Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This blog makes me feel...

Blogs can bring out a lot of emotion. Some make me laugh, make me cry, make me want to jump on a bandwagon, make me angry, make me happy, make me sad blah blah blah. Some make me do all that in just one post.

Here are 25 blogs from my reader and how they make me feel... see my tongue? It's very firmly in my cheek. OK, go.

Childhood101 makes me feel like I need to get a craft table and some pipecleaners

Edenland makes me feel like I need to get off my fat, white, middle class arse

Fe Lumsdaine makes me feel like I suck at taking photos

Freerange In Suburbia makes me feel like I need more leggings as pants

Frog Ponds Rock makes me feel like I don't have an arty bone in my body

Glen’s Life makes me feel like being a man for a day

Good Golly Miss Holly makes me feel like I'm terrible at time management

Good Googs makes me feel like I don't have enough pages on my blog

Kate Says Stuff makes me feel like I haven't got a big enough back yard

Magneto Bold Too makes me fucking feel like I don't fucking say fuck enough

Maid In Australia makes me feel like I need to go on holidays more

Mumstrosity makes me feel like I don't have a cool enough nickname for my kid

My Three Ring Circus makes me feel like my family is too small and nuclear and boring

Parental Parody makes me feel like closing my legs forever lest I have twins

Pickle Bums makes me feel like my blog looks crap and needs a redesign

Singular Insanity makes me feel like my own accent is shit

Sleepless Nights makes me feel like I need to go to a writing course so I can write heaps gooder

Stuff With Thing makes me feel like I don't have enough ducks

Styling You makes me feel like I should really get out of my jimjams already

The Armory makes me feel like getting drunk on a bus then getting kicked out of a pub

The Tiger Father makes me feel like having a solid gold toilet

Tina Gray {dot} Me makes me feel like I am lacking in parentheses

Toushka Lee makes me feel like living in a house is sooo passe

Wonderland of Sound makes me feel like I have terrible taste in music

WoogsWorld makes me feel like I need professional photos taken

This blog makes me feel... no, actually, that's enough. This blog makes me feel.

How do blogs make you feeeeeeeeeeeel?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I’m stuffed so I watched Doc McStuffins

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang

Little did I know when I accepted this sponsored post that I almost wouldn’t get it in on time because Tricky would end up being rushed to hospital in an ambulance with a severe asthma attack, right when I was meant to be writing it. Children and schedules no not mix, obviously.

We’ve come home from our third hospital admission in three weeks with instructions to freak out a bit at how quickly asthma can go from bad to life threatening visit the GP for follow up, and though Tricky has seen a couple before for different reasons, it looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more as we try to manage this new chapter.

Enter Doc McStuffins, the six year old who brings her toys to life then heals their boo boos. Other than the word boo boos which I loathe, it’s a cute show and Tricky and I spent some time watching it in an effort to normalize trips to the doctor. Plus it meant I could avoid housework since I was so stuffed from staying on a fold out bed in the hospital listening to sick babies cry all night. Win win.

Doc and her magic stethoscope (ZOMG how cute is that Lamb?)

I’m a firm believer that kids shows have to appeal to adults. We’re the ones who have to put up with them, really, so there has to be something in it for me to make me tolerate Tricky watching it over and over and over (and over and over) again before I’ve had enough and declare the DVD “broken” and hide it at the back of the cupboard.

In Doc McStuffins, that honour belongs to Lambie (with Chilly the snowman coming a very close second). I’m such a sucker for cute so in the episode I watched when Lambie, who is unsurprisingly a little lamb, said “That was the most exciting cuddle I ever had!” I was smitten.

Exciting cuddles are my favourite thing too and I’m so good at giving them. Get your mind out of the gutter!

Lambie made me giggle and go nawwww at the same time, which sounded like I was having some sort of fit and has now been added to my list of things never to do in public alongside burp the alphabet. But I digress.

Now that’s one exciting cuddle!

Tricky enjoyed it (oh yeah, that’s right, I was meant to show the kids show to the kid) and it held his attention for the whole time, even though he was exhausted. I’m wondering if when the Doctor doesn’t heal him with a hug, a kiss and a strategically placed bandaid, and instead forces him to have ventolin and steroids, if he might feel a little jipped.
Group hug with Doc McStuffins and her giant head
Laying down to watch, the day home from hospital

Now, if only I could get Tricky’s doctor to accept hugs as payment like Doc does… they’d be exciting cuddles, of course. GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER!

Doc McStuffins premieres on Friday, June 8, at 9.15am (screening times, Mon-Sun 9.15am and 3.15pm; Mon-Fri 12.15pm and 6.15pm; Sat-Sun 11.15am and 5.45pm) on Disney Junior which we don’t have. I guess I’ll just have to keep replaying the one episode over and over and over again… oh so that’s where Tricky gets it from!?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Weekend Whine - Episode 3

Feel free to link up with something you've whined about this week!

Where’s My Glow?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Things they didn't tell you

When Allison Tait, of Life in a Pink Fibro, told me I was on her "wishlist" of Bloggers she would like to contribute to a new ebook that would showcase things they didn't tell you about parenting and be sold with all proceeds going to the amazing Cate Bolt's Foundation18, I was pretty sure she had sent the email to me in error.

Up until that point, the only wishlist I've ever been on is the one where people wish I'd shut up for a minute or at least take a breath in between sentences.

*takes a breath* Wish granted.

However, being the type of gal that seizes upon opportunity when it knocks, I didn't bring it to her attention that she had asked little ol' me and instead replied gushing that of course I'd love to be involved.

It was only after agreeing to take part that I found out who else would be involved and I promptly started to both freak out a little and have tickets on myself at the same time. I am now a "contributing author" (OMG author?!) alongside the likes of Bern Morley (woah!), Veronica Foale (bloody hell!), Eden Riley (shizenhousen!), Mrs Woog (holy moly!) and Kerri Sackville (I have no more words to express excitement, other than faaaaaark, so the title author should be taken off me immediately).

Then I saw the foreword was by Wendy Harmer and I went in to cardiac arrest. On the up side, my mother now thinks I'm a celebrity.

After seeing all these fabulous women were included, my decision to submit a piece involving infant erections is now being put in the "not your best move" category along side my attempt to limbo whilst drunk. *Note to self: Next time you're asked to be part of an amazing ebook, don't mention genitals*

Every parent needs to read it and realize they aren't the only ones who *insert ANYTHING to do with child raising here*. There will be fist pumping and chest bumping at large in celebration.

32 Australian Bloggers gave their time and creative talent (except for me, I just gave time and sarcasm), and a crew of people behind the scenes including Kate, Tracy and Mal, helped make Allison's idea a reality.

But now it's over to you. The book is $4.99 and I really encourage you to buy a copy, click on the logo below and remember all proceeds go to Foundation18.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The numbers game

In the last two and a half weeks I feel like all I've done is worry and count, count and worry.

Count the number of puffs, doses, hours, admissions and the number of times I've been close to losing the plot (I'd need to count higher than ten for that, so it's off the list).

Worry about whether I'm up to being this parent which is so far removed from my bordering on neglect "he'll be right" attitude.

One - the number of times we've needed an ambulance for Tricky

Two - the number of asthma attacks he's had

Three - the number of hospital admissions he's had

Four - the number of hours between ventolin when you're allowed home from hospital

Five - the number of times I've called the specialist only to get the answering machine

Six - the number of puffs of ventolin required every 20 minutes for three hours to stabilize him

Seven - the number of times he screams when woken up for medicine over night

Eight -the number of chips, dropped off to the hospital by a good friend, I can stuff in to my mouth when Tricky is finally asleep

Nine - the number of times per day I felt sorry for myself

Ten - the number of times per day I shook it off and thought how truly lucky we are

All in two and a half weeks. Ugh.

Tricky giving the thumbs up for feeling better!

Monday, May 21, 2012

How Not To Ruin Your Marriage: Lesson Two


Later this week it will be four years since Map Guy and I tied the knot in front of our family and friends.

We're not really in to the whole gift giving thing for anniversaries, probably because we're both really stingey. Instead we like to do something nice for each other like cook a special dinner and have a candle lit bath.

To commemorate these four fabulous years, I've come up with some tips and tricks that will help you choose the anniversary gift for your significant other so that they won't be heading for the divorce lawyer's office the next day.

Tips for HIM

Do: Surprise her with a lovely night in a hotel
Don't: Surprise her with a lovely night in a hotel and not organize a babysitter

Do: Make a romantic dinner of her favourite meal
Don't: Make a romantic dinner of her favourite meal and leave her to do the dishes all alone

Do: Massage her aching shoulders
Don't: Massage her aching shoulders while digging your erection in to her back

Do: Get her something she's always wanted, like a charm bracelet or a pair of earrings
Don't: Get her something you've always wanted her to have, like the instructional DVD 'The Ultimate Guide to Blow Jobs'

Do: Give her a stunning pearl necklace
Don't: Give her a stunning pearl necklace and then waggle your eyebrows and say you'll give her another one later

Tips for HER

Do: Put out
Don't: Not put out

What do you get your spouse for your anniversary?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Things I know about allergy testing and anaphylaxis

Don't panic, I'm not going to bore you with allergy crap all the time, I promise this won't become an allergy blog, just like it didn't become a Craniosynostosis blog or a breastfeeding blog or a food blog. It will remain a dribble shit blog bit of everything blog.

But, as a new 'allergy parent' I'm doing my bit for Food Allergy Awareness Week and linking up with Things I Know.

Tricky's recent trip to hospital with an anaphylaxis reaction to cashews got me thinking how little I really know about food allergies and testing, and how much I thought I knew after very poor education by the people in charge of his tests.

These are the Things I Know:

I know that allergy testing is bullshit if the child hasn't been exposed to the allergen previously.

I know that a negative result on an allergy test does not mean your child will not develop an allergy at some point.

I know that when the immunologist in charge of an entire allergy study tells you "No cashew or peanut allergy, so no need to worry" they mean "no need to worry right at this very moment, if your child eats a cashew in a year they may nearly die, sucks to be you".

I know that some medical professionals assume your knowledge base is the same as theirs and don't explain things as well as they should.

I know that if your child has a positive reaction to one nut, but has been eating other nuts without issue, you're meant to continue feeding it to them to reduce the likelihood of an allergy developing.

I know that going from a relaxed, free range parent with a "he'll be fine" attitude to a severe allergy parent is a very steep learning curve and will involve moments of "umm, did you check what's in that?" after you've fed it to your kid.

I know that when your child rubs his eyes and they look a teeny tiny bit puffy you will freak out and make a mental list of everything they've eaten then watch him like a hawk, EpiPen at the ready, only to realize he's actually just tired because it's bed time.

I know that when your partner doesn't take the bag with the Epi Pen in it when he goes out that you will get very, very angry, then realize you're both learning and it isn't second nature yet and feel bad that you got upset.

I know that the moment you become an allergy parent it consumes every waking hour while you research and try not to get overwhelmed by it all and become that boring as bat shit person who can only talk about her kid's damn allergy.

I know that I'm bored of me talking about allergies already.

What do you know?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

10 Reasons why I'm deleting your email

Oh look! My Cranky Pants are back!!

I get a lot of emails. Usually a few hundred a day, over three accounts. There's the handful from friends, library notifications, some writing briefs and some PR stuff. Only about 30 emails of the few hundred are worth reading - the rest, well, they're all crap... and most of them I delete without more than a glance.

So I've put together this list so that you know why I never replied to your email. You're welcome.

10 Reasons Why I'm Deleting Your Email
  1. You say you've just finished reading a particular post and thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to place paid links in it... really? It was about domestic violence and the murder of twin babies. Enjoy isn't really a word I'd associate with reading that kind of material. 
  2. Your opening line is how much you love my blog and you mention your favourite post by name. If you'd looked closer, and not just selected a random title, then you'd realize that was a guest post that I DIDN'T WRITE. What makes it worse is that maybe that is your favourite post on my site... gee, way to dent my ego, asshole.
  3. You have sent me a press release asking me to write about your massive multi national company, with multi million dollar advertising budget and when I reply with my ad fees you say you have no budget for blogs.
  4. You address your email "Hi there" "Dear Where's" "Dear Mrs My Glow?" or, my personal favourite "Dear Jackie". I have a pseudonym, use it. I also have a name that is now on the public record and really not that hard to find - when you use that you REALLY get my attention.
  5. You're trying to get me to buy something, usually a penis enlarger or Viagra, but for some reason you think that by spelling it V1agra and Pen1s to circumvent my spam filter, that I won't actually realize and click through. I may not have completed my degree but I'm not that dumb.
  6. You have asked me to promote your dating website for disabled lesbian Mongolian figure skaters living in Uruguay. Last time I checked, my readership in Uruguay wasn't too high so I'm going to pass on that, thanks all the same.
  7. You're kindly letting me know I have inherited $3.2 million after a long lost relative I don't know of has died and to access it will only cost $3000. Now that I'm over the shock of learning my seventh cousin has suddenly passed away, lemme think... errr, no. 
  8. You start your email "Dear lovely new friend" and go on to tell me you like the look of my photo on the blog, would like to move to Australia and marry me, then sign it from Susie. Thanks for looking at my photo and thinking I'm a bloke... unless you're gay in which case I hate to inform you the politicians still haven't gotten off their bigoted asses to make it legal yet.
  9. Your from name is "PerfectlyLegal". If that doesn't ring alarm bells I don't know what does.
  10. I forgot all about it, took too long to respond so just deleted it. At this moment my brain closely resembles mushy peas (though I will guess slightly less green) and I have a to-do list as long as a really long armed person's my arm. For some reason I would prefer to be seen as a rude bitch than a scatterbrain... though I suppose the secret is out now, huh?
Aaaaand special bonus number 11: If it's a chain email. No, I will not forward it on to five friends to prevent the apocalypse!
Why do you delete emails?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Homemade Nut Free Muesli Bars

I've jumped on the nut free wagon since Tricky's anaphylaxis reaction. Whilst he can handle peanuts I wanted to try my hand at some nut free muesli bars for two reasons:

Firstly to see if they tasted as awful and bland as they looked... they did.

And secondly so I could give them to him to take to his little nut allergy parties where all the anaphylaxis kids get together and compare EpiPen carriers or some shit.

So, as always, I threw out the different recipes I'd seen and decided to take what I'd learned to create my own... and they're pretty damn tasty if I do say so myself. The Wonder Couple have declared them "better than the shop bought muesli bars". High praise indeed!

Nut Free Muesli Bars

  • 120g of margarine
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 cups of oats
  • 1 cup of crushed cornflakes 
  • 1 1/2 cups of mixed dried fruit* - this is the important bit so make sure you have a variety, I use a combination of currants, sultanas, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apricots and even a little peel. This is where the total nom factor comes from! If you just use sultanas it is BOR-ING!
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

  • In a big bowl combine all your dry ingredients and the super awesome selection of dried fruit
  • Combine margarine, honey and sugar in a saucepan and melt together, bring to the boil for 3-4 minutes stirring continuously - it will froth and thicken slightly
  • Pour the contents of the saucepan in to the bowl and stir until the whole mix is wet and sticky
  • Dump the mix in to a lined slice tray, push down as firmly as you can and bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool (whack it in the fridge to speed it up) then cut to size - bars or squares, I ain't fussy
It is slightly crumbly so make sure you wait until it's completely firmed in the fridge before cutting - if you get impatient because it looks so amazing then you'll end up with crumbs everywhere. If it happens though, scrape them all together form little balls - the honey means they'll still stick together. Muesli balls FTW!

Happy baking!

*I go to the local bulk food store and get a little scoop of all the dried fruits I want so I don't have to pay for giant packets of dried fruit that will take forever to get eaten

Monday, May 14, 2012

The other 1% - Fullterm breastfeeding

On Friday, a good friend in my mothers' group asked if I'd see the cover of Time Magazine with the woman breastfeeding on the cover.

I hadn't, so she described it to me. A woman, standing up, with her almost four year old child at her breast while he stood on a stool in front of her.

Associated Press / May 11, 2012
She found it a bit icky. And that's OK. I'm in the glorious position of being a supportive and diverse mothers' group where just because we have different stories and different ideals doesn't mean we one-up and think our way is best. We have breastfeeders, bottle feeders, caesarian births, vaginal births, epidural births and drug free birthss. Between us we have eight beautiful kids; day care kids, grandparent care kids, dairy free kids, nut free kids, shy kids and outgoing kids. It's a mish mash microcosm of society in one little group. It's perfect. Bit I digress.

Back to the photo. It's a rather provocative cover. I expect it rubs a few people the wrong way because in our rather sheltered culture it's not common to see women breastfeeding their older children. I wonder how much of that is because the child doesn't take much milk any more and it's less likely to happen outside the home, and how much of it is because those who do feed their older child feel the stares of passersby and hide away for fear of comments?

The photo doesn't bother me. But I'm slightly crunchy and have been around full term feeders at the ABA, so I understand I'm biased.
Some of the very vocal backlash to the photo (including it being taken of stands in some supermarkets) has been because the woman is wearing tight, sexy clothes (yes, jeans, a singlet and ballet flats are totes sexy)... because obviously anyone breastfeeding should automatically become asexual. Surely she should be wearing frumpy maternity clothing with bows on it? Newsflash: breastfeeding doesn't stop you being a sexual person - see those people with two children breastfeeding? Or pregnant and breastfeeding? OMG THEY HAD SEX! 

Other comments have been centred around the look to camera... because shouldn't they be looking adoringly in to each others eyes if it's genuine bonding and not some debauched sexual act? Newsflash: I've not seen a child stare in to it's mother's eyes while feeding much past the six month mark where the world suddenly gets really interesting. Tricky looks anywhere but at me unless he's really tired.

In Australia (according to the ABS), by age two, only 1% of children are receiving breastmilk. In less than a month, all things remaining equal, Tricky will fall in to that 1%.

I think I deserve to get some sort of prize for breastfeeding this long. Like a boob shaped trophy or something. Or at least a nice, new bra.

When the majority of people find out I'm still feeding the Trickster they looked surprised. Then, inevitably, the very first question is "when are you going to wean him?". I don't see how it's anyone else's business, really, but depending on my mood I'll either answer "when he's ready" or "when he's 17, because feeding an 18 year old would be TOTALLY GROSS!".

When I was pregnant, my goal was to feed for twelve months. That was quickly reassessed to "please let me feed til three months" when nipple thrush and a staph infection (yes, in MY NIPPLE!) had me in tears every hourly feed (yes, HOURLY!).

But through perseverance, education and a lot of fear of failure stubbornness, I got there. And then some.

So here I am feeding a (not quite) two year old. It is very different to feeding a newborn, and it's very different to feeding a twelve month old.

He feeds every morning when he wakes up which guarantees me an extra half hour to an hour of sleep as he lays there, dozing on and off at my breast. An hour is a long time at 4:00am when you're sleep deprived.

Sometimes he'll feed after a nap, and he gets free reign if he's sick, both for the comfort and to keep his fluids up. Recently when he was unwell and he was refusing food and water, he would breastfeed and I knew he was at least getting something.

He will pull away from one side and ask for "More milk?" before latching on to the other side. I wonder if it tastes different?

I understand that some people think it's weird, and that if a child can ask for milk then they're too old to have it... Tricky, thanks to baby sign language, has been able to ask for milk since he was six months old. Should I have weaned him then?

I don't know when we'll wean. There's been a few times when I thought it was the end of our journey, like when I was going away to conferences, and savoured the closeness of our "last feed", only to have him eagerly return to the breast as if nothing had happened.

For now, I'll relish the fleeting moments we have together... and quietly revel in my ability to provoke awkward looks from others.

Did the Time cover make you squirm? Why? Why not?
All opinions are welcome here, but please be respectful.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Weekend Whine - Episode 2


After being begged asked by half a dozen people, this little baby is now a linky. If you have stuff you've whined about this week, stick this little button thingy on it and link up.

If no one links up I will hunt down those who demanded a linky and give them evil looks... because that's about as fierce as I get.

Where’s My Glow?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Standing up for my Bloggy self (and why you should too)

I value myself as a Blogger and I value this space and what I have created. And I think, based on some numbers I can see, that other people value this place too.

I generally charge for advertising, sponsored posts, reviews and giveaways. The amount I charge varies greatly on a number of things including how nice the email you sent me was, the value of the product for review, whether you're going to give me a second one as a giveaway and whether or not you want the right to read what I say before I hit publish. I've been told by many Bloggers with similar traffic stats that I'm undercharging, so I guess I still have to work on that self valuing and self esteem a little more.

I don't charge for small businesses of the WAHM/WAHD variety. Some people probably think I should, but I normally don't. I like to think that someone would help my fledgling business out if the Blog was on the other foot. I suppose it's a lame attempt to get brownie points or karma or some shit.

This week I was asked to do a giveaway (not a review, therefore offered no product in lieu of payment) and when I told them my admin fee I received a reply:

Hi Glow,

We are happy to participate in a giveaway where the value of exposure offered is equivalent to the value of the product given. We believe that giveaways are a mutually beneficial as it drives new customers and adds value to your site as everybody loves a giveaway!

We are happy to post products to the winner but have not found it to be standard practice to pay an admin cost.

Thank you for your assistance.

Now I need to point out that this was not for some big ticket item... it was for a downloadable file that the eventual winner would have to print out themselves. So you think a permanent link to your site, a spruiking of your product, promotion through my social media channels with thousands of followers is worth nothing? Fuck off. No, really.

I keep being told "we see it as a win win scenario". The brand win and the reader wins... when do I get to win? Where is my piece of the pie? I LIKE PIE! PIE IS FUCKING AWESOME!

My fear of confrontation means I don't normally speak up so I just delete emails that ask for a serious investment of my time for nothing, and expect to be taken off their "Bloggers To Exploit" list. But I was kinda cranky this time. So I pulled on my grown up pants, embraced my awesomeness and replied:

Hey PR person from a company I won't name,

Perhaps an admin fee is not standard for start up blogs, but Where's My Glow is in it's fourth year now and pulling good traffic and trust capital thanks to consistent quality content, honest reviews, mentions in main stream media and my presence as a speaker at conferences.

I have really good traffic tracking and can tell you that giveaways don't really drive new readers to the blog (but do drive customers to the brand), therefore there is no benefit to me whatsoever to host a company for free on my website, particularly one that obviously has enough budget to hire a PR firm and is offering only a download that the winner would then have to pay to print themselves.

I'm sure you don't work for free to promote a brand, so neither do Bloggers who value themselves. Have a read of
this post at Sleepless Nights and this one at Good Googs for more information.

Thanks for your time.


OK so I kinda talked myself up a bit - I've spoken at two conferences and only had three mentions in mainstream media but IT TOTALLY COUNTS, just ask my mum!

If your only compensation to me is the fact that I get some "fabulous new content" or that having your name on my site "adds value" to the blog then you can bite me. Like a hell of a lot of other Bloggers, I've got content coming out my ears and not enough hours in the day to write it all down. I'm not so desperately scraping the bottom of the creative barrel that doing a giveaway is the only reason I'll have a new post up.

Promoting a brand for free does not pay my bills and it does not "strengthen my relationship" with PR firms. On the contrary, it undermines it and teaches them that using Bloggers as doormats is the way to go. We have to remember that if they didn't think using Bloggers was valuable then THEY WOULDN'T BE PITCHING US. They see the value... but you're the one who has to put a price on it.

If all else fails, maybe we can all just sent them this awesome infographic by Jessica Hische :
Click to Enlarge {Source}
Would you work for free?

Agree? Share this post (yeah, I went there).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Postcard to Tricky: From China

Another blog-card from Aunty Penny! Hooray! You can see the last one, from Nepal, here.
___ . . . ___ . . . ___

G'day Tricky!

It's your Aunty Travelling Pen here.

I'm in China for two weeks, trying to be a bit adventurous. I started in Beijing, then visited Shanghai, and am now in a smaller city (still 6 million people, or 6 times the population of Perth!) called Nanjing.
Me on the Great Wall of China - looks like Emperor Nasi Goreng did
a great job - no rabbits anywhere!
From what I've seen life here is pretty different. Since you're a kid I'll focus on kid-related stuff, like when I sent you a letter from Nepal, when I visited there last year.

Doin' it for the kids
Couples here are only allowed to have one baby. It's called the One Child Policy and it started in 1978. It's because China's population has been growing so rapidly and the government is worried it won't be able to support and feed lots more people. So most Chinese people don't have brothers and sisters, which is a bit sad, I think. I didn't know before I came here, but there are two possible ways to get around this rule - first one is: if both parents are only children themselves, they may have two children. The second is: they can (well, they have to) pay a fine for having the second child. The fine is 10 times the couple's annual income. Ouch!
This young girl was dancing outside The Forbidden City
and went all shy when she saw me... then put on a show just for me!
Startin' 'em young
Toilet training is really different here! It's common for parents to cut open their toddler's pants so there's a split most of the way along the seam, and they don't put nappies or underwear on them. Then when the kid wants to go to the toilet they just squat down wherever they might be, and their pants open up and they do their business. I reckon it must get a bit breezy.
Consequently though, kids are toilet trained much younger than in Australia. And, apparently if a little boy pees anywhere, even in the middle of a shop or someone's house the owner will be happy and says it's lucky. Girls are not considered lucky. You can imagine how annoyed this makes me!

Are you ready, boots? Start walkin'!
There are hardly any prams or strollers that I've seen here. Probably because the footpaths and roads (while generally pretty good compared to other places I've travelled) are pretty bumpy and not all that well maintained. So littlies are either carried or they walk. Reckon the Hug-a-Bub people should market their product here - these parents' arms must be aching!
They breed their Apple fan boys young
The most dangerous ship in the world
Censorship. It's not always easy for local people to get information here. The government is really strict. So they can't access some internet sites, including really popular ones, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Even many pages of Wikipedia are blocked (like the ones that mention China). Saddest of all is that Chinese people aren't able to view most blogs - that means your ma's blog is inaccessible here! How will all these people across the world learn what parenting in Australia is like without that???

There are so many gorgeous little Chinese outfits that I would LOVE to buy for you, but I'm trying to restrain myself. I'd also love to get a little cheongsam for your friend Boo, Missy Boo's daughter. You'd both look so gorgeous!
I got to visit the pandas! OMG PANDAS!
Missing you lots, and hoping that you don't forget how to say my name while I'm away - keep practicing, 'k?

See you soon

Aunty Travelling Pen

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The best damn banana bread you'll ever taste

So is it banana bread or banana cake? It's a little trickier than the cake or death question.

It's most definitely not like any bread I've ever tried. But it's not quite cake either.

The important thing is that it tastes so damn good. The bad thing is that it's completely moorish and you will inhale it within an hour a day if you're not careful.

This has been adapted from about four others that I tried and didn't like - after some experimenting I've come up with this gorgeous recipe with just the right amount of spice (not too much) and a perfect amount of sweetness!

The Best Damn Banana Bread Ever

  • 125g margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 over ripe bananas (When the choice is between bin and cake, cake always wins!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp bi carb
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/16 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup milk
My 20 year old mixer still going strong
  • Cream margarine and sugar
  • Add in eggs, vanilla and the mushed up bananas
  • Sift in all the dry ingredients
  • Stir gently, gradually adding the milk until all combined - if you spill the milk, make sure to make a lame joke to your partner about not crying
  • Bake at 180C for 55-60 minutes (do the skewer trick to make sure)
The result is a super moist, dense cake. Or bread. Whatever.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The genetic trifecta

The Trickster and I don't look anything alike. When my blonde haired, blue eyed boy was born it appeared he must have actually been a clone of Map Guy and received no genetic material from me at all... this past week we've discovered that he shares more in common with me than we thought. Which means it's been a pretty shit week. 

It started on Tuesday (well the week didn't start on Tuesday, the shit did) in the form of Tricky having an anaphylaxis reaction to cashew nuts and needing a trip to the emergency room for adrenaline and a night in the observation ward.

It finished with a trip back to that same emergency room and a weekend stay on the ward, when Tricky couldn't breathe on Friday night.
Breaking my heart

He was a little bit sniffley through the day but it wasn't until night time when he really started to become unwell - he was clingy, pale, couldn't sleep, threw up some rather toxic looking green bile and struggled with his breathing. He was working so hard to breathe, with his little tummy sucking right in, that he couldn't do anything else and sat motionless in my arms as we entered the emergency room.

On arrival we again went straight through although this time he was triaged as a level two (emergency - could become life threatening), not a level one (life threatening) like it was on Tuesday... and in my unparalleled ability to clutch at straws I'm chalking that up as a win. I took my child to hospital before he died, yay me!

He needed nebulizers every twenty minutes for the first two hours, and since it takes fifteen minutes to have it, it meant he was off the drugs for only five minutes before needing more, and in those five minutes he was on oxygen or his saturation would plummet to the mid 70s. Scary, scary stuff.

I'm not sure if it was because of the toxic green vomit, which could have been a sign of an infection, or just because there was space, but we got our own isolation room which meant a private bathroom, enough room for a fold-a-bed, and a door to close and block out the cries of the rest of the poor sick kids on our ward.

New jimjams are a perquisite for hospital stays
He was the perfect patient. He let them poke and prod, he left the mask on his face and the pulseoximeter on his toe. Well, he did... until it was almost 9pm when he'd finally gone to sleep and his oxygen levels kept crashing. Putting the mask on him woke not only him but the entire bloody ward.

The nurses resorted to nasal prongs and bandaging his hands to stop him pulling them off. Thanks to crappy medical dramas, I always associate nasal prongs with people who are dying, so it's safe to say I went pretty emo around then.

I was sure nothing could perk me up until an awesome friend organized a delivery of snacks for us. It's amazing just how much a kind gesture can buoy your spirits, especially when that gesture involves chips and Coke. But even full sugar soft drink can't keep you happy when your little boy is laying in hospital.

I settled in to my bed, which almost collapsed every time I breathed, and tried to get a little bit of sleep because I knew it was going to be a long night... and I wasn't wrong.

Overnight, he needed medication every two hours, and every two hours he would scream and violently thrash around... so every two hours I would hold him down as he protested and sing to him through my tears as my heart shattered in to a thousand pieces.

Then, like magic, as soon as the sun rose and he had a breastfeed he was back to being a model patient. I suppose I can't blame him - I don't like to be woken up either.
Feeling much happier

Normally the powers that be don't give a diagnosis of asthma for a first attack... because there is no way of knowing if it will happen again. When he was discharged on Sunday, the doctors took one look at his Tuesday admission, his eczema and the fact that I was hospitalized a dozen times or so with asthma as a kid and chalked him up as asthmatic immediately.
Snuggles at home

So it turns out he did get some genes from me. The allergy, eczema and asthma genes - a rather shitty genetic trifecta.

What did your kids inherit from you that you wish they hadn't?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cold Power Wash Smarter Competition

I don't do the weekly laundry in this house... the dashing Map Guy does the bulk of it on a Saturday morning between toddler wrangling and grocery shopping, while I'm having a sleep in. I do nappies and toddler clothes throughout the week, but the rest is all done for me.

It means I've got it pretty good. It also means I can't complain when something goes wrong... like the time he washed my brand new multi coloured skirt with my gorgeous white beaded blouse. Or the time my bra came out of the wash missing an underwire, never to be seen again. I think it went where all the lost socks go.

So I shoved the Cold Power Wash Smarter app in his hands and told him that he should look at it "for blog research purposes". This is win win. I get my clothes washed without turning the whites grey and Map Guy... well, he um, gets knowledge. Knowledge is power. Or Cold Power. Or something. OK, so I come off much better in this scenario than he does.

The app has a heap of laundry tips, a stain guide and even a calculator to show you how much cold hard cash you can save and best of all it's free. Go get it now... I'll wait.

To win a six month supply of Cold Power and a $50 Coles voucher, download the Wash Smarter app and in a comment below tell me
a) What is your favourite Colgate Smart Laundry Tip from the free Cold Power Wash Smarter app, and
b) Describe In 100 words or less your biggest laundry disaster

Make sure you follow Where's My Glow on Facebook to keep up to date with all the latest posts and competitions!

Entry is open to Australian residents only. Make sure you sign in to the comment platform with a valid email address/twitter handle or leave your details as part of your comment so you can be contacted. Entries close at 5pm AEST on Friday 18th of May. Winners have one week to reply to notification, failing that, the prize will be redrawn. Enter in to your contacts to make sure it doesn't go through to spam!! Full terms and conditions can be found here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Of anaphylaxis, ignored instincts and guilt

As far as mistakes go, I've made a lot. But none quite as grave and life threatening as this one.

I'm standing in the kitchen cooking up my favourite dish, chicken and cashew nut. From nowhere I get this gnawing feeling in my stomach that I shouldn't give it to Tricky despite him having been declared "not allergic" to cashews at a previous allergy test*.

But I don't listen to that internal voice. I push down my gut instinct and, with a haughty (and completely judgmental) "I'm not one of those paranoid parents", carry on.

We sit down as a family to eat. I love these moments, the three of us together, talking about our day and reconnecting. Tricky eats one cashew nut and looks unsure of it's texture. We laugh at the funny face he pulls and watch him enthusiastically spoon mound after mound of rice in to his gob. After a pretty standard bedtime routine, I put Tricky to bed without any fuss.

An hour passes and he cries out so I go in to check on him. He is scratching at his knees and elbows furiously - now someone else might have seen that first sign and known straight away something was wrong, but I've lost count of the number of nights Tricky has woken crying and clawing at his eczema so I don't think anything of it.

Instead, I sit with him in the dark, singing and massaging a soothing salve in to his inflamed skin, just as I always do, then leave the room telling him to go back to sleep. He coughs once or twice then falls back to sleep.

A short while later he wakes again, comes out to me wanting cuddles. Because I am still in "get him back to sleep" mode I don't turn a light on... if I had, I would have seen his face was swelling up and his body breaking out in hives. So we cuddle in the dark on the couch and after a few more coughs and being so clingy I decide that he is probably coming down with a cold. 

He coughs more. And more.

Less than five minutes pass.

He starts wheezing.

And it all starts clicking in my head. The scratching, the crying, the coughing, the wheezing. This isn't the beginning of a cold, this is an allergic reaction.

We consider calling an ambulance but think that since the allergy test has shown he isn't meant to be allergic, that this must only be a mild reaction, I'll drive him myself. So I do, picking up my parents on the way for support.

I feel like an idiot, but I'm not too concerned. A quick trip to the hospital and a dose of antihistamines, I think.

On the way there, Tricky gets itchier and he scratches his skin off parts of his arms and neck. What was once a faint hiss of a wheeze becomes louder and louder, clearly audible from the front seat.

Fuck. This is so much worse than I thought.

Triage takes all of two minutes before we are whisked through to a bed with a "we'll get your details in a minute" rush, and straight on to a monitor that showed his oxygen saturation at 89% and his blood pressure very low. What the hell is happening? My little boy is shutting down.

What have I done?

I hold him down while they jab the biggest needle in the world in to his tiny thigh. His scream pierces my soul and I squeeze him even tighter, smothering him with kisses in the vain hope that they'll help. I am barely holding it together when I look up and see my Mum starting to cry. It tips me over the edge and tears spring from my eyes. But they're not sad tears. They're angry tears. Embarrassed tears. Guilty tears.

How could I be so stupid? Why did I ignore that gut instinct? For a moment I let my thoughts run wild. What if he didn't get itchy? He wouldn't have cried and come out for cuddles... his airway would have just closed. Silently, without us knowing. What if, what if, what if?

My blood runs cold.

We're moved to the observation ward to stay the night. I sing and pat Tricky in an attempt to get him to settle, but he is, quite literally, full of adrenaline and isn't having a bar of it.

It's not until much later, in the early hours of the morning when he finally dozes off. He's still attached to the monitor and it alarms every hour or so as his oxygen levels fluctuate. They tell me he's fine, that it's just his sleep cycle, but I cannot look away from it, this machine that goes ping.

I manage to get about an hour of sleep before Tricky decides it is time to start the day.

I'm ladled with information on anaphylaxis and the use of an EpiPen. I'm given brochures and a DVD that I watch on a portable player as Tricky drives toy cars up and down the railings, unaware of how serious the situation is. We're given our EpiPen that he'll have to have with him at all times, a referral to an immunologist and we're told to never have cashews in the house again and avoid anything that contains tree nuts.

They bring us each breakfast. I read the label. May contain traces of tree nuts. Fuck you, world.

Got any allergy advice for us? I could really use some.
*I was told yesterday that initial allergy tests on children who haven't been exposed to an allergen aren't worth the paper they're printed on. The body doesn't always react on the first exposure, as was the case with Tricky, so it was the second exposure that caused anaphylaxis.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Are you a Super Mum?

This post is sponsored by Virgin Money.

Take the survey for your chance to win $5000!
Ya huh, just for filling in some questions. Easy money, baby!

OK so if we go by the video I don't do much at all and Tricky cries a lot... so it's not too far from the truth. I do actually do a lot more than that (like blogging and Instagramming actual child raising) but I didn't want to bore you senseless. No matter what, I still deserve that cape! A red one, made of velvet. Make it happen, people!

What takes up most of your day? Do you have a cape?


Thanks to those who filled out the survey! The results are now in and the key findings are:
• More than half of mums feel that their contribution is not widely recognised within Australian society today.
• 59% of Aussie mums aren’t impressed with coverage of celebrity mums.
• More than 65% of mums involved in the study were concerned about the big issues of economic security, social disruption, terrorism and conflict.
• A very large portion of Aussie families do not have adequate life insurance. The research revealed 32% of parents do not have life insurance for their family, and another 8% don’t know if they’re covered.


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