Friday, 30 March 2012

Limbo



It’s strange this life-in-limbo I’m now living. 

I have two houses. One here (albeit sold) and a rental over there. One house being lived in and one being mentally planned out. We have furniture in the real world, but I’m packing it all up in my head and deciding where to put things when we get there.

I have Sydney lists and England lists running round in my head – all day, every day. What will we pack? What will we airfreight? What will we ship? I need to order Oliver’s new bed, find a local playgroup, sign him up for classes so he can start to make friends. Must remember to cancel the gym, the electricity, the water. Need to organise goodbye dinners, reply to emails, write my blog.

I have friends to catch-up with in England and friends to say goodbye to in Oz.

I’m only just finding my blogging feet here, but I feel like I’m going to have to start all over again over there.

I’m still enjoying living my current life, whilst constantly thinking about my new one. Feeling more Australian than English. 

It’s exhausting, but exciting. Happy and sad. Full of contradictions and juxtapositions.

I can’t believe in less than four weeks we won’t be here and we’ll already be there.

Have you ever felt divided like this? 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

What we didn’t have for dinner last night

I had planned for Paul and I to eat this for dinner last night:


It’s a regular dish here at green tea HQ – lamb cutlets with roast veggie quinoa. Super healthy, super tasty. We love it and Oliver does too. And I was even going to blend some up for Lila. However instead, we had this…


Naughty and not so healthy! But after a full-on day with the two munchkins and no time to get the quinoa yumness ready thanks to Oliver’s lack of day sleeps (Emily, I feel your pain), I couldn’t face cooking and neither could Paul. Sometimes you’ve just gotta go with it haven’t you?

And let me tell you, that pizza was good. For the record, it was chorizo, artichoke, olive and potato. I know!

So instead of bringing you the recipe of what I actually ate last night, I’m bringing you the recipe of what I didn’t eat last night.

I’ll warn you now that I generally just make this up as I go, so these instructions are likely to be more than a little sketchy. Feel free to ad-lib as you like.

What you need:

: Lamb cutlets – as many as you need to feed the hungry
: Quinoa (I use Macro white quinoa)
: 2-3 beetroot bulbs
: Half butternut pumpkin
: 2 medium zuchinni
: 1 red capsicum
: 1 garlic glove, crushed
: Lemon juice
: Pinch of cumin
: Fresh parsley or coriander
: Greek yoghurt

What to do:

: Heat oven to approx 200

: Wrap beetroot bulbs in foil and place them in the oven for about an hour. Once cooked and cooled slightly, pop on your rubber gloves and peel.

: Cut pumpkin and whatever other veggies you are using in to chunks, place them on a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil (not too much) and put them in the oven to roast for roughly 30-40 mins (this is loose – I never know how long it takes, I just keep looking until they seem done).

: Cook quinoa according to packet instructions (just make sure you rinse it first to remove the bitter outer coating). Towards the end, once most of the water has evaporated, I add the crushed garlic, a pinch of cumin and stir.

: Combine the cooked quinoa with the roast veggies, add a handful of fresh herbs and a good squeeze of lemon juice + salt and pepper as you like.

: Serve with the lamb, top with the sliced roast beetroot and a dollop of greek yoghurt.

Easy peasy and oh so yummy.

(For an even easier kids version of this, chop all your veggies into small chunks and add to the quinoa as it cooks. The veg will soften in the cooking water and in 20 mins you’ll have a one-pot meal packed with goodness. It also freezes really well, so I often make huge batches and stock-up the freezer.)

What did you have for dinner last night? And why oh why is quinoa really pronounced keeeeen-wahhhhh?!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Awkward



We had one of ‘those’ moments last night while the two kidlets were having a nudie romp before bath.

“Daddy, where’s Lila’s winky?”

“Ummm… Well, Lila doesn’t have a winky, does she Mummy?” (clever deferring tactics there Paul!).

“No darling, that’s because Lila is a girl. You are a boy, so you have a winky and Lila is a girl so she has a, ummm. A twinky.”

Errr. What?!

So now we have a winky, which isn’t an overly masculine name for dangly boy bits – and a twinky, which is just plain silly!

Not sure where either of those came from. Winky has been around since the beginning. Twinky was born last night.

And because I’m unconvinced we’re using the best terms here (I really can’t bring myself to use Penis and Vajayjay just yet), I’m dying to know – what do you call yours? (and by yours, I don’t actually mean – yours. I mean your children’s. And that sounds all kinds of wrong too. Hence the name of this post. AWKWARD!).

Please, someone, help me out here – have you had any awkward kid conversations in your house recently?! 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Been and gone

Dad was here, now he’s gone. It was short, but sweet and we made the most of the few days we had.

On Friday we headed to one of my all time favourite places in Sydney – Watson’s Bay. I always have and always will love it. That view of the harbour. Those fish & chips. I’ll happily admit to a few ‘we must be mad’ moments. It was one of those perfect Sydney days where the water sparkles and the city looks amazing and knowing that we will be leaving all this behind still feels difficult to believe (but England has nice bits too, right?!).




Ollie had a wonderful time playing away in the sand. I love how engrossed he can become in play these days. Such intricate little games. Oh, and he’s also become an overnight genius and can write I love you. Who knew…



On Saturday we headed to Taronga Zoo. Paul and I have taken Oliver a few times in the past but this was my absolute favourite visit so far. He just loved it. He was full of it, engaged, interested, enthralled the entire time. So lovely to see.

We are having far less tantrums than we were a few months ago and that coupled with the no-sleeping-in-the-afternoon thing meant we could take our time and really enjoy the day, rather than feeling like we were on a sleep deadline.






Toddlers do amuse me though. At one point Ollie was getting a bit fed up waiting for us to finish eating so sidled up to the front of a gift shop and swiped a cuddly tiger off the display! And at the end of it all, when I asked him which animal was his favourite, he replied: “Uuuuh. Ummmm. Uhhh. The cars. No, no. They were Jeeps.”


And Lila? Well she just slotted right in to things as per usual. Always such an angel. WIth Oliver as a baby I was always just a teeny bit unsure how he would react to new situations. It was as if his brain was constantly on hyper-drive and he could easily go in to meltdown mode because of it. In contrast, Lila is a take any where at any time kind of gal. So, so easy. And we are so, so lucky. 

In a way this weekend felt a little sad. Like Dad and I were saying goodbye to Sydney together, as I’m 99% sure this will be the last time we’ll ever enjoy this city with each other. At least there were only tearful goodbyes from Oliver - “I want to go to England nooooooow” he cried as his beloved Gramps left for the airport. Four weeks to go Ollie, four weeks to go.

Until then… how was your weekend?  

*linking in with Sonia for Wonderful Weekends

Thursday, 22 March 2012

green tea book corner : The Diabolical Mr Tiddles


A younger Oliver and his beloved Grandpa. Ahhhh.

Did I tell you my Dad is here this week? He’s over on business, so we haven’t seen loads of him, but he’s around this weekend for some quality Grandkids action. It’s quite a well-timed trip really. Just seeing Oliver with him makes my heart sing. It’s so freakin cute. He literally spends the entire time looking up at his Grandpa with adoring eyes. That is why we made the decision. That is why we’re going home.

Anyway. I’m getting off topic here. The point of that little intro is that with Dad came presents. Not too many (although I’m pretty sure my Mum has an addiction to spoiling her babies!) – just two for Ollie and two for Lila.

And this is the one I want to talk about today…


What a great name! The Diabolical Mr Tiddles is by Tom McLaughlin and was 
Published by Simon and Schuster just this year. It’s brand new. And an instant hit with Mr O.

It’s about a boy called Harry and his cat – The Diabolical (or diabocolol as Ollie says) Mr TIddles. 

Harry has always wanted a cat and is more than a little excited when he gets just that for his birthday. Except Mr TIddles is not quite what he seems. After finding a series of strange objects appearing in his bedroom each morning (including a dinosaur, some jelly beans, a rockstar guitar and a horse called Alan!), Harry decides to follow Mr TIddles to find out what on earth is going on.

I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s a hilarious read for adults as well as being totally enjoyable for the kids. The perfect book in my opinion. 

I guess if I had to pinpoint an age group, this book is probably aimed at 3-5 year olds, but Oliver still loves it.

I’m pretty sure we’ll be reading about Mr Tiddles and his adventures every night for the next few weeks.

Until then... Do you have any good book finds to share? Does this sound like something your kids would enjoy? 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The hardest decision yet



Seven years ago on the morning after the 2005 Mardi Gras parade (the image of party goers walking along South Dowling St will always stay with me!) Paul and I arrived fresh off a plane from the UK to begin a new life in Australia.

And what a life we’ve had. Each and every moment has been amazing. This is the place of a lot of monumental firsts for us – living together, getting engaged, getting married, having babies, buying a house, buying a dog. It's where I sky-dived, scuba-dived, fell in love with yoga, got a tattoo. Not to mention the general adventure of putting ourselves outside of our comfort zones, starting from scratch, making new friends, starting new jobs. Learning how to live in a country that wasn’t our own. It feels like it is now.

Which is why over the past few months we have had to make one of the hardest decisions of our relationship so far.

It pains me to say it, but In a few short weeks, some time around the end of April, Paul and I will be waving goodbye to these sunny shores that we have called home for so long and are moving back to England.

It still doesn’t feel real and right now I can’t imagine not being here. I love our lifestyle, our friends, our home. But for both of us, since having children there has been a continual nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right here anymore.

And that something is family. Having Grandparents close by. Having cousins to grow up with. Having Aunties and Uncles there to celebrate birthdays. Having a proper face-to-face relationship with all of these people, rather than through a computer screen or a yearly holiday.


Unfortunately I think that when you have laid down such strong roots in another country you will always lose in some way. If we stay here, we miss family. If we go home, we’ll inevitably miss our friends (who are like family) and all the wonderful things about this place. The beach life, the weather, the food, the coffee (oh my god I’ll miss the coffee!).

But we’ve decided not to dwell on things now. We could go round in circles with the 'what ifs' and the comparisons. The decision has been made and we are getting really excited about the adventures to come. About building a new life for our family of four. And most importantly about watching those special relationships unfold between our children and their family.

So please forgive me if I’m a little distant over these next few weeks. Life is crazy. Every spare minute is spent making calls, sending emails, writing lists. We arrived as two single people with a backpack each and are leaving a family of four + dog and an apartment full of stuff. This is no mean feat! I’ll keep you updated along the way.

Until then… have you had to make any hard decisions before? And if you have ever moved across the globe, do you have any tips?! 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Food glorious food



I’m a live-to-eat kind of person. I can’t think of anything worse than not enjoying food and eating just to live. It’s pretty much the first thing I think of when I wake up and is a big part of my day. Every day. Which is why it’s hugely important to me that my children grow-up feeling the same.

I really love the whole process of introducing solids. Love the satisfaction of a well-stocked freezer and nothing makes me happier than watching my two eating the food I’ve cooked. Luckily, Oliver has always been a fantastic eater. From the moment I put that first spoon of tasteless baby rice in front of him he opened his mouth like a little bird and wolfed down everything I had to offer.

Yes of course he’s been through phases and he still has the odd day where he’s not hungry or won’t eat a particular part of his dinner. He can also be a little wary of new foods, but eventually he plucks up the courage to try whatever it is, and he always enjoys it.

With Lila, she’s been a little slower to get with the program and for one horrible moment I thought I may have landed one of those babies who simply don't want to eat. She pulled some excellent faces in the beginning and didn’t really understand the whole open-your-mouth concept. But now she’s found her stride and, like her brother, is polishing off spag bol like the best of them.




Now, without wanting to sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet, I like to think their eating habits are partly because of my approach to introducing solids (the other part is just luck of the draw). I had a clear idea of how I wanted things to work when it came to food and developed a few ground rules that I’ve stuck to along the way. And although I certainly don’t claim to be any kind of baby-weaning expert, I thought I would share them with you today.

: Don’t go too slow. I tend to introduce new foods fairly quickly, rather than one every 3-4 days, as some books say. I also start mixing flavours early and try to get through as many different types of food in the first couple of months (obviously guided by your baby – Lila has been slightly slower than Ollie).

: Don’t rely on packaged foods. Personally (and I hope I don’t offend here), I think baby puree sachets are there only to serve a purpose. Times like travel, when you're caught short with no food in the house or when you're rushing around and your baby needs a quick fix. I don’t think they should be relied on for every meal. Why? Firstly I don’t think you can beat home cooked, good quality produce. Secondly, the fruit content in some of the ‘savoury’ flavours is so high they may as well not say chicken on the label. Thirdly, they are so smooth I think it can have an impact on how quickly your baby takes to texture and lumps. Which leads me to…

: Don’t be frightened of lumps. I introduce textures fairly quickly. Obviously within reason, but in my book the sooner your baby is given slightly textured purees or finger foods, the better. At just over six months Lila has some of her veggies and fruit mashed and she’s eating fingers of toast and banana. And if you’re nervous about choking, don’t worry – they usually just suck the life out of them before anything actually goes in and down! Obviously just make sure you're watching at all times.

: Don’t be afraid of flavour. Have some cumin in your cupboard? Chuck it in a pumpkin puree. Making a chicken and veg puree? Add some fresh ginger, coriander or parsley. Little additions such as these help develop a baby’s palate for different tastes before they hit that fussy toddler phase.




: Do invest in some large ice cube trays. These will make your life so much easier. With my bad boys, I can freeze a good weeks worth of food in one go. Easy.

: Do let your baby make a mess. From the get go I use two spoons for feeding - one for me and one for them to play around with. Food is something to enjoy, not just another daily task.

: Do stick to your guns. This process can take time. But often if they don't eat carrot one day, they will the next. If they don't like lumps to start with, try again a week later. And if they prefer the sweet stuff, try not to reach for apple and pear purees every time. Eventually they'll learn to love spinach! 

: Do allow a little freedom. Oliver thinks a treat after dinner is watermelon. But now and then we let him have proper treats – jelly and ice cream, fish and chips at the beach. It helps keep his love of food going and there’s always the possibility a treat is just around the corner!

: Don’t make a fuss. This one's for the toddlers. If they don’t want to eat it, let them down from the table and move on. This always works with Oliver. At most he knows he’ll get a piece of toast if he doesn’t eat what’s in front of him. I also ignore him if he doesn’t want to try a new food and nine times out of ten he eats it when I’m not looking!

And that’s that. A long post, I know. But I did say it’s something I’m passionate about! I hope my tips may be useful to some of you one day.


Until then… what are your views on feeding babies? Have you been blessed with good eaters? 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Why I need a weekly fix


Image from here

I’ve been practicing Iyengar yoga regularly now for about five years. My boss and his wife got me into it. And once you start, you really can’t stop. It’s addictive.

In my pre Ollie & Lila days I was practicing up to five times a week, with the odd early morning intensive course and Thai yoga retreat thrown in for good measure. I loved it. I felt in tune with my body and for someone who’s mind is usually on the go 24/7, I loved the sense of calm it provided.

When I fell pregnant, both times I continued attending classes right the way to the end and I’m convinced this consistent approach helped with the recovery phase. There are numerous other ways I believe yoga has helped me in this mothering journey, but if I went in to those now, we could be here all day. Needless to say I owe yoga a lot for these past two and a half years. And for that I am grateful.

Anyway… where was I? Oh yes. Sadly now I don't have the time for four weekly classes, intensive courses or retreats. But yoga is part of what I do and who I am now. Plus babies are not very conducive to a good posture and open shoulders. All the breastfeeding, baby carrying, Baby Bjorns and pushing a pram whilst lugging a toddler on your hip is exhausting, which is why I still schedule in two yoga classes per week (often it's one, three never happens). They keep me on track. Help my body stay less creaky and tight. Keep my mind in check.

These classes are my lifeline. Now, I know that might sound a little melodramatic but they really are. Think about it. Three hours a week just for me. No children, no husband, no thoughts, just me and the mat. Bliss.

Alright, so I’ve missed the last couple of Mondays thanks to snotty, teething children, but my weekly fix is a staple in my life and always will be. Yoga, I love you!

Roll on Saturday morning!

Until then… are you a yoga fan? What is it that helps keep you sane? What are you feeling grateful for this week? 

*linking in later today with *Maxabella loves for 52 weeks of grateful

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Thai spiced lamb with Asian salad

The dinner party I went to on the weekend was excellent. I’ve known the hosts for the seven years and they’re very good friends of ours but, until now, we’ve never had an invite to dinner. I just didn’t think they were the type.

But my-oh-my have they been hiding some little tricks up their sleeves all this time. They killed it! The Asian feast included Thai chicken salad, duck with plum sauce, red (or maybe it was green!) curry (from scratch) and the starring dish – pork belly in a caramelised star anise sauce. All topped off with chocolate cheesecake. I know!

Anyway, those Asian flavours have had me all inspired this week and on Monday night I made this:



If you can’t tell from that terrible photo, it’s Thai spiced lamb with Asian salad.

Apart from the marinading, which really needs to be at least four hours, this is really quick to make, so it’s a great one to whip-up mid-week once you’ve finally got the little blighters to sleep.

Here’s how it works.

What you need.

Marinade
: 2tsp cumin seeds
: 165ml can coconut milk
: 1 ½ tbs Thai green curry paste
: 1 tbs chopped mint leaves
: 12 lamb cutlets (although I just used good quality lamb chops)

Salad
: ½ cup mint leaves, shredded
: 3 cups mixed baby salad leaves
: 100g bean sprouts trimmed (I didn’t have these to hand this time)
: 225g thin green beans
: 4 spring onions thinly sliced
: ½ cup Thai basil leaves
: ½ cup coriander leaves

Dressing
: ¼ cup lime juice
: ¼ cup fish sauce
: 2 tbs grated palm sugar
: 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, very finely chopped

What to do.

: Toast the cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan for 1 minute, until fragrant.
: Place in a bowl with the coconut milk, curry paste and mint.
: Season with salt and pepper.
: Add the lamb and toss to coat.
: Cover and marinade for at least 4 hours (it really needs this too, so try to be organised if you can!).

: BBQ or chargrill your lamb to your liking.

: Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake.

: Blanche green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain.
: Place beans and all remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl.
: Toss salad with half the salad dressing.
*I also added some leftover sweetcorn I had in the fridge (because I’m crazy like that) and it turned out to be quite a good addition. So freestyle away if you fancy.

: Place salad on a plate, top with the lamb and drizzle on the remaining dressing.

Voila!

Do you have any tasty recipes to share this week? I’m all ears…

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Slowing it down






What a wonderful weekend we’ve just said goodbye to. The sun shone the whole entire time and we socialised our little hearts out.  There was a third birthday party, a wonderful dinner party and a BBQ with friends, plus beach trips, swimming lessons and all the usual bits and pieces that come with children. I didn’t take nearly enough photos, but I guess that means I was too busy enjoying each and every moment. I really did too.

Oh and in very exciting news - out of the blue Oliver has decided he finally wants to start using the toilet for his you-know-whats. Just like that. And he hasn’t looked back. There has been much clapping, whooping and cheering and a couple of special little ‘poo presents’ thrown in for extra encouragement. So nice to finally have that cracked.

But as I was saying, the weekend was full. Lovely. Perfect even, but the only problem with a non-stop weekend is that I now feel like I’m starting the week on an empty tank. Friday seems a very long way off. So my plan for this week is to slow it down a notch. Catch-up on some sleep, take it easy, indulge in some R&R and not push myself too hard. This is me giving myself permission to chill when the babes are asleep and go slow when they’re awake.

Hopefully it will be just the refresher I need.

Until then… was your weekend a good one? Are you in for a slow week or a fast week?

*Linking up with Sonia for Wonderful Weekends

Friday, 9 March 2012

Warts and all

Image from here

I spent the first part of yesterday morning standing against a wall, wearing just a thong (of the knicker variety), in a hospital-esq room while a stranger took up-close and personal photos of my whole entire body.

Confronting? Yes. Embarrassing? Not really, childbirth helps with that. Necessary? Hell, yes.

You see, I’d been given a referral by my doctor to get a full body mole-map. Which, if you don’t know, is where a nurse photographs and documents every single mole on your body for analysis and future comparison.

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of my skin. The sun and I are really not friends. And when I say this, it’s not because I want to be able to sit out and bake for hours at a time. It’s because of the associated skin cancer risk that goes with it. I literally have hundreds of moles across my body, apparently a particular skin type called something-or-other naevi. So this map will eliminate any worries about rogue moles and allow me to specifically know if any change.

Anyway, mole-mapping aside, one of the most fascinating things for me was seeing each section of my body photographed and displayed in all its naked glory on a large computer screen.

It was kind of bizarre and actually quite enlightening. And although I know the following may be seen as totally shallow, here’s what I learnt:

: I definitely have a ‘best side’ in profile (my left)
: My stomach didn’t look nearly as horrible as I think it is
: My bum in profile is flat. Who knew? I thought it was round!
: My bum from the back really could do with a bit of a lift
: I like my arms and shoulders
: My legs are ok too
: Although my thighs could also be more toned
: Yoga is good for me, otherwise I would have really bad posture
: I need to shave my legs more frequently
: I really should have encouraged Lila to feed on both sides in the morning because my boobs looked REALLY lopsided
: I’d like my hair to stop falling out soon because it’s looking quite thin at the sides

Overall, you know what, it wasn’t nearly as bad I was expecting. And I’ve had two kids. And I still eat chocolate and way too many carbs.

So fingers crossed for the mole-map results and in the meantime, if you see me at the beach, I’ll be the one under the stripy green umbrella.

Until then… are you sun conscious? Have you ever had a mole-map? What are the parts of your body that you like/dislike? 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Lila : a birth story


My baby girl turns six months today. Six whole months. I always think the monthly birthday of your child is a lovely time to reflect on their impact on your life. And today, I’m going to do just that by sharing Lila’s beautiful birth story.

Oliver’s birth was epic. A two-day marathon event, which saw all my plans for a natural birth go out of the window. Instead of a calm, water birth Oliver was posterior. So after hours and hours (32 to be exact) of dealing with contractions, he got stuck at 7cm and I had an epidural. Luckily he came out the usual way, but it was tough, exhausting and left me feeling a little numb. Not just from the waist down.

But this isn’t the story of Oliver, this is Lila’s story. And a very different one at that. This time round I decided to not to hope for anything. If truth be told, I was pretty much resigned to a similar scenario. How totally wrong I was.


At 11pm one week before my due date my waters broke while I was asleep. I woke Paul, who’s first words were ‘What? Really? But I’m not ready’. Lucky I was then! And I really was. So excited, apprehensive, but most importantly calm (although that didn’t stop me demanding we changed the bed sheets before we left for hospital that night!).

At the hospital I discovered I was already three centimetres dilated. A bit of a bonus considering I hadn’t had any contractions. We were sent home to ‘sleep’ (always makes me laugh that one – can anyone really sleep in labour?!) and soon those low, slow aches began.

By the morning, Paul got Ollie ready for daycare as I relaxed in the bath. All trace of the contractions had faded, but Lila was sitting so low I felt like she could literally fall out at any minute and was almost too scared to stand until Ollie had gone, just in case. As they left, I remember feeling quite strange knowing the next time I saw my baby boy, he wouldn’t be the baby anymore (actually, who am I kidding? He’ll always be my baby!).

To get things moving we pounded the streets and the familiar ache returned. Just. At midday I was fed up. The contractions were still easy and I was getting impatient and worried that history was going to repeat itself. Luckily my amazing midwife was so reassuring and told me to come in again to check my progress and discuss options. So we did. And lucky we took my bags.



After a trace on the baby, my contractions finally started to intensify. I was managing them well with my breath and a tens machine. Then - I shifted onto my side to get comfortable when suddenly there was a whoosh of waters and I felt something go. I don’t mean in a breaking sense, but in that instance I knew things had changed. Suddenly I went from contracting once in every 10 mins to three in every 10.

We moved to the floor where I found a comfortable position over a birthing ball. For the next three hours I don’t think I have ever been so focused. One of my yoga teachers kept reinforcing the importance of keeping your jaw soft through labour (soft jaw, soft cervix!) and that became a mantra for me. I felt calm. I breathed deep. I kept my jaw soft.

It’s so interesting in labour how you get in to a groove. There are things you like and things you don’t like. Ways of coping that you only develop right then and there in the moment. For me it was the breathing. Cold towels on my forehead. Being able to control the tens machine on my back (amazing btw – who knew they were so effective?!). There was talk of moving to the shower, but I was happy in my zone. I also needed Paul close by. Not doing anything in particular, just holding my hand and staying close (he did ask if he should massage me at one point and received a curt ‘no you’ll just irritate me’ in reply. Gotta love a labouring woman for being direct!).


After these intense three hours, out of nowhere there was a feeling, movement and a change like nothing I have ever felt before. My body totally took over and did what it was designed to do. I shouted for gas. Suddenly the need to push was so strong. Paul was frantically buzzing our midwife who came in and matter-of-factly said ‘yep you’re having a baby – just go with it.’ And that’s really all I could do.

With the next push the head crowned. With the next it was out – and holy hell that hurt. Having had an epidural the last time I was quite apprehensive about this stage, so I was lucky that it all happened in one go. That was probably the worst part. The midwifes were telling me to breathe quickly and pant and not push. Don’t push. Don’t push. I could hear Paul’s voice in my ear telling me not to push and finally it clicked. Don’t push, just breathe. So I did – until the next contraction, when one last push and there she was. It was so quick and such a blur that Paul didn’t even have time to watch her arrive.



Then Lila was placed in my arms. I was crying from the shock of it all happening so fast. She didn’t, not once. In fact she was so quiet I had to ask if she was ok. And she was. Just perfect. Quietly looking up at me with these huge eyes, just asking to be held and loved.


And love her we have. All three of us. She’s been the perfect addition to our family. She’s bought balance and calm – just like her arrival in to the world.


Love you Lila Clementine, I am so grateful for having you in my life, my perfect little girl.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Stop f*cking swearing



Image from here




I’m a swearer by nature. I’ve worked in an office of swearers for years and most of my friends are too. I don't swear in a vicious, mean kind of way. But in a used-for-added-emphasis kind of way. You know, ‘this food is fucking amazing’ or  ‘could there be any more fucking washing to do this week?’.

However, I do have one rule. I draw the line at swearing in front of the kids, which is something my darling husband can’t seem to manage.

In my mind, my parents didn’t swear around me when I was little and I certainly don’t want Oliver shouting ‘oh shit I’ve dropped my paintbrush’ in daycare any time soon. So, where as I will curb my tongue when Oliver is around, Paul can’t quite seem to do the same. And boy does it drive me mad.

Don’t get me wrong, my husband is a very polite, respectable guy and on balance swears a lot less than me, so I don’t want you thinking he’s some awful bogan with his vocab permanently in the gutter. He’s not. I’m not even talking about conscious swearing. But, if he stubs his toe, drops something in the kitchen or realises he’s forgotten something important it’s ‘fuck’ this and ‘shit’ that. He says he doesn’t mean to and I genuinely believe him, but my point is – when does it stop? And how?

At this point I would like to fess up that I’m not 100% innocent. I’ll admit there have been times when I’ve dropped a swear-bomb in front of the children – like when a car nearly drove in to the side of me as I was turning off a highway or when I nearly sliced through the main artery on my wrist whilst prising homemade, frozen fishcakes from a plate (I thought they wouldn’t stick together if I left them on the plate – boy was I wrong!). 

But my slip-ups are few and far between. As for Paul, I’ve tried writing them all down so he can see how frequently it happens (yes, really), a swear jar (with the proceeds going towards my shoe fund) and this blog post was my last threat (‘If you swear five more times, I’ll write a blog post and tell the world’!). He just can’t do it.

Now I’m out of ideas. So I put it to you. Do you swear in front of your children? How can I get Paul to stop doing it? Or am I being over sensitive and should I just chill the fuck out?! 

*On another note, I was awarded another Liebster Award last week by the lovely Sandra at  Paper Sand{ra} Life. So thank you Sandra! 

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A little bit of stuff about us

I thought it was about time for an ‘us’ update. A rundown of the mundane, everyday things that make up our little family. 

Up first is the Dynamo. Oliver is now two years and seven months old. Generally speaking, we seem to be out of the really awful behaviour phase that we were blessed with a few months ago (the one that co-incided with Lila's arrival. Funny that). He can still chuck a fantastic tanty or lash out in frustration, but mostly his meltdowns are because he’s tired or hungry or both (a bit like me then!).


His imagination has fully blossomed and every game he plays fascinates me. They are so intricate and I love stepping back and listening to his little make-believe worlds unfold. He also seems to dream quite frequently and Scarface Claw (of Hairy Maclary fame) often makes an appearance.  He'll regularly say things like: ‘Scarface Claw not in my bedroom’, ‘Scarface Claw not eat my lunch’ and the other day ‘No Scarface Claw, don’t make me cough’!

This is the 'car garage' game. Those cars are the chosen ones!

Another fascination of the moment is the alphabet. He can recognise a few letters and spends a lot of time looking at his alphabet chart asking me questions like ‘where’s the K for Daddy?’ or ‘where’s the S for Lightening Mcqueen?’. Still some way to go before he knows his ABC then!  

This is the 'ABC' game - clearly I did the numbers! 

On the sleep front, he is well and truly sorted (hurrah!). Sadly though, we have waved goodbye to the glorious days of the three-hour lunchtime nap. No more sleep for Ollie in the day means a much easier toddler to put down at night and one that sleeps through until seven every morning instead of 5.30/6am. We’re adjusting to these new full days, which are actually quite liberating not being constrained to home every lunchtime.


Oh and one other thing. This kid adores his sister. Like, loves her. He just wants to kiss and cuddle her all day long. He gives her his toys, talks to her in a cute sing-song voice and tells me how much he loves her all the time. So many melt-your-heart moments happening every day, particularly when Lila beams the minute he walks in to the room or I catch the two of them having little ‘conversations’. Gorgeousness.


As for little Lila Boo. Well she’ll be six-months on Friday and is one big ball of cuteness. I’ll be sharing her beautiful birth story later this week, but in other Lila news, she’s been eating solids for a month and loves it. Her sleep could be better. Last night was a nightmare, although she does have her first proper cold. She’s often unpredictable in the early evening and can go from sleeping through (10-7am without a feed) a few nights in a row to waking three times a night. We’re going with the flow, knowing hoping one day it will get better.


There are other little milestones – she weighs a whopping almost-9kg, is sitting, properly rolling, had her first swing, uses a high chair and sits in a forward-facing car seat. Boring to some, for me these all represent her migrating out of the early baby phase and into the heading-towards-one phase, which is quite unbelieveable. Slow down time, please. 



And me and Paul? We’re good. Tracking along as usual, just about finding time for each other in all the small-child madness. There have been the odd hen do and bucks weekend thrown in to spice things up a little, but mostly we’re happy revelling in life as a family of four.

Personally, I’m finding it tricky to dedicate time to my writing each week. There are reasons, I won’t go in to them right now, but my headspace is really quite full. I’m trying to be disciplined to write something each week and I did manage to finish my Feb story – by the skin of my teeth (thank you leap year!).

I could go on. There’s always more isn’t there? These bits and pieces of life. It’s nice to write them down here. A record of how things are for us right now.

And how is life for you right now? Are your children keeping you entertained? Go on, share your tales of the day-to-day… 
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