Sweet she rocks, sweet she rolls.

Standard

I never thought I could get excited by rolling. That is until of course my 3.5 month-no-longer newborn baby rolled, all by herself. She has been trying for weeks… but as of Monday afternoon she can successfully roll from back to front. It then took me four days to have my camera in hand at the same that she felt like doing it.

As you can see, we got there in the end.

xox

 

 

To inherit the earth, is our gift to them.

Standard

Bo’s birthright: it’s in her blood.

Living in the village has taught me many, many things over the past few years. I have learned to let go where I used to hold on, and I’ve learned to hold on or hold back at times where it’s no longer appropriate to let go. I’ve learned how to eat with one hand (even deboning a fish or unshelling a prawn), how to barbeque fish over hot coals and how to shower with a bucket. I’ve learned a language, a culture and an identity I didn’t know I had in me. I’ve learned how to appreciate faith, even if I don’t have a particular faith of my own.

I’ve learned a true appreciation for the luck of my birth rights, the luck that was handed to me just because I was born when and where I was. I grew up middle class. I grew up with clothes on my back and food in the fridge. There were hard years, where perhaps I was too aware of financial stress and bills piling up… but there were also many easy years where i was allowed to just be a child. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to have government support whilst i studied at university and the freedom to study what I wanted, where I wanted, when I wanted. These privileges weren’t earned. I didn’t do anything to receive them. They were inherited. They are privileges I am so honoured to be able to pass on to my daughter, and privileges I know my husband wishes he had had.

I’ve always been aware of recycling, in Australia we are very well educated when it comes to garbage disposal etc. Our government programs that actually DO the disposal haven’t quite caught up to our education, but that’s a whole different story. When I first moved to the village I was shocked that there is no garbage disposal system here. There is no dump. There are no trucks that come to collect your household waste. Waste get dumped into a hole in the front (or back) yard and gets unceremoniously burnt off when the hole gets too full. Good or bad, it’s the system here. And as I got used to the many cultural differences I have over time come to accept our rubbish hole.

The blessing of the rubbish hole is the new thinking it brings. It makes me consciously THINK about what goes into our household bin… knowing that I will have to live with seeing it in the hole for the next few months until it is burnt or covered with fallen palm fronds. We create very little household waste now. With food scraps going over the fence to the chickens, dogs, water buffalo and other wild (and not so wild) animals that pass by and using cloth nappies (who wants to live next to a pile of dirty nappies?) we are greatly reducing our impact on the local environment we are a step in the right direction.

The problem is the plastic. What can be done with all the plastic? Everything comes in a plastic bag, or two… when I go to the market (which post-Bo is not very often if at all) I try to take a canvas bag with me to avoid plastic, though some sellers are pretty insistent that their goods come wrapped in plastic. We donate our unwanted plastic bags to my mother in law who uses them at her house and in her food stall to sell her wares… is there another great use for unwanted plastic?

Maybe it takes knowing that you have to FACE your garbage every day to truly THINK about what you throw out? Whether you do already or not, it’s certainly worth considering isn’t it? We leave many things for our children. We leave them love and useless belongings. We leave them with lessons and letters and photographs. We leave them with a world that we as adults have helped create. Maybe we can’t change the politics or effect global change in a day (though I’m not saying we can’t in our lifetime… because if we all just STOOD UP we truly could) but one thing we can change is our own actions and how they impact the world around us. And maybe the simplest way to start really is by looking in your bin?

Let’s let these kids inherit the same beautiful earth that we did.

Top Baby Blogs – get voting!

Standard

Vote for Inked in Colour – and help us share the love!

We have landed. Inked in Colour has just been initiated into the Top Baby Blog ranks alongside some of Americas finest blogs about babies, parenthood and everything in between. We are super chuffed to be involved and to have a chance to share our ideas, stories and Bo with more mamas across the globe.

Want to help us share the Inked in Colour love with the world? Just click on the picture above, or on this link, and hit vote – it’s the owl on the left hand side. Then if i were you I’d have a bit of a browse through some of the other blogs… I found some of my absolute favourite read-every-day blogs on this list!

Playing it solo.

Standard

I’ve loved Bo at every stage of her pretty eventful three and a half months of life, but there is something pretty special going on right now that makes me fall in love with her again and again all day long.

We [I] had a rough week last week. Isolation and distance got the better of me and I sunk a little into a bit of a slump that wasn’t a nice place to be. I was afraid I wasn’t being the best mama that I could be because essentially I was feeling sad and sorry for myself for all the things we were missing out on having back home. I was craving adult interaction, friends, family, shop keepers, whoever.. and it was getting me down. I love my husband dearly, but he’s not always enough.

This week brought a fresh new outlook on life and a surprise friend to brighten the mood. It’s amazing the difference a fourty five minute chat over a glass of juice in your native tongue can make. And then some!

Bo has been a patient little gem through the ups and downs. She’s starting to really chuckle and she interacts in a way that brings so much joy to our little house on the rice fields. she loves to play. With her uncles at the beach. With her daddy. With me. She loves to be chatted to, in her own language, and she chats right back. She’s always got a smile and a story to share.

But then there are her quiet times. When she just likes to play alone. I watch like a fly on the wall as she talks to her hands and slowly rolls from side to side learning how her body moves. She eyes off her toys and has started reaching out and really grabbing them and pulling them close to her. There is such beauty in it all… such a presence of a little soul finding her way into the world. I watch her and I realise just how privileged I am to have her as my girl. She’s her OWN girl first, of course. But she’s mine too – because she comes from my heart.

xox

A bum in cloth.

Standard

cute, soft and enviro-happy… Bo in one of her 2nd hand Itti Bitti’s

I never thought that I would be spending time seriously considering the pros and cons of different nappies, nor did I think I would spend time writing about them. But here we are, and here I am… writing. I have a confession to make. I have an unhealthy love of cloth nappies. I’ll admit it. Even from here in Indo I find myself using my slow internet connection to browse second hand (I try not to buy new, but that’s a story for another time) nappy sites and look at the beautiful cloths and dream about Bo’s little toddler bum running around in cloth. I don’t purchase, I just look, and dream.

I don’t purchase because Bo has enough cloth. We have thirty something nappies in a big red plastic bin in her corner of our house. 90% of these nappies were gifted to us and the others were bought second hand. We love our cloth.

When in Australia we used disposables most of the time… with a brand new first-time-mama baby, a husband overseas and packing for a move… we had enough on our plates, so I “learned” cloth slowly. Once we arrived here in Indo we went cloth, and we are using the last of our disposables just for night time sleeps (they last a super long time when you are only using 1 or 2 a day!).

I read a lot about cloth diapering before we started the cloth adventure. I joined MCN (Modern Cloth Nappy) forums and found out how to wash, care for and use cloth diapers of all makes and models – and you may find it hard to imagine, but there are a few.

We have our favourites. We love Itti Bittis and Designer Bums… but the China Cheapies we have are really just as reliable and Bo couldn’t care less which one we put on her. My husband loves them, I love them, they don’t leak, they don’t smell, they look cute and they are super easy to use and to wash.

Good for our pocket. Good for our environment. Good for Bo’s bum. And now we have our semi-automatic (yes that means it’s part manual) washing machine and we don’t have to handwash… there is no reason not to go green and use cloth.

When nappies are $40 a box in stores… it’s definitely something worth considering when thinking about your babies bottom.

xox

A bad taste in my mouth.

Standard

I came online today after Bo had gone down for her afternoon nap (yes, she is sleeping today – progress!) to write a post about honesty, a post about my internal struggles and to find the courage to speak. Instead of that post, I find myself compelled to write this one.

When I logged on to WordPress I read a recent comment, written by a reader in the dark cloak of last night. I’m used to wonderfully diverse comments from my readers. Some agree, and some disagree with my ideas, and I’m happy, grateful for and open to all kinds of discussion about parenting methodologies, lifestyle choices and both life and babies in general. What I am not happy to indulge in however are personal attacks.

In response to my recent posts about respect, posts in which I try to make sense of my own feelings, choices and responsibilities in this diverse and crazy world – posts where I talk about standing behind one another and our decisions… came a lengthy comment, a short essay, which not only stated quite clearly that this particular reader does not indeed agree with my decisions but went to great length to make judgement on my actions, my relationship and my [selfish] parenting of my daughter. Assumptions were made about my relationship with my husband, my background, my living situation, my daughter and indeed the village in which I live that were not only false but some of which were extremely offensive.

I have not approved the comment as I do not encourage the disrespect of anyone, myself included. But I did feel it necessary to make comment on it, I’m not sure why, I guess because I’m disappointed… disappointed that I was misread, or misunderstood… or perhaps just disappointed that this was waiting to meet me at the end of what has been a pretty difficult week for me personally. Or perhaps because after a conversation with a friend about honesty on blogs, I had prior to reading this comment decided to bear my soul a little more.

Hopefully tomorrow brings a little lightness and colour for all of us.

xox

If only there was a birth-plan for life after birth.

Standard

Parenting advice comes in all shapes and sizes… and whether you ask for it or not, it comes. Some of it is good, some of it is bad and a lot of it is, well, for lack of a better word, painful. When you have a child, as soon as you are handed that baby, your parenting is scrutinised.

In our birthing plan we were very clear about what we wanted for the first few hours of our life with Bo. We wanted respect. Respect for the bonding that would take place, respect for the decisions we made about how to bless her, how to love her and how to welcome her into the world. We were very grateful that the hospital that we were at were extremely respectful of our wishes and regardless of how dramatic the final moments of Bo’s birth had been, within fifteen minutes the room was cleared, the lights were dimmed and we were left alone and in peace with our baby.

I chose to co-sleep in the hospital. It wasn’t a conscious choice, it was just what happened naturally because we were allowed (Bo and I) to evolve into our real-world partnership and begin to find our feet together. What we needed was closeness, and so during the night, Bo’s tiny newborn body slept in the crook of my arm in our single, crisp-white sheeted hospital bed. The midwives raised their eyebrows a few times (I could see the SIDS warnings flashing behind their freshly minted smiles) but they held their tongue. The staff respected my decision, and I was grateful to not have to justify myself to anyone. Bo and I have been happily and safely co-sleeping together ever since, and for us, it is the very best decision I could have made (or not made as the case may be).

If only we could write a life-plan, or a life-preferences sheet and give it to everyone in our lives and have them respect our decisions for the way we would prefer our life to go just like we can in a hospital for the birth of our child. If only I had my doula on hand for every step of my parenting, my very own advocate, standing by my side, holding my hand and whispering encouragement in my ear. This parenting gig is hard, and the second you walk out of the hospital (and unfortunately for some mums it starts in hospital with the midwives) people will judge the decisions you make.

I know a woman, with a young baby just like Bo, who was very recently verbally attacked in a shopping centre food court for bottle feeding her baby. The woman scolded this mother, telling her that babies should be breast fed, that she was, essentially, not doing what was best for her child. I also know of other mothers who have been made feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in cafes, restaurants and other public places by general members of the public. The first few weeks, months, years of a mothers motherhood is an extraordinarily emotional time and to think that anyone feels they have the right to comment (with anything other than praise and encouragement), or indeed pass judgement on the way a mother feeds her child (as long as the child is indeed being fed) greatly disturbs me. How have we lost so much respect for each other that we can’t just stand behind someone and say, we as your brothers and sisters, we support you…

The idea of respect has been on my mind a lot lately. Respect for peoples choices. Respect for other people situations – regardless of the outcome that those situations may have on me personally. Respect for babies as people. Respect may be something that is culturally ingrained in us, and this is something that I’m planning to ponder further as it’s something that I’m facing day to day here in the village.

Why can’t we just find it in ourselves to let go of our own judgements and ideals and just respect each other and find love and acceptance just because we are people, all in this together, just trying to make sense of this wild world… one day at a time with no life-preferences plan to follow.

What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever heard? What’s the worst?

Moments worth remembering…

Standard

Every day is a series of moments, one after the other, some worth remembering… others completely uneventful. Life with a baby has shown me that sometimes even the tiniest moment in the most uneventful of days is worth capturing, and holding onto for a lifetime.

 

Beautiful moments from a week inked in colour.

What was your most colourful moment this week?

xox

I’m on her team.

Standard

Right from the beginning: Photo by Kate Heaslip Photography

How would you like to go to a brand new place, have some strange giant pick you up, get all up in your space and repeatedly tap your face until you grimace in such a way that it convinces the giant that you’re smiling. The giant will then proceed to bounce you up and down whilst waving your arms around and banging your fists together as if you are clapping until another strange giant comes over and repeats the entire game from the beginning again… Personally, I’d rather not. I’m a big fan of my personal space. Don’t get me wrong, I can be quite affectionate, I love a good cuddle and I like being physically close to people who are important to me. I love meeting new people, but I’m always a little wary at first, just trying to find my feet before I dive right in there. I like my little personal space bubble to be respected, and I am really trying to ensure that Bo has the same respect given to her.

People love babies. There is something really magical about a little person. Their little tiny feet, their chubby hands, those cheeks… they are magnetic, there is absolutely no doubt about it. Long before I ever held my own child I felt drawn to children, the purity, the naivety, the beauty is enchanting. So I completely understand that people want to look at Bo, how could you not? She’s spectacular. I even understand when people want to squeeze those chubby pillow feet sticking out of the sling when we are at the beach. I love that people talk to her when she is in the safety of my arms – it gives her a chance to interact with the world whist still feeling secure and protected. It allows her to transition into this big world gently.

What I don’t love is people tapping her face repeatedly trying to make her smile. I don’t love people leaning in until they are an inch from her face and making loud noises at her. I don’t love people bouncing her up and down and talking loudly at her and treating her like a puppet, especially when it’s nap time and she’s tired. I don’t love people trying to pick her up out of my arms when she is snuggled in close. I certainly don’t love completely strangers trying to take her from me on the beach… whilst culturally all of these things are totally acceptable here in the village, for me however they are not. For my child, they are not. I know people don’t mean any harm… but I also know people don’t always think beyond their own little bubble.

These things don’t only happen here. They happened a lot when we were in Australia too. The only difference is that in Australia I have no qualms about telling people no, picking up my child and giving her what she needs – regardless of how that may make other ADULTS feel. Here I do the same but I’m not quite as linguistically capable of explaining my actions, so I’m afraid at times I probably come across as a real bitch.

Some people may say I coddle her, others may say I’m controlling, some people may think I’m not being respectful of my elders – there are always plenty of critics. I know there are parenting “methodologies” out there that would say I’m spoiling my child, but I don’t believe it for a second. I try to be as respectful of others as possible. But my respect for my child trumps my respect for anyone else… I’m on her team first and if that means the strange woman on the beach and the surrounding crowd think I’m awful for not handing my precious baby over to her, so be it.

One day Bo will be able to tell me how she feels, and she will be able to show me what she’s ok with and what she’s not. One day she won’t need me as her advocate (even though, let’s face it, I always will be) and she will be free to do what she feels ok with, and I will trust her implicitly to do so. For now however, I’ll protect her and build her up and by respecting her as a person I’ll help her to learn how to respect herself, something that so many young women out there have forgotten how to do.

Have you had to manage cultural expectations that have been placed on you as a parent? Have you ever had to challenge them?

The long days of the (slightly maniacal) mother of a catnapper

Standard

We have a serial cat-napper on our hands, and it might be driving me insane. Up until we moved to Indonesia Bo was a relatively good sleeper… or maybe that’s just romanticised hindsight? We had a system down-pat (a total fluke) and it was working for us in a no-routine kind of way. In fact the week before we moved Bo was sleeping 9 hours in a row at night and napping like a champion here, there and everywhere. Now however, we are completely exhausted. By we I obviously mean me, myself and I because Bo is bouncing off the walls in an energizer bunny kind of way.

Bo has decided that napping is unnecessary. And on top of that she must be attached to mama or her father at all times. And dad certainly comes a close second, she adores him. He has mastered getting her to sleep, sometimes it takes 45 minutes of slow dancing with her on the cool tiles of our lounge room (I use that room title very loosely).

She can be in an open-mouthed, floppy headed, intoxicating sleep on either of us. Or so it seems, until the exact moment you decide that your arms are burning, your eyes are bleary and for-the-love-of-god you need to go to the toilet… and then BAM – hello big brown eyes, she’s awake again and looking at you with the sparkle and cheek that I’m sure we will get to know well over the years. Then it’s party time. But in-your-arms party time because god forbid you put her down for a second. She’s not a big crier, but she’s a big shouter, and makes it quite clear that she’s not impressed by howling, grumbling or generally honking in your direction until you pick up her chubby over-tired body and hold her close – then all noises turn into happy honks and giggles and teeny-tiny-happy-wolf howls right into your ear.

From the time we get up in the morning at around 6am (after an increasing amount of middle of the night mama cuddles and feeds), until the time we start putting her down for the night at around 7pm – I spend the entire day trying to get my cat napper to sleep… then trying to keep her asleep. It’s pretty safe to say right now that NOTHING else is getting done right now as operation get-Bo-to-stay-asleep is still in full swing.

And I may be (read: am definitely) going a little loco for it.