Monthly Archives: June 2012

Blueberry Chia Muffins

This weekend my husband is away in the Southern Highlands of PNG. The elections started this weekend so he is up there doing… well, something but considering I am not very good at remembering much related to Defence (other than what effects me directly), I can’t actually say I know exactly what he is doing up there. This probably makes me the ideal Defence wife as I can’t say anything I shouldn’t say because, quite frankly, I have no friggin’ idea! Sometimes to sound like I do know what I am talking about, I will throw in an acronym (because Defence is full of them!) as if I use it all the time and know what it stands for. Totally fools most people but I quickly change the subject when asked to translate said acronym.

So what does that have to do with Blueberry Chia Muffins? Nothing. He’s away so I’m baking 🙂

Anywhos… I have had a fair bit of time on my hands due to hubby being away and I obviously made a VERY strong coffee this morning as I am feeling wired!!! So I have had the energy to look after bubby, cook up some fruit purees for her, wash up dishes, do 2 loads of washing and bake.

If you read my previous post where I talk about Quinoa (and baby food), you will know that I am really into superfoods/grains and incorporating them into as many meals as possible. Well… have I got a little something for you! CHIA.

The lovely chia seeds are full of all things good. They are a complete protein, have omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fibre. Chia also keeps you full for much longer due to it holding more water resulting in a slow release of energy, reducing cravings and keeping your blood sugars stable. What’s not to like about that?

Here are a few sites I’d like to recommend if you are after any more reasons to eat Chia:

I have been checking out The Chia Company which explains the goodness of Chia and also has bit on chia in pregnancy as well as introducing it to your baby from 4-6 months. I buy my chia from there (it’s organic) and have actually visited the Chia farms in the Kimberly 2 years ago so I think it is pretty special.

Another site I want to bring your attention to is Miranda Kerr’s website which features a great blog on 5 reasons to eat chia everyday which coincidently was written by a guest blogger- the founder of The Chia Company (no I am not getting anything for these endorsements! haha!)

What do you add Chia to?

So I’ll get to the recipe already!

The recipe is inspired by Robyn Webb, a foodie, and can be found here. I didn’t change a lot of it to be honest but I did change a few things!

Blueberry Chia Muffins

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup Quinoa Flour
3 tbsp Black Chia Seeds
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ tsp salt
½ cup sour cream
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup frozen blueberries (or more if you like)

Method
1. Heat oven to 180 Celsuis and grease a 12 cup muffin tray.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
3. In another bowl, combine the plain and quinoa flours, chia seeds, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest and salt.
4. In yet another bowl, mix the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla.
5. Add the flour and sour cream mixtures alternately to the sugar, butter and egg mixture. Mix these until just blended.
6. Fold in the blueberries.
7. Divide the batter up into your muffin tray and cook for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
8. Let muffins cool for 5 mins before removing them from the tray.
9. Eat away!

Notes:
1. I only had salted cooking butter so instead of ¼ tsp of salt, I only added 1/8 tsp of salt.
2. If you don’t have Quinoa Flour, just do 1 1/3 cup plain flour like in Robyn’s recipe, but Quinoa flour makes them moister and in my opinion, more yummy.
3. You can use Greek yoghurt instead of the sour cream if you wish

I hadn’t planned on letting BG eat these however she gave me no choice when I sat her near them so she could watch me put them away (after all, I baked these with her attached to me in the carrier so she could ‘join in’). She poked one and then snapped it up and started devouring it. She loved it but it made a HUGE mess!

My carjacking experience

What a day I had yesterday! I returned to work after a month off, Daryl fired the Haus Meri (yes that’s right! Woo hoo!!!!) and on my way back from work I watched an armed carjacking unfold. To say I was shaken is an understatement. The feeling of powerlessness and anger as a result of watching and speeding off is overwhelming even though I did everything I have been told to do! All I’ve done is play the scenario over and over for the last 24 hours wondering what could have been if this or that was to have happened. I have decided that writing this blog is going to be some sort of therapy whereby I can write it all out and release it… so to speak.

Since March this year, the main freeway (the Poreporeina) has been getting some major road works done. Part of the road collapsed where a stream that turns into a river in heavy rain goes under. There was torrential rain (not uncommon in the tropics) and the stream rose and essentially took half of the road with it. They have been working on it ever since. First they closed the whole road down causing absolute chaos on the roads around PM but then about a week later they opened one side.

The Poreporeina is a double lane freeway with both directions separated by a wide median strip with trees spaced every few meters and surrounded by concrete walls acting as large flower pots in the middle.

So ensure that cars can go both ways, they have concreted over part of the median strip to essentially make a driveway for cars to cross over, avoid the road works on one side and then cross back over again.

I have drawn a diagram for you which will hopefully help you to picture it a bit better:

Just a little note, the position of my car is where I was when the carjackers stopped their car (so when the actual carjacking started). By the time I was next to them, they were pulling out the gun.

How it panned out…

I was coming home around 12.30pm from the Australian High Commission Medical Clinic which is located on the airport side of the road works so I was heading towards Konedobu. As I was approaching the road works, I noticed a car on the other side just suddenly stop. Out loud, I said frustratedly, ‘What the hell is that person doing?’ As I said this, I was still moving slowly and saw 4 guys get out of the car with gangster-like attitude. The car immediately behind them began frantically reversing and trying to edge their way out… somewhere. It was obvious they were packing it and desperately seeking a way out. It was when I saw this car (the carjackee) that I realised what was happening. Just as my window was next to the thugs, they pulled a gun (I have circled the gunman on my map). I floored it.

I was very shakey and immediately grabbed my radio to make a call to security but luckily realised that wasn’t a good idea because they would think I was being carjacked and would send a response vehicle so I found my phone and phoned security instead. Frantically I told them what was happening at THIS MINUTE!!!

After phoning security I phoned Daryl to make sure he wasn’t in the area too. Then I just started thinking about it more and more.

I wish I had been able to do something. What would I have done if I was being car jacked there? What exit points are available? None. I’d have to surrender most likely and then I worry… What if they try to rape me? I hear about those stories from time to time. Oh shit! What if I had BG with me? That really scares me. It makes me feel nauseous thinking of that scenario.

This morning I woke and immediately thought about it again getting pissed that I couldn’t do anything to stop these bastards from putting someone through such a traumatic event (I’m talking about the carjackee, not me). I realised that I could have rammed them with my car! If only I’d turned right, squishing the two on my side between my car and theirs and kept going so I could knock the other two over too! I had the speed because no one was in my way on my side. I would have gotten a really good run up on them and they wouldn’t have known what hit them! I wish I thought quick enough and f@#ked them over like that. Sorry about the language… I’m just so mad that I was powerless. Besides, who knows if the concreted barrels would have slowed me too much or not AND stuffed up my car so much that I couldn’t make my quick get away after at least making them wet themselves.

Who knows what vigilantes would have worked or not? I guess that’s why I am advised to just keep driving… FAST!

*Addition (since writing this blog this morning): I just went out with Daryl and we drove through the spot again… looking at it, ramming them most likely wouldn’t have worked. The drums between me and the carjackers have big blocks of concrete that my car would not have gotten through or over. It looks like my only option was to ignore it, hope the person got out physically unharmed (and mentally I suppose) and drive on. It is the perfect spot for carjackers and now I am an advocate for no trees on median strips. Keeping them bare, despite not being as nice on the eyes, should be a priority in PNG so that people can always mount the curb and drive out of there. Exit points people!*

Well anyhow, that was my experience of a carjacking first hand. It makes me mad hearing about them, now I’m real mad having watched one. I don’t really want to go out anymore although I know that isn’t a good solution. I’ll go batty staying in the compound 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. I wanted out of this country immediately after it happened and started planning a trip back to OZ for the weekend but have decided that would be a bad idea because I might not come back. Hopefully I will forget about it in a few weeks or at the very least the memory will be fuzzy and distant…

Have you had a scarey experience overseas? If so, what happened?

Now that’s off my chest… I can revel in the fact that my HM is GONE GONE GONE!!!! Woo hoo!!!

P.S. Apparently she told Julie’s HM, Susan, not to suggest her cousin to me because I told her I wanted to find one on my own. I told Susan that was a lie so her cousin will come in a month and Susan will continue coming here twice a week in the mean time and then hand over to her cousin with a training day and everything… things are looking up! 🙂

To Knit Up (a neckband)… or not

I mentioned in a previous post how I had knitted a jumper for my daughter and was (mostly) pleased with the result.

One part I really got stuck on was the neckband because I found the pattern so confusing in its explanation. This is the beginning of what it said and where I got stuck for weeks:

’With right side facing, using 2.75mm needles and M, knit up…’

To my dismay I found myself asking, ‘What the hell is ‘knit up’!?!’ I began searching the Internet for some information on it but to no avail. I looked through my kindle knitting books for ‘knit up’ but to no avail. I watched You Tube videos on making a neckband but to no avail. I searched through my knitting encyclopaedia but to no avail. I was at my wits end. The jumper was going to be neckless at this rate and maybe just maybe (dare I say it?)… I’m not the professional I once thought I was! *gasp*

The jumper sat on the to-do list for over a week after this until I decided to take it to the hairdressers and come hell or high water, it was going to be done even if I had to improvise! I took the pattern (‘Great lot of good this ‘knit up’ crappy crap pattern will be!’ I thought to myself) with me and sat in the chair that Richard, my new hairdresser, used. For over an hour I started, unpicked and started again on this… this… neckband. I don’t know why it took me over a week and approximately 10 restarts on the neckband to think of it but it suddenly occurred to me that the pattern book would most likely explain itself considering it was a book for BEGINNERS (that’s right, the up-and-coming-but-not-yet-professionals, professionals… moi). I opened the book to the end and alas! There it was! A perfectly good explanation of what ‘knit up’ meant with pictures! Oh how I love pictures! So here is the explanation of knit up from the back of the book for those of you following the same quest I embarked on for over a week only to find the answer was right under my nose… a few pages on. Hands up if you googled, ‘What (on earth) does “knit up” mean?!?’

My first knitting creation

I completed my very first ‘real’ knitting project the other day. I am so excited about it! In the past I have knitted squares to make blankets for the Special Care Nursery at POM General Hospital however I had never actually put the blankets together because I was handing the squares over to another lady who was gathering them all to make them up. They look great but I can’t really say I made them, I just contributed.

So my ‘real’ knitting project was a jumper for BG. I started it in December 2012 when we decided we would be going to Canada for Christmas this year (which probably isn’t happening now… I’m so upset about it). I continued to make the jumper despite the decision not to go to Canada as I thought we would probably head back to Australia during the winter months at some point. Now it looks like that won’t be happening either so now I’ve just finished it for the next baby we have (no I am not pregnant!). Someone will eventually wear it surely! If not I suppose I could attempt to sell it? 100% Merino wool is pretty hard to get cheap and after all I am a pretty awesome knitter as you are about to find out 😛

This is BG wearing the jumper without the buttons sewn on yet:

When I chose the wool for the jumper, I felt like I was all professional (or an old hand at knitting) as I went about doing all the things I’d read you are supposed to do. Match the wool brand. Check! Gather the required number of hanks/skeins/balls to complete the project in the size you have chosen. Check! Match the dye lots on all hanks/skeins/balls. Check! – OR SO I THOUGHT!!! Remind me never to go shopping for wool on my own just days after a general anaesthetic.

I started with the back of the jumper and ran out of wool about four fifths of the way up so I joined a new one and continued. I was super pleased with myself as I had joined them without any trouble and was so cocky I felt I could tackle anything! Daryl wants a jumper? No problem! BG wants a new stuffed toy? No problem! Oh what about some couch cushions!?! No problem! Why don’t I add a fancy detail while I’m at it then? No problem! Haha!

A few weeks later I took my almost-finished-back-panel to a friend’s house only to find in the white light that my white wool was white up to where I had joined the off-white wool! ARGH!!! I’d stuffed it up already! How on earth could I have cross checked dye lots as being the same when the dye was in fact a DIFFERENT color!?! Typical Brooke error- I can be so blonde sometimes.

I continued with my jumper of varying shades of white despite this hiccup because after all I was a professional now that I had flawlessly joined a new ball (sarcasm intended). Once again, my confidence bloomed as I finished the back, front, two sleeves, and the neckband after some trouble.

Before you start wondering what I’m going to do about the varying shades of white on the jumper… I have some red dye that I am going to use to dye it red, obviously.

Now for my next project!

Getting an Internet connection in PNG

I missed playgroup today at the last minute. I was just about to get ready for it when I received a phone call from a guy about my prepaid internet connection. It hasn’t been working since February and to say that I have found it frustrating is an understatement! I filed a fault with at the end of March because we were back in Australia twice that month. If I filed it before this and they tried to come and fix it but we weren’t home, I figured they would give up and assume I didn’t need it fixed. So I filed the job a month later than when it became faulty.

Actually I phoned in February to find out what was going on with my Internet as I had heard that most people in the compound with the same plan were having the same issues. When I phoned to find out what the problem was, they told me that they had people working on it. I asked them how long they expected the problem to continue as I felt like my arm had been cut off… how on earth am I going to fill my days if I can’t stalk everyone on Facebook? The response? This is word for word, I kid you not…

”Well… um… it depends on how they work.”

I really wanted to scream down the phone, ‘Are you f@#king kidding? Of course it depends on how they work!!! Did they even turn up for work today?’ BUT I didn’t say that. Instead I just said, ‘Right… sure. Whatever. Bye.’ Then I phoned Daryl and told him he must come home with a Digicel Dongle (USB Internet modem) or I wasn’t letting him in the house. So he did and that is what I have been using since.

I found out from someone else in the compound that they had been told that they were changing the cables to fiberoptics for better service but neglected to tell their customers about the interruptions. Then I found out that the modems they provide us aren’t compatible with fiberoptics but they weren’t exactly going to tell us that. It was up to us to report a fault. I’m no computer wizz though so I have no idea if any of that is even possible. Regardless, my Internet wasn’t working and I wanted it fixed so I reported a fault about a week later.

Two weeks after my report, they came around to fix it. They fixed it… sort of. My browser would only open Google search so unless I wanted to entertain myself by doing random searches and trying to guess how fast Google could find my answer and with how many pages, I had to call them again to report yet another fault. Back to my dongle I went.

It took me over a month to get through to the right person because every time I phoned the number (3456789- very easy to remember so I couldn’t get it wrong!) I would go to some switch. After explaining my problem to her, she would say, ‘O.K. (said very slowly). Um Maam, you need to call the faults. The number is 3456789.’ I would politely explain that I had in fact called that number and had come to her so she needed to redirect my call. She would respond, ‘O.K. (said very slowly). Um Maam, you have a fault problem with your modem so you need to call the faults number. That number is 3456789.’ Again I would explain that I had however at this point I was getting frustrated but still managed to be polite. Again, she replied with the faults number. Needless to say I gave up and attempted again another day. This continued for another couple of weeks.

I begged Daryl to physically go into Telikom however he couldn’t understand why I was so desperate when I had a dongle. I was so desperate because my iPad is only WiFi and I needed the WiFi to be up and running so I could waste time on that too! Seriously! He just doesn’t get it 😛

A few weeks later, I phoned the number again expecting the same problem of going around in circles. This time I got through, pressed 1 for faults to be directed to the right person. Woo hoo! I was on my way! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP! They hung up on me!!! So I tried again. Same thing. I tried again and again but got the same thing. I was pissed to say the very least.

I phoned the ‘old’ reporting number, 1255 to chat to the lovely lady on the switch. Again she told me to call faults on 3456789 and it took me 20 minutes to explain that I had BUT THEY KEEP HANGING UP ON ME!!!! *Brooke screams* In the end I told her, ‘No dammit! You get THEM to call ME!!!’ Eventually she just brushed me off with a ‘yes, ok’ and I knew it was a lie.

After 2 weeks of getting hung up on, I FINALLY made it through. I reported the fault and celebrated with champagnes all round! Ok maybe not like that but I definitely did a happy dance!

Another 2 weeks went by and I heard nothing. I phoned to check what was happening and the lady told me, ‘Um Maam… we don’t have a fault report for your account.’

LJOIHNUEKN*BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP*ALGKHGIORTHKLHELKAE!!!!!!!!!!

‘Ok. Well I suppose I better log ANOTHER one with you this time.’ So I logged another report which brings me to today…

So you can see I had to miss playgroup as soon as they said they were coming. It was a matter of missing out on playgroup or waiting until December to have it fixed and I’m leaving in December!

Breastfeeding and Mirena

I’m not one to promote bottle feeding, after all I am a neonatal nurse and as a result, it is part of my job description to encourage breastfeeding where possible. Regardless of this, I have always tried to take a balanced approach with the mother’s I have dealt with especially considering I hadn’t had any children (and therefore hadn’t experienced the challenges that breastfeeding can pose) I didn’t feel I was in a position to be preaching to them. To be honest, now that I have had a baby and experienced the challenges, I still don’t think I can preach to them. All I can do is explain the benefits of breastfeeding, be honest about it being a tough journey (that in theory should get easier but for some this isn’t the case), and that help is there when and if they need it.

In Australia, we are very lucky because we have a 24 hour telephone support service we can call on and we have breastfeeding counsellors and lactation consultants (LC) (for more info on these two roles, click here) at the ready to help us out if we are ready to throw in the towel.

I think LC’s are far more knowledgeable than any Doctor out there when it comes to breastfeeding. They are the experts. I should know. I wanted to get my LC certification at one point (it is still a dream among many) so that I could offer the very best advice and support to the mothers in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). When I looked into the course, I had to complete a huge number of hours of breastfeeding coaching to mothers before I could even take part in the further learning. After completing the course, I would then have to pass (with a minimum 80% if I remember correctly) the LC exam in order to achieve the recognition. THEN each year I would need to prove to the board that I had continued with updating my knowledge on the latest research around breastfeeding so in a sense, the learning would never stop. So LC’s are definitely the experts.

So anyway this brings me to my experience with breastfeeding. Don’t worry, if you are male and reading this firstly I want to congratulate you for getting this far without being turned off! If you are sitting there thinking, ‘Oh no… Don’t talk about boobs in this light! It completely ruins my perspective of how sexy they are!’ Well then don’t worry because I have no plans on talking about boobs… just uteruses and contraception… now I’ve lost you haven’t I? Bahahaha!!!

So my experience with breastfeeding was great to start off with. After BG was born I allowed nature to take its course by holding her on my chest and she found her own way to the breast. It is amazing if you have never seen it, the baby actually knows where to go and will wriggle their own way there. So anyhow, my milk came in within 36 hours (which is fast) and everything was fine and dandy.

For the next 6 weeks supply was up, baby was happy and I was happy – really enjoying the bonding too. At the 6 week mark I went back to my OBGYN for my last check up before heading back to PNG where the support is non-existent. In this meeting we discussed contraception and since I had previously had Mirena (Intrauterine Device or IUD) and found it to be suitable for me, I asked her if I could have that. She almost leaped with joy and replied, ‘Oh I would really love it if I could send you back to PNG with that because then I KNOW you won’t fall pregnant due to supply of contraception issues. It gives good cover and did I mention you cannot fall pregnant for 12 months because of your caesarean?’ So that was it, I got my IUD right there and then and from that moment on my milk supply decreased and decreased until I wasn’t making enough to even get a 20mL feed (and BG required roughly 120-150mL per feed).

I didn’t make the connection that my milk supply was possibly lowering to non-existence because of this until about 6 weeks ago when a friend contacted me to ask if I had ‘noticed’ the correlation as she was currently experiencing it. I was so frustrated when I realised that this was probably the problem because I felt that I had not been properly informed of the effects that Mirena could have on breast milk supply. Had I been told I wouldn’t have agreed to the Mirena and instead would have gone with an alternative.

For so long I had wondered why all my efforts were making no difference. I had started getting up at 3am again just to express to stimulate milk production; I fed 2 hourly to stimulate milk production; I took Fenugreek tablets; drank Fenugreek tea (some women claim it helps but there is no scientific studies that prove it); I had warm showers to encourage let down prior to feeding; I ate well; I drank lots of water; I slept when BG slept to ensure I was well rested; I manually expressed; I expressed with an electric pump and tried various settings; but it was all in vain! I cried and cried every second day when I could see that it was getting worse and I couldn’t meet BG’s needs. I hated that I was losing the battle. I just couldn’t work out what the problem was. I kept asking myself, ‘Why was everything ok until I got to PNG? Why am I the only woman in my family to have this problem? My mother had oversupply issues for goodness sake!’

When BG was 6 months I had been breastfeeding and complimentary feeding (topping up with bottles) but was still determined to try and get to my goal of breastfeeding for 12 months. In hindsight, who was I kidding? I was working against the IUD!!! Anyhow I went to the GP at the Aussie High Commission here and he agreed to let me try medication to get my supply back up even though he felt I had done enough and made it to 6 months which is the minimum recommended. I went on Maxolon (Metoclopramide) 3 times a day and my supply went up within a day! I was sooooo excited even though it still hadn’t come up enough to remove the complimentary feeds all together.

After 2 weeks of the Maxolon I started to have dizzy spells all the time. I was a bridesmaid for a friend during this time and was so embarrassed after the ceremony that I asked my husband if I looked drunk walking down the aisle because I was having a dizzy spell as I walked down it and felt as though I almost lost my balance. He assures me it wasn’t noticeable but I still cringe at the thought! Anyhow long story short (sort of), I had to go off the Maxolon because it was lowering my already low blood pressure to worrying depths (70/50 for those of you who understand it).

My battle had been lost and I was devastated.

So after my battle, would I still encourage breastfeeding over bottle feeding? Hell yes!!! Despite my emotional ups and downs, I would definitely recommend everyone really gives it a go and I mean really really invests their time and effort into it. It is by far the best for your baby and you (it has been proven to reduce your risk of breast cancer).

The moral of my story is… double check all your medications with your LC including those that you wouldn’t consider a problem because EVERYONE takes it or something similar. I’m still trying to find some scientific evidence that Mirena does this however a quick google search brought up claims from MANY women experiencing the same effect I had and that’s enough for me. Next time I will not be getting the Mirena until my breastfeeding days are done- that will surely tell me if it was the Mirena or not.

Buk Bilong Pikinini Teddy Bear’s Picnic

Last Sunday we went to the Buk Bilong Pikinini (LIT: Books that belong to children) Teddy Bear’s Picnic at the Port Moresby Botanical Gardens. It was a lovely day sitting out on the lawns of the gardens, watching the kids play and looking at the mini zoo they have there.

The night before I put a lot of thought into what we would dress Oo OO (BG’s gorilla) in for his modelling debut at the picnic. I had high hopes! First I dressed him in a pink onesie that read, ‘I’d rather be naked’- I at least thought it was funny but I suppose small things always amuse me. Daryl suggested it wasn’t that funny. So I decided to go for an 80s look and of course, he HAD to demonstrate a sun smart attitude and wear a hat. Oh! He also wore a nappy because I would hate for him to have had an accident in public… no one likes a wet gorilla! So I got into this a little too much maybe but as I said… small things…

The morning of the picnic I brought BG down for her bottle which she always has with Oo Oo. As soon as she saw him, she cracked up laughing! It was so funny watching her find it hilarious that Oo Oo was dressed up when really he shouldn’t be. I still chuckle.

We left our compound in convoy with others who were attending the picnic and arrived just in time to secure one of the last car parking spaces. When we got inside, we set up our picnic blanket and enjoyed a relatively relaxing morning with our new friends, Karen, Chris and E (the baby) as well as Jacinta and her family.

Brooke & BGrelaxing on the picnic blanket

We were in prime position to watch all the kids cheat in the sack races and golf ball and spoon races. I loved it! Watching one kid put his feet through the bottom of the sack and run instead was priceless- again… small things…

The most enjoyable part of the day however was watching E and BG become more and more familiar with one another and steal one anothers toys 🙂

Here is E and BG with each other’s teddy bear…

E with Oo Oo and BG with Soft Bear… kind of