We bought a mattress!

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During this pregnancy I have experienced a lot of pain while sleeping. When I had a good long think about it I realised the mattress was 15 years old and had lived a rough life of share housing and general wear and tear. The springs on my side were beginning to poke through. 

After the long process we went through to obtain a mattress for Little Fearse’s first big bed I wasn’t looking forward to going through finding an ethical source for a mattress for our bed. Firstly, I knew it had to be new. We have one Little Fearse (most of the night), one Big Poppa Fearse (when he hasn’t been booted to the couch to mske room for my tummy), one Mama Fearse and soon one Miniscule Fearse (in side carred cot) sleeping in the bed. I also desperately wanted a mattress as low in toxicity as possible and from as ethical a source as possible.

We started our search in two ways – researching non-toxic mattresses and the type of toxins we can expect to find in a regular mattress and asking our dedicated community of likers on our Facebook page.  These avenues geared us with a good grounding for further research.

There are two Australian based companies that deal in organic mattresses. One of these had a store local enough to visit and the other would have required us to buy online.  Both of these use different components to make up their mattresses and have differing views on the health benefits of these components. Are box springs damaging our health, or not? This resulted in a heck of a lot more reading. 

Eventually, knowing the information I found would vary in opinion I had to make a check list of our most dedirabke factors and do a bit of research on the ground.

Our priorities were:
– considering the life span of a mattress this needed to be comfortable to sleep on first and foremost
– non-toxic (and non-latex, as it isn’t great for bed sharing with babies and can retain quite a bit if heat)
– Australian made
– small / local business
– organic materials (or at least a high percentage of these)
– within a reasonable price range (we aimed for less than $2000au).

I waited until I went on maternity leave to start visiting stores, knowing I’d need to dedicate a bit of time to this. In the end I only visited two stores because I found what I wanted quite quickly after all the reading I had done.

I went to large Australian owned chain store, Bev Marks, which stocks Australian made furniture and mattresses.  I spoke to a salesman there who very kindly answered my myriad of questions and made recommendations.  They do not stock an organic range or non-toxic range but he did suggest using a regular mattress with a latex topper or, alternatively, buying floor stock that would have already off-gassed the immediate toxins that a new mattress needs to shed. He gave me some really great insight into how mattresses are made. Being a smaller business than some meant they’d be able to accommodate some of my needs. For example if I chose a mattress that needed to be made for us he said they’d be willing to off-gas in their own storeroom for two weeks so that those toxins would not need to be leeched into our home. I tried three very comfortable mattresses instore that ranged from about $1700 – $2500.

Armed with that information we headed down to San Remo to visit the Organature. This place ticked A LOT of our boxes and I was really hoping they’d suit our needs. I had read in several organic mattress reviews that organic mattresses were notoriously less comfortable – often quite hard. Due to my enlarged state at the moment I was really not keen on buying a wonderful non-toxic, locally as sourced, organic mattress that was hell to sleep on.

Organature is a business that previously ran from a family farm in San Remo, just off Phillip Island in Victoria’s south.  It recently opened a shop front in San Remo but also sells their products online. They make all their mattresses in Melbourne using organic cotton sourced on the world market. The mattresses also contain a box spring inner. Little Fearse, BP and I visited the store and all climbed into their display bed together.  It was firm but still very comfortable. I would say, though, that it was less comfortable than my favourite of the Bev Marks mattresses.  When one of us rolled over the others weren’t disturbed, which is a huge bonus when you have a family bed. There was absolutely no smell on the mattress, though admittedly the Bev Marks mattresses on the showroom floor also had no discernable smells. An added bonus is that the mattress only cost approximately $1500 – well within our range and cheaper than our preferred Bev Marks mattress.

Of course we bought an Organature mattress because in the end it ticked all our boxes.  We managed to achieve what I thought was impossible – an ethical new purchase that suited both our family needs and our philosophy. 

There are some cons to buying an organic mattress that are worth being aware of.  They need to be in a well ventilated room to avoid growing mould as there are no anti-fungal sprays or pesticides used on the materials.  This means we won’t be able to use a humidifier when Little Fearse is sick anymore unless she is in her own room. Because this mattress is made up of cotton that is sort of like honeycomb cardboard it will compress over time. To ensure this is done evenly the mattress needs to be turned and flipped every day for the first week, once a week for the next month and then once a month for the duration of its life. It is advised to get it out in the sun once in awhile, too. At 48kg moving the mattress is a hefty task that has left BP swearing profusely each morning so far. I am also really nervous about Little Fearse wetting the bed or (as one friend kindly pointed out) the possibility of my waters breaking prior to labour while I’m in bed! This prompted me to make another new purchase of two cotton queen sized mattress protectors. This I researched less but I already knew of a great Australian small business that makes these.  I couldn’t find any queen sized second hand and couldn’t afford to wait, so I made the purchase anyway.

Thanks to all those in our community that shared their mattress purchasing experiences along the way.  It has been about 6 months since I started research, so I’m hoping this post will be helpful for others on similar quests. 

Mama xx

PS I know we’ve named specific companies in this post which we usually avoid doing but I felt it was important to share what we’ve learned for those that are also going through the research phase of mattress purchasing.  I haven’t included links because I’m pretty sure every one of our readers is adept at using Google. I’ll stress that this is not an endorsed or sponsored post and any information is relying on my (preggo brain) memory or opinion alone. I hope someone out there can use this to springboard their own investigations.

The fruits of a busy week in November (and a delightful surprise).

In November last year I had a sudden urge to get stuff done. Almost desperately. I booked in a dentist appointment (first in two and a half years), waxing, hair, optometrist (first in five years) and car servicing in the space of three days. That Sunday I found myself removing everything from the pantry for a stocktake. At this point Big Poppa looked at me closely and asked “Are you ok?” I stopped and thought about it and replied the only thing that seemed logical at the time. “I think I’d better do a pregnancy test.”

For those of you that have been following along, the year that followed our miscarriage was really tough. While grieving for our loss we tried month after month to conceive. Some months my period was up to 9 days late and I would have done 6 or 7 pregnancy tests, all negative. I hate to think over the space of a year how many of those little plastic sticks we sent into landfill.

Anyone who has experienced difficulties conceiving will know about the woes of tracking or charting your cycle (something I tried to avoid, fearing I’d get obsessive about it), forcing yourself to have exhausted sex between putting the toddler to bed and doing the dishes because IF WE DON’T DO IT RIGHT NOW IT’S ALL OVER FOR A MONTH AND WE MIGHT AS WELL GIVE UP NOW

(deep breaths)

and then the dreaded two week wait where you allow yourself to get hopeful every time you experience something vaguely different in your body (and find yourself Googling ridiculous things like “Is finger pain an early pregnancy symptom?”) and then trying to wait until the right time to take a test, then taking one early and getting a negative result but reassuring yourself that it’s just too early and then taking one at the right time and it coming out negative and convincing yourself that there is definitely a shadow and then taking another half a dozen just to be sure and then stressing yourself out so much your period ends up being late anyway, causing more angst.

Plus, crying in the doctor’s office. Crying in your boss’s office. Crying on the way to work. Crying on the way home from work. Crying in the middle of the night. Crying into your child’s hair. Changing your diet. Not drinking alcohol. No sugar! No caffeine! No additives! No fun!

Convincing yourself there is something dreadfully wrong and avoiding having your scheduled pap smear on time because you don’t want to find out and sending your husband off for tests because you’re afraid to send yourself off for tests, then three blissful months of acupuncture (if you exclude the three months of dreadful mornings and evenings of drinking foul tasting Chinese herbs) and finally you realise you can’t afford to keep that up and something has to give and…

Well – around comes October. We’ve passed the painful anniversaries of our baby’s due date and the date of our miscarriage the year before. I’ve come to an agreement with myself (and a very accommodating Big Poppa) that every new period will result in eating one full wheel of soft cheese, drinking one full bottle of red wine and booking in one full overnight, getting loose, letting it go girls’ night with my friends. We have decided to stop acupuncture and stop focusing on getting pregnant. We’ve started to think about all those other things we could plan for our future that don’t involve having another child. We have (again and again) celebrated the beautiful child we already have and have decided that’s enough. We’re thinking about working in Alice Springs and taking Little Fearse to New York and maybe even Disney Land. Our last hurdle to endure in our conception journey is a fertility appointment, booked months ago and coming up fast. After that we’ve agreed that armed with whatever knowledge we gain we will refuse any invasive tests or treatments and just get on with our lives.

And then, BAM. I’m booking a thousand appointments in a week and emptying out the pantry and taking a pregnancy test and WHAT? Two lines. Two lines. Two tests with two lines. FOUR LINES. This is more shocking than the 300 tests we’ve taken this year that were negative. Three tests, six lines. Four tests, eight lines. So we cancelled out fertility appointment and readjusted our future again.

And here we are. We’re 22 weeks along. It’s been anxious. There have been weeks of bleeding and blood tests, there have been 5 ultrasounds and 8 instances of hearing a healthy beating heart. We are at a stage now where we are finally feeling that this is something that is really happening – that come July we’ll have another Little Fearse (Mini Fearse? Tiny Fearse?) in our lives.

[Cute pic of Little Fearse and the bump to come when I’m…you know…not in my PJs and she’s…you know…not covered in Vegemite.]

Mama xo

The Fearse Family: 40 bags in 40 days

Decluttering challenge: 40 Bags in 40 Days

I am participating in White House Black Shutter’s 40 Bags in 40 Days 2015 challenge. This challenge officially started last Wednesday, on the 18th of February. I started a day or so late – you can really do this any time. It is started on this date to coincide with Lent, but you don’t have to do it for this reason (I’m not).

What I love the most about it is the planning template and the ideas of places to declutter. I had difficulty stopping at 40. Maybe I won’t. So far I’ve chosen a mix of big and small tasks, some I’ve completed quickly, some have taken longer, some I thought I’d complete but only got half way through. I don’t think it really matters – it’s about momentum. I’m already finding stuff that I had no idea I still had and getting rid of stuff is easier than it has been in a long time.

Day 1 I cleared out the junk drawer / BP’s coin drawer and took $130 to the bank.

The Fearse Family: 40 bags in 40 days

Day 2 I cleared out the expired medicines and returned them to the chemist. I also gave away a Little Squirt nappy hose that I bought second hand at the beginning of our BNN challenge and which never fitted our toilet properly.

The Fearse Family: 40 bags in 40 days.

Day 3 I worked on Little Fearse’s wardrobe and got rid of a large stack of old greeting cards.

The Fearse Family: 40 bags in 40 days

Will you join me? I’m posting pretty much daily on our Facebook page, I’d love to see your progress, too.

The Fearse Family: Blank spaces

The beauty of blank spaces.

I’m not a blank spaces kind of girl. I like to see those spaces used for their purpose. Bookshelves full to overflowing with interesting books and drawers full of pretty clothes and knickknack shelves full of (preferably vintage) thingies.Over the past two years I have learnt to love blank spaces. They show me that I have made progress. By leaving them blank they incite my imagination. All the things I could do with that space, the way I could curate it or fill it with stuff I love. And being able to imagine is enough.

The Fearse Family: Blank spaces

Here are some of the blank spaces I have cultivated since we began our BNN year. Even though they are spaces filled with nothing, I sometimes think this is my biggest Buy Nothing achievement. Currently I am piloting an e-course for Bethany of Our Journey to Ithaca (which I will look forward to recommending to you when it’s up and running. The e-course runs alongside reading the e-book Clutterfree by Leo Babauta and Courtney Carver (full disclosure: I purchased this – but education is something I’m always willing to invest in). I haven’t read enough of the book yet to recommend it, but so far it reconfirms a lot of the things I have already learned about living a less clutter-some life, and also reminds me of some home truths I choose to forget sometimes. This quote, which I read today, is particularly relevant to this post: When you have emptiness in your home you have space to fill it with conversation, play, laughter, and silence. 

The Fearse Family: Blank spaces  The Fearse Family: Blank spaces The Fearse Family: Blank spaces The Fearse Family: Blank spaces The Fearse Family: Blank spaces

The Fearse Family: Blank spaces

The Fearse Family: Blank spaces

I’d love to hear your tales of blank spaces! Share photos! 

Mamaxo

The Lizzie List: Our top 5 tips for Buying Nothing New

The Fearse Family: Top 5 Tips for Buying Nothing New

Recently my friend and colleague Lizzie told me that after reading our blog she was thinking about taking on a buy nothing new challenge of her own.  She asked me for my top five tips for starting a journey such as ours. I told her it might take me a day or two to compile a top five, but when I pressed, this is what I came up with. I feel like this top five is the kind of list that would be completely different for every person undertaking the challenge – how it is done varies so much from person to person. I often find my passion for this project again when talking to someone new about it. So to celebrate that burst of renewed buy nothing energy for 2015, here is the Fearsian “Lizzie List”: top five (read: ten) tips for buying nothing new for a year.

1. Know your limits. Make your own rules. You can read ours here.

2. Stop going to the shops.

3: Stock up on stuff used to repair things. We used heaps of glue, electrical tape, packing tape, sticky tape, gaffa tape, nails, fabric etc. Alternatively, make this an exception. If you are going to avoid buying new things you will need to repair your old things when they break down. This is all a part of the overall philosophy. If repairing stuff becomes hard you’ll be more inclined to try and find second hand replacements, which still leaves you with the issue of ethically discarding the original. Repair, repair, remodel, redesign, repair!

4: Build up your resources. Join your local buy/swap/sell groups, join Freecycle, join your local Buy Nothing group (or start your own – I highly recommend this), lose any shame you have in asking people for their unused or unwanted goods. Interestingly this is one of the biggest criticisms I’ve read of people doing challenges like us – that they are leaning on others to resource them when they are unable to purchase something new. I find this a really narrow view point of how we work as a society and I like to think that we can be much more generous and connected to each other if we stop putting a force field over our stuff and start seeing them as resources to be shared and used, rather than symbols of who we are and what status we have in society.

5: Delay gratification. When you think you need something, put off buying it (second hand, of course), for at least a week. Nine times out of ten you find you no longer need or want it. Find a second use for all the stuff you already have and you’ll probably discover that broken / missing item is unnecessary anyway.

6: (Because all top 5s should have a 6??) Really look at what you have. Pare back – use this as an opportunity to get rid of all the excess stuff in your life that you don’t need. Find the best new home for stuff, not just any new home.

7: If you buy new, buy the best. I’m not talking the most expensive here (though sometimes it’s the case). Find it made locally, or artist designed, or super durable, or ethically sourced, or buy it from a charity. Find a way to buy stuff that also helps another individual, not just a corporation.

(Ok…it’s going to be ten.)

8: Don’t beat yourself up. If you buy something new, or you find you have to, learn from the situation. Last week we bought a new litter tray for our kitten because we were disorganised and didn’t seek out one second hand early enough. Shit happens.

9: Enjoy what you have. Stop bemoaning what you don’t have. Having that stuff won’t make you complete. There will always be other stuff you don’t have.

10: Be open and tell others what you’re doing. It helps explain why gifts might be a little different for now on, or that you can’t go shopping with mates any more. It also helps keep you accountable. Allow others to have an opinion about your philosophy (you can’t prevent it!) but don’t let people bully you. You make your own rules. Make your life your own.

I hope that Lizzie will take up the challenge. If she blogs about it, I’ll let you know.

Mama xo

Monster knees.

Since I pared down my wardrobe I have only had one pair of jeans to wear.  I am beginning to re-think how I went about removing items from my wardrobe, mainly because I wear my jeans and tees so often and so hard.  I definitely need more of these than I previously thought.  A month ago my favorite (read: only) pair of jeans tore at one of the knees. I planned to patch them, but in the meantime I bought another pair of jeans (which are passable but nowhere near as good as the torn ones). This morning I woke up and went to put on my jeans only to discover they were dirty.  It was totally a jeans kind of day, so I immediately set about planning my patch. I’d seen Monster Knee Patch tutorials before (most notably when my gorgeous friend patched her farmer husband’s work pants in this way… He wasn’t happy but I thought it was great) and was eyeing them for my repair. I perused a few this morning and then set to.  I used left over placemat material from the tool belt I made, plus a bit of t-shirt left over from a baby sleeping bag I made years ago and some vintage buttons. It took about 45 minutes including toddler wrangling, bobbin winding and machine unsnarling. You know that’s pretty good for me.  You could probably make this in about 10 minutes. Here is my take on the monster patch (previously thought to be appropriate only for kids).

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