Friday 31 October 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 28 October 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 26 October 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.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Pregnancy glamour on the home stretch

As of this week, I am the most pregnant I have ever been before. Ellie came smack bang on 37 weeks, and everyone told me that second babies come earlier and faster. I have to be honest and say that secretly I was counting on that, because right now, I feel giant and ungainly but most of all tired and impatient. Come on Attila, mama wants to meet you already!!

Since I've never made it this far before, I have more thoughts about the glamour of pregnancy along this home stretch that never occurred to me last time (read more about pregnancy glamour here and here).
  • The pregnancy insomnia! Oh the insomnia. Was it this terrible before? I honestly can't remember but I know that I'm waking up several times a night and finding it very hard to get back to sleep. The gentle snores from Mr Fork just enrage me further - why does he sleep so peacefully when it eludes me?
  • It's not just the insomnia waking me up, but I swear, I am up every two hours or so to empty my ever shrinking bladder. It wouldn't be so bad if it was worth it, but waking up to squeeze out a drop or two is so not fun
  • While on the topic of sleep, it's mighty uncomfortable. I can't seem to get the optimal arrangement of pillows that support my back, my hips, the belly and my neck. It probably doesn't help that I'm limited to only sleeping on my side I suppose
  • Rolling over! It's at least a three point job. And then I have to rearrange the pillows. With my awesome timing too, by the time I get everything just right, I need to get up to wee again. Oh the humanity!
  • As I mentioned, Ellie came earlier. She also was born in September, so my limited maternity wardrobe isn't really geared for a bigger belly and October/November (please not November!!) weather. Luckily I'm on maternity leave now, so I'm making do with loose drape-y sort of things... and maybe some things that shouldn't be seen in public 
  • Looking after a toddler is extra exhausting now. Which is why by all rights I should sleep so soundly and it irks me that I can't. I sort of live for daycare days at the moment, which makes me feel terrible but does allow me the freedom to potter around the house nesting
  • Nesting is harder this time too. No sooner do I get a room clean and sparkly, then Mr Fork or Ellie come along and destroy the shiny. Soooo frustrating!
  • I feel so waddle-y and uncomfortable that I can't really go out and do things to take advantage of this baby free time. It seems whiney I know, but I could do with a haircut, and a pedicure and even just a good long massage (alright, that one I did do, but only because they have a pregnancy table and I can lie on my belly for awhile). Going out just seems so... much... effort...
I'm just impatient. In my heart, I'd hoped I'd have met Attila by now. I know he's not overdue by any stretch, but I'm on leave and I feel like I'm wasting it by not having a baby yet, especially when I'd mentally prepared for an early arrival. There is no way I could be at work either though because I'm so tired, but I'm just in limbo at the moment, floating around at home and nesting. There is only so many things to clean, books to read and sleep to be had really.

Ok not the sleep part. That I'd love some more of please!

So come out Attila! Your mama and your daddy and your big sister can't wait to meet you!! Ellie lays on my belly each night and talks to you. She pokes at my 'baby button' (belly button) and blows you raspberries. Daddy talks to you all the time and doesn't know whether to go to work or stay and hover around me. You must already know how eager I am to meet you. Everyone is waiting for you... hurry up baby!

Love, mama

Does anyone have any tips to bring on labour? Or make these last days go just a little bit faster? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday 15 October 2014

What's in my hospital bag for giving birth

Last weekend at the 35 week mark or thereabouts, I had a bit of a scare that I was in early labour. Well, I wasn't having that, and after walking about (for HOURS!) and some stern words to Attila that I had Lion King tickets booked for the following day and no intention of missing out, he settled down.

However, it was a timely reminder that Mr Fork and I should probably get those bags packed, especially because Ellie also came early and we've been warned to prepare for a potentially earlier and faster arrival with Attila. So, when daylight broke, we rushed around and frantically packed.

Of course, after that, I have repacked several times since, but this is what I have in my bag so far.

  • Awesome comfy pyjamas from Forever 21 (courtesy of my awesome baker friend) for lounging
  • Sorella and Me nursing singlet (except mine is black)
  • Bamboo breastpads
  • Funky slippers (similar here)
  • Comfy maternity pants that can be worn high or low and that I can sleep and lounge in when people visit (similar here)
  • A selection of snacks, including various Bar Counter goodies (I got mine from Coles)
I also have the boring, yet necessary things:
  • Maternity bras
  • Maternity pads
  • Knickers
  • Toiletries (including but not limited to my own shampoo/conditioner, moisturiser, shower gel and lipgloss)
  • A loose dress and a nighty in case pants are uncomfortable
  • Thongs for the shower
For Attila:
  • Several onesies (mostly 00000 but a 0000 in case)
  • Several singlets
  • Cute beanies and mittens
  • Muslin wraps and a blankie
  • Baby wipes and tiny nappies
  • Small gifts to give Ellie
When labour happens, the following things are also to be thrown into my bag:
  • iPhone and iPad, with associated chargers
Tell me, have I forgotten anything? Can I reduce what I'm taking any?

Friday 10 October 2014

Tips for transitioning an only child to a big sister

This week marked the last week of work for me. All of a sudden, Attila's arrival is becoming that much closer. I've been spending lots of time resting, and lots of time with Ellie as well. She had her second birthday recently, and has morphed into a "two-nager" - lots of meltdowns, lots of temper tantrums, but lots of development too. Her speech improves daily and I keep seeing bigger snippets of personality coming through. She's a real delight most of the time. It has me wondering though, have I done enough to prepare her for the changes which come along with a new baby in the house. After all, she has been the sole centre of my parenting world for two years now... how will having a younger sibling change that dynamic?

We've been doing a couple of things to help prepare her for a new arrival:
  • We have been reading books which talk about siblings, and sharing, and how babies grow in mama's tummy
  • Mr Fork and I have been running scenarios by each other, and how we plan to react if they happen. For example, if she gets jealous and says she hates mama and the baby, Mr Fork will stay calm and say that he loves mama and Attila and we all love Ellie too
  • I've been letting her pat my belly as it grows, and tell her that there is a little brother in there and she has to use gentle hands with him. She loves to blow raspberries on it
  • Grandma and Grandad gave her a baby doll of her own at her birthday. She loves it, and carries it around with her, so I'm hoping she can mimic me when I need to look after Attila. She already asks to tuck baby in and change his nappy
  • Also for her birthday, she was also given lots of toys that she can play with independently, such as duplo, dolls to dress up, colouring things and play food and high tea sets. The aim is that these are things she can play with beside me with minimal input
  • As soon as I could share, I told daycare about our news and they've been working with her too. They give her 'baby' dolls to look after and read her books. They're getting the children in her room interested in all things baby to be honest
  • In my hospital bag, I have packed some presents for Attila to give to her that she can play with while visiting in hospital. Little things, like bubble mixes and some Sesame Street pyjamas as she has taken to stealing mine (only just two and already stealing my clothes!!)

I do worry too how I will transition from one child to two, especially as I remember those sleep deprived early days when breastfeeding was hard and the level of care required was oh so high and all consuming. I worry that I won't be giving Attila the same level of attention that Ellie got as an infant.

Does anyone have any other tips to share to help children adjust to a new sibling? Or a mama to adjust from one child to two?

Wednesday 8 October 2014

What's in my kitchen, October 2014

In my kitchen is...

A carton of these Absolute Organic coconut water drinks. It was on sale at my local health food store and I couldn't resist a bargain. These are less sweet than the coconut water at my Asian supermarket and in convenient single serve containers. I thought that they'd be good for when Attila arrives too and I need something to quench the raging thirst. If they last that long!

In my kitchen is...

A selection of these yummy bars from the Bar Counter. They were on sale at my Coles, so I stocked up on a few... they're handy to keep in a handbag for when I feel like snacking on something healthy, and they come in a range of delicious flavours. There are gluten free, vegan and a few other options available too. Yum!

In my kitchen is...

The top of a pineapple which I am drying out ready to plant, hopefully so I get some more baby pineapples in a few years! This one wasn't grown by me, but I do like to garden and since the top was left on I figured there was no harm in planting it, especially since it came from a delicious fruit. I usually prefer rough leaf pineys, but I'm not going to be picky.

In my kitchen is...

Sprigs of rosemary in a beer glass, awaiting me to get some effort up to plant them in the garden. I love rosemary, it's delicious with roast potato and as a seasoning for many dishes, but for some reason I can't keep the stuff alive. I'm hoping these little guys get some roots soon and survive being transplanted out into the garden. Any tips for prolific rosemary growth and longevity?

In my kitchen is...

A gorgeous hand lotion by Thank You. It was an impulse purchase while doing the grocery shopping and I thought placing it in the kitchen would remind me to moisturise after washing up and doing kitchen tasks. It's a lovely mix of patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood and lavender and doesn't have any nasty ingredients in it at all. The pump top means I tend to walk past and slather it on so the kitchen placement is definitely working.

In my kitchen is...

A selection of Haigh's chocolate goodies which were gifted to me for my birthday. There is dark chocolate peppermint frogs (my favourite!), some dark chocolate scorched almonds in a tin and my very own Haigh's mug. I'm stretching out the goodies, as they're all so yummy, and also, Attila doesn't leave much room for food these days. I love it when food (or anything really) comes in pretty packaging. Any suggestions for re-purposing the tin when I've eaten the contents?

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?

Wednesday 1 October 2014

N is for nappies

Let's talk nappies! Right from the beginning of pregnancy with Ellie, I was determined to use cloth. It was something I wanted to do, for the environment, and because I think they're marvellous. I signed Mr Fork and I up for workshops and did endless research online about what sort to use, which brands were better and the must have accessories to go with them (handy hint, a little squirt or home made equivalent will save your sanity!). I stalked the companies I was interested in to make sure that I bought at the best time and got the biggest bargains going. I've written a post about things I'd wish someone had told me about cloth nappies before.

Some of Ellie's early nappies
I should just lay it out there: with a newborn, you are going to get poop on you. It is just inevitable. Sure it's gross, but you get used to it, after all, there are lots of terrible things that could get on you, and you are washable. If you get used to touching poop, then it's just one more step to rinse it off and wash the poop catchers. Babies need quite a lot of washing done anyway I found. It's just as easy to clean a few extra items since I'd be in the laundry so much.

Minkie nappies - so soft and colourful!
When we started daycare, that was one of the questions that I asked every centre: were they happy to change my daughter's cloth nappies? All of them were fine with it, but they wouldn't rinse the nappies, just throw them in the bucket I provided. That was fine with me, even if it did add an extra task to my days (ever tried to rinse off dried on poop? It's pretty gross). Anyway, Ellie was in cloth nappies full time until probably her first birthday when her day care said she was just holding on too long and wetting through too often. I kept her in cloth at home for awhile longer, and then folded to peer pressure from Mr Fork and allowed him to switch her to disposable. Much like the breast vs bottle debate, I know that there is no one solution that fits everybody and I will do what suits my family best at the time.

I have kept my stash of beautiful cloth nappies (and flats too!), and Attila will also wear them when big enough (I tend to grow small babies).

I do love the look of a little baby with a big fluffy cloth bum.

Do you use cloth nappies, either full time or otherwise? Any tips?


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