Friday, January 23, 2015

Tips for traveling with children

Are you heading away for the long weekend? Let's be honest, travelling with children can be a bit like trying to wrestle a live chicken into a hessian bag (ever had to do that? It's hard!). Whether they're your kids or someone else's, there's a bit more to it than bunging a Playschool CD into the player and stopping for constant snack and potty breaks. I remember driving my parents insane on our regular driving holidays, and I'm not looking forward to the day my children do that to me!


Here are my top six travelling with children tips:

1. Take your Time
Small humans don't run to the same schedule that bigger humans do. Toddlers in particular love to explore and we all know that babies are unpredictable and love to throw a schedule out the window. So you'll cope better if, from the outset, you factor in lots of faffing, tantrums, toilet breaks and just general extra preparation time into your travel. That six hour drive you used to do? Yeah, get ready for it to take nine now.

2. Book Ahead
Really this one is a bit of a no brainer. It applies to everything - accommodation, entertainment, travel, transfers... everything. As an adult it's ok to not have a hotel in mind and just take whatever you can get. That's not going to fly with children in tow. Especially if you need special considerations, like a travel cot. Or, if you're flying, certain expectations about where you'll be sitting and a bassinet seat. It'll save your sanity if you know exactly where you need to be, when, and what you can expect. So make those bookings! Which means, if you were planning a last minute escape this weekend... well, you best get right on that!!

3. Pack Snacks and Entertainment
Have a collection of toys to be handed out regularly. Ideally, these should be things that have a bit of novelty, so not toys that they already play with every day. I like to pack things like colouring books and crayons, stickers, board books and the like. Also, don't give them everything all at once. Ration that entertainment out, otherwise you'll be stuck with constant laments of "I'm bored!" and "Are we there yet?"

Pack snacks. There is totally something to be said for ordering food when out, but what if that food isn't suitable? Or isn't served at the right time? Pack a few things that you know your kids will eat and that travel relatively well without special conditions and temperatures. Think sultanas, sandwiches, muffins (like my apple and oatmeal muffins) fruit, crackers and cheese. Really resist the urge to feed them too many sugary things... do you really want to be stuck with a small child who has consumed their own body weight in sugar and has nowhere else to go? Exactly.

4. Let the children know what to expect
Children really do understand more than we give them credit for. Explain to them what is going to be happening and what they can expect so it's not a complete shock for them. It's hard enough as an adult to fall asleep in a new bed, imagine how hard it would be for a small child! Tell them what to expect so that you can remind them of the conversation when things are happening, and they have time to get excited and think about all the new things that will happen.

5. Everybody does not need their own bag 
Pro tip. Don't let everyone have their own unique bag. There is nothing worse than getting to your destination and realising you are short a piece of luggage. Of course, that would probably be the bag that has the special toys required for sleeping, the nappies and all the other essentials. At least if you have an outfit and bare essentials spread across the bags, it probably won't be too bad a disaster. 

6. Stick to a routine
I know from experience that my children are at their best when I roughly follow their daily routine. They need to sleep at a certain time and eat at a certain time to be cheerful. So keep that in mind when you're planning a getaway - the most enjoyable holiday might be one that's closer to home instead of taking a long haul trip away.

Organisation is really the key. Make sure your bags are packed early, and pack the car in advance. Pick the right time to travel - if your kids are good sleepers, it might work better to travel overnight so they sleep for most of the journey. Alternatively, it might be best to get an early start... work around nap times so that you don't have tired and cranky little complainers.

Want some more travel tips? See this series by Lifestyles of the Modern Mum:
What are your sanity saving tips for travelling with children?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Three things Thursday

Where did that week go?

1. I have a 12 week old. As in, a three month old. Forget about where the week went, those three months feel like that have disappeared in the blink of an eye! Look at this little cutie!


2. I finally feel like I'm starting getting on top of this whole 'mama to two' thing now. It's partially to do with Jimmy sleeping in longer bursts and partially to do with me just getting it together. Either way... it's just working out for me at the moment. Win!

3. Feeling in a particularly generous mood last week, I made Mr Fork and Ellie pulled pork and hand cut potato chips for dinner. It was a bit of a win really as they devoured it, and now they're both asking if they can have it again soon. Seriously, I cooked that sucker all day. It's not something I'm going to repeat on a weekly basis my hungry hoards! Although the chips... well, my they were delicious. I could be convinced to whip those babies up again soon!


How's your week going?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How does your garden grow, January 2015

It's been seriously hot here in Brisbane this month. So hot that our air conditioner has been working over time and I'm dreading getting the electricity bill. But... with a newborn and a toddler in the house, there isn't really many alternatives unless I want to drive myself crazy taking them both to a shopping centre on my own, or dehydrating all of us running around a park... I digress.

The other morning, before the day got too unbearably muggy, I popped out to the garden for a bit of maintenance (weeds ahoy!) and just to connect and have a little me-time before my tiny humans wanted all the attention.

The eggplants are just amazing. Mr Fork has staked them up again for me as they outgrew the previous stakes. They are producing prolifically, despite having some kind of sucker infestation that won't respond to my usual treatments. There are plenty of them to eat now, and to freeze some extra for winter time too despite whatever bug is on them.


The garden bed is a bit bare looking but I've planted some tomatoes in there, as the vines did so well last year. Nothing yet, but I live in hope. There are also carrots, but I'm not sure if those have taken, as they are planted where my dogs have decided they like to rest. A whole yard for that and they choose to lie in my vegetable bed. Typical.

The silver beet was out of control with the recent rain, but then I left it a few days too long and the grasshoppers decimated it. All silver beet plants have now been consigned to the compost bin!

In addition to my sweet potato section, I've finally planted out some regular potato in a separate area. It's my first go growing potato, but already I see some leaves appearing so I'm hopeful they're doing their thing underground.

The purple tiger chilli bush has really come back with the hot weather. It's laden with fruit, I'm just waiting for them to ripen up and turn red before I pick them. I'll freeze a bunch and dry some out to turn into chilli flakes and powder as well.

My basil is going to seed. I'm pinching flowers whenever I get a chance but I can't keep up. I may have to cut the whole thing back again and wait for the next growing season as I don't want it to taste too woody and old.

Chilli, woody basil and weeds a-plenty!
There are baby limes on the lime tree. Well, really one lime of any note, but there are other little babies growing. The lemon and mandarin trees have flowers, but no fruit and appear to have been a favourite of the grasshoppers and leaf miners yet again. Boo, hiss!


I've got a new pumpkin vine sprouting, which makes me happy. I never plant these on purpose, but they grow from the compost (gross when I think of it really). Last year was the first time I ever got pumpkins off one, and I'm hoping to get some more this year, although Mr Fork will be stricter about letting me have vines growing across his new grass now I think. I love pumpkin in winter, so hopefully I get a few that I can store away for then.


My pineapple looks like I might get another fruit off it this year. It's had pups and they're all looking really healthy so fingers crossed!

That's a snapshot of my garden at the moment... what's growing in yours?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Three things Thursday

In an effort to put a bit more regularity to my blog posts, I'm going to attempt to commit (as much as one can with two small children) to posting more often this year. I'm one of those people who responds quite well if I have a goal to work towards and a deadline to hit. Consequently, to hold me to account, I'm starting a new thing, three things Thursday, where I will talk about three things (oh I know, so unexpected!). Ha!
  1. This week, Jimmy reached a new milestone. For the first time in his ten weeks of life, he slept for a period of six hours. SIX HOURS IS PRACTICALLY OVERNIGHT! And yes that needed to be in all capitals and bold. I felt like a new woman. My boobs felt like they were melons about to explode.
  2. I want to know how I got lucky enough to get a baby who will only day nap for a decent period when he is on me. I honestly don't remember if Ellie was like this, and if she was, when did she start being able to sleep on her own? Some days I am just so touched out. Thank goodness for baby wearing... but... touched. Out.
  3. How good is pecan pie? Seriously, it is amazing. Look at that piece I ate because um... Jimmy wanted it (and so did I). Does anyone have a fabulous pecan pie recipe to share? Or heck, while I'm reaching, does anyone just want to bake me pie? 

How is your week going?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Recipe: Easy spinach pie

You may remember that I had that batch of silver beet that I'd harvested from the garden but didn't know what to make  with it yet? Well, I had a hankering for spanakopita, but no real desire to spend ages fussing about with layers of filo and butter and the layers of work involved.

So I found a faster recipe, but since it is so far away from a traditional greek spanakopita recipe, I can't bring myself to call it that. Instead, I'll call it what it is - an easy, cheaty spinach pie, which worked out perfectly edible and is definitely on my 'will make again' list, especially as it was toddler approved.




Here's what to do:

Easy Cheats Spinach Pie
printable link

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch silver beet (or spinach type equivalent)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup rice, cooked
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 1 packet silken tofu (or if you eat them, use 2 eggs)
  • half a packet of feta, cubed
  • good handful of cheddar cheese, grated
  • nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
  • poppy seeds for garnishing (optional)
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180C 
  2. Wash silver beet and chop into small pieces, removing the stems (you can keep these for adding into soups or for making stock)
  3. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Really get in there and make sure the tofu/egg is well broken up and mixed in to help things bind together
  4. Grease a baking dish and place one layer of puff pastry on the bottom
  5. Tip your spinach mixture into the dish, level it and spread it out to the edges
  6. Place the second piece of puff pastry on top. You can brush it with egg or milk or a little olive oil to help it brown. I also sprinkled some poppy seeds on top because I'm fancy like that
  7. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the pastry is lovely, golden, puffy and smelling delicious
  8. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving

Notes
  • All cheese used was microbial rennet cheese. I don't think brands matter. I also don't think quantities matter as some people like lots of cheese. Do it to taste! You could also add ricotta, but I didn't have any as this was a spur of the moment dish
  • After setting in the fridge overnight I think it tasted even better the next day when all the flavours had really melded together!
Do you make spinach pie? What's your favourite Greek dish?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Post tongue and lip tie, a timeline

For the first part of Jimmy's tongue tie diagnosis and revision, see here

Last time I talked about tongue tie, it was one week post revision, and things were still tough.

Week two:
It still hurts to nurse, Jimmy clamps on me and still has horrible suck blisters. Although the revision sites under his tongue and top lip are healed beautifully, we still have lots of tie symptoms despite doing rigorous stretches and following all post care instructions.

Two weeks after revision, I couldn't take the pain anymore, and at 2am in the morning, I emailed a private lactation consultant to come and see if she could offer any additional tips to get Jimmy to have a deeper latch. Luckily, I was able to find one who had an interest in tongue tie, and she was able to fit me in within a couple of days. I guess they're used to dealing with stressed out mothers who need help sooner rather than later.

Week three:
The consultant was lovely. She gave me some attachment tips, and it was great to have someone to chat to and be told that we were doing all the right things, even though there wasn't an immediate improvement. Sometimes, that's all I need to hear as a mama - that I'm doing a good job, that I'm doing all I can, that my baby is fine and that someone is willing to help me.

The bad news was that she thought he had further ties, which was why his latch was still bad and his muscle tone and suck ability were a bit woeful. I have to be honest, my heart just dropped. I don't think I could do it again, the stretches and the healing process is brutal. I felt like I was back at square one with the feeding process, as it was like having a new born again and training them how to feed properly.


I got in contact with the dentist who did Jimmy's revisions and told them what the consultant and the physiotherapist had said, as the physio also thought Jimmy was making slow progress and was still tight with low muscle tone. The dentist was a little cranky that I was questioning her work I thought, but still fit us in, which was nice of her, especially in the before Christmas rush. I just wanted to know what I was in for... but I am one of those people who need to know where I stand so I can take action.

The dentist stated there were definitely no further ties. She observed a feed, and wouldn't you know it, Jimmy latched perfectly and fed like an absolute angel with no fussing, no clamping and no spitting. The stinker! I was told that he just has a short tongue and that continuing with his stretches and exercises would help.

It was also suggested by the lactation consultant at the dentist, that Jimmy was feeding so often because he could. Like, he was snacking constantly and therefore never getting a full tummy because he had access to milk on demand. I was told to try wearing him (already on that!) and to have Mr Fork settle Jimmy after a feed so he couldn't smell milk on me and want more feeding because of that.
Dark eye bags are so 2015
Obviously, I should feed him if he is screaming, but really it's clear that he is having no shortage of milk, and is doing really well and looking healthy. I'll say - I have tendonitis in my wrists from having to hold him up to feed all the time!!

Week four:
We are pushing through. While the revision was not the immediate improvement that I wanted, it has made life easier and I keep reminding myself that this too shall pass. Jimmy is just lovely... and if I have to breastfeed him exclusively because he won't take a bottle... well, he is likely my last baby and I will enjoy the special bonding time we get. If I have to wake to feed him every two, three or four hours? It won't last forever and then he won't want me anymore and I'll miss that too no doubt. I will just live in the here and now and enjoy the moments.

My Christmas elves - it's obvious he's growing beautifully!
Week five:
If I am fair, there are probably more good latches than bad now. However, we still wake and feed quite frequently, and I still have to often correct his latch mid feed. Despite trying multiple bottle types, Jimmy still can't take one so I'm still the only food source, which is a little frustrating for me. Mr Fork feels he doesn't get to bond with Jimmy the way he did with Ellie as he does not get to feed him - nappy changing and burping aren't the same as providing food I know. I admit it would be lovely to get a little extra sleep or be able to go out alone for a little while without the pressure of needing to feed him too.

I do have to say that Jimmy is still continuing to gain weight beautifully and meet all his developmental milestones. This is partly because my supply is still hormone driven and so rather plentiful without him having to work for it... and partially because we feed so often that he gets his nutrients regardless! Look how smiley he is!


Its been suggested to me that most revisions take at least 6 weeks to recover from, which makes sense really. The later they are done, the longer the recovery too - you are essentially training new muscles and creating new neural pathways, which naturally takes time. I'm holding out for that six week mark, but honestly, if we are one of those duos that don't get a 'perfect' breastfeeding relationship post revision, at least it is 'good enough'. I know that I will have tried everything I could.  No one could ask for more.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

What's in my kitchen, January 2015

First of all, happy new year! Here's to a bright and shiny new year and all the fabulous possibilities it brings.

In my kitchen is...

Leftover Christmas luxuries that have still to be eaten. We have some lovely red pepper paste, some quince paste, some crackers and some dukkah. Every year, Mr Fork gets a ham from work for Christmas, and so every year, he has cheese and ham toasties until he can't look at another toasted sandwich for some time. Cheese also calls for a cheese plate for when guests drop by and hence, some quince alongside!


In my kitchen is...

Festive chocolates! Who can say no to some festive Merryteaser goodness?  This box was a gift to the family. When Ellie ripped off the wrapping, I don't think she recognised what was inside, and handed it to me with a dismissive, "here mama, you have it!". Don't mind if I do darling! She then turned to the many Peppa Pig goodies she was given instead. Priorities!


In my kitchen is...

A vegan grain loaf. Christmas traditionally is a simple breakfast at our place while Ellie (and now James) opens presents. We then go to the relatives for a conventional Christmas lunch, with turkey, ham, plum pudding and all the trimmings. It's been my job to bring the vegan option (which, to cater for unexpected diets, I also make gluten and dairy free as well). This year I tried something new, and made a barley and cous cous spiced loaf. While it was delicious, it didn't carve up into slices the way I would have liked, so it turned out more of a casserole I suppose. It was definitely tasty though! Shown here served alongside roasted root vegetables, simply done with some rosemary, salt and olive oil.


In my kitchen is...

Bubbly sourdough starter, courtesy of Celia's Priscilla. I have named my starter Lorenzo, son of Priscilla. I have attempted a couple of sourdough loaves, but they are too shameful to blog about yet. Possibly in a future IMK post...


In my kitchen is...

Some anaemic looking scones, baked for morning tea with a friend. They weren't particularly delicious, but the thing that makes them notable, and therefore worthy of a feature is that Ellie insisted on mixing the dough and pressing out the scones herself. "I do it mama!" I was told. And so, instead of the automatic no that wanted to escape my mouth, I found myself saying yes to my two year old. The look of delight on her face was priceless, and the concentration on her face as she (over)worked the dough and (took forever to) cut the scones melted my heart. So yes, they are a little floury, a little tough and more than a little rustic... but these scones were made with love. I will note that they were also choked down with much love, bless my guests.


In my kitchen is...

Speaking of love, this boston bun was in my kitchen this month, brought over by a friend to have with tea. It's from a chain bakery, Baker's Delight, and I'm including it because when I took it out of the paper bag to serve, I was tickled by the decoration on top and I have to wonder what the baker was thinking! Is it a heart? Do I have a dirty mind??


I am linking this post in with Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's monthly In My Kitchen event. Go have a peek through other kitchens around the globe!

What's in your kitchen this month?

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