Searching

I desperately need to find something to do with my life. As wonderful and exhausting and important as raising a child is, as much as I would happily be a stay-at-home-parent forever – it doesn’t pay bills. (Not that we have many bills at the moment. Because we live with my parents. Because we have no money.)
My work options are limited because I’m inexperienced, unskilled and I didn’t even finish the degree that I wasted all that time on.
I even applied for a job doing stock replenishment at a supermarket, and did not get it. Not even an interview.

I don’t know what to do. No clue. So I’m going to follow this guide for Finding Your Passion.

1. What are you good at?
Writing. I’ve always been good at writing. But I do not like it. It doesn’t excite me. I mainly do it because I know I’m good at it.
Art? I guess. Not really. There’s potential, but jeez, I can’t make a living from it.
Editing video.
Putting way too much effort in things that don’t need it, and not enough into things that do… ?

2. What excites you?
Uhhhh.
Hm.
A stretch of time to relax by myself?

3. What do you read about?
Fantasy/science fiction worlds
Home DIY
Sewing
Science
Psychology
Pregnancy/babies/kids
Photography
Toned-down living

4. What have you secretly dreamed of?
Being a pyrotechnist (that’s someone who makes firework displays, yo.)
Owning my own store
Being a draughtsperson or a scientific illustrator
Being a midwife
Living self-sustainably
Being a massage therapist

Ok, let’s stop there. You see how unfocused and haphazard my brain is. (Although I think this entire blog is already evidence of that.)
I have to admit, I have spent years thinking very hard on this topic, and I have actually finally honed in on something.
My current desire is to become a qualified massage therapist. Then, I would work in that field while, eventually, studying to get a Diploma of Naturopathy. (This is a very long-term plan – the diploma alone takes six years of part-time study.)
Ignoring the logistical and time-management issues of working, studying, and having kids, there’s one major roadblock on that path: I need $3,000 upfront for the massage therapy course. Basically, I need a job so I can study to get a better job, so I can study to get an even better job.
Life is delightful, isn’t it?

Nevertheless, it’s nice to have some kind of tangible goal in mind. And, stay tuned – I have another reason for really needing someone to pay me money in exchange for services. (Spoiler alert – it’s not another baby.)

Here’s the thing, blog.
I’m not happy with how things are at the moment. This year is three-quarters over but I feel like I’m frozen in time. I don’t know where to go from here or how to do it. I don’t know.
It feels like this anxiety is getting a tighter hold on me with each passing day. I’m having trouble dealing with myself, let alone everyone else around me. I need a lot of things that I don’t have, and I’m not talking about material possessions.

If some bolt of lightning could strike me and give me the answer I’m looking for, that’d be great. Because I’ve been thinking hard for eight months and I still have no idea what to do.

Highs and lows

Up until recently, we’d been getting by with a handed-down high chair. It did the job ok, but it was broken on one side, and was far too big for Devin – the tray was too high and he always loosened the harness to the point of redundancy.

We found a high chair we wanted to buy months ago, but by the time we had the money to get it, they’d sold out. Everywhere. And I was pissed, because it was a high chair. That’s all it was. Just a plain old high chair.

I didn’t need it to have multiple height settings and multiple seat back positions.
I didn’t need (or want) it to have toys.
I didn’t need it to be brightly coloured, or have pictures all over, or be in the latest fashionable colour scheme.
I didn’t need it to have mounds of cushioning. Or in fact, any cushioning.
And I didn’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money for something my messy kid was going to use for another year, maybe.

My choices were severely limited. Funny how the simplest designs are the ones that cost $400.

But then the Zuzu Luna came along, for $55, and stole my heart.

Look at it.
It’s simple. It’s a seat. It’s elevated. It has a tray. It has a harness.

That is all I goddamn wanted. It’s all Devin needs. Padding? He wears terry cloth nappies; his butt is the padding.
We would’ve bought the Ikea Antilop if we lived anywhere near a store, but we don’t.

Finally, last week, when we’d had just about enough of the old high chair, the Zuzu Luna was back in stock.
We bought it, we took it home, we put it together in two minutes, and I am still stealing little appreciative glances at it.
Added bonus – you can easily halve the height of the legs and remove the tray and footrest to make it a regular seat for toddlers.

It might seem like such a simple thing, but these little triumphs feel so good.

There’s a lot of crap to sort through in parenting, and that includes the choices you have with products. I am constantly bewildered by the vast amounts of unnecessary/ugly/overpriced things that are available for babies and children, and by the lack of simple, tasteful, affordable and useful items.
It’s nice when you come through something, however trivial, feeling accomplished rather than frustrated and defeated.

(Devin had a little something to add here – wwwwQQQQQQQQQQQQQQqqqqqqqqqqqqqssSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSWWWWWWWWW2 – which I think we can all agree adds tremendously to the discussion.)

All over a high chair. I know!

Naming a baby…

… is difficult. Well, was difficult for us.

My name is Melissa. My parents thought they were choosing a nice, simple but not common name. Apparently, though, so did all the other parents of girls born in 1988. I was known as ‘Melissa F.’ for the first seven years of my schooling life, and I did not like that.
My family’s nicknames for me were variations of Liss, but never Mel.
I’m ok with my name now. I respect that my parents picked it and like it, and mostly I’m happy to have an average name. Sometimes I wish it were a little less popular.

Jene finds his name to be something of a burden. It is indeed what you probably first assume – Gene with a J – but he has a lifetime of having to correct misspellings and mispronunciations. It’s not a common name like mine, and it’s a bother for him. At our birth classes, he spelt his name tag with a G to avoid confusion.

So these are the perspectives from which each of us approached the task of naming.

Both of us knew without saying – no silly spellings. We’re intelligent people. All you’re doing when you call your child ‘Alixzander’ (I did see this. In real life.) is creating a lifetime of frustration for both the kid and anyone who meets him. And when you’re screaming at him in the supermarket, people only hear ‘Alexander’.

Our first problem was, I am much pickier about names than Jene. We would take turns with the name book, and while Jene could easily get ten, fifteen, twenty names he would consider, I would struggle to get five.
I tended to like gender-neutral names, while Jene would pick feminine girls names and masculine boys names.

Add to this more conditions –
– Names with meanings related to God, such as ‘God is great’, were out. Neither of us is religious, and we weren’t particularly willing to name our kid after something we don’t believe in.
– Names to be considered should have a reasonably significant meaning.
– No names beginning with J.
– Generally, no last names as first names. I say generally, because a great a deal of names are both first and surnames, but I mean specifically names that have recently been cropping up. Cooper, Harrison, Jackson, Taylor, etc.
– Ideally the initials wouldn’t spell a word, but that wasn’t imperative. Also, it would be nice to be able to shorten it to a nickname, but again, not a high priority.

When we knew he was a boy, we cut out squares of paper, wrote down ALL of our possibilities (around 30, maybe?) plus one with the last name, and started mixing and matching.

I don’t quite remember how we got there, but at one point there was a conversation along the lines of, “So I guess we’re going with Devin?”
“Well… I like Devin.”
You know. Basically.

Devin has a nice meaning. It has only two main spellings. It is not a common name in Australia – in fact, I’d never heard of a Devin/Devon here until a few weeks ago, when someone said there was a Devon on Master Chef.
We can shorten it to Dev and Devy. It is somewhat gender-neutral, but more common for boys. And it has a pretty self-explanatory pronunciation.

The middle name turned out to be much harder than the first. We were leaning towards names like Patrick, Hugo… even Julius and Leif were in there. We kept almost deciding on Patrick, but we weren’t sure it was quite right. Nothing was quite right.
Eventually, two days before he arrived and after a convoluted process of elimination, we ended up with James. Common but classic, a complement for the different first name. It was a J, but it worked, and now we all have Js in our initials. (Coincidentally, not purposefully.)

We’d decided on Devin months before he was born, but we didn’t tell anyone. No one had a clue what we were even considering, except for one friend each. Generally, people seem to like his name, but that’s not of great importance. We like it, and we hope that Devin will like it. And not hate us.
(I really don’t think he’ll hate us.)

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

We have been using square (or rectangle, if you get the crap brand that doesn’t realise nappies need to be freaking SQUARE) terry cloth nappies since Devin was born. Our decision was based almost entirely on our financial situation – buying disposables each week was next to impossible on our budget, and there was no way we would afford the huge initial outlay for those lovely fitted cloth nappies ($700+ for a workable system!) I was pretty happy with this, though. I felt good that we weren’t going to create mounds of excess waste with the disposables, and I was pretty confident about managing the washing, especially with my mother on call to guide me.

When Devin made his great escape, though, and I saw this huge nappy almost swallowing my tiny 3kg baby, I had doubts. It was so thick, his poor little legs never touched the bed. Surely that must be uncomfortable for him, I thought.
He’ll grow into it, I countered. He’s just a skinny baby. And short. And all the babies before disposables survived in terry squares.

See how the bottom is filled out, but the rest is loose, and we had to roll up the sleeves?

For three or four months, the double-folded triangle was what we used. It still limited his legs, but I figured that once he grew and we’d need a different fold, he’d have more freedom.

Where are his legs? It's all nappy!
Legs! He has legs!

Well, he grew and we needed a different fold. A single-folded triangle was not absorbent enough, so we used a fold suitable for boys, with all the thickness in the front middle. Yet again, his bottom half was overrun by nappy.

Look at that thing, barely contained by his singlet suit.

Not to mention, through all of this, that baby clothes are not made for these huge nappies. It was and still is a struggle to find fitting clothes, especially onesies. Overall, he was tiny. He was in 0000s at birth, and eventually grew to 000s. But that was his top half. The bottom half of things were stretched to the limit over his nappy. And it drove me nuts. It drives me nuts.
He still wears 000 t-shirts at 6 months, but now size 00 bottoms and onesies are barely making it over the nappy. Snap buttons are popping open like little gunshots. This, you can imagine, makes it very difficult to buy one-piece outfits.

So we don't buy one-piece suits, we buy shirts and pants. Donut pants.

And, now that he’s becoming more active, the terry squares are even more limiting. He can’t roll over when he’s wearing a nappy, though he wants to. He can’t use his legs to push when he’s on his belly, though he wants to. It’s frustrating to watch, and I’m sure frustrating for him.
I just don’t understand how babies got/get around in these things. I’ve tried many folds, and the only way to make it less constricting is to severely compromise absorbency. Which is no good, since we already have to change nappies very often.

'Stuck. In a mis-matched outfit. On Mum's floral quilt. With an owl on my bum.'

All this is starting to make us reconsider. Now that we’re a little better off than we were six months ago, and after reading several things that suggest all the water and cleaning products involved in washing nappies may be on par with the waste created by disposables, we’re just not sure.

It has nothing to do with the effort involved in washing the nappies. Sometimes it’s gross, but honestly, it’s like ten minutes at the most out of your day. I don’t get the big deal about ‘not having time’. (I’ll concede, though, that that is very easy for me to say, since I don’t have anywhere to be, ever.)
It has nothing to do with how every nappy change takes slightly longer with cloth.
And I could live with the clothes fitting issue (though I’d still grumble about it).
It’s just the fact that we hate seeing him so constrained by his nappy, of all things.

Perhaps it is, overall, just a small concern.
He certainly doesn’t look too worried about it.

Liss