Sunday, 30 October 2011

Parental Guilt

Self flagellation is alive and well in this house!

I am typing this kicking myself for choosing a day where both husband and I are hungover to change our 2 year old into a 'big girls bed'. We put the bed up today and Miss Ruby was very excited- she had a fantastic afternoon kip in it and we smugly congratulated ourselves with how easy this was going to be.

Cue bedtime. My wheels are just about to fall off thanks to persistent nausea and a headache that not even McDonalds or a curry could shift. I suffered through Puss in Boots and Jack and the Beanstalk, counting the minutes to 7pm.

Bedtime = a total disaster. Tears, screaming, the works. The cot is already packed away in the garage- no going back now.
Miss R very quickly worked out that she can get out of said bed, and is currently crying for Daddy (the good cop) in her room and will probably fall asleep on the floor. I feel like the shittest parent on the planet right now. 

Husband and I are both regretting being such smug overconfident idiots and for choosing to torture ourselves today. I'm actually surprised we are united on this front and haven't turned on eachother in our hungover states.

Yesterday was the our anniversary, so last night we went to see Tahuna Breaks at the Crystal Palace- it was a great night although we're paying for it dearly today.

Last night, I was chatting to another mum who said she doesn't actually "play" with her kids- and it was great to hear such frank honesty. Not to mention a relief- I am not very good at playing with Miss Ruby- I will sit down for ten minutes and get the playdough out, or help colour in a picture or read a story, but I am much better at doing things for her- cooking, laundry, buying things and more recently, making clothes. 

It turns out that my husband isn't as thrilled with my new found sewing talent/ obsession as I am. 

In fact, he said last night that he was "concerned" that I wasn't spending enough quality time with Miss Ruby and that sewing seemed to be taking up more of my time than he thought was healthy. He would prefer I waited until she was asleep to do it, as he doesn't like listening to me tell her to go and play by herself while making things. Apparently making things for Ruby doesn't make it OK.

Hmm. I'd like to say I responded rationally and maturely to this revelation, but I didn't. 
I threw a pretty big tantrum thirty minutes before our babysitter arrived. 
Admittedly most of it was guilt induced, although there was a fair bit of disbelief and bare rage thrown in also. Background: husband spends large chunks of time in our home office getting our new business off the ground. So I did think it was a bit rich coming from him. When he does have free time, he is very good at getting down and playing with Miss R, so I'm probably a bit jealous too.

So I'm not up for Mother of the Year. Our Plunket Nurse probably automatically disqualified me anyway the day she found out I had returned to work part time when Ruby was only four months old.

BUT thankfully I am not alone. 
There are lots of bloggers and people out there who feel the same way as I do, and I love you all right now for making me feel normal. I try hard to be a good mum, but I just can't do it 24-7. 

If I wasn't so ill, I'd raise a glass to the awesome sisterhood of crappy mothers who aren't afraid to share their warts and all stories.

And on that note, my toddler is still crying and screaming, and its my turn to tend to her. 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Birthday Piece de Resistance- Pimp My Kitchen

Ruby is going to think that the whole month of October is just one big birthday party now- her actual calendar birthday was yesterday, so we had another celebration (a small one) at Marshalls Animal Park with a couple of friends.

The main event present wise happened yesterday too- we got the kitchen finished just in time, and it was a hit!

We bought a basic kitchen from Marks Toys although I see they don't sell the unit we bought anymore- ours just had the one drawer, the mixing bowl and the taps and was just on $100.

We were inspired by this post from Vintage Songbird, so we then pimped it out a bit. It was doing this that started the sewing obsession, I made the curtain, a little oven mitt and an apron.

Husband made some elements, and oven door and an oven tray and fumigated himself in the garage spraypainting and placing all the fittings on.

Good result I think- we were given some basic kids baking tools and we bought a little pan set from KMart.

Ruby LOVES it- its kept her busy for ages. I got quite a bit done yesterday afternoon as she played with this and husband spent over 2 hours determinedly trying to assemble another one of her presents...

My birthday next week- we have a few more kids birthdays before then.

I think mine is going to involve some well deserved bubbles of the alcoholic variety and not a cupcake in sight...

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Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Cost of Reading in NZ

I have, like most mothers in their mid 30s in NZ, joined a book group.
I love reading, and on a good week can get through a couple of books, esp if they are good ones. (The housework suffers though)
The book group is great because its another way to get my hands on a range of books for free, and the group of ladies I meet up with have similar taste to mine, and whip up a mean dessert while we discuss the books. (and yes Mr TF, we do discuss the books- for the first hour at least)

In the UK I used to buy books for 3 quid as part of my weekly supermarket shop, and could afford to read  new books regularly and abandon them or lend them out willy nilly, not minding if they didn't return.

Here in NZ, paying $40 for a new release paperback leaves a bad taste in my mouth. They are printed in the same countries as the ones released in the UK in fact they are likely to be all from the same print run, so why oh why does the price hike so much as soon as the books hit NZ shores? At these costs I simply can't afford to read as many new release books as I used to.

I know I could go the the library, and I do, but sometimes when you read a particularly good book review, you want the book there and then rather than going on a waiting list to get it- and chances are when your name comes up it will be when you have lots of other things on and have limited time to read it.

A recent Listener article suggested that the only reason that books (and itunes music and other consumer items) continue to be so expensive here is simply that NZers continue to pay the inflated prices. Writers aren't receiving more money- someone else is clipping the ticket. I don't know who, perhaps someone can enlighten me.

I for one, refuse to do it. I support local businesses as much as I can, but literature and reading is far too important to me to let it fall by the wayside simply because of cost.

In my personal war on the extortionate cost of books in this country, I have become an extremely active customer of The Book Depository.
Their prices and range are incredible- new release paperbacks are often half the cost they are here. Kids books are cheap as chips- I got a new copy of the classic "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly" for $5- delivered.
They deliver free to NZ, the books usually arrive within a few days in pristine condition.

Yet another addiction to add to my list!

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Hangover Birthday Party Style

Whew! The first birthday party wasn't too bad- we live a few hours drive from most of our family so only a few of them could make it.
This time around, we had the second birthday party at my mums place, and all the immediate family and cousins came with a few friends and their kids thrown in for good the end of the day I was ready for two panadol and a very large gin and tonic. Miss Ruby refused to have an afternoon kip as wanted to "stay party" (even though everyone had gone home by then) so was knackered by the end of the day too.
Luckily it was a gorgeous day, so the predominantly male cousins could run around outside doing the treasure hunt, the pinata and assault eachother with various garden implements. The treasure hunt took more time to set up than it did for them to complete.

I usually enjoy baking, but am glad I just bought a premade sponge this time, as the bloody icing took AGES. Not to mention the cupcakes which I did make and ice myself...complete with fairy dust etc.
I've eaten my years quota of icing, and I will be quite happy to not see another cupcake until next year.
Thanks Chelsea sugar for inventing pre-flavoured, pre-coloured icing sugar, the berry variety was a hit on chocolate cupcakes.
Its all worth it when your toddler screams "birthday cake birthday cake" and tucks into it with her bare hands as soon as the candles are blown out.
Still learning to drive this blogger thing.

I think we're still recovering from the birthday party- my mum had one on Tuesday and my husbands is today so we're partied out. Will be well and truly over birthdays by the time mine rolls around at the end of the month!

In other news, the gorgeous coastline that is part of my title page is been utterly desecrated by the devastating Rena oil spill, and the arguing over how to deal with this disaster is getting ridiculous.

John Key may lose my vote if he doesn't sort this out properly.

Local writer Jenny Rudd has written more about the disaster here.

Its so sad..... I have never seen the beach as deserted as it has been lately.  We moved here because of the laid back lifestyle and the beautiful beaches, and thats all been ruined- thank goodness for the kiwi resilience and willingness to pitch in to help.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Dental Stuff for Kids Part 2

We all know that toothbrushing is very important for our childrens dental health.
For some parents, getting our kids to either a)brush their own teeth or b) let us do it for them it can be a big challenge that everyone dreads at the end of the day. Sticker charts can be effective in encouraging kids to brush.

I once showed my friends kids this photo of a dentally challenged midget we met in Egypt 
and apparently they've been excellent tooth brushers ever since! --->

There are also hundreds of products out there preying on our parental consumers brains. My daughter has never watched an episode of Dora the Explorer or the Wiggles but thanks to cleverly marketed dental products, she knows who both are!

So what to choose? How often to brush? Who does the brushing? What toothpaste and how much?

I have been using age appropriate Colgate toothbrushes on our daughter since her first teeth were fully erupted. Before that, we gave her a pigeon baby training toothbrush that we got free from a promotion on a packet of rusks.

We started usingThe Wiggles Milk Teeth toothpaste by Macleans- primarily because I had lots of free samples of it at work, but as soon as we could we switched to the same toothpaste that we adults use for at least one of the brushes a day, because here in Tauranga there is no fluoride in the water, and baby teeth need fluoride as they erupt to stay strong. Toothpastes formulated especially for children have reduced fluoride in them- these are fine if you live in an area where the water is fluoridated.

PLEASE NOTE- I am a qualified dentist, I believe in the years and years of respected research supporting the use of fluoride to prevent tooth decay. I realise that there are lots of people out there who disagree and while I respect their right to their opinions, I am not interested in getting into a debate on the pros vs cons of fluoride.  That said, calcium and phosphate are just as important for healthy tooth structure and there are a few products out there that have all three in them, and a couple that are fluoride free.

So- toothbrushing technique? I use a tiny smear of toothpaste- on the Colgate brushes the brush has a blue area on it to help you measure how much toothpaste to use.

I brush Miss Rs teeth for her- each corner at a time (top left, top right, lower left lower right etc). I then let her have a go herself. We also don't rinse the tooth paste off at the end- she spits and we're done. That allows the toothpaste to have contact with the teeth for longer.  We brush twice a day- after breakfast and before bed.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Dental Stuff for Kids Part 1

I am a mum, and I am also a dentist- and I wasn't to know 16 years ago when I was applying for university courses, but it is actually a great career for a mum.
It has very flexible hours (especially if you have an understanding boss who is also a mum like mine) and you hardly ever have to work weekends or bring work home. And of course the pays not too bad if you're busy, although thanks to Kevin Milne  we might be experiencing a run of bad debts.

That rant  can be left to the serious dental bloggers, but my short response is this- it cost me nearly $100K to train, and running a dental practice with the latest technology and techniques that people should expect from a modern dentist is not cheap. Nobody goes to the supermarket, fills their trolley and forces a "flexible response" from the checkout! The practice where I work has flexible payment options that we are happy to discuss with people up front if they ask first!

Gone are the days where getting dentures for your 21st birthday was normal. We can offer amazing technology and techniques to our patients- I personally spend thousands a year on travelling to training courses and conferences to keep up to date with research and technology so I can offer it to my patients.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog, and I would prefer it to be helpful rather than ranty.....childrens dental health. I have realised during the course of this post that I could probably write a book on this topic so I will break it up into segments so you don't have to read a novel.

Here in New Zealand we are lucky to have the government funded school dental service which provides dental care to children from the time they first get teeth till the time they go to high school. Once they go to high school they can be seen by a dentist and its also government funded.
Despite Plunket doing their best to get the message out there, lots of parents aren't aware that their children can be registered with a school dental nurse from 6 months. If you wait till they get to school it can be too late, as the baby teeth will have been through for long enough to get decay.

However- the school dental service has its limitations. They are an extremely valuable part of dental care in NZ, but due to their high work load, they don't always get to see every child every year. If your school has a mobile dental service and your child happens to be off sick the day the van is in town, you miss out.

They also may not have as much time as they would like to spend talking to parents about good home care and diet advice. So unfortunately lots of kids in NZ still aren't getting regular dental checkups and advice.

Most dentists will see your children for a small fee for a second opinion or peace of mind- I am always happy to do so, and often we can tag a quick childs checkup onto the end of their parents visit.

So- if your children aren't enrolled with your local school dental service, ring them up today before they all break up for the holidays! If you have no luck there, phone around your area for a dentist who is happy to see children. Regular checkups are one of the BEST ways to ensure your children have healthy teeth for life. Healthy teeth for life means you won't ever have to take Kevin Milnes advice....

Miss R baking her "birthday cake".
The aftermath..
Stay tuned for parts 2/3/4......

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Kids Furniture DIY projects.

Last year we refurbished an old wooden stool that I think my Dad made in his woodwork classes at school circa 1965. My brother had covered it in skateboarding stickers, and I didn't think to take any before photos. I stripped it back and painted it white, then stencilled a ladybird motif on it, as Miss Ruby loves ladybirds.
This was really easy, I just cut the shapes out from card and stencilled the red part first then the black on top using test pot paints, you could also use acrylic. We also did her dolls cot- this was much easier as it was plain pine and MDF, so no stripping or sanding! Oo er get me.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Beginning....

So I've thought about blogging about current affairs- too ranty, and I don't get enough time to watch the news let alone have an opinion on it. I thought about blogging about being a dentist- too boring and potentially litigious! I thought about blogging about being a working mum- and I can probably incorporate that into this blog anyway.

However last week I joined the ranks of mums out there who have embraced craft and sewing with wide open arms. I already love baking- so this is the final feather in my cap of domestic goddess. I've been inspired by my grandmothers who taught me the basics, the lovely people down at The Little Big Markets, Megan at mousehouse, and my friend Delphine at the RubyLou Shop.

Who would have thought? The hard partying career girl of my 20s has all but disappeared only to be replaced by the sort of woman I thought I would never be- someone who makes their childrens clothes and enjoys baking scone and decorating cupcakes. And gets excited about trips to fabric stores and craft markets.
yes, yes, I'm making myself sick...
Shopping and clothes have always been two passions (addictions?) of mine, and I was rapidly beginning to transfer that addiction to my not quite two year old daughter. A double addiction in the household could start to get expensive. I already work to feed one. My husband was very supportive, and enquired why I would want to bother learning something that most chinese children can do before they start school? Hmm. He'll keep he still doesn't know about half the stuff I have on laybuy at Sisters...

I'd had my eye on these skirts for Ruby for a while, and I kept thinking surely I could make one, I did sewing at school, I can sew a hem. $55 is alot to spend on one skirt for a little girl.

So, I borrowed a sewing machine and found a few easy little internet tutorials and have been a demon on it ever since. I made this pincushion from the mousehouse pincushion tutorial.

The first clothing project was the aforementioned HC-style skirt. I found this tutorial and modified it to fit a 2 year old. After a very enjoyable trip to spotlight to find fabric, I measured Rubys waist, and cut three strips of material 10cm wide. The first strip is the waist measurement + 15cm, the second is the first length x1.3, and the third is the second measurement x 1.3 again. Follow the instructions above, and you have a cute little skirt just in time for summer! I also added striped grosgrain ribbon as an extra trim.
So here is the first skirt, in green

and I loved it so much  I made another one in pink, and this time I lined it. 

and used the scraps to make little doilies to sew onto a plain white Tshirt ($4 from K-mart) for a complete outfit. You can find the doily tutorial here. I love these skirts so much and the colour combinations are endless!    Yay me.  Now I just have to figure out how to drive this blogger thing..