She is currently working on an EP of lullabies and a new album of adult material. She says she writes music “to explore certain parts of my brain that don’t tend to appear in conversation.”
Aside from music, Flip has a passion for animal welfare, wholesome foods and cooking, and is a Francophile. And of course there’s the new love in her live, her young daughter. We flicked some quick questions to Flip about her passions:
You’re an avid cook and vegan, what foodie books are you enjoying that you can recommend?
What music do you like to listen to when you’re cooking?
If my husband is cooking it’s always gypsy jazz. For daytime summer cooking I prefer (Belgian musician) Stromae or Rokia Traore, for evening or rainy day cooking Leonard Cohen or Gillian Welch.
You have a toddler now. How has parenthood changed your music apparoach?
Well for a start it’s pretty hard to get quality practice time in as my daughter loves to play the guitar with me if I pick it up. It’s all about fitting it in nowadays… trying to find quiet moments to play and be inspired.
You were vegan at 15 and even got your nickname Flipper from your animal rights activism. What form does activism take for you these days?
These days my activism mostly looks like setting a good example – living a vegan lifestyle, reducing plastics in our home, eating and wearing organics etc. but I have written a few pieces on my blog www.ewyum.com about certain food topics I feel passionately about.
You’re from Christchurch (having grown up in Parklands) and spend time here when not living in France. What are some of your current favourite spots in the city?
I’ve always appreciated libraries but never so much as right now! When we first got back from France we used New Brighton Library for all of our printing and boring officey stuff around my husband’s New Zealand Residency and applying for rental properties etc. Then I was there weekly during pregnancy reading an unhealthy amount of baby-related books. Now I take my daughter to keep her bookshelf rotating (and keep me sane by changing up the bedtime books). It’s truly invaluable.
Emily Writes is a Wellington-based writer whose blog posts have a habit of going viral. She is mother to two year-old Ronnie and four year-old Eddie and over the last couple of years I have chatted with her online quite a bit.
With a three year-old myself our online conversations have covered the full range of parental indignities from pregnancy and childbirth to toddler tantrums and terrible things that have happened to our soft furnishings. But also moments of delight… and Alexander Skarsgård gifs.
Emily’s new book, Rants in the dark, is proving a hit with parents across the country. Ahead of the Christchurch launch event at Scorpio Books next week, Emily chatted to me about her book, how she writes, and shared some favourite reads of her own.
So you started out blogging about parenting stuff, segued into somewhat tipsy movie reviews, have become the parenting editor at The Spinoff and now you have a book out. The next inevitable step is the biopic of your life, so the real question is… who will play you?
Oh my gosh, that is so hilarious. Alexander Skarsgård would need to be my husband in a movie and we would need to have many off-camera dress rehearsals and practice runs.
I would really like it if Beyoncé could be me… I love her… My inspiration is Beyoncé so I would like to meet her. Because if she played me in a movie I could meet her and then maybe we would become best friends.
I’m now thinking about this a lot. Because it would probably be like a Shortland Street actor, right? Or someone who could do a believeable Kiwi accent, so maybe it could be… Nicole Kidman in a fat suit or something? Or… Cate Blanchett’s very good at accents.
What were you aiming for in writing “Rants in the dark”?
I hope that it is kind of a friend in the night to mums and new mums. If they’re awake at 3am or something like that – I wrote it at 3am. So I hope that it feels like somewhere they can turn in the night when they’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Or during the day, or any time. I hope that it’s a different kind of parenting book.
It’s not a place for advice, or judgment or “I know what I’m doing” because I definitely don’t know what I’m doing. I hope that it just makes mums feel good about themselves but not in a “yoga” way.
Do you feel like there is a niche that parenting books weren’t quite hitting and that that’s where “Rants in the dark” sits?
I guess, yeah. I got What to expect when you’re expecting when I was pregnant and it kind of terrified me, and it’s also a bit like reading a dictionary. It’s quite a full-on book and I looked but I couldn’t find anything that properly prepared me – and I know that you can’t properly be prepared [for parenthood] – but I guess I wanted something like “hey, this might not be every single second of incredible delight. It will be amazing and the best thing ever but there will also be some really hard times”. That’s a really hard message to get across and maybe that’s why there aren’t books like that.
I just really felt like because we had tried so hard [to have a baby] that I would be ecstatic every second. And it’s that whole thing where, any parent talking about the hard times, you feel like you have to justify straight away – I am really happy… And that’s why it’s such a difficult thing to talk about but I think we really do need to talk about… the realness of parenting, I guess.
I felt, with Eddie’s illness… how did this ever happen? And that’s a really hard thing when you start motherhood with something that you never expected that turns your whole life upside down. So I wanted to write something that maybe resonated with those mums that didn’t have this super smooth run into motherhood.
Sometimes I felt, when Eddie was really sick, that all these mums around me just had these perfect lives, and I know that that’s not true… but I felt very weird, alone and kind of “othered”… And I know that a lot of mums who have babies that have health conditions or are prem or that type of thing, they feel that too. So I hope that in that way it serves the community.
Emily Writes is not your real name, is it? Why did you feel the need to work under a pseudonym?
I guess the pseudonym is about the fact that I want to protect the privacy of my children. Every step of the way I’ve had boundaries and wanted to respect their privacy, and not only privacy but for me it’s about respecting them as people. …We talk a lot about what I’m writing, in terms of respecting the boys, but there’s a lot of trust there that I’m never going to do something that hurts them.
But I guess I don’t want them to spend their lives with people saying things like “oh, is your mum blah, blah, blah”. And I don’t want them to be Google-able, if that’s a word. I don’t want them to feel like they are characters or anything like that and I want to respect my husband’s privacy. He’s a really shy person.
… It also allows me a little bit of separation… I want to be able to come home and I walk through the door and I’m with my kids. …I find this is sort of a way to remind myself that I am a mum first to my kids and a wife and that is really important to me that I prioritise that and this allows me to not get too far up my own a*** or something.
With two small kids, it must be a struggle to write sometimes.
It’s hard to get it good. I write heaps. My drafts folder is like a phonebook… but it’s all s***. It’s easy to write lots but trying to find something good enough to publish is hard.
What I did was all at 3am, 4am because my kid is just intense. Every time he woke up, if I had an idea, I would note it down during the night and the book is like lots of little blog posts in a book. So I didn’t have to change my way of writing or anything [from blogging]. So I feel like I was pretty lucky. I think writers who write actual books are amazing.
[I remind Emily that she has written an actual book]
Oh yeah, I have written an actual book. I forgot.
You just feel so lucky to have a book that you just feel very weird, and lucky and how did this happen? And it just doesn’t feel like it was hard because it’s so exciting. And also I didn’t do the grind like other writers did. I feel like I’ve been shot up the a*** with a rainbow, basically. I’ve just been very lucky.
What authors or writers do you yourself enjoy reading?
That’s a great question. I love Bunmi Laditan. I discovered her after I had started writing because someone said “you remind me of Bunmi” and then I went on her Facebook page and she’s just amazing in the way she talks about anxiety and mental health – just so powerful. I love Bunmi.
I love Clementine Ford. I just read Fight like a girl. I think that was really brave. It’s kind of like Feminism 101, a really nice sort of entry into intersectional feminism…
I really love Emma Neale whose book Billy Bird – I just cried the whole way through it – it was such a powerful metaphor for parenting.
I love Sarah Laing’s Katherine Mansfield book, Mansfield and Me. I love that book. It’s amazing. I wanted to read it because I really like her as a person. She seems super nice and lovely. I don’t know her but that’s how she seems. So I thought “I’ll just buy it because she seems really nice and I want to support New Zealand authors” and then I loved it. You know when you just don’t know if you’re going to like a book or not, and then it’s everything? And I never thought I’d be into a Katherine Mansfield book but I loved it.
You’re coming down to Christchurch and doing a book launch event at Scorpio Books soon.
Yes, I’m so excited to come to Christchurch and that Scorpio Books wants to host me. And I think someone is running around trying to organise a day event so that we don’t exclude mums who can’t go out during the “witching hour” because their children are tyrants. Which is my children. I don’t mean that to insult anybody’s children.
I’m quite nervous about the Unity launch in Wellington because my kids will be there but I feel like if they absolutely crack it, I’ll just be like “See? I told you. Everything in the book is true”.
The New Zealand Book Council are giving away one copy of Rants in the dark. To enter the draw, email email@example.com with “Rants” in the subject line by Thurs 16 March. (Remember to include your postal address!)
Childcare and childbirth have long been topics that create debate. Any parent can relate to making a decision that others might not agree with, whether it is vaccination, natural childbirth, intervention and pain relief – or breast vs bottle. Do you leave your child to cry or have them in your bed? The list is endless.
Guilt always seems to go hand in hand with raising children and in a new book Push Back : Guilt in the age of natural parenting the author Amy Tuteur has taken the natural parenting “industry” as she calls it and shakes it to bits. She argues that most of the movements devoted to natural birth or attachment parenting were created and promulgated by elderly white men and that they put forward a pro-women agenda but are in fact quite the opposite – relegating women to the role of primary caregiver where they are required to perform round the clock childcare with little options for work or free time outside of the home. Tuteur wants to “release women from the guilt trap created by the natural parenting industry “.
As with most things there is probably a middle ground, but judging by the huge and varying amount parenting titles published each year this is an area where the debate on right and wrong will never diminish.
There’s always been plenty of people out there who project their parenting preferences onto others – self-appointed citizens who prey on earnest mothers and fathers simply trying to do their best. There are a lot of different parenting styles and approaches out there. And some people are adamant theirs is best. Right?
That’s why politicization of parenting can be so potent. It can cut across ideological lines, with all sorts of aggressive individuals crawling out of the woodwork and sometimes becoming allies – like America’s fundamentalist Christians and ardent feminists who rally together to promote breast feeding, with the chorus of their common cause being “breast is best’.
We might find it bizarre that such movements, which are traditionally and (and for the most part) ideologically opposed, would share a common political interest. However author, mother and political scientist Courtney Jung is all too familiar with the nature of political lobbying and what it produces. In her book Lactivism she exposes the way in which various interest groups (businesses, lobby groups, health officials and politicians) have hijacked the sensitive issues of breastfeeding as a ploy to either push their own ideological message(s) or make money. Or, conveniently, both.
This is not a book which is anti-breast feeding. It is a book which discusses the fact that some women, for a variety of legitimate reasons, can’t/won’t breast feed. Yet, they are often shamed by the aforementioned interest groups who have hijacked the general discourse to create public health hysteria. “A good mother will ALWAYS breast feed” is a phrase which has been twisted to become a guilt-laden sentiment to drive public health policies and messages. Jung manages to dissect and unravel this as misleading, and in many cases, unscientific collection of notions.
Jung sheds light on the poor science surrounding this issue, and how science is misconstrued further by lobby groups to deliver their desired outcomes and misinform the public. Which leads to a form of persecution for anyone bottle feeding, for example. The poor, and often women of colour, are the most affected by the misinformation layered upon society by officials and the (lobby influenced) media. Many women in poorer societies and communities simply cant feed due to health issues (HIV for example). Despite this, this issue is framed as it being a “mother’s duty” to breast feed. Always. Sometimes to the detriment of children.
Jung’s exposure of this blatant “bottle shaming” is insightful. She lifts the lid on the coercive tactics used to promote one system of feeding to the physical and psychological detriment of mothers and kids, and how this ties into other health problems and initiatives. What is really great about this book is that it clears the fog away from political processes. As a political scientist (don’t be put off by the label), Jung examines the evolution of these discussions and how they determine public health policy formulation around the world, and particularly America.
Christmas can be a stressful time of year and whether you’re heading away on holiday next week, or staying in town if you’ve got children you’ll be looking for ways to keep them happy and entertained over the school break.
Christchurch City Libraries has heaps of resources and recommendations to help out frazzled parents and caregivers this festive season.
Have kids, will travel
Going on a trip out of town? Long road trips (or air travel) can be a strain as boredom easily sets in. Get organised ahead of time with a range of activities and reading material to keep everyone occupied.
Kids audiobooks might be a slightly more palatable option. Listen as a family to favourites like Harry Potter, or download digital formats onto individual devices (with headphones). There’s something for every age group and taste.
Books. Anything that’s likely entertain. Check out our Holiday reading guide for some ideas. But also consider the following –
In a rush and choosing’s just too time consuming? Pick up a Stories To Go Bag. Each one has age-appropriate fiction and non-fiction books, a DVD, a music or story CD, and a toy or puzzle and come in a sturdy bag that’s ready to travel.
For Kids in Christchurch
There are a bunch of activities, places to go, and things to see for families staying in town over the holidays. As well as the music, books, and DVDs mentioned above you might like –
Our Summertime Reading Club for kids 0-16 years, which starts today. Keep a tally of the minutes spent reading over the summer and go in the draw for prizes.
Summertime Stories in libraries begin in early January, with sessions for both babies and older children.
When it comes to raising children, sometimes you need some help and support.
This year, Neighbourhood Trust will be running Parenting Week from 24 to 30 August at various locations around Christchurch. A week of guest speakers, workshops, seminars and activities: there is bound to be something for you.
how to stay on top of family finances, and how to improve relationships between couples.
Children are not left out. On Wednesday, 26 August, our wonderful Families Outreach Librarian Lynette Griffiths will be at the Richmond Mothers and Bubs Group. On Thursday, 27 August, parents and children can learn to weave at Te Pauwaitanga Ki Otautahi Trust or visit the Migrants Parenting Expo. There will also be a special Young Parents Expo.
The week concludes with The First Ever Parenting Week Dinner. Enjoy dinner while listening to guest speaker John Cowan, from The Parenting Place in Auckland, and host of Newstalk ZB’s programme ‘Real Life’, speak on ‘The tricky bits of parenting: Parenting styles that help build resilience in difficult times.’
“Mum,” said Miss Missy, “I’ve never eaten a croissant. They look delicious, I’d like to try one.”
I was shocked because, 1: she never asks to try new food, and 2: I love sharing my favourite things with my kids, so how could it be that in all her 12 years of existence, I had never suggested she try a croissant??
Sharing my favourite is one of the best things about being a parent. I love making pancakes for them on Saturday mornings (no lemon juice for Miss Missy, the gastronomic neophobe). The Young Lad and I love building Lego together. I loved listening to him when, at age 3, he recited The Very Hungry Caterpillar as he turned the pages of my very own book.
When I saw that the library has Bugsy Malone on DVD, I just had to bring it home to watch with her. I was in a production of Bugsy when I was at high school, and loved the movie (perhaps partly because it stars Scott Baio). Miss Missy wasn’t too keen at first, but once I finally persuaded her to give it a try, she loved it. The same thing happened with My Fair Lady (I had a bit part in that too). In fact, she enjoyed that so much that she didn’t want to have to go to bed, and couldn’t wait to watch the other half the next night.
And so began our Mum and Daughter Movie Nights, complete with a yummy treat — and yes, croissants have featured on the treat menu! We very quickly (ok, instantly) ran out of high-school-productions-Mum-was-in-that-are-also-movies, and so we branched out to old favourites of mine like Back to the Future, and classics like The Sound of Music and National Velvet.
But now I’m starting to run out of ideas . So, I’d love to know what your favourite (pre-teen appropriate) movies are? Or if you’d like some ideas of great movies to watch with the young’uns, you could check out my Movie Night List.
I was so excited the other day when I discovered that my favourite blogger’s book is available right here at the library – if I hadn’t been in the middle of helping a lovely young mum search the catalogue for parenting DVDs I would have SQUEEEEEE!!-ed. Thankfully I managed to contain my enthusiasm and save us both from embarrassment. I couldn’t wait to get home and start reading!
Amber’s book, which is available as an e-book through Overdrive, is just as funny as her blog. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that I didn’t realise I’d finished – I got to the end of a chapter and thought I’d save the rest for later, only to discover that all that was left was the publication details! One of the pitfalls of reading e-books I suppose. I have since discovered that there is a little book progress bar that pops up when you tap the middle of the screen, but obviously I hadn’t paid attention to that.
If you are looking for stuff on parenting, whether you want e-books, books, or DVDs we’ve got it covered.