Thursday, July 24, 2014

K is for Keeping it Real

There are a lot of comparisons to be made when you have children, especially when you start to compare the specifics. I sometimes think that mamas are our own worst enemies with this. We like to talk about our children, and inevitably the talk often turns to whose baby is doing what and when (read more about why I threw development milestones out the window here). Sure, some babies sleep like little angels right from the beginning. Some get into a great routine first thing. Some slot right into your life easily. Some toilet train like a dream. And then, some don't. No two babies are going to be exactly the same, just the way that no two adults are going to be the same.

Sure, Ellie is generally a great child, but she's definitely not great all the time. I had some friends around for afternoon tea a few weeks ago, and they were there when Ellie woke from her midday nap. She was in a clingy, screaming, totally age appropriate mood… and they had never seen her like that. They commented that she was usually so good and all I can say is that, yes, it takes a lot of effort to help her appear that way. If I know we are going somewhere, I can prepare as much as possible. I can try to align sleep times, make sure she is fed, changed and has plenty of snacks and entertainment packed for distractions. The public, prepared Ellie is very different from the everyday at home Ellie. And that's ok, but it was just a shock to people who hadn't seen her that way.
 

And that is exactly what I'm talking about. I think that as parents, we need to keep it real and support each other. Absolutely, brag if your child does something marvellous, but share the daily grind stuff too. If one was to only focus on what gets posted on social media, it could make us feel a little inadequate and like we aren't doing a good job (or is that just me?!). I don't always have time to do daily craft activities, whip up gourmet treats, create intellectual stimulation, clean the house and socialise constantly while having everyone look impeccably groomed. Yes, I do go out in public with dirty hair and no makeup, wearing (shock!) a tracksuit.

The types of blogs and pages I follow are the ones that share the parenting journey warts and all. There are several reasons for this:
 
  • It makes me feel like what I'm doing is ok
  • If I'm having a bad day, it helps to feel that I'm not alone
  • I don't like to read about how everything is perfect all the time, because how will I know how to handle it when things go wrong otherwise?
The types of stories I share on my blog hopefully reflect that my life isn't perfect – and I don't want it to be! Let's normalise what having a family is like and keep it real!

Do you have a favourite blogger who manages to make you laugh and feel like you're handling things ok? I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recipe: Celery and mushroom soup

A friend recently gave me a bunch of celery, which reminded me that I'd seen a recipe for celery soup floating around and that it sounded delicious. Of course, I couldn't find that recipe again but I thought gosh, how hard could it be to wing a soup creation? So I did, and now I'm sharing it with you all.

Ingredients:

1 bunch of celery chopped, leaves removed (save those leaves to use for making stock if you're keen).
2 large onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
200g button mushrooms, sliced
6 cups of good vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Method:
  1. Start with some olive oil in your soup pot. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until fragrant. 
  2. Add the celery, potato and mushrooms and stir for another 2 minutes or so.


  3. Add the stock and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Take the soup off the heat and blend, either using a stick blender, or in batches in a regular blender. 
  5. Return to the stove for a further 5-10 minutes to allow the starch in the potato to thicken then season to taste. 
This was delicious served with a drizzle of truffle oil over the top. So yummy, and also toddler approved! Yes, thanks to the mushrooms it isn't the prettiest colour, but the taste more than makes up for it I promise.

Serves 4 generously, with leftovers.
 

 
Variations:

  • To make it extra fancy, you could add some white wine to deglaze the pot after sautéing the onion and garlic - just saute a little longer to burn off the alcohol.
  • Mr Fork actually tried this and said it was tasty, but added some dukkah to the top of his instead of the truffle oil. Hey, if the man eats vegetables it's a win!
  • Celery and apples are also a nice combination. You could sub out the mushrooms and add two green apples which have been peeled, cored and chopped for a different flavour variant.
Have you made any soup lately? Please share if you have, it's perfect for the chilly nights we've been having lately!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Moving from the cot to a big girl room

With Attila scheduled to make an appearance in the next few months (eek!), Mr Fork and I felt that it was time to transition Ellie over to a big girl room. Everything we've read indicates that you should make it a fun process and let them be involved so that they feel excited. Recommendations are that you should also do it early enough so that the toddler doesn't feel like they are being 'kicked out' or 'replaced' by a new baby. Fair enough. I'm pretty sure going from one child to two is going to be hard enough without dealing with a resentful toddler on top of it too.

Our first step was to clear out the spare room, which was to become Ellie's room. I'm sad to be losing this space, as not only does it serve as the guest room, but it is also the receptacle of all the things that don't have a proper home in our house, as well as the place where I put all the laundry to be folded. It looks like I'm going to have to be a lot more clean and organised in future! Here are some before shots. As you can see, we had a queen size bed in the room and a bookshelf with lots of things in the room before. It looks really cramped but was decent enough and comfy for a spare room.

 
The bed has been dismantled to live in Mr Fork's man cave, and we are still looking for a home for the bookcase - Mr Fork thinks we should bite the bullets and become adults. By this he means we should purchase a filing cabinet and I should stop flinging random bits of paper where ever they fit and put them in a logical order somewhere. Hmm.

Anyway, after some initial debate, we decided on a king single size bed for Ellie. Our logic was, it will last her longer as we are sure she will be tall, and it is comfortable for either Mr Fork or I to lie in with her on the occasions she wants company (very often right now). We were conservative with the bed frame but bought the best mattress in our budget because well... a good mattress is gold right?


The bed was accessorised with the softest sheets from Kmart - Ellie picked them with a little encouragement from Mr Fork (he thinks girls should have lots of pink.... sigh). At $16, they were an absolute bargain, and they're soft, warm and made from a tshirt sort of material. She has a Sheraton quilt cover which I think is really cute (Mr Fork thinks it isn't girly enough), with stripes on one side and rocket ships and stars that glow in the dark on the other - how cool is that!! I think from the picture it's really obvious I'm not one of those people who iron sheets and covers... don't judge if that's your thing.

Pink sheet, and the two sides of her quilt cover
We've moved her bookshelf into her new room, as well as an old wooden TV cabinet which she can use to store her favourite toys in - Ellie loves to open and shut cupboards and hide things away. The big pillows which are against the wall usually live in our lounge room, but during naps and at night time they get laid on the ground to guard against falls from the bed (none so far thank goodness).

I'm still looking for the ideal rug to put in her room so it's a bit more comfy to play on the ground in there.

The artwork is a print from a children's book that her grandmother gave her when she was born. It sits in a frame and used to hang over her change table, but still looks really grown up in her room.

The print close up
I love her room so far. It's bright and cheerful and not too childish nor too adult. We haven't had the smoothest transition though. Although Ellie loves that she has a big girl bed to herself and she can stand at the windows and have a view out two directions, she hasn't been well lately (thank you daycare!), so that is contributing to the changeover. Most nights she'll go to sleep happily with a story, but several hours later will wake up disoriented. Sometimes we can get her back to sleep, sometimes nothing but moving into bed and snuggling up with mama and Attila (and daddy) will do.

What does your child's bedroom look like? Any must have gadgets or features? 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What's in my kitchen, July 2014

In my kitchen is... 

Truffle infused olive oil. This was an absolute bargain buy from Aldi, at $3.99 for 200ml. I love truffles, I love olive oil, this was bound to be a hit!

Truffle oil yumminess
So far I have used it drizzled over a button and enoki mushroom risotto (Ellie and mummy approved indeed!), added to a homemade semi dried tomato and basil pizza and to jazz up some roasted pumpkin and potatoes. It has not failed me yet!

Mushroom risotto - made even better with truffle oil

In my kitchen is... 

Home grown lemons from my dad's tree (and maybe a sneaky passionfruit too!). This is half of what he gave me, and I have grand plans for this batch. I plan to make some preserved lemon, freeze some into lemon ice cubes and do some baking for Ellie. Is there anything else I should consider? Any favourite recipes?

Lemons on display in my favourite bowl

In my kitchen is... 

A tea maker from T2. I've been eyeing these devices off for awhile, and finally was convinced by their 18th birthday sale where everything was 18% off.


This nifty little device is perfect for my oversized cups and works well to brew up delicious beverages. I am still nauseous so have been experimenting with different tea combinations in case that helps. The winner at the moment is a combination of Turkish Apple together with a Lemongrass and Ginger blend. I make this one both hot and cold, and it seems to be helping out with Attila a little. Plus it keeps up my fluid intake. Apologies for the bad lighting in my night time photos.



In my kitchen is... 

Bowls of pear crumble, because well, crumble! Made for me by a friend to indulge my sweet tooth, it is delicious, and I've been stopping myself from eating huge portions of it and then trying to justify it saying the 'bump wants it'. That never ends well, so I've been restricting myself to dainty portions, best served with some raspberry coconut ice-cream.
 

In my kitchen is... 

A glass straw. In a further effort to increase my fluid intake during the colder weather, I've been carrying around a drink bottle all the time. The only issue was, it has a rather wide neck so I tended to tip it on myself often. No more with this straw! Instead of using a plastic one which doesn't break down easily I now have a lovely shiny glass one which I can just throw in the dishwasher when it gets a bit manky. I have to say, it also makes whatever I'm drinking feel just a bit posh... making me want to drink more so I can use the straw. Displayed here in a shot glass with a fabulous looking Donna Hay cake picture in the background (as an aside, photographing a glass straw is rather hard!). I bought this one online from Glass Dharma because they offered a bunch of different diameters and lengths which was helpful in making sure it would a) fit my bottle and b) suit the things I like to drink.


I haven't been eating much lately, nor have I been shopping so I feel like this is another lean IMK post... I have grand intentions to remedy this next month.

I am linking this post in with Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's monthly In My Kitchen event. Go have a peek through other kitchens around the globe!

What's in your kitchen this month?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Breastfeeding, what I've learnt so far

* Disclaimer this post is sponsored by Medela.

I've written before about my breastfeeding experience with Ellie.

I won't lie. The first time around we stopped breastfeeding way earlier than I wanted to. I wanted to be that mama who fed easily. I thought it was something that came naturally, that you just instinctively knew what to do. For me, that wasn't the case. We had a toe curling, painful and rocky start. There were latch issues and apparent supply issues. There was sore nipples and mastitis bouts. There was conflicting advice from midwives, lactation consultants and my GP. Lots of tears (both hers and mine). What with pumping, feeding, and a delicious recipe for vegan lactation cookies, we managed to keep at it for nine months, during which time I also returned to work and she also started day care.

Also, I won't sugar coat it. Some of my nicest early memories are of breastfeeding. Of gazing into her eyes, of smelling that sweet baby smell, of tiny hands patting me as she feeds. The utter contentment of those late nights when she and I seemed to be all alone in the world. I missed that when we stopped. So much more than I thought I would. There were more tears (from me this time). After I stopped feeding, I still had a decent supply of milk frozen that we'd finished off by the time she turned one. In spite of how she was fed, and the angst I gave to the whole process, Ellie has thrived. I'm grateful for all the help and (good) advice I received and I want to state that I support feeding your baby however works best for you.

My hand looks really old here
Having said that, I intend to give breastfeeding a red hot go with Attila. This time around, I'm better informed, more practiced and know where to go if I need help.

Recently, I attended a morning tea with Medela. I used their products the first time around with Ellie (hello, marvellous shields and swing breast pump!) and we've got a few bottles as well. This morning tea was fabulous. We talked about what is normal is breastfeeding. Please, if you take anything from this post know that there is no normal! There is no 'correct' set of rules and know that the breastfeeding relationship will change as your baby grows and has different nutritional needs. What works one week might need to be changed the next. Babies can have variable breastfeeding sessions, durations and speed as they grow.

The best advice I can give based on my experiences?
  • Go in with a positive attitude. Your baby can sense if you are stressed and that will stress them too.
  • Drink plenty of water. You aren't just hydrating you, you're using that water to make milk. Trust me, you will get very thirsty. Go with it. Also, eat. Even if you are too tired, eat.
  • A support network makes all the difference. Someone to encourage you when it hurts, cheer you on when it works and help out with answers to your many questions. You might have multiple support people, and that will help immensely. Don't be afraid to ask questions and find your own cheer squad.
Medela provides real solutions for breastfeeding mothers to get over any hurdles in the early days and to support their long term breastfeeding goals. Through its extensive range of breast pump products and other breastfeeding products, Medela is committed to promoting the benefits of breast milk and encouraging long term breastfeeding. For more information visitwww.medela.com.au  or say hello on www.facebook.com/medela.au

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Things not to say when someone tells you "I'm pregnant"

Today I bring you a quick little post. With the gradual release of news about Attila, I've had some absolute corkers from people in response to the announcement. I'm sure they mean it with the best of intentions, but really, there are some terrible cases of foot in mouth out there. I've surveyed some of my friends too, to hear some of the funny responses they've had to their announcement of "I'm pregnant":
  1. I've had food babies bigger than that. How far along did you say you are?
  2. What? Where is it?! I won't believe it until you show me proof. Do you have an ultrasound or something?
  3. Conversely to #1, OMG, you're huge!
  4. Wow, was it planned?
  5. How on earth will you handle another one?
  6. What terrible timing with the changes to maternity leave payments.
  7. Again? Already?!
  8. Yes, I thought your boobs were looking huge.
  9. Oh really? When will you finish work?
     
So, for future reference, there is only really one correct response if someone tells you they're expecting:

Congratulations

 
 
Have you had any odd responses when you broke the news?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Pregnancy - the glitz, the glamour... and the reality

Those prenatal books always talk up the good parts of pregnancy. The glow you supposedly get. The way your hair is supposed to be thicker and lusher. The special attention you and your bump get. Ha! The reality is, none of that happens for me! Glow? More like bad skin for nine months straight, worsening after baby is born due to sleep deprivation. Thick, lush hair? Pffft. Try, lank and stringy, falling out and leaving weird bald patches post birth. Here are some other illusions I've recently had shattered:
  • Currently I'm just about half way along with Attila. I'm bigger than usual which means that my balance is off but unfortunately, I'm not big enough to look obviously pregnant. Therefore, I do not get offered a seat on public transport and I feel weird asking for one.  I'm not too angry about it because I understand it's a fine line to draw when you're not sure if someone is really pregnant or just large. Here are some progress shots. Ignore the bathroom background please!
 
  • I'm at that awkward clothing stage where nothing fits right. I'm not yet big enough for maternity clothes but regular clothes are starting to look a bit obscene. Draping scarves and longer tops are my friends. Also, anything with an elastic waist. If I could make track pants an accepted fashion statement and suitable for work wear, I'd be doing that too! Going out and formal events are just hard!
  • The sheer discomfort of growing... assets. Not that Mr Fork is complaining, but, well, they are larger. And more painful. And maternity bras are just not flattering at all. Also, see my previous point about needing to dress the bump and assets.
  • Constantly needing to wee. Yes, it happens. I don't mind so much during the day, but now that it's colder, I definitely mind leaving my snuggly warm bed in the middle of the night due to having a walnut sized bladder. 
  • The total lack of energy. My first trimester nausea has (mostly) subsided but I'm still not at my regular levels of activity. On work days, I get home and all I want to do is shower off the day and sleep. Not really possible when I have a hungry toddler and husband who've waited patiently for me. Not to mention that there are Ellie cuddles to be had! Thank goodness for meal planning so I don't have to think too hard. And for takeaway pizza. Thank goodness for that too on the nights I'm too lazy for anything.
  • Apparently, Attila is now the size of a sweet potato and I should be feeling movement. Which I totally am! Or it might be gas (yep, that happens too). But I'm pretty sure it's movement. 
  • Heartburn. Oh the heartburn! It happens when I don't eat. When I do eat. If I don't eat enough, it feels like my stomach tries to eat itself. When I eat too much there is no room left inside for anything and I spend the next few hours metaphorically rolling around the floor (if I'm at home, sometimes I do roll around the floor and Ellie thinks it's a great game!).
  • It's a glamourous business, growing a baby, don't let anyone tell you differently! Of course, the end result is absolutely worth it. Best reason for feeling rotten and going through all that indignity indeed!

Did pregnancy shatter any myths for you? Or have you ever looked forward to something only to find the reality less than the expectations?

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...