Thursday, 24 April 2014

Nailed It

I've been seething since the weekend. A parent of one of Pickle's friends told him "you'll have to stop Mummy painting your nails in a few years". I turned around and politely told this man that Pickle actually asks me to paint his nails and chooses the colour each time.

The "offending" toes - outrageous!
I'm allowing Pickle to express his individuality as he wants. He wants to put the pretty colours on his toes, like Mummy does. Is he likely to want to conform to gender norms down the track? Probably. But it will be his choice, not something I'm going to force on him.

Pickle has a tea set, he has a baby doll he nurtures, along with a myriad of stuffed toys.  Not to mention Lulu and Hermes, who are subjected to his attentions he also adores. He also has a Buzz Lightyear, dinosaurs, light sabers, laser guns and a train set. He plays with the lot, in fact the dinosaurs often have tea parties.

As a society we're (still) figuring out that girls/women are as capable boys/men - if I had a girl, I'd be buying her Goldieblox.  If you don't know what they are, there are some excellent videos on YouTube here and here, and a fantastic TEDtalk.

Can we do the same for our boys/men please? (But in reverse, if that makes any sense?) They can be - and indeed are - loving, caring and nurturing.

Picture from Stonewall UK - a great resource site
And what about Rainbow individuals? As a counsellor, I particularly want to work with children, young people and their families. The risk figures around mental health and suicide sky-rockets for Rainbow youth. By raising Pickle to be accepting of all people, I hope he'll be an influencer in his generation on acceptance of all people.

If I painted that man's toe nails, would it change his sexuality or preferred gender? I promise to get off my soapbox soon, but would really love it if you watched this video that asks the question gay people get asked all the time... and this mind-expanding TEDtalk about transgender youth.

As a girl, I think I had the best of both worlds, I had dolls (and cats) I dressed up, but I also climbed trees, and rode both a bike and a skateboard... I'd like for Pickle to have the same opportunities.

Do your boys paint their toe nails or play with tea sets? Do you allow your girls to build with blocks or train sets? 

Cheers, KangaRue :)

PS. Thanks for allowing me my rant!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Pickle is Two-Twooot!

I wrote this post about six months ago. Then went looking for the invite photo, as I wanted to show off B2's fab handiwork - he did a great job encapsulating the image I had in my head, and managed to capture my rambling descriptions perfectly. But I couldn't find the image, and thinking it would eventually turn up I waited. And waited some more. And then didn't blog other stuff because I thought this should be posted first. So since Pickle's third birthday is rapidly approaching, and I'm already tossing ideas around about his party, here is the post about his second birthday, sans invite image (sorry B2).

*****

I love birthdays. So when Pickle's birthday is approaching, I can't help but get excited about preparing his celebration.

For his first birthday, he had a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme... Invites, balloons and some of the food was themed. I tossed around loads of ideas for his second birthday, but decided that he would get more out of some of the themes when he was a bit older. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I normally manage to stretch my own birthday celebrations out over a week. Pickle had a birthday month! With no less than three birthday cakes.

Pickle's 2nd birthday cake (Part 1) for playcare
Because we were going to be in Western Australia with my Outlaws on the actual day, his celebrations at playcare happened before we went. I decided to take the easy route for this one and use a packet. The first dairy-free packet I used was a disaster, so I had to make a second cake, so not the quick and easy option I'd hoped for. Purple icing and the sides covered with a mix of sprinkles rescued it though, and I was reasonably happy with the end result.

Nanna's marshmallow covered birthday cake
Off we went to the Outlaws. My MoL made a delicious orange cake - her normal recipe, substituted with Pickle'a dairy-free spread... But it was a little warm when she tried to ice it, and the icing ended up in a puddle. She did an awesome restoration with marshmallows - Pickle's treat of choice. I love this photo of him blowing out the candles.

We returned to Hervey Bay for his official celebrations. There are some great playgrounds here, one of Pickle's favourites being the train park (that's what the locals call it, it's official name is the Ernie Organ park). So with a fantastic location, a train theme seemed obvious. I found some Thomas the Tank engine loot bags, so it was just the invitation and cake that really needed theming.

I knew what I wanted as his invite in my head, but my computer capabilities limit me somewhat. BigTed's son B2 came to the rescue. Not only is he one of Pickle's favourite people, but he is a whizz technically and talented creatively, and he managed to translate my wobbly ideas onto paper with a great result.

I decided to bake the cake from scratch after my last "shortcut". My darling friend Chaz, is a chef, and had pointed me to a recipe for a dairy-free (vegan) chocolate cake for Pickle's birthday. It was a huge hit that time, and I surprised people by telling them it contained avocado. I kid you not. There is no dairy, but a gorgeous creaminess. I used neon colours in the dairy-free "butter" icing and decorated the cake with various Pickle-friendly lollies. Pickle was thrilled it was a yellow toot-toot (his favourite colour).

Pickle's train cake - not sure I'll be able to top this!
Even BigTed's big boys got into the action
We had a lovely day, we played pass-the-parcel, the kids played with his new toys, and the train playground *eventually* got a look-in. It was an absolutely brilliant day.

The final celebration came right on the end of the month. Our cats, Lulu and Hermes finally arrived from London.
We missed you!
After a couple of false starts, nine months had passed since we last saw them. Pickle was excited - he even had a sign to hold up at the airport! They've settled in really nicely and Pickle is learning to be quiet and gentle with them. Hermes was always his best friend, and he puts up with a lot of hugs and enthusiastic squealing.

Not sure I'll be able to top this next year! Shall I start thinking of themes now? (Ideas welcome).

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

I'm a cyclist. And a mother.

I've just got back from the Hervey Bay police station, after having a very near miss with another car this morning. There have been a number of incidences since I started cycling in Hervey Bay (after years of cycling on the much narrower, more congested and busier London roads). While the other incidences have been due to the lack of care and ignorance of the drivers, this one was reckless and possibly even malicious. Worse yet, I had 2-year old Pickle on the cargo-bike with me.

I follow the road rules. Unfortunately it appears that many local drivers aren't aware that cyclists are legitimate road users. That we are allowed to take the centre of the lane on a multi-lane road*. I had been keeping to the left even on multi-lane roads, but found the ridiculously close passing put me in more danger than if I kept to the middle of my lane, though I now receive aggressive horn blasts and abuse hurtled at me through open car windows.

Don't get me wrong, the majority of drivers are friendly, safe and welcoming. In fact, on the way home a car slowed down and waved encouragement - this was not the first time. In addition to favourable goodwill from drivers, I've also had enthusiasm from motor-bike riders and pedestrians; young, old and middle aged people.

So why, when it takes an entire 15-minutes to drive from one end of Hervey Bay to another, do some drivers have such an aggressive sense of entitlement on the road?

The Amy Gillett Foundation has a vision to eliminate bicycle related fatalities and is spreading the word about 'a metre matters'. There is currently an e-petition that will be put in front of the Queensland Legislative Assembly in four days time, advocating for a minimum safe passing distance - I would love it if (as a Queensland resident or citizen) you would please sign it. Aussies can also easily write to their MPs (templates and contact details).

Others have written more eloquently about a cyclist always coming off worse
in a collision with a motor vehicle - there's not only the unprotected impact, but the risk of being thrown into - under - the path of another car. Though I can't seem to find any links to the articles at the moment, unfortunately. (See update below).

I'm a single mother, caring for a two year old. Part of simplifying my life, not least reducing the exorbitant
costs of car ownership (purchase price, tax, insurance, petrol, maintenance etc) has been to go car-free. I'm also physically and mentally healthier, am introducing Pickle to a healthier way of life in an era of increasing obesity, and just generally enjoying our day-to-day life more fully.

How do we get a message out to drivers that cyclists are not only legitimate road users, but (in my case) also someone's mother, daughter, sister, friend???

Cheers, KangaRue :)

* this is not meant as legal advice; road rules can differ from state to state within Australia.

UPDATE: An incredibly well put article: In the US and the Netherlands, two children on bikes are struck by cars—and the responses couldn’t be more different. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Best Babychino in the Bay (so far)

As promised, here are my further investigations on Babychinos in the Bay...

Enzo's is on the left, Grandparentals on the right

Enzo's on the Beach is arguably the best location in the Bay. Central, on a lovely stretch of beach where the Grandparentals go for their daily morning walk and catch-up with friends. For the energetic, you can hire Kite Surfing equipment or a Stand-Up Paddleboard (I have set my challenge to do this before next winter, and will blog my expected embarrassment). If Enzo ever decides to sell, then my brother Wayne may be enticed over from the UK to take it over in his "retirement". Which would be a good thing, as not only would I get to see more of him, but I'd get him to sort out the coffee. Unfortunately it is my least favourite in the Bay. I'm not sure if it's burnt or perhaps the blend is just not to my taste, but it's been consistent over a number of occasions. I also felt my chicken, asparagus and brie open-melt was a little over-priced considering tinned asparagus was used and the cheese was a slither, and while the gluten-free bread my friend had was home-baked and delicious, the steak it was surrounding was on the gristly side. I'd be willing to try the Caesar Salad on my next visit, as I've only found a couple of places that do them in the Bay so far. Babychinos come in at a reasonable $1.50 with a marshmallow. The saving grace is their delicious fruit frappes - $5.80, but they are huge and enough for Pickle and me to share; a blend of mango and strawberry is our favourite.

On the rare occasion I get to the beach early enough to meet the Grandparentals, I tend to wander across the road to Bean Beat for their coffee, and return to sit at one of the beachside tables to enjoy it. Their babychinos are $1.00 and include a small biscuit, though it is .50c extra for soya milk... which I find annoying for the small amount of milk involved, but as it falls within the average price range, I bear it occasionally.

Love the Aquavue coffee cups too
Aquavue challenges Enzo's for location, and has very good coffee and their babychinos are also $1.50 including a marshmallow. Service can be a little patchy, sometimes enthusiastic and other times uninterested... but their sticky date muffins are divine.

Zarraffas is one of the better coffees in the Bay, up there with Liliana's and Toast in my books, though their shopping centre locale isn't quite as enticing. Their babychinos are $1.35 with a marshmallow hidden inside, which is a fun surprise for Pickle.

And last for today's post, but certainly not least, is Simply Wok - so far the best babychino in the Bay. At $1.00 not only does it fall into the lower price range,
Pickle enjoying his Simply Wok babychino
but is a regular coffee cup size, comes with a couple of marshmallows AND a biscuit AND a colouring book with crayons and stickers! Outstanding value. Food is mid-range in pricing, but fresh and delicious flavours and generous serving sizes. While the name would lend you to think it is an Asian restaurant, I'm reliably told they make the best burgers in the Bay, along with delicious BLTs, Steak and Club Sandwiches; the salad menu also looked delicious - I went for the salt and pepper calamari with chips, garlic aioli and salad... there is also an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet for $15.90 of an evening, which is fresh and tasty (for children under 15,they charge their age). My coffee was also good, so this will definitely be my go-to venue with Pickle.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

So do I approach Creations Cafe over their whopping $2.50 charge for a babychino with no extras?

Friday, 4 October 2013

Pickle's Ponderings

I believe that Pickle ponders. He may only be two years old, but he has an amazing recall and I do think that he reflects. I try and spend some time at the end of each day remembering the good things he experienced and his achievements throughout the day. I'm not saying he's amazingly gifted, though perhaps he is (hey, I'm a proud Mummy after all)... and maybe I've been encouraging Systems Thinking without even realising it.

After watching the below video - which is part of my current study materials - perhaps I'm not so barmy after all.  The concepts in this video blew me away, and is well worth the ten minutes of viewing - I honestly do not know anyone who couldn't learn something from it...



Simple concepts, and something I would love to see more involved automatically throughout education, needless to say the wider community (I won't start ranting about Australian politics and the media, promise!).

So what do you think, is it possible for a two year old to ponder? Are there any other ways you can suggest I can include Systems (Reflective) thinking with Pickle?

Cheers, KangaRue :)