Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gifted Magazine

I have just found Gifted Magazine, an amazing resource (via Angry Chicken which, by the way, is worth a visit in itself) which is full of wonderful homemade ideas for the holiday season. While I am not going all handmade this Christmas like I did last year I still plan to make a lot of things and this mag is full of great projects and inspiration. It includes inspiring articles, a ton of photos and little tips, projects and recipes, and even printables. And for the Chic Mummy in all of us, there are even some adorable fashion spreads and an incredibly elegant gift guide. Did I mention that it is FREE?! So head on over and get inspired!

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mother Madness Rant

On the weekend I came across an essay at the WSJ that really made my blood boil. Mother Madness, by Erica Jong, is all about how she feels modern motherhood, and attachment parenting in particular, are society constructs that are "imprisoning" and "victimising" women. It's not often that I read something and get so riled up! As regular readers would realise, I am a big proponent of attachment parenting. I breastfed one of my children, I co-sleep (still!), I made the majority of our own baby food, and while I believe in a flexible routine, I don't (and didn't) follow anything you would call a schedule. According to Jong, all of these things are "a prison for mothers" and it "represents [...] a backlash against women's freedom."

What made me laugh out loud however, was her own inconsistencies. In the early part of her essay, she criticises the Sear's (proponents of Attachment Parenting) for assuming that parents are rich enough to have one parent at home to Attachment Parent. And yet, later, she is reminiscing about how her daughter was raised by nannies while she was off on her lecture tours. I don't know about your family, but even if I was still working, I certainly wouldn't be able to afford to have a team of nannies at beck and call!

I am insulted to be told that I am "giving up my life" for my child's and I resent the implication that I am creating a child that cannot be an independent adult. In fact, there is copious research out there that demonstrates that children reared with attachment parenting principles are more secure and capable teens and adults that those who are not. And this is where I think Jong missed the most vital points of attachment parenting. You do not have to be a SAHM to follow attachment parenting; I know parents who both work, but co-sleep with their child, and then carefully selected caregivers who follow the principles of responding to the child's needs when they are not there. You do not have to "give up your life"; next month, DH and I are going to the U2 concert, and one of the sets of grandparents will look after the kids. We still go out for dinner at nice restaurants (sometimes with the kids, sometimes without) and we still carve out moments for ourselves.

What irked me the most, though, is her assertion that those of us who choose to stay home are blindly following societal propaganda, removing ourselves from the political process and further, are "overworked and exhausted" and as such, "how can we have the time to question and change the world that you and and your children inhabit." I could not disagree with her more! I believe that it is the attachment parenting mother (and not forgetting the mothers who follow different parenting paths) that fights to have BPA removed from our environment, who boycotts Nestle for their formula practices in the Third World, who pushes for healthier school lunches for our children. Yes, these are child-centric issues, but does that make them any less important than minimising carbon emissions or fighting for equal pay for women (which, by the way, I am also passionate about)? Just because I am not lecturing in universities or writing a best selling novel (like Jong) does not mean that I am not an aware and active citizen.

Do I believe that everyone should follow attachment parenting principles? Absolutely not. I know parents who followed Enzo's Babywise (the antithesis of attachment parenting) and have raised beautiful, wonderful children, and I think that across the full spectrum of parenting "philosophies" all parents want is what is best for our children given our particular set of circumstances. It just really riles me up when someone like Jong can state that we women should "just do the best you can. There are no rules." (hey, there is one line in the whole essay I agree with!) despite having basically spent an entire essay denigrating my parenting choice.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Putting up! My foray into preserving.

I have always loved the idea of canning food and drinks; putting fresh produce away when they are plentiful and easily available, for times when they are not. In this modern age, when pretty much anything is available all year round (even if you have to pay more for it), canning and preserving has become a bit of lost art, but judging by the blogosphere, it is definitely coming back into fashion.

I started with a couple of recipes, and found it surprisingly easy. The first recipe I tried was apple butter. I have fond memories of eating apple butter when I was a child, but have never seen it since, so when a recipe came into my feed reader from Simple Bites, I thought I would give it a go. I cooked mine in my slow cooker rather than the stovetop, which saved a heap of stirring and worrying it would stick, but I still managed to overcook it a bit - I like to think the slightly burnt flavour adds some "dimension"!

My second experiment was some lemon cordial from the wonderful book River Cottage Preserves Handbook. There were so many recipes in this book I wanted to try, but this one looked like the easiest, and I had a glut of lemons, so it seemed perfect. It came out absolutely perfect! It was just the right balance of sweet and sour, just the way homemade lemon cordial should be. I can't wait until I try my next recipe!

Sorry, no photos, since I have temporarily misplaced my camera in my massive reorganisation of my craft/schoolroom!

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