An unexpected reality check

I will admit to having my cranky pants on this week.  There have been a few unsettled nights, teething, tears, poo on the floor, a couple of baking disasters and a few failed attempts to get some exercise in.  Yesterday morning I was especially cranky, and decided to head into the city with Aiden to attend the Good Food and Wine Show.

Maggie Beer's Malted Milk and Chocolate Biscuit Ice Cream.... YUM!

Maggie Beer’s Malted Milk and Chocolate Biscuit Ice Cream…. YUM!

When I’ve attended the show in previous years, a highlight has always been attending the ‘Celebrity Chef Theatre’ and I’ve been fortunate to see some amazing demonstrations over the years.  By the time we wandered over the first show of the morning had started (I admit we were late as I stopped for a coffee and a sample of Maggie Beer’s new icecream (Malted Milk & Chocolate Biscuit… Yum!) and we had missed the first half of Matt Golinksi’s demonstration. We settled down in an empty row towards the back, ready to enjoy the show, instead what I got was the reality check that I really needed.

Matt Golinski's cooking demonstration

Matt Golinski’s cooking demonstration

Here is a man who lost his wife and three children in a house fire during the early hours of boxing day 2011. On top of the unimaginable grief he has endured, he has also been physically recovering from the injuries he sustained during the fire – and here is he is almost two years later on stage, talking about the book he is working on and clearly passionate about his life.  Sitting there I found my mind wandering, and thinking about what is really important, and that I shouldn’t ever take things for granted.  It reminded me that we can sometimes make life more complicated and confusing than it has to be, and we can hold onto silly grudges (I will admit to doing this over the past few days).
It’s not always about who is wrong or right, or letting the stress build up when life gets chaotic – what Matt reminded me is that our lives are precious and everything and everyone you hold dear can be taken from you without warning.

As well as walking away with a great summer dessert idea (grilled peaches with toasted brioche and toffee macadamia nuts!), I was also fortunate enough to leave with better frame of mind, and much more positive attitude.

Where is the most unexpected place you have received a reality check?

Linking up with the Multitasking Mummy for Mummy Mondays

To my sister

To my Sister,

It’s been so much harder to come home after my last visit than in the past. After spending five days together, our first time together both as Mothers, it has made me appreciate the special relationship that we have all the more.  We’ve been through a lot together over the years.  Yes, we haven’t always gotten along (there was a lot of arguing when we were kids!), but as we’ve gotten older I feel the dynamic of our relationship has changed from that of siblings to best friends.

sisters

You have been the one that I have always turned to first for comfort and advice during the roller coaster that has been the past five years.  Your support and compassion has always been unwavering, and you have been my greatest cheerleader as well as ‘keeping it real’ when needed.

Now that you are embarking on your journey into motherhood, I can only hope that I can provide you with some of the support that you have so selflessly given me.  Watching your face light up with love every time you look at your precious little man (even when he is having his crazy time) brings me so much happiness.

It’s a tough gig being a mum, especially in those early weeks and months.  It can all feel like a blur of crying/nappies/feeding/clothing changes (both yours and bubs)/ pumping… the list goes on.  On top of that you are also adjusting to having a new little person in your life amidst an influx of visitors, appointments, and the never ending advice everyone feels like they should give you…  all whilst you are physically and emotionally recovering from the birth!

I know you sometimes have your doubts about what you are doing/what you are meant to be doing – and believe me everyone does, but as we’ve talked and laughed about before, no matter what we do there is always going to be someone out there who thinks we are wrong (and maybe a little crazy too).

It’s not always going to be easy, and you may ask yourself what you have gotten into, the best advice I can give you when it feels like this is to sit down, cuddle and stare at your little man.  Just absorb every tiny detail of his face, his tiny little fingers and his smile.  It’s not always going to be this way, in just a few short months you will look back in amazement at how quickly the time has gone, and how big your little man has become.

I will always be there for you – even if it’s just for a rant during the middle of the night. And remember when you are up for the fourth time in one night, or you are sleeping in the lounge room on the recliner – you are an awesome Mum….. just like I knew you always would be.

xx

DSC_0924

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

My Happy Place

Sometimes just thinking about your ‘happy place’ isn’t enough – you need to take action and go there.  This week I’ve felt myself getting frustrated quite a few times, and my usual technique of thinking about what makes me happy has just not cut it – mainly when I’ve been dealing with a tired cranky toddler who refuses to sleep…  oh yes, it’s been fun times at our house this week!

Although I’ve felt selfish and guilty for doing a few of these things (especially when I was upstairs in the bath and could hear both the boys crying with Scott) – they have certainly helped turn my mood around quickly and bring me back to a better place where I appreciate what I have and the challenges associated with it.

This week I’ve gone to my happy place when:

* Sitting down with Aiden for smiles and giggles – this always perks me up!

* Going to the gym for time by myself – I always feel so energised afterwards

* Treating myself to a bubble bath last night – it was bliss!

* Baking (what a surprise!)

* Catching up with friends for Coffee (another huge surprise there)

* Going on ‘dates’ with just Aiden… we have lots of smiles and giggles

What do you do when you need to go to your happy place?

This ALWAYS makes me happy!

This ALWAYS makes me happy!

Then and Now Inspiration

Yesterday when I saw FMS Photo a Day prompt – Then & Now, it took me all of two seconds to decide what my photo would be.  Those of you who know me, or have seen my photo on instagram will know that our two beautiful boys both arrived early – Liam at 30 weeks & 6 days and Aiden at 32 weeks & 1 day (as a premmie parent all those extra days sure do count!!!).  We are incredibly lucky to have two healthy boys, Liam is now 21 months old, and Aiden will be 5 months old this Sunday.

Liam loves his little brother

Liam loves his little brother

He can be a little too enthusiastic sometimes though!

He can be a little too enthusiastic sometimes though!

It is such an overwhelming experience having a prem baby – even if you think you are prepared for it, as we were prior to having Liam.  I spent 6 weeks in hospital before he was born, had visited the NICU, spoken to lactation consultants re: how to express/feed a prem baby, knew what would happen at his birth, understood he would probably require help breathing (despite the cocktail of drugs I had taken to help mature his lungs) and was educated about the ‘typical prem health issues’.  Each week I would check the handout I had been given by the neonatologist outlining the improving survival/disability rates for each week of gestation, and watch the odds slowly improve each week – but when he arrived at 4.12am on the 11th of January 2012, all of that preparation and information went straight out of the window.

We were thrown into a world that revolved around weight gain/loss, feeding tolerances, oxygen saturation levels, heart rate and breathing monitors,  and of course – expressing!  Liam was five days old before I was able to hold him for the first time, even then when his condition had stabilised, we still had to ask permission and seek assistance to hold our own baby and take him out of his humidicrib.  The day he graduated to a ‘big boy cot’ was one of our happiest days, we no longer had to ask permission or for help to hold him!

During this time we received a mountain of support and advice not only from the wonderful midwives at the Mater Mothers Hospital, but also from organisations such as Life’s Little Treasures, PIPA (Preterm Infants Parents Association) and Lil Aussie Prems – all of which helped us survive the NICU/SCN journey.  I found the online parent forums really helpful and also comforting to read in those lonely hours during the night when I was expressing.

When it became apparent that Aiden was also going to make an early arrival, the knowledge and experience we had gained from Liam’s journey was invaluable.  With every gain he made, we knew it was inevitable there would be a couple of steps backwards – as is the life of a prem (in Aiden’s case it was being diagnosed with Chronic Lung Disease at 12 days old and going back onto Oxygen).

Just looking back at the early photos when picking then out for the photo challenge, it bought back a flood of memories from the constant beeping and alarms of monitors, to the smell of antiseptic as you walked out the lift doors.

This Sunday our family is participating in the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation Walk for Prems.  This charity provides a wealth of support and information to families and friends of premature babies.  I am proud to say we will be walking together as a family of six – we will be walking not only for Liam and Aiden, but also their big sister Amber and brother Riley, who were also born prematurely and sadly did not survive. We will be walking for all of the premature babies and their families out there and hope we are able to raise much needed funds to support these families during this tough time.

Sending lots of love to all the families with a baby in nicu/scn xx

 

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

First cuddle/family photo with Liam - 5 days old

First cuddle/family photo with Liam – 5 days old

First cuddle with Aiden - 2 days old

First cuddle with Aiden – 2 days old

Keeping it in perspective

It’s been a chaotic morning.  We headed out to meet a good friend for a catch up and both the boys decided not to co-operate (the signs it was going to be a crazy day were there when we were getting ready to leave).  Aiden was easy to sort out: feed, wrap up and he will drift off to sleep.  Liam on the other hand……  In all fairness, the chocolate fondue platter my friend and I were sharing was VERY tempting for a toddler, however I was hopeful the babycino I had bought for him, and his trucks and books would keep him distracted….  this was not the case.  We had a lot of crying, cuddling and chocolate ended up everywhere – the plans for our peaceful morning went out the window.

Too tempting for a toddler!

Too tempting for a toddler!

Thankfully this is not the norm for us when we go out – if it was I don’t think I would take the boys anywhere!  I’m still not sure what the cause of this mornings crankiness was, however they both slept for 3 hours when we got home and I’m not complaining!!

It got me thinking how 12 months ago, if I had been in the same situation I would have freaked out, and probably left as quickly as I could and gone straight home – possibly in tears!  Now with the two boys and a bit more experience with this whole ‘mothering thing’ whilst slightly embarrassed that I spent the majority of the time consoling Liam, rather than talking to my friend, I’ve bounced back pretty quickly (and the iced latte I bought on the way home helped!)

I know it was only yesterday that I listed the things I am grateful for, however after this morning I’m doing it again to keep things in perspective!!

* I have two healthy (and normally happy boys) that I get to spend all day with

* We still got outside and to enjoy the beautiful sunshine

* I am blessed to have wonderful, understanding friends!

* Both boys slept for three hours when we got home

* I’m now watching Liam lining up all of his cars to show Aiden

* Did I mention I got an iced latte on the way home? Coffee fixes everything!

What do you do to unwind after a crazy day?

 

Salted Caramel Macarons

When it comes to packaged foods/mixes I am a bit of a snob.  I think it goes back to when we were kids and Mum and Nan would always say ‘packet mix’ cake/biscuits/meals were never as good as the real thing.

When looking through my sister’s pantry, I came across a ‘packet mix’ for vanilla cupcakes, and to be honest, they looked really good! As she is one of the least domesticated people I know, I offered to make them for her, until I noticed the expiry date was two years ago.

This then inspired me to checkout the packaged goodies at the supermarket earlier this week.  It was a strange feeling, I actually felt guilty standing in front of them, and could hear Mum and Nan commenting already!

The ones that caught my eye were by Adriano Zumbo. Like many people, I was introduced to him and his crazy recipes through MasterChef. I can remember watching the contestants attempting to construct his macaron tower and thinking it was an impossible task – especially since I have never made macarons!  Spying a box for ‘Salted Caramel Macarons’ I made the decision to take the plunge.

The dreaded 'packet mix'

The dreaded ‘packet mix’

These were SUPER easy!  I’d also like to think my years of watching MasterChef have paid off.  Whilst the instructions were excellent, I remembered it was important to let them sit before putting into the oven and to not over mix.  The template was a great idea, and I was so proud when an army of perfect little domes came out of the oven.  He suggest cooking time of 14 – 18 minutes, I found 14 minutes was plenty of time in my oven.

Adriano also says the addition of sea salt to the caramel is optional….  I went for it and am so glad I did.  Even Scott my toughest critic was impressed!  The mixture made around 22 complete macarons. I would have had a couple more, except a little boy I know stole a couple from the tray whilst I was distracted feeding his brother – when a toddler goes quiet, you just know something bad is going down…..  They were so good that I even broke my ‘one piece rule’ and went back for a second!!  Now my next challenge will be making them from scratch….

These are fantastic - so happy with the result

These are fantastic – so happy with the result

The week that was….

Well week 2 of baby watch has concluded with STILL NO BABY!  The positive news is that although she is now in hospital until bub arrives, Tiff is now officially full term (a milestone I seem to fall short of!)

37 + 1 week belly!

37 + 1 week belly!

Last Sunday Tiff and I took the boys to Echuca for the morning.  It bought back a lot of memories, we used to spend EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND their as kids visiting our grandparents.  I was planning to take Liam on a paddle steamer ride, but decided an hour long cruise was just TOO long for an on the go toddler.  Instead we went on a horse and carriage ride which he LOVED….

Liam loved our carriage ride

Liam loved our carriage ride

We also went back to Little People’s Art and did some more painting.  Liam chose to paint a Lion this time (when I say chose I was showing him what he could paint and he roared when I said Lion), although he got distracted playing with the trains and I ended up painting most of it, he added the final touches to our masterpiece!

 

Liam is being very affectionate to his little brother at the moment – he can sometimes be a little too enthusiastic though…

Cuddles x

Cuddles x

 

Love x

Love x

We’ve had a lovely time catching up with friends this week.  I’m very lucky to have a great group of friends, some of which I’ve known for 20 + years and although we haven’t seen each other since we were last home 10 months ago, when we catch up it’s like no time has passed.  Catching up with everyone is also a great excuse to have a lot of coffee dates!

Mmmm Coffee...

Mmmm Coffee…

 

On Friday Aiden was Four Months old!  Our little man has come so far, doubling his birthweight already and really interacting with us now.  Luckily I packed the Milestone Cards from Little me Little you.  I love them and just wish I had discovered them earlier and could have used them for Liam as well.

Four Months old

Four Months old

I’m pleased to say I’ve completed my 3/4 year resolutions this week.  This morning I was able to run 2.8km before I had to stop in case I passed out.  Super excited about this achievement, as I’ve never been much of a runner.  My goal is to be able to run the 5k Mothers Day Classic next year.

It’s been over 9 years since I moved to Queensland and i think I’d forgotten how seriously Victorians take their football. Aiden and I went into the shops earlier this afternoon and it was like a ghost town with everyone watching the footy. There were even a heap of stores that had closed early so their staff could watch the footy.

 

I hope you have all had a great week xx