So Hot Right Now

I’m now 40. Or, as my son likes to tell me, “nearly 70.” That gives me the right to talk about when I was young through very rosy glasses.

When I was at school, it was social death to be really vain. If you were caught pouting in the mirror, you were “up yourself” and would spend the rest of the month living it down.

jt1

This has nothing to do with Justin Trudeau.  I just like him.

It was a rather posh girls’ school with a remarkable gene pool.  There were some girls who were really into themselves, and for some reason this seemed to work for them. I don’t know why, but for some there was this anomaly which meant they were super vain, but totally forgiven.

For the rest of us, we bounced around trying to look like we really didn’t care how we looked. Of course we did care, but we kept this to ourselves.

If you were in a bikini and caught sight of your reflection, it was inconceivable that you’d think “whoa – how hot are you!?” and made sure you took a photo. Like I said – social death.

But times have changed.

I had this conversation with a friend recently. She showed me the Facebook profile of someone they work with. She’s young and absolutely gorgeous. Lots of her photos only show from her shoulders to her knees, and she’s barely wearing anything. So there’s a photo of her boobs and perfect torso getting out of a pool. Then there are several very posed, near naked selfies taken in a bathroom mirror.  There’s zero mystery, put it that way.

jt2

Justin!  When others do this, I want to puke.  But when it’s you…

If you want to take photos like that of yourself, knock yourself out. I just don’t understand when this became normal. I know people say it’s empowering and I get that to a point, but if we’re honest isn’t it more about showing off? When did it become OK to be this vain? Am I overreacting?

I know from personal experience that getting your clothes off can make you feel better about your body. I travelled around Japan when I was 21, and you can’t be a prude there or you’ll make no friends. You can’t give a shit about being naked when you’re nude, sitting on a tiny wooden stool, scrubbing yourself for ages (ages!!) from head to toe in a room full of strangers before your communal bath.

But that experience was a great lesson in just being comfortable in my skin – something that doesn’t come naturally to me.  Anyone, regardless of size, should feel happy wearing a bikini or sunbaking topless if they want to. Or covering up if that makes them happy. No-one should feel any shame in how they look, which I appreciate isn’t always easy (hello new mothers like me who are eating too many scones).

But that’s a different beast. There’s being happy with what you’ve got, which is fantastic, and then there’s making sure everyone can see just how sexy you are because you’re so hot, dammit.

Taking this further is it’s now normal for school kids to send racy photos of themselves to each other. Apparently now if a boy sends you a photo of his penis, it’s a sign he likes you and you should be flattered.

That’s a bit sad isn’t it? Couldn’t he just buy her a Mars bar or something?  And yes, adults do this too.  But they (hopefully) have a better idea of their digital footprint as well as being – you know – adults.

justin3

Oh Justin. I’ve tried, but I just can’t look away.

Schools are coming under fire for telling girls not to do this. When the time comes, I’ll absolutely be cautioning my kids against it. Just as I’ll be telling them it’s unacceptable to forward these photos on – and the fact we’ll be having this conversation is awful.

I hope that when my kids are older they won’t buy into all this. Right now they love mucking around taking silly photos of themselves. They think you have to actually say “selfie!” when you press the button.

Clearly it’s a different culture now.

If you know me, or have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m normally very much in the “do what you like” camp. Do you think I’m being harsh? Oh god – am I getting old?? Let me know below.

Should I just have another scone? (I’ve got date scones from Baker’s Delight – OMFG!)

A Baby in the House

If you’ve packed up and schlepped home, tired of waiting for some rubbish I’ve written, I completely understand.  It’s been 7 months, after all.  And let’s face it, since 2012 the posts have hardly been regular.

But if you are still here,  a big hello!  I admire your patience and want some.

Things are great here and I hope you’re happy too.  I went and had a baby at the end of last year so, in no particular order, I’m:

  • Completely, utterly, madly in love
  • Marinating in baby spew
  • Tired
  • Eating multiple biscuits without realising it
  • Grateful
  • Sore
  • In love
  • Disorganized (I’m totally going to blame this on the baby for the next few years)
  • Unfit (see previous point about apportioning blame)
  • In disbelief
  • Getting nothing done because I’m staring at a baby
  • Repeatedly folding teeny tiny singlets (vests in UK!) and telling myself that’s getting stuff done
  • Poorly dressed
  • Not showering nearly as often as I’d like to
  • Slightly dazed
  • Smelling the baby
  • Yawning and hoping my nostrils don’t flare
  • Marveling at the women before us who didn’t have disposable nappies at their disposal (oooh see what I did there)
  • In love
  • Talking about the baby to anyone who will listen
  • In love
  • Loving maternity leave
  • In love
  • Fat
  • In love
  • A mother of 3!

Go me!

And if you happen to have just had a baby too, go you!  Oh alright, go everyone!  With or without babies!  We’re all just so freaking fabulous!

IMG_6148

Home from hospital and a few hours away from mastitis dammit.

Although I just have to say, my current clothes situation is far from fabulous.  I’m currently wearing terry toweling shorts from Target, smelly mismatched sports socks and an old torn, stained, polo shirt of my husband’s.  Sorry Tom, but yup, I’m absolutely re-shaping your shirts so they have boobs.

Our new little girl is  simply delicious.  I can’t believe my luck.  Our other 2 kids are beautifully in love and it’s a wonderful thing to watch them coo over their new bub. I’m enjoying the love fest between them.  Long may it continue… although I’m not holding my breath once she starts toddling and develops a taste for mass destruction.

When I first started this blog, we had just moved to London with a 3 and a 1 year old.

Now we’re in Sydney with our 3 kids (I love saying that!) who are 9, 7 and 3 months old. I’m at home with them for the year and couldn’t be happier.

FullSizeRender (3)

Because sometimes a onesie simply will not do.

I’m off to change a nappy and pinch myself.  And if you have big news too, I’d love to hear it!

10 Things I Know About Having Babies

Our third child is due in November.  Our other kids will be 9 and 7, and with that bit of a gap there’s an element of “going back” going on.

Going back to nappies, going back to not sleeping, going back to starting solids, going back to having no brain and leaving the house topless, etc.

Which is great, because I’ve wanted this third child ever since we met our second.

And because of this, things are different.  I know more this time.  And in the spirit of self-help books which I completely ignore, here is my list of Top Things I Now Know About Having (not making, that’s a very personal list) Babies:

1. While I’m really uncomfortable and feel like a whale already, I’m savouring every kick, nudge and bump.  It’s incredible and I feel so lucky.  Plenty of people would love to experience this and haven’t been able to yet.   If you’re one of them, please ignore Michelle Bridges and her smug “I’m so healthy that’s why I’m pregnant” bullshit.

adam hills

2. You can and should prepare yourself for labour.  If you’re at all interested in my advice, this is it: read everything you can about active birth.  If you’re preggers, that is.  If you’re not expecting to give birth any time soon, your time is best spent elsewhere.

Anyway, do that and you’ll go into it feeling a bit more prepared, and there is less chance you’ll freak out on the day.  A great labour is possible.  Unless of course your baby has other ideas.  They’re unpredictable like that.

3. Going back to work after maternity leave can be an emotional roller coaster.  Anything you can do to lesson the stress is good.  It’s insane I know, but that’s why we’ve got the baby booked into day care already.  I’m taking 12 months maternity leave and when the time comes, I don’t want the stress of no decent care.  And this is a new day care centre near my kids school, so drop-offs will be a cinch.

While I’m talking work, let me state the obvious and say that mothers work for different reasons.  Some love it, some hate it but feel they have to – whatever.  Do what works for you and don’t get caught up in the “stay at home mummy” vs the “working mummy” rubbish.  OK?  OK.

Notime

4. Setting up some kind of nursery is a joy.  Not only that, but having it done before your baby arrives makes you feel really organised.  I have no idea where we’re going to put this baby, but that’s another story.

I’m trying to copy my husband’s super casual, relaxed approach and not worry about it. It’s not working.

5. Newborns are beautiful and you’ll spend hour after hour staring at yours. They are the ultimate time wasters.  You’ll love it fiercely…

6…. but it might be seriously hard going.  If you’re having a hard time with your baby and you happen to be reading this, I’m giving you a big virtual hug.  It can be tough.  Telling people you’re having a hard time doesn’t mean you love your baby any less, or that you’re not a good mother.  Accept any decent help that’s offered and if you need some more, ask.

7. Whether you have an “easy” baby or not depends mostly on the baby and not on the parenting abilities of the mother.  Please don’t tell a new mother that calm babies are the result of calm, patient mothers.  It’s completely unhelpful and reminiscent of Michelle Bridges.

Likewise telling a new mother about the importance of routine and “understanding your baby’s signals.”  That new mother is trying her best and you’re making them feel like shit.

Want to be really nice?  Tell her she’s doing a fantastic job.  They’ll never forget you saying so.

8. This house has never been an organised, tidy haven of calm.  I have friends with kids who have freakishly tidy homes, I have no idea how, and it must lovely – even for a couple of days.  Now that we’re starting again, though, I just don’t see it happening and I have to get over it.

For every Pinterest photo of an immaculate, styled room there is a disproportionate number of real rooms that are not immaculate, styled, clean, tidy, tasteful or pretty. These are rooms where life is lived and we should all (I’m including myself here) stop stressing about them.

9. We all love our children, and it’s great to have other stuff going on too.  Don’t tell everyone you know every single little tiny thing your kid does.  I know I sound mean but I’m doing you a favour and telling you it’s boring.

You’re a mother and that’s wonderful. You’re also still you.  You’ve changed, absolutely, but your friends (I’m mostly talking Facebook here) don’t need a daily run-down of your baby’s poo.  They just don’t.  No-one does.

Unless one turns out to have a two carat diamond within its contents, or an ancient scroll missing from the Dead Sea.  We’d all want to hear about that.

10. The time will fly and before you know it, they’ll be at school.

OK so it might not be the most profound, complete list, but it’s what I’ve come up with while having a tea and several Tim Tams.   I don’t even like Tim Tams, they were for the baby, so it’s a really selfless act on my part.

What would you add?

1

When Lost, Strike a Pose

Being really athletic and outdoorsy people, who wear gratuitous lycra and look awesome in it, my friend Karin and I arranged an early-morning bushwalk on the weekend.

Nothing too taxing – just a quick 5km walk from Wahroonga to Bobbin Head.  I’d been told it was really easy – all downhill and you just have to stick to the fire trail, following the creek.

How hard could it be?

You know what’s coming, don’t you?  I don’t know why I’m even bothering to finish this post, it’s so obvious we got lost that you can stop reading right now.  You could make yourself a cup of tea, learn Spanish or roll your socks into pairs instead.

Alright, you’re still here and I’m committed so I’ll keep going. “Lost” is a strong word though, so I’ll just say “our exact whereabouts were in question.”

Anyway, we started the walk and was all going so well.  The track was obvious.  Suddenly, the track disappeared.  It was a bit like magic except nothing at all like magic.

19

We scrambled over slippery rocks and inched our way along the creekbed.   We knew we’d somehow lost the track but we didn’t fancy back-tracking.  Besides, we had a bag full of chocolate (it was a huge 5km walk, after all) and for the first time in a long time, I was walking with Karin and not getting a leach somewhere on my person.  It was a great day.

Sure, we lamented not having a map and compass.  But then, neither of us can use a map or compass with any degree of confidence.  So you could argue that we were better off carrying chocolate – which we were – clever!

And what do you do when you’re lost in the bush?  You have a photo shoot.

18

Here is Karin, doing a great job looking lost and frightened.

11

Another shitty Winter’s day in Sydney.

7

My bump! With a star burst! Clearly this is indicative of a truly enigmatic child.

8

I took this as proof that the track really did disappear. Here is Karin, looking for it.

Sliding along the creek rocks on our arses wasn’t working for us at all.  We found a track that went straight up a hill, so we decided to climb.  Did I mention Karin has the legs of a gazelle?  So while she raced up the hill with the agility of a mountain goat, I lagged behind like a rock-climbing hamster.  My legs are still sore.

9

Catching my breath, while pretending I don’t need to.

10

We made it!!

Karin’s sense of direction is better than mine, which isn’t saying much, and before long we found ourselves walking home.  Seriously late.  And sore.  And tired.

But laughing.  And feeling pretty lucky to have access to such a beautiful, yet unreliable, trail right on our doorstep.

News! (Because The World Needs Another Baby Blog)

Regular blogging and a desk job do not mix for me – hence the sporadic and random blog posts for the past… oh… 2.5 years.  Personally when I’m not at work I really don’t fancy sitting at a computer.  This isn’t helped by the fact that my lounge room, where my computer is, is freezing.  Seriously,  I can’t feel my fingers right now.  I would get a laptop but they all look a bit evil (“Let’s remotely blow up a city!”).

Apologetic rambling aside, that does lead me to a rather nifty segue.  Next year I won’t be at my desk job.

I’ll be on maternity leave.

Yep.  Preggers.

I will absolutely look like the model on Ripe's Facebook page.

I will absolutely look like the model on Ripe’s Facebook page.

I’m 16 weeks pregnant with our third child and couldn’t be happier.  I also can’t imagine being bigger than I am now, which is pretty daft considering I’ve done this twice before.

Our kids are 8 and 6 and I always wanted another.  To do this and maintain a happy marriage, you really do need your husband’s buy-in.  For various valid reasons, I didn’t have it.  I tried – I took maternity clothes and baby bits to London and was all, “Look!  We can have an English baby!  Can I get a HURRAH?!” and he just couldn’t be convinced.  This went on for a few years, then when our daughter turned 5 I tried to let it go.  As many of you will know, that’s not easy.

I tried to move on.  I took up running.  I paid a draftsman to do our renovation plans; I told him exactly what we wanted, he ignored it and we’re still going around in circles.  I did the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation for exactly 4 weeks. I miraculously hit my goal weight and stayed that way for exactly 4 days.

Then last year my beautiful husband, after all these years, came around.  “I really think we should have another baby,” he said as though it was all his idea, “We’ll regret it if we don’t.”

Now we were a Smug Fertile Couple whose two children came easily.  Not this time.   Despite the heading at the top of this page, I’m no longer in my mid thirties.   It took us 9 months to fall pregnant, which I know for many people isn’t long at all.  I really do take my hat off to those who have faced, or are currently experiencing, fertility issues.  That is one tough gig I’ve thankfully only had the teeniest, tiniest taste of.

Anyway here we are, with a baby due in November and three kids’ birthdays in one fortnight.  Yeah!!  We can’t quite believe it. We’ll be parents of three!  I’ll get to roll my eyes and crap on about how much harder the third child has made everything!

So that’s our news.   Please join me in sending this baby “please eat like your brother and sleep like your sister NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND” vibes.  A new baby and a renovation at the same time. How hard can it be?

How to Run From Scratch

Although it might sound like it, this isn’t a sponsored post.  But should I suddenly appear in a sports bra commercial (!), which would be an excellent commercial decision (!!), we have this post to thank.

Back in January 2012 I was talking to another mother, Lisa, at the school gate. Lisa was looking very sporty in head-to-toe running gear.  After dropping off the kids, she was heading to Wimbledon Common for a run.

I was impressed.  Not just with her easy wearing of full lycra; I was impressed she was going for a run at all.  I can walk for my country and I am a talented sitter – ideally while eating Twisties (cheese not chicken).  But I couldn’t run and I told her so. Running just wasn’t on my radar, it was in the same category of things like tinkering with engines, drinking green juice or anything to do with tapestry.  Just not something I would do.

She asked if I had an injury. I didn’t.  She made a great point: with two working legs and no injuries, I was physically capable of running.  Why not give it a go?  She never used to run either.  She told me to start small and to keep doing it.  It worked for her.

So I did.

IMG_2430

“We’re all having so much fun!”

My first run was for 16 minutes and I thought I was going to collapse. It wasn’t much, but far better than zero minutes which I had previously mastered.

Since then, while I’m not winning medals any time soon, I actually do go for regular runs.  And this is what I would say to anyone who thinks they can’t, as I did.  I’ll preface it by saying that I’m far from an expert. I’m not super fit and I don’t run as often as I should.

But I am a good example of someone who had never, ever been for a jog before who now makes running a (small) part of her life.  I now enjoy running – I don’t love it, but I feel fantastic afterwards.  Although I really need to go for a run without blabbing it to everyone afterwards.   It must be so annoying.

JUST DO IT

Don’t wait until you feel motivated.  Motivation is not your friend.  It’s when you really, really don’t feel like exercising that you really, really need to (note to self: take own advice).

Start small.  Start with anything – a 5 minute run is a start!  The idea is to make your next run last for 6 minutes, and keep building it up.  Getting started is the hardest part, so once you’ve got a couple of runs under your belt, you’re over the worst.

Personally, the first kilometre of a run is a kind of torture.  Keep your feet light, try to find a rhythm and don’t overthink it.  Just keep going, run through it and you’ll hit a spot when you suddenly think “Wow I’m actually enjoying this!  WTF??”

About to keel over?  Walk.  Imminent heart attack?  Stop. There are times when I can’t get into the run at all, so I’ll find myself a nice hill and walk quickly up that.  Or I’ll look at the hill, turn around and go home.

Goals are good.  If I decide to run a certain distance, but I’m still feeling fresh(ish) and have time at the end, I’ll keep going.  If there’s more fuel in the tank, try to use it!  If I can’t manage any runs during the week I’ll aim for a big one on the weekend.

Don’t have time?  I get that.  Spare time is precious and there are so many great ways you can spend it.  Personally, there are people way busier than me who make the time, so I think I should too.

IMG_2432

Crossing the bridge at Blackmores. Super flattering!

USE APPS

I use Runkeeper.  It tracks how far I go, gives me an exact map, I can enter goals and it tracks all my runs.  It’s great.  I recommend going into Settings and switching off the audio cues.  Otherwise you’ll hear a constant stream of information, and I much prefer listening to music than “Time: 20 minutes, average pace: seriously slow…” (I should add they don’t actually critique your running).

If it’s been a while and I need help getting back into it, I’ll use 5k Runner.  This prompts you to walk and run at intervals.  Another great one is Couch to 5.

MUSIC, SWEET MUSIC

I don’t know how anyone runs without music, I really don’t.  I admire those that do.

At any one time I’ll have a few running playlists to choose from, as I find that running to the same songs again and again gets boring.  Just today, I added a fast Powderfinger song to one of the lists, one that I hadn’t run to before.  The song came on just as I was finishing a run, so I didn’t stop.  I actually ran some more.  The old me would have thought that was a seriously weird thing to do.

So run with your smart phone, with your running app and music going at the same time.  You can buy handy holders that strap around your arm, but these give me a festy rash.  So pretty!  I just hold my phone, it doesn’t bother me.

THE GEAR

Running is free and that’s one of its benefits.  You can spend a fortune on running gear if you wanted to.  For me, I have good shoes and an industrial strength bra, the rest is a bonus.

About the bra…

I can honestly say that one of the reasons why I never ran was because of my boobs.  That and because I’m naturally quite lazy.  But get the right sports bra, put those puppies into traction, and you can really move.  It’s a miracle!   I think the best sports bra ever invented is the running bra by Shock Absorber, and I totally look like the models on their website.  I order them online from Wiggle as I can’t find them in the shops here in Australia, nor can I find anything in local shops that look half as strong.

I had never heard of energy gels until last year.  Basically, you can buy edible gels that give you more energy.  My husband takes them sometimes, but we are in different leagues of athleticism.  This morning he ran the equivalent of a half marathon before work, which is something Batman might do.

But it’s worth reading up on them.  I’ve taken them twice, and both times I ran 10km and didn’t collapse afterwards.  I’d never hit 10km before, so they clearly have their benefits but they’re not really for me.

IMG_2433SIGN UP, SIGN UP

I honestly would never have thought it, but there is a really special atmosphere at fun runs.  They’re great because they give you something to aim for, rather than running aimlessly through an empty chasm of quiet despair.

There are loads of websites that list runs near you.  Check out your local ones, like this one in Lindfield if you live in this part of the world.  I’m signed up for the Mother’s Day Classic which is a really fun event.  And this year I’m actually going to go, rather than hit snooze on my alarm and sleep through it, which is what I did last year.

So there you have it.  If you have any other tips, please add them below and I’d LOVE to hear of someone who gives it a go!

Our Summer

I left the blog on the saddest note in early December.

This was closely followed by one of the most beautiful summer holidays I’ve ever had.  Every effort was made to enjoy it – to marvel at the blue sky, to feel the sand under my feet, to hug and kiss the children to within an inch of their lives.  To step on Lego and not painfully scream about throwing the lot away, but to calmly say “Oh dash!” and praise my son’s building talents.

My brother and his husband visited from the US and it was a special time.  We held a celebratory wedding dinner for them – how could we not celebrate something so special?!  Life is too short not to.   It was a fabulous evening with family and I’m still buzzing from it.

_DSC0050

_DSC0033

Dad and James getting merry.

_DSC0104-001

Christmas was lovely, although I did end it slumped on the couch, dribbling slightly.  But it’s not often we have the family together and we did this year.   Everyone there was someone you truly know and love.  So you could make as many terrible jokes as you like.  (On a side note, I promised my friend Karin a reprisal of my old Christmas tree post.  Excuse the formatting!)

In January, we went to the south coast and stayed at a friend’s holiday house.  It was just for a few nights but I can honestly say, we had the best time I’d had in ages.  We spent the first night with our friends and had a ball together.  They then came back to Sydney, leaving the four of us to ourselves.  It was magical spending this time together.  Just us.  The beach couldn’t have been more perfect, the kids were in heaven and my husband was a champion as always.  I absolutely appreciated every second, and I could feel Tom doing the same.

IMG_3457

IMG_3490

No makeup selfie. Apparently these are really, really BRAVE.

IMG_3425

I now get why people love the south coast.  Except I’m still not over the whole “Hi, I’m a stingray, give me food” thing.  The stingray photos are on my husband’s phone, I’ll have to get them to show you one day.

Back in Sydney and to top the summer off, one of my great friends held the world’s most fun engagement party EVER – and got married at it.  Their wedding vows were punctuated by over 200 people cheering.  Sure it was partly the alcohol, but mostly out of sheer happiness for two great people in lurve.

mands wedding

Yes, we’re wearing nametags. But each one was a personalised conversation starter, for example, “Edwina – friend of Amanda’s – Ask me about when I set off the fire alarm!” I’d love to tell you that story one day, but I’ll have to check with Dwe first.

We’re just so lucky.  Lucky to live in Australia.  Lucky to have each other.  Lucky Ricky Martin is famous, otherwise we’d never have seen him.  Lucky to have such wonderful family and friends.  Lucky that my husband works near Haig’s chocolates in the CBD and he brings me loads of treats on his way home (HINT: I’d like more treats please).

And our new, replacement guinea pigs are still alive.  Result!

Anyway, this post is all a bit unexpected.  I actually sat down to write about jogging and how the right sports bra can actually make a non-runner like me into someone who actually goes for runs.  Or more accurately, really fast walks.

As February 2015 draws to a close, what are you grateful for?