Thursday, 24 December 2015

A day of sunburn

Funeral was yesterday and I decided to take public transport. Never again. I work about half an hour from the suburb this cemetery was in, but bus/train/bus combo was going to take an hour, so I left 90 minutes before. My workmates had left an hour before me as they wanted to get lunch. I didn't want to make a day of so decided to work a bit longer and come along afterwards. I arrived at the train station with 40 mins to go and the bus to the cemetery was 20 mins away. It didn't look far in the map so thought I'd just walk there and get there early. I walked. And walked. And walked. Faster and faster. The footpath ran out and I had to detour round a block so I wasn't walking on a road full of trucks. I was 20 mins late when I finally arrived :'(

Then I tried to find the chapel it was in. I've never been before so had no idea from the map. My hope was to either sneak in at the back or wait outside the chapel and join in as they moved to the crematorium. I finally found it and as I rounded a corner there was the front of a cortege with pallbearers. I have no idea if it was his but I ducked and ran so I wouldn't be seen... So late by this time I was hoping to just sneak up at the back and not be so obviously rude. But was way too late by now.

 So I headed back to work. Waited for ages and the decided to try to find a different bus route... 50 metres away from the stop and the bus arrives. I eventually found another route... But it was the circle route which goes all around the city... Made it to daycare 1 min before they shut. Had taken me 5 hours of bussing and waiting, sunburn, and I hadnt even got to the funeral. Was not my day yest. M phone batt died so couldn't contact my colleagues who did get there. Msged one later, he said the funeral was good but did say not well organised, I think he was referring to the lack of details given to us about the exact location. He also went to the wake which I wasn't planning to go to (had to do daycare pickup), but found out lots he never knew about our workmate. (I had only known him since I started back this year in my seconded position so didn't know much at all)

I feel pretty bad I didn't make it... But it was not through lack of effort, just a bad decision to walk.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Tomorrow is going to be a very strange day.

We received the sad and unexpected news last week that a colleague had had an accident whilst walking back to the office after work, which resulted in a severe head injury. The next update from his family came as a shock to us all as we hadn't realised the severity of it; sadly they informed us he had not survived the injury and died two nights after the accident.

I won't go into details out of respect to him and his family, but just to say he left behind a wife and two children, which is just heartbreaking. Added to that that his death was unexpected, and at Christmas time which to me always seems worse - a constant reminder of what's been lost at a time when everyone is happy and enjoying silly season.

Tomorrow is his funeral.

I have so far, managed to avoid all funerals except two. One was a child who was killed during a sporting accident while I was at school. I didn't know him, and I don't recall much about the funeral except all the school classes were packed into the church for a service for him (not his actual funeral). The other one was another colleague who had suffered a heart attack and died instantly. It was not unexpected as he had been a very heavy smoker. Whilst I got along well with him, we weren't close colleagues, which did make it slightly surprising to me when I did not cope well at his funeral. I have a difficult time saying goodbye - it seems to bring up all the sad things in the world for me, as in I think of other losses, of how sad the person's family must be, of how that would be if I lost someone else (various family/friends etc) and the whole lot of emotions tumbles around with my mind running completely out of control and I lose it. I ended up with silent tears and red puffy eyes, while everyone around me managed to compose themselves.

This colleague was a member of my team in my seconded job, so I only met him when I went back to work this year. He was a friendly person, would go out of his way to give you a kind word, was patient when I came to him with work questions that weren't really his problem but would always stop what he was doing and try to help me figure it out. He loved a drink (or five) and of the few work functions we had this year, he would be one of the last to leave (usually with some fun photos surfacing the next week!) So a generally nice guy. The resounding question in my head after, 'How?' is 'Why?' So many evil people in the world but we lose a nice one? The world doesn't seem fair.

It's been over a week now since we found out. His desk has been like a shrine to him (other than his bag and personal documents which I guess my boss took to give to his family) everything is just as he left it, right down to his takeaway coffee cup. There's also a photo of him at a work function taken only hours before his injury. One of his close friends stuck it on the overhead cupboard and it makes me smile when I walk past. It's him in his element.

I will go in tomorrow with the mindset that we are there to learn a little more about him and celebrate his life. Hopefully my life experiences since the last funeral have equipped me to deal with grief and loss a little better and I won't spend it fighting and losing against tears but rather able to watch and listen to the ceremony, and by being there giving support to his family and friends.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Waffles for dinner

Not as bad as it sounds, honestly. I had chicken defrosting but realised, too late, that it needed marinading, so back it went into the fridge for the next night and I had to think of something to feed two hungry boys. G will have a go at pretty much anything but E is quite picky. We didn't have much in the way of meat and he won't eat veggies unless they're hidden, and I needed to make something quickly.

Suddenly it came to me - savoury waffles! I found the recipe in the Breville sticky waffle recipe book online, and followed it exactly, except I also added chopped rocket and spinach into the mix. Next time though, I would really cut the oil down... the bacon added so much fat to the mix there was oil dripping out of the waffle maker and it took me quite a bit of work to clean it afterwards - not to mention the effect on your body of too much oil.

My waffle maker does a flower pattern, which when separated makes 5 heart shaped petals. G ate a heart and E managed about 2... so good result for G but not one of E's favourites. He can eat 5 of the sweet ones if I put maple syrup on them. I'd call it a success however, since he had a go at them :)

Saturday, 14 November 2015

First birthday party preparation

Have been flat out lately, as you can probably guess by the lack of posts! Work and travelling to and from work take up 10 1/2 hours, then I try to cook and eat dinner, bath the kids and get them to bed at a reasonable hour, do washing/washing up/tidying etc and work on galleries for my photography business. I end up getting to bed at midnight, get woken once or twice to feed G, and then up at 6 to get ready for work. I really do need more hours in the day.

Oh, and I finally got my car back after 6 weeks at the repairers. The boot is still out of square but I've taken it back once already so they could get it to actually shut without having to be slammed, and I can't afford more time off work driving out there and shuffling about with hire cars again.

During my expressing breaks at work, I take my tablet with me and note down any ideas I have... from boring ones like what chores need to be done or what food we've run out of, to ingredients from Pinterest for dinner and ideas for photo sessions (I just finished a set of Xmas mini sessions all based on ideas from Pinterest). Currently I've been working on G's first birthday party, which is coming up in two weeks.

I saw this cake: and it has become my inspiration for G's cake, but since this will be the first time I've done a tiered cake (and we've not got a wedding sized guest list!) I'll do it as a two tiered cake. Bottom layer is 22cm (8") and is a Kahlua and chocolate cake. I've made this already and frozen it; recipe below. Top layer will be an all-natural red velvet, as in the red colour will come from beetroot, not food dye. I know a lot of people have a problem with red colouring.

So, the recipe for Chocolate Kahlua cake, from The Collegiate Baker. I only made a few minor changes.

2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup Kahlua
3/4 cup milk
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 180 C. 

In a large bowl, add the sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, Kahlua, and milk, and mix until combined.

Add the dry ingredients one half at a time, mixing well and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Then mix for another minute.

Divide the cake batter evenly between two 8" or 9" greased lined pans, and bake for 25 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

This is where I changed most; I didn't have two pans the same size so I baked all the mix in one 8" pan. Not the best idea as the mix was very liquid and so took close to an hour to bake through to the centre, so it's slightly crispy on the top edge and I've cut a thin layer off the top so I only serve the nice soft cake. I would recommend using two pans as per the recipe.

Now I have to buy a 6" pan to bake the top cake and two cake boards and some dowel to sit the tiers on.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Lucky to be alive

Had a very scary experience last week.

On Monday, I dropped both boys off at the local daycare (as they don't yet have spots on Monday at the daycare near work) and continued on my way to work. Was about 15 minutes into the drive when I entered the tunnel which takes us under part of the city. Was happily on my way in the left lane and made my way past a truck in the middle lane, which for once was moving slower than the left. I was doing about 5kms below the speed limit, not bad for the end of peak hour (was running half an hour later than usual that day). I felt relieved... I hate driving next to trucks.

Barely had I felt that, when I felt a very unwelcome hit to the rear drivers side of my car. Truck had changed lanes without leaving sufficient space (cameras in tunnel showed a clear lane behind me). I took my foot off the accelerator, but didn't brake, to give the truck room to stop. But he didn't slow, and being a heavy vehicle, kept pushing the rear end of my car until it was now sideways and heading into the middle lane. I was trying desperately at this point to straighten the car by counter steering to the left, not wanting to hit another car in the process.

But the truck driver had other ideas. He now moved back into the middle lane and rammed me in the side!

(excuse the thumb in the shot - it was so bright I could barely see my phone screen)

I had now spun 270 degrees and my car had come to a standstill. But no time to feel relieved as the truck hit me yet again, on the front passenger side of my car, and shot my car into the 3rd and final lane where the right hand tunnel wall was looming incredibly fast. I had enough time to think, 'Oh this is not good,' and knew that I wanted to survive this, to see my boys grow up, and then I smacked into the concrete wall, bounced off, the truck was by now too far ahead to ram me again and all the other drivers were alert and had stopped. I was able to guide my car back to the left lane, hit the hazard lights, and breathe out, stunned that I'd survived it.

---I've since picked up the video footage from the tunnel operators... seriously the truck driver must have been so dopey. Either that or was trying not to leave a witness. Still can't believe he followed my car into the middle lane to hit me twice again. It took him quite a few seconds to actually hit his brakes after the first hit... reaction time of a snail. He really should not be driving heavy vehicles. I actually thought he didn't have a licence at all, because:

After I stopped a guy from the car behind me ran up to my window to see if I was alright. He then told me to stay in my car and ran up the tunnel about 20 metres ahead where the truck had finally stopped, to bring the driver back. I went back to the guy's car and got his partner's details, as she had seen the accident and was happy to act as my witness for the police report. First thing the driver says to me was, 'Do you know what happened?' 'Er, yes, you hit my car!' 'Oh no, I don't think so,' he replies!

'I felt it, and I've got a witness who says you did,' I told him. He just kept repeating the same question. The Incident Response truck had arrived by now - it's job is to push broken cars out of the tunnel so traffic can continue, as there's no hard shoulder. He got me to move my car, which was actually still able to be driven, in front of the truck who had stopped in the middle lane, so that the tunnel had two clear lanes for the now banked up traffic. I then tried to get the driver's licence details again, but he was still just asking the same question over and over, so I just asked for his licence over and over until he got pissed off with that and started getting aggressive. The IR guy told him we both had to swap details so we could get out of the tunnel and out of danger. Lucky for that, as I was at the point where I felt he was dangerous and was considering taking a photo of the truck's licence plate and driving off.

So details swapped, I drove my car very slowly out of the tunnel and thankfully the truck didn't go after me again. I realised that some of my lights were smashed and hope the indicators were still working, and that I could hear one of my wheels rubbing as it went round. By this point I was closer to work than home, about 20 mins from work, so I drove very slowly (about 10kms below speed limit so not dangerously slowly) in the left lane and parked my car at daycare where I knew a tow truck would be able to get in easily (work's parking is underground).

My only injuries after all that were a corked calf muscle and massive bruise on my left leg, smaller bruises under the seat belt buckle on my left thigh, left elbow, and a bump on my head on the right. The next day my neck muscles were very stiff and sore but eased up within a few days. Really amazing and I am so lucky to still be here writing this.

It's now two weeks since the accident. I took the train and bus to work for the rest of that week (kids thought it was a big adventure!) and picked up my hire car on Saturday, so have faced the tunnel now 5 times. I'm not comfortable driving, but I guess that will ease up with time. Took over a week to quote on my car, but it scraped in under the write off amount by $1500, so will be repaired and I'll have it back in about 3 weeks time.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Postpartum recovery the second time around

Chalk and cheese!

The second time round for me was SOOOOO much easier. Two reasons:
1) I had a vaginal birth this time round.
2) I'd done all the hard work - learning to breastfeed, handling a baby, learning their hungry/tired/change me cues the first time.

So, number one. Obviously, I could get up and walk right after the birth (although I chose to spend the day lying on the sofa!). I did require stitches and my midwife left the catheter in for 24 hours, so there was some slight discomfort from the stitches, but nothing compared to major abdominal surgery. Mostly it was just being really careful walking up and down stairs the first few days, and I think a lot of it was just the thought of accidentally tearing a stitch that made me so ginger.

Lochia was pretty much gone to alba within about a week and a half, two weeks. I went through about 4 packs of maternity pads, and then i think a pack of regular ones before switching to pantyliners. From memory I was completely free of them by about 4 weeks postpartum. Compare this to the surgical birth, which took me so much longer to stop bleeding from.

Still pretty tired after giving birth. I had a nap on my midwife's orders most afternoons and that was great. Juggling a newborn and a preschooler was hard work. The newbie, once he got the hang of feeding, was easy. The preschooler needed a lot of interaction and energy which I just didn't have, so we did have a few tantrums in the early weeks until he got used to the new balance.

And, number two. Breastfeeding was almost a breeze after our struggle the first time, where I suffered with sharp intense pain for the first 6-8 weeks. E had a mild tongue tie which we didn't treat, but G did not, and I could really feel the difference. I did get sore nipples, as to be expected (Lansinoh helps) but it was only for a few weeks. Although I did get some blocked ducts this time around also, they had stopped by about 7 weeks and I've been fine ever since (8 months currently). I used the compression massage and heat to get rid of them. It was definitely worth the fight to keep breastfeeding. I had so much support the first time and I sought out help whenever I needed it, and it's made this time round so easy in comparison.

Diastasis - yep, still got it. I don't think I ever will get the belly button back as an innie. I'd been doing the Tupler technique after pregnancy 1 and through pregnancy 2, and have been doing Pilates postpartum this time. Although they've all helped, none of them have closed the gap. At 8 months postpartum, I'm at 2 fingers shallow below the navel, 3 1/2 and shallow-medium at navel, and closed above. Almost exactly what it was at 24 months postpartum with baby 1.

This is my belly 3 weeks postpartum, muscles relaxed and not held in as you can see! It shrank so much more quickly than the first time.

And this is me 8 months postpartum. I'm embarrassed to have to do a selfie style mirror photo, but that's all I could fit in today, in the bathroom trying not to wake my sick baby. I've flipped them all so they're actually showing the correct sides. 9 months postpartum baby 1 is on the left, 8 months baby 2 on the right.

Looking pretty similar to me.

And front view.

And blurry navel comparison; 5 weeks pregnant left, 8 months postpartum right. Room for improvement here.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

More on the return to work

I mentioned last post I was going to start preparing dinners ahead of time. I have managed so far to do that, and it has saved a bit of time. It has meant that while not on the table at 6pm which would be ideal, at least this week E has been eating by 7pm and we've been able to get him through the shower, cleaned teeth and to bed mostly on time.

So what I've done is to meal plan (not unusual for me) but to specifically pick quick to prepare meals, or meals which can be half done in advance, and have chopped all the veggies ahead of time and sealed them in containers in the fridge. One meal this week had a sauce and a marinade, so I was able to actually marinade the meat overnight (and man it tasted good!! - E ate all his dinner that night!). Another I've made the pastry for instead of buying it, and I've had pre cooked chilled rice in the fridge ready for fried rice.

This is my meal plan. Excuse the messiness - at some point I'll do up a template and laminate it so I can write over it with whiteboard marker. It's on the fridge so that we can see it and hubby can choose to cook some days without using the excuse that he didn't know what I had planned (even if it was him that chose the meals that week! hahah)

I didn't take photos of any of the dinners, but I can share some of the recipes with you.
Salmon with Fried Rice (Just panfried the salmon while stir frying the rice)
Spaghetti Bolognese (fairly standard, but the sauce is special)
Stirfried Beef with Kale and Fried Rice
Hainanese Chicken Rice (this is done from a jar mix and the recipe is on the jar)
Roast (pork this week. The secret to good crackling is to score the pork skin with a Stanley knife, pour boiling water over it to separate the cuts, dry and salt as usual, oven at 220C for 20 mins then down to normal temp for a roast (170-190)).

Poor little G has copped two lots of illness in his first few weeks at daycare. Conjunctivitis the second week he was there then Monday morning this week he was very grizzly. I dropped him off and told them he wasn't himself, so they kept a close eye on him and by mid afternoon I got a call telling me he was running a temperature. Hubby picked him up and stayed home with him the next two days, I'm home with him today and thankfully last night the fever broke. He's still very grizzly. We think it's a sore throat, as he cries out when he coughs. This is the hardest part of leaving them in daycare; all the germs they pick up their first 6 months there. Horrible. At least though it's done and over with and they don't get hit hard with bugs when they start school.