2019

on Life, Motherhood  

So yes it is now March and 2019 was some time ago, but I’ve done some kind of review every year for a while now and it’s worth it to look back on! This was a big, family-focused year for me with some big highs and lows.

Highs

Sprucing up our home – I was in serious nesting mode for the second half of my pregnancy, so spent the first few months of the year decluttering, rearranging, and improving. I particularly love our outdoor area now it looks more inviting to sit in. It’s a lot harder to do this stuff with a tiny human running around, so I’m glad I had some time to do it before he arrived.

An outdoor setting in a courtyard. A dog is sitting on the couch.A baby nursery

Getting our money in order – I tried out a Barefoot Investor inspired setup with our accounts, but it was way too complicated (I needed to draw a diagram to explain it all). At the start of 2019 I simplified and automated as much as possible, and it made keeping track of things much easier.

Being a mum – yes there are a lot of tough parts (see the lows below), but being a mum has been so full of joy and wonder overall. There’s so many firsts and so much to discover in a baby’s first year – first smile, first laugh, first time eating solid food, starting to move around and show the early signs of the person they’ll become. There’s also new friends and new ways to connect to old ones. It’s really exciting! Some favourite parts: walking with Felix in our baby carrier and feeling the weight of his head on my chest as he falls asleep. The first time he laughed, it was so cute that I cried (also I was very very tired). Catchups with friends with babies the same age, sharing stories and tips and clothes. Family cuddles in bed in the morning. Sharing a meal, once he could sit and eat.

A baby and a dog sitting on a play mat

9 photos of a baby, from 1 month old to 9 months
It’s getting harder to keep him sitting still for a photo

DIY photo shoots – I finally figured out how to control my camera using my phone, and took some pretty nice self-portraits whilst super pregnant and on my first Mother’s Day. It felt a bit silly and vain at the time, but it’s nice to have decent photos of myself for once! I’ve also been taking milestone photos of Felix for his first year, well worth the effort of trying to get a wriggly baby to sit still.

Pregnant woman sitting on a bed, with a dog next to her
Felt vain at the time but I like looking back on these photos!

Alphabet animal series – I had next to zero time/energy for creative things, but did manage to squeeze this in! I lost a bunch of Instagram followers who probably got sick of the monotony, but it felt good to complete something and see it as a whole.

Road trips – we managed 2 family trips down south this year, which weren’t relaxing exactly but were a fun change of pace. Flying is going to get a whole lot trickier and more expensive for us as a family, so I think road trips will be our go-to for a while.

Dad, mum, baby and dog selfie
Also we can bring Jasper!

Japan trip – travelling overseas with a 6 month old is tricky, but it was worth it. I especially loved being able to see Mount Fuji unobscured by clouds, and also eating matcha ice-cream.

I sure got my money’s worth of Mt Fuji pics

Plastic Free July – this was the first year I tried to do Plastic Free July. Instead of attempting being 100% plastic-free (not easy!), I decided to focus on a few particular habits in the hope that I’d be able to then carry it forward. Happy to say that we now (mostly) make our own bread, granola and ice-cream, use cloth nappies and wipes, remember to take our own coffee cups, and are just generally a bit more aware of the choices we make.

List of things to try to reduce plastic use for Plastic Free July

Lows

Being a mum (sometimes) – I don’t think anyone could say that being a mum is fun and joyful all of the time – it’s damn hard! Some lows include: the realities of feeding every 3 hours around the clock (apparently it does not mean that you get 3 hours of sleep in between). Changing to a 2 hourly feeding schedule when he wasn’t putting on enough weight. Having an ‘alert’ baby who just doesn’t want to nap as much as they should, and complains loudly about it. Constant feeding and rocking taking its toll on my wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck and back. Mastitis. Cold cups of tea. Not having any semblance of a routine or predictability in the day. Looking back and feeling like I haven’t achieved anything this year besides raising a tiny human. These are all pretty standard challenges with a healthy baby though, so as much as it sounds like I’m complaining, I think we’re very lucky and the good far outweighs the bad.

Baby breastfeeding

A hospital stay – I’ve had weird, sporadic abdominal pain for most of my life, and had previously put it down to having my appendix rupture and be removed as a child. Mid 2019 it happened again, but didn’t go away after a few hours like it normally does. 24 hours, a visit to the GP and a long wait at the Emergency Department later, and I was checked in to hospital. I had a nasogastric tube inserted, which is up there with my appendix rupturing and pushing out a baby as far as painful experiences go. I couldn’t eat, drink, or be with Felix. I didn’t want to move or think or do anything but cry and attempt to pump milk (which had to be tossed due to drugs and nowhere to store it). My milk dried up anyway. I wondered if was what depression felt like.

Hand holding red jelly cup, with a hospital wristband and an attached breast pump
They let me have liquids after surgery, so I had a lot of jelly

Tests confirmed that scar tissue from my appendix surgery (25 years ago!) was the culprit; surgery was done quickly and I was out of there a few days later, the day before my birthday. The pain before surgery was awful, but being apart from four month old Felix was the worst part. Everyone at the hospital was very kind though, and pushed my case through quickly so I could return home asap.

Less focused time – all part of being a parent! Most of my hobbies require a decently solid amount of focused time, and whilst I had patches of time here and there they tended to be brief, unpredictable, and quickly used up with essentials like cleaning, eating and showering. My life feels a bit chaotic and it stressed me out more than I thought it would.

January calendar printout
This January calendar was there most of the year…

Thoughts for 2020

Well it’s already 2020 so this feels a little redundant, but at the end of last year I was gearing up to return to life as a working mum. I loved my time at home with Felix, but towards the end of my leave I could feel that being a stay at home mum was not for me in the long term. This year I want to get back on track with my career, fit back into my jeans, and get back into creative hobbies… all whilst trying to be a good parent. I’m starting the year with a lot of optimism and not a whole lot of sleep. Wish me luck!

Adventures Down South, with a dog and a baby

on Food, Travel  

During a Perth heatwave in December we escaped for a short trip down south, where it was slightly less hot and far less crowded at the beach!

This was our second road trip south with both Felix and Jasper, and we’ve gotten a lot better at travelling with a dog and a baby. This time our strategy mostly involved sticking to beaches and picnics, but we still managed to squeeze in some wineries and breweries as well.

We stayed at a dog-friendly AirBnB studio in Gnarabup, which had a separate room for Felix to sleep in uninterrupted. He spent a lot of time commando crawling around, wiping the floors with his belly. Having accommodation with a cot, high chair and bath provided made packing the car so much easier, definitely something for us to keep in mind next time.

Photo of a baby crawling on the floor of a living room

Places we went:

Beaches

Gnarabup Beach – lovely quiet beach close to our accommodation, with some dog-friendly stretches, near White Elephant Cafe.

Dad with baby in carrier and mum at the beachPoodle cross dog walk on leash along a beachDad with baby in carrier and a dog at the beach

Dunsborough foreshore – I love the still, shallow waters here. Very baby (and scaredy-dog) friendly!

Baby closing eyes as water is poured over his headCloseup of wet dog in shallow water at the beachDog running along a beach, with dad carrying baby in the water in the background

Cafes & Bakeries

White Elephant Cafe – an old favourite by the beach; we got our morning coffee here everyday since it was near where we were staying.

Dad holding dog and mum holding baby with beach in the background

Berry Farm – another old favourite, we go for the (huge) scones and the friendly blue fairy wrens.

Plate with scones, cream and jam with a milkshake and an iced coffee

Margaret River Woodfired Baker – fantastic bread, hot from the oven from 3pm. Kind of a strange unassuming place in an industrial area, but the huge pile of firewood gives them away.

Margaret River Bakery – we grabbed a few things and some coffee for a picnic. Fantastic bread of course, but the extremely loaded salad I got was also somehow amazing. I would go back for that salad.

Yallingup Gugelhupf – delicious traditional cakes baked in ceramic moulds, and a convenient park to picnic in across the street (this trip was full of picnics). I want to go back to try all the other flavours.

Dad holding baby with dog sitting nearby, in a park

An escargot and a gugelhupf, on a plate on a picnic blanket
Gugelhupf on the right

Wineries, breweries & pubs

Stormflower Vineyard – this lovely organic winery has a cellar door that actually allows dogs inside! We had the place to ourselves when we visited, and were shown to some comfy armchairs to taste their excellent wines, whilst Felix crawled around. Definitely one to visit again.

Dad, dog and baby at Stormflower cellar door

Stella Bella Wines – another excellent winery that welcomes dogs at the cellar door! The last time we visited Jasper was a tiny puppy.

Puppy on leash
Jasper’s first visit to Stella Bella
Poodle cross dog on leash
Jasper this trip, almost 4 years old

Cape Mentelle – we’d already reached our wine tasting limit by the time we got here, so just had our picnic outside whilst I wistfully admired their wine list. So I can’t comment on the wine, but as a picnic spot it was stunning (and they let you bring your tasting glasses outside if you have a dog). Definitely need to come back here for the cellar door.

Look how nice this outdoor area is!

Clancy’s Fish Pub – not sure how we’ve managed to have never visited the Dunsborough Clancy’s until now? The place is beautiful and huge, with a great view of the flying foxes from the ropes course next door. I had some delicious prawn tacos.

Two prawn tacos with beer in the background

Wild Hop Brewing Co – great beer and gorgeous outdoor area. Also a big fan of popcorn as beer snacks.

Beer tasting board, a large salad and a pulled pork burger

Felix’s birth story

on Motherhood, Pregnancy  

I read a lot of birth stories during my pregnancy, something that I’d been avoiding until then. They always feel deeply personal and I didn’t think that I’d want to publish my own experience, even though reading the experiences of others really helped and encouraged me. But I figured no one really reads this blog anyway, so I might as well!

This isn’t a negative story although things didn’t quite go according to plan, so if you are reading this whilst pregnant and can’t handle that right now, or just don’t want TMI (although seriously don’t read birth stories if that’s the case) feel free to just scroll through to the cute newborn pics. (more…)