Play: Melbourne Museum Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery

Bubba and I visited the new Children’s Gallery within the Melbourne Museum (it’s been opened since December 2016); we both love, love, love it!

A lot of the dedicated children’s play areas that we’ve visited in the past are aimed at much older kids; it’s really hard finding something suitable for children under the age of 2.  This gallery is pitched at children from birth – age five, and it truly delivers that.  There are lots of mirrors, places to crawl, tactile play, lights, sounds, outdoor areas, sandpits, water splashes!  Stuff that bubba can really play with.  She was sooooo excited; squealing and laughing throughout most of it.  She even took her first few serious steps here today; I’m so proud of her!

There’s also a cafe inside the gallery and a super nice parent’s room……the only downside is it’s a bit far from us and parking is pretty expensive (cheaper if you become a Museum member).  Here’s the official video introducing it all:

And you can find out more information to plan your visit here. x

When Parenting Get Easier

When bubba was one month old, I reached for my mobile phone during one of her 3am feeds and typed one-handed into the google search bar, ‘When does parenting get easier?’ I felt ashamed to ask this, because I didn’t want to be ungrateful.  I was grateful.  Grateful for an uncomplicated birth, grateful for a beautiful daughter, and grateful for the overwhelming love and support from my hubby, family and friends.  But if I had to describe the first three months of bubba’s life with only one word, ‘hard’ would be the honest answer.  Though it wasn’t without its beauty (namely, the sweetness of many firsts which passed too fleetingly), it was also flippin’ hard.  Feeding issues, two to three hourly feeding cycles, lots of washing, lots of fear, lots of tears, lots of take-away food (and then feeling guilty for eating take-away food)…..

My google search that night/morning tells me that there is no consensus on when parenting gets easier (surprise, surprise).  I think Bronwyn McCahon sums it well here:

Motherhood is a constant challenge, just in different ways. When you’ve got really young kids the demands are very physical (getting them dressed, wiping bottoms, helping them eat) but I can already feel things slowly shifting from physical to emotional demands as they get older and have to navigate different issues at school.

When the going gets tough, it’s important to remember.  Remembering does two things.  One, it reminds you of your own strength, of how you have overcome difficult circumstances in the past.  Two, it reminds you that things will pass; everything is in a constant state of flux.

I remember that bubba would scream at the top of her lungs for the whole duration of car trips.  Nowadays, she sits happily with her book and sometimes even sings and claps along to the radio (and only screams when she’s tired).

I remember that bubba would scream whenever she was put in the pram.  Nowadays, she lets us sit her there for longer periods of time and can be distracted with food if all else fails.

I remember that bubba would cry every night from 5pm onwards for a couple of hours.  Nowadays, we can even take her out for dinner (and she is only a bit grouchy sometimes).

I remember that bubba used to scream whenever we changed her diaper or her clothes.  Nowadays, she only screams for half of those times 😉

I remember that I barely had time for breakfast or lunch, and that I would often have to make and eat sandwiches one handed.  Today I took her out to a proper restaurant, she sat across me in a high chair, and we shared a meal together.  She was officially my lunch date.

So on all those counts, parenting has gotten easier.  I think that’s what’s important: to remember where you came from, and compare it to where you are now (not to anyone else or anyone else’s baby).  The parent-child relationship is unique, we all have different temperaments and personalities and no one’s story/ journey is the same.

And when the going gets really really tough, sniff bubba’s head.  I swear there’s pheromones or something there – it makes you sigh and go, oh never mind that you don’t sleep and wants to party at 3am, I will always love you anyway.

If you feel anxious or depressed, do seek professional help from the good folks at the following links or speak to your Doctor:

PANDA Perinatal and Anxiety Depression Australia

Lifeline

Thoughts on the Elves and the Shoemaker (and fairy tales in general)

Bubba recently got given a set of the Ladybird classic fairy tale book collection.  She loves, loves, loves it and spends a vast majority of the day pulling each book out of the box that it comes in and flicking through the pages (amongst poking my eye out with the sharp edges).  Tonight, she chose the Elves and the Shoemaker for her bedtime story.  I must admit, I’ve never come across this story before; it’s obviously a gaping hole in my fairytale education.  So I was just as intrigued with the story development as she was.

The start of the story was interesting; it said something along the lines of this:

The shoemaker and his wife were very poor.  Over the years they got poorer and poorer.  Finally the day came when the shoemaker had only enough leather to make one last pair of shoes.  Once the last pair of shoes gets sold, him and his wife will be destitute.

All I could think of from this point forward was: that’s a terrible business model.  If he’s consistently working, shouldn’t he make more and more?  And even if that’s not the case, should not the sale of the last pair of shoes give him the funds to make more shoes?  Isn’t that the point of a sale?  Or was he so far down the line of bad business, that the shoes will sell for less than the cost of the raw materials?

I mentioned these inconsistencies to my hubby.  Then we started talking about fairy tales in general.  Some of them are just plain weird.

Like the princess and the pea; why is it a good thing if you get bruised by a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty feather mattresses.  What is a real princess anyway…..Do we even want our children to be real princesses?!

And what’s the deal with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  Why is Snow White responsible for cooking and cleaning for seven men? And how can you resurrect someone by knocking the poisonous comb out of her hair, or the poisonous apple out of her mouth?  Obviously it’s a different type of poison to those used in Greek tragedies, where a single touch is deadly.  They need to get more powerful stuff for the fairy tale poisons.

And, and, and……why are beautiful people always kind and ugly people always evil?

Hopefully bubba be kind, irrespective of how she looks.  And hopefully she won’t judge the character of a person based on their looks.  I know, I know.  Fairy tales are just that.  Tales.  Sometimes life is easier if we don’t read too much into stuff 😉  But really has anyone else ever thought that fairy tales are perfectly normal stories when you read them as a child, but that they are perfectly creepy when you read them as adults?

Feeling Like Yourself

I had an illuminating conversation with a group of friends the other day. One of the girls described a workshop that she attended,

‘We were sitting around the table and the facilitator said, write down a list of things that you like to do. Next to that, write down a list of things that you’re good at. Now circle the activities which overlap; that’s where the magic happens. And here I was sitting in a room with the most amazing, talented, witty, clever group of women that I knew …..and everyone had blank pages. I wanted to leap out of my seat and grab someone else’s page. I can rattle off at least ten things that they were brilliant at, but I struggled to come up with my own list.’

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, many of us have lost sight of what we love and what we are good at. Or is it that somewhere along the way, we became far more critical of our output. And when there’s a disconnect between our intention and our work, we become disheartened. We stop writing. We stop drawing. We stop creating.

A ten year old version of myself would proudly declare that she was good at swimming, and that she loved the ocean. That she’s okay at drawing but she’s fantastic at reading. She would be just as quick to tell you that she’s clumsy and that she sucks at dancing. And it would be a fairly objective assessment of myself, without pretence or judgment.

Nowadays, I’m not sure what I’m good at. I’ve stopped doing a lot of the things I love because there are ‘more important things’ to do.  I’ve become good at the things required of me, but I’m not sure if they are what I’m naturally talented at.  This is further compounded when I became a Mother, because having a baby quite literally, rocks your world.  What little energy I have is focused on my family’s needs.  If you want a fancy term for this, there are many articles going around the internet which addresses this ‘Connection Depletion’: i.e. the idea that we become disconnected from who we are once we throw ourselves into being mamas.

“It’s the complete lack of thinking about what we need because we’re too busy juggling what everyone else needs” (see the book Happy Mama by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz which gives some good suggestions for how you can find yourself again).

Over the break, my hubby and I managed to get into the Ocean and go snorkelling. It was a great thing for my soul and for my energy levels. I felt like I could survive quite a few more sleepless nights, because I was refreshed by that one dip in the ocean. And that’s what we’ve got to keep doing. Keep going back to what we love and to make time for it. Sometimes the washing can wait, while you go for a swim.

As we breathe out 2016 and breathe in 2017, I’m going to be more intentional about making time for doing more of the things that I love. I picked charms and glass beads to wear on my bracelet, as a visual reminder to myself to keep going back to the Ocean.  To cultivate my strengths.

We lose ourselves in the things we love, but we find ourselves there too.

Pictured are the flip flop and starfish charms, together with some glass beads which reminds me of an octopus and the ocean (bracelet, charm and beads all from Trollbeads). PS. The pudgy feet you see in the background belongs to my daughter haha.

This post is sponsored by Trollbeads Australia. Each bead is thoughtfully designed and individually crafted by hand. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support the original content on Brunch with Viv.

Talking as Fast as I Can – by Lauren Graham

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If you want to catch up for a coffee with Lauren Graham, this book is for you.  Like probably 99.9% of the readers who picked up this book, I read it because I love Gilmore Girls.  As if the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life wasn’t enough of a good thing, I wanted more.  I wanted to know whether Lauren Graham was anything like Lorelai Gilmore, and spoiler alert: she is.

Lorelai Lauren writes like she talks.  Fast-paced, entertaining, conversational, the book is extremely easy to read (I did it over three nap sessions, and my bubba doesn’t nap for long at all).  The highlights for me were:

– Anecdotes about Lauren starting out as an actress (no, the roles did not just land in her lap, so much went on behind the scenes with a lot of odd jobs, training etc.);

-Her thoughts on being single before she paired up with Peter Krause (it was refreshingly honest and something most of us have thought about at one time or another, without the Hollywood pressure thankfully);

-Her thoughts on writing, including the Kitchen Timer method (which is something that Don Roos passed onto Lauren – it’s a great method to try if you want to develop a writing discipline or just to get writing); and

-Of course, all the inside goss on the filming of Gilmore Girls (both the original series and the new episodes on Netflix).

There you have it.  No, the book is not the next War and Peace (nor does it attempt to be) but it is honest, Lauren wrote it herself (no ghost-writing here), and it does extremely well for a book of its genre.  Perfect to read on the plane, or by the pool on your next island getaway.

Rating: 3.5/5

Easy Mid-Week Dinner: Rosemary Chicken with Vegetable Stack

My hubby and I are trying to eat healthier, aka. more colours on our plate.  We came up with this.  It looks pretty, is easy to whip up (everything in the oven) and tastes surprisingly good.  Oh, and it’s the first time we used the rosemary from our little rosemary plant! 🙂  I’ve separated the recipe into chicken and then vegetables – in case you want to cook one and not the other.

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Rosemary Chicken

1. Buy a pack of thigh cutlets with skin on (approx 6 in a pack). (We find that you can only get this at Coles and not Woolies).

2. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

3. Place the thigh cutlets in a roasting tray.

4. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary (I tore the leaves off roughly from the stem), salt and pepper (don’t be too stingy).  I imagine the results would be better if you massaged the oil and salt and pepper into the thigh cutlets, but I didn’t cause I was a bit lazy and it still worked well.

5. Put it in the oven, and roast until golden brown (approx 30 minutes?)

Vegetable Stack

1.  Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

2. Slice eggplant, capsicum, roma tomato and sweet potatoes into thickish round discs.

3.  Line baking tray with baking paper, and place vegetables on top (don’t overlap).

4.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.

5.  Bake in the oven, until it looks done! (approx 15-20 minutes?)

6.  Stack them all on top of one another 🙂 You can garnish with basil / other herbs if you wish, but I didn’t.

 

Easy Peasy Chicken Soup (to fight off the flu)

Melbourne weather is doing its darn thing again – hot one minute, cold the next.  Thanks to this wonderful up-and-down, the flu is ripe.  A few days ago, I had a scratchy throat.  My hubby had a headache.  And bubba had a runny nose.  I’m hoping that we can stop this nasty cold/flu in its tracks, before we all come down with the full-fledged version.

And so, we tucked into this VERY EASY chicken soup.  It’s adapted from the Rachael Finch website; she’s got some great healthy recipes on there.  This recipe makes use of only a few ingredients and you can put it on the stove a few hours before dinner time and tadaaaa dinner is ready (ie. you don’t have to cook during bubba’s fussy hour).  Brilliant.  It also doesn’t make use of chicken stock – so it’s more like a bone broth which I think is even better for you.

Here’s how it goes (serves about 4):

1.  Get a large pot, heat olive oil on medium heat.  Cook carrots (x3 diced), celery sticks (x3 diced) and onion (2 x medium diced) with garlic (4 cloves crushed) until translucent.

2.  Add chicken (1 whole uncooked organic chicken) and cover with water (about an inch from the lid).

3.  Cook for 2 – 4 hours (the longer you’re going to cook it, the lower the heat).  I cooked at low-medium heat for about 2.5 hours.

4.  Break away pieces of chicken, add salt and pepper to serve.

We ate this with some brown rice to make it more filling.

Play: Playdays Indoor Play Centre

Coming up with outings for a ten month old can be tricky.  Ten months is that wonderful age where I feel like we’re coming out of the haze of the newborn days.  Don’t get me wrong; newborn days comes with its own sweetness:  newness, delicacy, drunken-sailor milk-fed looks.  But ten months old is FUN.  Naps for Miss E is down to two, and there’s a bigger stretch of “awake” time which finally allows for some decent form of outing!  Shopping centre trips (whilst easy and fun for me) are getting to be pricey (shopping and eating out = dangerous).  I also want Miss E to be out of the house and moving!  So we decided to try Playdays, an indoor play centre for pre-schoolers.

Logistics:

Entrance fee is $8 for bubba’s age (free for adults), $7 if you become a member (as of November 2016).  The place is basically an indoor netball court, fitted to be a play centre.  There are a few locations, we went to the one at 350 Blackburn Rd, Doncaster East Victoria 3109.

Our experience:

There was heaps of space!  Miss E looked beside herself at the vast amount of space; she crawled excitedly everywhere.  Some of the equipment was aimed at an older age group, but there was plenty enough for her to do.  The ball pit was a hit.  As was the general soft slopey play equipment.  She also sat in one of those cars, which she manages to move around with her legs.  At her age, she needs to be closely supervised (some of the older kids can also be a bit rough).  There’s a “cafe” there where Mums can order a snack, a hot drink etc.  But think more like the Kiosk at the pool, rather than the local cafe.

We had a good time there, and will likely visit again.  $8 is probably a bit steep for a weekly visit, but every now and then it’s a good option.  I probably wouldn’t take bubs at any younger an age; 10 months is quite a good age.  Miss E got a good workout and slept soundly after!  She had heaps of fun.

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Putting Together a Wardrobe that Works for you (while Nursing)

Pre-pregnancy I looked upon the concept of ‘Mum outfits’ with disdain.  Why do I need to change my style just because I’m a Mum?  I mean, am I not essentially the same person?  The same person, with an expanded heart.  I’ll wear my pre-pregnancy clothes, thank you very much.

Now 10 months into this parenting gig, I understand a bit of the ‘why’ to Mum outfits!  Not only does it save me time (from thinking and going through endless style combinations in my head), but I feel different as a person…and my old clothes just didn’t feel much like me anymore.  Clothes (aside from the very practical function of keeping us from being naked) should make me feel happy and good about myself.  Having a few key pieces which I love and feel great in post-birth was  a real mood-lifter (retail therapy much?)  Those newborn days were brutal.  I felt frumpy, tired, stressed……and it seemed like I was nursing all. the. time.

Here are the things which have worked for me, after a lot of trial and error in the past 10 months:

1. Soft tees that are slim-fitting but not fitted

I’m not a fan of nursing tees.  The all have that funner flap thing and I find that the material clings to me in all the wrong places.  And the bra indentation shows through?  Maybe I’m doing it all wrong?  Whatever the reason, I’ve never been able to make it work.  Some people swear by button-ups as an alternative but I found it too exposed for my liking.  Generally, it was more discrete to just lift up a regular tee, and as my bubba’s head grew, she basically covered most of me anyway….

Most tees worked, but I found the black long-sleeve top from Jac and Jack the best.  I lived in that thing and never wanted to wash it.  Gross I know.  I can’t find it online anymore (I bought it years ago) – but it was something like this.  The only nursing tee which worked for me and was somewhat still flattering was this one from Mamaway (on sale).

2.  Well-fitted Jeans

For the first few months I lived in my maternity jeans (a H&M bargain number which is no longer available, but a similar one is at the link) and a RIPE pair.  At the nine months mark, I bought a pair of regular JBrand photoready jeans (a splash item that has been on my wish list for a long time).

3.  A Light-weight Anorak

I found a light-weight anorak to be very slimming, a great cover-up when nursing and a fantastic transitional piece that can be used post-nursing (until the weather gets colder anyway).  I have the Everlane version of this in navy.

4.  Sunnies!

I love my aviators.  They instantly make me feel more pulled together (even when I’m totally not).  Basically any sunnies which fit your face shape is a goer.

5.  Lovable Maternity Bra

Man, it’s hard finding a good nursing bra.  I wasted my money on quite a few that now sit in my closet collecting dust.  Spend the extra time to get it fitted by someone who knows their stuff.  Yeah, it’s a bit weird.  It’s a bit awkward.  But it can save you a ton of money.  I got mine fitted at Ripe maternity (they did a brilliant job).  I also got a fitting at Bras n Things which didn’t go quite as well.  Anyway, my favourite is the lovable maternity bra in black and nude.

If I lived in the US I’d love to try the Storq maternity bra which looks super comfy and does away with all the clips n things (which is super handy when you have a very impatient bubba).  But the shipping costs makes it kinda not worthwhile…….so I never took the plunge (no pun intended).   Some people like to go for the maternity bras which don’t look like maternity bras, like the Elle McPherson nursing bras.  They definitely are pretty.  But as bras aren’t cheap, I’m all for getting the ones which goes with everything….hence the lovable version which works well under tshirts, dresses, anything really.

6. Slip-on shoes with Good Grip

In the early days, bubba was always in my arms…..and you kinda need both arms to hold babies (one to hold them, and one to support their neck).  So slip-on shoes were definitely the easiest.  And as I am not the most agile person in the world (read crashes into walls, falls down stairs, trips for no reason), good grip was essential.  I basically wore my Bensimon tennis flats all the time.  They go with everything and I can just slip them on hands-free (got mine at Nordstrom).

7. A Pretty Diaper Bag

A lot of people go with a non-diaper bag (just chuck a cute change clutch into any large washable handbag) or even a backpack.  Personally I preferred a diaper bag because 1) it’s an excuse to buy an extra bag 😛 and 2) I didn’t have to pack and unpack all the time…..and none of my normal bags were generally big enough for me.  I have both the Storksak Noa Nappy Bag and the Mimco Lucid Nappy Bag.   I love them both, but probably prefer the Mimco one just a tad bit more, simply because it’s BIGGER.  The Storksak one has an insulated compartment which helps keep the milk good for a certain number of hours.  PS Sometimes you can sometimes grab these at a steal on Ebay where you can get unused ones going at a discounted rate cause someone got given two at a baby shower!

8.  A Ring Sling

My bubba didn’t love the pram.  And wanted to be held all the time.  So the only way that I could go outside the house, and/or do chores was in the ring sling.  I have the beautiful Sakura Bloom linen one.  Sakura Bloom also does some wonderful silk ones – which look absolutely amazing.  But I found the linen one practical and bubba loved it.  As bubba grew older we gradually transitioned to the Tula carrier which was perfect.

9. Delicate Jewellery

Little hands likes to pull at things – so no long dangly earrings.  Or massive crystal rings which are a scraping hazard.  Delicate stacking rings like this is perfect.  Still on my wish list.

What about you?  What was your go-to in your new Mama days? x

No Emotions are Off Limits

I have a very vocal child.  It’s so much better now that she baby babbles; it has dramatically reduced the amount of crying time, as she progressively learns to communicate in other ways.  But when she does cry, it’s not a whimper.  It’s a heart-wrenching, everything-thrown-in kinda wail.  When this happen, I’m flustered.  And I’ve found myself saying to her more and more, ‘It’s okay.  Mummy’s here.  There’s no need to cry.’

But today I take pause.  When I’m sad, I want to tell other people about it.  Anger, frustration, elation and everything in between are valid emotions.  No feelings are off-limits.  Maybe there is sometimes a need to cry.  Maybe it’s better to teach her that all emotions are valid and to name these emotions, instead of always rushing to shush them.  Maybe (when her basic needs are met) sometimes she needs to wail and for me to understand that, to get it out of her system.  Maybe she’s someone with a knack for language and communication, and I need to teach her to use that to her advantage.

Don’t know where I am going with this.  Just random musings this Thursday…..