Monday, 30 April 2012

Made it


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So here I am. In England. Writing my very first British blog post from my very British new home. I have so much to tell you all. So much has happened in this one short week since we left (has it really been one whole week?!).

Days have passed in a blur of jetlag, rain (oh so much rain!) and excitement at finally being here.

The flight was fine. Good even. Our two littlies behaved beautifully. Oliver either watched movies (TV with no limits – he was in heaven!), slept (I never want to travel cattle class again, thanks) or played with the numerous presents I wrapped up for him and popped in his Trunki. Lila just charmed the pants off everyone around her.  Even Paul and I managed a fair amount of sleep and didn’t feel too shabby by the end of it all.

Then we arrived. And it was grey and cold and drizzly and busy. And exactly how you imagine England to be when you’re hanging out at the beach on a beautiful day in Sydney. But then there were the Grandparents running towards us and they made it so right.

And it’s felt so right ever since. Despite the rain and the extreme tiredness (two children awake from 1.30am until 7am for two nights in a row was a killer), it feels exactly as I hoped. Like we’ve arrived back home.

The house we had only seen on the internet is lovely, seeing the cousins playing together was beautiful and watching Oliver’s face light up around his beloved Grandparents is what this is all about.

I can’t wait to tell you more tales from this new life of ours. I hope you’ll bear with me. We’re still without mobiles and bank-cards, still sorting out cars and parking permits and slowly getting round to contacting old friends and family. We’re getting there though. And we're here and loving it. And it’s all just so exciting.

Until next time… how have you all been? I hope you’re all having a good week. x

Sunday, 22 April 2012

So long, farewell...

This is it Australia. Our final goodbye. Although as Peter Pan once said 'never say goodbye, because saying goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting'. And I will certainly never forget our time here. Every single one of our seven years in this beautiful country have been amazing and Australia will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Until now, we've been busy packing a lot of these (although ours aren't quite so cute!):


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Later today we will be getting on one of these:

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And soon we will be back here:

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I hope to see you all on the other side.

With love from Sydney, for one last time,
Anna x

Friday, 20 April 2012

Stolen Words

Image credit

I’m not very good at packing. I start out well, but before I know it I’ve got my head in a box of forgotten trinkets or have lost an hour reading old birthday cards and letters.

On a recent organising mission such as this, I wasted a good few hours leafing through old poetry books from my degree (I studied English Literature many moons ago) and came across a poem that I wanted to share.

It’s a poem by Anonymous (I always wonder how the name of the author goes missing like that? Sad really.) and although most of it seems like plain old common sense, I thought it was a nice little reminder of how sensitive children can be to their surroundings. Lucky for our children, they live daily with encouragement, praise and security, but it saddens me to think of those that don’t.

Children

If children live with criticism
they learn to condemn

If children live with hostility
they learn to fight

If children live with ridicule
they learn to be shy

If children live with shame
they learn to feel guilty

If children live with tolerance
they learn to be patient

If children live with encouragement
they learn confidence

If children live with praise
they learn to appreciate

If children live with fairness
they learn justice

If children live with security
they learn to have faith

If children live with approval
they learn to like themselves

If children live with acceptance and friendship
they learn to find love in the world.

Do you agree with the words of Anonymous? Are you a naughty packer like me? 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Baking on a food-buying ban

So we had this farewell party on the weekend.

In all the moving madness I didn’t want it to be a hugely elaborate affair, so we opted for a casual afternoon in the park with a few nibbles and drinks.

Food-wise it was pretty easy and we didn’t go overboard. However, I’m on a self-imposed mission to use up as much food from the pantry before we leave (mental note: there is no need for multiple packets of rice, lentils, pasta, quinoa, LSA and polenta). So I took the opportunity to finish off some bits and pieces by baking two of the easiest recipes around.

These are kid-friendly, super-speedy and have cleared some more space on my shelves.

Flapjacks


Oh how I love flapjacks. They remind me of baking as a girl. In fact they should probably have been on the list. Apologies for the lack of quantities in this recipe, I tend to make them up as I go. 

What you need.

: Oats
: Butter
: Golden Syrup (or honey)
: Dried fruit & nuts (I used dates & apricots. Raisons and nuts are also good)


What to do.

: Melt half a block of butter in a saucepan on a low heat.
: Add oats and stir, slightly crushing the oats to bind them together.
: Once butter-coated (not too dry), squeeze in a good few dollops of Golden Syrup until the mixture is nice and gooey (yes, that is a technical baking term).
: Add any chopped, dried fruit you might have lying around and stir.
: Tip mixture into a greased baking tray or oven-dish, flatten and transfer to a pre-heated oven for approx 15 mins or until golden.
: Remove and let cool completely (it’s worth putting the whole block into the fridge for a few hours) before cutting into squares.
: Done.

Easy cheesy muffins


These are a favourite of Oliver’s - both eating and helping to bake. They make for a great snack on the go and also freeze well.

What you need.

: 1 ¼ cups self raising flour
: ½ cup milk
: 1 egg
: 60g butter, softened
: ½ cup cheese
: 75g chopped ham


What to do.

: Preheat oven to 200ºC.
: Line two 12 x 1 mini-muffin pans with foil or paper cases.
: Whisk eggs and milk in a small bowl.
: Sift flour into a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and add egg & milk mixture  and butter.
: Fold together until just combined.
: Add ham and cheese and fold through until combined.
: Spoon mixture into cases and bake for approx 15 minutes.
: See, easy.

So tell me, what are your quick & easy baking recipes? Do you hoard things in your pantry like me?! 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Whoa! {could life get any busier right now?}



Things are hotting up around here. We leave a week tomorrow. It’s pretty intense. My head is bursting and I feel like we’re on a rollercoaster that’s gathering speed, almost at the top, about to take the big plunge.

There’s some pretty good team-work going on round these parts and Paul and I are ticking things off The List daily (although I still don’t understand how little-old organised me managed to marry a man who leaves everything right. to. the. last. minute.). We’ve ebayed, facebook-flogged, sorted, cancelled, called, booked, binned and organised our lives to within an inch of their, well, lives.

We have no car and are now the proud owners of a classic Sydney No Birds (why are they called that - does anyone know?!) with a teeny tiny boot. Even the Mountain Buggy doesn’t fit. And I can’t drive an automatic to save my life – bunny hopping all the way!

I’m also having a major minor panic that we’ll be going offline as of this Friday and without phone too. Eeek. That means no internet, no Instagram, no facebook. How on earth will I cope?! Cut off from the world. Aaaargh! At least it will give me time to focus on the final home stretch without blogging distractions. Because we all know how distracting this lark can be now, don’t we?

In other news, we had a fabulous farewell party for Oliver and all of his (and our) friends on Saturday. Just lovely. It was wonderful to see all of our gorgeous children together. They’ve grown side-by-side over these past almost-three-years, so it’s really sad to think of this as being the end. Unfortunately I was having so much fun I forgot to take many photos. Apart from this one of my dear son, who always seems to be the filthiest child at any party. So proud.


Actually, Lila was pretty filthy too. 


Sunday was a mixed affair. We kicked off the day with an early photo session with the talented Janine (more on that to come) at one of our favourite Sydney spots. Then we went shoe shopping for Oliver, who woke up the other day with huge man feet and no shoes that fitted. His favourite new pair, as chosen by him, were such a hit he wore them all day (almost in the shower) and he took them to bed with him last night along with his faithful Buzz Lightyear and the crowd of rabbits. Bless.


The downer of the day was our poor little Lila who developed a raging temperature and vomiting bug over the course of the day and night. Such a little poppet. She looked so forlorn, it nearly broke my heart. Poor second child mixing with all those lovely toddler germs. We had a shocker of a night and multiple, worried calls to the amazing nurses on the Healthcare Direct hotline. Luckily it hasn't developed in to anything too nasty and hopefully she'll be back to this usual smiley self soon.


So here we are on Monday with yet more on The List and a day ahead of doctors appointments (for Lila Boo), sorting, cancelling, calling and organising. Wrapping up your life in one place and moving it to another sure does take some time.

How was your weekend? Does you week ahead look as hectic as mine?

Friday, 13 April 2012

A lesson learned



I had one of ‘those’ parenting moments over the Easter weekend. Let me tell you the story…

Oliver was let loose on a rather large bouncy castle at the Sydney Family Show. It was probably a little too big for his age, but he was there with his two older friends. Big boys that he really looks up to.

So there they were bouncing away and the two bigger boys scaled this climbing wall along with all the other big boisterous kids. Watching on from the bottom Ollie tried his hardest to follow. He’d put one foot up, then the next. Then he’d slip back to the bottom, whilst all the other bigger children climbed around him, jostling and knocking him as they went.

I watched on with my heart in my mouth and a lump in my throat. My instinct was to run over and give him a leg up. To help him to the top and make it ok.




Instead I had to stand there, behind the netting, watching him try and try and try. Looking on as his friends climbed up and slid down, he was desperate to scale the (pretty damn) high wall to be part of the action.

But you know what? After a several attempts, by watching the others and thanks to some gorgeous encouragement from our friend’s equally gorgeous son (‘Come on Ollie, you can do it’) - he did.

My god you should have seen that look on his face at the top. Priceless. Then he slid down and climbed back up over and over. Smiling the whole time.

And I was smiling because, despite the instinct to protect my baby like a mama Lioness, he’d got there all by himself. The lesson learned? Sometimes it’s ok to take a step back.




Now I’m not some kind of wrap-them-in-cotton-wool, helicopter parent. I’m quite happy to let Oliver explore, make mistakes and be independent. But there are times, like this one, where it’s almost too painful to watch.

It’s times like these where it's so hard to let go. But clearly it's so worth it too. I’m sure scaling that wall all by himself gave Oliver such a boost to his confidence, that next time he’s faced with something similar he won’t even bat an eyelid. I guess I won’t either.


I’m linking up with *Maxabella loves this week for 52 weeks of grateful. I’ve missed the last couple of weeks, but always enjoy reading other ‘grateful’ posts so I'm back on board once more. For me this week, I’m grateful for clarity, for a lesson learned and for my little boy who continues to help me understand how to be a better parent.

Are you feeling grateful this week? Do you find it hard to take a step back?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

These little things : part 2



I’m excited about Sunday roasts. And country pubs.

I’m excited to see cousins become friends and Grandparents dote on their Grandchildren. 

I’m excited about leafy Autumn walks in the woods. And ‘proper’ Christmasses in the cold.

I’m excited about long, light summer evenings. Although I’m sure they’ll feel like Sydney’s winter days.

I’m excited about bonfire night. And the smell of cut grass and daffodils in Spring.

I’m excited for easy weekends away. Especially the ones when it’s just the two of us again.

I’m excited about frosty mornings and long hot baths after freezing cold walks. Although I wish winter wasn’t quite so long and grey.

I’m excited about M&S undies and Topshop on tap.

I’m excited about the bustle of London. And the familiarity of family homes.

I’m excited to be surrounded by history and museums and galleries. But I’m sure I’ll hate the crowds.

I’m excited to be in the same time-zone as my Mum. And for daily skype calls to become regular weekly visits. 

I’m excited to see old friends. But will be sad to think of the ones we left behind.

I’m excited to create family memories in the place that we used to call home. 
I'm just so excited that it will be our home again. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

These little things : part 1



I’ll miss the year-round smell of sunscreen.
Although I won’t miss having to put it on every time we leave the house. Even in winter.

I’ll miss the sound of cicadas in the evening.

I’ll miss wearing thongs for six months of the year. And saying thongs without sounding silly.

I’ll miss quick trips to the beach most weekends.
But I won’t miss sand in the car, in the pram, in the shower, on the floor, in my bag.

I’ll miss good coffee. And great breakfasts.

I’ll miss the big, wide, bright blue sky and the smell straight after a storm on a really humid day.

I'll miss my yoga teachers

I’ll miss the sparkle of the harbour in the sunshine. And glimpses of water from all over the city.

I’ll miss ‘how’ya going?’ and ‘can I get…’ and ‘whatevs’ and ‘heaps’.
But I won’t miss ‘lollies’.

I’ll miss seeing avocado and pumpkin on the menu no matter where you go or what time of day. But I won’t miss saying ‘eggplant’, ‘capsicum’ and ‘zucchini’.

I’ll miss watching Bella chase lizards and pointing out kookaburras to Oliver.

I’ll miss bumping in to friends at the swimming pool, or in the park. And knowing our neighbours and saying hello to the local barrista at the café on the corner.

I’ll miss calling Sydney my home.
Although I’m so thankful I did for seven years. 

Sunday, 8 April 2012

I have a confession…

Until fairly recently I didn’t like Dr Seuss books.

I can hear the collective gasp from here. Shocker, I know. Especially for a kid-lit lover like me.

I can’t exactly put my finger on what it was that made me not enjoy them. Perhaps the slightly convoluted rhyming text, the semi-boring pictures or how the stories never really seemed to hold Ollie’s attention for long enough.

What’s worse, I also knew I should like them – everyone else did, so why didn’t I?! What was I missing?


Sure I think Oh The Places You’ll Go is lovely - for an adult. And yes, I agree that I Can Read with my Eyes Shut has an important tale to tell. A love of reading is essential, after all. But I still didn't really get it.

Then we found the Lorax. And The Lorax has finally opened my eyes to the magic of Seuss.

Night after night over the past couple of months we’ve been reading about the funny little, furry moustached man and his tale of the poor old Truffula trees. The pictures are still the same Seuss style, but Ollie loves them, the text is still slightly (I think) convoluted, but it’s captivating, and despite the length, we read it to the end.


And that is why, on Saturday, Ollie and I had a little date to see The Lorax in all its full, animated glory at the cinema. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was brilliant! I loved every minute, as did he.

Oliver sat there like a big bundle of cute, eating his popcorn, smiling at the funny bits, asking questions all the way through and shouting ‘Mummy where’s the Lorax gone?’ every time the furry orange dude went off screen. Which was a lot. He also cried when it ended. 

If you haven’t seen it yet, I would highly recommend going if you have kids (or don’t) and like that sort of thing. Unlike some of the ‘children’s’ animated films around that are clearly aimed at adults, this was pure fluffy, fun entertainment, complete with catchy songs and big FGF (that’s feel good factor to you). The environmental moral of the story also wasn’t lost on my almost-three-year-old. He came bounding in and announced to Paul that ‘all the trees were gone’ – so it’s opened up discussions in this house about being kind to the environment and such like.

You know what else? It also meant Oliver and I had some precious one-on-one time together. And he was in such a lovely mood that we even managed a stress-free, day-before-Easter food-shopping trip afterwards. Bingo.

I think we might try a few more Dr Seuss books now we’re on a roll. Do you have any favourites you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you if so. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

Seven




Happy Easter everyone. I hope you're all having a wonderful long weekend so far? I was planning to keep things fairly quiet on the blog-front this weekend, but thought I would stop-in and make a quick public service announcement. Our leading lady turns seven months today. Seven months! 


And because I never get bored of looking at pictures of my baby girl (so clearly you shouldn't either, right?!), here are a few of Lady Lila in all her seven month glory. 

May the Easter Bunny bring you all the chocolate you wish for on Sunday. 
Ax










Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Yet another Easter hat...

We had our first foray in to the world of Easter hats yesterday. And despite some initial misgivings (do we really have to make one? would Ollie actually participate or start smearing glue on the walls? would it look crap? etc etc…), it was fun. And Ollie loved it. So much so that our big activity of the day was done and dusted by 9.30am! 

Earlier in the week I went to Hot Dollar and picked out a variety of Easter themed paraphernalia. You know, chicks, stickers, fake grass, bunny rabbit egg things and the main event, a blue top-hat for $2. Add to that some bits and bobs from our craft box at home and we had ourselves a pretty good hat making stash.


Sadly, in Oliver’s excitement he ripped half the brim off the $2 hat so I spent the first part of our craft morning gaffa-taping it back together. Not the best start. Especially when you’re starting with something that looks like this:


Now, after a conversation with a friend over coffee in the week, we decided that seeing as our boys are still in the twos it would be acceptable to go with the child-led, rather than parent-led hat variety. This meant that pretty early on I realised the whole ‘pipe-cleaner nest with grass and baby chicks nestled around the brim’ had gone out of the window.  Instead, this is what we did...

Oliver got happy with the Easter stickers, while I cut him some flowers (well, splodges really) and wavy shapes out of a picture he painted the other day that just so happened to be in Easter colours. Good foresight there Ollie!


Then he stuck the flowers and some egg-esq foam shapes all over the hat.


To make it look half decent, we used the wavy shapes to create a band around the base of the hat. He glued, I stuck. I also stuck a strip of his painting at the front and back of the hat to hide the tape. In case you were wondering, we are not tidy crafters.


Next came the chicks. Ollie, for some reason, decided to rip their legs off, which actually made sticking them a whole lot easier.


Then I was planning to put these little foam rabbit egg things on the brim to hide the last of the gaffa-tape. Instead Oliver adpopted all three and spent the day referring to them as his ‘crowd of rabbits’. This crowd of rabbits had a wild time – car rides, lasagne for dinner, a spot of Fireman Sam, they even slept in his bed last night.

In place of the crowd of rabbits, I had the ingenious idea to stick a ruffle that had come loose from one of our cushions the other day. The perfect bow. And no sliver tape in sight.

So, there you have it – our very first Easter hat, worthy of any Easter hat parade.


Oh – and if you’re wondering why I don’t have a beaming photo of Ollie in his new hat, this is generally what happens when I ask to take his picture:


So tell me, how has the Easter hat making gone in your house this year? 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The skin diaries

I’ve talked about my skin before. It’s kind of annoying. As a kid I was prone to eczema and as an adult it’s still quite sensitive. I have to be careful about the products I use and try to eat healthily to maintain balance.  

Unfortunately it looks like I’ve passed my kind-of-annoying skin on to my darling boy. Yep, Oliver landed Paul’s baby blues and my manky skin!



As a baby, Ollie would get little red blotchy patches around his creasy bits and particularly on his neck. As he got older small rashes appeared on the backs of his arms and legs. They would go away and come back again with a vengeance.

We tried various tactics – no bubbles in the bath, no perfumed products, organic washing powder, various creams and lotions and potions. We also talked to the Doctor about possible allergies and tried limiting certain food groups in turn. Nothing worked. It would calm down and flare up consistently with no obvious cause.

Then it moved to his face. For months we battled with a persistent red rash around his lips and chin. Until enough was enough.

As a firm believer in natural therapies, I took Ollie to see an amazing naturopath who developed a dietary and supplement program. Seriously, Tabitha was amazing. Within a matter of days his skin had cleared up. And that gorgeous milky baby skin was back. Hurrah!

Today we still have the odd flare-up, but we have rules that we stick to. As a mother I know first hand how frustrating it can be trying to deal with sensitive skin issues, so I wanted to share my learnings with you today. I’m not suggesting this is the magic cure for all skin ailments, but they might be good food for thought. I hope they are. So...

: We steer clear of strawberries, citrus and sadly (for Ollie), mango.

: We limit food colourings and additives as much as possible – I’m strict with this 90% of the time, but also believe food should be enjoyed so if Oliver eats bright red and blue birthday cake at a party, we’ll deal with the consequences later.

: We increase iron rich foods in his diet and limit fruit intake (no, it’s not all good for you) to three serves per day, including dried fruits. 

: We've switched as many of Oliver's dairy products over to a2 varieties, which are missing a particular protein (beta-casein) that most of us find hard to digest. In general I also try to limit dairy where possible - although Ollie is a total cheese fiend!*


: The naturopath recommended using Weleda nappy cream as a barrier cream on dry / red patches of skin.

: I also use Lucas Paw Paw ointment and a small amount of Burt’s Bees Baby Bee** shampoo and body wash.

: But I don’t allow bubble baths, so Oliver isn’t sat in the product for too long.

: If we see a flare-up emerging we go straight back to using his daily supplements – a pro-biotic, fish oil and vitamin D drops. All of these we buy direct from the naturopath to ensure the ‘actives’ are high and of good quality.

And that’s pretty much it. 

There is one area we’re still struggling with - cradle cap. Having never had it as a baby, Oliver is now suffering and all I want to do is pick at his head like a mama Gorilla. So I ask you dear readers - if anyone has any tips, please share.

We’re still learning what does and doesn’t work for our little man. I’m hoping that, like me, his skin becomes less sensitive with age. Until then, I think we’ve got his back.

Do you have a sensitive soul in your household? I’d love to hear your tips if so. 

* I forgot to mention the point about dairy in the original post, so have updated now for a more accurate overview.
** disclaimer - Burt's Bees is a client of the agency I work for, however I personally choose to use their products on my children, hence the above recommendation.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Bubble went pop (a video post)

I threw in the towel last night. It was delicious. After a weekend of catching up with gorgeous friends, lovely dinners in great restaurants and sorting, sorting and more sorting, it was much needed. We had a family dinner at 5.30, put the kids to bed early (thank you daylight saving) and then I sat on the sofa and watched this:


And read this:


And took this photo for #photoadayApril 'reflection' (yes I'm still going!): 


And it was lovely. And just what I needed. And could I use ‘and’ anymore in such a few short sentences?

Anyway… while I was doing those things I was also social media multi-tasking, as you do, and found an old video on my phone I wanted to share.

I know generally other people’s kids aren’t all that funny. But this is, right? Just watching it over again made me laugh out loud. I love that kids can do that to you. This was one of those special moments, off the cuff, out of nowhere and I’m so glad I caught it on camera (albeit a not-so-great-quality iPhone one!).*


Bubble went pop from Anna Coates on Vimeo.



Happy Monday folks. I hope this first week of April brings you everything you want and more.

Ax

What did you get up to last night? 

*this is my first time uploading a video to Blogger, so I hope it works! Please let me know if it doesn't or if I should be using a different video platform.
**I just swapped the video over to a vimeo format - think it's working better already! Just call me Mrs Tech-head.
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