toddler looking outside from sliding door

Where did the 12 months go?

Time runs away the older we get
But where did the 12 months go
You’re walking and talking, be it blah
It’s a year since we first said hello

You’re no longer a baby, but a little man
Who’s always saving a smile
And just when I need you to sit or stand still
You’re choosing to run a mile

You love being outside, on the swing, in the sand
Or in water to splash and get wet
You live in the moment, and savour it all
Something I hope you will never forget

Your motto “feet first!”, couldn’t be truer
A bruiser who always jumps in
But sometimes you’ll show your affectionate side
With a cuddle and kiss on the chin

My little destructor, so full of beans
You’ve changed me again, it’s true
Life is no longer at all about me
It’s all for your sister and you

Lady performing plank in activewear

Instability to the core

So when they tell you how important it is to rebuild your pelvic floor muscles and core, make it first priority! Here I am 9 months postpartum and my body feels more broken than it ever has. Let me explain..

Physio classes

These classes were good (you’re able to commence 6 weeks after birth), and I religiously went for my 4 visits. Things felt good, my separation was less than 2cm, and I felt pretty good all round.

It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen

I’d done the mandatory things like my first birth, and was back to strength training and working out 5-6 times a week. And then about 2 months ago, it all came to a head. Lower left back pain, overly tight hip flexors and ITB, and my best friend De Quervain’s came back for a visit. Along with that, there’s some shifty stuff going on with my forearms which is still yet to be confirmed as to what it is.

WTF

My first thought. It didn’t happen last time, I was training and feeling good, why now? So at first I just continued doing all the same. I complimented that with a bit of acupuncture, massage and a sole physio appointment where I got some exercises to do.

Just keep stretching

Dory said something similar… and I tried it but after 2 months it wasn’t really any better. The arms were actually worse, the back and legs just kept coming back. So I decided I needed to get to the bottom of the issues so I can actually repair the problem, and not just keep putting bandaids on. Which is the real reason I actually wrote this, in case anyone else has had similar issues or is looking for a decent program.

Slow and steady

No more weight training for now. The focus is rebuilding my core and releasing the tension. Each weeknight before bed I use a foam roller, massage ball and do these funky exercises that are a part of a core program. I also found this for the booty burn to make sure my glutes are activating.

I think it’s slowly working. My lower back isn’t as bad and my legs don’t feel as tight either. Hopefully I’m not making it up but I actually think my core is activating now too. I just have to keep reminding myself to do it, and consciously think about the muscles I want to use while doing it.

scrabble pieces spelling stay home

Isolation nation

It’s been pretty much 2 months since the isolation/lockdown life began for everyone. I however feel like I’ve partly been in isolation for the last 8 months. It’s a weird feeling, and a lot of the time I feel guilty for feeling this way as well.

Out of sight, out of mind

I didn’t really feel like this first time around as I only had 3 months off, and work was great at keeping in touch throughout the period as well. However, having extended time off has been both a blessing and a curse.

I’m so grateful to have this time with my two kids, and be able to spend every waking moment as the three musketeers. For an extrovert though that enjoys their job, some days are truly gruelling.

No invite to work events, no check in from the bosses.. all communication to this date has been initiated by yours truly. I do have some beautiful colleagues who I chat to regularly, but overall I say “Thank gosh I kept my work laptop, otherwise without the emails it would feel like I’m unemployed.”

No ticket, no entry

Being a parent to young kids also forfeits a lot of social interaction. A complete slap in the face to me first time round. After a while you get used to it though. How many times can you decline a Friday night bevvy or dinner and drinks on a school night before you drop off the invite list? It’s no one’s fault, but again having less contact with people you used to can make isolation even worse.

In saying that, your friendships change and this is a normal part of life. Other people are in different stages, so it’s only normal to see less of those still partying and start seeing more of those married and parent friends who live similar routines.

Somewhere over the isolation rainbow

There is a pot of gold waiting for me with the quality friends and family in my life.. and I want to stress this. My sister from another mister and I practically video chat every week day, and we regularly see our parents so the kids can spend time with them too. I haven’t yet made myself an imaginary friend (probably won’t need to considering I get forced to play Harry Potter each day with my 4 year old), and we are slowly having playdates and coffees with our friends once more.

It’s been a very strange time with all the bushfire and COVID-19 drama, but each day I try to focus on the positives. No doubt, I’ll go back to work and then talk about how much I miss being with the kids at home.

nursery with crib at night

Who’s the dummy now? Wean wean wean..

We did it… made it through 8 months without a dummy AAANNNDDD regret? Is it regret? It is when he’s teething and wakes up a thousand times throughout the night (ok more like 5). Or when I’m trying desperately to remember how the hell I actually night wean. My daughter had a dummy so bit of a different scenario.

Seriously though, how do I do this again? First time she self weaned around this time at least in the day from memory. This little boy though, he loooovveess his food and loves the boob. My husband keeps reminding him that they are only on loan :o) .

Wean Plan A

We were going to change to a bottle before bedtime to make sure he was filling up enough… FAIL. It worked one night out of 4. And we discovered the little turd has become all fussy about only wanting the liquid gold and no formula (our fault for not giving it to him after the premmie episode I guess). So now we are stuck with a selective palette vampire…

Plan B

Cut down gradually.. just like you do when you realise you are drinking a bottle of wine to yourself with dinner. It’s now night 5 coming up. I’m down to two feeds through the night. One usually between 11 and 12:30 and the other between 3 and 4. I don’t count the 5-6am as night to make myself feel better as well as the fact that it is technically morning and I’m usually up.

I’ve progressed to phase 2 which is only feeding one side when I go in. It’s worked every night but last night when the teeth monsters were having a party.

Tonight, we are going to attempt to forego feed number one by sending in the boobless parent which may move feed number 2 up to a new timeslot. Wish us luck!

woman exercising inside

HIIT that!

Seems like an appropriate time to write this workout post with the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, and everyone trying to stay active at home. I was going to the gym 4 times a week up until the day prior to having my second , but gave up my membership while on maternity leave to do home workouts. You could say I’ve become quite well versed at stalking the online personal trainers over the last 8 months!

In saying that, I thought I would share some of my favourite workouts that I have been doing (from post natal recovery to now). Some are programs which you pay for, others are just videos on YouTube.

  1. The Bod – Sophie Guidolin
    This has now been turned into an app but I bought the Maintenance and Pro editions a few years back when losing weight from my first pregnancy. It’s good as it also has meal plans, and gives you gym and home options for each day.
  2. Centr – Chris Hemsworth
    Did I get sucked in thinking I’d get to work out with Thor every day? Maybe, but I’d actually heard good things about the app from a friend. I just finished week 1 of the Centr 6 program and am feeling the burn! Each workout is no longer than 30 mins and includes warm up and cool downs. There are things I haven’t even yet touched such as recipes, mindfulness, yoga and 100’s of workouts so looking forward to sticking with this one.
  3. Yoga with Adriene
    I love this channel. All free, but such good yoga that will leave you feeling refreshed and woosa. She also has a 30 day challenge if you can commit to daily practice, and her cute dog is featured every now and again 🙂 .
  4. Bodyfit by Amy
    I liked using Amy’s videos for my postnatal workouts while I was getting back into things slowly. She also has some good 15 minute kettlebell workouts.
  5. Sydney Cummings
    The best but and legs workout I have found.. for those who have no weights and just a resistance band. Sore for days! Sydney also has some great HIIT workouts that you can do in even 10 minutes for when you are short on time.
  6. SWEAT Summer series – Kelsey Wells
    4 weeks of postnatal exercises (mostly using body weight) to strengthen your core etc.
  7. HIIT workouts by Heather Robertson
    Quick, high intensity workouts for when you’re short on time. You only need your mat and some space inside.
  8. Boxing with Nate Bower
    If you have a boxing bag and gloves, these videos are awesome to work up a sweat. Just takes a few mins to get your head around the moves if you’re not a boxer as he refers to them as numbers rather than the actual punch (hook etc.)

Feel free to add any other recommendations in the comments!

medical mask on ground

M-m-m-my corona virus risk if we go

I’m at the verge of my whole phone news feed turning into Corona Virus COVID-19 stories. Backtracking to December though. I finally convinced my husband that although I wasn’t going to earn any money for the majority of the year, and we just spent our entire savings on our house renovation, it was the best time to fly to Europe for 2 months.

Fast forward to now and we have everything pretty much booked. But things are very much up in the air. After being asked by so many friends and family members if we are still going, the answer is “We will decide at the start of April.” Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. We lose thousands (and I mean thousands) if we don’t go. If we go, and something happens due to corona virus medically, or travel plans need to change, we could again spend thousands more.

State of mind

Start of March

Reading the data, it seemed kids and infants were at a lower risk but they don’t know why (reassuring). I’d hate myself though if my 9 month or 4 year old got really sick because we went. Plus, we went through some scary seizures with my daughter at that age so that brings back fun memories too. Either way, I’d say at the end of Feb/start of this month, I was leaning more to a yes.

Enter in the Italy travel ban, and a few articles saying airlines were now offering change of dates etc. and I’m back on the fence. If we don’t lose potentially half of our trips money (close to $10k), then maybe it is worthwhile cancelling?

End of March

Not much more to say apart from, “See ya Europe, maybe in another 5 years.” Fingers crossed we can do a road trip instead prior to me returning to work late this year. Refund wise, we are doing pretty well so far. Luckily we booked mainly AirBNB so a lot of those cancellation policies were pretty relaxed. Our airline has issued vouchers and now we are waiting to hear back about trains, and hotels. It’s tough, as every dollar you get back is being taken away from a business that desperately needs it to. No winners here.

sleeping baby wrapped in white cloth

Where are the batteries in this thing? Sleep training fun.

6 months in, and the little man has gone from waking up 2-3 times a night to almost hourly, if not even more often. 4 month sleep regression feels more like a 2020 regression as we have been having issues since Townsville. Welcome sleep training.

Dependencies

I created one for me in January when I was with the two kids away and very sleep deprived. Started feeding to sleep more often than not and on nights where I’d gotten up what felt like 50 times, I put him in my bed.

Now at the end of Feb, I’m struggling to function as a zombie anymore (I don’t do coffee or caffeine fixes). I’ve considered the dummy many times, but figure if we have made it this far, why start now?

The method to end the madness

I visited my good friend Dr Google again. Even though I was meant to just follow my instincts this time round and not stress… yeah right. Read many stories of sleep training, controlled crying, why it’s happening etc.

We decided on putting him down drowsy and then the pick up, put down with a bit of controlled crying as well. I didn’t know how good we would be at the controlled crying as we couldn’t hack it for more than a minute with my daughter. Surprisingly when you want sleep that badly, you can become a lot less emotional about it.

Progress

Before we launched into the night training, I got the day sleep sorted which took about 2-3 days. I’d been putting him down a bit early (at the first signs of tiredness around 1.5hrs after a sleep), and this made him more agitated and harder to settle.

The routine (for now):

Wake up: 6:45 to 7am

Power nap: 8am for an hour to an hour and a half. On school drop off days unfortunately I have to cut this one short.

Awake for 2 hours.

Lunch sleep: Somewhere between 11 and 11:30. This one on a good day can last 1h 45 mins if he resettles, otherwise an hour and then assistance from me which is a hit and miss.

Awake for 2 to 2.5hrs.

Afternoon nap: Around 3:15pm on a school day, sometimes earlier if at home. This one has to be timed precisely or he loses his sh*t and I have to end up going for an hour walk to try and get a nap out of him.

Early evening power nap: Depending on what happens with the afternoon nap, there are days we need a 15 min power nap to make it to bed time. We tried moving bed time forward one night (see Day 1) and it was a disaster so we do this instead. It also works better for us as my daughter goes to bed at 8pm too.

Day 1

Fail, fail, fail. I decided even bed time was going to be 2-2.5hrs after the last nap which made it 6:15pm. I got him to sleep, but he woke 20 mins later. Hubby went in to check and he said he looked quite awake but I thought picking him up again would ruin the night so we started our training.

It took 2.5hrs of taking turns going in, rocking, patting, shushing (no boob), until this gremlin finally passed out. The rest of the night was much the same as before with waking almost every hour.

Week 1

Not much of a win at all. We’ve gotten a few hours out of him in the first stretch or once we have resettled once. The rest of the night is wake ups every few hours. 4am onwards I take him to my bed or the spare room and can manage to get 1-2 hours after a feed if he is pretty relaxed before wake up.

I’m being very strict on the feeds being at least 3 hours apart and the rest of the wake ups we just settle using the above techniques. The crying and fighting is much worse at night as I’ve created a boob addict.

Week 2

What week 2… complete strike out!

Note to self, don’t start sleep training the week before immunisations or getting sick (not that you can predict the latter). Long story short, we had the shots and then both got a stomach bug. In saying that, the days are still going brilliantly. The nights marginally better in the first stretch, then up every 2 hours. He has however resettled once or twice.

Week 3

I’m a bit scared to type it in case I jinx myself but day 2 of week 3 and he slept through the whole night until 5am. Insane, right? My other one took until 10 months and then didn’t do it again for a long time.

So here we are on day 3, it’s been 3 hours and he hasn’t yet woken. Early days but I’m calling this half attempt at sleep training a success. And the best part? It didn’t matter we had a few hiccups along the way and caved in to old habits, as he still learnt the skill anyway.

flying - view from window over wing

Two girls and a baby (flying)

No, this isn’t the sequel to ‘Three men and a baby’, rather a tale of my first flying experience with both kids.

Given the current air quality in Canberra, and both kids experiencing smoke inhalation symptoms, we headed up north to my brothers. Hubby couldn’t come along as he had a job with an end of month deadline, so we left him and our furry friend at home.

Cargo

I tried to pack light, and managed to get all of our clothes etc. into one bag weighing 21kg. But then I realised Virgin only let you on with 3 baby items (cot, car seat and pram), so had to disguise the feeding/don’t have to hold you 24/7 chair as another suitcase… sigh. Luckily I had people at both ends to help carry the load.

Little man was snug as a bug in the Ergo carrier, and little miss walked alongside with her backpack stuffed full of toys.

Flying high

Breastfeeding while flying on the first leg was easy. There was no one directly next to me so I used a combination of my vest and a wrap to stop the 15 year old boys sitting across the aisle from being horrified. Second flight I had a man next to me, so opted for the bottle. Not because I thought he wasn’t keen on side boob. Realistically, there was no room and logistically someone was either going to elbow the baby in the head or I’d have to sit in some contorted way.

Placement

Placement of items when you have a 4 year old asking for things and a baby in your lap is very important. We learnt quickly that:

  1. Throwing your jumper on the ground at the window seat resulted in your jumper being iced over when you got cold 15 mins later.
  2. Snacks need to be in a separate pocket so you don’t have to rummage while trying not to squash your baby.
  3. Your own water bottle should probably live in an easy to access side pocket (I got very thirsty along the way).
  4. The bottle neck needs to be wider than the formula container (let’s just say my black pants had a bit of white powder on them when we hopped off).
  5. Try and make sure your older child has gone to the bathroom before your baby falls asleep in your arms and the seatbelt sign has turned on for landing

Touch down

Overall pretty stress free. There was the mad rush to the bathroom at Brisbane airport due to our first flight being delayed (the ones next to our gate had a long queue so we hobbled with my broken toe to the next lot). We had 3 of us in the toilet as the plane started to descend, and realistically I packed nowhere near enough food as I was relying on eating at the airport between flights.

No poonamis, tantrums or things lost, so I’d say it was a success.

sleeping like a baby

Sleeping like a baby

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the “sleeping like a baby” saying, I don’t see a restful night ahead. Passed out and undisturbed is the exact opposite of how they sleep. Babies wake up… A LOT. It may be more accurate to say ” slept like a drunk” but probably wouldn’t have the same ring to it.

Yeah ok, I have friends who have had the dream baby that has slept through at night at 6 or 8 weeks. It’s definitely not the norm though. I can also confirm formula feed or putting rice cereal in the milk for a breastfed baby will also not make this magic happen. I tried it already.

The unicorn

Both of my kids haven’t slept through at 8 weeks or similar. The first was such a cat napper through the day that we ended up at QEII Family Centre . Although the advice and help was great, we still didn’t manage to extend day sleep past 40 mins without being held by the time we left.

Side note, the ‘Love to dream’ swaddles are so worth the $. If you have a baby that hates being restrained, give up on the wrapping and just buy a few of these.

A bit of silver lining

My son was actually a huge improvement. I partly also attribute this to not being an absolute rookie anymore and missing tired signs etc. Now at 4 months, we generally get 5 hours from bedtime and then the early morning is up and down depending on the day. Day wise, I can get at least 3 x 45 min naps, and if it’s a good day we will get a 2-3 hour stretch. I just need to become smarter and actually go to bed when he does.

Routine

Oh I was obsessed with this first time round. Dr Google, friend’s advice, Save our Sleep and Sleeping like a baby books. You name it, I tried it. After all, I only had 3 months to get this baby sorted before I returned to full time work. Did it work? Nope. And the worst thing was, that the books didn’t really have a “What to do if your whole routine craps itself” section for dummies.

Going with the flow

This time round, I’ve embraced not following a routine. I’ve got time up my sleeve, and I take my cues from him. And man is it so much nicer, and stressless! You’re always going to have regressions, always going to have a sick kid, and life generally will throw curve balls. I think both ways have their pluses, but given I’ve still got a preschooler running around, this works better for us.

Smoke haze from bushfire

Beached on NYE

This beach trip unfortunately had no dips in the ocean, sunbaking or reading magazines while hanging with your besties.

It was barely 8am and we were parked at Malua Bay beach. Cars had already packed the grass area near the surf club. The air was thick with smoke and we had no idea what the day was going to bring. Our wake up call this morning was the automated phone call telling us to evacuate the house at 6am.

Just the beginning

We’d only driven down the day prior through Bega. I thought it was a good idea to have a break given we’d just finished renovating our house we practically gutted over the last year (while both working full time, raising a toddler and being pregnant with our second child).

Back at the beach, we watched as cars kept arriving. Filled to the brim with what belongings people could take in the short time. The sky kept getting darker and we could see the flames on the ridge ahead. This was mixed with the occasional bang of a gas bottle exploding. Our phones had no service, no way to tell family in Canberra we were ok.

red skies from bushfire

Within what felt like minutes we were surrounded by it. Guerilla bay burned to our left, and spot fires were not even 200m away near the surf club. The houses straight ahead on the hill were collapsing and there was a fire racing down the hill towards the beach.

Water side

It was deemed too unsafe to stay where we were so we all got out of our cars and on to the beach. The wind sprayed sand, the air was choking, but luckily the waves made it a bit more bearable. I did my best to shield my 4 year old and 4 month old while trying to stand comfortably with my left foot in a boot because I’d stupidly broken my toe a few days back. My mother in law held all 3 dogs while my husband and father in law did their best to get more information on the situation and help others.
People on beach with fire in distance

How are these volunteer firefighters coping in these conditions every day without the proper gear? Here we were struggling to breathe and it was not even a few hours of exposure.

Strangely enough, there wasn’t a feeling of panic in the air. The surf lifesavers were being fantastic sounding the shark alarm at regular intervals to keep everyone informed. The guy next to us actually went surfing for 5 minutes as he felt there was nothing else to do. People calmly sat on the beach with their loved ones and pets.

And so it went on for hours, until the two men in our family decided to drive back to see if the house was still standing. It was around 3pm at this point.

Smoky with a chance of…

The house was still ok, so we made the decision to go back up the road around 4pm so the kids could sleep somewhere comfortably and be a bit more out of the smoke. All I wanted at this point was to get the little man to have a decent sleep after the road trip where he had barely slept a wink.

We all took showers with the remaining hot water and served up some cold ham and leftovers we had in the camp fridge. We hadn’t properly eaten until now aside from feeding the kids. I thanked my lucky stars again that I was breastfeeding and could feed my son on the go.

The radio remained on and we all hopped into bed before 9pm, not knowing what the night would bring. We’d made a plan to not drive anywhere without a proper plan in the morning… but that all went out the window pretty quick.

Get out, NOW

Was the message we heard instead of Happy New Year’s. The risk of the fires was increasing, and all tourists were urged to get out of the beach communities via the limited roads that were still open for now.

We made a decision to head north to Ulladulla in the hopes we could get back to Canberra through Kangaroo Valley (the Bega way was still closed due to active fires). It took almost an hour to get over the Bateman’s Bay bridge, and every petrol station we passed had queues kilometres long. It was like a scene from ‘War of the Worlds’, minus the aliens.

Powerless

Ulladulla was without power also. There were hundreds of people already at the evacuation centre there. The beautiful people at Ocean Vibe were feeding people for free with what food they had left, and we had at least two people offer us help on the street even though they didn’t know us. The roads out were closed so there was no way of getting home today.

We drove around until about 3:30pm looking for accommodation. Somewhere that would take us and the dogs, but had no luck. Again, we made the decision to head back to Lilli Pilli despite the risk. At least we could have a shower and a clean bed. More than what so many poor people in this area don’t have access to right now.

Take me out

Morning of the 2nd, we anxiously listened to the radio in hope the road would open. Sometime after 9am we learnt we were able to get home via Bega. We embarked on what would end up being a 10 hour trip. Some of these hours we only crawled along at 10km, or sat in a queue km’s long up Brown Mountain.

My 4 year old was nothing short of a legend in the car this day. She barely complained. As for the bub, I pumped on the go so we could bottle feed and keep moving. The risk of stopping on the side of the road meant we may not even get home.

As with all great adventures, he decided to make it interesting by pooing no less than 5 times. And although he was so overtired from the ordeal over the past 3 days, he did surprisingly well being stuck in a car for 10 hours straight. Yes I did hold him when we were crawling along. And I may have done a drive by nappy change too…but hell we just wanted to, and needed to get home to safety.

The real heroes

This short ordeal of what we went through is nothing compared to the thousands of people that have lost their homes. That is why for the months of January and February, all profit from our sales will be donated to RFS NSW. These people are giving up their time and risking their health and lives to keep others safe.

Lastly, a shout out to everyone else who has offered help to someone in this time. Whether it be financial, food, a roof over their heads or even just assistance with a task. Times like these really do remind us of how good people are.