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 make 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 desirable 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.

(Messy) Fun with Little Fearse.

Lately I have taken to Pinteresting my daughter. I will see something AWESOME on Pinterest and ignoring the fact that Little Fearse is only 19 months old eagerly prepared to engage in some crafting madness with her. This has resulted in many tantrums over hand print ornaments (she didn’t like the texture much, I didn’t want to waste the clay I’d used most of our bi-carb soda making..it was a stand off. Little Fearse won.) It also resulted in Little Fearse walking contact covered with pop sticks and baby pictures around the house giggling madly that her feet were stuck. It has resulted in the eating of much play dough. Little Fearse has scribbled all over her high chair, torn up her drawing book and decimated her tiny stash of crayons.

All of these things are wonderful adventures for Little Fearse and offer her chances to explore new textures and experience new things. I have to try not to feel disappointed when my carefully planned activity doesn’t work out, or ends up destroyed. The clean up often takes much longer than Little Fearse’s engagement in the activity. At 19 months, I’m pretty sure she happier, say, rolling around in the dirty washing than she is doing structured activities.

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If I was going to be less honest, I would have just posted these wonderful photos of Little Fearse engaged in crafts and pretended it was all a success.

Dagnabbit, why didn’t I think of that earlier?

Mama xo

It’s National Bookshop Day (Praise for the library and a book recommendation).

Normally I like to go to my local bookshop on National Bookshop Day because I love having a local bookshop that I can browse. This year I can’t bear the temptation of visiting my local bookshop on this day, for a browse or otherwise! If I wasn’t Buying Nothing New I wouldn’t hesitate. My local bookshop needs support – it’s up against the Internet for goodness sake! The whole dang Internet. I’m glad the Internet isn’t my enemy with its cheap goods and free postage.

So, instead, I went to the library to pick up some books I’d conveniently placed on hold from the comfort of my own home (using THE INTERNET). One of these books, Simplicity Parenting has really caught my attention. Other than the fact that libraries have dvds and magazines and CDs and books you can borrow FOR FREE, it is also a great way to force yourself to read something. You only have it for a few weeks. It can’t sit on your ‘to read’ shelf waiting for the right time. I really need to stop buying books so readily in the future and make better use of the two week library book turn-around.

Anyway, Simplicity Parenting is a book I’m finding very relevant to my teaching (probably less relevant to my parenting). It is written for the parent who is already having an issue with their children. I do no have an issue with Little Fearse. I also hope that through our care to maintain a simple life, and a reverence for her childhood, that we may be able to avoid ever having these issues. A lot of the children I teach present as the author Kim John Payne describes – as children who are overwhelmed by life’s complexities. I hope that in my reading of this book I can perhaps help their school days to be simpler and more manageable.

In discussion our brain and its neuroplasticity in adult hood I read the following paragraph that both surprised and delighted me.

“[Sharon] Begley describes how neurologists have been astounded by the measurable, replicable effects of meditation practice on the mind and brain. Their brain scan evidence showed that the neural activity of highly trained monks was “off the charts” (in relation to standard measures, and in relation to the neural activity of more novice monks), even when they were not meditation. The areas of the brain where such emotional complexities as maternal love and empathy are believe to be centered (caudate and right insula), and feelings of joy and happiness (left prefrontal cortex), were actually anatomically enlarged  structurally altered by virtue of the monks’ lives and their mediation practices.”

Hey, we’re a long way off being a highly trained monks, but perhaps we are closer than we used to be. 

I’ll write more as I read more, so far I’m still in the first chapter “Why simplicity”. I look forward to reading the practical sections, too.

Mama xo

Something was not quite right.

On Sunday BP and I went on a bit of a strange splurge. It all started on Saturday…

On Saturday BP smashed my favourite vintage glass jug to smithereens. I should qualify that he definitely didn’t mean to and maybe I could have put it somewhere different where it was less likely to get in the way of the frying pan. There is no point blaming a hungry person when your favourite vintage glass jug gets in the way of their bacon frying. 

I was surprised at how upset I was. Partially because I have recently learned how to make my own lemon cordial (or lemon lime cordial, or orange cordial or.. or..) and had been using the jug a lot. Also, I don’t have another jug. I decluttered all my other jugs. Plus, it was a very lovely jug with printed oranges and lemons on the outside an a turned lip. 

Sigh.

Still, it was just a thing and we are trying to reduce our attachment to things at the moment. 

So, BP suggested we head to Savers on the hunt for a replacement vintage glass jug. I think my heart skipped a beat when he suggested we go to Savers. I thought about Savers for the rest of the day and that night and then throughout Sunday morning.  

At Savers on Sunday afternoon I hunted through the kitchen goods section and didn’t find a jug that fit the bill. I did cruise passed the books and find one that I was specifically looking for to pass on to my brother. I then cruised passed the children’s clothing section with the tenuous excuse that Little Fearse needed a rain jacket and slippers. Half an hour later we left Savers $50 poorer, two green bags teeming with baby clothes. Oops, what just happened?

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A bad idea (creating the product in the first place…and me buying it.) [Image from Sweet Tater Blog]

Across the way BP noticed a Not Quite Right grocery store. When I lived in a share house in Coburg as a student I did a lot of shopping at NQR.  I’m sure you have something similiar somewhere near you – a grocery store where bad food ideas and out of date groceries goes to die (or be snapped up by poor students). I stopped going to NQR after I realised that most of the food I bought there was either disgusting or completely irrelevant to anything I cooked, ever. I think the bottle of green tomato sauce sat in the cupboard untouched for three years. 

I agreed to step foot in this NQR. I’m not sure why. As we walked in BP and I made a deal that we would only buy something if it was food we’d usually buy. BP was almost immediately dazzled by the strawberry and cream sour straps. This does not come under the category of ‘things we’d usually buy’. They kind of reminded us of bacon, which then reminded us of this. So we got some. After that we took a bit of time to regain control of our senses. 

I didn’t look at anything in NQR and wonder how it got there. No one needs a giant bottle of chicken parma sauce. In normal person land we call that tomato paste. And I don’t know who needs 5 litres of seafood sauce. I don’t want to meet that person. The “food” you find in NQR is usually highly processed, nutrient lacking and (surprisingly) not significantly cheaper than the regular grocery stores. 

We left with a kilo bag of frozen berries for smoothies (which was a really good deal at quarter of the price we’d usually pay), sour bacon straps and some bulk spices (the ones I use when making my signature freezer dahl…I use a lot of mustard seeds and tumeric). These were pretty good purchases. I didn’t eat any of the sour straps, but BP assures me they were as good as those he enjoyed as a kid (or…well…an inebriated adult). Honestly though, I think my NQR days are over. 

Both of us felt kind of sullied after our shopping spree and I’m not sure what came over us. Something just wasn’t quite right.

It does confirm, though, that in the right circumstances we’re just as likely as anyone else to have a day of needless purchasing. At least we’re doing it second hand. 

Mama xo

No more good girls around here.

Big Poppa and I are totally, utterly, stars-in-our-eyes in love with Little Fearse. Every new thing she does amazes us. Every new thing she says is profound. She makes us laugh and she makes our eyes mist up on a daily basis. We’re smitten.

We are also addicted to praise – something that, until recently, we were completely oblivious to. And once we became aware of it, we took some time to see what was wrong with praising our gorgeous, funny and sparkly child. At least forty times a day between us we will say ‘good girl’ with bright enthusiasm. She washed her hands! “Good girl!” She chose not to tear up the book! “Good girl!” She ate something new! “Good girl!” She settled down after a disappointment! “Good girl!”

In a recent discussion with a friend who is also a parent to a 2 year old I shared that I had read an article claiming parents should stop praising their children in this way. I expressed that I couldn’t see the issue with the phrase ‘good girl’, or I felt it was too pedantic to pull ourselves up on saying things that were intended positively. My friend pointed out that, aside from the patronising aspect of the phrase, when a parent decides that a child is ‘good’ for their choices or behaviour it takes away their own ability to discern good or bad. It gives adults the control to decide when the child is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I can’t think of a time that either of us has referred to Little Fearse as a ‘bad girl’, but I began to see the down side of our ‘good girl’ praise. I went away and read more.

Psychologists discuss the conditional nature of the praise many parents offer. We don’t want our daughter to believe that our affection or appreciation for her is reliant on her ‘good’ behaviour. We love her all the time, even when we are frustrated.

Big Poppa and I have discussed this a lot in the last few weeks. We’ve started to notice how often we praise Little Fearse and for what types of things. We’ve tried to pull ourselves up on ‘good girl’ and really think about what we mean when we say that. What does good mean, anyway?! Often we mean nothing. We are saying something meaningless instead of simply saying ‘I love you.’

Here are some of the things we have come up with to help us speak to our Little Fearse with more respect and meaning:

  • I appreciate it when you…
  • Thank you for…
  • I love spending time with you.
  • We’ve had lots of fun today.
  • I’m glad I’m your Mum / Dad.
  • You did it!
  • I noticed that you (shared your toy / made a good choice / etc).
  • I can see it makes you really happy when you …
  • You must be really proud of yourself.
  • You worked really hard on that.
  • You make me laugh!
  • Look how happy ‘so and so’ is that you shared with them.

Sometimes we will work on saying nothing at all. A smile or a hug can speak volumes and we’re never short on those. 

Oh, of course, if this doesn’t work there is always this

Mama xo