one thing at a time

Friday, September 26, 2014

oh how I would love to drink my coffee and do nothing else! this is a shot from my session with Stella

I have this terrible habit of trying to do 10 things at once, and not succeeding at any of them. It's multi-tasking at its worst. Let me give you a concrete example from this week…

I struggle through the door and up the stairs with a baby on my hip and shopping bags on my arms. I dump everything outside the kitchen and think, "I really need to put a load of nappies on to wash." I get the washing machine started and then walk back to the kitchen to start putting away the shopping. I notice the mess on the counters and start trying to wash dishes as I put fresh food in the fridge. I'm hungry so I'm also shovelling bites of food into my mouth as I go. Then I notice that the floor is disgusting and I start sweeping up the remnants of lunch. It's at this point that I realise that I've forgotten about the washing machine, which is now halfway through its cycle with no nappies in it. Awesome. The kitchen is still a mess, the laundry pile is as high as ever and Clementine is whining for my attention. Utter fail.

I was recently re-reading Sara Avant Stover's book (as I tend to do at the beginning of each season) when this passage jumped out at me:

"Knowing the reality of these women's lives as wives and mothers, Dipa Ma offered the most practical advice she could: Practice mindfulness. Feel the cloth as you fold your laundry and hang it on the line. Notice the temperature of the water on your skin as you wash the dishes. Sense your baby's lips on your breast as she feeds. Turn away from your thoughts and become present to moment-to-moment sensations as you do your chores."
                    - Sara Avant Stover

It was just the advice I needed to hear. Instead of trying to do five things at once, do one, but do it mindfully. 'One thing at a time' has been the mantra I repeat to myself many times a day. I still find myself trying to multi-task but when I do, I pause, take a breath and commit myself to just one task. And when I do, I no longer feel like I'm running around like a headless chicken and I get more done.


for the love of tv

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

completely unrelated photo because my TV is not at all photogenic

Lest you came away from this post thinking I'm a book snob who only ever reads, I'm here to tell you that I love TV. For so many reasons (here's a good list), I enjoy watching TV shows and found that I watched more after having a baby. Blame it on all that time spent at home nursing and watching the baby nap. Broken down into a few categories, here are some of my favourites:

Shows that are cancelled: Big Love, Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, Flight of the Conchords, The Vicar of Dibley, Black Books and 30 Rock. I had been telling my husband about 30 Rock for years, but he only just got into it a few months ago. Re-watching it was just as good as watching it the first time; it is quite possibly my favourite show ever made. I love Tina Fey. And if you've never heard of The Vicar of Dibley, do yourself a favour and go watch it! I wouldn't necessarily call myself an Anglophile, but I do have a weakness for British film and TV. The English sense of humour just kills me. Speaking of which, Black Books would also have to be in my top 3, and if you're a Black Books fan, click here.

Shows I watch with my husband: Homeland, The Newsroom, Game of Thrones, Elementary, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Seinfeld. To be honest, all the violence and gore in Game of Thrones finally got to me (hello red wedding) and I didn't watch the whole last season. I still can't decide if I'll go back to it. I'm bummed that The Newsroom is only getting one more season, but I am eagerly awaiting it. And as for Homeland, not sure how I feel about Brody being gone, but I'll give it a shot.

Guilty pleasures: Arctic Air, Hart of Dixie, The Bachelor. Oh man, I can't believe I just admitted to watching these. For the first time ever, I'm watching The Bachelor. I have to say that my favourite thing about it is reading these recaps the day after and also rehashing last night's episodes with a good friend of mine. I really hope that no one is ever listening in on our conversations because we sound ridiculous! As for Hart of Dixie, yeah, that one just keeps getting worse and worse but I can't stop watching. And I'm team George, in case you were wondering…

A few others: Downton Abbey, Girls, Orange is the New Black, Offspring. I think you all know by now that I can't get enough of Offspring. It's most definitely my favourite Australian show, and just as much as the show, I love obsessing over Nina's wardrobe and home. Oh, and I cannot wait for Downton Abbey to come back!

And because I'm a hypocrite, I've been thinking a lot about Clementine's TV consumption. Katrina Kenison has a really good chapter in this book about going TV free, and while I agree with everything she says, I just can't seem to survive without it. Clementine doesn't watch a lot of TV, but I do find myself using it to distract her most days. My husband doesn't usually get home until 6, and in the period from 4 to 5pm when I'm trying to make her dinner, make our dinner and tidy up, she's grumpy. She will whine unless I'm holding her, which makes all of those tasks impossible. Inevitably I find myself turning on ABC for kids just so I can cook. I'd love to hear your thoughts on kids and TV, especially if any of you are a no-TV-household.


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???

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