Friday, 31 March 2017

Currently... March

It's the last day of term. Ella is in bed, we've ordered a take-away pizza, and I have a glass of rosé beside me. Rosé drinking weather is nearly over here in Melbourne, soon it will be time to break out the reds again! 

Reading: I just finished reading The Nix by Nathan Hill. I spent the first 150 pages or so wondering where the story was going, but it does pay off in the end. 

Watching: Not much at the moment! We did watch Hacksaw Ridge the other evening. It was very good, though I wasn't really in the mood for a war movie at the time. 

Obsessing over: Ella's sleeping habits. She has decided over the past two weeks that bedtime is more of an optional thing for her. We're lucky if she's asleep by 8:30pm and that is after a lot of tears (by both her and me, haha). It makes for a very long day, and very little time to relax before heading off to bed ourselves. We are at a loss at what to do, and normally give in and let her play upstairs from 7-8pm rather than spend the hour fighting with her. I am really hoping that the clocks going back on Saturday night will sort that out, and we'll get our bedtime back again.

Learning about: Global Citizenship. It's our new initiative at school which I have some responsibility for embedding, and I am loving the opportunity to learn about something out of my subject area (which is maths). I saw Hugh Evans of Global Citizen speak this week at another local school and he was very inspiring. His TEDtalk on what it means to be a citizen of the world is a good reminder of how lucky I am to have been born into a first world country.

Needing: School holidays! So looking forward to two weeks off.

Feeling: Very overwhelmed with work at the moment. Four days a week is just about killing me. This is the most tired I have been at the end of term in a long time. I'm also constantly caught between wanting to think about career progression again, and realising how quickly Ella is growing. Sometimes I really would like to just slow down, not think about work, and enjoy my time with her while she is young. 

Loving: My new yoga mat! I had a cheaper one that I bought years ago, but it is a bit too thick for my liking and I find my hands are always slipping on it when I'm in downward dog, which is annoying. The mat I ended up with is the Harmony Mat from Jade Yoga. I did lots of internet research before deciding that this would be the right mat for me: it had excellent reviews and is also eco-friendly, made from a natural rubber tree material which is a renewable resources. Jade also plant a tree for every mat bought, and they donate $5 from every mat to different causes depending on the colour you buy - mine is teal so the donation went to Ovarian Cancer. So they seemed like a good company to buy from. So far I love it. The grip is fantastic and I easily stay put during downward dog, and at 5mm think the cushioning is just right.

Listening: I recently heard this song playing and it instantly made me go "oh my god! This song! I haven't heard it in ages. It's so good!" I constantly have it on lately as it makes me happy and as soon as Ella hears the opening guitar notes she starts to dance around, so we have a little dance party together,  which is THE BEST. Also listened to The Longest Shortest Time podcast on how to talk to your kids about race which was very informative.

Wearing: These pants from Cotton On are sooooo comfy. They are my new lounging around/just going to get a coffee/the park/actually I wear them everywhere pants. They are making me wish the weather was a bit cooler so I could wear them more often. (They only really work in the mornings and evenings right now. It's still so hot!)

Enjoying: My morning bike ride to work. I cycle pretty much every day now, as with the new daycare location it makes sense for Andy to drive and do the drop-off/pick up. The mornings are getting a bit cooler and the early morning sun in Melbourne on a sunny day is just glorious. Riding in these conditions gives me that "happy to be alive" feeling, which is a much better way to starting the day than stuck in Melbourne traffic.

Looking forward to: Bali! Less than a week to our massive family meet up in paradise!

Grateful for: The fact that both of our parents have the means to visit us regularly. And FaceTime for when they are far away!

Pic of the Month: How cute is my girl?!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Ella's week with Gan-ma (and Gan-ma)

Andy's parents are here! Dave and Bunny arrived Tuesday morning via Emirates business class... (SO jealous). Their timing was pretty good, as Ella was sick all last week with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, and fully recovered just prior to their arrival. When she first saw them she was a bit shy... for all of about 30 seconds. Since then, Ella has been all over her grandparents. She really seemed to recognise them this visit, and can now say "Gan-ma". Hilariously, she calls both of them Gan-ma, much to Dave's dismay!

Wednesday was my day off so Dave, Bunny, Ella and I headed to the Melbourne Museum. We started out in the Children's Gallery, which is a new-ish area designed for children under five. We've been here with Ella several times since it opened in December, and she always has a brilliant time. It's a huge space that starts with a tunnel and replica train to run through, and then lots of different animals, shapes, textures, sounds and spaces to explore. It is kind of like a souped up daycare centre, minus the people paid to look after your children.

Andy and I have free "teacher membership" to the museum, and it's less than a 15 minute drive from home, so a visit to the Children's Gallery is a great low-cost, toddler-friendly activity for us. Wednesday was a rainy day, so the gallery was packed when we arrived just after opening at 10:30am. As soon as we got there, Ella started asking for "yummy-yummy", which is Ella-speak for "I'm hungry". Girl loves her food. There is a small café at the entrance to the Children's Gallery, so we got a sandwich for Ella and coffee for the grown-ups, enjoying them in the outdoor seating area. Sandwich demolished and tummy full, Ella wandered off to explore the outside section of the gallery. She managed to quickly find her favourite activity, a little water feature that is guaranteed to get her soaking wet. We've learned from experience that we always need a change of clothes when we visit the museum now.

Once we changed Ella into some dry clothes she played inside a bit, but as mentioned above it was pretty busy so we ended up leaving the Children's Gallery and exploring some other parts of the museum, which was very quiet and calm. We walked through the Forest Gallery which is partly outside, with tall eucalyptus trees, ponds and waterfalls. Ella loves the part of the path which leads underground, allowing her a view into underwater pond life.

After that we visited the Top Designs exhibition, which showcases the top VCE design projects from across the state. I'm always so impressed by the quality of work produced by the Year 12s. By this time Ella was a bit tired and was lying down on the floors and benches, so we thought we'd better take her home!

On Thursday both Andy and I had to work, so Dave and Bunny ventured out to the zoo with Ella for the morning. I think Andy was worried that his parents would not be able to "handle" Ella for a whole day on their own. She definitely keeps you on your toes, but I had faith in them! Dave kept me updated with pictures and videos throughout the morning, and they all had a wonderful time, watching a seal show and enjoying the elephants. Ella fell asleep in her pram on the way home, and Dave even managed to pull off the elusive "cot transfer" without waking her. Very impressive grandparenting skills.

Dave and Bunny got a "day off" on Friday, as Ella went into daycare as normal. They spent the day exploring the city; Dave going up the Eureka Tower and Bunny venturing off to Bourke Street to check out the shops. Tall towers with views over the city are like Dave's favourite thing, but I totally would have gone with Bunny to the shops instead!

On Saturday morning we all headed out to Brunswick Baths for Ella's swimming lesson. Bunny and I did some laps in the outdoor pool while Dave watched Ella's lesson with Andy. When I finished my swim I got out and Bunny was nowhere to be found. Little did I know she had sneaked off to the hot tub!! (Side note - you are supposed to pay extra to use the hot tub/sauna area so I never go in there. Bunny unknowingly went into this part of the pool without paying. She is such a rebel.) We had some brunch at Birdie Num Nums after swimming, where Ella enjoyed a babycino. Dave and Bunny were impressed with the child friendly sandpit and toys in the café's garden.

Once we finished lunch Dave and Andy took Ella home for her nap, and Bunny and I visited some of the op-shops along Nicholson Street. It's so nice to have someone to go to the shops with! I got a few toys for Ella that have been absolute hits, and spent only $3.50 total on them! Who says kids have to have new, expensive toys to have fun?! (No one says this really. Used kids stuff is awesome.)

Late Saturday afternoon we headed out to Baby Bunting to get a few supplies for our upcoming trip to Bali (this pool floaty that Chris and Ness had when we were in Mornington which was awesome, and mosquito net for Ella's cot). We then had a couple of hours to kill before dinner so we headed to the nearby Heide Sculpture Park. We wandered around checking out art that looked cool but none of us really understood. We should really get a guide next time! The park is lovely, set along the Yarra River, and free to walk around (there is a modern art museum that you can go in as well, which does have an admission cost). Lots of people were having picnics on the grounds and there is a really calm and peaceful atmosphere, well except for the occasional shrieks from a flock of cockatoos. Ella had a great time running around, exploring the different works of art.

And now it is Sunday - Andy and Dave have gone to the Grand Prix, and Bunny and I are waiting for Ella to wake from her nap so we can take her swimming. It's been a pretty busy first week for Dave and Bunny, and we are really enjoying having them here to spend time with us and Ella.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Labour Day weekend in Rye

Last weekend was Labour Day weekend here in Victoria, which meant we had the Monday off work. We had been trying to play a little trip away with our friends Charlotte, Adam, Chris and Ness (and their baby Noah) for ages. However two babies and everyone being expats, (meaning many trips abroad for all of us), meant that this was our first chance to all get together since we spent Melbourne Cup in Lakes Entrance over a year ago. Back then, Ella was four months old, Andy and I were totally sleep deprived, and I was still in that new mother state where you feel like your baby is literally attached to you and you wonder if you will ever get the chance to be alone again. This time around was totally different - Ella is now 20 months old, walking and talking and just getting more fun by the day. She also had a little playmate in Noah, who is 11 months old.

Noah and Ella
We headed down the Mornington Peninsula to a house we rented in Rye on Friday after work. Traffic getting out of the city was predictably horrible, so it took us nearly two hours to get there. We stopped at a rest station about 40 minutes from Rye to break up the journey and get some dinner for Ella. Normally, I hate eating at rest stations like this, where your choices are mainly KFC and McDonald's. However at this particular rest station we discovered Oliver's, an organic, real food/fast food chain. It was awesome! Their extensive menu was full of healthy choices, such as pita pockets with veggies, rice and quality meat instead of burgers, smoothies and fresh juices instead of soda, steamed green or edamame beans instead of fries. We saw a sign advertising Oliver's IPO that is planned for 2017, and I've registered for a prospectus, as I'd love to invest in a company like this.

This rest station also had a quality play area for kids, so we let Ella run around for a while in there, which she loved. That is, until she fell over and slammed her forehead into some steel bars (the yellow ones pictured below). Until then we'd been having a pretty good trip! Poor Ella now has a huge bump and bruise in the middle of her forehead, added to the many bruises and scrapes she already has. She actually seems to fall down a lot lately - tripping frequently when she runs and basically just not looking where she is going at all. I'm starting to wonder how normal this is, or if there is something wrong that is causing this clumsiness.

Anyway, Ella was not happy about getting back into the car and we had a pretty painful remainder of the drive, fixed only by streaming The Wiggles on my phone. Thank goodness for The Wiggles! We arrived in Rye to our amazing house around 7pm and instantly felt happy and relaxed, ready for a nice break from work and the city. Ella was super excited to get to be in a new place, so we didn't end up getting her to bed until around 9pm! One would think that maybe she would then sleep in later, but we learnt a long time ago that babies don't work that way... she was of course up and ready to play by 7am the next morning.

Ella with her new best friend, Adam

We had a lazy Saturday morning and then headed to the beach in Rye for the afternoon. The weather was cooler than we've been having lately which was a bit of a relief. There was rain predicted but luckily that didn't happen until the night, well after we had all gone to bed. Ella loved the beach and had to be dragged away from the water more than once! She also had fun knocking down sandcastles that Charlotte made.

We had a chilled out evening (once the kids finally went to bed), enjoying a BBQ outside by the pool and playing board games. Charlotte killed us all at the game of Life. On her life journey she won the lottery and found a buried treasure, so I'm not sure how life-like the game is? Seems like you just need luck to win at life... hmmmm.... maybe it is very life-like! Every evening Andy, Ness and I headed off to bed by 11pm (which feels SO late to me. I love a 9pm bedtime), leaving our party animal friends up to do whatever it is people do late at night. Drink? Talk? Watch TV? I don't even know.

Prior to our trip Ness, Charlotte and I planned to have a girls' morning at a spa somewhere. The obvious choice was to go to the Peninsula Hot Springs, which we have all visited multiple times. The hot springs are great, and I highly recommend going if you are in that area, but we decided to look for something different this time. After some extensive Internet research, Charlotte stumbled across The Wellness Manor, located in Mornington. The website was beautiful and totally sucked us all in, so we booked massages complete with pre-treatment bathing session for Sunday morning. What a find this place was! We arrived an hour before our treatments to soak in the "experience pools": spa baths set at different temperatures surrounded by beautiful gardens. We were served herbal teas and ice cold waters by the spa, and for the most part were the only people there enjoying them at that time. After that it was time for our massage, which started with a foot bath while the therapist discussed the type of massage you would like. My massage was therapeutic, with fairly firm pressure, but also SO relaxing at the same time. I felt like I was melting into the massage table. It was probably the first time that I've had a massage where I nearly fell asleep. After the massage we all met again in the relaxation area, and all agreed that it was one of the top massages we've ever had. We were served a choice of drink (of course, we all went for the champagne, even though there were some very tasty sounding juices on offer) and some nibbles while we blissed out on the lounge chairs, listening to the babble of water from a fountain and enjoying the beautiful weather and gardens. I must say, a spa day is my idea of perfect luxury!

Ness and I outside The Wellness Manor

Experience pools

Relaxing after our massages

We spent a bit longer at The Wellness Manor than expected, so sent a text to the boys to see how they were getting on, and to see what they wanted for lunch. The reply back was that they were fine, had already sorted out lunch for them and the babies, and we should just go for lunch and enjoy ourselves. Nice! Across from the spa was a D.O.C., an Italian place that has a few locations in Melbourne and is one of Charlotte's favourites. There we continued to relax and enjoy the sunshine, sipping wine and eating authentic Italian pizza, prosciutto, and salad. On the way back we made sure to pick up some beers and ice cream for the boys!

Yummy Italian at D.O.C.
That afternoon and evening we spent a lot of time in the pool, the boys playing volleyball and Ella laughing and jumping in over and over. It was hard to get her out of there! Once the kids went to bed we got some take-away fish and chips for dinner, played a round of Articulate, and then had an early night as everyone was feeling pretty shattered.

Monday morning was check-out day, so we had a lazy brunch followed by packing up - it always takes much longer than I expect to pack up a house after a weekend away! Chris and Ness headed straight back to Melbourne with Noah, while we planned to meet Charlotte and Adam at a nearby beach, St. Andrew's, for a walk. Unfortunately on the way there Ella fell asleep in the car, so rather than wake her, Andy and I headed off to Flinders, about half an hour away (on the way back to Melbourne) and drove around while Ella slept. Charlotte and Adam met us there a bit later, and we headed to a park for a play and then to Flinders Bakehouse Café for lunch. Flinders is a cute village, along the ocean side of the Mornington Peninsula. There was a pretty epic golf course along the coast that I think Andy would have loved to play at.

Ice cream at St. Andrew's Beach

After lunch we headed back to Melbourne, feeling tired but happy from our long weekend. Ella was great the whole time, and I was glad that I had the next day off work to spend with her again. Little did Andy and I know, our poor girl had contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth disease from daycare (we think), which is a virus that results in mouth and throat ulcers, along with little blisters around ones hands, feet and mouth (hence the name). Tuesday evening we ended up taking her to the Royal Children's Hospital and were there until 3am. This is the worst illness Ella has had to date, I think the ulcers are really painful for her and at times she just screams uncontrollably for up to an hour at a time. It has been horrible to see her going through this, as there is little we can do to help her. Needless to say, we've had a very sleep deprived week, and a lot of time off work. She is on the mend now though, so I think the worst of it is over. Luckily we have Andy's parents arriving on Tuesday so we are looking forward to the extra two pairs of hands in the house and of course having Ella spend some quality time with her grandparents.