a crappy week

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I didn't intend to be absent from here for so long, but the truth is that last week was crap and I didn't feel like blogging. Parenting can be so humbling. You think you have it all together, and then you have a week from hell and you're left scratching your head. Last week, for reasons we couldn't figure out, it seriously seemed as though Clementine was possessed. She screamed for days on end, and was only happy ('happy' being a relative term) if I was holding her. The one upside was that I got lots of cuddles, which is unusual for my normally very independent toddler. But it was utterly exhausting, physically and emotionally. I spent all week wondering, "what am I doing wrong?"

On Sunday morning Clementine woke up, and just like that, all was well again. She went back to being her normal happy self. Later that day I noticed that one of her molars had popped through (her first), so I'm blaming week-of-hell on that. I have to admit that this scares me, because if that's what we have to go through with each molar…

This week has been much better already. I'm busy chasing Clementine and trying to keep up with my photography work. This weekend I got to shoot two newborns, one of whom was only a few hours old. Such a privilege.

On the home front, we're in the middle of a big furniture swap and re-arrange and it's all a bit chaotic. You can hardly move in our living room for all of the couches and chairs, most of which to be re-homed asap. One of our bookshelves fell apart (thank you Ikea), which means there are now books scattered all over the floor. I refuse to buy furniture from Ikea, so I'm hoping to find a new to us bookshelf on freecycle, or perhaps the side of the road... I hate when our home is this messy and disorganised, but I know that when it's all done, our place will look better than ever before. I can't wait.


away: to the central coast

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Last week we spent a few days up the coast, just for fun. Theresa had generously told us that we were welcome to stay at their place while they're off globe trotting, and I had been dying to take her up on the offer. Their home is so nice, and it honestly felt like arriving at a hotel. Not to mention the fact that Mason's room is set up identically to Clementine's (with the same crib, same bumpers, same books and even the same artwork hanging), so she felt right at home! For the first night, my friend and her toddler joined us and then we had a day on our own.

The weather was terrible the first day and we didn't do much, but on day 2 we visited Jodi and Poet, then headed to Avoca to check out Like Minds. It came highly recommended and it didn't disappoint. They were even nice about our two crazy toddlers running around! If you go, please have a chai and a brownie for me. 

Before heading back home, we took a quick pitstop at Bohemian Traders HQ so I could pick up a top I haven't taken off since… We then headed to East Gosford where we stopped at the divine Piccolo Pear, grabbed coffee at Oomph and then walked over to a lovely playground. After a short walk we found ourselves at the Gosford Art Gallery, where the Japanese Gardens kept Clementine entertained for ages.

I'm already planning our next trip up. There are quite a few more places I want to visit, and if my husband comes next time, I might actually be able to sit and have lunch in peace! If you're planning a visit, this post from Jodi is great.


healthy(ish) apple crumble for one

Friday, August 29, 2014

You all probably know by now that I love, love, love dessert. My husband, however, does not. He's weird.

Anyhow, this means that whenever the mood strikes to make sweet treats, I end up eating them all myself. So when I'm feeling sensible, I opt for individual desserts, like this healthy(ish) apple crumble. This is a pretty simple, just-wing-it kind of recipe, but here it is in case you're a recipe follower:

1 apple
1 Tablespoon flour (any kind you like)
1 Tablespoon sugar (I used rapadura)
1 Tablespoon rolled oats
1 Tablespoon butter
pinch cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a ramekin.

Peel and dice your apple, then place in the ramekin. Combine the rest of the ingredients, cutting in the butter last until you have a mixture that resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apple. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes.

Enjoy with a big scoop of ice cream!


the cost of children

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We have this neighbour who adores Clementine. Whenever he sees her, he grabs her, plays peekaboo, throws her up in the air, cuddles her and she just loves it. Yesterday he saw us coming in and came over to help. While he was goofing around with the little one, his friend said to him, "You know you can have one of these, right?" To which our neighbour replied, "Nah, I want a big house and a nice car before we have a baby."

If I had a penny for every time I heard something similar! One of my husband's friends said that he wouldn't have a baby until he had x amount of money in the bank, and it was a large sum. So many people seem to let money hold them back from starting a family, and I can't understand it. It's not as if the baby is going to bust out of your womb demanding to see your latest bank statement or requesting an SUV to be chauffeured around in.

Now, I'm not completely naive. I live in one of the world's most unaffordable cities; I know that money is important, I just don't think it's the most important. When my parents had me, they didn't have much. We lived in Cartagena where they worked as English teachers and tour guides. They certainly didn't let money, or lack thereof, stop them from having a baby and they didn't let having a baby stop them from living an adventurous life. Similarly, my husband and I happily had a baby while living in a funky little apartment, knowing that we still wanted to travel, and not being sure where we would end up living.

I've noticed that here in Sydney in particular, people are obsessed with home ownership and private school. It's something my husband and I have talked about at length, but I still don't get. Where I grew up in Vancouver, everyone went to public school, even the rich kids. If we waited until the day we could buy a house in Sydney and afford to pay private school tuition for two kids, we would miss our chance to have children. No exaggeration.

When you start talking about the cost of raising children, all sorts of figures get thrown around. Again, we're not immune to this and the fact that we're a bi-cultural family puts a big strain on us. We know that two children will most likely be our maximum as we need to be able to travel back and forth between Canada and Australia. But, I think that having a baby doesn't need to be the huge financial drain that everyone says it is. Most of the big tickets items we needed for Clementine (e.g. bassinet, stroller, crib, playpen, carseat, swing etc) we bought used, borrowed from friends or received as gifts. I even wrote a post about it here. Cloth diapering has saved us a lot of money, as has breastfeeding.

Apart from travel, our lifestyle costs us less now that we have a baby. I hardly ever buy clothes anymore, and we rarely go out. We use our car far less than we used to because my husband cycles to work and I find life easier when I stay in our neighbourhood. We gratefully accept hand-me-downs and our social life revolves around visits to the park or the beach. I'm glad we had our daughter when we did, fancy house or not.


a photography update

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I have a couple of photos in the latest issue of Australian Yoga Journal (the chai article) / My new website

I've always been the girl with a camera glued to my face. When I first went to Europe on a high school exchange, I came back with thousands of photos, and that was before digital. I took some courses and got to know my way around a darkroom, and then, my dad gave me a DSLR for my birthday/Christmas. I took so many photos that first winter with my Nikon. I literally have albums upon albums filled with pictures of Scout.

I kept shooting, but never really got to know my camera and all it was capable of. In the last couple of years, I've made it my mission to change that. I switched to Canon, did a workshop, picked other photographers' brains, and practiced, practiced, practiced. I've spent the last year doing maternity, newborn and family sessions for friends, and now those friends are recommending me to their friends. It's wonderful, but also a bit scary to all of a sudden be declaring myself a photographer. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I feel that way about most things in life, and so I won't let it stop me.

All that to say that I have a new website, hooray! It's a place dedicated to my photography, complete with a blog of its own. The design is simple and it's easy to navigate, which is just what I wanted. I have my brilliant friend Alanna to thank for it.

I'm happy to say that I'm now available for maternity, newborn and family shoots. Feel free to get in touch with any questions or to book a session.


anatomy of a rainy day

Monday, August 18, 2014

1) Endless cups of tea.   2) A basket full of toys.   4) Homemade chocolate cake. Just 'cause.   5) A stack of books.   6) Not pictured - the many, many episodes of Peppa Pig that Clementine watched.

Our winter has been a mild one. We've had hardly any rain, so most days we just rug up and go outside to play. Yesterday was the first day it was raining so hard that I wondered how I would survive the day inside with my rambunctious toddler. Between endless cups of tea and the baking of a chocolate cake (just because I felt like it), we played with new to us toys and read a pile of books. Thank goodness for our local library; we were at the doors when they opened and came home with a pram full of goodies. Of course, toys and books will only entertain so long, so it was a relief when the sun came out in the afternoon.

Today was much the same but we headed further afield to check out an indoor trampoline park. It wore Clementine out (success!) and was surprisingly fun for my husband and I. It brought me back to my gymnast days, and I flipped and flopped with glee. After an hour we were feeling so cheerful and energised, amazing what some bouncing can do for your mood!

If there are any North American/European moms reading, can you please tell me how you survive the winter months with a toddler???



Saturday, August 16, 2014

These days I'm craving and relishing simplicity. It might have something to do with the lingering cold I've had for the last 2 weeks, or it may be because my energy has been low, but whatever the reasons, I'm rolling with it. I've been meaning to give my blog a makeover for 6 months now, but I'm a procrastinator so I've only just gotten to it. I loved the pink, but it's nice to have a clean, fresh, simple look. I hope you like it too.

Over the last 5 weeks I've been doing this course through The Red Tent. It's been eye opening and full of practical advice. I've learned a lot! It's really changed my approach to feeding Clementine. I used to think that if I wanted her to be a good eater, I had to expose her to every food under the sun in her first years of life. She's never been a great eater and I've been stressing over it since she was 1 month old (seriously). I've been learning, however, that from a Chinese Medicine perspective, children need simple, warm food. I've been changing Clementine's diet to include less dairy and fruit, and more easy to digest, nourishing foods like chicken congee, home-made bone broths, steamed vegetables and oatmeal. She's been responding so well! My husband (ever skeptical of "alternative" methods like Chinese Medicine) was just saying that he can't believe how well Clementine has been eating lately. He's a total convert now. Mealtimes have become so much more simple and she's eating so much more. I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

I hope you're all having a wonderful, relaxing weekend!


setting an example

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I think every parent gets to that stage where they realise that their child is mimicking everything they do. This has been on my mind for a while now, because I know that in some ways, I'm not setting a very good example for my little one. Ever since she started on solids I've been quite strict with what I feed her. I don't let her have any sugar at all, and certainly no junk food. Most of her food is made from scratch, and it's also mostly organic. I definitely won't be the mum not letting her kid have cake at a birthday party, but I feel strongly that at this age, she does not need to have cakes/cookies/brownies etc.

But, I am a sugar fiend. I've always had a sweet tooth, and since having Clementine, it's gotten out of control. As a new mum, most of my social life has revolved around cafe dates with friends over coffee and cake. Nowadays we mostly hang out at the park, but we still very often stop for a takeaway coffee and treat. Clementine now wants to try a bite of everything I eat, so I'm discovering that I can't eat my usual treats when she's around. I know that if I want to foster healthy eating habits in her, I have to change my own habits. I definitely have more to say on this, but I'll leave it for another post. For now I'm trying to embrace one of my favourite sayings: everything in moderation, including moderation.

On a lighter note, I'm also trying so hard not to swear but it is tough! So far Clementine only has a few words, but I worry that if we keep up the way we are her first word will be a 4 letter one. Both my husband and I are pretty bad. Just today he was working on something that was frustrating him, and he was muttering and swearing under his breath. "Bloody f&*% s#$t c@#p son of a…" and on it went. He caught me glaring at him and toned it down to, "bloody bastard, mumble, grumble…" Because that's not swearing apparently. It's safe to say that we have some work to do in this department. Please tell me we're not the only ones...

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