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.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Return to work after maternity leave

Ah, the inevitable return to work. I actually started a week early, going in for a few days to do a handover with the girl whose job I'm going to be doing for a year, while she goes on maternity leave. I'm not officially starting until this week. So not only am I going to have to juggle the nighttime routine after work for two children now, but I'm also going into a new job. Funnily enough, after all I've experienced with my two different births and now looking after my two boys, a new job seems so much less daunting than it would have several years ago!

Still, I did struggle with those two days I did last week. With the first day, I finished work at 5 and picked up both kids, but with the extra pickup (2 diff daycares) there was an extra 15 mins of time added on to my journey. Got home after 6, hubby was working that evening and so that left me to settle a tired baby, cook dinner, feed both of them, shower one and bath the other and get the first to bed, breastfeed the second, tell the first off several times for sneaking down the stairs, and get the second to bed, then eat dinner myself. This did not leave much time for anything else before bed and yet I still had nappies to fold, daycare bags to repack, bottles to wash etc plus the usual day's chores that I would normally have done during the day, all crammed into the evening.

I decided I'm going to have to get to work earlier, so I can leave earlier and not be so rushed with the kids' bedtime routines. It was a good idea, and I tried it on my second day, getting to work at 8:30am, but on the return journey there was a breakdown causing heavy traffic on one of the roads I take so it took us an hour and a half to get home. Still that won't be the case every evening so I'll keep preparing everything the night before and get up early so I can make it to work by 8am.

I'm going to try prepping the meals on the weekend, ready for the week ahead. This will mean washing and cutting the veggies and sealing them in containers on the weekend, and getting the next night's meat out of the freezer the night before, so I can start the meal as soon as I've got home. If this helps smooth the evening rush it'll be worth all the preparation.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

7 months old - and a big decision

Clearly I shouldn't have been so smug about his sleeping in my last post; now, at 7 months old, he wakes 3-4 times a night on average. He's still a good day sleeper with 2 naps averaging 2 hours each, and even if he doesn't get that he's still such a happy baby :)

He's started commando crawling. We have to figure out what to do with the power cables that run across the lounge room floor to our laptops. He loves them and pulls himself towards them to attempt to chew on them. E knows G's not supposed to be near them and is a great help in alerting us if we haven't noticed. He also loves tissues and will pull himself across half a room to get to one... which he will then chew and eventually gag on. Lovely. :)

And in about three weeks, G goes to daycare for the first time. We had a real struggle with daycare; I had his name down at the one near my work which E goes to since I was three months pregnant. As of now, we still do not have a place for him there. Luckily the one near home, which E went to for a few months before we got a place at the work one for him, had a full-time babies spot and also had a place two days a week for E (also have had him on the wait list since taking him from full-time to 3 days a week, but no vacancy at the work one). I took them for a booking visit a few weeks ago. E took a little while to warm up, clinging to my leg, but soon warmed up enough to play with some toys. Didn't play with the other children but hopefully he'll settle in quickly when he's there without me. G wan't fazed at all, had a great time playing. My concern with him is taking his bottles, he'll probably be like E was. E refused the bottle his first half day, took a little the second, then drank most the third half day. after that he did a full day and was fine with bottles after that, although still reluctant to take them at home.

We went ahead and started selling clothes that he'd grown out of, right up to 00. So sad. I have been thinking, every time G attains a new milestone, that that is the last time I'll see my own babies achieve that. My whole life I've only wanted two children. I was the oldest of three and really didn't like the family dynamics once the third came along. That could also have been because of the large gap between us all, but whatever the reason it affected me enough that i still don't like the idea of having three children. Four children would be the only feasible number for us because of that (and also just because I like the idea and look of families with four children), but four is a huge mental leap from two. Also, a rather large expense with daycare. Excluding the expense, and the probable lessened likelihood of frequent family holidays, we both like the idea of four children!! So I've stopped selling off clothes, and we need to do a bit of number crunching. We have time yet - we like the 2-3 year age gap and I have to be back at work for 12 months before i'm eligible for the long maternity leave that I've now enjoyed twice. But, not too much time, as I'm approaching 40 (eep!) and we'd like to have both children before i reach that age (because of the increasing risks once the mother reaches and surpasses her 40s).

I also have my wonderful HBAC to thank for this new idea. I doubt I'd be considering more children if G had been born the same way as E. Amusingly enough, my midwife had been asking me each time I saw her at mother's group if we had changed our minds and would be having more. Each time I told her no, but now that we've really thought about it and almost made our definite decision, she's got used to my previous answer and now just says to the other mums, 'Jel's not having any more,' with her resigned look! She may read this; but if not I will look forward to seeing her expression when I ask her to be our midwife again :)

But for now, we really have to look at ways to save. We're considering enrolling E in Kindergarten next year, which will save us at least $40 a week in daycare fees, assuming kindy is 2 days per week and he needs before and after school care at the local daycare, who pick them up from the school. They do say 5 and up however so I need to find out if they also pick up the kindy children who are 3-4 years old. If we cannot get after school care we can't send him to kindy.

While I won't compromise on hiring a private midwife again, this time I'll save money by getting a referral to her by a GP Obstetrician, which means I can then claim part of the fee back from Medicare. I was reluctant to do it last time as I didn't want to appear too much on the radar of the maternity hospital; even though they didn't know I was planning an HBAC I was concerned about anything interfering with my VBAC. Little paranoid in hindsight; but hey I got my HBAC and didn't get hassled by the hospital! Now I have achieved it I am a lot more confident. Even if we have a breech again and have to birth at the hospital I'm a lot more confident; because I know i've birthed a head down baby, then I can birth an upside down one. But hopefully both future babies, and both placentas, will behave and I can have home water births again :)

I would really love to have a photographer present at the birth again too... the pictures we got back from G's birth were just gorgeous and I love looking at them, reliving his birth and seeing what I couldn't see while i was labouring. But that was quite pricy and my little photography business will have to start getting a lot busier before we can afford non-essentials like that.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Starting solids - purees

weaning, purees, baby-led

I had read up on baby-led weaning when E was young, and that's how we started him on solids. It made a lot of sense to me. Unfortunately, and I don't know if it was the method that didn't suit him or if he'd have been fussy if we'd started the traditional way, we didn't have much luck with him eating. He'd happily chew on a bit of apple, but never swallowed much at all, and there wasn't much change with this up until 9 months.

With G, I decided to try purees. I was going to wait until 6 months, but at 5 months he was attempting to grab my fork when he sat on my lap at dinner. One night he lunged forward and managed to hit my plate with his fist! I figured that meant he was definitely ready to start weaning onto solids. (A note for my US readers - weaning in UK and Aus means to start feeding solid foods, not necessarily stopping breastfeeding/formula).

I started off with boiled pumpkin around 5 1/2 months - just a taste. He made the funniest face at the start but I managed to get half a teaspoon or so into him. He's been so easy to feed since (compared with E). He's eaten avocado, sweet potato, chick peas (too lumpy, he didn't like it), mashed baked beans, stewed plum, stewed apple, banana, a tiny bit of curried rice (as it was lumpy I didn't wash to push my luck), Shepherd's Pie, and lentil and bacon soup (the last two blended with a stick blender).

It's been about 3 weeks now and he's got the hang of it, the last two days he's even started opening his mouth for the spoon and lunging towards it. Trouble with the lunging is sometimes the spoon goes too far back and hence the food is too far back, he gags, and if he can't clear it he throws the whole lot back up... milk feed and all :(

We've worked up to about a tablespoon and a half (at 6 months and 1 week) and sometimes lunch of 2 teaspoons, and that's about all I'm willing to do at the moment. I don't want to reduce his demand for milk and therefore my supply.

I plan to introduce lumpy textures, slowly, around 7 months.

The trickiest part of doing this the second time round, is juggling E's dinner, shower and bedtime, G's dinner and bedtime, and me having to cook and usually do all of it by myself, yet still manage to eat my own dinner. I haven't yet managed. On the evenings when hubby is home, I still have to cook, feed & breastfeed G and get up and down getting water/cloth/whatever for E... so I end up with a cold meal and an exercise routine in the middle of it. Hubby won't do it unless I prompt him several times so there's not much point. Will have to try to figure out something that works, and still get them to bed before 8pm to avoid fatigue meltdowns (like the one tonight from E... massive).