Friday, 15 November 2013

Sweet potato sprouts

Look what I found in the back of the pantry! The white potatoes have sprouted a little, but the sweet potato has gone to town!

The sprouts are all kinked up because they ran into the underside of the shelf above.
Chubs and I (well mostly me) had lots of fun observing their growth

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Wholemeal pasta substitution

A simple switch which we're trying to do more often is to have wholemeal pasta instead of white. I do miss the taste of white pasta and still get it occasionally, but the brown pasta is definitely an easy, healthier substitute.

Chubs will only eat pasta occasionally. 'Rainbows', as picture above, are a sure hit every time. Win.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Family fun day: Beach

We went for a drive a few weeks ago. It was the perfect beach day for a look at the markets, a paddle in the water and ice creams!

These glorious blue spring days are just wonderful.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Meal Plan

We're super busy at the moment and gasping for air with no respite in sight. Meal planning for the win!

Monday: Garlic chicken with carrots, corn and beans
Tuesday: Stir fry (DH)
Wednesday: Lasagne (from freezer)
Thursday: Slow cooker chicken curry
Friday: Bolognese
Saturday: ??
Sunday: Chili con carne (make big batch for freezer)

Monday, 7 October 2013


We'll, I've done it. I've joined the club. I now have an iPhone, and I'm blogging from it right now. Hubby got one too! 

I think I'm in love with Siri, although she's not as useful as she could be. Chubs fell asleep in the car in the afternoon and no amount of poking or prodding would wake her up. Siri wasn't much help, however! 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Red Cabbage Indicator investigation

Red cabbage indicator - full of awesomely awesome awesomeness.

Crash course in acid base chemistry for those of you playing along at home:

Acids are substances that release hydrogen ions. Bases are substances that accept hydrogen ions. No need to worry about those last two sentences if they scare you, the investigation will still be awesome. Water soluble bases are called alkalis, so in everyday situations the terms 'base' and 'alkali' are pretty much interchangeable.

pH is a measure of how acidic or basic a substance is. pH 7 is neutral - by definition pure water is exactly pH 7. The more acidic it is, the lower the pH, so anything below 7 is acidic. The more basic it is, the higher the pH , so that's the above 7s.

pH scale facts:
- The numbers in pH actually mean something - there is a reason that 7 is neutral. It's not an arbitarily assigned number like many of the other scales that we use.
- Each increment means ten times - so something at pH 5 is ten times more acidic than a substance at pH 6. A substance with a pH of 4 is one hundered times more acidic than the pH 6 substance.
- The 'p' on pH means something, and so does the 'H'. The p is always lower case even when at the beginning of a sentence, and the H is always a capital.

An indicator is a special substance which changes colour depending on what pH it is. One of the coolest and easiest indicators - especially for little investigators - is red cabbage indicator. it has very distinct colour changes, is dead easy and you don't need to worry about harmful chemicals poisoning the kidlets.

Preparing the indicator

Get a red cabbage. You don't need much - I was making heaps for a large group, but if you're just doing it for a few people then a quarter of a cabbage will be heaps. Chubs wasn't keen on the whole cabbage, she wanted the pretty half one, so I had to swap the half for the whole when she wasn't looking. Hopefully you can avoid this - for less that one hundered kids then a quarter cabbage will be heaps.

Roughly chop

Chop the cabbage roughly. You want to allow the red colour to 'leech' out.

Cover with hot water
Bung it all in a saucepan and cover. Heat it for a while (about 10 - 15 minutes, no need to be fussy)
Soggy cabbage
When the colour has started to run out of the cabbage and it looks 'washed out' then it's done.  

Strain it out into a tub or bowl.

Yuck cabbage
It feels very wasteful, but I ditch the cabbage each time. I'm sure there's a recipe to do something with it, but it does seem a bit like a Dickensian work house. If anyone has any ideas, let me know!

The investigation

One of the great things about this investigation is that you can just get in and play. It can be as structured or as relaxed as you want it to be. As long as you are using foodstuffs then it's totally fine for little hands and mouths. If using anything that might sting eyes then be careful, but I'm guessing if you're reading this then you had a toddler and you don't need me to tell you that.

The RCI will stain hands like beetroot, but it's not harmful and will wear off quickly. Clothes staining can be a bit hit and miss - but this is a good one for play clothes anyway. It can fizz a lot - so it's messy and wet, but easily cleaned. Best bet is to do it outside where you can just hose everything off.

Here's a few samples that I tried this afternoon. A bicarb solution (sodium carbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate, depending on which brand), vinegar and water is more than enough to get you going for a while. Milk, lemon juice, toothpaste suspension, apple juice, sugar solution, dishwashing liquid and anything else you can find make great things to test.

RCI will turn to different colours depending on the pH. Most items which are toddler safe are in pH 5 - 9, so green, blue/purple and pink will be the colours you see the most.

For this investigation, I added the RCI first - these are just RCI.

RCI only
I added some bicarb solution to one, more water to the next one, and then vinegar to the last one.
With samples
One of the great things about indicators, is that they aren't like dyes or paints. If you mix them together, then they will keep changing to the colour that the solution is. You can keep mixing the substances together and it won't end up as one brown murky mess like paint or food colouring would. For the pHs of normal foodstuffs, RCI will change between pink, blue, purple and green.

Vinegar and RCI in the bottom glass (pink)
About to add bicarb and RCI solution from the top
In the photo above, I added the bicarb solution from the previous photo to the vinegar one.
It fizzes like bicarb and vinegar normally do
Be careful if you're not expecting this.
Once the carbon dioxide has fizzed off, you can see that the RCI is still pink (so acidic) but it's less pink that it was. This is to be expected; the bicarb just neutralised it a bit. If you keep adding more bicarb (either solution or powder) then it will become more purple/blue and then green.

Keep mixing, keep trying things out, keep investigating. It's lots of fun! Make a table with your results and be very organised, or just keep playing. Lots of fun - enjoy.

Monday, 30 September 2013


Well, things have gone pear shaped. Life - work, illness, toddler-ness, laziness, tiredness - has gotten in the way. I only managed to exercise four times this month, twice were in the last week and I'm really pushing it to call the 'exercise'.

However, something is better than nothing, so I will continue on.

The diet has also been, um, 'interrupted' - working crazy hours where you get paid-per-piece with a very high level of accuracy required seems to closely dictate my caffeine and sugar intake. Catering and lack of will power doesn't help, either.

Back on track though - time to continue on.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Federal election

This afternoon I had a group of students to whom the task was assigned to come up with one idea or concept that would change the world for the better.


One of their joke ideas was that everyone should be nice to each other.


In what sort of society are we living when that is considered a joke idea?


After exploring the option a lot more, it was decided that perhaps this wasn't such a crazy joke idea after all. They started moving from wacky, crazy ideas to actual strategies and plans.


It was not unnoticed that they were not the first to come up with this idea. I truly hope that they aren't persecuted, ridiculed, tortured, shot, or nailed to a cross for having this idea.


For the majority of my Facebook Friends who will be voting tomorrow - please take a moment to think about this radical idea. Perhaps it is truly as simple as this.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Exercise log - August

Well, it has begun.

August wasn't great, but I'm going to keep going. I'm definitely taking the view that 'anything is better than nothing'.

Diet: I've been up-ing the salads, although having fresh salads available all the time isn't always do-able. However, spinach + some veggies + tin of tuna is becoming my go-to lunch, ahead of toast or a sandwich. I'm still falling back on a sandwich for when there's no spinach, since I can freeze bread so I don't run out. I've been trying to have more protein for breakfast, for example one piece of toast with a boiled egg, rather than two pieces of toast. While Dear Husband was away, protein shakes were a back up breakfast (and lunch) for me.

Sugar's been a problem. I'm trying to avoid it, but of course all those yummy bring-a-plate morning teas are still so prevalent. At work we made a Periodic Table out of cupcakes for National Science Week - that was a whole lot of cakes to ice when I should have been eating a healthy morning tea. I'd not eaten breakfast due to daycare drop off dramas and was literally shaking, so a cupcake for morning tea it was. However, I will continue to try to eat well and not be thrown off by the 'excitements' that life throws.

Exercise: Got off to a good start, then stalled. The plan so far has been for Dear Husband to play at the park with Chubs, while I run around the park. Dramas erupted a few times with a cranky bub, and this plan didn't work while Dear Husband was away. I did fit in a massive walk around the botanical gardens which I didn't put on the log.

I had thought of exercise options for when Chubs would be my reponsibility, but none worked out. It's a 10 and a half hour day for Chubs at daycare when DH is away, so I don't think it's fair to leave her there longer. Even if I did, I'm too flogged and by the time I got changed into exercise clothes etc I would only have time for a ten minute run before I would have to pick her up before daycare closes, so it's just not worth it. Another possible option may have been to have dropped Chubs off at Nan's house for a play and for me to go for a ride on Nan's bike, but Nan was either at work or away herself. I had a few extra days of work and some pre-wedding events over the last few weeks as well, which cut down my options both as my time was tighter, and I'd used up a lot of babysitting from others that I couldn't ask them to babysit more - both for their sake and for Chubs' sake.

However, the plan is to continue. I will just keep trying to get done what I can. Dear Husband is home, so hopefully we can get back on track. I'm a bit dubious about how September will pan out - I've got a lot of extra work plus a wedding and several family events, so it's not looking much better than August, however the plan continues.

I've roped in a friend to keep me accountable, so hopefully things will keep on track!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Fabulous Croquet

I played croquet this afternoon with some long time girlfriends. It was truly lovely.

Chubs was having some Daddy time, and we had some yummy food, lovely conversation and great weather.

My croquet skills were moderate for a beginner (ie pretty rubbish...) The club had a staff member who walked around with us telling us what to do and what the rules were which helped a lot! 
Everything is better with cupcakes 

Sadly a lot of my photos didn't work out and I can't seem to upload them. :(   It was a lovely afternoon though - highly recommended. My best wishes to my dear friend xx

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Visit to the Sciencentre

Woo hoo! Sciencentre trip!
It had been long time since I'd been to the Sciencentre. BC I used to volunteer when it was still in George Street. I'd not been over since it had moved to be part of the museum building proper at Southbank.
It was lots of fun, and Chubs just loved it.
Making whirlpools
It's a lovely trip for the day. We get the train in because it's convenient and Chubs loves the trip. The Sciencentre is part of the Museum, but has a separate entry fee (the rest of the Museum is free). Annual memberships are available, which are less than the costof three visits. 

Orbiting fun
We normally take a packed lunch which can be eaten in the dinosaur garden, and there's several cafes around too. You can leave and reenter at any time, so no need to worry about wasting the fee on a meltdown.

Musical science
It did get a bit busy later in the day, and lots of older kids and teenagers moving around was a bit overwhelming. At two years, Chubs is definitely at the very bottom of the target range and a lot was above her, but there was still plenty to keep her interested. Highly recommended!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Exercise, diet and weight loss

So, about two weeks ago, I found out that I'm overweight. According to my BMI of 26.9...

Once you have measured your BMI, you can determine your healthy weight range. If your BMI is:
- Under 18.5 - you are very underweight and possibly malnourished.
- 18.5 to 24.9 - you have a healthy weight range for young and middle-aged adults.
- 25.0 to 29.9 - you are overweight
- Over 30 - you are obese.

I've been steadily putting on weight over the last twelve years since I've left school. I've averaged about two kilograms a year, and have slowly gone from a size 8 to a 14. I did lose a lost of weight when I was pregnant however, so my gain-per-year rate is actually higher than two.

Contributing factors which I can see include
- a less than stellar diet (not awful, but room for improvement)
- no exercise
- motherhood
- hormones/medications
- not being seventeen any more

My diet is ok, but not great. We try to eat healthy foods, but I probably eat too many carbs and too much cheese. We don't tend to buy lollies, chocolate, soft drink and the like but when things get busy I will eat whatever is shelf stable and quick (such as cheese on toast, or raiding the chocolate drawer at work.) I try to keep portions down, but this is perhaps something that I need to work harder on.

I currently do very little exercise. I used to go to the gym before Chubs was born, but it just became too hard after she was here. They do have a creche at the gym, but none of us were comfortable leaving her there. There wasn't anything wrong with the creche, however Chubs was always more comfortable with people whom she knew. The expense when I wasn't attending was guilt inducing and I didn't really feel that it was working before Chubs, let alone after. I cancelled my membership when I finished my maternity leave.

Motherhood itself has probably had a large effect too. Whilst pregnancy for me wiped of 12 kilos and the 500 calories a day that breastfeeding uses were very helpful, the craziness and constant demands of life with a little one mean that often meals are easy, quick and shelf stable - more cheese on toast. If we're out during the day (which we often are) we will stop at a cafe for a coffee/ bubbachino and a little something to break up the day and give little legs a rest. One thing that we do a lot is attend mothers' groups and go on playdates. I was talking to Chubs about a friend (from mothers' group) that we were ging to visit. When I asked her what she was going to play with her friend she told me 'babies and coffee and playgrounds' - which shows that she knows her from mothers' group! Everyone brings a plate, and while we often have fruit, veggies sticks and other healthy options, the cake, chocolate biccies and other yummy yummy goodness are always in plentiful supply, as they are at birthday parties.

I've been on various medications that have had an effect on my mass (I think) but it's always hard to know as I can't exactly run a controlled test without a time machine. Dysmenohhorea, possible PCOS and possible gestitational diabetes haven't helped with trying to work out what is going on either. While 500 - 600 calories a day is the commonly quote figure for exclusive breastfeeding, I'm yet to find any information on the calorie demand of breastfeeding a toddler.

So, where to from here? I have decided that I need to do something. There are many reasons why diet and exercise won't work for me, but I need to just work towards 'better'. I have taken the approach that anything is better than nothing. In the last fortnight I have started to think about and implement changes in my diet, and I have done two exercise sessions so far.

I've been quite open in this post, since I want to share my journey. By following the example of others, I have realised that I need to think outside the box and look for possible solutions rather than just seeing roadblocks.

Coming soon:
Exercise changes
Diet changes

Friday, 2 August 2013

I Support You Movement

This week is World Breastfeeding Week. I know that I bang on about breastfeeding a lot - because it's important to me.

However, one thing that trumps breastfeeding or anything else everytime is support, and love. It was with much excitement that I heard about the I Support You campaign. Suzanne Barston, the Fearless Formula Feeder, Jamie Lynne Grumet (of Time Magazine cover fame) and Kim Simon of Mama By The Bay have launched the "I Support You" campaign.

The I Support You movement is a respectful, empathetic, compassionate exchange between parents. We all feed our children differently, but we are all feeding with love, and in ways that work for our individual circumstances and family dynamics. I Support You is the first step in helping formula-feeding, breast-feeding, and combo-feeding parents to come together and lift each other up with kindness and understanding. We have chosen to announce this movement during World Breastfeeding Week, to honor the commitment of those who fight for better support for breastfeeding moms; we are inspired by this, but believe that by changing the focus to supporting all parents, we can truly provoke positive change without putting the needs of some mothers above the needs of others. The “I Support You” movement aims:
1) To bridge the gap between formula-feeding and breastfeeding parents by fostering friendships and interactions.

2) To dispel common myths and misperceptions about formula feeding and breastfeeding, by asking parents to share their stories, and really listening to the truth of their experiences.

3) To provide information and support to parents as they make decisions about how to feed their children.

4) To connect parents with local resources, mentors, and friends who are feeding their children in similar ways.
With that in mind, I submit the above. I chose a coffee cup, because I'm not super keen on photos of my daughter and me being publicly available, but also because a friendly chat over a cup of coffee has often been a source of support for me. So, regardless of if you are a coffee drinker or not, to all the loving mothers out there - I support you.

I urge you all to celebrate support, diversity and inclusiveness, to leave the MummyWars behind, and to share the love around.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Ten random hints for expressing

1. Keep your flanges et al in the fridge/ cool bag between pumping sessions - no need to wash.

2. Make sure you leave a manual handle in your pump bag in case of battery failure, as well as a spare diaphram/valve. Knowing how to hand express covers all manner of emergencies, too. Like forgetting the pump.

3.Take one large cool bag to work with full lunch containers and empty milk containers. Bring it home in reverse. Simpler than two separate bags, and makes it easier to grab your lunch and pump.

4. The sick bay fridge probably has more room in it than the staff room one.

5. No expressing room? Try someone's office, and have a back up plan or two. Or just pump at the staffroom table - in Australia your right to do so with or without a cover is legally protected.

6. Need to pump while running around? If someone else is driving then pumping in the car can be a very effective option.

7. Soft ice medical ice packs are easy to wrap around a bottle. There are hard ice packs available with curves for bottles, but you can't use them on a sprained ankle so it's one more thing in the freezer.

8. If you can, shout yourself to some nice maternity bras. You're going to be seing a lot of them, and so is everyone else, so you might as well enjoy it.

9. For pumping in normal circumstance for a healthy baby, there's no need to steralise pump or bottles - washing with hot soapy water is enough.

10. Let down let down let down - if you're getting no milk after two minutes, you probably haven't got a let down, so try trouble shooting that

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

More spoken word

This one used to be my favourite spoken word, until this one.

Now they are tied for first place.

It was actually a student who first introduced me to Taylor Mali. She typed this whole poem out on a piece of paper and gave it to some of her teachers for Teacher's Day one year, along with a touching message of her own. She also performed the whole poem at a school showcase night (in from of students and parents) and as part of one of end of term assemblies (in front of every student in the school). If you've not seen a young teenager perform in front of a captive group of her peers then you probably won't understand the guts, determination and passion that this takes. Both this poem and this student hold a special place in my heart.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Hamburger in my handbag.

This is what I found in my handbag the other day, at 3am no less.
Toddler in the house, it seems.
What's the strangest thing you've had in your bag?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Monday Menu Plan

I've missed a few weeks, and didn't we notice it! It took me a while to get into the habit, but now thaI have I really miss it when I don't do it.

Monday 8 July Beef stir fry (DH). Cook bolognese for freezer
Tuesday 9 July Bolognese
Wednesday 10 July Roast parmesan chicken with roast veggies
Thursday 11 July Veal stir fry
Friday 12 July Hot chook and steamed veggies
Saturday 13 July Soup
Sunday 14 July Scavenge

Monday 15 July Beef stir fry
Tuesday 16 July Bolognese
Wednesday 17 July Chilli con carne
Thursday 18 July Crispy chicken and roast veggies
Friday 19 July Soup
Saturday 20 July scavenge
Sunday 21 July Braised chicken and rice with beans and carrot


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Embarrassed - Breastfeeding in public

This spoke word has had such a powerful affect on me. It has blown me away.

It seems I'm not the only one. Earlier today it had 63 thousand views, tonight it has 113 thousand. I thought it had been around for a while and was just getting a share snowball today, but checked just before - it was only uploaded on Thursday.

This. This is phenomenal.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Happy Birthday to my breastfeeding baby - again (Part Three)

Read Part One here
Read Part Two here

Well, The Day came. No Mummy milk allowed until bedtime. We'd prepared, discussed, and braced ourselves. I expected the tantrums to be epic, for her poor little world to be ripped from her, while we tried to support her as best we could.

What do you know - it was ok. No diasters, no tantrums, no screaming. She asked for Mummy milk in the afternoon, and I said my well rehearsed 'No darling, you're too big for Mummy milk in the day time now. Remember no Mummy milk in the day time after your party?' She was happy with a cuddle and a drink of water instead. Well, she wasn't really happy, perhaps 'reluctantly accepting' is a better description. She had a little bit of a whimper, a snuggle and her water bottle and she was ok. No screaming, no crying, no tantrums. Wow.

It seemed that I'd underestimated her ability to understand what was going on; I'd sold her short. Day weaning so far has been far less painful for everyone than we were expecting, and I'm very thankful for that.

After The Day we tried to make things as smooth as possible for Chubs. I skipped playdates and made other arrangments for meetings for a week or two where there were likely to be breastfeeding bubs. Daddy started to offer 'honey milk' (warm cows' milk in a cup with a teeny drop of honey) when 'Mummy milk pweeze' was called for. We continued to distract as needed - either with a different activity or by offering 'Daddy milk - tee hee hee' or suggesting that one of her teddies have 'Chubs milk'. Last week I was holding a newborn baby for a moment while her mother got her things ready to leave. Chubs insisted that I hold the baby up to her to pretend to have 'Chubs milk' - she even told the baby off when I handed her back to her mum saying 'other side! other side!'

A month on and she still sometimes asks for 'Mummy milk' during the day but again is generally happy with 'No Mummy milk in the daytime, remember?' I'm not going to jinx it and actually call her day weaned just yet, but things are certainly going well. She generally feeds to sleep at night, and I still give her a feed if she asks after daycare (probably about two thirds of the time). She feeds in the morning if we don't have anywhere to be before 10am and can have a lazier start, but on my work days it's up and go go go so there's no time for milky snuggles and no one seems to mind - it's been this way for at least six months. I had expected an increase in night feeds to compensate for the day time drought, but it never really happened. She often sleeps through (about five times a week) and when she does wake it's generally towards the end of the night and one quick feed is enough to get us both back to sleep quickly (although it is a pain to get out of bed now she's in her own room - now I remember why I liked cosleeping in the first place!)

I've noticed a difference in my attitude to breastfeeding. I'm resenting it less and enjoying it more, which is just how it should be. I am missing feeding during the day - just a little. What I'm missing a lot more was having breastfeeding in my 'parenting toolbox' - Chubs gave up feeding out and about to reconnect/ destress a long time ago (too much going on) but I could still use it to get her to sit still for five minutes. I do miss that now when I try to stall for time and finish an urgent conversation! Since we're only feeding at night I'm not feeding in public anymore, and I do miss the smiling nods to other mothers with a baby at the breast (it looks a bit funny if I do 'the nod' without a child at the breast!) Overall the changes have been for the best, and all three of us are happier now.

I now post the same question that I did a year ago - so, where to from here? My answer this year is the also same as last year - simply, on. As with any good relationship, our breastfeeding one has faced change and our whole family responded with love, support, respect and flexibility. Our breastfeeding relationship changed a great deal in it's first year, and just as much in it's second year. What Chubs' third year will bring, breastfeeding or otherwise, I'm sure will be just the same - full of colour, excitement, unpredictibility, hope, tears, laughter, craziness, gusto and love.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Happy Birthday to my breastfeeding baby - again (Part Two)

Read Part One here

When Chubs was about 18 or 19 months old, it got too much for me. All of the gentle rules I had put in place weren't enough. I was resenting feeds, and was frequently but inconsistently refusing. It was hard for Chubs to understand that the rule had become 'you can feed whenever you feel like it, if you ask nicely and sit properly as long as I'm not doing something else and I'm not in a cranky mood and I'm happy to feed, but feeding is driving me nuts so I don't want to feed you right now but I definately don't want to wean and even if I did I can't just cut you off straight away because I'm in a bad mood, so you can have a feed now because I know this is normal toddler behaviour but I'm not really happy about it, so I'll try to stall for a bit but then I know that's confusing so ok you can have a feed but don't expect me to be happy about it.' Not exactly simple or consistent or fair. We had lots of rules, but they weren't working.

As I had done many times before, I sought help. I emailed a breastfeeding counsellor, and received the reply of 'do we have the same child?!' With more advice and discussion with Dear Husband, we decided to wait until the disruption and chaos of the kitchen renovations were finished and then we would really cut Chubs' feeding back (but didn't have a plan about how to do so yet). It still didn't feel like time to wean, but breastfeeding wasn't working the way it was.

After we finished the renovations, things were ok again. She wasn't feeding for fifteen minutes, every twenty minutes. To share with you the clarity that hindsight gave me... No wonder she was feeding so much during the renos. For much of the time, my job was to keep Chubs away from the construction. Since most of the kitchen was stored in her bedroom, that pretty much left the high chair and my lap. We would go out as much as we could, but you can wander around the shops from wake up til bedtime. At least, not everyday. Plus, you can't do baths there. What does she like doing when she's sitting on my lap? Breastfeed. Not always, but a lot of the time, so when she's there all day, breastfeeds it was. I was offering too - breastfeeding can help to convince a toddler to sit still (heck, never mind the nutrition and immune and comfort reasons - this alone is reason enough to keep going!) Obviously, it was also a time of great change - every day she got home there was more stuff missing and/ or more stuff in. The home she's always knows was literally being torn up around her - no wonder she was seeking comfort and reassurance.

As the renovations finished up (over-time and over-budget, of course) she had room to run and play. Much more room, since we knocked out a wall and improved the storage. To quote Mayim Bialik - the world beyond my breast was calling. She certainly didn't wean as Bialik's son did, but she did cut down her feeds. Things were managable again.

Night times were great too, especially with Chubs in her own bed. Unlike many other mothers, feeding to sleep and feeding during the night don't really bother me. I mean, I'm a sucker for an uninterrupted night's sleep as anyone else, but total sleep time has always meant more to me than the number of times I've woken. Generally when Chubs 'sleeps through' she's up for the day at 5:30am -ugh. I much prefer a weekend sleep in until 7am. (Sigh - I remember when 11am was a Saturday sleep in. At least I think I do - perhaps it's an exhaustion induced hallucination.) Anyway, many mothers night wean first, but I figure we'll night wean when the effort of feeding is greater than the effort of night weaning, and we're not there yet. That said, Chubs sleeps through probably five nights a week, and most of her night feeds are 5am PleaseForTheLoveOfGodGoBackToSleepIt'sWayTooBloodyEarly feeds. So to all of those people who said that cosleeping and feeding to sleep was a bad idea - our two year old generally sleeps through in her own bed, mostly without overnight feeds, using gentle sleeping techniques and almost no night weaning techniques. Works for us!

Day time feeds were another issue. After the renovations things settled down again and continued on for a few months, but before long the all familiar situation returned. The constant feeding, my inconsistent responses, the stress and frustration for all. At about 21/ 22 months, Dear Husband and I made a decision that after her birthday we would day wean. We felt that we had reached the point where, on the balance of everything, it was better to (day) wean than to continue breastfeeding. I was using all the rules that I could think of or had heard of which worked, and it still wasn't enough. (There are many 'nursing manners' suggestions which I haven't mentioned, but some are better for older children, or children with different personalities and so on.) To restore sanity, I wanted to deal with the feeds that were stressing me out the most, and keep the feeds which we enjoyed. As I mentioned, many women want night feeds to go earlier so they night wean first, but it was the day time ones which were on the chopping block for us.

Once we had made the decision TO day wean, then next thing was to decide HOW to wean. I did have a bit of a chuckle when someone mentioned 'don't offer don't refuse' as a weaning technique - if that was going to work we would have weaned months ago! Some people suggested a special chair (wouldn't really work for us), or cutting down the length of feeds rather than the frequency (we already used counting for going back ON the breast when she was messing about, not getting off and I'd tried a song with no success). Others suggested cards (but I didn't think she was old enough to understand, nevermind the logistics of keeping track of them) or reading weaning stories (no good, she just wanted more Mummy Milk whenever she saw a breast!) All of the suggestions are great toddler weaning ones (and there were many more) but they just weren't going to cut it. Sadly, if gentle was going to work, we wouldn't have been in this position.

The more we thought about it, the more we talked about it, cold turkey (day) weaning was going to be the best way. Not particularly gentle on the face of it, but ultimately what we felt would be best, like ripping off a bandaid. More inconsistency and fuss wasn't going to meet Chubs' needs, so in many ways cold turkey was the most gentle as it would be quickand consistent, not drag it out and changing the plan all the time. Here is another crucial point - it's not just about what Chubs needs. Contrary to what she (and all other toddlers) might think, she is not the only person in the world who matters. She matters a great, great deal, but me and my needs matter too. As she gets older, I get to call some of the shots. A newborn pretty much gets her needs met whenever, however and by whoever she wants - a toddler is learning patience, respect and consideration. I don't want Chubs to learn that she can get whatever she wants all the time with no boundaries at the expense of someone else's wants and needs. This was also about teaching her that breastfeeding is a relationship, and in a relationship both people matter.

After we decided that cold turkey day weaning would be better in this situation than stretching it out, we wanted to make it as gentle as we could. We were the ones changing the rules on her. We were the ones who were deciding that what was preciously and acceptable and even encouraged behaviour for her whole entire life was now suddenly not allowed. So we did what we did for all changes. We picked a date (her birthday party, not her actual birthday as to me it was more significant for her) and we talked about it. 'Chubs, after you're party you'll be a big girl and you won't need Mummy milk in the daytime any more.' We pointed out friends of hers who were 'big kids' who didn't have Mummy milk in the daytime - mind you, we know lots of families who feed for many months/ years, so we had to look closely at who it was before pointing this out! Since breastfeeding has been a big part of her life we encouraged her to feed her toys and other breastfeeding play that she was already doing. She's a very funny kid and often jokes about having 'Daddy milk' or 'Nanny milk' or 'Auntie milk' so it's very much a part of her world.

We prepared ourselves, Dear Husband and I decided what we would do. Only Mummy Milk at night, and at daycare pick up. (In the end I added in day time nap feeds too, although naps are few and far between now.) We prepared our neighbours across the street, across town and across the country for the screaming. This was not going to be pretty.

Once we made this decision, it was actually quite strange. I didn't mind feeding any more. Once I knew there was an end point, it was tolerable. It was quite the Catch 22. I even considered not day weaning because feeding wasn't bugging me anymore, but that would be like bringing Schrodinger's cat back to life before you killed it, so we continued with the plan.

Her birthday came and I posted this on my Facebook
To my unintentional WHO baby, thank you for the privilege of breastfeeding you for the last two years. I never planned to feed you as long as this, but it hasn't felt like time to stop for either of us yet. Despite biting issues, lipase/ scalding issues, gymnurstics and small amounts of cracked nipples, thrush and reflux, this has been an amazing gift, both from me to you and from you to me. I will always remember what it's like both to be a working/ pumping mother, and to nurse a wonderfully wild toddler - both are their own unique kind of crazy. To those who supported us even if it 'wasn't your thing', to those who taught me so much, to those who listened and offered support; thank you. To my darling husband - thank you for your unwavering love and support.
This has been a wonderful journey for our little family, and I will be forever grateful x
It was actually quite emotional that night. Yes it was my precious girl's birthday, but actually feeding her until her birthday - putting a tick in that 'two years' box was strange. I'd never set out to feed for two years. I never had any timeframe in mind actually. I had a vague plan of day weaning at twelve months, but I also had the plan that we wouldn't watch TV all day long, too. Nothing had really changed since the day before, or the week before, but that actual day was strange. It was a very similiar feeling to how I felt after Dear Husband and I got married. We still loved each other as much, and but for a date on the calendar and some traditions it was only 24 hours later, but it still felt weird. Good weird, but weird none the less.
We had her party that weekend (photos of cake to come soon, I promise). I had prepared myself for a last feed during the day, but as it was the beyond-breast world was too exciting, and she didn't ask all day long. Oh the irony - this was exactly what I wanted, and tomorrow it would be oh so different.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Happy Birthday to my breastfeeding baby - again (Part One)

Our little princess is two. She's a raging ball of excitement, enthusiasm and energy. She loves singing nursery rhymes, dancing and drawing. She plays with her Duplo and Little People and play food. Some of her favourite games are playing dolls, playing cars, jumping in muddy puddles and going out to watch the garbage truck. She's also a WHO baby - but more on that later.

When I blogged about breastfeeding her for a year I said this about what would happen next
So, where to from here? Well, simply - on. Breastfeeding is beneficial and enjoyable for everyone in our family, so we will continue. Perhaps Chubs will wean soon on her own, perhaps I will encourage weaning. Perhaps something will happen which will force weaning; I don't know. There are two people in this breastfeeding relationship and we will continue while everyone is happy.
Well, it's yes and no to pretty much each of those points. Yes, she's still breastfeeding. No, I'm no longer pumping (except for one time when a friend needed some milk). Yes, it's still beneficial and enjoyable - at times, in some ways; it's also downright disasterous, stressful and upsetting at times, too. She certainly hasn't weaned, but is moving towards it - as she has been from when she first started eating solid food. Weaning - well, it's complicated. The three people in this family are happy - now.

When I left off at one year, Chubs was 'feeding on ask-nicely' (not feeding on demand-and-whinge), kinda. I would delay a feed if I was cooking dinner, or I was busy. Once I stopped pumping at for daycare, things were much more managable. As with all things with Chubs, we kept going along in a gentle, loving way, until something changes.

I while ago - I think when Chubs was a newborn - I came across this post at The Leaky Boob which I strongly, strongly recommend. It explains so much about the realities of nursing a toddler. If you've not read it, please go and read it now.

To paraphrase - if a toddler is frustrated and throws her broccoli on the floor, most people don't say 'well, time to stop eating vegetables'. If a toddler becomes 'overly attached' and decides that she MUST HAVE eight different stuffed toys in bed with her at night, most people just chalk it up as a 'phase' - they don't declare the child's bed a toy-free zone for fear that she will never become independent. If a toddler is scared or overwhelmed and wants a cuddle or to hide behind Mummy's leg, then most people 'indulge' the toddler, knowing that she is seeking help with meeting a need, and that she will come out at play when she feel happy, comfortable and safe. When a toddler asks for 'drinky' or 'teddy' or 'Daddy' we celebrate and encourage her language development and her ability to ask for what she wants/ need - and we give her what she has asked for (if appropriate, of course).

However, when any of these things involve breastfeeding, it seems that often breastfeeding is to blame for the 'problem'. These things generally aren't problems, they are normal toddler stages of development. In our case, Chubs developed her language skills, her need for comfort and reassurance, her ability to soothe and relax herself to sleep in the context of her little world, which includes breastfeeding.

Through breastfeeding, she has learned how to be respectful of someone else's body, time and feelings. She's learned to follow structures, and rules. She's learned how to ask nicely, how to say please and thank you. She's learned boundries, and that there are two people in this nursing relationship, and three people in this family. She's learned about a bedtime routine, and about Saturday morning snuggles. She's learned about love, family, togetherness and support.

Would she have learned all these things if she'd weaned at one day, one week, one month or one year? Of course she would have. Any toddler in a loving home learns about these things in the context of her environment, and breastfeeding is part of Chubs'.

Soon after her first birthday, I had some medical issues which made weaning (through drastically cutting my supply) a very real possibility. Whilst the frustrations that I had with many doctors who continued to blame breastfeeding for my issues (um, I wasn't breastfeeding when this was a problem when I was fifteen!) are the topic for another post, suffice it to say that what I needed wasn't just a breastfeeding friendly doctor, but a breastfeeding knowledgable one. At last I found her, and I had two options - one which would drastically cut my supply, and the other which had issues and complications of its own. After further investigation, discussion with Dear Husband, considering the benefits and risks of each option (including the benefits and risks to both Chubs and me of continuing to breastfeed and of weaning) I decided to try the non-supply cutting option. Thankfully, our predictions were correct and it has been a great treatment choice. I will never forget however, the panic that I felt at forced weaning. Even at an age when many children have already weaned or are almost there, it didn't feel right for us - actually, it felt very very wrong. Had the circumstances been different, then of course the outcome might have been different. I'm very thankful that we were able to navigate the issue and find a workable plan. Many women face breastfeeding issues which may force weaning at all stages; thankfully, on the balance of everything, we were able to find a way through.

Don't get me wrong, it hasn't all been happiness and joy and unicorns farting rainbows (to borrow a phrase - I told you to read the Leaky Boob post above). Sure enough, before I knew it, breastfeeding a toddler was. driving. me. fucking. insane. The gymnurstics were giving me sore breasts, and sometimes the frequency drove me bonkers. The same child who would happily go all day at daycare without a feed would feed con-stant-ly when she was with me. One morning I was out with a friend who had a daughter weeks older than Chubs and a newborn, and Chubs had more feeds than the newborn did.

At first we tried gentle rules. I canvassed lots of friends who had fed toddlers (a few IRL but mostly online) about what strategies they used. (The same way that I ask for ideas about what to put in lunchboxes, or to make outings less stressful, or how to manage bedtime - you know, pretty much like every other aspect of parenting.) At first some gentle guidelines were enough to keep me sane.

- I rarely offered feeds, and fairly frequently refused (or delayed). Chubs was so keen that this wasn't a biggie. I've heard of other kids who self wean much earlier - Chubs certainly wasn't  one of those.

- "When x then y" became a big thing. "When I've finished paying for the groceries, then you can have Mummy Milk." After only two or three times, Chubs learned that she could trust me to offer when we actually got the the 'when' bit, so this worked really well for us for a while. In my mind, it's acceptable for a newborn to scream and carry on asking for a feed while shopping, and either to cut the shopping trip short or to feed at the checkout. That's reasonable to expect of a newborn. It's also a reasonable expectation for a toddler to wait ten seconds or ten minutes for a feed - especially when she's munching on a biscuit while she's waiting and Mummy's doing something else.

- No gymnurstics. With a newborn, it's all very important to have correct positioning, so that you can get correct attachment and the baby can drain the breast effectively without damaging the nipples - and so on. With a toddler, it's certainly been my experience that just waving a breast in the general direction of the child is enough to be called 'positioning'. However, once the novelty wore off, all I was left with was sore breasts. Just because you can feed while watching TV and dancing to The Wiggles, doesn't mean I'm going to let you. We tried a few different positions and rules - like everything, it's an ongoing process of what works and what needs to change. All that really works now is sitting sideways on my lap or lying down. I've vetoed sitting next to me, moving while feeding, watching TV while feeding, switching sides more than three times and feeding from the 'top' breast when lying down.

- I continued the rules that we already had like asking nicely, no pinching, no hitting, no squirming.

So over the past year, we developed these rules, and continued our happy, exciting, crazy life of drawing, playdough, daycare, playgrounds, groceries and play time. Breastfeeding was just part of what we did - free of the fuss of pumping or needing EBM or formula, we continued on, making adjustments as required. However, as I said above, the time came when all of the rules we had developed weren't enough and I was going absolutely. fucking. insane over breastfeeding, and drastic action was called for.

to be continued in Part Two and Part Three

Monday, 10 June 2013

How I do menu planning - Part 1 Dinner

How I do menu planning - Part 1 Dinner

I do menu planning almost every week. There are a few reasons for this:

- I'm not a good cook. There are some complicated things that I can do easily, but cooking is not one of those. I can't make cooking 'just happen'. I need to give it conscious, specific attention. For many years Dear Husband did practically all of the cooking. Dinner magically appeared in the evening as far as I was concerned. I realised this when Dear now-Husband was away with work. I would be sitting on the couch at 9:30pm trying to work out what this strange hunger feeling was.
- It saves time and money, and cuts down on waste.
- It means that usually, we avoid dinner time chaos.
- It almost eliminates emergency runs to the supermarket for  a missing ingredient. That said, I cook very simple meals and many of the ingredients are interchangable. This is partly laziness and partly planning.
- Some days I think I'm superwoman if can defrost something.
- It makes it easier to use planned leftovers for other meals.

I used to plan once a week, but I'm now planning fortnightly. Here's the process. It sounds quite long but I don't go through the whole thing each time.


Love your freezer.
We have no room for a chest freezer. We still have one - it's in the living room. I would recommend a freezer as useful baby equipment ahead of a cot. That's how much I love it. Freezer cooking is a whole other section, but for us it's a crucial part of meal planning.

Know your routine
After conscious experimenting, we have a routine that generally works.
Sunday night: plan meas for week/ fortnight. Blog it (see bwlow)
Monday: Grocery shopping in the day, freezer cooking and weekly prep in the evening after bedtime.
Tuesday: A work day for me, so often we aren't home until about 5:30 and there's hunger and crankiness. Then there's the toddler. Needs to be a very easy meal, almost always a freezer one.
Wednesday and Thursday: I'm home these days. I still want easy meals that are quick for me, but I can do something like crumbed chicken and roast veggies where I prep or cook it all earlier in the day and then toss in in the oven (now that we have one). I often need to take a plate to playgroup on Thursday, so I will try to have an oven meal on Wednesday if I'm making cupcakes or something so the oven only needs to be on once.

A menu plan is a tool for you; you are not a slave to it
I do try to stick to the plan, but if it's not working or we do something else then I don't worry at all. The whole point of the plan is SUPPOSED to be a reduction in stress, not an increase.

Know your meals
As I said above, I'm not a good cook. I'm someone who needs to practise a simple meal many times before I can do it reliably enough to be edible. Generally, I do meals that I'm familiar with. When we introduce a new meal I try it out a few times when it's a day when Dear Husband can chase Chubs wo I can concentrate, I do it in small quantities to see if we like it and how it freezes etc. Generally after four or five days I'll know how the meal 'works' and where it will fit best into routines.

I like to pair meals together - eg we will have chicken noodle soup the day after a takeaway hot chook. A roast is followed by a salad with meat or another 'post roast' meal.

A meal with salad is best at the start of the week before it gets wilted, and the potatoes and carrots are relegated to the tail end of the week.

We plan for meals out, leftovers, or 'scavenge' nights. I freeze leftovers if they are unexpected, so I plan to use then every now and again.

The actual process:

This, like everything on this blog, is what we do which works for our family at this time. It's certainly not a MUST DO list, but a What We Do list.

On Sunday night:
1. I see what we have. What freezer meals, meat in the freezer, veggies to be used up, things in the pantry. What needs to be used up in a few days? In a week? If needed?

2. I look at what we have on for the next fortnight. Some things (like work, playgroup) are the same every week. We live fairly boring predictable lives so it doesn't change much - generally Tuesdays are freezer Bolognese and Fridays are a takeaway hot chook. Still, sometimes there's a family dinner, a parent teacher night or something else to consider so these get popped in. I'm old school so I write these on a piece of paper - I have a booklet of weekly planning sheets that I was given - but I hear there are lots of apps and fancyschmancy things.

3. I actually plan the meals for the next fortnight and write them in. I like lots of wiggle room, so I rarely plan to use up everything. I go into 'siege' mentality sometimes...

This is the point where I try to match meals up , plan leftovers for the next meal and so on.

4. Make shopping list
I list how many of each thing I need to make the meals for the next fortnight for dinner. It's not an inclusive list - it's pretty much just dinner and anything else which can't be forgotten. I don' include things like cows' milk and eggs which we buy all the time. If there's something like bread which we usually buy but don't need that week, then I write a note saying not to buy it.

I also write a small shopping list for the next Monday when we will do a little shop with anything fresh that we will need.

5. Blog it. I do a recap of the previous week and then write my plan for the next fortnight. I link to along with literally hundreds of others. Many people list special diet plans and are great for ideas. I do find when I don't blog I get slack with the planning.

On Monday:
6. Do shopping
We shop on Mondays and somedays it goes wonderfully well. Some days - not so much. I do ind having a list helps with not forgetting things, since my brain does not work well when Chubs is screaming in it. It took me a while to work out that cranky baby almost always needed to eat food. MOTY there...

7. Do freezer cooking
Monday night after Chubs is in bed is my prep night. I will usually cut and crumb chicken and make a triple batch of Bolognese or chilli con carne. I also do sandwiches for lunches, cut up fruit etc. For our family it works well to invest Monday night doing this for the benefits of having everything ready later in the week.

Throughout the week:
8. Change as needed. We rarely stick to the plan as you can see - actually I don't think we've ever done it! I scribble over the sheet on the fridge as we go (which also makes blogging the next week easier.)

Next Sunday night
9. Look at the plan for the following week. Change as needed (and it's always needed). Update mini shopping list. Blog.

Next Monday
10. Do a little shop, and then any freezer cooking, sandwiches etc that night.

This is by no means a perfect system. We don't always go shopping every Monday, sometimes we don't need to. I still go to the shops during the week for more cows' milk and fruit. As I said above, we rarely stick to the plan totally. We still have scavenge nights. We still have breakfast for dinner occasionally - sometimes planned, sometimes not. I much prefer to spend my energy planning in the evening when I want to, when it's calm and before things go pear shaped than I spending energy at 5 o'clock with a screaming toddler clawing at me. Either way meal planning is going to take time and energy - I prefer to do it on my terms.

There's plenty of wiggle room built in and I do like to have quite a stash so I rotate long storage food. We still have the occasional 'what about a pizza?' nights, and Chubs still loves the prepackaged baby food pouches (six months + still counts at 24, right?)

Do you meal plan? What your approach?

Coming soon - breakfast and lunch meal planning.

Menu plan

The fortnightly planning is going well - kind of. It is good planning a fortnight at a time, because it means we do a big shop and a little shop. I often have to change the second week around (and often the first week as well) but that's ok. The menu plan is just that - a plan. It's supposed to be a tool to help me, not something for me to be a slave to. It is a big job to plan a fortnight at a time, but it seems to be paying off so far.

Last week's recap

Monday 3/6 Chilli con carne with rice, corn chips and salad I'm posting this Monday night, and so far do good! I also made three lots of Bolognese for the freezer
Tuesday 4/6 Asian chicken noodle soup MIL wants to make silverside, and I'm totally letting her!
This was done in the slow cooker and was very yummy.
Wednesday 5/6 Parmesan chicken with roast veg Heading out to dinner - a rare treat! We swapped back, and had the Parmesan chicken here
Thursday 6/6 Stir fry Parmesan chicken with roast veg - I'll bring this over from Wednesday MIL took us out to dinner
Friday 7/6 Hot chook with chips and steamed veggies Bolognese (We can't go all week without it!) DH grabbed a hot chook
Saturday 8/6 Stir fry Since we had the hot chook on Friday we had Asian chicken noodle soup
Sunday 9/6 Scavenge We had some soup in the cupboard from when Dear Husband had his emergency dental work done last week, so we finished it up. I also cooked some Bolognese for the freezer.
This fortnight's plan

Monday 10/6 Bolognese (in the fridge already, part of the batch cooked last night)
Tuesday 11/6 Stir fry (DH)
Wednesday 12/6 Crumbed chicken (prepared in freezer, just needs to be cooked) with roast veggies
Thursday 13/6 Stir fry (DH)
Friday 14/6 Freezer Bolognese
Saturday 15/ 6 Chilli con carne (freezer) with rice, veggies and sour cream
Sunday 16/5 Scavenge

Monday 17/6 Chicken noodle soup (with fresh poached chicken)
Tuesday 18/6 Freezer Bolognese
Wednesday 19/6 Stir fry (DH)
Thursday 20/6 Freezer Bolognese
Friday 21/6 Chilli con carne (freezer) with rice, veggies and sour cream
Saturday 22/6 Family dinner out
Sunday 23/ 6 Scavenge (or perhaps Freezer Bolognese )


Thursday, 6 June 2013

Guest Post: Hints for avoiding disaster when flying solo

I've done a second guest post at Double Blessings Boutique - pop on over and have a look.
Hints for avoiding diaster when flying solo

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Chore chart for Chubs

With the arrival of Chubs' second birthday, we also heralded the arrival of her first chore chart!

Now - honestly - it's pretty much a chart for the sake of having a chart. Quite a few of the 'jobs' she would be doing anyway - 'eat breakfast' and 'go to the potty' need to happen chore chart or not!

Some jobs are about establishing routines - eg shoes away. Some other things will hopefully pay off in the long run, but I tell you, it's a pain. Getting Chubs to 'make' her bed? Ugh - the 4.5 seconds that it would take me to just pull her sheet and doona up would be much faster. Not making it at all would be even faster again.

I have noticed a difference in actually having the chart. I printed out the lists below with pictures (either of Chubs doing that job, or a clip art picture), put them in plastic slips and taped them to the pantry doors at two year old height. So far Chubs has responded well to 'what's next on your list?' when 'it's time to do **' isn't working.

The plan is that over the next few years we can add 'real' chores on, and hopefully some that she can do on her own. Everything on the list she either needs to be told to do or needs close supervision, but then again - she is only just two!

Chubs’ Morning Jobs

May 2013

Go to the potty
Eat breakfast
Help to make bed
Put clothes on
Get hair brushed
Put shoes on


Chubs' Evening Jobs

May 2013

Put shoes in purple tub
Eat dinner
Put clothes in dirty clothes basket
Have a shower
Put pyjamas on
Get hair combed
Brush teeth

She is very happy to stand in front of the pantry and 'read' the list to whoever will listen. Hopefully the novelty and the excitement will last for a while!
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