Sunday, December 28, 2014

Recipe: Barley and cous cous bake

It's a Christmas tradition that even though we are guests for Christmas lunch, as I am the only vegetarian, I supply the vegetarian main. Gradually, this has morphed into me being responsible for all the 'picky' eaters - that is, the vegans, the vegetarians, the gluten free and those who want a healthier option. I therefore always play it safe with my contribution and make it relatively spice free and appealing to most palates and diet types.


This year, I wanted a change from my usual mushroom and sage loaf, particularly as we are still in a delicate stage with Jimmy's feeding, and sage tends to dry up breast milk supplies, something I really didn't want to inflict on my baby on a day when he'd want the extra comfort of nursing with all the new people around him.

I decided that I would make a spiced grain bake, flavoured with spices and some lemon juice to keep it fresh as it was a hot Christmas this year. It turned out quite tasty, although not as 'sliceable' as my loaf option, so there were no perfectly cut portions, more of a delicious heaped serving upon plates.

Barley and cous cous bake
printable link

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup pearl (israeli) cous cous
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tin green lentils
  • 1 tbsp ginger, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped finely
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tumeric
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line your baking dish with baking paper
  2. Cook the barley and cous cous in boiling water. Just before the water is completely absorbed, remove from the heat and leave it to sit, covered, for an extra 15 minutes
  3. While the grains are sitting, saute the onion in the coconut oil until softened
  4. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Transfer the mix into your prepared baking dish and press down firmly
  6. Bake for 45 minutes and allow to sit an additional 15 minutes before serving

Notes:
  • You could easily use other grains if you prefer. Quinoa would be nice and give it a slightly nuttier flavour. I think brown rice would also be delicious
  • Feel free to switch up the spices and even add herbs for a different taste. I played it safe and omitted chilli, but if it was just for me, I would have added it in
  • This was super easy to prepare. In fact, I made it the night before I needed it, then just removed it from the fridge, allowed it to come to room temperature and then baked it on the day I needed it. I think this really helped the flavours to infuse throughout too
How was your Christmas? What was on the menu and are you still eating the leftovers?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Newborn photography

When Ellie was born, I was sent a hamper from work that included a voucher for a newborn photography shoot with a free photo included from a big photography company. Not knowing any better, we went along, had a fun shoot posing with the props they told us to in the poses they suggested. We duly went back and were presented with lots of beautiful images that we were welcome to purchase for a small fortune. And that's how they get you.
Look, I'm not saying they weren't worth it. And I'm not even saying we walked away without the photos because, well... it was Ellie as a newborn! I know photographers need to be paid for their time and everything, but sometimes, what they charge is a joke, and your photos look like every other photo that they take there.
So I took a different approach with Jimmy. This time, we had the photographer come to us. We chose someone with a relaxed style, who captured real life images. I didn't want anything too photo shopped or cliched, I didn't want perfect poses that weren't us, and I didn't want to look at the images and feel awkward.
I'm so happy with what we got back. These photos are us. They capture the real us - from Mr Fork having his phones in his pocket (thanks honey!), to Ellie throwing a tantrum because Peppa Pig couldn't be in the photo, to Jimmy yawning mid shot, to my amazing new baby cleavage (ha!). We even had the puppies included because hey, they're part of the family too!
Photography by Little Seeds Photography.

Please note that this is not a sponsored post. I value good photos and I really wanted someone to capture the early days of Jimmy and our family - I paid for these photos.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Let's talk tongue and lip tie

Fair warning. This post is about breastfeeding. I talk about my nipples. There are pictures of my crying child because that's how I could best photograph his tongue. If that's not your thing, feel free not to read this post and maybe read about my kitchen instead :)

I've mentioned that with parenting the second time around, you just know when things aren't right. So I just knew that feeding little Jimmy wasn't going right. Sure, he was gaining weight. In fact, one month post birth he was over a kilogram heavier than birth weight. That's great! Not so great however, was convincing people that something wasn't right, because they all pointed out he was putting on weight and having the appropriate number of nappy changes.

Still... feeding took forever. He slept poorly, waking on a 1.5-2 hour cycle, around the clock. He was constantly gassy, and dribbling milk. My poor nipples were sore and bruised and little Jimmy's mouth was one big blister from gripping onto me for dear life. I'd had his mouth checked at the hospital before discharge and was told he looked fine and his latch seemed good if a little shallow. I never seemed to be able to get him to flange his lips or open as wide as I thought he should to latch on. When he cried, his little tongue would cup up and not poke out much at all.

At two weeks, I reached out to our community health feeding clinic, who watched a feed and told me I was doing everything right from a mechanical perspective. Of all the people I'd seen and asked about feeding, this lactation consultant was the only person who felt around in Jimmy's mouth and diagnosed him with a posterior tongue tie, which was also confirmed at my home midwife visit when I asked her. However I was advised that since he was gaining well, it likely didn't need treatment, and my sore nipples were normal newborn feeding side effects.

I'd never heard of tongue tie before to be honest. I googled the heck out of it, and joined support groups online. It made me feel better to know there were other people going through what I was going through - the sleepless nights, the painful nursing, all while hearing there was no problem "because baby is gaining weight"!

Captured! A sleeping moment
For me though, the pain was awful. My nipples would come out misshapen and I'd dread the next feed. I found a local dentist who was passionate about tongue tie and specialised in laser tongue-tie surgery. I scheduled a consultation and treatment as soon as possible - Jimmy would be five weeks old before we could be seen. Knowing I had that appointment kept me sane... ticking off the days until I could get help meant I was able to get through all those feeds.

The day of the appointment arrived and I have never felt such relief. Someone listened to me and sympathised with all my symptoms. Jimmy was diagnosed with a class IV tongue tie and a class III lip tie, which commonly occur together. Releasing the ties would help our nursing relationship, and further, would decrease the likelihood of future issues such as speech and eating problems, cavities and orthodontic work which are common disorders associated with tongue tie.

Jimmy was taken away and we were asked to step outside so that we didn't hear his reaction to the treatment and I could nurse him calmly afterwards (infants who are breastfeeding are typically revised without anaesthesia). I'm told he was swaddled and held tightly while the dentist used the laser, and that my Jimmy didn't cry at all. All up it took maybe five minutes maximum, and then I was taken to a quiet room, Jimmy was placed in my arms and we breastfed under the direction of the dentist (herself a mum and strong breastfeeding advocate) and a lactation consultant.

Before and after - look how high that tongue goes and how far the mouth opens now!
That first feed... what can I say. I'd always been told that breastfeeding was painless and pleasant. Although I fed Ellie for nine months, I can honestly say it was never completely pain free, but I grew to enjoy it. With Jimmy, I finally got what everyone meant. He latched beautifully, he drained my breast and I fed him without pain. And then... miracle... he slept, for three hours. And that night, he slept in three hour cycles, which meant, for the first time in FIVE weeks... so did I. Do you hear that? I slept longer than an hour. I felt like a new woman.

One week post procedure, it's still rough I'll be honest. We do some manual therapy to complement the release, because Jimmy needs to relearn how to use his mouth and nurse 'correctly' as opposed to coasting along off my let down and gripping me with his gums. We've been given exercises to do to improve his suck and help him develop muscles that he hadn't been using before. Essentially he is re-wiring his brain and learning new ways to control this extra movement he suddenly has, which is pretty amazing really.

Doing the stretches to make sure his ties don't reattach is heartbreaking. Constantly correcting his latch is frustrating, and knowing he is in pain is awful. We are getting there though. We still have bad feeds, but we also have good feeds as well. Just like we have good sleeps and bad ones where he is back to his 1.5 hour cycle. He is gradually starting to sleep longer though (hallelujah!) and he is much less windy because he is latching better and therefore swallowing less air. My nipples still get sore and he still has nursing blisters, but I'm confident that will improve as his muscle tone and mouth strength improve, especially as we continue with the physiotherapy and work with a lactation consultant.

It's hard having a growth-spurt, post surgery cranky baby and a highly energetic and attention hungry toddler, but this is where baby wearing comes in handy. I do adore snuggles and the little snores that happen when he falls asleep against my chest.

Snuggles for the win!
Tongue tie is a contentious issue I've found. Some medical providers don't believe they affect feeding. Some believe if you came poke out your tongue (Jimmy could) there is no issue, failing to consider a posterior, sub mucosal tie might be present. These sorts of ties can only be felt with a manual examination and often cause many feeding problems initially as the tongue doesn't reach the roof of the mouth for efficient drainage. They can be hard to diagnose as some babies continue to gain weight coasting along off initial good supply and strong let downs. Apparently, with the increase in formula feeding, lots of medical people stopped learning about tongue ties, but now that breastfeeding is increasing, a lot more ties are needing attention - after all, a bottle doesn't complain of pain.

I don't blame the medical people I saw at all, but what I did learn from this experience is to trust your instincts... if you don't get the answers you need, continue to seek help because no one knows your baby like you do.

Friday, December 5, 2014

What's in my kitchen, December 2014

As my final IMK for the year, I'd like to take the opportunity to send out season's greetings. 
I look forward to visiting other kitchens redolent with the smells of the festive season and drooling over kitchen creations, something that my kitchen is currently lacking!

In my kitchen is...

A box of ready to eat meals, courtesy of my awesome baker friend and her man. Yes, its a bit of a terrible picture as Mr Fork was grabbing for stuff as I took it... but this box is jam packed full of delicious things, both vegetarian and meaty so that Mr Fork, Ellie and I can just reheat and be eating something scrumptious in seconds. I am in awe of the sheer love, effort and thought that went into this box of gifted goodies... and my stomach thanks them every time I eat a meal that isn't takeaway! This is a fabulous present for anyone with a new baby! Or anyone really...


In my kitchen is...

Chocolates from local markets. Delicious dark chocolate with figs or with nuts and chilli to be exact. They are amazing, and I am spacing out the eating of them as otherwise I will indulge far more often than is healthy...


In my kitchen is...

A ginormous blueberry muffin, courtesy of another friend who stopped by to visit Jimmy, and kindly brought his ever-hungry mother some sustenance as well. I shared this monster muffin with Ellie when she came home from daycare so that I didn't feel such a greedy eating machine.

I should add that Mr Fork has gone back to work now, so it's just me watching Ellie and Jimmy during the days. I didn't really appreciate how much work a newborn would be with a toddler as well, and I'm thankful for the generosity of my friends who make sure that I have plenty to eat, even if I can't always find the time to eat it!


In my kitchen is...

A Merryteaser Reindeer (or several). I didn't think it could get better than the MaltEaster Bunnies, but turns out there is a Christmas version too. Oh happy days! These little fellows are harder to find in stores than I'd expect, but Coles sometimes has them in their seasonal aisle. I have to hide from Mr Fork and Ellie when I eat one, as I swear those two have a special extra sense for seeking out the crinkling of chocolate wrappers...


In my kitchen is...

A pile of spinach. Fresh from the garden, I think it'll be the last of my planted spinach as the heat is starting to make it all look a little sad and past it's prime. I hustled out before the day got hot to harvest this bunch, as well as one ripened eggplant that the possums missed. The spinach was then separated into leaves and stems, blanched, cooled, bagged and labeled ready to freeze as I'm just not enthused enough to cook with it right now but I didn't want it to go to waste.


I'm thinking when I get my cooking mojo back in force, I will use the spinach leaves to create a pie I've been pondering lately, and the stems will find their way into various stews, stocks and soups.


In my kitchen is...

An apple tea cake, baked especially to help use up some of the sad looking apples from my fruit box. This is a simple recipe which freezes beautifully and which Ellie and I enjoyed for both morning and afternoon tea one day.


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?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Seven song titles to describe life lately

Song titles which describe my life right now:

  • I Think We're Alone Now (Tiffany) - What I sing to Jimmy when I'm up doing the many late night feeds and trying to settle him... it's such a nice snuggly time alone with just him and I
  • Zombie (The Cranberries) - How I feel after a long night where I'm up feeding continuously every two hours or so 
  • I can't help falling in love with you (Elvis Presley) - Lucky the little fellow is so cute... what I think when he snuggles his tiny head into my shoulder and falls asleep... sleep deprivation and milk monster status and all
  • Red, red wine (Neil Diamond) - What I wish I could have... I'm holding out for the time when Jimmy spaces his feeds long enough for me to indulge! 
  • Bad Day (Daniel Powter) - How I feel when I just settled Jimmy down at 4am, Ellie has crawled into bed with us at 4:30 and then Mr Fork's alarm goes off at 5 to get him ready for work. It's going to be a long, long day
  • Right Here Waiting (Richard Marx) - What I'm sure Jimmy is thinking after I've spent ages feeding and settling him for a nap... and he's planning to wake up again as soon as my head hits the pillow 
  • Sweet Dreams (The Eurythmics) - What are these again? I've calculated I'm probably averaging about 5 hours total sleep in each 24 hour period... broken into chunks of time way smaller than I want
Source: unknown

What song title/s describe your life right now?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: Coles Little Explorers

I recently had the opportunity to test out the newly launched Coles Little Explorer nappies. Now usually when I'm trialling something, Mr Fork gets all excited (like the time I got to try Nutella for example) as he gets to join in on the joys of blogging life too. However, this time when I opened the box that arrived, it was Ellie who squealed with glee at the sight of all those nappies. I should add that Ellie thinks all mail is hers and rips everything open with the same gusto, but she really did squeal and declare the nappies were 'hers'.


Which was timely really, as she's started to get independent at nappy change times, and the fact that she had 'her' nappies meant that it was easy to convince her to make the change and try out the Little Explorers as part of their five day challenge.

We trialled the toddler size, suitable for children weighing 10-15kg. There were 24 nappies in this sized pack.

How did we fare?
  • The animal designs were a hit. Our size had a giraffe on it, and Ellie took great pleasure in wearing her giraffe nappies. Tick for cute designs.
  • They lasted beautifully overnight with no leaks. Tick for the Coles Dry-tech ultra absorbent core. The nappy was heavy and definitely sagging in the morning, but her big girl bed was dry and there was no skin irritation at all.
  • They totally contained several poopsplosions beautifully. Tick!
  • What chafing? I have to say that for a store brand nappy, the quality is right up there and the nappies were soft, breathable, and didn't seem to shed or pill. Nor did they feel or look cheap. Tick.
  • They fit quite nicely, which is what they are designed to do with the unisex design featuring a stretchy waistband, elasticised legs and resealable side tabs (brilliant for squirmy toddler antics!). Tick.
  • The price is a bit of a winner. $9.99 for a pack is pretty good in my book, although they were launched at a special price point of $8 per pack. All packs are the same price, but I understand different sizes have different amounts of nappies in them.

Also, not relevant for the size we tried, but I imagine it would be really handy for Jimmy in the newborn range:

  • The newborn size has a cut out for the umbilical cord. GENIUS! Jimmy was constantly rubbing his and it got irritated and stinky trapped under his nappy.
  • The newborn range also has a wetness indicator with a star pattern that fades when wet. Seriously, that is awesome. It's all well and good to grab a toddler and check if they need changing, but who wants to manipulate a sleeping baby on the off chance their nappy is dirty? No more! 
The Coles Little Explorer range is just hatched (see what I did there?!) and will be extending to cover baby food, as well as the existing wipes and nappy bags.

Disclaimer: I was provided with the nappies to review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Recipe: Peanut Butter Lactation Cookies

Breastfeeding is hungry work. My Jimmy is a hungry little milk monster and feeds regularly at two hour intervals or thereabouts. Which is fine(ish) during the day but not so fun at night, let me tell you. It's not all his fault though - we are going through a growth spurt, so cluster feedings are normal and expected. He doesn't have the best latch and exhausts himself with the effort of extracting milk (oh to be a newborn!) and therefore feeds (much) more frequently as he isn't filling up as much as he could at each opportunity.

Anyway, ramblings aside, breastfeeding is hungry work. I like to make sure I have snacks and plenty of water handy, and if they're going to boost my milk supply and make it easier for little Jim to chunk up, by all means point me at the food! I concocted these peanut butter cookies as an experiment, and it's been a bit of a challenge not to hoover them all up at once. They aren't the prettiest but they taste nice and serve their purpose.


Peanut Butter Lactation Cookies


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup peanut butter (other nut butter substitutions are fine - I used some almond, brazil and cashew butter too)
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • ¼ cup flax meal + ½ cup water
  • 1 cup flour (you could be fancy and use coconut, spelt, buckwheat etc, but plain will also do)
  • ½ cup rolled oats 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2-3 tbsp brewers yeast 
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ cup milk (I used soy)
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and prepare your cookie trays.
  2. Combine flax meal with water. Allow to rest until it is goopy and most of the water has been absorbed. 
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, and brewers yeast.
  4. Once the flax mixture is ready, add it and all the remaining ingredients to the flour mixture.
  5. Stir well to combine. Add more milk in tablespoon increments, if necessary. (Coconut flour in particular is prone to soaking up liquids)
  6. Once a dough has formed, use a tablespoon (or thereabouts) to roll into balls and place on tray.
  7. Flatten each ball slightly before placing in the oven.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
Notes:
  • These would be delicious with chocolate chips or nuts added I think
  • I skipped the flattening step as Jimmy woke up and was crying, so my cookies didn't flatten much. I don't mind, they look rustic and taste the same anyway


What's your favourite go-to snack?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Surviving life with a newborn

I'm not even going to sugarcoat it - life with a newborn is hard! There are emotional swings from low to high and back again. You run on little to no sleep. Better still, if you have other children, they don't understand that you're tired and they still want the same amount of attention. Same with the husband because he gets to sleep through while you're up breastfeeding so wakes up fresh as a daisy. It's exhausting, repetitive, and honestly, under appreciated by everyone except your baby. Luckily, I've pulled together a list of survival tips that help me get through!

1. Have a support network. Whether this is other mums, Facebook groups, a friend on speed dial, your partner... whoever. Have a network in place so you have somewhere to vent, chat, ask advice, and get some social interaction.

I tell you, having a friend who has also recently had a baby to chat to has saved my sanity! Even better if some of that support is online so you can scroll/read/chat while you're up overnight feeding and settling the baby.

Night time feeds and settling go faster with a phone in hand for selfies and support!
2. Prepare meals and snacks in advance. I'm not just talking about for outings here, but I'm talking about for the times when everyone is the house is bone-deep tired. Or when the spouse has gone back to work and there is no one to whip up something to eat while you're trapped under a hungry babe. You can rummage around in the fridge or freezer and unearth something relatively healthy and nutritious without having to resort to the takeaway pizza option again.

3. If people offer to help out, let them. Honestly. There is no shame in that - you have a newborn, you are allowed to have a messy house, accumulated laundry and an empty pantry. But if someone genuinely offers a hand, take it without guilt - and be specific, for example:

 "It would be great if you could bring me a loaf of bread and some milk on your way over. Oh ok, and a Malteaser Reindeer as well, thanks."

 "Would you mind holding and distracting the baby while I nap for 15 minutes."


 "Yes I'd love some of your delicious home made cookies since you're kindly offering."


 "You made me mushroom risotto? You shouldn't have! But I'm glad you did... now excuse me while I start eating it already..."


4. Distract the toddler. My toddler has the best of helpful intentions but sometimes things go awry. I don't want to keep her from her baby brother but she needs to learn to stop waking him, or trying to share her bottle of milk while I'm feeding him. Distraction is key here. I ask her to read me a story. To fetch something for me. Whether she would like me to scratch her back or give her a cuddle. To make me a (pretend) cup of tea. She is happy and attended to, I get a few minutes of respite. If all else fails, I send her and Mr Fork off on a daddy/daughter outing. This obviously does not suffice when he is back at work and I'm on my own though...

5. Connect with your partner. I totally get touched out on a daily basis. I have Jimmy on me all the time, and Ellie attached for a good part of each day and night too. I realise though, that poor Mr Fork needs attention also so I make a mammoth effort to snuggle with him, to chat about topics that aren't the children and to generally let him know that I appreciate all he does to help me. Even if he does get to peacefully snore while I'm up hourly with Jim each night... I acknowledge that he does bring me coffee and breakfast in bed, and he distracts Ellie so Jimmy sleeps peacefully while I get to eat it.

6. Take time for yourself. It's been hot in Brisbane lately. So hot. Jimmy is constantly snacking and cluster feeding, so there is definitely sweat, stale milk smell and a general feeling that I'm over having a babe attached at the end of each day. So when Mr Fork takes pity on me and pries James from my chest you better believe I bolt for the shower and lock the door before Ellie can follow. I leisurely wash my hair, scrub my face, shave my legs and because I'm a mum I scrub the shower too. It is seriously the best 5 touch free minutes of my life, and I emerge human, re-energised and enthusiastic once again, and ready to be reattached to the infant. Do something like that. Make a hot chocolate. Have tea. Go outside and walk around barefoot in the garden... just escape for a few minutes and take some me-time when the opportunity presents itself.

7. Babywear. Seriously. Sometimes, I just can't figure out what Jimmy wants. He is fed. His nappy is changed. He's been burped, he is not tired, but he just won't settle. Baby wearing to the rescue. He is just about 3 weeks old now and perfectly happy in both the ring sling and a wrap, as long as he is wrapped on mama.

Sakura bloom twilight ring sling gets the shopping done
I also think that it helps with his digestion (I mentioned his lip/tongue tie previously, well it makes him a little gassy and uncomfortable after a feed). In fact, in the interest of sharing, here's a picture of how I am writing this blog post, with Jimmy happily wrapped against me. He gets to snuggle, I get to move away from my room and get things done around the house. Win, win!



Didymos Inka in FWCC gets the blog post written
What are your tips for surviving life with a new born?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

5 ways the second baby is different from your first

I've got to be honest - Jimmy is a good baby. I hope I haven't jinxed myself saying that, but it's true. He's very zen and chilled out, and really, I'm just relaxed and enjoying him. Of course, he is snoozing in the ring sling against my chest as I type this, so it could be the sleep deprived mama hormones talking... but I think not.

Before he came, I worried and questioned.  Would love him as much as I loved Ellie? How would Ellie adjust to being a big sister? How would I cope with two? Is breastfeeding going to be as hard this time around?

Turns out all of that worry and fretting was unnecessary. Yes, the first days are hard, getting used to sleep deprivation and cluster feeding and adjusting the family dynamic. There are definite silver linings though, so here are my thoughts on ways the second child is different from the first.

1. You've done it all before, so you know what 'normal' feels like

Yes, I complained that doctors were treating me like I knew what I was doing during pregnancy and labour because I'd done it all of once before. In reality though, you know what you're doing. Or should I say, you know what normal is and you know when it's just not right.

I pushed for extra testing when I got itchy because I knew what cholestasis felt like the first time around. I argued not to be sent home from the labour ward because I knew I gave birth quickly and I didn't want to do it on the roadside. I did not feel guilty asking for extra assistance or help in hospital, and for making use of all the available resources and knowledge there.

I got help for feeding early because I knew it wasn't right despite being told by several health professionals that everything was fine.

I've done it before, so I know what does and doesn't feel right. I'm also not afraid to speak up and ask for help or second opinions.

2. You know that it won't hurt them to cry for 2 seconds while you dash to the toilet

With Ellie, every little cry she made, I was in there. Is she cold, is she wet, does she smell, should I feed her? She owned me, which is not a bad thing at all. However, when it came time to choose her over the toilet for example, I would pick her and rock in silent discomfort (wouldn't dare to wake the sleeping babe) while my bladder nearly burst. Now, I know that Jimmy will be just fine while I dash off quickly. After all, I'm sure he'd much rather have a happy and comfortable mama when we settle in for those marathon feeding sessions he's so fond of.

3. Excretion is funnier

I have never been peed on so much in my life. Or pooped on come to think of it. Little boys seem so much more explosive. Just taking the nappy off Jimmy appears to be code for 'yes please, even though you've clearly just weed, aim some more my way'. Mr Fork and I had both forgotten how much newborns poop, and we've both made the mistake of taking off the nappy before he's done... cue screams of anguish as we get covered in streams of warm excrement. I'll be honest, I laughed hysterically when it happened to Mr Fork the first time. Not so hilarious when it was my turn (but still funny).

Cue stripping down the change table, the baby and gingerly removing our own outfits over our head and bolting to the shower. Spit up just seems so passé and normal now... oh, you've vomited down my back? That's ok, at least it wasn't poop....

4. It's lovely to see your older child with the new baby

Ellie could not be a better big sister. There is so much love there, and it really does bring a tear to my eye when she interacts with her baby brother (damn postnatal hormones). We made sure to include her in the pregnancy as much as possible, she talked to her baby brother in utero, came to appointments with me, we read books and tried to prepare her as much as possible to be a big sister.

She has taken to it beautifully - when Jimmy cries she gets frantic and runs to check on him, screaming 'Baby James, sad!'. When I'm feeding she wants to sit close and touch his head, or lifts her shirt to feed her baby too. She is always asking to hold him on her lap and loves nothing more than to rub his back to help him burp. There is no jealousy, and I often have to stop her from 'sharing' (read, throwing) her toys at his head as he sleeps. What would be awesome though? If there was a little less love at (the frequent) bed times so Jimmy could actually sleep instead of being woken constantly by a loving big sister.

My fears that I might not love Jimmy as much as Ellie? Groundless. I loved him the second I held him, and I don't love Ellie any less. Although, now that I have a newborn, she appears to be a giant in comparison!


5. You appreciate night time snuggles more

With a second child, your attention is split during the day. I can't give James the individual attention that Ellie got as a newborn. Toddlers are demanding and attention seeking little people. No matter how tired I am and how zombie like I feel after being up all night feeding, I make sure to spend time with Ellie, snuggling, reading or baking while he sleeps. I pack up Jimmy into a sling or wrap and we take Ellie to the park or the library and make sure that she doesn't resent this new little human who makes such demands on mama and daddy's time.

So, night time is my time with Jimmy. It's when I can stroke his silky head, inhale that unique new born smell, feel his little hands clutching me, and just enjoy the feeling that I made this tiny human and he will call me mama. We just enjoy our time together, he and I, without anyone else demanding their share of my attention. Sure, I'd love more sleep. Sure, I'm like a zombie in the mornings, but they're only little for so long, and years later I won't remember the sleep I didn't get, but I will hold those new baby snuggles in my heart forever.


By the way, I struggled a bit with what to title this post. Fun? Better? Chilled? Finally I settled on different. I guess I just wanted to compare going from one to two children in a positive sort of way.

How was your second (or subsequent) baby different to the first?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Recipe: Apple oatmeal muffins


With a new baby in the house, it takes a lot of energy to keep up. When you add a toddler into the mix who is in turns enthusiastic about her new brother, and cross because she is no longer the centre of attention, it's a bit of a volatile mix. I'm well aware that Ellie is experiencing feelings of neglect and loneliness, so I make a big effort no matter how tired I am to spend time with her and let her know she is loved.

Part of that is continuing on with our mama/daughter baking tradition. With the large box of fruit we had available, we decided a fruity baking effort was called for. I decided that it should be something that would help enhance mama milk supplies, so what better to make than an apple oatmeal concoction?

Super easy, delicious, very forgiving in terms of ingredients and both toddler and mama approved! While I have called these apple muffins, they could quite easily be any other type of fruit as well.

Apple oatmeal muffins

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour (I used wholemeal)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking  powder
  • 1 cup rolled oats (milk boosting qualities!)
  • 1 cup 'milk' (I've made these with both oat and soy options)
  • 2 tbsp  raw sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used coconut)
  • fruit (I grated two small green apples, skin on) 

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and prepare your muffin tray.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together. The mixture will be quite thick. Spoon into your tray and bake 10 - 15 minutes.
Notes:
  • Other fruit options could include grated  or chopped pear, apple, banana, berries, nectarine, peach, strawberry, cinnamon, apple and rhubarb, coconut - use your imagination! 
  • Any type of flour, milk, oil and fruit can be used - I have listed what I used but feel free to experiment.
  • For extra milk boosting qualities, I also added two tablespoons of brewers yeast to my mixture. I don't think that this impacted the flavour at all.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What's in my kitchen, November 2014

In my kitchen is...

Bunches of flowers galore! Leaving work to go on maternity leave flowers and congratulations on the birth of Attila flowers. The house smells amazing and I light up every time I have to walk into that kitchen (which is a good thing, as I am tired, sleep deprived but also glowing with new mama happiness)


In my kitchen is...

A Sodastream play, which is patiently awaiting some attention. It is still in it's box because I haven't had the time or energy to get it out yet, but I am really looking forward to soda water on demand, reducing my eco footprint with the copious amounts of store bought soda water bottles and experimenting with delicious flavours. Shiraz cordial flavoured soda perhaps?


In my kitchen is...

An enormous box of fruit. This box was full to the top with locally grown apples, oranges, pears and mandarins. My father bought it for us because he thought it was something easy to snack on with the new baby in the house, and that Mr Fork and Ellie could easily help themselves. I need to start thinking up ways to use the fruit before it spoils though, so I'm thinking muffins, pies, cookies, juices and maybe even using some of the juice to make up more ice blocks for Ellie.


In my kitchen is...

Delicious vegan chocolate muffins, recipe courtesy of Kari from Bite-sized thoughts. She recently posted these up and I was immediately taken with them, and co-incidentally, Ellie had also recently gone off apple purees. Since I like to stock up on things when I see them on sale, I have lots of puree, and these muffins were crying out to be made. Also, Ellie and I needed some mama/daughter bonding time, so while the baby slept, we whipped up these little morsels, and then had the pleasure of snacking on them afterward. Everyone wins!


In my kitchen is...

Various things to increase milk supply, because, newborns are quite the little milk monsters!! I have breastfeeding tea which is a delicious blend of fennel, fenugreek, lemon balm, aniseed and caraway. I also have two flavours of Franjo's Kitchen tanker topper biscuits, in choc chip and fig and almond variety. The fig and almond one is more than a little bit scrumptious!

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?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Attila is here!!

Shortly after posting this photo on Instagram last week, complaining about how I was the most pregnant I had ever been and how uncomfortable I was, my waters broke. Maybe some of those bringing on labour methods worked?


A quick call to Mr Fork at work, some organising of care for Ellie and we were off to the hospital post haste (I tend to have short labours).

A few hours later, this scrumptious little man was born. Look what I made! Welcome Attila (now formally Jimmy)! Who knew that tummy was hiding a big 7lb 7oz baby? Not me... everything I'd packed for him to wear in hospital was too small. His sister was 5lb 12oz, so that's what I was going on. No wonder I was waddling around! Almost a whole kilogram of extra baby this time!!


Now excuse me. I have precious newborn cuddles to sneak in, a fresh baby head to sniff, endless feeding to do and much sleep to catch up on...

Friday, October 31, 2014

How does your garden grow, October 2014

Oh hey! Spring has sprung here at Chez Fork, and the garden is doing all kinds of wonderful things! Apologies in advance for the many images in this post. It's just managing to squeak in for the month too!

First up, that grass tree flower thing has topped out at well over 2m of that brown spiny stuff, and is finally starting to develop little blooms on it. I think they look at bit like fairies with all the fluffy white stuff, and I've been watching with interest as they take over the stalk. That stalk also has a personality of it's own - at the beginning of each day, it stands straight and tall, and when I look at it again in the afternoon, it droops over sadly as though holding itself upright all day has been a chore and it's tired now. I've never seen anything like it before.


My poor sad citrus are finally starting to come good again. The little mandarin tree is covered in lots of new growth and seems to sprout up a few centimetres each night!


The lemon tree, which was decimated by grasshoppers is now sprouting lots of new leaves all over stems which I'd thought were goners. It's a pretty purple/red sort of growth and I think it looks lovely against the existing green leaves.


The little lime tree is just covered in blossoms and new leaves. Mr Fork is quite excited at the thought that we may even get some fruit this year. It's a possibility, but I won't be holding my breath about it!


You can see in the background that the passionfruit is still going strong, but it doesn't seem to be as luscious as I'd like it to be. I might get out there and put some organic matter into the ground to encourage it. There are a few flowers, and I'm pleased to say, three fruit on the vine at last count! Hurrah! I'm not really sure what I did to make that happen though.

Mr Fork set up my new garden bed too. I've filled it, added compost and mulch and I'm just letting it sit while I decide what should go into it. I'm thinking some carrots and some tomato and perhaps even some cucumbers as they've been hideously priced lately.

My existing bed has some silverbeet which is doing quite well (at the back of the below picture), and the bok choi I think has finally dried out enough that I can harvest the seed pods and use the space for something else now.

The eggplants seem to be making a revival, which is nice.

I need another tomato to seed up, so hopefully with the warmer weather something will sprout from the dropped seeds in there.

I have some green potatoes which are no longer good for eating but are starting to sprout, so they've been put aside to work on growing a bit more, and then I'll dig them into a spare pile of dirt.


I've put in a new chilli seedling and it's doing well (albeit a little eaten) in a Styrofoam box with a lonely little lettuce.


The turf squares of grass are starting to root in, although Mr Fork is sad to see the brown patches, which he informs me are due to lawn grubs still. He is also tired of me making jokes about how much the dogs are enjoying the grass. What?! It's a pooch on the cooch! A hound on the ground! A dog arse on the grass.... ok fine.



How is your garden growing?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Natural ways to bring on labour?

I mentioned previously that I am currently the most pregnant I have ever been. Also, lucky me, Brisbane is having some of the hottest weather of the season. Oh lovely! So suffice to say, I am more than a little uncomfortable. The heat doesn't help, but I'm also rather large and ungainly, so I'm more than ready for Attila to come out. Any time now... or now...

I spend my days at the moment trying to encourage Attila to start the process. I know that when your body is ready, it's ready, but I'm sure a little incentive doesn't hurt right? There are plenty of natural suggestions out there to try.

Foremost with the suggestions is physical activity. So I've been really into the cleaning, the gardening and as much walking as I can comfortably do with this horrible heat and/or a toddler in tow. The cleaning part is discouraging though, as every time a room is cleaned, a puppy, or Ellie or Mr Fork will mess it up again.

Next on the list is food. I do love food, so I figure Attila might have picked up on some of that and be tempted out for more. Here's some of the things I've tried, from top, clockwise into the middle:
  1. Candy buffet and sugary goodness at the Myer Giftorium launch
  2. Amazingly delicious dessert of chocolate fudge brownie, peanut butter praline, cherries and vanilla (Attila was kicking around on a sugar high after that one!)
  3. Spicy vegetarian Vietnamese noodle soup with extra chilli (I loved this, Attila spent the night giving me heartburn after)
  4. Iced chocolate on soy milk
  5. Spicy bean nachos with fresh guacamole 
  6. Avocado plate with tomato, feta, roasted turkish bread and truffle oil
  7. Grilled asparagus and cheese sandwich
Yes, Attila has been craving lots of dairy. While I can't stomach cow milk, I will give in and have animal-rennet-free cheese. I figure if the baby needs calcium, it's not really up to me to deprive him.

There are also the good old standbys, fresh pineapple and raspberry leaf tea (in a fancy glass with ice because... well, I'm classy like that, and it's HOT!)
Despite feeling like I have consumed my weight in (delicious, delicious, cold) pineapple and downed litres of tea, nothing.
So I'm waiting, with bated breath, which is about all I can manage as Attila is taking up so much room in there anyway. The house is clean, the nursery awaits, and every night Mr Fork encourages Ellie to tell Attila to "hurry up and come out".

Come on baby!

What other methods to bring on labour am I missing?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Christmas gifts sorted with Giftorium

Christmas shopping is difficult at the best of times. I imagine, that when Attila finally makes an appearance, gift shopping will be even more difficult with a new born in tow. In fact, I'm dreading it a little, and trying to get as much done now in my nesting phase as possible.

So, I was super excited to be invited along to the launch of Myer's Giftorium concept recently. Launching in 68 stores nationally, Giftorium was developed to bring back a bit of the fun, theatre and engagement to Christmas shopping, as well as improve services and engage customers. Wait, what? Gift shopping that is fun and engaging and theatrical? Where my toddler can be entertained by magicians and roving Treat Street assistants in quirky costumes handing out free food? Where I can get product demonstrations and recommendations and even book a specific appointment time with a Giftician or to meet Santa? Sign me up please!

Myer has trained a bunch of 'Gifticians' to assist with picking out the perfect present, and they'll provide advice across age groups, interests and budgets. I tried them out shopping for ideas for Attila, and Mr Fork, and they were pretty darn good with the suggestions I have to say. I may have already purchased a little something for Mr Fork based on their recommendations...


If you'd rather wander around and select gifts yourself, the Giftorium has been divided into twelve themes, which group bunches of gifts into categories. I was particularly drawn to the 'Trendy Young Thing' and the 'Fashionista' sections, but Ellie couldn't be torn away from 'Kids Cubby', and the 'Hop, Skip and Juice' areas.



Now I can't be certain, but her attraction to the Hop, Skip and Juice (otherwise known as the healthy, fitness section) may have been because it was also set up near an amazing snack table. I am just saying... sometimes the links between these things need to be pointed out. There were also roving Treat Street attendants handing out popcorn, Wizz Fizz, drinks and balloons (Treat Street will only be available in the main city stores I understand).


I didn't need to ask the Gifticians for help picking something for Ellie because she made a beeline for a few things right away. Like this pink purse and a giant Minnie Mouse doll which was almost as tall as her. What can I say, my girl likes to colour coordinate things! I may have bought her that purse too...


For those people who are hard to buy for, there is also a nifty little stand in selected stores which lets you customise merchandise with your name and choice of Mr Men/Little Miss character. I think mine is rather appropriate. Mr Fork snorted when he saw it...


So I think I'm getting a little more excited about Christmas shopping this year, even though I'll have a new born with me and be facing hoards of crowds. Myer has really pulled out all the stops to make sure that they are a one stop destination for festive gift giving needs.

Giftorium is officially launched on 8 November nationally, and there will be a bunch of activities scheduled to celebrate from that date onwards, on weekends and other key dates. These include face painting, balloon artists, musical performances, demonstrations about Christmas tree and table dressing, workshops and book readings. 

It really is showcasing the wonder of Christmas... I mean, just look at that face, with Mickey ears and clutching a little handbag (and maybe a little hyped up on all the sugary treats). That face... that wonder... that's what Christmas is all about!


Disclaimer: Ellie and I were invited to a media launch of the Myer Giftorium concept space and provided with a goodie bag and sugary treats. Opinions are my own.

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