You Gotta Love This City

I’ve taken many photos of Sydney Harbour before. It’s so picturesque regardless of weather. It’s such a privilege to live here surrounded by this man made and natural beauty.

Sydney at Christmas/New Year is always a good time of year. Everyone is festive and relaxed. So today’s post is some of the photos I took last night from the cruise my work took for our end of year Christmas party. Yesterday was 43 degrees Celsius (which I worked out is 105 degrees Fahrenheit or something ridiculous). Anyway, we were melting but I still insisted on wearing the outfit I had chosen (last picture on the post).

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The storm was rolling in while we were sweltering in a 43 degrees Celsius day

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The colours in this one were just beautiful, but I’ve emphasised them with an Instagram filter

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By far my most favourite photo of the evening. No Instagram filter here! A spectacular lightening storm was overhead for most of the night and I was trying to get a photo of the lights from Luna Park reflecting on the water and just as a took the photo, this happened with the lightening. So much purple!

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The lights of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the CBD. Seeing it like this you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a sleepy city.

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Black and White Instagram filtered Opera House.

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Black and White Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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And little old me.

I hope you’re having a great weekend and the Christmas rush isn’t getting away from you.

Xx Clair

PS- I’d love for you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (my IG is set to private because of spammers, so just request me & I’ll add you). I follow back 🙂


I remember hearing this song played over the loud speaker (the whole album actually) during the Sydney Olympics in 2000. That time was such a wonderful time to be in Sydney.

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Feminism, Fitness and Me

I consider myself a left leaning, feminist. I like socialism, equality and justice. I regularly give thanks to my female ancestors for the work they did to enable me to be the independent woman I am today. I also thank my male ancestors for being progressive enough to know their wives and daughters were not just baby making house keepers. Being a mother, parenting and lifestyle is important to me, right now because I’m living it.

I was born in 1983, both of my parents born in the late 1950s. My parents both worked full time during my early childhood and I realise now in retrospect that this in itself was something quite unusual, considering only ten years earlier, had my mother and father had me, my mother would have had to give up work.

My family was always progressive. When I was a small child, it was never expected of me that I would get married and have babies. We were always told that we could go to university to get a degree, that we could go to TAFE and get an apprenticeship. My cousins and I would play games where we were doctors, school teachers, train drivers, fire fighters, police officers, hairdressers, super heroes, mothers and fathers, you name it. Not one of us were told that we couldn’t be anything we wanted to be.

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Obviously, women are still not equal in terms of pay and working conditions. I have given it a lot of thought as to why I think this is the case and also why I don’t believe women will ever be one hundred percent equal. It all comes down to babies.

I have multiple qualifications, including a degree, however I do not work full time. Not working full time is a choice my husband and I have made, however this greatly impacts on my earning capacity and also my retirement fund. Women tend to work in industries where there is the flexibility for part time or casual employment so that they may be there with their children as they are growing up. The unfortunate truth about these industries is that they do not earn the money that our male counterparts would earn working full time in an industry that does not offer part time or casual employment.

We may not ever be able to change this. I understand that businesses cannot afford to pay for people employed part time to earn the same as full time workers. That isn’t what I’m suggesting here.

One thing that I have noticed about feminism recently is that some people have quite extreme definitions of feminism. For me, feminism has no rules. There is no club for feminists with inductions and monthly meetings. We don’t have membership cards or a secret handshake. I see other women and I’m happy to know that they have the freedom to make their own decisions and choices in the world. Especially when it comes to their parenting and lifestyle choices.

Even though Australia certainly has its flaws in terms of legislative equality for marriage in the LGBTI community, there is also currently a bill before New South Wales state parliament that inadvertently threatens to remove easy access to abortion; Australia is a pretty free place to live. We have the right to vote, in fact it’s compulsory for all Australian citizens who register over the age of 18. We are not forced into marriage as teenage or prepubescent girls. We are able to work if we choose. We are allowed to drive. We are able to continue working after we get married or have children. We can wear a bikini to a shopping centre if we choose to. We have freedom of faith, whether this means believing in a church or not or wearing the religiously significant symbols of that church. Women are not shamed or shunned anymore for not being married or not being married before having children. We have even had our first elected female prime minister, an unmarried, atheist who did not have children of her own. We have had female state premiers, we currently a female Governor General, female chief executive officers etcetera, showing Australian girls of the future that there is no position impossible based in your gender.

Being a parent in my early thirties, working, I try to be open minded about choices other people make for themselves and their families. This is how I’m a feminist. Those choices range from how they deliver the baby, how they feed that child, to how they feed themselves and which lifestyle they choose to adopt. Whether or not they choose to have babies even. For me, feminism is allowing women the choice to live however they want, not how society pressures them to live.

Just recently a woman named Maria Kang posted this photo on her website:

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This one picture started thousands of conversations among women, about whether Maria Kang was being offensive or not. About whether she was inspiring to women or fat shaming them. About whether she has had plastic surgery or she digitally corrects her images to gain ‘perfection’.

I read passionate replies in response to her polarising photograph. That she is inspiring to all women, not just mothers. That she is fat shaming women, expecting them to think that her look was ‘perfection’. That she was not a good mother because she obviously spends all of her day exercising and not with her small children. That she is an inspiration for all people as she proves that you can have a busy working lifestyle and one which is healthy. The comments went on and on. However the ones that stood out for me were how she was not a good mother and how she made ‘fat’ people feel bad.

W T F.

It seems it was her headline What’s Your Excuse that most people had a problem with. They said it was inflammatory, that she doesn’t have the right to decide who’s excuse is valid or invalid. I’m still scratching my head over the whole ‘bad mother’ thing. In fact I’m offended for her.

Eve Vawter is the editor of mommyish.com and describes herself as a feminist. She wrote this article in response to the ‘fat shaming, bad mum’ accusations thrown at Maria Kang

“Meanwhile, back in the world of everywhere we never see men with strong bodies posing with their babies and being told they are BAD DADS for working out”

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Where is the mens fighting about his dad abilities. He has all the muscles and the child is being carried dangerously, damn it!

Just this small example alone proves that there is much more work to be done for feminism in our society. My feminism means I don’t have a care factor at all over what Maria Kang does with her body or her family. Her kids look happy, I assume they are loved, not neglected or abused. Isn’t that what is important here?

Spawning this argument, I came across a new term called Fitshaming. Clever, I think. I’m one of those people who facetiously and shamelessly post on my personal Facebook and Twitter every time I’ve completed a run. When I participate in fun runs, I post photos and multiple statuses about my achievements for the day. Because you know, if you don’t post about it on social media, the workout means nothing!

Fitshaming as a term has come about because people who do post their achievements online are now getting a backlash from others. Our society has become such a micro-society on social media that there seems to be little unwritten rules about what is appropriate to Tweet or post on Facebook.

Where does feminism fit into all of this? It’s women who overwhelmingly have complained online about Maria Kang’s photo. It’s women overwhelmingly who are Maria Kang’s target audience. Can you see the problem here? Women are the ones who are fighting among each other when they should be the ones supporting each other’s right to choose their lifestyle.

I started my weightloss/healthy lifestyle on January 5, this year, you may remember this . I primarily started because I was obese with a BMI of 32, but also because I was in such a bad headspace with depression, PTSD and anxiety, that I was desperate to feel better. Just about everyone knows this, so I admit I have not had any personal negativity from others, toward my personal achievements. I now have my BMI down to just over 25, so I’m still classed as overweight, but my new lifestyle means that I’m not going to stop once I reach my goal.

My exercise and healthy lifestyle does not make me a bad mother. I actually think it’s improved my parenting. My daughter and I get outside in the fresh air and sun. We can play together now without me being out of breath or so uncomfortable sitting on the ground that I can only tolerate it for a few minutes. I’m showing her that healthy living is the key to happiness. That fast food is an okay sometimes food, but just like my car needs a certain kind of petrol to run properly, if I put the wrong fuel in, the engine won’t perform well consistently.

Isn’t that the message Maria Kang is giving in her photo? Treat yourself well, live a healthy lifestyle, love life. No excuses.

Where are all the feminists? Why are we only allowed choice if that choice is to be the same as everyone else? Why is there such a divide between women, we should be joining forces together to create a feminist society where women and men are given equal opportunity to be whoever they choose to be.

You can follow me on Facebook Have a great week!

It’s Open Season on Parents

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will know that I had a really ordinary start to parenthood and that my experience has vastly changed my perception of parenthood and how parenting ‘should be done’.

In January this year, a popular Australian television presenter made comments about a mother breastfeeding her baby in public, saying she should be more “discreet”. This was in response to the same woman contacting the media because she had been asked to go somewhere private to feed her baby, even though she was supervising older children. You can read my thoughts and links to the story in question, here.

It just seems to me, that there is no middle ground when it come to infant feeding. A good friend of mine who ended up formula feeding her daughter, after breastfeeding, said at the time of the situation mentioned above, that the same people who judge her for formula feeding are probably the same people who would have judged her for breastfeeding in public.

We know the WHO lists formula feeding as the fifth most appropriate choice for feeding infant children (but do you think I can find the article?!) after breastfeeding, expressing breast milk, wet nursing by another woman and feeding donated breast milk, however in Australia, donating and receiving donated breast milk is not common practice, nor is it easily obtainable, certainly not through medical channels.

So this leads me to this news article released today:

Warning labels on babies formula tins

Yep. I’ll let you take a few moments to digest that. If you’re like me, you’ll think that it’s a lot rich that this is being proposed. Already, the ‘Breast is Best’ information is promoted heavily in Australia. There is also information already on the tin stating that the child should be breastfed as a first priority. Formula company websites in Australia also have disclaimers that you have to read prior to clicking through to their product information. I’m a registered nurse and in my duty at work in the emergency department and even in the high dependency unit, I have helped mothers breastfeed their babies and establish their supply. I have personally given them and their partners information regarding the Australian Breastfeeding Association. However I have also been there at 3am on triage when a desperate mother is crying in front of me because “my boobs just don’t work, my baby is hungry” and have phoned the kids ward for a bottle and some formula.

My personal situation was that I breastfed for 15 months. When she was born, she had silent reflux and was medicated. She would not settle and I quite literally wore her or had her in my arms 24 hours a day. Somedays I did not eat or shower. When I would put her in the car seat, she would cry until she went to sleep while driving (which thankfully wasn’t very long into the trip).

When she was born, she was slow to gain weight. She lost more than ten percent of her birth weight in her first four days and the paediatrician advised me in the ward to “just give her formula”. My breasts were sore and bleeding. I was exhausted. I was recovering from major surgery (caesarean section). My child’s urine was concentrated, small in amount and she was so unsettled. However this suggestion was absolutely out of the question for me! Why? Because the thought of putting formula into my child was just wrong. The ‘Breast is Best’ message had been so continuously repeated to me, that I believed it. I actually risked my daughter becoming unwell because of the message.

When my milk did eventually come in, it wasn’t the ‘Holy milk ducts, Batman!’ that I had been expecting. Then her constant need to breastfeed made me feel trapped and anxious. When she wasn’t feeding, she was screaming. I would top her up with 50ml of expressed milk (which would take most of an hour to express) and then it was two hours after starting her initial breastfeed, so she’d be demanding it again. So I started taking fenugreek until I smelled liked maple syrup, in an attempt to increase my supply.

My husband, mother and father would all say to me that I should switch over to bottle feeding. They could see the physical toll that breastfeeding was taking on me. However I would say “No, breast is best” and keep on. I was one of those mothers who judged other mothers for switching over to formula feeding! I would look at my own situation and think “if I can do it, why can’t she?”

What a disgusting and shameful attitude.

Here I was struggling with (undiagnosed) PTSD and PND. I was anxious all the time. The first time I was able to leave my baby with anyone was for a couple of hours maximum when she was nearly seven months old (which also coincided with her reflux clearing up). I became a breastfeeding machine. I failed to exist as Me. I wasn’t anything but a feeder.

So this brings me back to the article today. I don’t know any mother who hasn’t agonised over switching to formula feeding. Those post birth hormones and sleep deprivation fueling her already delicate mental health, now dealing with her supposed ‘failure’ to feed her baby as nature intends it. She sees other mothers breastfeeding their babies in shopping centres and cafes. She feels the guilt of the information out there, that her baby is now more susceptible to illness an infection. More susceptible to obesity and other adult health problems. The other mothers in her mothers group saying to her to “just keep feeding and your supply will meet the demand”.

While more appropriate labels might be informative to parents and they will certainly allow them to better know what they are really feeding their child, I actually wonder about the negative connotations they will have. I honestly don’t believe that a parent who chooses to formula feed from birth or has no desire to breastfeed, that these labels will make any difference to their decision. These labels do not, in my opinion, help the confused mother who returns to work, who has to find a formula, against her best intentions, to give her baby when she has been exclusively breastfeeding from birth.

Just today, I have spoken with several friends who struggled with formula feeding their babies. Their feelings of guilt and inadequacy. As a mum who did manage to breastfeed successfully, even after our very shaky start, this makes me extremely sad. We speak about people being free to make decisions to do anything they want to do in our society, however for some bizarre reason, when it comes to parenting, it’s an open season on judging. From the moment the child is conceived, the ‘advice’ and judgment starts.

You can be the judge on this. I’ve said my piece. I would just like to see a society where mothers don’t feel judged and harassed for formula feeding their babies, regardless of the circumstances why they need to.

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I’m Not a Grump. I Just Don’t Like Everything

You know when people say “Smile! It’s not that bad” and “Oh come on, cheer up” etc? Last Sunday, I participated in my second ever fun run. I did not however, receive the memo about it being fun. Eighty percent of why it wasn’t fun was my fault, however I really should have thought it through before signing up to participate.

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I was ready to go, had my outfit laid out the night before and thought I knew where I was going.

Well you know what they say about assuming. I sure did make an ass of myself.

I ended up on the scenic route. Track work on the train line meant I needed a bus from Parramatta to Olympic Park. Then a connecting (all stations via the inner west line) train to the city. My 35 minute train ride became a one hour long journey.

Then my human error made it even longer!

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First hiccup

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Totally oblivious to it all

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Major hiccup

I got off the train at Circular Quay thinking the run was at the Botanical Gardens (derp). Texted my friend who tells me the correct info (it’s actually in the eastern suburbs, nowhere near the CBD) so I had to get back on the train and get to Moore Park.

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Back on the train

I finally got back to Central and onto a bus out to Moore Park. Then the bus driver got lost (!) and was asking the passengers for directions. One other runner looked up google maps on their iPhone and directed him. However he still managed to drop us off one whole kilometre from the start of the run.

I was still in text contact with my friend (the phone lines were jammed and I couldn’t get through). She waited as long as she could, however with me being so far away, she ended up having to start without me.

So I ran it on my own. Le sigh. I really should have given it more consideration. I hate three things in this world, dirt, overly happy people and crowds. The Color Run ticks all of these things.

Dirt. So much dirt! Overly happy people squirting coloured dirt in your face with over excited and happy people rolling around in the coloured dirt on the ground, giggling like maniacs among thousands of other giggling, dirty people running around throwing coloured dirt at one another.

Blergh.

If that makes people think that I’m a grumpy shit, I can live with that. I personally don’t think I’m a grump, just makes me like things different to everyone else.

One positive to come out of the run, was I did my first ever kilometre non stop jogging! I was slow, I did not do a PB, but I did not slow to a walk. That’s an achievement.

Then the journey home. (Please note the word journey). I had to walk over a kilometre back to the bus stop, then over a kilometre from the train station to the other bus stop to get home, to avoid taking a train and a just because of track work.

So yeah, I’m not doing that fun run again!

Spider Pig

One of my oldest and dearest friends, has a Tumblr and she updates it fairly regularly with really funny memes, great photos of delicious food, lots of bacon memes and the most gorgeous pictures of puppies and other cute baby animals.

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Well today, she posted gifs of huntsman spiders doing disgusting things like climbing all over a toilet and one in a web playing with a cigarette.

ERR MER GERD.

Anyway. I am not going to post the pictures here.

What I did find incidentally, was I started to reminisce about 1995 and have spent much of the last hour discussing 1995 with her and two others from high school on Facebook. In 1995, we were in year 7 and went on a camp to Glenbrook in the lower Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

It started off as good as can be, sunny, enormous rucksacks filled to the brim on our little 12 year old frames. Full of excitement. We caught the train out to Glenbrook and then hiked for hours and hours about three kilometers to our campsite, where we then put our tents up and built a camp fire to cook our sausages and toast our marshmallows.

My good friend brought along a toy ghost to hang in the tent, it was clap activated, making this “oooooohhhhhhh” sound and emitting a green light. She hung it from the centre and we had a good laugh, until this enormous thunderstorm happened out of nowhere and the ghost would not shut up.

Then we started talking about The X-Files. Remember that really awesome sci-fi show with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson? Well, my friend told us about a worm that lived in the sewer.

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The stuff of nightmares
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Game over man. Toilet was not happening.

Another friend (who is chatting to us on Facebook) developed gastro. Probably from an undercooked sausage that hadn’t been kept cold enough while we hiked to camp. She wanted us to go to the toilet with her because she was terrified that the worm would come out while she was sitting down.

Uh-uh. Way too scary. Poor thing was on her own. Plus it was pouring with rain. Torrential. This storm was horrific. Our tents were starting to leak, they were so sodden with the rain.

We must have surely gotten some sleep that night. I can’t remember. However finally in the morning when the sun rose and we could see the damage from the night’s storm and rain, I remember thinking we were quite lucky to have gotten out of it unscathed. There were fallen branches from the huge trees everywhere and the creek had swollen right up into quite a torrent. There were kangaroos greeting us and we couldn’t start a fire because the wood was wet.

When we did pack and start the hike back, we stopped off at toilet that flushed and I made a very hasty entrance ready to finally go (remember the worm? I refused to use the non-flush hole in the ground toilet at camp) when I shut the stall door and looked up… THERE WAS A HUNTSMAN SPIDER.

I bolted. Thankfully did not wet my pants. I was busting. Put my rucksack back on and continued on until we got to the train station!

I remember at the time being terrified and it would absolutely horrify me if my daughter ever went on a camp like that, however gosh it was a good time. To think that nearly twenty years on, we can still laugh about it, is a very good thing.

I’m linking this blog up with Slapdash Mama at The Lounge. Pop on over and say G’day to her.

Also, just because I can:

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Bacon stock cubes. I got a little bit arty-farty taking that photo on Hipstamatic. Yes the pack is open, I’ve tried it. Very salty, I’ll be sticking to real bacon in the future.

Xx

Grief

Maybe it’s the PTSD, maybe it’s because it’s the 29th of May. Either way, it’s a flat day today. It’s my beloved Nanna’s anniversary.

I’ve blogged about Nanna before. In previous (now defunct) blogs. Each year I think that maybe dedicating a portion of my day to writing about her will help my sadness, but it doesn’t.

I still miss her terribly. I still yearn for her. My grief isn’t raw like it was on May 29, 2007, but it’s still very much there.

I feel guilty and selfish over her death. Guilty because she was so ill for so long prior to her death. Guilty because she suffered for seven weeks before finally succumbing to disease. Selfish because here I am, a registered nurse who could see her pain, still wishing she was physically here.

My Nanna was a wonderful woman, who I was terribly close to. I spent considerable time with her growing up and I attribute so much of the woman I am today, to how she shaped and influenced me.

In her last ten years, the roles we played were significantly reversed. While she still ‘cared’ for me, I (with my mum and aunty) definitely shouldered her physical care. Taking her to doctors appointments, house work, cooking meals, racing to the emergency department behind the ambulance.

My Nanna was a wonderful lady. She lived a long and full life. She never wanted for material possessions. She was not a traveller.

She did however live for her family. One sure thing in life, was Nanna in her kitchen and Pa sitting in his chair.

She loved the country. She grew up on a farm with cows, sheep and chickens. She loved Slim Dusty’s music. Her favourite colour was blue. She never drove a car or caught a plane. If she couldn’t walk or catch a train, unless someone else was driving, the destination wasn’t worth it.

Summer holidays were spent with my cousins and neighbourhood children. Water fights, days out to the pool, walking up the the take away store for hamburgers. Catching the train to the nearest town centre. Making apple pies and jam tarts. Christmas was all about Nanna’s custard. It was simple. It was idyllic. It was wonderful.

Part of this terrible trauma has been my sheer grief for Nanna. I’m desperate for her to tell me that everything is going to be ok. Just like when I was a little girl. For cuddles. For conversation. For her lessons in life.

I took my Miss out to the cemetery last year for Nanna’s birthday. It’s too cold today to take her out again. It was bittersweet to sit by Nanna and Pa’s graves ‘introducing’ them to my little girl. How I wish she’d have known them herself. I just know that they’d have loved each other very much. Just like I loved her (and of course my Pa) so much. It brings me great joy to know that my mum, my dad and my girl have a close relationship, just like I had with my grandparents.

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This is the only photo I could find of my Nanna and I, after she died. Twenty four years and all we have is a photo of me at about two weeks old. Nanna hated her photo being taken, so we’d oblige and not take them. How I wish we’d ignored her wishes. I am so thankful for my memories. They’re worth so much more than a photograph.

The Mummy Blog

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I just about never post specifically about parenting. Sure, I mention her at times and really, how having her lead to my diagnosis with PTSD and PND, but I don’t really ever speak about day to day parenting. It’s not really my thing.

Today though, oh my goodness today.

My mum asked me last week to go with her to Costco today. Costco opened in Sydney a little while ago and to be honest, it didn’t interest me ever to go, simply because if I need toilet paper, I don’t buy it in lots of one hundred rolls, so the local supermarket sufficed. However I was up for something to distract me from the stress of marking.

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We weren’t even out of the driveway yet and Miss Almost-Two started tantruming about whatever issue she had with something. So I cracked it. Mum says “don’t yell at her”.

Fantastic.

She finally stopped screaming. Still no idea what was going on. However I strongly believe she was hungry. She did refuse breakfast though. I can’t force food into her.

Then we get to Costco, which is a 30 minute drive away. She starts again. Epic meltdown of embarrassing proportions. So bad I was ready to throw her. Even Mum and my sister couldn’t calm her down. So we manage to get her to eat a bread roll. In order to get one for her, I needed to buy a bag of thirty six. 36! Who on earth needs to buy a thirty six pack of bread rolls? Baked fresh daily! At least she stopped screaming. She ate two bread rolls and then went to sleep as I was pushing her pram around the store.

After looking at enormous boxes of foreign branded foods and battling the biggest shopping trolleys I’ve ever seen loaded with enormous boxes of foreign branded foods, it was time to leave.

Cue another tantrum.

Honestly, her default response today to everything was to tantrum.

Honestly though, I’m absolutely certain that it’s all a reaction to me working so much. This week is the last week of university semester, so next week I’m back to two days per week for a little while. I think she needs me at home for a little while.

Xx