Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Currently... May

Reading:

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker. This is an unsolved crime (duh!) of five women who went missing from 2007-2012 and whose bodies were discovered in Long Island. All five worked as escorts who advertised on Craigslist, so there is some discussion around the police not acting fast enough (or at all) when they were reported missing due to their line of work. That angle is interesting, however I must say this isn't the best book I've ever read. The first part takes a look at each of the five girl's life growing up, and then again about their lives as escorts. I found it difficult to keep track of the girls as the author uses their real name in the beginning, and their fake escort name later on. There are also a lot of other characters introduced that go along with each girl and it all got a bit confusing. I found a helpful list of everyone mentioned at the back of the book when I was nearly finished that I wish I had discovered sooner. Anyway, I don't recommend this one.

Watching:

Game of Thrones is getting goooooood. As is House of Cards, I'm nearly finished Season 3. We watched the movie The Big Short which is about the housing crisis and collapse of the American economy in the mid-2000s. The movie is not a documentary but is quite factual and follows four people who predicted the collapse but no one believed them. I really enjoyed watching it as it gave me a better overall understanding of what happened at that time, however it is completely outrageous that there has been no real consequence to the banks that contributed to millions of people losing their homes and the Global Financial Crisis.

Listening To:

Well, I finally started using Spotify. Yes, I know, welcome to 2008. I'm not listening to anything in particular at the moment though, everyday I just pick a new popular playlist to follow from the homepage. I need some recommendations of new music.

Cooking:

Nothing! Except this cacao and tahini porridge which was pretty delicious. Chocolate for breakfast can't ever be a bad thing. Other than that my cooking skills have been pretty basic this month. 

Looking Forward to:

Three weeks until England - Andy's best friend's wedding, seeing both sets of grandparents, and Ella's first birthday!

Loving:

My yoga practice - I can't get enough at the moment. I wish I had felt this before having a baby, when I could have gone to the studio everyday if I wanted to! But now I do cherish my three weekly classes more - it's my "me time" that I hate missing for any reason. 

Also - Ella is starting to give us hugs. It is soooooo amazing. I love it. I wish she could just hug me all day!

Hating:

Our freezing cold house. The nights are getting cold here and so it is quite chilly in the house in the morning - the heaters are being used more and more frequently. Gearing up for another winter of huge electricity bills!

Wearing:

My Uggs around the house to keep my feet warm - see above.

Enjoying:

Playdates now that Ella is a bit older. We love meeting up with friends at the park or for a walk along the river. Ella seems pretty good around other babies and is also happy to play without me right by her side. I think I have daycare to thank for that.

Needing:

A cleaner. The house is a mess. When will Ella be old enough for chores?

Wanting:

A new iPhone. Mine sadly died when I threw my water bottle in my bag... the top was loose and it leaked all over everything, including my phone. I'm very sad. My friend Adam has generously lent me his old phone and I am working on how to get a new one for the least possible cost... using our credit card points seems like it will be the best option. Andy thinks he should get the new phone and I should just get his old one as I am so careless... but I'm not sure I agree with his logic.

Considering:

What we can do to make our flights to London as smooth as possible. I am not looking forward to this AT ALL. I think it is going to be a lot harder than when she was younger. I'm thinking she will need a few new toys and lots of sanitising wipes as no doubt she will be crawling all over the place and trying to put everything in her mouth as she goes. We are flying with Etihad who have an "onboard nanny" to help with children so hopefully that helps.

Working On:

Happy to say I can scratch driving off this list! I've done a lot of driving this month as Andy had to go away for school camp and a conference so I've been single parenting a bit. And I'm happy to report that I am pretty comfortable now driving on the left side of the road, woohoo! (Still not a fan of parallel parking though...)

I've started a 6-week online course called Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance by Monash University. I've completed week 1 and it's pretty interesting, looking at the science and research behind mindfulness, along with practical tips for being more mindful in everyday life.

Grateful For:

Friends that have watched Ella for me when I've had to attend random meeting this month. In the absence of family it is nice to know there are some people to call on here that I trust with Ella. 

Pic of the Month:

This picture was taken by Andy at Sk. Kilda beach, after Wanderlust. It was a beautiful autumn day and I was so happy walking along the sea in the sunshine with my family.



Saturday, 28 May 2016

She's on the move!

At 10.5 months, our little Ella finally learned to crawl! I say finally because she has been frustrated at not being able to move for what seems like forever. Up until this point she was rocking back and forth a lot and doing a lot of faceplanting. A frustrated Ella is not always the most fun to be around!

She took her first tentative "crawls" about two weeks ago and now there is no stopping her. She is so much happier now that she can get to the toys and places she wants, whenever she wants. This will of course come with some new challenges for Andy and I, but for now she seems to be a very purposeful crawler, in that she only moves to get something and not just for the sake of moving. She's also not very fast so she can't escape us, yet!



With this new major skill development I thought it timely for a new "Ella update", she is now nearly 11 months old.

Ella loves:
  • Crawling. Obviously.
  • Eating. Anything and everything. Mostly she wants whatever we are eating. She likes putting food in her mouth herself, but she still doesn't mind being spoon fed which is helpful. And she is a lot less messy than she used to be.
  • Balls. She giggles with delight anytime she sees one, and she seeks them out when looking through her basket of toys. She's actually pretty good at rolling a ball back and forth with us. I think she inherited her dad's hand-eye coordination!
  • Dogs and other animals. She is super excited whenever she sees a dog and loves when they lick her hand. 
  • Swimming lessons. She is so engaged in these, I wish we could take her swimming every day.
  • Sleeping through the night! Whoop! Maybe this is more of a "Mommy and Daddy love" item, but she must love it. Who doesn't love a good nights sleep?
  • Playing peek-a-boo, although this is much more effective than when you hide behind a door or something and then pop out, rather than the usual hiding behind hands. I'm thinking she is much too clever to be tricked by just hiding behind hands. 
  • Talking to her grandparents on FaceTime. She recognises the ring sound now and gives them a big smile when they pop up on screen. I am really curious to see if she will recognise them in person when we see them in June.
  • Playing at the park. She loves the swings and going on the slide and watching the other children. 
  • Going for walks. She can handle a very long walk in her pram as she is busy taking in her surroundings. 
  • Seeing her daddy come home from work. He gets the biggest smile on the days I am home with her when he walks in the door. He shouts out "Hello!" and she instantly gets excited. 
  • Other people's houses - especially ones with toys. So much more fun to explore than our house. 
  • Music videos. Especially Pharell's "Happy".
Ella does not love:
  • Waiting for food. God help the person who puts her in her high chair before her food is ready. A trick from a fellow mummy friend of mine is to put some peas on her tray to play with while food is being prepared. She loves squishing them and a few even end up in her mouth, so a double win. She has also developed a very high pitched scream when her food doesn't come fast enough that we are not quite sure how to deal with. I am desperately hoping this phase passes before our flights to the UK next month.
  • When I sneeze. It seems to terrify her and she cries whenever I sneeze. 
  • Some of our friends. Lately she will burst into tears if a friend comes over. Even ones she sees often. It is random, we can't figure out why as she doesn't always do it with the same people. She becomes very clingy and snuggles up to me or Andy for a while before she gets used to the new person. I'm not going to lie, I kind of love the snuggles.


Things Ella does:
  • Did I mention she can crawl now?
  • Claps
  • Waves - this is pretty hit or miss. She doesn't wave on demand yet.
  • Passes you things when you ask. This is so cute. And she loves when you give it back.
Things We've Learned:
  • Not to worry about her eating so much. It has sorted itself out and some days she eats more than others, but that is ok. 
  • During the height of a cold, don't expect to get a good nights sleep.
  • Staying at home all day is BORING and will result in a whingy baby. Getting out, ANYWHERE, is a much better plan.
  • Folded laundry is a good toy. Actually anything that is not really a toy is better than what you can buy at Babies R Us.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Wanderlust 108

I did a triathlon last weekend! Well, not your typical triathlon. Wanderlust 108 is a mindful triathlon, advertised as "a field day for your mind, body and soul". Instead of the gruelling swim/bike/run of a traditional tri, Wanderlust is a 5K walk/run, 75 minutes of yoga, and a 30 minute guided meditation. When I heard about it I thought it was exactly up my street and my friend April agreed. I'm so glad we did, it was one of the best events I've participated in in a long time!


The event was held in Catani Gardens in St. Kilda. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, clear blue skies and 21 degrees... pretty good for Melbourne in May! Upon arriving at 9:30am I already felt that this was going to be completely different to any other event (run or triathlon) I've participated in in the past. First of all, this was a much more humane time to start an event (I can remember having to wake up at 4:30am for my first ever triathlon in England) and there was no stress at all getting everything in place for in time to start the run. Also, very importantly, the toilet queue didn't ever seem that long, and the toilets stayed clean ALL DAY which is much more than I can say for the state of toilets by the end of a running event!

Wanderlust, Catani Gardens
The 5K started at about 10am, and it was a very casual affair. No timers or kilometre markers here and absolutely zero competitiveness. There were lots of people with prams and young children and I kind of wished I had talked Andy into coming along, as this was totally something Ella could have been a part of too. Something to keep in mind for next year! My only criticism of the whole event was that the run/walk route was an out and back along Beach Road, but there were no road closures or anything so it was a bit crowded. But that is a very minor complaint.

April and me, about to start the run
Beautiful view of the bay for the run
Once we had finished the run we had time to check out the food stalls before the yoga class at 12pm. There were plenty of healthy options but of course April and I went for something a little more... delicious. These little Danish doughnut balls from Jamm'd with toppings like cookies and cream, and salted caramel, were delicious! We then went of the hunt for coffee but at first could only find a sample of a Turmeric Latte, which seems to be the health craze de jour. I liked it, it is a warm, spicy drink, but April wasn't a fan, and to be honest we both wanted a little caffeine. Thankfully there was a TOMS shoe stall (love!) with a coffee cart so we were saved. During this time there were Acro Yoga classes, slacklining and other things on offer but April and I registered too late for the event to get into any of them. There was a giant massage circle as well, which we did not participate in, but actually looked pretty cool.

Mmmmm doughnuts!
Yoga started at 12pm and was led by Michael James Wong and The Boys of Yoga, whose aim is to get more men involved in yoga. The yoga practice was both fun and challenging, and set to some pretty cool tunes. I definitely love yoga that is set to fun music, rather than the traditional music that most people would associate with yoga. Luckily the teachers at the studio I currently practice at, Kindred Movement, always have amazing playlists for our sessions. 


After yoga we were led into a 30 minute guided meditation by Jonni Pollard of 1 Giant Mind. I'm not sure what to say about this except that I was absolutely blown away by how powerful this was. I was left feeling not just clear-headed and relaxed, but ridiculously happy and grateful for both the day and my beautiful life. I also felt inspired to do something more for... who or what I'm not sure just yet... but just convinced that as I am so blessed in my life I should be doing something to give back. I also feel, more than ever, that it is my responsibility to help Ella become a kind and compassionate human, and that she will only be this if she sees the same traits in Andy and myself. I hope that we can raise her to be this way, and that this feeling does not wear off!

Andy and Ella met up with us and a few other friends after the event and we enjoyed lunch and a play in the park before heading home. It was a perfect day, and could only have been better if Andy and Ella had been there with me. 


Thursday, 5 May 2016

Currently... April

A few days late with this as it is already May... such is the life of a working mum!

Reading:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Young adult fiction, which is a genre I'm not ashamed to say that I love. Enjoyed this book, very easy reading with a twist at the end that made me want to go back and reread it for clues to the twist. 

Watching:

The Americans Season 2 and House of Cards Season 2. Both great series. I'm practicing "mindful TV watching" where I can only watch television that I find completely engaging and I'm not allowed to be playing on my phone at the same time. So if I have an urge to look at my phone then it is probably not worth watching. 

Oh and of course Game of Thrones Season 6. We've only seen episode 1 so far, and I won't say anything except it seemed really short - which again means it must have kept me engaged! In preparation we watched this recap of Seasons 1-5, which succinctly and humorously explains all the major storylines in under 10 minutes which was pretty impressive.

Listening to:

Death, Sex & Money - a new podcast I've stumbled upon (recommended on another blog) that is about "the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation."

The Hamish & Andy podcast. Pretty late to Hamish & Andy, who are a famous comedy duo/radio presenters here in Australia. They do "The Drive Home" radio show on FOX FM, and so every weekday a new podcast comes out with the highlights from the day before. The podcast is pretty hilarious and so you will frequently see me walking with Ella down the Yarra River giggling to myself while I listen to it.

Cooking:

As mentioned in previous posts, dinners are mostly our Hello Fresh meals, but I've done a bit of baking and cooking of breakfasts on my non-work days this month. A few highlights:
Carrot Cake Porridge from Apples Under my Bed. How good is it when you manage to get a portion of veggies into your breakfast? And it actually tastes like dessert? Pretty good.
Pumpkin Quinoa Chocolate Chip muffins from Once a Month Meals. Part healthy, part indulgent, very yummy. An old favourite of ours. I made a few without chocolate chips for Ella and she is not a fan though. Maybe she has realised I've withheld the best bits? Oh well, your loss Ella, more for mummy and daddy!
Chocolate Nut Butter Cups from Apples Under my Bed. Oh. My. God. These are amazing. A full batch lasted about two days in our house. Not super healthy but much better than buying Reece's peanut butter cups, and they taste better too. I used 70% dark chocolate and all peanut butter (as opposed to half almond butter, which is SO expensive).
Soft & Chewy Baked Granola bars from Oh She Glows. Made these as we've got into a bad habit of buying store bought granola bars, which are SO bad for you and I don't even really like them. But not a fan of these ones unfortunately. A shame as I had to use a lot of medjool dates and chia seeds which are not cheap ingredients. Forcing myself to eat them as they are relatively healthy and do fill me up. But I won't make them again.

Obsessing Over:

Work-life balance. At the end of last term I was so exhausted and that was only working two days a week. I was feeling very overwhelmed at the thought of going back to work full-time in July, which is what my contract says at the moment. So over the holidays Andy and I decided that it would be best for our family if I stayed part-time for the rest of the year, going up to three days a week in July. I had a chat with my boss about it last week and he has agreed to this deal, which is a huge relief. I just couldn't bear the thought of sending Ella to daycare five days a week, ten hours a day, when she is only one year old.  

Looking forward to:

Restaurant Club! Last year I attempted to start a book club with some of my friends. It started out well but after a few months it sort of died off. I've revamped it to make it more of a Restaurant Club with an optional book recommendation. Our first meeting is at the end of this month and I think the first restaurant we've decided on is Supernormal in the CBD. Will report back next month. 

Also, our trip to England in 6 weeks! Yay!

(Not looking forward to: 24 hours in transit with a one-year-old. Something tells me this time might be a bit more challenging than when she was younger.)

Loving:

My new bike. I bought a Toyko Bisou this month so I could ride to school and use it to run errands. I absolutely love it. It is very different to my other bikes, which were much more functional in design. (Yes, I actually had two other bikes, a hybrid and a road bike. I sold them both on gumtree to pay for this new bike). I wanted a somewhat pretty bike, that wasn't too girly, and would also be easy enough to ride up some hills which I have on my commute to work. I wasn't sure this type of bike existed until I came across Tokyo Bikes. The Bisou is EXACTLY what I had been looking for. I've been riding my bike to work every day since the school holidays ended and I'm so happy with it.



This response to an article in the New York Post about ME-ternity. ME-ternity is an argument put forward by Meghann Foye that women that don't have children should get paid time off, basically all the perks of maternity leave without actually having kids. She claims that women who choose not to have children should get the same time off and "space for reflection" that women get when they go on maternity leave. Haha, what a comedian she is. I would somewhat agree that being on maternity leave has made me reflect on what is important in life, but that has come about BECAUSE of the tiny little human I am now responsible for. Also, any lovely "me time" only really happens once you get through the first six months or so (if you're lucky, and only if you have one child), and by then any actual pay has run out. Anyway someone has written a hilarious response with "rules" for ME-ternity that would make it equivalent to maternity leave. My favourite rule is this one:

You must rub sandpaper over your nipples until they are red and bleeding. Once this is achieved, you are required to tug on them 15,000 times a day. You may opt out of this but you are required to feel like a terrible person.

Hating:

Roads without cycle lanes. My last 2km to work is down busy Heidleberg Road which has a token bike symbol painted on the left side of the left lane, but no actual bike lane on most of it. It's not much fun, especially when trucks and buses whizz by you. And there is no alternative back route, trust me, I've looked.

City planning that does not take into account improved cycle and pedestrian conditions, and/or improved public transport, just does not make sense to me. It's 2016, the environmental impact of humans is well known and documented... we are ruining the world people! The least governments can do is encourage people to drive less. It benefits not only the environment but also the general health of the population, putting less stress on health services. Surely it's a no brainer? Oh, but we will always have those people who complain that cyclists don't obey traffic laws so we shouldn't be catering to them. Sure, some don't. Just like some drivers don't obey traffic laws. And I do agree, this is wrong, and puts everyone in danger. However, while I don't condone cyclists breaking the law, I do think that most times when they do, it is because they feel unsafe in the conditions they are riding in. So maybe if we had safer conditions, such as more separated bike lanes, then cyclists wouldn't feel they have to break the law to be safe. 

Anyway. I hate driver/cyclist angst basically. Can't we just all get along?

Wearing:

Winter work clothes... booooo. I had to put on tights for the first time this week.

Enjoying:

The prolonged summer weather we've had throughout April this year (which is over now that I've finally got around to publishing this post). It's been so great for walks and trips to the park with Ella. 

Needing:

Nothing really. Life is pretty good.

Wanting:

A baby bike seat for Ella. This one is my favourite of the ones I have researched. I saw a mum and her baby riding around our neighbourhood with it and immediately went home and googled the brand. It's much more stylish looking that any other seat I've seen. I think it will be Ella's present for her first birthday.

A Mountain Buggy Nano. It's a pram that folds up small enough that you can take it as carry-on luggage on a plane. One part of me feels like this will be a good investment and well used for all our travelling needs, even when we go on car trips within Australia. The other part of me feels like owning three prams is slightly excessive. Which part will win? Stay tuned...

Missing:

As usual, my family. I miss having constant grandparents around for Ella. FaceTime is good, but not the same as actual physical contact.

Considering:

A Californian Christmas - spent with my family (my brother lives there with his girlfriend).

I'm lying, I'm not "considering" this. It's been considered, and we are going. Just need to consider how we will pay for the plane tickets now... I keep trying to get Andy to be an Uber driver for some extra cash, but for some reason he's not game. 

Working On:

Still driving. Haven't got that far since I pledged to drive once a week last month. I need to drive a few days this month when Andy goes on school camp and a work conference and I'm in charge of the daycare drop offs in the morning. Eek, I'm nervous! 

Grateful for:

Supportive work colleagues. If I have to go to work and leave my baby girl, at least I am going to a place where I like the people I work with!

Pic of the Month:


This is not the best shot, but to me it sums up the joyfulness that is Ella right now. I love seeing her expression when she is happy and experiencing something new. Seeing her face light up like that gives me a feeling like nothing I've ever felt before. She is wonderful.