Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Currently... August

I'm currently at home, waiting for a pot of pasta to boil so I can eat dinner. Andy is coaching soccer and Ella has just gone to bed. I'm exhausted but determined to get this post out tonight as it is the last day of August! I'd love a glass of wine to sip while I type but I know that it will probably mean I won't sleep as well... but a glass of wine would be so gooooood right now. No... I must resist.

ReadingThrive by Arianna Huffington, who is the founder of The Huffington Post. She puts forward the argument that we need to rethink what it means to be successful. These days money and power seem to equate to success, but these things on their own don't really lead people to having a happy and fulfilled life. I am enjoying the book, and am already on board with a lot of her ideas and suggestions, such as incorporating meditation and yoga practise into your life. She also advocates for prioritising sleep which I totally agree with. 9:30pm bedtimes are a regular occurrence in this house! I also read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr last month. I absolutely loved it. By far the best fiction book I've read in a long time. It's set in during the lead up to, and in, World War II, but doesn't focus on the Holocaust, which is a nice change from a lot of books I've read set during that time. It follows a young French girl the occupied town of Saint Malo, and a German boy who ends up in the SS. Beautifully written, heartbreaking and uplifting in equal parts. I cannot recommend it enough.

Watching: A few different things, although nothing I'm totally hooked on yet. I finally finished all four seasons of House of Cards, which has left a hole in my TV viewing life. I've started a few new Netflix series but nothing is really captivating both me and Andy. I'm enjoying Last Chance U, which is a documentary series about College football in Mississippi. I watched about half an episode of Flaked, developed by and starring Will Arnett from Arrested Development. I loved Arrested Development so was looking forward to this, but it is pretty terrible. Disappointing, and unusual for a Netflix produced show. I started Stranger Things with Andy but 5 minutes in he declared he wasn't watching it, so I might save that one for when I'm home on my own. Ditto for Master of None, I thought it was funny but Andy is not into it. My next try will be Marcella, which is a crime drama so will hopefully appeal to both of us. Oh and my guilty pleasure at the moment is Australian Survivor. It's just like the American version except the winner only gets half a million dollars here in Aus, and of course, no Jeff Probst. I love Jeff Probst, and watching this reminds me of being at Uni. Survivor was on on Thursday nights, which was the same night I worked at a local bar until 2am. After the obligatory drink with my work mates after we had cleaned everything up, I would come home and watch the latest episode of Survivor which I had taped. (On VHS! I'm so old!) Then I would go to class at 8am. I was so much more hard core when I was at uni then I am now. When my mom was here Andy and I went to the movies together for the first time since Ella was born, and to my surprise he suggested going to see Bad Moms. He normally wouldn't choose a comedy, and certainly not one that you would peg as a chick flick. I hadn't heard a lot about it, I am very out of the loop when it comes to new movie releases, and wasn't expecting much. However I was pleasantly surprised. Lots of laugh out loud moments, and of course being new parents it was very relatable to both of us. Andy also thought it was funny, so not just a film to go see with your girlfriends (although Andy may have been the only male in the movie theatre).

Feeling: Much better now that I've started taking iron supplements. I had some blood tests a few weeks ago that I'd been meaning to get done for months. Some post-natal check ups. Anyway turns out I'm iron deficient. I have to eat more red meat along with the supplement which I think I will struggle to do, as we really only have red meat once a week at the moment. But so far the supplement seems to be working as I feel a lot less tired this week. Could be mind over matter, but whatever works I guess!

Cooking: All of our own meals now that my mom has left and I've cancelled Hello Fresh for the time being. I'm trying to make better use of my slow cooker, especially on my days off. It's so nice to do a bit of prep in the afternoon and then just let dinner cook away, and not have to do anything once we've put Ella to bed. This Rogan Josh Curry was pretty yummy as was this Beef Ragu. I've also turned back to my Jamie Oliver cookbooks which have been sadly neglected over the past year. I tried his "30-minute" cauliflower macaroni the other night and it was delicious. Andy helped himself to not just seconds, but thirds, and Ella enjoyed leftovers the next day for lunch. Of course, it took me way longer than 30 minutes to do (it was more like 45-50 minutes) but I let go of expecting to actually cook any of those meals in half an hour a long time ago!

Enjoying: Getting back on my bike. Now that winter is nearly over and the mornings are much lighter I've started riding my bike to work again. It's such a good way to start and finish my day and get in some exercise. Not to mention I save $8 in train fare each day that I ride. We are looking into getting a bike seat for Ella, this one is my personal favourite, mainly because of the design, but it also has very good reviews. Then we can go on family bike rides on the weekends, I can't wait!

Hating: The start of the Premier League season, along with this new TV box Andy got from Optus that gives us some special sports channels. So. Much. Soccer. On. My. TV. Argh!!

Looking forward to: Summer! I know, I know, it's still technically winter. But it does feel like summer is just around the corner. After our trip to Noosa and Ella loving the beach I can't wait to be able to take her there more often this year. 

Learning: To not over-schedule myself, slow down, and enjoy the little things in life. 

Grateful for: Rice! I nearly ruined my brand new iPhone by leaving it in the pocket of my sweater, which I then threw in the washing machine. Such an idiot. I realised a few minutes later, stopped the machine and fished it out, promptly drying it off and putting it in a bag of rice. I left it there for three days (after reading various posts on the Internet about saving a wet iPhone) and miraculously it seems to work fine... for now. This wouldn't be so embarrassing, except this phone was replacing my last phone which I ruined when my full water bottle leaked in my bag. I didn't do the rice thing that time, so I guess at least this time I can say I've learned something new?! I'm blaming baby brain. That's still a valid excuse when your child is 14 months old, right?

Pic of the Month: I love this picture of Ella and I in Noosa, taken by my mom. Ella had just woken from a nap while my mom and I enjoyed a glass of wine in the sunshine. Happy times! 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Nannie's Visit

Ella's Nannie, (my mom) came to visit us for the first three weeks of August, hence the lack of activity on the blog. I can't believe how quickly three weeks passed us by, and that her visit is already over. It was so great having my mom here. She was a big help around the house, not just with things like cooking and doing our laundry (which I already feel like I'm behind with since she left!) but she also gave Andy and I the opportunity to go out a few times together, which we rarely get to do since Ella was born. However, by far the best thing about her being here was seeing her relationship with Ella develop even further.

We saw my parents in London in July, so it was actually only three weeks later when my mom arrived in Melbourne. Ella and I met her at the airport and Ella gave her the biggest smile and cuddled right in when my mom picked her up. She doesn't normally give out cuddles when you pick her up, so to see her lie her head on my mom's shoulder with a big smile on her face really melted my heart. In fact someone else at the airport commented on how beautiful the moment was. Ella definitely recognised her Nannie, and knows that she is someone special who cares about her!

It was a warm, sunny winter's day, so once my mom had freshened up after her 24 hours of travel we headed over to Abbotsford Convent to meet Charlotte and Adam for a glass of wine. Andy was coaching football but joined us once he was finished, and then we all headed back to ours for an impromptu BBQ.

That week on my first day off we walked to Birdie Num Nums in Carlton, a café with a sand pit and play area outside. I'd read about it in some article or another about good cafés for kids. It had rained earlier in the week so the sand was still wet, and I thought that the toys were in pretty rough shape, but Ella didn't seem to mind. She kept herself busy while my mom and I drank Chai lattés and shared a (very average) piece of carrot cake. I really love the idea of a play area in a café but it was a fair distance for us to get to (about a 45-50 minute walk) so I'm not sure I'd make the trek again without a car.

Birdie Num Nums play area

Walking home through Edinburgh Gardens
On my second day off we took Ella to the zoo for the first time. I purchased a membership which is about $90. You can go to the Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, and the Weribee Open Range Zoo as many times as you want in a year. The coolest bit of the zoo for us was the walk-through Lemur Island exhibit. It is totally open and you just walk amongst the lemurs as they run and jump around you. The exhibits that were the best for Ella were ones where the animals were behind glass. As she can't walk or stand on her own yet, she could look and lean on the glass at the animals without having to be held by us or in her pram. I think the zoo will be a bit more enjoyable for her once she is walking, as she didn't want to stay in her pram all afternoon but we couldn't really let her just crawl wherever she wanted. The best part of the day for mom and I was when she took a nap in her pram and we had lunch, complete with mulled wine and then scones and tea for dessert!

Lemur island
Ella loved petting this stuffed lion in the zoo gift shop!
The Friday of that week my mom stayed in with Ella so that Andy and I could have a date night. We met up with Charlotte and Adam in the city for dinner at Chin Chin. Andy and I had never been there, which is poor form from us. It's one of Melbourne's top restaurants and we have been here for nearly four years! They don't take bookings so you have to get there early, put your name down, and then go for drinks until they call you. We were quoted about a 2.5 hour wait, which was fine as we had a baby-sitter at home, so no worries! Charlotte and Adam took us to a few different bars for some very Melbourne cocktails. Dinner was incredibly yummy. We all went for the "feed me" option which was about $70 each, and they just bring you a range of their top dishes, including dessert. It was SUCH a good night. Going out and feeling like a normal adult was a big treat. You could definitely spot the parents at our table as by midnight when we finished Andy and I were struggling to stay awake, which I don't think was the case for Charlotte and Adam!

The second week we went to Noosa which I wrote about in my last post. Our last week together we stayed pretty local. The weather was nice so Ella had lots of walks and trips to the park with my mom while Andy and I were at work. In the three weeks my mom was here Ella seemed to grow up so much, you could pretty much see changes every day. She is a very confident climber now, and can pull herself up and stand, although she is still hesitant to try and take any steps. She's also started repeating things we say, and when you ask her what a duck says, she replies "kack kack kack" which is super cute. 

It was so special to have my mom visit, and like every time we are together it went by much too quickly. We said a tearful goodbye on Saturday morning, and now the countdown until the next visit is on. Andy, Ella and I are back to our little family of three, forever contemplating when will be the best time to move to Canada, so that our little girl can grow up with her extended family around her (and her English family a much closer plane ride away). It does not help that Melbourne is such a cool city (the most liveable city in the world, for the sixth year in a row), we have good jobs, and feel fairly settled here now. But does that all matter when you don't have your family around you? That's the question we seem to never have an answer to! 

Fun times at our local park
Lots of fun climbing in and out of this tunnel, while Nannie works out how to use her phone!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Noosa with Nannie

I've been a bit slack on the blog in the last month. I've actually noticed that this is a pattern with me. Looking back on the past three years I always go through a blog drought in the winter. It must be the dark nights that make me want to just switch off and watch TV or read rather than try and write, which I find quite challenging. On top of that we've been very busy with Nannie (my mom) who visited us for the past three weeks. Sadly we said goodbye to her yesterday morning, but we had a lot of fun while she was here. The highlight (besides just seeing Ella and my mom continue to form their special relationship) was having a three day "girls weekend" in Noosa last week.

Ella, my mom and I headed up last Thursday morning, staying in the Nautilus Resort, located pretty much in the middle of Noosa Heads and Noosaville. This was my second visit to Noosa, Andy and I holidayed here in September 2013 and absolutely loved it. Unfortunately Andy could not join us this time as he had to work. I am very lucky at the moment being part-time and can be fairly flexible with the days I work, so could rearrange that week to have my two days off on a Thursday and Friday to take a long weekend.

We flew with Virgin Australia were lucky to have an extra seat in our row of three, giving Ella lots of space to crawl around. She was pretty good on the flight, which was just over two hours. That's actually a pretty short flight for our jet-setting baby! I arranged for an airport transfer with Rentacar Noosa, who I would highly recommend. This was the first time I've felt like the car seat they had was properly installed (we've even had one transfer in Melbourne where we had to install the car seat ourselves!), new, clean and it was no problem to have a rear facing one, which is much safer for babies. Ah, the things you have to organise when you travel with a baby!

Anyway we arrived at our resort around noon. We had a two bedroom place which was a good size for us. Not the most modern of apartments but a good price and the resort had a swimming pool, heated spa, and tennis court. As mentioned above it was located about a 20 minute walk from both Noosa Heads (the beach side) and Noosaville (the river side). Once we got settled in we headed towards Noosaville for some lunch and exploring.

Nautilus Resort Noosa
We had fish and chips at Red Emporer by the river, which Ella enjoyed, although for her we peeled off the batter of the fish and she didn't have any chips - I think she is still too young for anything like that. We then browsed a few shops, stopped for Gelato, and took Ella down to the sandy banks in the river. Boy did she love it!! She happily crawled through the sand, stopping to do what looked like "sand angles" and very interested in all the ducks and pelicans in the water. While walking through Noosaville we took note of many delicious looking restaurants, however ended up spending the rest of our holiday in Noosa Heads so didn't get the chance to try any of them out.

On Friday miss Ella woke nice and early so I took her for a walk and ended up at Little Cove Coffee, which is where Andy and I went for coffees on our last visit to Noosa. It was very nostalgic, remembering our trip from nearly three years ago. We had just moved to Australia, had only been married about a year, and were child free!

Walk to Little Coffee Cove - not a bad view!
On the walk back Ella fell asleep and so I parked her beside the pool in our resort while mom and I got our books and planned on relaxing.

That was short-lived, of course, as soon as my mom came to the pool with fresh cups of tea Ella woke up and wanted to play. It was pretty warm by then, so we got changed into our bathing suits and took Ella for a swim in the pool. When I say pool, I mean "heated spa", as the pool seemed a bit too cold. I will say it was too cold for Ella, but really it was too cold for me! The spa was the perfect temperature however and we spent the rest of the morning there splashing around with Ella.

Pre Swimming snack - a yummy pear. 

In the afternoon we headed to Noosa Heads and browsed the shops on Hasting Street. Ella had the most epic nap in her pram, allowing us to get not only a Gelato but a glass of wine as well! We tried the gelato at Nitrogenie, where they make the ice cream in front of you fresh eggs, cream, and real food ingredients, and then frozen with liquid nitrogen. It was pretty expensive as far as gelato goes, but very delicious and creamy and a fun experience to see it being made in front of you.

After devouring our gelato (and regretting not getting two!) we strolled along Hastings Street and noticed all of the inviting looking bars and restaurants, with outdoor seating in the beautiful sunshine. We thought we'd risk it and try and get a sneaky glass of wine in at Miss Moneypennys, and my very well behaved daughter slept almost the whole time! When she woke up she was super calm and cuddely and generously let us finish up our wine while sitting on my lap. If only it was always this easy!

We took Ella down to the beach after that, so that she could crawl around and burn some energy for a while. She loved the sand again, along with the Bush Turkeys, that can be seen frequently around Noosa. We ended up getting a pizza for dinner and ate it on the beach while watching the sunset before heading back to our resort for the night. We got the "pizza on the beach" idea from a dad and daughter that were doing the same. The little girl was about four years old and they were having the best time together. After enquiring about where to get the pizza from, we sat down to eat with Ella. Pizza with a one-year-old on the beach is slight less relaxing than pizza with a four-year-old. Lesson learned! I did, however, manage to keep pizza from getting on her cute cardigan, which I was pretty proud of.

On Saturday was our last full day. In the morning we all went to Little Cove Coffee for breakfast, where Ella enjoyed a pumpkin, sage and pear quiche which was very yum.

We then took Ella back to the beach for a closer look at the water. She was very intrigued and I think confused as to why the water kept coming closer, and then going away. Prior to this she has only really experienced water in the bath or a swimming pool, so this was a whole new territory. She got a big shock as she tried crawling towards the water but then was met with a little wave that splashed her in the face. She was not too happy about that!! After that it took a bit of convincing to get her near the water again, so we spent some time letting her experience the water running over her feet, and I think she seemed to get over her initial distrust of it.

After getting Ella changed into some dry clothes we went for lunch, followed buy some shopping for Ella on Hastings St. Ella fell asleep and after a bit of searching we found a spot in the sun to have some wine. Rather optimistically we ordered a whole bottle, so of course she woke up as soon as it was opened! She was less willing to sit nicely while we drank wine this time, so after a glass each we decided to take her to the beach again for more crawling time. Luckily we were able to take the remainder of the bottle of wine with us, which we enjoyed once we got Ella back to the resort and into bed.

We played on the beach for a while again - Ella was super interested in some kids playing with a soccer ball nearby. I felt a bit sorry for her as she really looked like she wanted to join in, and kept crawling towards them and pointing at them. She also amazed us with some new skills in being able to pull herself up and climb, as seen in the video below:

I know this looks like just a very boring video of a baby doing normal baby things, but to her mom and Nannie this was the most amazing thing ever.

And that was it! Sunday morning seemed to come around way too quickly, and I really wished that we had at least one more day. Noosa was the perfect place for us to escape the Melbourne winter and just chill out with Ella. It was nice to just take each day as it came and not feel like we had to "do" a lot of stuff to get the most out of our days. We were happy to just go with the Ella-flow, which is basically they key to enjoying a holiday with a baby or young child.

We did lots of other fun things with my mom which I will write about in our next post. Of course now the next countdown is on until we see my parents again, which is only four months away when we meet them in California for Christmas!