Thursday, 31 March 2016

Currently... March

So I am taking a page out of some other blogger's books to start a monthly "Currently" blog post, in order to write an update on all the things I am doing/reading/watching/loving/hating this month. Sometimes I really want to share a great book I've read, or a podcast I'm listening to, or a recipe I've tried but by the time I get around to writing a post it seems the moment has passed. I'll also use these posts to update what is going on with Ella and post my favourite picture from the month.

Here we go...


A few good books over the past few months:

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is all about decluttering and organizing your space. Kondo claims that if you follow her advice you will never have to tidy again! Intriguing... Her main piece of advice is to only keep things that bring you joy. I really want to do a big clean out of our stuff now, but we've only managed to do our clothes so far. Both Andy and I were pretty ruthless and donated a few bags to charity and I can honestly say I don't even remember what I got rid of. Except for one dress. Which I have to stop myself from going and re-buying from the charity shop as I NEVER wore it.

10% Happier by Dan Harris. Harris is a TV news anchor from the US and after having a panic attack live on air he ends up turning to meditation. The book is more of a memoir than a "how to" guide on meditation, and due to Harris' job he interviews many interesting people on the subject. A good book for anyone who is skeptical about the benefits of meditation, or who is curious about it and wants to read something about by "regular person" rather than a spiritual guru.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter. It's a "girl gone missing" psychological thriller covering some pretty dark subject matter with plenty of twists and turns. It was hard to put down and I looked forward to reading it every night before bed. Recommended but with a warning that it could give you nightmares!


The Americans. This was recommended to us by my brother’s best friend who works in TV, so it must be good, right? Yep! I’m loving it so far. The show is set in the early 1980s during the cold war. The central characters are KGB spies who are posing as a married American couple with kids (who don’t know that their parents are Russian spies) living in the suburbs of Washington DC. I’m about halfway through Season 1 and am hooked!

TED Talks. This one by Celeste Headlee on how to have better conversations is my favourite this month.

Listening To:

Serial Season 2 podcast. This season centres around Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, was captured by the Taliban and spent five years in captivity before being released in exchange for five Taliban detainees who were being held in Guantanamo Bay. I don’t love this season as much as Season 1, which had a true crime theme, but I love the sound of Sarah Koenig’s voice and I think she is an excellent storyteller so I keep tuning in.


Mainly Hello Fresh meals, but I did get this excellent recipe from one of my mother’s group friends and it is excellent! Another Jamie Oliver winner… standard. I love him. Very healthy, I highly recommend: Roasted Brassica Salad with Puy-Style Lentils and Haloumi.

Obsessing Over:

Ella’s eating habits. She was an amazing eater until a few weeks ago and now seems to have totally gone off food. I feel like all I think about all day is what and when to feed Ella. I know I should just relax about it as I’m sure it will sort itself out but I’m convinced she doesn’t sleep through the night yet because she doesn’t eat enough during the day. It’s driving me a little bit mad!

Looking forward to:

Easter school holidays with NO PLANS. It is very rare that we don’t holiday somewhere during the holidays but we are trying to keep things simple as the Christmas and summer holidays were a bit much. We just want to enjoy Melbourne with Ella… and without her on the days she goes to daycare!

My birthday present from my parents, a subscription to Babyology boxes for a year. Every three months I will get a box in the mail filled with surprises for both baby and mum. Can't wait to get my first one!

All the babies arriving in the next few months. We have at least one friend due every month until June and I am super excited for them all. Chris and Ness are were due two days ago so every time we get a text from them we think its the baby. I can't wait to see a teeny tiny baby again! (And give it back to it's parents, haha!)


Businesses that cater to mums/parents with small kids, such as:
Feather and Noise who do personal styling sessions and have an area for kids to play while mum gets styled.
Angea Acupuncture are starting Mum’s Rejuvanation packages, where you can get an acupuncture and massage session while a nanny looks after your little one.
Care for Kids daycare that offer workspaces for freelance parents with child care onsite.

The weather turning a bit cooler. We've had a good long summer but I'm over the hot nights and love the crisp, clear mornings we've been having.

Canada having a cool Prime Minister.

My Headspace app. I've meditated for 38 days in a row now, and I can feel myself being more aware of my thoughts, and I am really working on trying to not let them fuel my emotions.


Constant illness in our family. Ella seems to have a constant cold, I’ve recently had tonsillitis and generally we are pretty run down. The holidays could not have come soon enough.

The whole American election debacle with Donald Trump. What is even going on there? It's like a parody of an election campaign, and scary to think that he is getting such a huge platform to relay his racist, sexist hate-filled views. However it is making me love Obama ripping him to shreds at every opportunity.


Mainly active wear, leggings and TOMS. I am so glad that this is mostly acceptable attire in Melbourne, more so if you have a baby with you. But my jeans now fit and I am back to my pre-baby weight so I should probably try and wear something other than leggings once and a while.


Watching Ella start to make connections about what is going on around her. Like pulling a rope on the bell at our front door and realising it makes a noise. She looks so ridiculously happy when ringing that bell. Hopefully this has not annoyed our neighbours too much yet.


My mom! Becoming a mom makes you really want your mom, more than ever! (Edit: I wrote this before my parents told me some very exciting news: My mom is coming to visit us for three weeks in August! Yay!!)

Sleep. Nearly nine months and Ella has not slept through the night ONCE. I think we did get an 8pm to 5am one time which was the closest, but that was so long ago I think it might have just been a dream. (Another Edit: Last night Ella slept from 10pm-5am!! Woohoo, 7 straight hours of sleep. Seriously hoping this is not a one-off!)

Also, a make-over. The tired new mom look is not working for me anymore.


New shoes. A new pair of TOMS (see Wearing; above) some funky Nikes to wear with my activewear, some new ballet flats and new winter boots. I will probably need to prioritise this list and pick one of the above until I go back to work full time!


Breastfeeding. Sometime over the last week Ella fully weaned herself off and I am pretty sad about it. If you had asked me a few months ago I would have told you I was cutting her off at six months, as I didn't love breastfeeding for oh, about the first five months. But once I started mixed-feeding I started to enjoy it more and am now sad that my breastfeeding journey has come to an end.

Working on:

Driving. Charlotte has set me a goal to drive once a week. So far I have achieved that goal for zero weeks but it is definitely something I need to be pushed to do.

Trying to keep things simple and enjoy the little things, like going for a walk with Ella by the river enjoying the beautiful autumnal weather, or snuggling in to watch a good movie on the sofa with Andy (and some Lindt chocolate).

Grateful for:

Our friends here, especially Charlotte who is SO good with Ella. And she has offered to baby-sit on Saturday night so Andy and I can attend a wedding reception so looking forward to that.

Pic of the Month:

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Easter Weekend

Easter weekend started on Thursday for us... a day off work for me and Andy finished school at lunchtime. Unfortunately we had to take Ella to the doctor's (for about the fourth time since she started daycare) to check out a rash that had developed all over her body. The doctor was concerned due to some other symptoms Ella was displaying: a cough, conjunctivitis the week before, and fussiness while in the doctor's office, so to be on the safe side she sent us to the Royal Children's Hospital to ensure that Ella did not have measles! Recently there has been an outbreak of measles in Melbourne in the nearby suburb of Brunswick, and Ella won't be vaccinated against the virus until she is 12 months old. 

So off we went for Ella's first visit to the hospital. Our doctor warned them that we were coming and as soon as we arrived we were ushered us into an isolation room. Andy and I both did a pretty good job of remaining calm (except for a few minutes where I went to the toilet and had a little cry) but I think we both didn't actually believe she could possibly have measles.

Waiting for the doctor in isolation
We were seen straight away by a nurse who said that she didn't think it was measles, and then almost immediately the paediatrician came and confirmed that it was definitely not measles. It was just one of many unknown viruses that can cause a rash in babies. So yet another illness that you can't really do anything about in a baby which is super frustrating! Poor Ella! She did, however, handle her first hospital visit like a champ and especially loved the big aquarium they have in the waiting room so that was a plus. And I was really impressed by the hospital, the speed at which we were seen and how lovely the staff were. 
Checking out the fish in the Emergency Department waiting room
What is really annoying is that to take Ella to the doctor we have to pay $42 "out of pocket", which is the gap between what the doctor charges and what medicare covers. But taking her to the emergency room at the hospital is free. I can see how, if you were tight for money, you'd just skip the GP and head straight to the hospital. But this can't be good as it creates pressure on emergency rooms, which should be kept for emergencies only. I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't mind paying a little to visit the doctor, but I feel like $42 for a 10 minute appointment is way too much. Maybe I have just been spoiled by living in Canada and the UK where the public health care systems are the top in the world!

Friday I went to a baby shower lunch for our friend Ness, who's baby is due this week. We went to The Pier in Port Melbourne and had a lovely corner table overlooking the bay. It was nice to have a girly, baby-free afternoon (and indulge in a little champagne!) Ness is having a boy and I can't wait for him to arrive!

Ella finished off her day with dad with a some pool down at the local pub:

On Saturday we played mini-golf at Yarra Bend Golf Course with Charlotte and Adam. Adam won, and I came last... no surprise there! But I did have to wear Ella in the baby carrier for the last five holes so I think I should have got some kind of handicap?

Ella - not a helpful mini-golf partner

Nice shot Adam
After golf we headed back to ours for some pizza, red wine, and a REALLY LONG game of Settlers of Catan. Adam won again, but actually it was the worst win as he was sitting on nine points for what seemed like forever. So really it was as if he lost. Or something. Sorry if you don't know anything about Settlers of Catan. We did have a really fun night though.

Sunday was a lovely family day. We woke up and went for a run with Ella in the jogging pram, stopping to see some of the animals at the children's farm on the way back. Ok, we stopped as I needed a break because I am SO out of running fitness at the moment. 

Later that morning Andy finished off our sensory board for Ella and it is a huge hit:

That afternoon we took Ella to the park for the first time and she absolutely LOVED it. She sat with me and Andy on the swings and was laughing so much, especially as we went higher. Andy took her on the slide as well. So cute!

Loving the swings
Getting ready to go down the slide
Monday we drove up to Yarrawood Winery in the Yarra Valley for lunch with Charlotte, Adam and their friends Layla and Rory. The Yarra Valley is apparently known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, so we ordered a bottle of each, along with a yummy antipasto platter. There was live music and a few activities for the boys (croquet, anyone?) although I don't think poor Rory was quite ready for how seriously Adam and Andy take their activities. 

Ella would like some food too please!
Serious croquet playing
Listening to music with dad

Overall a lovely Easter weekend spent with our lovely friends!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Birthday Week Celebrations

Last Wednesday I turned 35. 35!!! That sounds so old. I don't feel 35, but does anyone ever feel their age? And everyone always thinks I am younger than Andy so that’s always a winner. Also I do feel like I am happy with what I have accomplished in my 35 years... a great marriage, a beautiful little girl, good career progression, and lots of travel and experiences. So I can't complain really! 

Wednesday is a work day for me which was a bit of a bummer. We had training scheduled for our new appraisal system after school, meaning I wouldn't get home until at least 7pm. However the good news was that my friend April had volunteered to baby-sit Ella so that Andy and I could go out for dinner. I was really, really looking forward to this as it would be the first time Andy and I were able to have dinner together baby-free in Melbourne. 

My day started at 4:30am when Ella cried out from her bed. Being a good dad and husband, Andy got up to see what she needed. When I heard him say "oh shit" from her bedroom I knew it was not good… Turns out Andy was literally describing what he saw, a leaky diaper that had gone through all the way to the mattress protector. Wonderful! I think Andy and I were both just on auto-pilot and cleaned up Ella and her bed without any grumbling or fuss. Back in bed at about 5am I found it impossible to sleep as I kept thinking about how tired I was going to be at work and then at the training session and then at dinner. I was doing that thing where you just keep thinking and going in circles about something stressful, which in turn makes you more stressed... and the cycle continues on and on. Funnily enough, this is not a good way to get yourself to sleep!

When the alarm went off at 6am I was feeling pretty negative and figured we should just call off dinner. However while in the shower I tried to talk myself out of my mood, reminding myself that I could have control over my emotions and right then I was choosing to give in to the bad mood, instead of realizing that it would be great to go out for dinner with my friends even if I was tired. My mood lifted even more when I got out of the shower with my card and gift from Andy, which consisted of messages he had put throughout the house with things like "you've won... a massage during the Easter holidays" and "you've won... exemption from doing the dinner dishes for a week" etc. It was fun to discover all my "winnings" that morning. One included $10 so I could get myself a coffee on my way to work. So off I went feeling much better, letting myself catch the later train and enjoy my walk and coffee without feeling rushed.

When I got to work the first thing I did was check my emails. In my inbox was the BEST EMAIL I've ever gotten... our appraisal training session was cancelled!! Hooray! Now my day had really improved. I left work around 4pm, getting home in time to get a shower, put on some make-up, sort out something to wear and even sit down and have a cup of tea before Andy got home from daycare with Ella. Everything was going to plan, when about two minutes before April arrived Ella vomited her bottle up all over me, her, her bedroom floor and the bathroom floor. Nice. Just as we were stripping her (and me) down for another bath the doorbell rang and April had arrived. Andy sorted out Ella while I got another shower and tried not to let my bad mood from the morning return. I nearly cancelled dinner, thinking it would just be easier to stay in and order a take-away. Luckily April, an experienced auntie, insisted that we still go to dinner and that she would call if there were any problems. Reluctantly we left, super late and super stressed.

Dinner was at Rice Paper Scissors in Fitzroy with Adam and Charlotte and we had an awesome time. Excellent food and excellent company. The food was Asian street food which is meant to be shared, kind of tapas style. For $59/couple you get to choose five plates off the menu and I would say they were pretty generous portions. My favourite was the Sticky Pork Belly: "twice cooked pork in a tamarind caramel sauce, topped with a fragrant herb salad", delicious! 

When we got back from dinner we were relieved to hear that Ella had slept the whole time. Of course, she woke up soon after we got home and proceeded to throw up on me again. Sigh. We had a pretty rough night, however as I'm writing this a week later I can't even really remember it now. All the nights with a baby seem to mould into one... Each morning Andy and I struggle to remember what happened the night before. This must be some kind of evolutionary defence mechanism so that people want more children. 

Over dinner Charlotte revealed that she had arranged brunch and a mani/pedi session with a few of our friends on Saturday afternoon. We met at Le Petit Prince in Armadale for brunch, a café inspired by the book of the same name by Antoine St. Exupery. I read this book when I was 18 and living in France so it really brought back memories. This is one of my favourite quotes from the book:

In english this means: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eyes". 

At Le Petit Prince with my lovely gift from Ness!

Adam and Andy were looking after Ella while we were away and this is the picture I was sent of the fun they were having:

Classic dad and baby fun at the pub!
After lunch we got our nails done which was fun, something that I haven't done for a long time. I decided to paint my fingers dark grey, which prompted Andy to ask me why I wanted to look like a goth. His favourite thing is to tell people that I was a goth in high school, which I think people find shockingly hilarious. It's also ridiculously untrue... I pretty much only shopped at The Gap and never even owned a pair of Doc Martens. 

Anyway, aside from Ella puking on me all day I had a really first birthday as a mom. It is definitely different to how I spent my 30th (people are hurting!) but good-different. Although I still can't believe I am halfway through my thirties... But age is just a number, right?!

Friday, 11 March 2016

MFWF & Hanging out in Hawthorn

Last weekend we had beautiful weather again in Melbourne. It was supposed to be the first weekend of autumn but still felt like the middle of summer. On Saturday we ventured into the city after Ella's swimming lesson to check out the start of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. There were various free events set up along the south bank of the Yarra including things like: Prosecco Road, Food Truck Alley, Carnival Games, Produce Patch and Cider Orchard. It was pretty busy, especially the walk through Prosecco Road where you could taste various types of prosecco... Mmmmm! We stopped for tacos at Food Truck Alley and then continued on to meet with some friends at a pop-up garden set up by Urban Dairy, where you could get all sorts of dairy delights. At one point Andy wandered off and came back with Ice Cream Donuts topped with a huge chunk of honeycomb for us, yum!

Eating Tacos

Ice Cream Donuts

Most of our friends in this group have babies now, and we are waiting on one more couple to have theirs, due in April. The oldest is three-year old Poppy, who was very good at playing with Ella. It was impossible to get a picture where they were both looking at the camera so this is the best I could get:

Ella and Poppy
So cute anyway, and makes me look forward to when we have two kids (because I am sure they will always just play nicely and get along together).

On Sunday Andy and I decided to start a little project for Ella, a "sensory board" (thank you, Pinterest). It's basically a piece of wood with lots of different things and materials for a baby to play with stuck on it. If you do a Google Image search for sensory board this is what you get:

We headed over to Hawthorn where there is a big Bunnings and Baby Bunting to get some bits and pieces that we could put on our board. Normally when we are in Hawthorn we go to one of our favourite cafés, Hawthorn Common. This time, we got distracted by a place we always walk by called BAWA and decided we should try something different for once. This is a very Melbourne problem: do we go to a new café, or stick with one we know and love? I know, it's a tough life. Anyway BAWA was good but we both felt we'd stick with Hawthorn Common next time. I did have a nice green smoothie and chia pudding though. Yes, I realize those menu choices make me look like a bit of a (insert word that is not appropriate for my family blog). I was looking for a lighter option and I did share my green smoothie with Ella! I'm not going to lie though, Andy had some sort of pulled pork eggs benedict and I was super jealous!

Chia pudding with lots of fresh fruit

When we finished our shopping Ella was asleep in the pram so we figured we'd keep on walking until she woke up... a sleeping baby is ALWAYS the priority when you are making decisions about what to do next! We decided while walking around Hawthorn that this suburb may be our next move - as we seem to move on a yearly basis. We stumbled on the outdoor pool and leisure centre and enquired about swimming lessons for Ella. We were actually just trying to find a toilet and thought we'd pretend to enquire about something, but ended up loving the centre and wanting to move to Hawthorn, haha. 

Inside the centre there was a station where you could get a health check. This fancy machine measures your BMI, Body Fat Percentage, heart rate and blood pressure. Andy got his checked out first and did pretty well, with an over all health score of 8.4/10 (don't ask me how that is calculated). I went next, slightly nervous as I hate to lose to Andy when it comes to fitness. It turns out I didn't have to worry as my overall score was 9.6/10! Whoop! I took a picture I was so happy about it:

So happy that I beat Andy, haha!

I guess it shows that you really don't need as much high intensity cardio as I used to do... exercise for me at the moment is yoga and walking and that is obviously doing the job, along with us trying to eat more home cooked meals - save for the odd ice cream donut, of course :)

Oh, and we have started work on the sensory board and I will post a picture of it when we are done!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Update and Weekend Family Fun

Ok, so how is it already March?! I cannot believe how fast this year is going by. I have, yet again, failed in my goal to write four blog posts a month. Ah well, maybe I will make up for February this month... I always have the best intentions when it comes to this blog! And, this will sound very clichéd, but I can't believe I have an 8-month old. Ella is growing so fast (hey! Another cliché!) and she is at this lovely stage where she is super interactive, laughs and smiles a lot, can sit on her own, BUT she cannot crawl yet. So I can put her down to play and she doesn't go anywhere which obviously makes life a lot easier. I am soaking up this period of time as I know that soon she will be off and much more challenging to contain!

Soaking up the sun with my gorgeous little girl
February for us was all about getting in to our new routine. Mondays are basically the worst day for us (and most of the world) as we both work and Andy coaches soccer in the evening. We are out the door by 7am, and then I pick up Ella from daycare and walk her home which takes about half an hour. A good way to get in some exercise, but it has been very hot lately and so by the time we get home I am usually sweaty and knackered. But it doesn't matter, because there is no sitting on the couch and having a rest after work when you have a baby! Especially when daddy is not at home to help. I barely have time to get myself a glass of water! I do the dinner/bath/bottle/bed routine, and then by the time that is all over I just want to collapse in a heap. We have decided that a perfectly acceptable dinner on a Monday night for the two of us is cheese on toast.

Tuesdays are a day off for me, and thank goodness... I am really not looking forward to when I have to work consecutive days. I know that sounds pretty lame but it just feels like life will be relentless at that point. I'm sure all the experienced parents are rolling their eyes at me, thinking "suck it up sweetheart. That's just life!"

The past two weeks I've signed up to Hello Fresh, which is a dinner delivery service. Each week we get the recipes and ingredients for three meals delivered. All the ingredients are measured out for you, so all you have to do is a little bit of prep and throw it together. I am loving it so far, as it takes the stress out of thinking about what is for dinner, and having to go to the grocery store to get that one ingredient you are missing. The recipes have been really good as well, and all of the ingredients that are used are (mostly) local, high quality, and in season. It is definitely more expensive then just buying everything yourself, of course, but the meat and fish are definitely a better quality than I would have picked out at Woolworth's. I think it will also force us to eat a more varied diet, and I am building up a collection of dinner recipes from them, as everything we have had so far I would make again.

Hello Fresh meal - Roasted Chicken with Beetroot and Quinoa
Summer is officially over but you wouldn't know it here in Melbourne! The weather has been pretty hot here lately, and looks like it will be well into the 30s for at least the next two weeks. Last weekend we were able to take advantage of the nice weather and do some very "Melbourne" things...

Saturday morning I did my usual yoga class at Kindred Movement and Andy took Ella on a run in our jogging pram. We normally go to Ella's swimming after that but we had a Meetup with a mums Facebook group that I belong to. The group was created near the end of 2014 (I think?) for any mums in Australia with a due date in July 2015. Andy's colleague, Sarah, added me when she discovered that our due dates were a few days apart.  The group has 69 members and has been invaluable in terms of getting advice and support from other mums who are going through the same things at the same times with their babies. A few months ago a Meetup date was set and was in Melbourne, and about 25 mums and their babies came from all over the country. It was really nice to meet all of those people in person that you'd been chatting with online for over a year!

Ella with Sarah's son Nate at the AJM Meetup
After that we had a BBQ with some friends along the Yarra. This is one of those things that I thought I would do all the time when we moved to Melbourne. I was so impressed with all the free BBQs in parks and public areas around the city, I thought we'd be taking advantage of these all the time! Well, in our three years here we've done it maybe three times? And never at one of the BBQs along the Yarra across from the Botanical Gardens, even though we lived about a 10 minute walk from here when we lived in South Yarra. Anyway, we had a fantastic afternoon hanging out with our friends, and Ella was in very good form the whole time. She is super interested in eating now and it was very hard to eat my own sausage without her grabbing it out of my hands! She DOES NOT like it when you eat in front of her and don't share!

Ella enjoying being up on daddy's shoulders
On Sunday afternoon we met up with Adam and Charlotte at the NGV. We were planning on checking out the Andy Warhol & Ai Weiwei exhibition that is currently on, but the line for tickets was super long when we got there. Instead we headed out to the garden area where we stumbled on the last of the Summer Sundays series, featuring live music, a BBQ and a pop-up stand of my favourite... Gelato Messina! Yum. We relaxed there for a few hours before taking a long walk along Southbank, stopping for a glass of wine. Unfortunately Ella had had enough by this time so we had to rush our drinks and speed walk back towards the NGV where we had parked. My fault really as I hadn't thought we'd be out so long and didn't bring enough food. 

Hanging out at the NGV - nice face Ella! She was in the process of spewing, haha.
Summer Sundays at the NGV
Ai Weiwei's Forever Bicycles - an installation of 1500 bikes
The water wall out front of the NGV. Ella and another baby are enthralled with each other!
By the time I've got around to finishing this post off it is a week later. We've been so lucky to have had two excellent weekends in a row - beautiful weather and time spent as a family with our friends. What more could you want?!