2015 To Do List Monthly Check In – January

Early February, so how did I do in January?

  • Write a handwritten letter per week #52hellos – not keeping up, but getting by…
  • Read more books. As many as I can manage. (Recommendations welcome) – Doing really well with this one! You can watch my progress on Goodreads
  • Meditate 3 times per week for 10 minutes (Smiling mind app) – Fail! No reason but the reading is my meditation I think
  • Be a better partner – stop being mean, be more patient and kind – Getting a bit better, but not nearly enough
  • Little Things: Wear my fitbit and hit my daily 10k steps and drink at least 1.8 litres per day (3 drink bottles worth) – Yes! Nailing this one.
  • Breathe – Trying!
  • Commit to my training 3 times per week, rain, hail or shine. – Very hard. Went back to an outdoor fitness group for 2 sessions and could barely walk for over a week after cause my dodgy knees hurt so much. Back to the gym instead
  • Get my diet back under control – Back on the Michelle Bridges 12wbt program. So far, so good! 1.5kgs down
  • Lose this weight. It’s not good for me or my family if I can’t run after my girls. – Doing it!
  • Find a new job, full time in state or local government or other public sector type place (this starts in July when I finish maternity leave) – July, but I have started my seek job emails again and updated my LinkedIn
  • Spend a couple of hours each week getting organised: meals, groceries, activities, chores – Doing it
  • Be a better Mama – stop being mean, be more patient and kind – Trying. Turns out I have a bit of an anxiety problem, Traditional Chinese Medicine and a good psychologist are helping me through
  • See my good friends more regularly, make a better effort to stay in touch – Having my first dinner party in YEARS soon and I couldn’t be more thrilled
  • Spend less money – Fail. Not working = spending more money on cute baby things. Must stop.

Ok, so, 7 out of 14! I’m pretty happy with that!

How to do Christmas with a newborn: In other words, don’t!

I’ve now had two Christmases with babies of around 12 weeks old. Both experiences were stressful and truthfully, totally avoidable if I had had some tips beforehand. Simply put, don’t do it. Don’t offer to do anything, bring anything or be anywhere. However, being a time of familial gathering, and with a new baby making you a drawcard, here are some tips to manage the season and keep your head.

  1. Don’t invite anyone over
  2. If you do invite people over, use disposable plates & cutlery, and go for preprepared food/and or make everyone else bring the food, i.e. DinnerLadies
  3. If you have a small family and can afford it, go out for xmas. There are plenty of great venues that do buffet style xmas lunch. Just make sure to find out where the venue is first to avoid fights in the car/running late
    1. Book ahead, around August is when venues begin to release menus
  4. Go to someone else’s house: Bring wine (add a few dollars more to what you would normally spend to assuage the guilt you might feel for not making something (well, actually, you just made a baby, that’s enough!)
  5. If you’re up for it, go away (out of reach of family, if you can)
  6. Accept invitations, when you can, so you can leave your house, be fed and have the baby taken by others

If you have other suggestions, please let me know in the comments!

2014: A To do List – Revisited for 2015

In 2014 I wrote a “To do List” I want to revisit that list, see where I succeeded and see where I didn’t quite succeed and figure out what on my list is still relevant and required.

  • Fix the window pane in the dining room – Temporary fix completed with some wood
  • Lose 10kgs, get back on the 12wbt horse – Didn’t happen as I got pregnant
  • Find a new job, full time in state or local government or other public sector type place – on hold until end of maternity leave
  • Install ceiling lights in the bedrooms – tried, didn’t work, new solution required > 6 months on no action
  • Get flexible enough to touch my toes again by getting back into yoga at least 2 times per week – Hasn’t happened
  • Start swimming  laps again, I want to swim 100 metres freestyle by 31 December – Didn’t happen
  • Spend a couple of hours each week getting organised: meals, shopping, activities, chores <So far so good..> – This fell in a heap. Now with 2 kids it’s more important than ever
  • Get back to the gym, renew my membership – Get back into outdoor training instead of gym
  • Be a better Mama – do a parenting course < No parenting course, but seeing someone to talk about how I can improve my own behaviours so I don’t pass them on> – This is a never ending task!
  • Paint Monkey’s bedroom wall –  Not a priority. Though I’d love a blank wall to hang things
  • See my good friends more regularly, make a better effort to stay in touch – This one will never be crossed out and is an ongoing project: So far, so excellent> –  this one has fallen off a bit, but inevitable with a new baby
  • Try to spend some better quality time with Stormie, date night once every 8 weeks – Never happened. Got to work on this.
  • Try to have another baby  <Baby due this year> – Done.
  • Spend less money – Started the year brilliantly, ended badly for a number of reasons. Time to refocus.

So where to from here?

In 2015 I want to simplify things. Ditch the extraneous clutter, both in my head, in my hands and in my life. Less Facebook, more books. Less laptop, more writing with a pen and paper. So here are my goals for 2015:

  • Write a handwritten letter per week #52hellos
  • Read more books. As many as I can manage. (recommendations welcome)
  • Meditate 3 times per week for 10 minutes (smiling mind app)
  • Be a better partner – stop being mean, be more patient and kind
  • Little Things: Wear my fitbit and hit my daily 10k steps and drink at least 1.8 litres per day (3 drink bottles worth)
  • Breathe

So the items from 2014 that need to be carried over?

  • Commit to my training 3 times per week, rain, hail or shine.
  • Get my diet back under control
  • Lose this weight. It’s not good for me or my family if I can’t run after my girls.
  • Find a new job, full time in state or local government or other public sector type place (this starts in July when I finish maternity leave)
  • Spend a couple of hours each week getting organised: meals, groceries, activities, chores
  • Be a better Mama – stop being mean, be more patient and kind
  • See my good friends more regularly, make a better effort to stay in touch
  • Spend less money

So my dear friends, this is my list to keep me accountable. Each month I’m going to check in and see how I’m going, and I’ll print this and stick it on my wall where I can see it each day.

Happy New Year

Nominated

My lovely friend, Jax tagged me in a blogpost, and seeing as I haven’t written anything except work related for an age, I thought I would use it as a prompt to kickstart some writing. Here you go Jax!

  1. What was the best part of your day today?
    Cuddles with my daughter and husband in bed this morning.
  2. What/who made you start blogging?
    Documenting my food adventures! I also needed an excuse to go out ;-)
  3. Name your perfect dinner party guests, dead or alive?
    Ooh that’s a good one. Stephen Fry: his wit and humour would go down a treat. Anthony Bourdain for tales of food adventures, my mate Carm for her ability to charm anyone and her zest for life. Hmmm, to be honest, no idea who else? People who like food, wine and talking and laughing.
  4. Favourite way to spend a day off work?
    A movie! Lunch! A Mani/pedi if I’m really lucky,  all on my own. A rare treat these days
  5. Best holiday location – and why?
    Last year on our European adventure I fell in love with Barcelona. I need to go back and spend WAY more time in BCN and Spain. The food, the vibe, the beach, the history, vermut, sexy accents, you name it, Spain has it.
  6. Is organic food just a load of old nonsense?
    YES! As a marketing gimmick in supermarkets, it sure is. From genuine farmers (who are not certified but are still organic) no. From what I understand from speaking with primary producers the whole organic certification process in Aus is a bit of a scam and potentially very expensive for them and us!
  7. Cosmetic surgery – would you?
    Hmm, yes, to remove old tattoos, sure. You offering to pay?
  8. What do you look for in a blog/what motivates you to follow someone’s work?
    Honesty, don’t like gimmicks, good spelling and grammar! This is so important only because it impacts on your ability to actually read the posts easily. Engaging content: I’m reading more “mummy blogs” these days, but that’s where I’m at!  Still love food, and still love magazine style trashy sites like Jezebel
  9. You win the lottery. You spend your cash on….?
    Buying an actual house, not an apartment, a car and a holiday somewhere warm and beachy
  10. Top of your bucket list is….?
    ummmmmm….no idea. More travelling? More study?
  11. If you could swap lives for a day, who would you chose to be?
    Hmm another great question that I’ve never thought about. I think I would like to swap lives with someone who is calmer, more accepting and patient than me so I could learn how to do these things better.

2014: A To Do List

  • Fix the window pane in the dining room
  • Lose 10kgs, get back on the 12wbt horse
  • Find a new job, full time in state or local government or other public sector type place <on hold until end of maternity leave>
  • Install ceiling lights in the bedrooms <tried, didn’t work, new solution required>
  • Get flexible enough to touch my toes again by getting back into yoga at least 2 times per week
  • Start swimming  laps again, I want to swim 100 metres freestyle by 31 December
    <Not a realistic goal with the way our swimming lessons and gym visits fall>
  • Spend a couple of hours each week getting organised: meals, shopping, activities, chore <So far so good..>
  • Get back to the gym, renew my membership
  • Be a better Mama – do a parenting course < No parenting course, but seeing someone to talk about how I can improve my own behaviours so I don’t pass them on>
  • Paint Monkey’s bedroom wall
  • See my good friends more regularly, make a better effort to stay in touch <This one will never be crossed out and is an ongoing project: So far, so excellent>
  • Try to spend some better quality time with Stormie, date night once every 8 weeks
  • Try to have another baby  <Baby due this year>
  • Spend less money

 

Now let’s see how many of these we can cross off this year

Mawwige

So I got married recently. In fact it’s been a whole  6 weeks since we did the deed. And I keep getting asked: “So do you feel different? Have things changed?”

Well for us the answer is no: We’ve been together for over 7 years, have a mortgage and a toddler, and have known each other since December 1999.

So why is it different for everyone else?

This is my theory:

Why marriage can change things for some couples:

  1. They haven’t been together as long
    Stormie and I have been together for years, and we knew each other for years before that. I don’t mean to sound unromantic, but there’s very little new or surprising to each other. We’re not in the early stages of discovery as other couples who haven’t been together as long.
  2. They have really BIG weddings
    Big weddings are big work. They can put an awful lot of stress on a couple both mental and financial. They are also a gateway. A lot of couples wait until their weddings to start having kids or move in together. We didn’t do this. We moved in together then years later bought a place together and finally had a kid together.
  3. Expectations
    For many couples I think the expectations around what it is to be married can make a significant change to a relationship. We’ve been as good as married for a few years already. No difference there. We’ve worked out the housework and the child care, who takes out the rubbish etc. We’ve had  our knock down drag out fights around each other’s boundaries. It’s all been done. No massive difference here. However we are wigged out by referring to each other as “Husband and Wife”!

So, if nothing has changed why did we get married? As silly as it sounds, and as unfeminist as some may take it, I wanted to have the same last name as my partner and child. Getting our new medicare cards after Monkey was born was the first time I really felt a noticeable difference. I wanted to be part of the same gang. We thought about changing my name by Deed Poll, but then Stormie proposed and it felt right.

So that’s the big change: I have a different name.  And I’m thrilled.

Mine and the Monkey's wedding dresses

Mine and the Monkey’s wedding dresses

Back into it

I fell off the 12wbt wagon. It took me a surprisingly long time for my bad habits to resestablish. The key culprits however were my exercise dropping off in favour of the kid’s swimming lessons and music class which coincided with my regular gym classes. I felt obligated to carry out these activities for a couple of reasons. It took bloody ages to get into swimming classes. Would you believe 6 months? Crazy! Also, The monkey loves music and movement, so I really loved taking her.  Unfortunately for me, this compounded with Stormie being back at uni so weekends also suddenly being without the additional support that allowed me to go to the gym on the weekends.

Music we are no longer going to as the amazing teacher has left. So that’s one easy decision made. Next, seeing if I can change swimming to a super early class or to a weekend, so I have more options when it comes to the gym.

I will also stop baking (again) I do find baking really relaxing, but the result quickly ends up on my stomach, hips and face, so the occasional (purchased) treat and that’s it!

During this time, my thyroid finally fritzed out and I’ve had to start medication. I have a family history of thyroid problems, as well as having some toxic nodules that were zapped with some radioactive iodine some years ago. I was told at the time that ending up on medication was inevitable. However, I was hoping it would take longer. But really I shouldn’t complain, as I’ve been monitored so closely for so long, it never escalated so as to make me unwell.

But things aren’t ALL Bad: One of the best habits that has stuck is meal planning. I spend an hour or so each week planning the next week’s meals using this nifty tool: Plan to Eat It takes a while to wrap your head around, and set up, but now, it’s fab. I have a bank of recipes and add to them regularly. You can drag and drop your meals, change serving sizes, then it spits out a shopping list. It’s mobile accessible so you can check off your shopping list on the phone. I love it. This means we’ve stopped wasting a lot of food and money. I keep serving sizes small, so we throw out a lot less. I also check my cupboards thoroughly before each shop so I know exactly what I’m missing.   A little time in this area seems to have a huge pay off.

I’ve also been inspired by the commitment my friend Kim has made to working on her health recently. Reading about her challenges and her successes has really made me stop and think about my own behaviour.

The point of all of this? I’m getting back on the 12wbt horse, and getting my head back into the game. I’m getting married in a few weeks and my wedding dress is snugger than it was when I bought it. I’d like to be able to wear it again, and even take it with me to Europe so if Stormie and I get a chance to get away and have a date on our own I have an amazing dress to wear!

I need to re-commit to the process. I need to spend time on myself, getting back into exercise, ensuring I spend time on myself for both my mental and physical health. No more excuses.

An adventure

We’re going on a family adventure!

After not having a holiday for 5 years, we’re off later this year on a fabulous European adventure.

Athens

Rome

Florence

Venice

Geneva

Barcelona

Paris

London

We are SO excited and can’t wait to go, so we are after ALL your travel with children tips and recommendations for these fine cities.

Struggling

I’m really finding I’m struggling at the moment. The minutiae of everyday life feels like a massive weight that I’m dragging behind me as I’m trying to keep up with what’s going on and what I feel I have to keep up with.

Keeping us fed, watered, entertained, clean and healthy. Trying to maintain some semblance of a healthy relationship. Trying to get my head in the right space for work. Worrying about our parents. Dealing with crap from other people.

It’s all feeling pretty overwhelming at the minute and I’m not sure what I need to do to make it not feel overwhelming. I’m trying to keep my head down and focus on the immediate tasks, get the shopping done, make appointments for the dentist, the optometrist etc But it doesn’t seem to stop the panic from setting in.

I am trying to have more time to myself, going to the gym, having the babe in childcare for an extra couple of hours per week. But things still feel like they’re piling up, and some of these basic small tasks start the panic all over again.

Mourning the boob

15 Months. Fifteen months. 1 year, 3 months. One year and three months of breastfeeding. And then it stopped. Just like that. In one single day. It’s now been about a week. People say to keep offering, and I have been, but she is not interested at all.

It’s all the fault of the Coxsackie Virus a.k.a. Hand, Foot and Mouth; a common virus amongst the smallies, especially in childcare etc

Her mouth, and in particular her tongue, was so sore she couldn’t attach properly and when she tried she would scream. It was awful. Talk about aversion therapy!

Some of have said: “Well, you were already weaning, so this just speeds it up”

Yes, that’s true, but I wasn’t ready for the suddenness of it.

When I was pregnant, I was so looking forward to breastfeeding, with a few fears as my mother had issues. However, at all check ups, education sessions with the Breastfeeding Association, I was told not to worry, that these things aren’t hereditary. Just wait and see.

I ended up having an emergency ceasar after 4 days of labour (though my hospital records don’t reflect same, according to them 7 hrs active labour). I was exhausted. Beyond exhausted and had very little help with getting feeding established. Baby was kind of shoved on the boob and off we went.

My poor baby girl was getting more and more frantic as the hours went on. We had a kindly nurse that would try to take baby so I could try to sleep, but it didn’t help much. No one had told me/warned me about the feeding frenzy that occurs around 24-36 hours after birth, where baby goes a bit nuts feeding to kickstart your supply. My poor girl was so hungry and would wail every time she was taken off the boob. Next door to me another mother was in the same situation but her baby was so much more vocal in it’s distress. I should point out that there only seemed to be one lactation consultant per shift at RPA Women and Babies, which I found quite surprising. So in effect, we didn’t get much attention.

All of this resulted in a hideously damaged nipple that didn’t heal for ages, and a baby that was rapidly losing weight  and very, very upset (though we didn’t know at the time as they don’t weigh the babies until you’re about to leave). With no sleep, and recovering from a very unexpected caesar (I was meant to have my baby in the birth centre) breastfeeding was HARD. Really fucking hard. But, I felt like I had to persist. If I couldn’t have my natural birth, I was damn well going to feed my baby!

So horrible wizened, hunchback nurse, bought in breast pump, gave me a quick run down on how to use it, made me sign consent form to give baby formula (which resulted in one contented baby) and left me to it. And thus began the merry go round:  feed, pump, feed expressed breast milk, formula top up

I was in so much pain, not from the ceasar but from my damaged nipples. And, I felt an absolute failure. But I kept going. At my home visit with the community nurse, she checked my nipples, promptly told me to stop feeding with the damaged one till it healed and to pump only, and to go visit the breastfeeding clinic in Glebe, and told me fenugreek would help. She was a lifesaver. So was the clinic. They fixed baby’s attachment and got me sorted. I researched lactation cookies (secret ingredients: brewer’s yeast and linseed meal/flax), and got myself some tea. I drank the tea, ate the cookies and pumped like it was going out of fashion to establish my supply. It took about 3 months (I think: this whole beginning bit is pretty fuzzy).

I was so proud, and happy when I got my supply up and was able to drop the formula.

And it’s why I’m so sad that I didn’t get to enjoy and cherish my last few breastfeeds with my little monkey.

I had no idea I would feel so sad about it. I guess maybe it’s about the separation of parent and child? She’s not my baby anymore. She’s a sparky little toddler and doesn’t rely on me in the same way anymore.

I love this image, because it sums up for me in so many small details why I love breastfeeding: the intimacy, the tenderness, the nurturing, and I love that it’s not a tiny baby.

I really, really hope I can breastfeed another child. It really was the most amazing and bonding experience in spite of the difficulties we faced early on.

Young Mother Nursing Her Child, Mary Cassatt, 1906. Oil on canvas