That week I tried solo parenting…

Solo parents, I take my hat off to you. You are incredible. You deserve government rebates, discounted childcare and shorter working hours. You deserve all the help you can get cause oh my GOODNESS my one week of parenting on my own was hands down one of the hardest weeks if not THE hardest week of my Mumma life. And yes, I realise that I’m complaining about just one week, I realise there are many parents in way worse situations than me and I realise as I start to write this, that it all seems a little bit OTT and dramatic. But you know what? For me, it was REALLY hard!

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Damn this parenting gig is hard!
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B left on Monday morning and I started my week by doing drop off at daycare, a full day at work, daycare pick up, did the dinner and evening routine on my own, got organised for the next day, ate dinner (even I was impressed at this one!) cleaned up and eventually sat down for a bit of down time. And then H woke up. He’s usually an excellent sleeper so this was a bit odd for him. It took ages for me to settle him and he woke again during the night which was tough when I then had to adult at work the next day!

Tuesday evening we were at my parents house where I put him down to bed so I could enjoy some adult time with Mum and Dad. H woke up. Frequently. To the point that we had to leave early and I put him down at home – where he woke during the night. Wednesday we were meant to have dinner at my sister’s place but again, H was really unsettled and cranky so I skipped dinner, brought him home and had another rough night.

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My poppet hasn’t been himself in so long and it breaks my heart
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Each night was the same – lots of grumpy baby in the evenings, unsettled sleeps, late-night waking and to be honest, I’m not actually sure how I still managed to function. When B walked in the door late Friday night, I just burst into tears – the poor guy! I was just so relieved he was home and I didn’t have to deal with everything on my own.

Looking back at what I’ve written above, it doesn’t even sound that bad but for me, it was so, so hard. Having a sick baby is hard. Having to work full time is hard. Keeping a functioning house going is hard. Spending my precious weekends searching for a house is hard (oh my gosh, how ‘first world problem’ is that?! Poor me!) And I’m still not getting any real ‘me’ time, ‘us’ time or family and friends time in – I feel like I’m being a rubbish friend cause I’m never available to catch up! Plus I don’t feel like I’m giving as much as I should at work either!

Part of me didn’t want to post this blog. It sounds like a great big whinge (which it totally is) that would cause a whole lot of eye rolls and ‘it’s really not that bad’ comments. And I know all this and totally recognise that in the big scheme of things, I really have NOTHING to complain about. I am well aware of how many people would love to be in my position and I should really just count my blessings and suck it up. But that’s not my style. I’m not one to bottle it up or pretend everything is amazing when it’s not. That’s what my blog is for – a place to rant, a place to get it out cause that’s how I deal with my emotions and move on.

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It’s impossible to stay grumpy at this face. But a full night’s sleep would be awesome!
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The week B got back was better – H was feeling a lot better but still has a snotty nose – has done for months on end, seriously, does it ever end?! He’s also teething and has nappy rash AND conjunctivitis – gaaaahhh!! Seeing him unwell and sad is heartbreaking. I know it’s daycare germs and everyone goes through it but it seriously, SERIOUSLY sucks. February has not been my favourite month so far, and we’re only 12 days in! B goes away two more times in the coming weeks so I’m bracing myself for solo parenting again. Can’t say I’m really looking forward to it so if anyone has any advice on how to not lose my sanity, I’m all ears!

Thanks for reading and understanding that everyone needs a rant every now and then. Hopefully my next blog post will be a bit more positive, happy and sunshiny!!

Dan xx

 

lifelovetravelfood… baby!

Baby lifelovetravelfood

There are some extremely exciting, nerve-wracking months ahead in the world of lifelovetravelfood.  I am ridiculously excited to announce that B and I are expecting a baby into our family, due December 2015.

This is a progressive post, one that I have been writing as these things happened so it’s been quite a few months in the making! Here’s our journey (travel, if you will) of how our baby story unfolded.

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Coming soon…
Image @lifelovetravelfood

– – –

The reality…

It was something people had been asking us for years, “When are you going to have a baby?” I think after it took us nine years until we got married, people were looking for a new question to ask but they soon gave up. We were young, living in London, travelling every second weekend and to be brutally honest, loving our selfish lifestyle.

When we made the announcement that we were moving back to Australia after four and a half years of being away, that question began to pop up again. Both of my sisters had just had babies so all eyes were on me. We knew we wanted a bub, so much so that we’d been buying baby toys and clothes during our travels, it just hadn’t ever been the right time. Then one day, we had the conversation again and it was the right time. Apart from starting to take folic acid, that was all the preparation we really did and we were incredibly blessed (that overly used word is totally appropriate here) and lucky to fall pregnant.

One fateful Friday night, I said to B, “Ok… it’s time. I’m going to do a pregnancy test.” We read the package instructions (which are really not that complicated) over and over again. So many times that I said, “Hurry up, I need to pee!”

And we waited. Three minutes felt like a reeeeeally long time. When the timer sounded, B put his hand over the result so it would be revealed to the both of us at the same time. And there it was. A little purple line. Positive result. We were pregnant.

I immediately burst into tears and B just hugged me, completely still. I believe the words, “Oh my gosh!” were repeated over and over again. B was in shock, I was terrified – but in a good way!

All I wanted to do was tell people. I was SO excited, and it didn’t help that my sisters were both anticipating the news. I’m SURE L&G knew we were pregnant because I had been avoiding alcohol for a good week or so. Even before I discovered I was pregnant, I just felt like something was different so decided to cut out alcohol. I’m pretty sure they thought we were pregnant even before we did!

– – –

The nickname…

Every baby bump has a nickname and ours got its name about seven years ago – Keggy. Yes, like a keg of beer – suits us, don’t you think?! We are no strangers to a pub or taste testing many, many global beers so what better name for a bump that will essential grow quite large, to be named after a beer vessel? B even said he would grow his own Keg-belly so that we can experience getting fat together!

– – –

The reactions…

Telling family was overwhelming and very, VERY exciting. We visited the doctor to get confirmation and I almost fainted due to an overload of information and feeling very, very unprepared for it all. My family were totally expecting it so their reactions were pure joy with a few tears and a couple of ear-shattering screams thrown in for good measure.

B’s family’s reactions were wonderful. This is the first baby for his side of the family, so they were absolutely ecstatic. His parents were overjoyed which was just lovely to hear. His sister couldn’t quite believe it, her reaction was absolutely brilliant! His brother being a typical boy, didn’t squeal like his sister however he was really chuffed when B asked if he was ready to become an Uncle. It really does warm my heart to know that our families are so excited for us and it makes it all the more exciting for us as soon-to-be parents.

– – –

The due date…

On our first visit to the doctor, we were both pretty confident that we’d be having a January baby. Clearly our calculations were a bit off because we were told our baby’s due date was 26 December. A Boxing Day baby. I think I turned towards Ben, my eyes wider than saucepans and he looked just the same. Later, we discussed how Keggy would forever hate us for being born around Christmas. As a January baby myself, I vowed never to have a baby so close to the start or end of the year but what will be will be and I am 100% thrilled at the idea now! I wonder if they do a Christmas dinner in hospital…

– – –

The no alcohol thing…

Before we even knew Keggy was in there, I had one day at work where things went downhill very quickly and I felt TERRIBLE. I think I knew something was up then, and when I called B I could tell in his voice that he thought the exact same thing – even though neither of us said it!

From then on, I stopped drinking. Avoiding alcohol actually hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. I kinda just haven’t felt like it. Say whaaaa?! I’ve been quite happy with my bubble water with lime. B is pretty chuffed that he has a designated driver on hand to chauffer him around to various pubs. He’s not abused this right just yet because I don’t think drinking alone is much fun!

We now judge pubs on whether they offer free soda water. They get huge brownie points if they do, or I leave as a very annoyed customer if it costs almost as much as a beer (which is often the case).

– – –

The symptoms…

From about week six, nausea kicked in – all day, every day. It was horrible! But I kept reminding myself that we’re SO lucky Keggy is growing away so really must remember that (which was really hard at times when I couldn’t get out of bed for fear of vomiting). Trying to eat healthy and avoid the bad stuff was MUCH harder than I had anticipated. Here I was thinking I was going to be a healthy pregnant saint. Pfft! Often I didn’t want fruit, yogurt made me feel ill and all I really wanted was salt and vinegar shapes, twisties and cheese. Let me just say I have eaten a LOT Of cheese during my pregnancy. Cheese flavoured chips, cheese on toast, cheese and crackers, philli cheese, cottage cheese. Just cheese. I think you get the idea.

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Cheese glorious cheese
Image from Google images

In week nine, my cravings changed from savoury to sweet. I was all about peanut butter and jam toast, muesli, banana cake and chocolate (preferably Top Deck flavour). This was throwing everyone off from guessing Keggy’s gender because ‘apparently’ savoury = boy, sweet = girl. I’m not saying that’s a fact, it’s just a running thing in my family. And no, we’re not going to find out if Keggy is a mini d or a mini b – I think I want a surprise but I am known for being impatient (it’s the Gen Y in me) so let’s just see how that goes!

By week 12, my nausea was a thing of the past – hooray! I was back to eating normally and was much more inclined to eat healthy again. I well and truly fell off the clean-eating bandwagon during my first trimester, but I honestly couldn’t be bothered and healthy food didn’t appeal like it used to. I feel MUCH better now (no longer am I ridiculously tired, getting 9 hours sleep and still needing more) and seeing our baby jump around (seriously, it barely kept still!) at our 12 week scan made it feel totally worthwhile and worth every yucky feeling. We’ve also loved seeing Keggy all lumpy when I wake up in the morning. He/she tends to nestle into the side that I’ve been sleeping on, and often when I wake up and lie on my back, you can really feel him/her and it’s just an incredible feeling.

– – –

The suspicion…

Most people have been really good and not said anything or asked any questions. I’ve noticed a few stares at my belly, but I often wonder if that’s just me being paranoid! I’m sure there are a few people in my life who have their suspicions. It’s not gone unnoticed that I am no longer drinking! At work, apparently my pregnancy was, ‘The worst kept secret in CCM [my department name] history,” all because I avoided alcohol a few times at work drinks!

One person asked me outright if I was pregnant and to say it was awkward was an understatement. Let me just say to you all – don’t ask someone if they’re pregnant, even if you’re super sure they are!! If they aren’t pregnant, it’s an insult but if they are, there might be a very good reason why they’re not saying anything. People will tell you when they want to so until that time comes, keep your lip zipped and pipe down! #reallyreallyawkward

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Just don’t ask people!
Image from Google images

 

– – –

So that’s the journey of Keggy so far. I’ll no doubt give you updates on my progress and the size of my waistline (which has expanded from day one because I was in such good shape before we got pregnant and it has been TOUGH trying to hide it the last few weeks!) as the months progress so stay tuned for more on lifelovetravelfood… baby!

Love Dan xx

I just turned 30. THERE, I said it…

A few years back, one of my first posts on lifelovetravelfood was about me freaking out about turning 27. I scoff looking back on that post now (what was I worried about, I was so YOUNG!) especially since I recently left my 20s behind and have hit the scary world of the big three-oh.

LIFE

In the lead up to my big day, I was fine. Excited even! I was getting a Thermomix for goodness sake, what’s not to get excited about! Plus my family is notorious for awesome 30th presents and I had NO idea what mine was going to be. And then the day came.

B handed me my first card and then it hit me. I’m 30. THIRTY! And next decade I’ll be 40!! I have to start worrying about grey hairs and wrinkles, making more mature decisions and being sure to dress age-appropriately. ‘Young people’ (ie. Anyone younger than 30) will always do stuff that annoys me now and I’ll have to scroll down for ages to find my date of birth year on online forms (I know, first world problems right?!)

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Yep… I’m 30
Image sent to me from my fabulous 30 something friend via Google Images

But then after a few deep breathes, an awesome breakfast out with B and a day spent visiting the beautiful Swan Valley and it’s abundance of great little breweries (and NOT being designated driver for once) I wondered what I was so worried about. Sure, the group of rowdy teenagers in the beer garden annoyed me, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been tutting at loud, obnoxious groups of people for a number of years now. Nothing new there.

Age is just a number. I’ve not wasted ANY years of my life and that’s the most important thing to me. At 30 years of age, I’ve married my best friend, lived in two different countries and four Australian cities. My group of friends has whittled down to just a handful, but I know they’re all amazing, TRUE friends that I’ll have with me for the rest of my life. I’ve travelled extensively and lived my life (so far) to the fullest.

So yes, I’m 30! I’m not sure I’m QUITE ready to say the ‘and proud’ bit, but considering I don’t even put my age on Facebook, yet I’ve announced my age on here is a big step (and in the blog post title no less). Here’s to the next 30!

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Birthday girl!
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LOVE

Here’s what I love this month.

Oh yeah, I’m gonna talk about my Thermomix. Not for very long, I promise cause a certain sister continues to mock me for it but she’s just jealous. I can make almond meal in seven seconds and chop an onion in three. So THERE. I will just say it’s awesome, I love it and my husband ROCKS for buying it for me. Although whenever he wants to get out of doing something, he usually throws out the line, “But I bought you a Thermomix…” And I’m pretty sure he’s going to keep doing that for the next ten years until he’s convinced it’s finally paid for itself.

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So it’s not all that pretty, but it IS pretty awesome
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To continue talking about superficial things I love (hey, I’m only human) let’s talk about my beautiful, shiny, Michael Kors watch that my amazing Mumzie, Dad, beautiful big sisters, awesome brothers in law (x2) and gorgeous niblings (x3) bought me for my birthday. I. Love. It. I still don’t really understand what some of the buttons on the side do, but that’s not really important.

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Oooh, so shiny! #IBV
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Exercise. I cannot tell you how excited I am to put this in the love category. I have NEVER loved exercise. Ever. I have always envied people who exercised daily and I honestly never thought I’d get to this point. But I have and it feels awesome.

For my birthday this year, I decided I deserved a present from myself (B did not agree but I only told him after I’d bought it). I bought the Lorna Jane Fit Challenge pack – which includes a three month fitness program. I was quite daunted at the idea of exercising every day and pushing myself to do things I wasn’t comfortable with but I’ve finished phase one, am up to week five, and it’s been the best thing for me.

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Happy Birthday to me! Lorna Jane Fit Challenge pack!
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Sure, there are days I get out of bed and think, “Ugh… I REALLY don’t wanna go to the gym this morning.” But because I’m already packed and my alarm has already gotten me up, I figure I may as well get out there and do it. And since people have started to notice a difference in me, it is SUCH a great feeling. I hope this is something I’ll be able to keep up for the long term because I’m loving it!

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Freestanding headstand – super proud to be able to do this and not topple over! @lifelovetravelfood

And finally, family. Since moving back home and to a new city, I’ve found the whole making friends situation kinda hard (I wrote a guest blog post about it on Amica if you fancy a look). A WONDERFUL friend of mine told me that when he and his wife moved back from the UK, they found the same thing and not to worry, it wasn’t just me! This made me feel so much better (cause there are times when you do begin to wonder if it’s you!) and he also said it just means I’ll get to spend extra quality time with B. And he’s so right. I actually adore spending time with B (which is probably a good thing considering we’re married) and also, my family.

My parents recently came over to visit and it was so NICE to be able to drop on over to my sisters place and catch up with them all. Even though it was only for three weeks, I loved every moment. Cooking them dinner (a full paleo dinner – see my ‘food’ section below!) going shopping, catching up for coffees or just having a day out… I love, love, loved it.

As I get older, I appreciate my family more and more. I’m so lucky to have such an awesome bunch of people I can call family. You guys are awesome, just thought you should know that.

TRAVEL

Oh dear. I think I might be clutching at straws here. Since starting my new job, I’ve not really had an opportunity (ie. I haven’t earned any holidays) to take time off and actually GO anywhere. But finally, after weeks and weeks of staying in our new home city, we ventured out for the long weekend to the ever so beautiful Margaret River. Ok, so it’s not an overseas trip but those are gonna be few and far between now I think!

Stunning beaches, breweries, wineries, locally grown food, great coffee (with almost every coffee shop offering almond milk – woo hoo!!) we had an AWESOME weekend away. It was part of my birthday present to B, so I spent four days as designated driver, having just a sip rather than a proper taste of all the amazing wines and beers. But it meant we were able to explore far and wide and purchase enough alcohol to open a small pub. See, some things never change!

But instead of telling you everything we ate and drank and then feeling hideously guilty about it, I’ll just show you our weekend in pictures.

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Just your average beach down south – amazing!!
Yallingup, March 2015
@lifelovetravelfood
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Beach, blue skies and on our way to a brewery
Margaret River, March 2015 @lifelovetravelfood
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Still making time to exercise!
Dunsborough, February 2015
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Sunshine and blue skies in Dunsborough
February 2015
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Margaret River exploration time
March 2015
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Hooray! We actually TRAVELLED somewhere!
Margaret River, March 2015
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So what else can I count as ‘travel’. Well… we’ve been a few Wildcats games and got to sit in the Corporate Box twice. That was pretty cool. Erm… we went to the cricket twice. That involved travelling on a bus. And we’ve gone to the beach lots too, does that count?! Ok, think I might need to cut my losses and move on…

FOOD

I will never be short of things to say in this section! Let’s start with eating out.

Atrium – the restaurant of choice for B’s very belated birthday dinner, this is a ‘fancy’ buffet in the Crown Casino. I have never been a fan of buffets, I just don’t get my money’s worth and I never like the look (or taste) of most stuff. As far as this one goes, it was pretty good. There was a lot to choose from and the majority of it was quite decent. Except for the line I was in, behind a little old man who proceeded to pick wax out of his ears while waiting to choose his next dish. Needless to say, I didn’t touch anything he did and proceeded to skip that line in favour of another. Seriously, it’s basic hygiene people. Gross.

The Old Crow – dinner with the family for an early birthday celebration for Mum, and a late birthday celebration for me. When you eat the way I do, and you take your family out to dinner at a restaurant you’ve chosen and the first thing you say is, “We have to get the brussel sprouts, apparently they’re awesome,”  you’re bound to get some pretty skeptical looks. But they needn’t have worried – the food was great and the sprouts WERE awesome. With hush puppies, crispy pork bits and slow cooked rabbit on the table, the food was tasty. The only disappointment was the less than amazing wine list (how snobby do I sound?!) and that my flank steak with blue cheese sauce and spinach was delicious but in parts, SO rare I felt a bit ill even looking at it.

Millpoint Caffe Bookshop – I LOVE brunch. It’s my favourite meal of the day. This one saw Mum, Dad, B and I visit for a nice long brunch one Saturday morning. I had baked eggs with beans, chorizo and gluten free toast (I love places that have gluten free options) which was super yum, but the eggs were a tad overcooked. B had pancakes – he never orders sweet breakfasts, he’s a ‘big breakfast’ man which I find tediously boring so when he was being a typical Libran and couldn’t make up his mind, I made it for him and chose the pancakes. Which came topped with bright pink Persian fairy floss which he found embarrassing and I found hilarious.

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Baked eggs with chorizo and gluten free toast
Millpoint Caffe Bookshop, February 2015
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B and his pretty pink fairy floss breakfast
Millpoint Caffe Bookshop, February 2015
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Some of my recent home cooking adventures now!

Salted caramel chocolate slice – a paleo version of a much loved classic which I think tastes better than the real thing. I was SO excited to make this (in my Thermomix none the less) and the result was a super delicious slice that everyone loved. Although one girl at work told me that it wasn’t sweet enough but I don’t think I will EVER win her over with my paleo baking so I just chose to ignore that critique. B even asked if we had leftovers because he enjoyed it so much. Win!

My paleo dinner party – Ok, so it wasn’t really a party because it was just dinner with my husband and parents at our place. But for the first time ever, I attempted a 100% paleo menu. When I cook for others, I tend to cook ‘normal’ foods because I’m too scared to attempt my kind of food. Slowly but surely this year, my family have been my guinea pigs, taste testing all my paleo dinners and sweets, most of which have been a success (and a few fails… but I to keep those to myself!)

So I decided to cook MY kind of food for Mum and Dad, especially since Mum specifically requested I make her a raw cake while she was visiting because she was intrigued and had always wanted to try one.

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In all it’s delightful deliciousness
February 2015
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Entrée – Coconut flour blinis with avocado and smoked salmon

Yum! The only part of the entire menu that I’d made before. Just baby pancakes, made with ‘hippy’ flour so that I can eat them too. Avocado and smoked salmon is always a winning combo so these went down a treat.

Main – Crispy pork belly with bacon and cauliflower bites, and lemon garlic greens.

I had a little trouble getting my crackling to go crispy but with B’s help and a bit of improvisation, we made it work. I love pork belly and the meat was melt in your mouth. Not too much fat which can sometimes be a turnoff with pork belly, the meat was really good.

The cauliflower bites were the ONLY thing that weren’t 100% paleo… I snuck a bit of parmesan cheese in them! They’re kinda like potato gems but made with cauliflower instead of potato, and baked instead of deep fried. Really yummy, I will definitely make them again.

The greens were fresh and crunchy and I managed to get away with adding in some kale with the usual sugar snap peas and asparagus and no one seemed to mind!

Dessert – Raw salted caramel paleo cake

I love a good raw cake! This one was SUPER smooth and quite rich but without being overly so. I wouldn’t have said it was ‘salted caramel’ – perhaps I needed to add a bit more salt but it was delicious all the same. I nearly fell off my chair when Dad said, “This is really good!” My sweet tooth Dad liked a RAW cake! To this day, I’m still amazed!! My favourite part about raw cakes is that the leftovers go into the freezer and this means I have yummy cake on hand whenever I need a sweet but not too naughty treat.

So I think my first attempt at cooking MY kind of food went down really well! I think as I get braver and more confident in my abilities to cook delicious, healthy foods, I won’t feel the need to make stuff that I myself don’t enjoy.