Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Habiba and Alma are together! They are a family!

Directly from the Facebook page, "Worldwide Mothers Support Habiba!", no more than 10 minutes ago:

TOGETHER, EMBRACED AND FREE. little Alma is recovering leaning her head against her mom's breast without separating from her for an instant, as if everything had been a bad dream. Habiba shines with joy, as we have never seen her before. We reassure you everything you have done has been worth it. Alma, Habiba and us we will be eternally grateful for all your support.
FundaciĆ³n Raices

My kids and I just started bawling, hugging each other, and laughing a little bit, too, when I read this on Facebook.

Thank goodness that baby is back home. Today is a beautiful day.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” - Martin Luther King, Jr

Friday, 17 June 2011

Habiba y Alma

It has recently come to my attention that a 15 month old baby in Spain has been forcibly removed from her mother's care because she did not follow the protocols set up in the government-run Mother and Child Home with regards to feeding her child. She refused to stop breastfeeding her toddler, and as a result, her child was taken away from her.

As the mother to a breastfeeding toddler (my baby is now 12 months old, so not far off from baby Alma), I am heartbroken for this family. They have suffered so much, and continue to suffer, and for no reason! The WHO and even the Spanish government have stated that breastfeeding children up until the age of 2 is NECESSARY and HEALTHY, and yet this mother is being penalised for her behaviour in the most horrific way possible.

For those interested, here is a timeline of the recent events:

May 30, 2011. The Minor and Family Institute of Madrid, Spain (IMMF - Instituto MadrileƱo del Menor y la Familia), dependent of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, separated the child from her mother without explanation or notice, and the mother was evicted from the shelter. The IMMF claims that Habiba’s parenting practices (which included on-cue breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and “being affectionate”) were chaotic and harmful to her child. There is no medical report attached to the case worker’s files. The case workers consider Habiba ‘a bit immature’ and with a ‘certain degree of instability’ but no psychological exams have been done to Habiba while in the shelter. Pediatric reports or general medical reports had not been conducted either. This is compatible with the law for protection of minors, that gives IMMF the faculty to remove children without a court order and has a very broad definition of what constitutes a ‘situation of risk’ for a child.

June 1st, 2011. Habiba seeks the help of Fundacion Raices, a Madrid-based human rights advocacy organization that assists immigrants, youth, and families. That same day, Raices contacts Dr. Ibone Olza, a child psychiatrist, writer, professor, researcher, advocate and lactation specialist. Habiba undergoes several medical examinations and Dr. Olza concludes the mother is mentally healthy and has no prior history of mental illness or drug abuse.

June 2nd, 2011. A precautionary measure is presented in Family Court asking that the child is immediately given to her mother, or in it’s defect, that measures are taken to help restore the bond, such as visitation, communication and breastfeeding. The precautionary measure includes medical reports conducted by independent physicians

June 5, 2011. The Ombudsman receives hundreds of letter about the case and decides to investigate it, further issuing a report. The report considers that Habiba’s rights have been respected by the Community of Madrid, but that mother and child have a strong emotional bond and their relationship should be allowed to be as broad as possible.[2]

June 7, 2011. The District Attorney's Office interviews Habiba and announces the DA will contest the decision made by IMMF to separate mother and daughter.[3]

June 14, 2011. Dr. Carmen Pallas, head of the NICU of a hospital in Madrid, Dr. Adolfo Gomez from the University Hospital of Tarragona, and Josefa Aguayo of the Virgen del Rocio hospital in Seville, all members of the Breastfeeding Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, issued a statement disputing the IMMF’s position.[4] “The arguments in the report of which we have had access to, not only fail to justify that Habiba’s maternal relationship with her daughter could be harmful, but they actually demonstrate that Alma was perfectly fed, cared for and loved. The decision to separate Alma from Habiba is harmful for both of them.”

June 16, 2011. Ombudsman releases a letter asking for mother and child to be urgently reunited, due to the child’s mental and physical health. [5]

June 16, 2011. Habiba is allowed to see her daughter, with supervision. While visiting. Alma begins rooting for the breast. As she is about to latch, a supervisor energetically yells ‘NO’, preventing Habiba from nursing her baby.

If you would like to do something to help, PLEASE contact your local Spanish embassy. Get in touch with national papers, radio stations, and other news outlets. Join the Facebook group, Worldwide Mothers support Habiba! IMMF Give her baby back.

And, if you are so inclined, please pray.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Sewing Club House

I have a plan. I am going to set up a sewing corner in our attic. It isn't a finished attic, so I'll have to climb the attic ladder to get to it, but the beauty of this idea is that the kids won't ever be able to get into my stuff! AND it won't take up any of our living space! AND our attic is mostly empty and a really good size, too.

We'll have to get an electrician in to put some outlets up there, but for now I'll be using my extra long extension cable.

It's silly to get excited about this, because it certainly isn't anything fancy but it's terribly practical and will allow me to have my own special private area of the house.

There might even be room for my laptop so I can watch iPlayer while I'm up there.

It's pretty much a grown-up version of a club house. Such fun!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Parenting Paths

I'm not big on labelling parenting styles. If you ask me (and I'm going to assume that you did, which is why you are reading this blog in the first place), many, many parents are doing the best they can with the resources they have available. I am one of those parents.

However, if you were to break down my parenting decisions in bullet point format, I suppose much of what I do and how I do it would fall under the umbrella of "attachment parenting". I don't even know exactly what that term means, or if it even applies to older children at all.

When my eldest was born, I didn't have a clue. I was 22 -- practically a baby myself, if the pictures are anything to go by -- and maybe read a book or a couple of websites about parenting. I knew I would do a couple of things:

1. I was going to breastfeed, because I was lazy and cheap (this still applies)
2. I was going to use cloth nappies (only because we had two washing machines at the time, and again, cheap)
3. I was going to be a stay at home mother for as long as possible
4. I would not feed my child junk food AT ALL FOR HER ENTIRE LIFE (yeah, that one really worked out well for us....)

Everything else was a learn-by-the-seat-of-my-pants process. I think back to those early days with my first newborn, and I wish I could take my 23 year old self aside and give her a few pointers. Things like, "if baby is crying when you put her in the buggy, try a sling instead." Or, "change the bedroom furniture around so you feel comfortable co-sleeping; it will work out better than you think."

I wish I could be there for my younger self when I had my second child, and went through a bout of depression as a result of the emergency c-section. I wish I could tell that young mother that she will end up with a home birth someday, and the bleakness and sadness she feels over not being awake for her son's birth will heal.

My fourth baby is one year old now. I feel like I am finally coming to grips with raising a baby. It's EASY now. Like, so easy that I could do it again many times over. I wish I could have a reboot of the past 8 years, but with all the confident baby knowledge I have right now.

But anyway. It doesn't work like that, and we all have to learn as we go along. I've learned that I am more comfortable with using a sling than a buggy, with co-sleeping than cots (at least during the first six months when baby can't roll/crawl!), with baby-led weaning than purees (seriously, it's way easier than spoon-feeding the child), with on-demand feeding than schedules (I can never keep track of when baby last had a feed. Never.), and with cloth rather than disposable nappies (especially now that we have a larger washing machine and a laundry room for storage).

I suppose that list makes me an attachment parent? I don't subscribe to a certain philosophy -- there are no basic tenets that I live by other than the ones my husband and I have deemed right for our own family. This is what we are comfortable doing.

Other families are bound to make different choices, for a variety of different reasons. If what I choose to do with my kids doesn't work for you, watch me as I stand over here completely NOT surprised! You do what works for you, I do what works for me, and look at how nicely our kids play together.

Parents are in the business of raising decent human beings. If the end goal is achieved, the path taken to reach it is completely irrelevent. Just ask my kids! I've done different things with each of them, and amazingly they are all healthy and happy. Life is good like that.

Friday, 3 June 2011

At Least There Were No Flames?

I made a foolish decision earlier this evening and put my foam block for felting projects on top of our tall halogen lamp. I wanted it out of the way so the baby wouldn't grab it and hurt herself on the needle (she was cross with me for not giving it to her while I was working on a felted fairy doll), so put it as high as possible.

Fast forward about four hours, and it was starting to get dark. I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop and decide to turn on the halogen lamp. I had totally forgotten about the foam block up there.

It must have taken a few minutes, but eventually I noticed the air was looking foggy and I smelled something funny. I wasn't cooking anything, and outside smelled fine. The gas fire was off, and I was getting confused when suddenly I remembered the foam on the lamp. EEEEEEK!

The second I removed the foam from the lamp (or rather, what was left of the foam), a horrible chemical smell permeated the room and I was gagging. I had to go outside and even spit the taste of it out of my mouth. Gross.

Unfortunately, the fun didn't end there, because the fumes were still lingering so we set up the fan to blow them out of the room. My husband and I then took the lamp apart, scrubbed all the melted foam off of the internal bits, dried them, and put it back together again. It's now outside, turned on, hopefully burning off any leftover melted foam that we couldn't reach. Maybe it won't stink the house out the next time I turn it on. Even more hopefully, maybe I won't put stuff on the top of the lamp next time, either!!

Sometimes I wonder if I would cope with life without my husband. He helped with every aspect of the clean-up. He is very practical, and while I stupidly positioned to fan to blow the smoke out the front door, he reminded me that the back door was closer and we didn't want the smoke blowing upstairs to the kids' rooms. Duh. He scrubbed most of the gunk off, took the lamp apart and put it back together again, and never once made me feel foolish or complained at this unexpected amount of work at 10pm on a Friday night (yes, we know how to live it up). He's an awesome guy.

He also reminded me that I am never allowed to mention the time he left the toaster on the hotplates while they were still hot, thus melting the toaster.


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Today was a busy day - we ended up visiting two different families and we were out of the house from about 10.30 am to 5.30 pm.

The first family we visited have 3 children, 1 cat and 5 kittens, 2 dogs, 2 chickens, 1 guinea pig and 3 goldfish. They live in a village in a converted barn with a very rustic and tumbled-down sort of garden. It is noisy, a bit smelly, and full of every sort of interesting thing you could imagine for a child.

The second family we visited have 3 children and 1 cat (that was in hiding the entire time we were there). They live in a town, in a house that's probably no more than 10 or 15 years old, and their garden is neat and tidy with a trampoline, slide and swingset. They have a 3 televisions and plenty of toys and books and lots of amusements for children.

It is interesting to me to experience such a stark contrast in the way people live in a single day. I wouldn't say that one family is doing things "better" than the other, but they are doing it very differently, to say the least!

I personally enjoy visiting someone's house that is on the messy side of the scale. Number one, it makes me feel more comfortable about the mess that's waiting for me at my own home. Secondly, I feel like my disdain of housework must be more universal than I first imagined, and so can confidently claim that the kids are being raised in a normal household. Normal-ish, at least.

But I like visiting very tidy houses, too. I'm always taking mental notes like "Oh, I like that hand soap," and, "I wonder where she got those wicker baskets," or simply, "How on earth does she keep her house so clean?!" I'm always impressed, and have to wonder what people who live in such neat homes would think of my house. Would they feel comfortable? Would they be silently judging? Or do they think "Whew, my house usually looks like this, too, it's just that most people don't see it because I tidy up before they arrive!"

I think it might be that, for the majority of us. I always clean the house before I have guests, and if I ever get surprised, I can't help but scurry around and straighten up while they are sitting there wanting to have a conversation with me instead. It's silly, really.

Personally, I don't think I'll ever overcome my hoarding tendencies to the point of reaching a completely uncluttered and permanently tidy existence. I was recently unpacking a few boxes of books onto a shelf in the garage, and I just can't get rid of them. I probably won't need them or read them at any point in the near future, but they are BOOKS. They are filled with stories or facts; they have in intrinsic value that I can't quite put my finger on. I am surrounded by books in ever room of the house, sitting on shelves, in plastic boxes, on the floor, on window sills, at the back of the toilet, under pillows, everywhere.

I hope that when someone comes to visit my house, they get the impression of books everywhere. I think that would be a fantastic way to sum up my priorities in life.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Bit of this, bit of that

I've been thinking about my blog lately, because I feel regretful over not writing regularly, and also because I struggle to keep a theme going with my blogging. In the beginning, it was just a collection of random thoughts that I managed to blog about from time to time. It veered into parenting and baby stories frequently, with recipes or movie reviews sprinkled in.

Last year, it became a quilting blog, because I was desperate to finish making quilts for my children before the fourth child was born. I obsessively read through other quilting blogs, used their tutorials and entered contests, learned as much as I could, and documented the process here. More or less, anyway! I complained about being pregnant occasionally and annonced the birth of my sweet little baby.

And now, here I am, contemplating what incarnation my blog will take on during this current phase of my life. I consider myself a creative person, but more of a dabbler than a specialist. There are quilters out there that do amazing, awe-inspiring work, but I am content to say that I will probably never be one of them. I do well enough, I learned enough to make a decent quilt that will last for a long time, but I rarely get the chance to do sewing any more, and quilting is just out of the question for the most part.

That's not to say I don't do creative things at all these days. I am slowly chipping away at my hexagons, and have introduced my daughter into the obsession (which is so fun!), but I've also come into the hobby of needle felting, sewn a few things for my kids, and am trying to get back into freelance writing, which is very exciting.

Needle felting is the art of making objects out of dyed wool with a barbed needle.

This mother and baby set is made in the Waldorf doll style, and the baby is just resting in Mother's arms so can be repositioned if needed. (This is for sale in my Etsy shop, in actual fact.)

My kids are really into Super Mario Bros, so I made a felted Mario for my son,

and a felted Princess Peach for one of the girls.

I'm in the process of making some miniature fairy felted dolls for them, to live in a fairy house that is under construction along with some miniature food that I bought on eBay. I used to adore miniatures when I was a child, and the children are really in love with the idea of a tiny fairy world at the moment. Hopefully my fairy dolls will be up to snuff, because the kids weren't particularly enamoured with Princess Peach. Ungrateful swine! :)

My daughter was recently baptised, so I made her a white dress for the special day:



slightly awkward pose (that's my fault for pretending to be a real photographer)

The dress is made from my wedding dress. Many people have gasped in horror when I say that, but I don't ever plan on wearing it again, so why not? I'm 100% confident that my daughters will think that the dress is hideously out of fashion in 20 years when they want to get married, and I'm not willing to hang onto it for 50 years just in case a future grand-daughter might want it. I did save the bodice to the dress, because someone might want to work it into a dress design someday. That way they have a piece of the dress, but can make it into something that fits in with current fashions.

I'm happy with how the baptism dress turned out. The plan is for each of my daughters to wear it, but with a different sash reflecting their favourite colour/s. The sash was woven from several widths and colours of double-sided satin ribbon. It was just tied around her waist.

I grossly over-estimated the size of the bodice of the dress, so those pleats you see in the back are there out of necessity; I made it far too big and could only take it in on the sides so much. I'm just glad I had those covered buttons to hand so the pleats were dressed up a bit and look planned. The sleeves are cut down versions of my exact sleeves of my wedding dress.


I gotta say, I absolutely love both dresses (my wedding dress, the daughter's baptism dress). I especially love that 4 people will be able to wear it now (I have 3 daughters), and I'm hoping that my grand-daughters will be able to wear it to their baptisms, too.


As far as regular sewing goes, I'm hoping to set up a sewing area in my attic. I originally intended to use a corner in a downstairs room, but I don't like having my things in an easy-for-kids-to-access location. For a while, I was using my bedroom, but the table ended up as a dumping ground for all sorts of detritous. My goal now is to use the attic. It isn't furnished or anything, but there is plenty of space up there for shelves, a table, extra lighting and maybe even a design wall! I have this little fantasy of pottering around up there in the evenings while the kids snooze below me and my husband plays his computer games in peace. I love the idea of being able to stop mid-way through a project and not have to pack it away in the interim. Bliss!

I've also become a convert to standing and sewing. I didn't have a chair in my room for sewing my daughter's dress, so I emptied a toy box, turned it over and put my sewing machine on top. It's a perfect height for standing, so that's what I do. I really prefer it, because my back and neck don't bother me after sewing for long periods and it's easy for my to move over to the ironing board and back again. At the risk of sounding incredibly lazy, I hated getting up and sitting down between every ironing session! After the first time of standing for 2+ hours sewing one night, my leg muscles felt pretty achy, but the next day I was fine. So when I get my sewing area set up in the attic, it won't include a chair at all!