Sunday, 19 June 2016

Queen's Birthday Long Weekend

I started this post on Monday intending to write about the long weekend we were just finishing up. I got about four lines done, and now it is Sunday, the school term is over, and our holidays have begun. We have had an exhausting week in the Noble household and I am so, so glad we have three weeks off to recuperate. Although we do have some pesky flights to England with a (nearly) one-year-old to survive first. Poor Ella and Andy have both been sick, which means no one has been getting much sleep at the moment. Ella seems to have pretty much forgotten that she learned how to sleep through the night... sigh. Well, that was a good six or so weeks while it lasted! Andy has been getting up to help in the night despite being ill himself which I am pretty thankful for. 

Anyway, back to the post, which is about our activities over the Queen's Birthday long weekend, which is always the second Monday in June. This is the last public holiday in Australia until September, when we get a long weekend for the AfL Grand Final. (Funnily enough the next one after that is for Melbourne Cup, the big horse race. Sports is obviously a big priority here in Australia!) Anyway, my point being, it's a long public holiday-less winter here, folks. I think I've complained about the planning of that previously in that blog. Although I'm sure my non-teacher friends are rolling their eyes about a teacher complaining about the lack of holidays! Ok, seriously this time, back to the post.

On Saturday we skipped swimming as Ella had a virus, and drove down the Bellarine Penisula for a day trip with Charlotte and Adam. Our first stop was Portarlington for brunch at the PostScript Cafe. Now, I'm going to start sounding like a major Melbourne food snob, but this was a very average brunch, just like the weekend before. I think Melbourne has spoiled us in terms of food quality at cafés and I just need to stop expecting the same elsewhere. Despite the mediocre food, the service was very lovely and they all thought Ella was cute, and the atmosphere was good, so I guess that should count for something.

After brunch we went for a walk down to the pier where there were loads of fishermen. Portarlington is apparently famous for its mussels and looks like it would be a great place to visit in the summer. Unfortunately for us, the weather was pretty terrible in the morning with intermittant wind and rain so we ended up heading back to the car and driving to the other side of the Peninsula to Point Lonsdale. It ended up taking Andy and I ages to get there as we had to stop and change Ella - I swear every time we put her in the carseat that day she decided it would be a good time for a massive poo. Classic baby timing. Changing a baby in the back of your car in windy/cold/rainy weather is not super fun, in case you were wondering.

Ella enjoying her toast at the PostScript Café
Point Lonsdale was beautiful, but again, probably much better in the summer! We walked along another pier but I ended up turning back with Ella as it was so windy I thought we might get thrown in the sea. However it had stopped raining and the sun was out which was nice. I love crisp, sunny, winter days here. (When I say crisp, I mean about 14 degrees. I've become a major wimp when it comes to the cold.) We did a short walk to a lighthouse and then Andy, Charlotte and Adam went to check out the beach. I did the mum thing and stayed in a sheltered spot with poor Ella, who I think desperately wanted to sleep but couldn't because of the wind on her face.

Point Lonsdale pier
After Point Lonsdale we headed back towards Melbourne and stopped at the Little Creatures Brewery in Geelong. This was actually the main point of our day trip, but by this time Andy and I were so exhausted that we nearly just went home. I am SO GLAD we didn't! This place is awesome! It's a kid-friendly brewery and restaurant... I mean, it doesn't get any better than that, does it?! The restaurant is huge and casual with excellent food (and of course beer), there is a little play area for kids, and around the outside seating there is a sandbox as well. I'd say we will definitely be returning to Little Creatures in the future. It's a shame as there used to be a location close to us in Fitzroy but it recently shut down. We had been there before but I never noticed the kid-friendly features, as this was in our pre-Ella days.

We arrived home that evening tired, but full and happy.

On Sunday afternoon we met up with Adam and Charlotte again. (We do have other friends... I swear!) We visited the Heide Gardens and Sculpture Park in Heidleburg. Another hidden gem in Melbourne that I had no idea existed! There is a Museum of Modern Art (we didn't go in - $18 admission fee!) surrounded by 15 acres of beautiful gardens featuring 30 sculptures. We spent a sunny afternoon strolling around, and then having a coffee in the museum cafe. Ella was being extra cute in here, playing a sort of peek-a-boo game with Adam and giggling her head off at him. It is so amazing to watch her actually initiate play with others, as this is a relatively new thing in her development. 

On Monday we had a low key day at home. Andy was already starting to feel unwell and Ella was still getting over her virus. We did take advantage of the lovely sunny weather to go for a walk by the Children's Farm and stop at the Farm Café for lunch. Ella is fascinated by the animals so it's really fun to go for walks along there with her at this age, and I can imagine will only get better as she grows. We are so lucky to have this right on our doorstep! 

Ella and her bodyguard at the Farm Café

Checking out the sheep
And that was it - Tuesday was back to work for Andy - he lasted one day and has been home ill ever since. I've spent the week taking care of my sick babies who have started to recover and will hopefully be in better form for our flights to England tomorrow - eek, super exciting!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Organ Pipes National Park

Last weekend we took a little day trip to Organ Pipes National Park, which is located about 20km northwest of the city:

The weather that day was pretty yucky: rain with a high of 14 degrees. Winter has certainly arrived here in Melbourne! We started the day with our usual Saturday morning routine of yoga (for me) and swimming (for Ella). For the first time I did the lesson with Ella while Andy watched on:

I feel like in this photo Ella is thinking "dad, help me here, mum has no idea what she's doing!" It was a lot more awkward to hold her in the water for half an hour than I thought it would be. I think I will be leaving the swimming lessons to Andy from now on!

After swimming we met up with Adam and Charlotte for lunch near the park, in Keilor East. The cafe we went to was called East Pantry, and it was very, very average. We felt like it was trying very hard to be a funky Melbourne cafe but coming up a bit short. For example, Charlotte's tea came out on a wood-looking board that was actually plastic. Tacky! That's what happens when you eat in the suburbs I suppose ;)

It was still pretty rainy when we finished lunch and part of me wanted to sack off the walk and do something indoors instead. But I'm glad we didn't! The park was beautiful with really interesting rock formations as a result of volcanic activity 2.5 million years ago. The park is named after the rock formation below of basalt lava cooled into vertical columns:

We were lucky to spot two kangaroos eating some lunch only about 20 metres away. It was the closest I've ever been to a kangaroo and Ella's first sighting. It still gives me a bit of a thrill to see these animals in the wild!

We recently purchased a footmuff for Ella's pram which, along with the rain cover, kept her nice and cosy during our walk. 

It felt good to get out and brave the crappy weather and it reminded me of a quote that I have no idea where I heard, although it definitely sounds like something a dad would say. It goes something like this: "there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing". 

It's lovely to find parks like this so close to Melbourne, and had inspired us to make the most of the winter season finding more walks like this. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Currently... May


Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker. This is an unsolved crime (duh!) of five women who went missing from 2007-2012 and whose bodies were discovered in Long Island. All five worked as escorts who advertised on Craigslist, so there is some discussion around the police not acting fast enough (or at all) when they were reported missing due to their line of work. That angle is interesting, however I must say this isn't the best book I've ever read. The first part takes a look at each of the five girl's life growing up, and then again about their lives as escorts. I found it difficult to keep track of the girls as the author uses their real name in the beginning, and their fake escort name later on. There are also a lot of other characters introduced that go along with each girl and it all got a bit confusing. I found a helpful list of everyone mentioned at the back of the book when I was nearly finished that I wish I had discovered sooner. Anyway, I don't recommend this one.


Game of Thrones is getting goooooood. As is House of Cards, I'm nearly finished Season 3. We watched the movie The Big Short which is about the housing crisis and collapse of the American economy in the mid-2000s. The movie is not a documentary but is quite factual and follows four people who predicted the collapse but no one believed them. I really enjoyed watching it as it gave me a better overall understanding of what happened at that time, however it is completely outrageous that there has been no real consequence to the banks that contributed to millions of people losing their homes and the Global Financial Crisis.

Listening To:

Well, I finally started using Spotify. Yes, I know, welcome to 2008. I'm not listening to anything in particular at the moment though, everyday I just pick a new popular playlist to follow from the homepage. I need some recommendations of new music.


Nothing! Except this cacao and tahini porridge which was pretty delicious. Chocolate for breakfast can't ever be a bad thing. Other than that my cooking skills have been pretty basic this month. 

Looking Forward to:

Three weeks until England - Andy's best friend's wedding, seeing both sets of grandparents, and Ella's first birthday!


My yoga practice - I can't get enough at the moment. I wish I had felt this before having a baby, when I could have gone to the studio everyday if I wanted to! But now I do cherish my three weekly classes more - it's my "me time" that I hate missing for any reason. 

Also - Ella is starting to give us hugs. It is soooooo amazing. I love it. I wish she could just hug me all day!


Our freezing cold house. The nights are getting cold here and so it is quite chilly in the house in the morning - the heaters are being used more and more frequently. Gearing up for another winter of huge electricity bills!


My Uggs around the house to keep my feet warm - see above.


Playdates now that Ella is a bit older. We love meeting up with friends at the park or for a walk along the river. Ella seems pretty good around other babies and is also happy to play without me right by her side. I think I have daycare to thank for that.


A cleaner. The house is a mess. When will Ella be old enough for chores?


A new iPhone. Mine sadly died when I threw my water bottle in my bag... the top was loose and it leaked all over everything, including my phone. I'm very sad. My friend Adam has generously lent me his old phone and I am working on how to get a new one for the least possible cost... using our credit card points seems like it will be the best option. Andy thinks he should get the new phone and I should just get his old one as I am so careless... but I'm not sure I agree with his logic.


What we can do to make our flights to London as smooth as possible. I am not looking forward to this AT ALL. I think it is going to be a lot harder than when she was younger. I'm thinking she will need a few new toys and lots of sanitising wipes as no doubt she will be crawling all over the place and trying to put everything in her mouth as she goes. We are flying with Etihad who have an "onboard nanny" to help with children so hopefully that helps.

Working On:

Happy to say I can scratch driving off this list! I've done a lot of driving this month as Andy had to go away for school camp and a conference so I've been single parenting a bit. And I'm happy to report that I am pretty comfortable now driving on the left side of the road, woohoo! (Still not a fan of parallel parking though...)

I've started a 6-week online course called Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance by Monash University. I've completed week 1 and it's pretty interesting, looking at the science and research behind mindfulness, along with practical tips for being more mindful in everyday life.

Grateful For:

Friends that have watched Ella for me when I've had to attend random meeting this month. In the absence of family it is nice to know there are some people to call on here that I trust with Ella. 

Pic of the Month:

This picture was taken by Andy at Sk. Kilda beach, after Wanderlust. It was a beautiful autumn day and I was so happy walking along the sea in the sunshine with my family.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

She's on the move!

At 10.5 months, our little Ella finally learned to crawl! I say finally because she has been frustrated at not being able to move for what seems like forever. Up until this point she was rocking back and forth a lot and doing a lot of faceplanting. A frustrated Ella is not always the most fun to be around!

She took her first tentative "crawls" about two weeks ago and now there is no stopping her. She is so much happier now that she can get to the toys and places she wants, whenever she wants. This will of course come with some new challenges for Andy and I, but for now she seems to be a very purposeful crawler, in that she only moves to get something and not just for the sake of moving. She's also not very fast so she can't escape us, yet!


With this new major skill development I thought it timely for a new "Ella update", she is now nearly 11 months old.

Ella loves:
  • Crawling. Obviously.
  • Eating. Anything and everything. Mostly she wants whatever we are eating. She likes putting food in her mouth herself, but she still doesn't mind being spoon fed which is helpful. And she is a lot less messy than she used to be.
  • Balls. She giggles with delight anytime she sees one, and she seeks them out when looking through her basket of toys. She's actually pretty good at rolling a ball back and forth with us. I think she inherited her dad's hand-eye coordination!
  • Dogs and other animals. She is super excited whenever she sees a dog and loves when they lick her hand. 
  • Swimming lessons. She is so engaged in these, I wish we could take her swimming every day.
  • Sleeping through the night! Whoop! Maybe this is more of a "Mommy and Daddy love" item, but she must love it. Who doesn't love a good nights sleep?
  • Playing peek-a-boo, although this is much more effective than when you hide behind a door or something and then pop out, rather than the usual hiding behind hands. I'm thinking she is much too clever to be tricked by just hiding behind hands. 
  • Talking to her grandparents on FaceTime. She recognises the ring sound now and gives them a big smile when they pop up on screen. I am really curious to see if she will recognise them in person when we see them in June.
  • Playing at the park. She loves the swings and going on the slide and watching the other children. 
  • Going for walks. She can handle a very long walk in her pram as she is busy taking in her surroundings. 
  • Seeing her daddy come home from work. He gets the biggest smile on the days I am home with her when he walks in the door. He shouts out "Hello!" and she instantly gets excited. 
  • Other people's houses - especially ones with toys. So much more fun to explore than our house. 
  • Music videos. Especially Pharell's "Happy".
Ella does not love:
  • Waiting for food. God help the person who puts her in her high chair before her food is ready. A trick from a fellow mummy friend of mine is to put some peas on her tray to play with while food is being prepared. She loves squishing them and a few even end up in her mouth, so a double win. She has also developed a very high pitched scream when her food doesn't come fast enough that we are not quite sure how to deal with. I am desperately hoping this phase passes before our flights to the UK next month.
  • When I sneeze. It seems to terrify her and she cries whenever I sneeze. 
  • Some of our friends. Lately she will burst into tears if a friend comes over. Even ones she sees often. It is random, we can't figure out why as she doesn't always do it with the same people. She becomes very clingy and snuggles up to me or Andy for a while before she gets used to the new person. I'm not going to lie, I kind of love the snuggles.

Things Ella does:
  • Did I mention she can crawl now?
  • Claps
  • Waves - this is pretty hit or miss. She doesn't wave on demand yet.
  • Passes you things when you ask. This is so cute. And she loves when you give it back.
Things We've Learned:
  • Not to worry about her eating so much. It has sorted itself out and some days she eats more than others, but that is ok. 
  • During the height of a cold, don't expect to get a good nights sleep.
  • Staying at home all day is BORING and will result in a whingy baby. Getting out, ANYWHERE, is a much better plan.
  • Folded laundry is a good toy. Actually anything that is not really a toy is better than what you can buy at Babies R Us.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Wanderlust 108

I did a triathlon last weekend! Well, not your typical triathlon. Wanderlust 108 is a mindful triathlon, advertised as "a field day for your mind, body and soul". Instead of the gruelling swim/bike/run of a traditional tri, Wanderlust is a 5K walk/run, 75 minutes of yoga, and a 30 minute guided meditation. When I heard about it I thought it was exactly up my street and my friend April agreed. I'm so glad we did, it was one of the best events I've participated in in a long time!

The event was held in Catani Gardens in St. Kilda. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, clear blue skies and 21 degrees... pretty good for Melbourne in May! Upon arriving at 9:30am I already felt that this was going to be completely different to any other event (run or triathlon) I've participated in in the past. First of all, this was a much more humane time to start an event (I can remember having to wake up at 4:30am for my first ever triathlon in England) and there was no stress at all getting everything in place for in time to start the run. Also, very importantly, the toilet queue didn't ever seem that long, and the toilets stayed clean ALL DAY which is much more than I can say for the state of toilets by the end of a running event!

Wanderlust, Catani Gardens
The 5K started at about 10am, and it was a very casual affair. No timers or kilometre markers here and absolutely zero competitiveness. There were lots of people with prams and young children and I kind of wished I had talked Andy into coming along, as this was totally something Ella could have been a part of too. Something to keep in mind for next year! My only criticism of the whole event was that the run/walk route was an out and back along Beach Road, but there were no road closures or anything so it was a bit crowded. But that is a very minor complaint.

April and me, about to start the run
Beautiful view of the bay for the run
Once we had finished the run we had time to check out the food stalls before the yoga class at 12pm. There were plenty of healthy options but of course April and I went for something a little more... delicious. These little Danish doughnut balls from Jamm'd with toppings like cookies and cream, and salted caramel, were delicious! We then went of the hunt for coffee but at first could only find a sample of a Turmeric Latte, which seems to be the health craze de jour. I liked it, it is a warm, spicy drink, but April wasn't a fan, and to be honest we both wanted a little caffeine. Thankfully there was a TOMS shoe stall (love!) with a coffee cart so we were saved. During this time there were Acro Yoga classes, slacklining and other things on offer but April and I registered too late for the event to get into any of them. There was a giant massage circle as well, which we did not participate in, but actually looked pretty cool.

Mmmmm doughnuts!
Yoga started at 12pm and was led by Michael James Wong and The Boys of Yoga, whose aim is to get more men involved in yoga. The yoga practice was both fun and challenging, and set to some pretty cool tunes. I definitely love yoga that is set to fun music, rather than the traditional music that most people would associate with yoga. Luckily the teachers at the studio I currently practice at, Kindred Movement, always have amazing playlists for our sessions. 

After yoga we were led into a 30 minute guided meditation by Jonni Pollard of 1 Giant Mind. I'm not sure what to say about this except that I was absolutely blown away by how powerful this was. I was left feeling not just clear-headed and relaxed, but ridiculously happy and grateful for both the day and my beautiful life. I also felt inspired to do something more for... who or what I'm not sure just yet... but just convinced that as I am so blessed in my life I should be doing something to give back. I also feel, more than ever, that it is my responsibility to help Ella become a kind and compassionate human, and that she will only be this if she sees the same traits in Andy and myself. I hope that we can raise her to be this way, and that this feeling does not wear off!

Andy and Ella met up with us and a few other friends after the event and we enjoyed lunch and a play in the park before heading home. It was a perfect day, and could only have been better if Andy and Ella had been there with me. 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Currently... April

A few days late with this as it is already May... such is the life of a working mum!


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Young adult fiction, which is a genre I'm not ashamed to say that I love. Enjoyed this book, very easy reading with a twist at the end that made me want to go back and reread it for clues to the twist. 


The Americans Season 2 and House of Cards Season 2. Both great series. I'm practicing "mindful TV watching" where I can only watch television that I find completely engaging and I'm not allowed to be playing on my phone at the same time. So if I have an urge to look at my phone then it is probably not worth watching. 

Oh and of course Game of Thrones Season 6. We've only seen episode 1 so far, and I won't say anything except it seemed really short - which again means it must have kept me engaged! In preparation we watched this recap of Seasons 1-5, which succinctly and humorously explains all the major storylines in under 10 minutes which was pretty impressive.

Listening to:

Death, Sex & Money - a new podcast I've stumbled upon (recommended on another blog) that is about "the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation."

The Hamish & Andy podcast. Pretty late to Hamish & Andy, who are a famous comedy duo/radio presenters here in Australia. They do "The Drive Home" radio show on FOX FM, and so every weekday a new podcast comes out with the highlights from the day before. The podcast is pretty hilarious and so you will frequently see me walking with Ella down the Yarra River giggling to myself while I listen to it.


As mentioned in previous posts, dinners are mostly our Hello Fresh meals, but I've done a bit of baking and cooking of breakfasts on my non-work days this month. A few highlights:
Carrot Cake Porridge from Apples Under my Bed. How good is it when you manage to get a portion of veggies into your breakfast? And it actually tastes like dessert? Pretty good.
Pumpkin Quinoa Chocolate Chip muffins from Once a Month Meals. Part healthy, part indulgent, very yummy. An old favourite of ours. I made a few without chocolate chips for Ella and she is not a fan though. Maybe she has realised I've withheld the best bits? Oh well, your loss Ella, more for mummy and daddy!
Chocolate Nut Butter Cups from Apples Under my Bed. Oh. My. God. These are amazing. A full batch lasted about two days in our house. Not super healthy but much better than buying Reece's peanut butter cups, and they taste better too. I used 70% dark chocolate and all peanut butter (as opposed to half almond butter, which is SO expensive).
Soft & Chewy Baked Granola bars from Oh She Glows. Made these as we've got into a bad habit of buying store bought granola bars, which are SO bad for you and I don't even really like them. But not a fan of these ones unfortunately. A shame as I had to use a lot of medjool dates and chia seeds which are not cheap ingredients. Forcing myself to eat them as they are relatively healthy and do fill me up. But I won't make them again.

Obsessing Over:

Work-life balance. At the end of last term I was so exhausted and that was only working two days a week. I was feeling very overwhelmed at the thought of going back to work full-time in July, which is what my contract says at the moment. So over the holidays Andy and I decided that it would be best for our family if I stayed part-time for the rest of the year, going up to three days a week in July. I had a chat with my boss about it last week and he has agreed to this deal, which is a huge relief. I just couldn't bear the thought of sending Ella to daycare five days a week, ten hours a day, when she is only one year old.  

Looking forward to:

Restaurant Club! Last year I attempted to start a book club with some of my friends. It started out well but after a few months it sort of died off. I've revamped it to make it more of a Restaurant Club with an optional book recommendation. Our first meeting is at the end of this month and I think the first restaurant we've decided on is Supernormal in the CBD. Will report back next month. 

Also, our trip to England in 6 weeks! Yay!

(Not looking forward to: 24 hours in transit with a one-year-old. Something tells me this time might be a bit more challenging than when she was younger.)


My new bike. I bought a Toyko Bisou this month so I could ride to school and use it to run errands. I absolutely love it. It is very different to my other bikes, which were much more functional in design. (Yes, I actually had two other bikes, a hybrid and a road bike. I sold them both on gumtree to pay for this new bike). I wanted a somewhat pretty bike, that wasn't too girly, and would also be easy enough to ride up some hills which I have on my commute to work. I wasn't sure this type of bike existed until I came across Tokyo Bikes. The Bisou is EXACTLY what I had been looking for. I've been riding my bike to work every day since the school holidays ended and I'm so happy with it.

This response to an article in the New York Post about ME-ternity. ME-ternity is an argument put forward by Meghann Foye that women that don't have children should get paid time off, basically all the perks of maternity leave without actually having kids. She claims that women who choose not to have children should get the same time off and "space for reflection" that women get when they go on maternity leave. Haha, what a comedian she is. I would somewhat agree that being on maternity leave has made me reflect on what is important in life, but that has come about BECAUSE of the tiny little human I am now responsible for. Also, any lovely "me time" only really happens once you get through the first six months or so (if you're lucky, and only if you have one child), and by then any actual pay has run out. Anyway someone has written a hilarious response with "rules" for ME-ternity that would make it equivalent to maternity leave. My favourite rule is this one:

You must rub sandpaper over your nipples until they are red and bleeding. Once this is achieved, you are required to tug on them 15,000 times a day. You may opt out of this but you are required to feel like a terrible person.


Roads without cycle lanes. My last 2km to work is down busy Heidleberg Road which has a token bike symbol painted on the left side of the left lane, but no actual bike lane on most of it. It's not much fun, especially when trucks and buses whizz by you. And there is no alternative back route, trust me, I've looked.

City planning that does not take into account improved cycle and pedestrian conditions, and/or improved public transport, just does not make sense to me. It's 2016, the environmental impact of humans is well known and documented... we are ruining the world people! The least governments can do is encourage people to drive less. It benefits not only the environment but also the general health of the population, putting less stress on health services. Surely it's a no brainer? Oh, but we will always have those people who complain that cyclists don't obey traffic laws so we shouldn't be catering to them. Sure, some don't. Just like some drivers don't obey traffic laws. And I do agree, this is wrong, and puts everyone in danger. However, while I don't condone cyclists breaking the law, I do think that most times when they do, it is because they feel unsafe in the conditions they are riding in. So maybe if we had safer conditions, such as more separated bike lanes, then cyclists wouldn't feel they have to break the law to be safe. 

Anyway. I hate driver/cyclist angst basically. Can't we just all get along?


Winter work clothes... booooo. I had to put on tights for the first time this week.


The prolonged summer weather we've had throughout April this year (which is over now that I've finally got around to publishing this post). It's been so great for walks and trips to the park with Ella. 


Nothing really. Life is pretty good.


A baby bike seat for Ella. This one is my favourite of the ones I have researched. I saw a mum and her baby riding around our neighbourhood with it and immediately went home and googled the brand. It's much more stylish looking that any other seat I've seen. I think it will be Ella's present for her first birthday.

A Mountain Buggy Nano. It's a pram that folds up small enough that you can take it as carry-on luggage on a plane. One part of me feels like this will be a good investment and well used for all our travelling needs, even when we go on car trips within Australia. The other part of me feels like owning three prams is slightly excessive. Which part will win? Stay tuned...


As usual, my family. I miss having constant grandparents around for Ella. FaceTime is good, but not the same as actual physical contact.


A Californian Christmas - spent with my family (my brother lives there with his girlfriend).

I'm lying, I'm not "considering" this. It's been considered, and we are going. Just need to consider how we will pay for the plane tickets now... I keep trying to get Andy to be an Uber driver for some extra cash, but for some reason he's not game. 

Working On:

Still driving. Haven't got that far since I pledged to drive once a week last month. I need to drive a few days this month when Andy goes on school camp and a work conference and I'm in charge of the daycare drop offs in the morning. Eek, I'm nervous! 

Grateful for:

Supportive work colleagues. If I have to go to work and leave my baby girl, at least I am going to a place where I like the people I work with!

Pic of the Month:

This is not the best shot, but to me it sums up the joyfulness that is Ella right now. I love seeing her expression when she is happy and experiencing something new. Seeing her face light up like that gives me a feeling like nothing I've ever felt before. She is wonderful.

Friday, 22 April 2016

2 Exhibitions in 1 week!

So I've been very cultured this week, going to TWO different exhibitions at the NGV and Melbourne Museum. 

On Friday I went to Friday Nights at the NGV to see the Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei exhibition, which finishes up this month. The Friday Night late sessions run when there is a big exhibition on and include after hours entry to the NGV, live music and DJs, food and bars. 

I obviously knew of Andy Warhol and his Campbell's Soup paintings before going, but had no idea who Ai Weiwei is. (Disclaimer: I know close to zero about art). He is a Chinese artist and political activist, and is openly critical of the Chinese government, which pretty much means he is not very popular with them. Anyway, the exhibition was developed by the NGV in collaboration with Ai Weiwei and "explores the significant influence of these two exemplary artists on modern art and contemporary life, focusing on the parallels, intersections and points of difference between the two artists' practices" (from the NGV website). Some more info here:

Some info about the exhibition
So, I liked the exhibition, but I didn't LOVE it. Lots of people I know did love it thought. So I think my opinion might have more to do with the fact that the "Friday Nights" event is super busy and less to do with the exhibition itself. This is the second time I've gone to one of these (the first was to see the Monet exhibition back in 2013) and, this is probably a hugely unpopular opinion and will make me seem like a boring, unhipster mom, but I've decided I'm not a huge fan. Of the Friday Nights, not necessarily of the art. As I said above, I'm not very knowledgeable about art. So, I like to read the posters and signs explaining what everything is about. This is really hard to do when the exhibition is busy, and you have to jostle your way around people to get a peak at things, and it is really, really hard to read the signs without feeling like you are in everyone's way. So I enjoyed the exhibition but I just don't feel like I got the most out of it because it was so busy.

Interactive art... keep the balloons up in the air
Iconic Campbell's Soup Cans
Ai Weiwei Zodiac Heads
What I've actually realised is that I am old, and have a baby, and am no longer appreciative of cool events like this. If you are cooler than me, which would not be difficult, you'd probably love the Friday Nights at the NGV. Next time, I think I will just take Ella on one of my days off and wander around a much emptier exhibition in my own time. There won't be any funky music or glasses of champagne to purchase, but I'm ok with that. 

By far my favourite part of the exhibition was a photo booth area where you were prompted by this ridiculously cute cartoon cat (Ai Weiwei loves cats) to strike poses and you ended up with this Andy Warhol-esque collage:

I think all art galleries could do with more interactive elements. 

On the totally other end of the spectrum, Ella and I met up with Adam this week to check out the Jurassic World exhibition at the Melbourne Museum. I must admit, I was far more excited to see dinosaurs than I thought I would. They were pretty life-like and obviously gigantic. I was interested to see how Ella would react and she was super intrigued by them. Her eyes were glued to them the whole time and I would just have loved to know what she was thinking. At one point we went to the Tyrannosaurus Rex enclosure and it was pretty intense, with thunder and lightening and this huge, loud creature roaring and baring its sharp teeth. I think she might have been scared then, she started whimpering a bit, but otherwise she just seemed really interested in everything she was seeing. It's pretty fun to watch your baby discovering the world around her. 

Adam, Ella and I at Jurassic World
I did have fun at this exhibition but it was a bit short/small for what you pay for, $30 for adults. A pretty pricey activity to bring the family to. But it was a nice day out as I walked to the Museum and the weather was gorgeous, 28 degrees and sunny, not bad for autumn! On the way back Adam and I stopped for a beer and made sure we sent a picture to Charlotte and Andy of use enjoying our afternoon in the sun. Maybe that was a bit mean...

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Baby Ella - 9 Months

This week marked Ella’s nine month birthday. These nine months have gone by both quickly and slowly; on one hand I can’t believe it is only three months until her first birthday, but on the other hand I can barely remember what life was like without her around.

We took Ella to Brighton to the beach for the first time (since our trip to Portugal, which didn’t really count as she was so young that she slept most of the time). She absolutely loves being in the water when we take her to the pool and give her a bath, and I think she was intrigued by the added texture of the sand under her feet.

This post is an update on the things we have learned and what Ella is up to now that she is nine months old.

Ella loves:
  • Shaking, pulling and poking things to make a noise. In particular the front bell outside our house and things she can shake in her hand.
  • Eggs, kiwis, cheese, pears, bananas and chicken.
  • Her bunny comforter which she sleeps with every night.
  • Being in the water.
  • Her reflection
  • The song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.
  • Her Jumparoo
  • Swinging on the swings with daddy.
  • Anything that is not a toy: remote controls, plugs, cords, magnets, glasses etc.
  • Going for walks/runs in the pram, sitting in the most upright position so she can see the world!
  • My new teething necklace beads.
  • Digging through her basket to find toys
  • Going over to other people's houses. She is super interested in anything/anyone different.

Ella does not like:
  • Lemons
  • Being taken into her room before she is sleepy.
  • Being held facing inwards.
  • Getting dressed - especially not putting a jacket or sweater on top of what she is wearing.
  • Having a cold (I'm making an assumption here... or maybe this is just something mummy doesn't like!)
  • Not being able to crawl.
  • Avocado and feta on toast. Something in that combination makes her vomit. I'm thinking maybe the feta. Hopefully it's not avocado... how can you be from Melbourne and not eat avocados?!

Things Ella does:
  • Rocks back and forth when she is sitting
  • Claps
  • Chews food with her two bottom teeth.
  • Goes from sitting up to lying on her tummy.
  • Moves backwards on her tummy.
  • Sits by herself in the bathtub.
  • Turns around while sitting.
  • Makes connections between objects and the noises they make.
  • Laughs when you do something silly.
  • Laughs when you say "stop" in a stern voice. (We'll have to work on this one).
  • Holds herself up in a crawling position and then launches herself forwards, falling on her face.
  • Pigeon and Frog yoga poses.

What we’ve learned:
  • A vaporiser is really helpful with a baby's cough. If you put "Euky Bear Sleepy Time Inhalant" in the vaporiser the room will smell like a spa.
  • Babies get a lot of rashes. If there is no fever, the baby seems happy, and when you press down on the rash it disappears, then there is probably nothing to worry about.
  • But still, day cares do not like rashy babies. So you need to take them to a doctor so they can tell you it's "just a virus".
  • You can pretty much attribute anything to teething from about four months to two years old. Fussy baby? Teething. No sleep? Teething. Fever? Teething. Rash? Teething. etc etc... you get the picture. You can do this even if there is no sign of a new tooth.
  • Your baby WILL sleep all night one day. It might happen at 8 weeks, or like us, it might take 9 months or more. I have a friend whose baby did not sleep through the night until 18 months. I was beginning to think this would be us, but Ella has given me hope by FINALLY sleeping through the night four times in the last week.
  • Seven hours of sleep in a row is AMAZING! But it will only feel amazing if you have had nine months of broken sleep preceding this one magical night.
  • Other little kids love babies. We have an eight and six year old living down the street who love to come by and "play" with Ella. It's great. She is so amused by them.
  • Just when you think you have your baby figured out something will change and you will have to start all over again. “Everything is a phase” is something one of my mum friends told me early on, and that exactly describes what life is like with an infant. It also helps you to get through the rough times. Babies are predictably unpredictable.

Overall things are going really well with Ella. Andy and I are more confident the decisions we make as parents and she is a very happy and healthy little girl (most of the time!)

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Currently... March

So I am taking a page out of some other blogger's books to start a monthly "Currently" blog post, in order to write an update on all the things I am doing/reading/watching/loving/hating this month. Sometimes I really want to share a great book I've read, or a podcast I'm listening to, or a recipe I've tried but by the time I get around to writing a post it seems the moment has passed. I'll also use these posts to update what is going on with Ella and post my favourite picture from the month.

Here we go...


A few good books over the past few months:

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is all about decluttering and organizing your space. Kondo claims that if you follow her advice you will never have to tidy again! Intriguing... Her main piece of advice is to only keep things that bring you joy. I really want to do a big clean out of our stuff now, but we've only managed to do our clothes so far. Both Andy and I were pretty ruthless and donated a few bags to charity and I can honestly say I don't even remember what I got rid of. Except for one dress. Which I have to stop myself from going and re-buying from the charity shop as I NEVER wore it.

10% Happier by Dan Harris. Harris is a TV news anchor from the US and after having a panic attack live on air he ends up turning to meditation. The book is more of a memoir than a "how to" guide on meditation, and due to Harris' job he interviews many interesting people on the subject. A good book for anyone who is skeptical about the benefits of meditation, or who is curious about it and wants to read something about by "regular person" rather than a spiritual guru.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter. It's a "girl gone missing" psychological thriller covering some pretty dark subject matter with plenty of twists and turns. It was hard to put down and I looked forward to reading it every night before bed. Recommended but with a warning that it could give you nightmares!


The Americans. This was recommended to us by my brother’s best friend who works in TV, so it must be good, right? Yep! I’m loving it so far. The show is set in the early 1980s during the cold war. The central characters are KGB spies who are posing as a married American couple with kids (who don’t know that their parents are Russian spies) living in the suburbs of Washington DC. I’m about halfway through Season 1 and am hooked!

TED Talks. This one by Celeste Headlee on how to have better conversations is my favourite this month.

Listening To:

Serial Season 2 podcast. This season centres around Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, was captured by the Taliban and spent five years in captivity before being released in exchange for five Taliban detainees who were being held in Guantanamo Bay. I don’t love this season as much as Season 1, which had a true crime theme, but I love the sound of Sarah Koenig’s voice and I think she is an excellent storyteller so I keep tuning in.


Mainly Hello Fresh meals, but I did get this excellent recipe from one of my mother’s group friends and it is excellent! Another Jamie Oliver winner… standard. I love him. Very healthy, I highly recommend: Roasted Brassica Salad with Puy-Style Lentils and Haloumi.

Obsessing Over:

Ella’s eating habits. She was an amazing eater until a few weeks ago and now seems to have totally gone off food. I feel like all I think about all day is what and when to feed Ella. I know I should just relax about it as I’m sure it will sort itself out but I’m convinced she doesn’t sleep through the night yet because she doesn’t eat enough during the day. It’s driving me a little bit mad!

Looking forward to:

Easter school holidays with NO PLANS. It is very rare that we don’t holiday somewhere during the holidays but we are trying to keep things simple as the Christmas and summer holidays were a bit much. We just want to enjoy Melbourne with Ella… and without her on the days she goes to daycare!

My birthday present from my parents, a subscription to Babyology boxes for a year. Every three months I will get a box in the mail filled with surprises for both baby and mum. Can't wait to get my first one!

All the babies arriving in the next few months. We have at least one friend due every month until June and I am super excited for them all. Chris and Ness are were due two days ago so every time we get a text from them we think its the baby. I can't wait to see a teeny tiny baby again! (And give it back to it's parents, haha!)


Businesses that cater to mums/parents with small kids, such as:
Feather and Noise who do personal styling sessions and have an area for kids to play while mum gets styled.
Angea Acupuncture are starting Mum’s Rejuvanation packages, where you can get an acupuncture and massage session while a nanny looks after your little one.
Care for Kids daycare that offer workspaces for freelance parents with child care onsite.

The weather turning a bit cooler. We've had a good long summer but I'm over the hot nights and love the crisp, clear mornings we've been having.

Canada having a cool Prime Minister.

My Headspace app. I've meditated for 38 days in a row now, and I can feel myself being more aware of my thoughts, and I am really working on trying to not let them fuel my emotions.


Constant illness in our family. Ella seems to have a constant cold, I’ve recently had tonsillitis and generally we are pretty run down. The holidays could not have come soon enough.

The whole American election debacle with Donald Trump. What is even going on there? It's like a parody of an election campaign, and scary to think that he is getting such a huge platform to relay his racist, sexist hate-filled views. However it is making me love Obama ripping him to shreds at every opportunity.


Mainly active wear, leggings and TOMS. I am so glad that this is mostly acceptable attire in Melbourne, more so if you have a baby with you. But my jeans now fit and I am back to my pre-baby weight so I should probably try and wear something other than leggings once and a while.


Watching Ella start to make connections about what is going on around her. Like pulling a rope on the bell at our front door and realising it makes a noise. She looks so ridiculously happy when ringing that bell. Hopefully this has not annoyed our neighbours too much yet.


My mom! Becoming a mom makes you really want your mom, more than ever! (Edit: I wrote this before my parents told me some very exciting news: My mom is coming to visit us for three weeks in August! Yay!!)

Sleep. Nearly nine months and Ella has not slept through the night ONCE. I think we did get an 8pm to 5am one time which was the closest, but that was so long ago I think it might have just been a dream. (Another Edit: Last night Ella slept from 10pm-5am!! Woohoo, 7 straight hours of sleep. Seriously hoping this is not a one-off!)

Also, a make-over. The tired new mom look is not working for me anymore.


New shoes. A new pair of TOMS (see Wearing; above) some funky Nikes to wear with my activewear, some new ballet flats and new winter boots. I will probably need to prioritise this list and pick one of the above until I go back to work full time!


Breastfeeding. Sometime over the last week Ella fully weaned herself off and I am pretty sad about it. If you had asked me a few months ago I would have told you I was cutting her off at six months, as I didn't love breastfeeding for oh, about the first five months. But once I started mixed-feeding I started to enjoy it more and am now sad that my breastfeeding journey has come to an end.

Working on:

Driving. Charlotte has set me a goal to drive once a week. So far I have achieved that goal for zero weeks but it is definitely something I need to be pushed to do.

Trying to keep things simple and enjoy the little things, like going for a walk with Ella by the river enjoying the beautiful autumnal weather, or snuggling in to watch a good movie on the sofa with Andy (and some Lindt chocolate).

Grateful for:

Our friends here, especially Charlotte who is SO good with Ella. And she has offered to baby-sit on Saturday night so Andy and I can attend a wedding reception so looking forward to that.

Pic of the Month: