31

September 30, 2016

me-doughnut

 

I turned 31 last week. My birthday fell two days after moving into our new home. Rather than tackle the boxes that lay around us, I decided to take the day for me. The older I get the more I realise that birthdays are a really fabulous excuse to do all my favourite self-care practices and fill up my cup, provided I have an extra set of hands around to look after bubba. And because Ben had taken the week off, I could do just that. Upon waking early I snuck out of bed and left my two loves to snooze. This almost never happens, and I relished the opportunity to ready myself before being mumma. I stretched and saluted the sun while the coffee machine warmed up, and then, in my dressing gown and new, olive green slippers knitted by my sweet mother-in-law, I prepped breakfast. Avocado and frozen banana were blitzed in the food processor along with cacao powder, maple syrup and a little milk to make a dreamy morning mousse. Into the fridge it went and I set about selecting my prettiest bowls and spoons and placing them on the counter. Huh… the house was still quiet, despite the whizz of the food processor. I made myself a coffee and grabbed my book and curled up on the couch in our reading room, waiting for Ben and Joan to wake. After ten or so minutes of solitude I could hear my baby’s wobbly yet determined morning footsteps racing down our long hallway towards me, her eager, loud, indescribably sweet chatter disrupting the silence. At last.

Joan is settling into this new space well. Is this a benefit of a baby who prefers to sleep snuggled between her parents, perhaps? As long as we are there, she is home. There are so many rooms and cupboards and corners to explore in this house, and she is having a lot of fun getting to know it. We all are. It’ll take some time before we are set up with furniture in proper places, rugs on floors and pictures on walls, and we need to purchase a few big pieces like a couch and a large wall unit/book shelf thing, but I am so very happy to take my time with that, to save my pennies for special pieces and really consider our purchases. As the years go by, Ben and I are increasingly conscious of where we spend our money and who we are supporting. We like to source good producers who are employing sustainable practices in whatever field they work. I am still learning what this looks like and we are relying on a lot of recommendations from friends who know more than us, but we’re getting there. From food to furniture, from clothes to cleaning products, we’re trying to most of the time spend our money very wisely. It’s a less is more, quality over quantity kinda thing. And while often it may be initially more expensive, when we add up the years of value and the other, less easily seen benefits, it is unquestionably worth it. Interior design is entirely new to me, though, so I feel like I have a lot to learn. I’ve started following blogs and instagram accounts for inspiration and bookmarking producers that look wonderful and who also don’t charge $300 for a pillow.
Continue Reading…

Happenings 22.9.16

September 22, 2016

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

DOING: typing on my computer while Joan naps. Ben is at our new house putting vents back together after the painter and floor people came. He’s not a handy man, so who knows how it will turn out, but A for effort, right? I’ve been replying to emails after a few days off (we went to Adelaide for a Wedding) and bubba is napping for longer than usual so I thought I’d start another “happenings” post.

HEARING: the birds outside.

DRINKING: Green tea, coffee, water (loads, always) and sometime sparkling water with lemon.

EATING + COOKING: quinoa bowls, lamb stew and sourdough toast with avocado, hummus or nut butter. Sometimes I get wild and do half avocado, half hummus on my toast like below (always with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top). Oh, I’ve also been having a bowl of tart greek yoghurt with a generous heaping teaspoon of honey every night in bed while reading or watching Netflix. Eating in bed feels super indulgent and I’m super into it.
Continue Reading…

Banana Pancakes

September 13, 2016

banana pancakes
There’s something incredibly freeing about weekend wake-up calls in my house. Even when Joan decides we should get out of bed before 6am, I am relaxed and content as I stretch and yawn. You see, when Saturday and Sunday roll around I have two extra hands to help me catch my up-and-go babe before she walks off the mattress. I don’t need to worry about Joan heading for the stairs while I find my pants, nor do I need to throw toilet rolls at her if she comes at me while I’m using the toilet. On the weekend, there’s no need to endure the “pee while holding a baby” reality of most of my weekdays because Ben is around. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace.

The weekends are also for slow breakfasts that require more than one hand to prepare, and lately that’s looked like a plate of pancakes. In the back of my cupboard sits a perfectly good waffle iron, but somehow pancakes trump the breakfast battle. Saturday after Saturday I’ve found myself folding and flipping with a cup of coffee in my hand, while Ben and Joan read books and make animal noises. Joan’s impression of a lion is quite possibly the cutest thing in the entire world, the way she grooooowwwls with wide, cunning eyes and a cheeky grin. I stand in the kitchen, watching and listening as I sip and smile to myself. Breakfast takes a while to prepare, as I always make a big batch so that we have leftovers to snack on during the week. But that’s just fine…it’s the weekend, and I have two extra hands that are allowing me to watch my sweet, clever, funny girl lost in a world of lions and see all that she does from a different perspective. I also get to cook without a time restraint, without a baby pulling at my legs saying “UP” – one arm outstretched, palm facing the ceiling in a pleading, Saturday Night Fever come STELLAAAAAA pose. Because although Joan’s words are adorable, “ahhPPP”, I’ve come to realise that cooking in a relaxed manner is my ultimate way to “fill up my cup”, to centre myself and relax while also nourishing my family and stocking the fridge with a few leftovers. It’s important to me. Bless the weekends for giving me my peaceful kitchen moments.

These pancakes are our new favourite weekend breakfast. In creating them I had hoped for a wholesome recipe that used nutritious flours and avoided a lot of sweeteners, while still allowing for a tasty bite that had a nice texture. I think I did good with these babies, folks. We all adore them, Joan savours every last bite and won’t share any. Not a single crumb is left behind. I hear you, baby. Whenever I serve you leftovers from the fridge I actually feel full-blown jealousy. Perhaps I should just make a double batch and linger even longer in the kitchen.

Continue Reading…

Baby Joan, One Year Old

September 3, 2016

5

 


People tell you how fast the time goes when your kids are little. In the weeks after Joan was born, countless mothers of all ages encouraged me to soak up the snuggles, while looking adoringly at my tiny baby. “They grow so fast”, I’d hear. With those words lingering in my mind, I insisted on taking things slowly and strived to be present, savouring the newborn days in all their glory, from the “how can this be real? She’s so perfect” moments, to the “how can this be real? I think I slept a total of two hours overnight” moments. Through it all, I knew the teeny tiny baby-phase would not last for ever. Ben and I were encouraged to say no to lots of visitors and stay in our bubble, and for the first few weeks of Joan’s life we did just that. Friends and family gave us love and support, and we gave in to our new life and Joan’s complete dependence on us. Days with our baby girl were wonderfully slow, filled with hours staring at her face, her hands, her belly…I would feed bubba in bed or on the couch, we’d gaze into her big eyes and eat snacks, and then she’d sleep on my chest. Or if I was sleeping, she would sleep on Ben’s chest. We’d do this over and over and over again, as time moved in two-three hour blocks. Loved ones would bring food and do the dishes so we could stay in our world and survive this overwhelming time with as much grace as possible. Having a baby is a time to call on your village, and we will be forever grateful for ours. Their selflessness helped time pass slowly and gave me the gift of being able to look back on those early Spring days and remember it all…the way my heart felt light and bright at the same time as my body felt heavy and hurt from sleep deprivation…the taste of the peanut butter bars and granola bars my friends Hannah and Robin baked that I devoured at 3am….the way Joan’s body felt as she slept on me, small enough (and frog-legged enough from her hip brace) that she fit perfectly on my chest while barely clearing my belly button. I remember it all, how hard it was and how beautiful it was. “That went quickly”, people would comment when hearing of Joan’s impending birthday, and I feel so blessed that I don’t agree, that for the first ten months of my baby’s life, time moved slowly.

Continue Reading…

Happenings 25.8.16

August 25, 2016

 

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset


DOING:
typing on my computer while Joan naps – it’s the same story every time. Though at the moment I’m using my old computer, which is SLOW and the mouse does a freak-out-dance every minute or so, buzzing across the screen uncontrollably. I cannot login to my blog or work site, as the computer is so outdated and needs upgrades, but Word still works. So I’m sitting here with a fresh cup of copy typing. It was an early start today, Joan woke at 4:45am and would NOT go back to sleep despite us trying EVERYTHING. She’s one determined little lady. So we got up, made pancakes and went on a walk.

HEARING: Ben working in the study, a plane overhead and the white noise app on my phone (set to “heavy rain”). If you’d have told me when Joan was a few months old that I’d still be wearing her for most of her naps and we’d still be using the white noise app I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are, and now, it’s just what we do. Even more so lately, as when she has a cold I particularly like to wear her for her naps – being upright on my chest it helps her sleep soundly and keep her nose clear.

EATING + COOKING: we’ve been making porridge for breakfast, and sometimes lunch or dinner for Joan if we’re eating foods that aren’t bubba-friendly (which this month looked like takeaway pizza in bed and super hot curry). Joan is really starting to show preferences for foods and porridge is in her top favourites. I’ve also been eating a lot of this slice with tea for an afternoon pick-me-up. Other than that we’ve been eating lots of scrambled eggs, potato, sweet potato, frozen peas, cabbage and kale. Broccoli and cauliflower, too, usually roasted. We’re going through our freezer in anticipation of the move, which means selecting a container in the morning, lamenting the fact that I never label anything and findig out later that evening what it is we’re eating. Invariably it’s lamb stew, lentils, beef cheek, meatballs or tomatoey zucchini pasta sauces. Good, hearty, comforting food for Winter. If it’s not a freezer-meal, I’ll cook some veg and make salmon patties or go the “abundance bowl” route with quinoa, veggies, roasted chickpeas and canned fish or a fried egg.

DRINKING: smoothies have come back into my life this month. My go-to is this cacao + oat thickshake, however lately I’ve been replacing the nut butter with ¼ an avocado, upon suggestion from someone on instagram. It’s good! Joan adores smoothies and fresh veggie + ginger juices, so that’s something we’ve been doing lately, going on smoothie or juice dates. We use this great cup for thin liquids and she shares my straw for thicker smoothies. Last weekend we went out for a pasta date (our favourite) and shared a carrot, orange, ginger juice. I’m fairly certain she like the act of sucking on the straw just as much as the liquid, if not more, but I’ll take that.
Continue Reading…

peanut butter cookie cake

August 19, 2016

pb cookie cake 4

I didn’t plan on making this cake. It came into my world out of a refusal to scoop and shape balls of cookie dough. You see, I wanted to make some gifts for a couple of people in my life, and I am firmly of the mind that you cannot beat freshly baked cookies. I particularly like to gift my favourite peanut butter cookies (recipe by Heidi Swanson). They’re wholesome and easy to make, and taste really, really good.

One morning I prepped the necessary wet and dry ingredients into separate bowls, assuming I’d bake a double batch later that afternoon. It turns out I had less time than I had anticipated before we drove to our new home (!!!) to meet its previous owners (who had built it and lived there for 50 years) to talk about the home’s history and how to care for the garden, which happens to feature a thriving lemon tree, so I only got through one batch, which I presented to the lovely folk who accepted our offer. You know how I said we were saving for our own place? Well, things moved pretty quickly and we found ourselves purchasing a home that makes me feel all the warm, cozy, right and wonderful feelings in the world. I can picture myself living in this home for the rest of my life, which is unreal (in addition to my apartment in Italy, naturally)! We’re doing a little work to update the place, starting with ripping up carpet, polishing floorboards and removing wallpaper. In a couple of years we’ll update the kitchen (I get to save for and design my own kitchen!!) and the ensuite bathroom. Gosh, it all feels too good to be true. We’re mostly pinching ourselves that this has happened, but I suppose we’d best stop that and get to packing, as we move next month. But back to the cookies…

Continue Reading…

Chocolate, Cinnamon & Tahini Oat Slice

August 11, 2016

pana cinnamon tahini slice 2

This is a heat, stir, dump & freeze kind of recipe. The kind that requires very little concentration, that you can make easily while talking to a friend or listening to a podcast. I like to cook, I really do, but sometimes I just cannot be bothered to look at a recipe, or measure ingredients, or slice or whisk or do anything more than heat, stir, dump and freeze.

Energy bars and balls are incredibly appealing to me at the moment. They’re my preferred fuel when buzzing around after my active babe, or keeping the house in order, or working on recipes for clients. These recipes are mainly of the “tasty, easy to prepare with little clean up” variety, as I’m finding these are the ones my clients are most requesting, whether they’re in the preconception, prenatal or post-partum stage. I’m constantly searching for the best of the best – the most wholesome, balanced, simple and stunning recipes out there, tinkering with the ingredients or method a little, and posting them on my client access page. I love to be able to say, “here, eat this, it’s awesome!”, and in turn make their weekdays a little easier and less boring (it’s so easy to get into a recipe rut!). Life is busy and while I adore and encourage the practice of slowing down to cook, if I can take the recipe search part out of the equation, that allows more time for cooking. And eating and playing and reading and walking and bathing. For real, bathing can sometimes be a novelty in the post-partum world.

But back to this slice…

Continue Reading…

Curried Quinoa with Chickpeas

August 5, 2016

baby quinoa curry 1

I’m sitting on the couch listening to Ben and Joan play downstairs. It’s Sunday and we’ve just been out for brunch with my brother. Joan didn’t feel like napping on the way to the city, choosing instead to serenade the various toys Ben kept passing her throughout the trip. I was worried bubs would be a mess at the cafe but she made it through the meal without a fuss, cheerfully sharing a green smoothie with me and eating a decent portion of her scrambled eggs. On the way home, however, it was clear Joan was overtired and as a result she didn’t nap particularly peacefully. Eventually we got thirty minutes of quiet snoozing, but when I say quiet, I do mean listening to “Mr Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose!” on repeat, because that’s what she finally fell asleep to and Ben didn’t dare turn it off. By the time we were home, Joan was awake and grizzling for freedom, and Ben had gone a little nuts, humming “Mr Peter Rabbit” to himself over and over. My coffee-high had worn off and I was feeling tired and slumpy.

Continue Reading…

Ayurvedic Porridge

July 28, 2016

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
*happy sigh*

Gee whiz. Thank you, folks. Thank you for your overwhelming response regarding my previous post. I have received the loveliest, most encouraging, fist-pumping comments on the blog, on Instagram and through emails. I also received some comments from those offering different viewpoints and have engaged in thoughtful discussions. And that’s great! I am thrilled to get the dialogue going on this topic of sleep and support. I hope that new parents who struggled with these questions, as I did, will find some comfort and reassurance. It took me some time before I realised that all these people asking me whether my baby slept through the night were not necessarily expecting her to, rather they were inquiring as to how we were holding up. And I want to note that I am not offended by this question alone, when asked with love and sincere curiosity. Some readers felt bad that they had asked this question to new parents, and while I do hope we can choose our words carefully and not ask if babies are “good” or put such emphasis on how they’re sleeping (just to help the new parents’ sanity, because chances are no-one is sleeping much in the early weeks/months), this question itself is not what I find offensive, and I should have perhaps highlighted that a bit clearer. If you’d never imagine reacting with anything other than empathy to parents when they describe the lack of sleep they are getting, rest assured you are great and we are lucky to have your love. It is the “tut-tutting” many of us receive afterwards that makes me angry and sparked this post.

I have a wakeful baby who prefers to sleep next to me, and when I am honest about this, many (not all, but many!) people asking the question are surprised, critical and sometimes even call me naughty. Instead of empathy and encouragement, I am told ways to fix the “problem” that are usually harsh and entirely not in line with the way I want to parent. If someone gave me gentle encouragement and suggested I read Pinky McKay’s book for reference when I was at the point of wanting to change, then great! But that doesn’t happen, and you’d be surprised how often we receive negative comments from people of all ages. One woman who empathised commented that her baby was once called “naughty” for waking…at 8 weeks! Really, my point is that I want us to ease up on babies and not call them “bad”, “naughty” or feel like if they wake a few times overnight they are not normal, which is what the questions + subsequent negative reactions implies. For sensitive parents who are perhaps not as well-supported as they should be (and that’s the truth, I am very blessed with supportive parents and in-laws and friends, and that is not necessarily common these days), this can lead them to feel like their situation is bad and needs fixing, often before the baby is ready to be independent. I know this because I have received countless emails since having Joan from readers who are so relieved to hear from someone who hasn’t put their baby in sleep school. Sleep training and the use of cry-it-out methods are contentious topics, so I am trying to dance delicately here… as I said in my previous post, I am aware some babies are severely wakeful and some parents have truly hard and demanding work and home situations…I myself do not, and so I cannot judge. You have to do what works best for your family and trust your gut on that, and I am explicitly not referring to those difficult cases. I am speaking to parents who are receiving unwelcome pressure from health professionals or perhaps family and friends to train their babies and move on from gentle, respectful, responsive methods just because their baby doesn’t sleep entirely independently. I am offering support and solidarity to those parents, and reassurance that our babies WILL get there…it might happen easily on its own when you feel it’s time or it may involve a bit of work, and that’s ok. Even though you may receive some negative comments from people who cannot relate, even though you may be told you’re creating bad habits, that’s ok. You might be tired, and that’s also ok. Many days I am too, especially when Joan is going through a leap. If you’re really struggling and excessively sleep-deprived, absolutely seek help, but if you know if your heart that you want to keep parenting in the way you are, then don’t let the sleep questions and “is she a good baby” comments hurt your admittedly sensitive heart, you’re doing great! If these two posts have done anything to help us accept our babies as they are and to not feel like we need to fix situations that are not bad, just temporary seasons of sleepiness while our babies learn and grow, then that’s wonderful. I also hope we can bring back “our villages”, for unconditional support and extra hands, because without them this parenting gig is so much harder. To simply hear “Yep, I rock my baby to sleep too”, or “Oh I remember when my baby would wake often, those days are hard, it gets easier!”, or “That sounds rough, is there anything I can do to help you? Shall I pop the kettle on or play with bubba while you take a nap?”, instead of “Your baby doesn’t sleep through yet?!”, or “Oooooh you’re naughty”…golly it makes the world of difference to our days and helps us cherish these precious moments when our babies want to snuggle, instead of questioning that we’re doing anything wrong. You feel me? Thank you for caring, truly. What we need is empathy for our situation without pressure or judgement, encouragement that it will get easier and won’t always be this way, and support when we ask for it, including when we decide to gently change habits if we need to when we feel our babies are ready. And coffee. We probably need coffee, too.
Continue Reading…

she’s just a baby

July 22, 2016

198A3238

“Is she a good baby?”

Initially when we  were asked this question following Joan’s birth I was downright confused. “A good baby?”…I would never think to ask someone this, as doing so inherently suggests that some babies are bad, which to me seemed just nuts. “Yes she’s good”, I’d reply, “I mean, she’s just a baby…..???”. Eventually I understood that people were actually asking something else, and so I would attempt to decode their question before replying. Did they mean “Is she happy?”. Well, then, “Yes!”, I would answer, “Absolutely”. Or perhaps they were associating “good” with not crying, and then the answer would be, “She cries/communicates really well, thanks, loud and clear! Most of the time we understand what she’s wanting”. Often I thought these well-meaning folk were asking whether she was good to us, her parents, and to this I would say “Yes, she’s really sweet.” I got used to the question and only occasionally (if I was a little sleep deprived and short-tempered, perhaps) I would reply “No, she’s an asshole”, which was my passive aggressive way of highlighting what a weird question it was.
Continue Reading…