Dec 29, 2012

Overtime News.

Don't you worry, I haven't gone anywhere since Boxing Day.  Thank you so much for all your lovely comments on my last post both on the blog as well as your tweets and messages.  It was great to read about how you've enjoyed being taken along on this crazy ride.  I think the real fun is only just beginning, so hold on to your hats.

I'm now officially over 40 weeks.  Only by a matter of days.  But it's overtime nonetheless.  Objectively, a few days in the scheme of things isn't that long but I think it's these last few days and the uncertainty of what's going to happen and when which make them tougher to get through.  I hope this will be my only overtime post but we will see.

There's not much left to do around the house besides put my feet up as much as possible.  The play mat's out, the jungle gym's assembled and I've had a test bounce of the Baby Bjorn rocker.

Chicken curry, roti and Indian pickled red onions.
Food wise, I've been spoilt rotten by my in laws who have taken over kitchen duties since Christmas.  I'm in curry heaven at the moment.  It's almost like being back in Malaysia only without the humidity and crazy traffic.

My mother in law is a curry puff making genius.  She makes this amazing two part pastry that puffs and flakes on frying.  I've been eating them for breakfast with a side salad of lettuce greens more often than not this last week....

It runs in the family, guess what my mum's favourite snacks are?  This is the stash she's going to take back to Perth.
My mum and aunty flew in from Perth this week.  It's been such a gift to have them stay and be able to chat like we did before I moved to Sydney.  We've caught each other up on all the news.  It's so different on the phone and with the 3 hour time difference especially.  There's never a really convenient time to call.

The sisters are also intrepid Sydney explorers and their adventures together are legendary.  I sometimes feel that our roles are reversed when I've waited up for them at night.  Jokes aside, having them both around when Baby SSG comes home will soothe many people's nerves, let me tell you.  They're both pretty excited to be the two extra pairs of hands I'll definitely be needing.

My aunty knitted this adorable pram blanket for Baby SSG.  It's almost too precious to use but too cute to be stored away.

I've made a start on Baby SSG's baby book.  I'm going old school with the kind where you actually have to hand write memories, stick things to the pages and .... print out photographs.  It's going pretty well actually.  Each page is actually a cardboard pocket so I've finally got a proper place to put things like cards and test results.  One of my favourite pages so far is one where you write a little snap shot of the world as it is now - current affairs, the price of items like a litre of milk, best selling books etc.  I had no choice but to write 'Fifty Shades of Grey' in the book category.  And I may have written a fair bit about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the current affairs section, as well as saving a few pages from New Idea....

I had a reader request for one last bump shot.  And here it is.

Denim shorts and T - Target Maternity.  Bump - 40w3d.
That's not even an intentional slouch for the camera either, by the way.  It's my new normal posture.

Today's fitness photo.  Took this photo of a front garden in the neighbourhood whilst resting my back on the way up the slight hill on the way home.

I'm impressed I can even walk these days.

The three musketeers.

Or put a face on.  I've got my routine down to 3 products now and they're all oldies but goodies.  May I present my 3 Musketeers - Loreal's Nude Magique BB, Garnier's tinted roll on eye cream and a slick of Lucas' Pawpaw ointment on my lips.

That's all the news from SSG Manor HQ right now. I'm off to down a glass of pineapple juice whilst reading some more chick lit on my trusty Kindle.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Dec 26, 2012

The Last 40 Weeks.

I had high hopes of looking back on the last 40 weeks of being pregnant and coming away from my reflections with some words of wisdom from which to conjure up a post for the blog.  And not just any kind of blog post, mind you.  It would be a post that perfectly encapsulated the highs and lows of pregnancy in words that would just speak to each and every one of us.  Something that I'd re-read in future pregnancies and find instant calm and reassurance with each paragraph.

But, you're wiser than me, aren't you?  Because you know already that by 40 weeks, there's only one word on your mind and that would be 'out'.  There's also only one way to spend the day and that would be lying down on the sofa with changes in position only to access your wallet to get your credit card details in order to seal the deal on a few Boxing Day online bargains.  Food wise, last minute 'eating for two' meals have backfired because there really isn't any room for that extra food to go.

Despite the paucity of quality content, I'm still determined to write this post because if nothing else, it's going to be the only reliable record I will have of this moment of my life.  If there is a rule about blogging, perhaps it is that when writer's block threatens, just make your next post all about you, you, you.....  Nothing like a bit of honesty to clear the air.

Around 18 weeks
The first half of my pregnancy was very goal orientated.  It was all about making it to the next week, the next scan and the next trimester.  Getting to the next sized fruit on my 'What To Expect' app wasn't only cheesy, it brought a smile to my face each Thursday morning.  They were the kinds of smiles that helped me worry less about the negative 'what ifs' and instead focus on the positive 'what will bes'.

Around 20 weeks
Getting to 20 weeks was a huge relief more than anything else.  Relief that all was well with bubs, relief that I was feeling more human than I had in months and relief that I didn't have to poke my belly out (too much) to see my bump.

As per my agreement with Mr SSG, the baby shopping could now begin in earnest.

I started off with sensibly priced, practical purchases that had Mr SSG's full blessing.

Before moving on to a few things which, while still on this side of practical, could also be tactfully described as being chosen for my benefit more than the baby's.  These had Mr SSG's blessing - somewhat.

Then I got into the swing of the shopping for baby business and bought all kinds of things that were quite clearly all about me.  Some highlights include:

Books by favourite childhood authors that I took to reading aloud during the winter.

And this drum, tambourine and maracas kit.  To make tummy time that much more musical....

Around 24 weeks
I would be lying if I said that I didn't think about the way my body looked as the pregnancy progressed.    On the one hand I was so excited to be finally looking pregnant, that the extra kilos were actually there for a reason.  Then there was the other part of my brain preoccupied by how long it's going to take to get back in shape after delivery.  There was also a part of my brain that was bizarrely disappointed to be sitting out the peplum waist trend but that's a tale for another day.....

One thing that really surprised me is how early I had to stop running.  You know how I am about running.  Not in it for speed or distance but rather as a part of my daily routine wherever I am around the world.  Treadmills, roads, footpaths, I'm not fussy - so long as I got that run in at some point of the day.  As it turns out, I had to stop completely around 22 weeks.  I felt a bit ripped off because I didn't even seem to have that big a bump to be bouncing around as I ran.  There was obviously a lot of hidden bump though because I could feel a pretty big bounce with every foot fall from that point on.  Listening to my body had finally become a phrase I paid more than lip service to.

Remember all my maternity fashion posts and all those clothes I bought for my work wardrobe?

Well, the best investment on a cost per wear basis were my $90 maternity bathers from Speedo.

Followed closely by the items in the $20 - $39 price range from the maternity ranges at Big W and Target.

Around 29 weeks
That's not to say I didn't love wearing those pricy Citizens of Humanity 'mom jeans' or all that Isabella Oliver but in the last few weeks, it hasn't just been comfort that's been a priority.  Any piece of clothing that allows you to hold onto the towel rail whilst pulling it on will always be chosen over anything requiring both hands free when dressing.  I don't know where my centre of gravity is these days.

Being visibly pregnant doesn't just change the way you treat yourself but the way complete strangers treat you changes as well.  For the better, I might add.  And even in a city as brash and big and bad as Sydney.  You are immortalised as a special pregnant woman triangular icon on the priority seating area at the front of the bus.  And people will shift seats to make room for you to sit there.

Around 34 weeks
Strangers at the grocery checkout will spontaneously start conversations with you.  Ladies who were previously stoic and ruthlessly efficient as they scanned and packed the items belonging to the customer in front of you lose their reserve when it's your turn.  After politely enquiring about your due date and the gender of your bump, they share their 'tales from the trenches' with warmth and a reassuring smile. Their smiles reach their eyes and crinkle their corners at the realisation that though it all happened so long ago for them, they still remember those moments as if they happened yesterday.  At cafes, young waitresses smile and touch your arm like an old friend as they tell you how well you look for so late in the pregnancy.  I walk a little taller after those encounters for obvious reasons but the random conversations with the check out ladies almost bring tears of happiness to my eyes.

Amongst all the things that you can get anxious about with being pregnant, I bet you didn't think the timing of when to start your maternity leave would rate that highly on the angst scale.  It did for me.  Right up until that last day, even while I was at my work baby shower, the guilts had their hold on me.  I was barely 34 weeks!!  Aside from getting car sick on the way to work, I was doing fine and as fit as a fiddle.  I felt like a fraud heading off as early as I did.  Initially I'd only chosen 34 weeks because it was suggested as a suitable time by someone who felt that many women make the mistake of starting their leave too late.

In hindsight though, it was the right time for me.  Fortunately, I didn't have a medical indication for starting leave that early but the weeks of wellness and relatively good mobility I had at the beginning of my leave allowed me to wind down and enjoy myself with Mr SSG and my family before my size and other symptoms caught up with me.

I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to see and do things I wouldn't have been able to with work.

Attending weekday brand presentations and living the life of a part time fashion and beauty blogger.

Getting to see Donna Hay on a Thursday evening.

Having a spontaneous yum cha lunch with my mum and aunty.  Just because we were in the area, we felt like it and we could.

Writing this post has ended up being quite a trip down memory lane for me.  40 weeks is a pretty long time and it's been like writing about my year in review as well as the pregnancy.  In some ways, the year only really began for me at that point.  I was in this holding pattern for such a long time before then.  Waiting for things to end and then waiting for things to happen.

This pregnancy has enriched my life in many more ways than it has restricted it.  The love, peace and happiness it has given me through the many beautiful people in my life has been too much for any one person to just hold it close and not share it all themselves.

After what seems like years of awkward emotions when faced with the pregnancies and baby news of others, I now find myself in a place of genuine happiness and excitement for those around me.  Reading  celebrity baby news in magazines is something I shouldn't be doing anyway but it's become a guilty pleasure that at least gets a chance to be indulged more often than my Royal Wedding obsession (hurry up, Prince Harry and make an honest woman out of some lucky girl when you're not deployed to Aghanistan).  The friend on facebook who only ever updates me to slip in an announcement of the clock work arrival of yet another baby in with her generic Christmas message now evokes a comment of genuine happiness on her behalf.

I am ashamed that I even have to write this down to acknowledge how deeply my experiences last year have affected my ability to enjoy the happiness of others.

Reckon it's about time to conclude this post.  I really should be giving you some kind of pearl of pregnancy wisdom, shouldn't I?  Something that will stay in your mind long after the memory of reading this post has faded.

Let me see.....

Pregnancy is one of those life experiences that has both challenges and enriches you.  It brings out the best and worst of all your personality traits.  While you may approach pregnancy armed with volumes of pre-reading and anecdotes from the women in your life, there are only two things you need to remember:

  1. No two pregnant women are alike and and no two pregnancies are alike.
  2. Expect the unexpected.  You'll cope much better when the carpal tunnel syndrome and cankles you were so sure you'd get are replaced with the headaches, permanent mouldy taste in your mouth and total body heat rash you do get lumbered with.
Oh, and Jenny McCarthy's observation that everyones' weight gain will balance out at the end.

If you're looking for more practical advice, I have this to say.  Go out and live your life as if you weren't pregnant (within reason).  Live each day fully and without fear of what a test may show or whether you will 'make it' to next week.

Grab those Tim Tams when you see them in Martin Place and smile for the camera as you do so.

Take that ridiculously expensive handbag out of its dust bag and orange box and use it.  Go out with it and do things you wouldn't be able to do if you were holding the handlebar of a Bugaboo instead.

And in addition to not forgetting the sunscreen, remember that you can still have fun without champagne and sushi.  It's just nice to know that for me, it's a single digit countdown until we can all be together again.

Dec 25, 2012

Merry Christmas.

It's one of those days where a picture speaks a thousand words.

Have a wonderful day filled with love and joy wherever you may be under this sky that we share.

Dec 23, 2012

The Holiday Season Wind Down.

Reading through my blog posts from Decembers past, I realise how busy I usually am at this time of the  year.  My December posts have previously been full of travel, shopping, food and the constant refrain of my so looking forward to winding down my life from Christmas until New Years.  It's been a little different this year in that I've been in holiday mode since November - pottering with occasional bursts of nesting.  Thankfully, it seems that the rest of the neighbourhood has finally caught up with me and started their collective holiday season wind down.

The lead up to the Christmas break may be frantic at the shops but in the suburbs, it's all about slowing down and easing into a week or so of good food and relaxing times with family and friends.  Ladders lean on front walls as the finishing touches are added to roof top Christmas light displays.  Cheeky Santas on rope ladders are draped from second floor balconies because accessing the house this way is much more efficient than taking a chance with the roof and finding it without a chimney to slide down. White wicker reindeer inhabit front lawns, nibbling the grass by day and illuminated by fairy lights at night.

Sadly, this Krispy Kreme vehicle was in the 'hood for the holidays and not home delivery....
Relatives from interstate arrive to stay and cars with number plates from across the country line the streets.  The sounds from the street change to reflect this.  Lively chatter and laughter punctuated with the sounds of strollers and skate boards take over from the usual horn honking and groans of passing vehicles.  Barbecues seem to smell that much better when you're safe in the knowledge that you don't need to wind things up early in order to be ready for work the next day.

With school holidays starting, things at my local pool get a little more lively and festive.  I am greeted at the pool's entrance by Santa and the swim school's official duck mascot.  Swimming classes which are usually run with military precision (but filled with laughter anyway) have ended and it's the bouncing water slide that the children now line up for.

At home, pretty much everything has been taken care of.  Gifts have been wrapped and distributed, there isn't a spare surface that hasn't already felt the benefit of a Christmas knick knack.  Evening drinks for me at the moment involve sparkling grape juice if I'm missing my champagne flutes of bubbles especially keenly.

Or good old Diet Coke and lemon when something with ice is required.

Does anyone remember when pre mixed Diet Coke With Lemon was available in Australia?  At the time, it did mess with my mind but I'm actually keen for its return.  Ditto that experiment with vanilla that the Coca Cola Company inflicted upon us.

As I end this post, I'd like to take the opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Very Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.  Eat, drink and be merry.  Oh, and don't forget the post Christmas sales.

Take care and stay safe!

Dec 21, 2012

Fruity Friday. Fro Yo At Home With Chobani.

Hello Friday,

I'm so glad you've arrived and the world didn't end today, after all.  Tomorrow being the weekend and all.  And let's not forget that a little celebration called Christmas is happening this coming Tuesday.  For which I'm woefully underprepared.

At this stage, Christmas lunch will be consisting of this half kilo bucket of Simmone Logue rum balls.  Which is fine if the only person you're catering for is a crazy pregnant lady who would be more than happy to drive down to Maccas for one last special order Big Mac and a serve of chicken McBites to get a few more essential food groups into the meal but I've got family coming over and there is talk of a dressed ham needing to make an appearance.  I won't be doing any of the cooking this year but I am keen to be part of the shopping.  Mr SSG has bravely decided that we will make a day of it and that day is going to be the Christmas Eve Monday.....  Wish us luck.

The bump's not going anywhere this side of Christmas.  Dress - Isabella Oliver Maternity, bracelet set - Red Phoenix Emporium.

I have news for the Baby SSG watchers in the audience.  There still isn't any movement at the station.  He doesn't look like budging before his Boxing Day due date.  My obstetrician told me this with a wry smile as we made arrangements for me to join his Christmas holiday clinic list next week.  I'm feeling sorry for him because my appointment is in the late afternoon which probably means that the rest of the day is full already with babies who seem to be much happier where they are than to take any chances with the crazy weather swings we're having in Sydney right now not to mention that whole Mayan apocalypse that was scheduled for today.

With at least another week up my sleeve, I've been finding things to do around the house.  Like washing and then towel drying this tutti fruity coloured set of rings for Baby SSG's toys.  All I have to do now is attach a few of his toys to the links and find bits of furniture to fasten them to.

Speaking of fruit, how refreshing is the range of fruit currently available at the supermarket?  I've abandoned my usual apples, oranges and bananas and hoovered up grapes and fresh lychees instead.

Fresh lychees will always remind me of my first trip to Queensland.  When my friends and I finished uni, we went on a sailing trip that started around Hamilton Island near Cairns. We chartered two boats and a dozen of us took to the seas for a week.

It was magic.  For many reasons.  It was the end of being broke students and the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.  We also knew that it would probably be the last time we'd all be able to spend that amount of time together as jobs and life in general would separate us in the future.

Aside from this, there was all the wonders of sailing and living on a boat.  Being able to sleep quite literally under the stars and then waking up to picture perfect water and islands.  Of not having your days being governed by the constraints and structure of our lives in the city.

Oh yes, the lychees.  They were our constant companions when we returned to dry land and stayed in Cairns for a bit after our sailing expedition.  We bought them by the bag at Rusty's fruit market and ate them constantly.

Chobani Australia got in touch with me last week with the news that their Greek yogurt is now being made in Australia.  In addition to the fruit filled flavours that originally launched here a few months ago, Chobani now make plain Greek yogurt and it is now available in Australia.  Aside from eating it as is, the plain flavour can be used in everything from mashed potato to Thai curries and there is a separate section of the Chobani website which details some great recipe suggestions.  Some other things I want to try are the salmon dish with wasabi sauce as well as the whoopie pies.

Fro Yo appears to be having a moment in Sydney but I'm yet to get to a store to see what the fuss is all about.  To tide me over, I thought I'd make my own using Chobani and the recipe provided with their icy pole moulds.

The ingredients are as follows:

  • 3 small tubs of Chobani - strawberry or blueberry flavoured
  • 100g fresh berries
  • 1 tablespoon of honey (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • icy pole containers (I used Chobani's 6 icy pole set)

There's only 1 step to the recipe!  How good is that for summer.  Simply combine all the ingredients and spoon into your prepared icy pole moulds.  To get rid of any air bubbles, tap the side of the filed moulds with a spoon.  Also, remember to leave a half centimetre gap at the top of each mould to allow for expansion during freezing as well as the icy pole stick.

For a bit of high level food styling (not), you can layer different flavoured yogurts on top of each other.

My freezer essentials for survivng the First 6 Weeks.

Then, freeze for 6 - 8 hours.  Note the other contents of my freezer.  To the left we have my carton of lamington ice cream, then my Chobani pops and to the back, a truck load of batch cooked meals for surviving The First 6 Weeks.

A balanced meal...
I can just see myself getting totally confused and eating the ice cream for lunch, the frozen pasta sauce for breakfast and the yogurt pops in between.  Dinner could well be any of those rum balls that survived past Christmas or else fruit.  I'm getting ahead of myself.  It may not be that bad at all.

Back to the yogurt pops.  If you can't get your icy pole out of the mould easily, run it under hot water for a few seconds to see if this helps.

And there you have it, a snack sized frozen yogurt packed full of fresh fruit.  They're the perfect way to get your serve of fruit in for morning tea.

Thank you to Chobani Australia for their generous sponsorship of this post.


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