth and parenting guru Shiela Kitzinger) This child centred approach contends that babies are born with innate instincts and developmental needs for constant physical contact with the mother primarily or other caregiver in her absence, e.g. being carried in a sling and co-sleeping, breast feeding on demand and being given immediate attention to its needs, e.g when crying, plus lots of love and affection. (Jean Liedloff developed her approach as a result of witnessing the natural parenting methods of Amazonian tribeswomen.) By receiving this high level of consistent nurturing and security, the baby will develop confidence and positive self esteem and a happy outlook. This is due to the fact that a babies brain development and emotional development begins at an incredibly young age, partly in response to the cortisol hormone or "stress hormone". Babies who are more stressed by for example, being left to cry or isolated and deprived of emotional and physical contact will be more likely to develop an emotional pattern of depression and fear which forms their basic character for life. Babies deprived of emotional warmth, security and physical contact (such as children neglected in Romanian orphanages, have been found, following MRI scans to have whole areas of their brain missing, due to the lack of the emotional cues that stimulate such brain and central nervous system growth and development. I have taken this information from Steve's Biddulph's "Raising Babies" and the research this is based on is credited to Dr Alan Schore (see http://www.mercola.com/2003/apr/9/child_care.htm )Compare this then, if you will, to the style of parenting of devised by Dr Frederic Trudy King and determinedly championed by Claire Verity. This women guided the parents of a newborn to implement a strict and timed by the clock system of feeding every four hours, with night feeds to be dropped as soon as possible to minimise length of time parents' sleep is disrupted, to limit contact between baby and carers (mother, father etc) to a maximum of 10 minutes of cuddling per day, the baby sleeps in in a room alone from day one (never mind that this contravenes current advice on SIDS prevention.) and for the baby to spend several hours in the garden every day. Bad enough, but this (to my mind) evil monster of a woman insisted that the baby not be removed from its bed after 7.00pm under any circumstance and that the parents should ignore its cries (never mind dirty nappies, hunger, loneliness or fear for this poor poor baby who up till this point had known nothing but the comfort and[...]



More Straight Talking Feedback! Sisters ;0)

2007-10-01T02:27:59.658+01:00

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In keeping with the theme of straight talking, I had a chat with my sister today. While we were talking, she was trying to fix her bed (don't ask) and I was watching my "baby-led weaned" darling throw spaghetti covered in houmous around the living room. I asked her If she'd seen my blog and what she thought, because I respect her opinion. She said that she didn't want to phone me because I was suffering communication overload and that I needed to make it more fun and less like I was writing the news, more personal and she said something else about Yucca plants which I won't go into just now. On reflection, she's right. I do need to make it more personal, and write more about my feelings and experiences and daily trials, tribulations, joys and successes. I seem to have an inner teacher that wants to explain things and educate people! So while I am writing about personal stuff, I want to share a moan. Like those T-shirts you get that say "my Sister went to NY and all I got was this lousy T shirt", I need to share this with you

My Sister visited my blog and didn't make a comment, didn't sign my guestbook and didn't sign up for feeds and all I got was some constructive criticism

Thanks Sis, love you loads!

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Thinking On Your Feet World Reflexology Week

2007-10-01T02:26:13.935+01:00

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.I love feet. Not in a fetishistic kind of way, but fundamentally. What is it about feet? People tend to wrinkle their nose and feign disgust when you bring up the subject of feet. Oh my God, don't mention toes! they yell while visible cringing. Refer to feet and people envision corns and verruccas, athlete's foot, and ingrown toenails. Yes I agree all these various ailments are not pleasant, but feet? Well lets just say I have a different perspective all together. I think feet are beautiful, miraculous and fascinating.Ok, so now you are probably thinking that despite my initial statement, I do have a fetish. Let me explain. I used to feel as most people do. I associated feet with bad smells and other pre-conceived horrors, with the exception of scrummy gorgeous baby feet! And then I discovered reflexology and I have been amazed by feet ever since. I qualified in reflexology in 1997 and went on to study advanced reflexology courses. For those of you who do not know what the theory behind reflexology is, and may have been told that it is a glorified foot massage, I will give you the basic concept. Feet are representative (ie a reflection) of the whole of the human body, with the toes representing the head and the ball of the foot representing the torso above the diaphragm where there are areas that indicate the heart, lungs, oesophagus, the line from big toe following the arch of the foot to the base of the heel representative of the spine, the heel representing the pelvis and lower digestive / reproductive areas, the area between the the ball of the foot and heel of the foot representing the torso between the diaphragm and pelvis, containing liver, spleen, digestive tract, kidneys and so on. By working on these correspondences on the feet we can implement a therapeutic effect on those areas in the body.To the trained reflexologist the foot is an anatomical representation of the entire human body, comprising skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, urinary, digestive, reproductive and endocrine systems. Gentle but firm pressure is applied to specific areas of the foot according to each individuals needs and requirements (following a detailed consultation to assess the clients physical, mental and emotional state and taking into consideration lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep patterns, levels of activity and more) to provide therapeutic relief and healing by encouraging and assisting the body's inherent healing systems and faculties to respond.Reflexologists can tell many things from the feet, such as a persons overall health, various places of low energy or blocked energy within the body that also indicative of physical and emotional conditions and even life changes such as pregnancy. It is even possible to assess where a women is in her menstrual cycle or whether a man has low or high testosterone or if someone is dehydrated. Reflexology is that precise and that's not all. As well as an anatomical aspect to reflexology, the discipline owes much to Traditional Chinese Medicine or "TCM" as it is often referred to as. (That said, the ancient Chinese did not have a monopoly on the practice. There is much archaeological and other evidence to show that Egyptian, Asian and Native American civilisations all practised the art.) The Reflexology map also includes zones, lines or channels of energy running through the feet, much like TCM meridians, with specific acupressure points. In Ayurveda these channels and the various pressure points are called nadis. The aim of treatment is to help the client achieve balance, removing blockages in areas of stagnation where energy cannot flow and energising areas that are depleted o[...]



How Long Should A Post Be? Communication Overload

2007-10-01T02:25:11.960+01:00

I asked a friend for an honest opinion on this blog "so far". What he said was honest and I was thankful. "You wrote all that? Have you thought of writing a book?" In my enthusiasm, my posts have been, lets say just a little, lengthy. The trouble is that sometimes I don't know when to stop typing. I have so much to say.I have come to the conclusion that this is the Law of Reflection in action and that this is the trouble with my communication, full stop. I talk too much too. I spend too much time on the phone and online and my conversations are usually extended. I join forums, blog, and communicate with strangers on Stumble Upon.(feel free to take at look at my pages http://melanie3i.stumbleupon.com/ ) I have lost count of the number of email addresses I have. I am guilty of over communicating. Is it such a bad thing? It is wonderful that I can communicate with people from all over the world, those who share similiar views and experiences and those who do not. I can let a friend or loved one know I am thinking of them at the push of a button. Whole movements against injustice and oppression can be mobilised on line. Today we can experience the ultimate in free expression. In this world of instant communication, people have 24 hour a day access to the Internet, we are contactable on our laptops, mobiles, by text and email. In short there is rarely a moment in the day when someone is unable to contact or be contacted.Obviously I exercise some restraint. In this age of the communication explosion I find that my boundaries are more important than ever! I log on and turn my status to "appear offline". Sometimes I leave the answer machine on and don't answer my land line. ( I have even unplugged it when I didn't want the phone to ring and wake the baby! I switch off my mobile phone. Occasionally I leave the house without it because I want to be alone.To be honest I rarely use my mobile to make calls, with the exception of the "I'd like a cab please" and "I'm leaving now, where shall I meet you?" calls and I keep calls I receive short and to the point because I believe that mobile phones are the new tobacco. I believe that the numbers of people experiencing cancers and other health problems will soar over the next few decades, and just like the tobacco industry has done for so many decades, the mobile phone companies will deny that there are any risks posed by the use of mobile phones and mobile phone transmitter masts. In the 50's almost everyone smoked. Nowadays everyone has a mobile phone. Imagine, some people have 3 or more mobile phones, a work mobile, a personal phone for friends and family and another for everybody else. (I just make do with one.) It horrifies me that some people give their children mobile phones, because unlike tobacco in its early years (doctors used to prescribe smoking to patients!!) the UK Government already admits that mobile phones pose a danger to children under the age of 14. I actually know someone who has given their 9 year old a mobile phone. I don't even like when people attempt to take pictures of my baby with their mobiles. I believe that eventually phones will come with government warnings for everyone, not just children, once (call me cynical) the cost of medical treatment and compensation claims exceeds the revenue of phones, calls and tariff sales. Take a look at these excerpt from this website which also raises the issue of risks posed by land line cordless phones: http://www.childrensfurniture.co.uk/phones.htmlms;"It is not a question of whether these EMF (Electro Magnetic Frequency) Fields cause health problems or not, that is not in doubt. What is uncertain is just how this ill-health will manifest in an individual. What is certain, [...]



Breast Feeding is a Political Statement

2007-10-01T02:23:24.463+01:00

This lovely photo is provided by Bklynlady and is entitled "Lunch" courtesy of http://breastfeedingphotos.blogspot.com/You'd think that there would be nothing more natural, or acceptable, but it seems that society in general conspires against the breast feeding mother. Right from the word go, there are subtle pressures that inhibit a mothers will and ability to breastfeed. On the NCT's website (National Childbirth Trust) http://www.nct.org.uk/breastfeeding/ I found this paragraph about breastfeeding mothers;"Nine out of ten women who stop breastfeeding in the first six weeks are stopping before they want to. The most common reasons given for stopping, reveal that these women often didn't receive the accurate information and support that they needed."“British breastfeeding rates are amongst the lowest in Europe. Only seven out of ten babies receive any breast milk and this falls to 55% at one week. Just one in five babies are receiving any breast milk by the time they are six months old, although the World Health Organisation recommend that babies need nothing other than breastfeeding for the first six months of life.”Why is this? Information about the health and child care benefits of breastfeeding have never been more prevalent or accessible, thanks to active promotion by the medical professions and organisations such as the NCT and the La Leche League and of course the Internet. Breast is Best! This fact is as well known as it is logical. Our ancestors whose biology we inherited didn't look for the nearest cow for their babies to suckle from. The idea that that bovine milk (which is primarily what constitutes baby formula) is better for human babies than human milk (barring any contra-indications arising from ill health, diseases such as HIV or other issues affecting lactation) which is naturally engineered to provide exactly for the needs of a human infant, delivering antibodies, and nutrients such as essential fatty acids and amino acids and substances that may not yet have been quantified but may prove nevertheless to essential to infant development in precisely the right proportions for optimum development is not only sad and misguided, but ludicrous. In his open letter "The Milk Letter, An Open Letter to Patients" Dr Robert M. Kradjian, MD, Breast Surgery Chief Division of General Surgery, Seton Medical Centre (the full article, the main premise of which calls for a separate post can be found here http://www.notmilk.com/kradjian.html ) asserts:"For example, cows' milk is very much richer in protein than human milk. Three to four times as much. It has five to seven times the mineral content. However, it is markedly deficient in essential fatty acids when compared to human mothers' milk. Mothers' milk has six to ten times as much of the essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid.(Incidentally, skimmed cow's milk has no linoleic acid). It simply is not designed for humans."The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby are not temporary, but last a lifetime , providing babies with essential antibodies, and making conditions such as colic, ear infections eczema less likely and supplying long term protection and lowering the risk from type 1 diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, allergies, obesity, and even bestowing increased IQ (or is it that alternatives lower IQ?) The answer to why despite all the benefits many mothers discontinue early or perhaps never breast lies in the attitudes, needs and expectations of others and the general practicalities of breastfeeding in a society that has sidelined parenting and a more child centred approach to parenting as inconvenient.This subjection to external pressures starts in h[...]



MyFirst Blog Post

2007-10-01T02:27:13.897+01:00

Drum Roll Please (Standing Ovations Gratefully Accepted)Well this feels slightly momentous. (Truly, I don't mean that statement to sound as pretentious as it does) It's just that I feel a little embarrassed and not sure where to begin. It's a bit like meeting someone for the first time, which in a way I suppose I am. So hello world wide web! In all seriousness, I began creating my blog site and then I agonised over how to begin posting, what to post etc. I realised OMG! I know nothing about blogging, time to do a little research methinks. It turns out there are millions of sites on "How to Blog" and after a few hours I knew I wouldn't be able to read them all. But I did find some really good resources on this subject. http://www.problogger.net/ being the best I have come across so far, and in particular their Blogging for Beginners page: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/02/14/blogging-for-beginners-2/The slightly depressing thing is that I have discovered I've already got it all wrong and I haven't even finished my first post!. For a start the serious blogger doesn't use a weblog provider, but gets their own domain. Secondly the best blogs have a focus, some kind of niche subject matter or message that they want to get across, the fundamentals of which they include in their title. (All the better to get noticed by search engines by.) As is evident from my title, I just intend to ramble on about any particular topic that pops into my head on a particular day, albeit with an emphasis on a particular range of topics. So my blog is without purpose it seems. Hey ho, start as I mean to go on I say.The thing is I am not focused on any one particular facet of life. I am fascinated by almost everything. I do have passions, experience and talents but like most people I am multi-faceted, (like a crystal) not a one dimensional being and I don't know how to pigeonhole those interests and abilities in one neatly shaped blog. I don't really want to. So what can I offer? Well I am enthusiastic about learning and sharing knowledge and I am like info-sponge. I absorb and can regurgitate various bits of acquired knowledge endlessly. I am also very opinionated (although open minded enough to consider alternative points of view that differ to my own) on the topics that are important to me, some of which are as follows:Parenting. I have recently become a mother. My daughter is nearly a year old. I love being a parent and have quite a different take on childcare from what is the conventional accepted norm. My holistic view of the world means that I believe child rearing should be child-centred. (Woahhh..revolutionary stuff.) For example my daughter does not have a pram or pushchair. I prefer to carry her as I feel this makes my little one more confident and secure Ala "attachment parenting".This site http://www.thebabywearer.com/ has lots more info on this subject. I breast feed and intend to do so for as long as I can. (Believe it or not I have found that breast feeding is a political statement, not merely a naturally provided form of sustenance for babies. More on that in another post.) I also have never fed my little darling on baby puree (or mush as I prefer to call it) I breastfed exclusively until Jasmine was 6 months and then gave her solid food that was actually solid. Check out http://babyledweaning.blogware.com/ for great tips, ideas and photos. Also (Shock horror) My baby is vegan just like me. I am also a passionate advocate for baby signing, which is the best thing ever. Absolutely the best thing ever. Jasmine is able to communicate what she is thinking about, what she wants or needs or even to make little baby jokes than[...]