Monthly Archives: September 2012

Striding Along

I haven’t been participating in ‘regular’ exercise for the past 4 years or more. I used to be really fit about 10 years ago due to having personal training 3 times a week and springboard diving training twice a week but what good is it to live off your glory years?

I participated in a group fitness thing for mum’s with strollers back in LA and realised that just because I have a baby/toddler in tow doesn’t mean I can’t work out and achieve the goals I want to achieve (like a body from my glory days… ok maybe I’m aiming to high after carrying a baby but I can dream!).

I compiled an email to send out to all the parents in Port Moresby Parent’s Group (a list of 100 or so parents) and to send to the Australian High Commission community- that’s one way to make sure you stick to your fitness goals!. I committed to doing it 3 days a week for 1 hour each morning but now I have just been chatting with another mum in the compound who doesn’t come due to work commitments and she would like me to do it on a Saturday too! Aparently there are a few mum’s who want to do it but can’t due to work so it looks like the idea is starting to take off 🙂

It took a while for people to jump on board. Many said they would like to join me but… and others simply felt it wasn’t for them. I was ok with this as I felt that by leaving it open for them to turn up only made me ‘have’ to turn up in case I was letting them down! haha!

After a few weeks I had my first fellow strider (FS) and we’ve been doing it together for 3 weeks now. My FS has now turned into 2 and another possible 2 on top of that! It is going really well and I have found that we push each other to just give it that extra go to achieve a moderate to high impact workout. We push our kids in their strollers around a circuit (approx 400m) at the bottom part of the compound before walking up the VERY steep hill within the compound a few times (that gets your heart going!). When our kids start to fall asleep or complain we stop and do squats, boxing, knee ups or something on the spot so the kids can have a break and look at each other. Then we set off again.

After we all say our goodbyes I usually head home, watch Playschool with BG, put her to bed and then start a 10 minute abs workout DVD (I can recommend a fantastic one for postnatal to get your muscle seperation back together- PM me or comment on this post for details) and a 45 minute Yoga DVD session.

I’m beginning to feel the difference! Last Friday I pushed it so hard for myself that I was on the verge of throwing up. I feel a little fitter and I’m pleased with the results I am already seeing. They say it takes a month to start a habit so I’m hoping this one sticks for many years to come. I definitely want to approach the next pregnancy much more differently, fitness-wise, than I did with my first (no I’m not pregnant but I’m starting the fitness planning early).

What have you done to get back into shape post-baby? If you don’t do anything… are you inspired?

Featured photograph is from dealsmagazine.com

Combatting Bullying in PNG

Earlier this year I attended a BBQ with my husband to watch one of the State of Origin Football matches. My husband, BG and I were the only expats there so we stood out like a sore thumb. Some of the kids were keen to engage me in conversation- probably because I was the ‘white lady’ haha.

Anyhow, a little girl of about 9 years old started to tell me about school and how she was being bullied by a boy in her class. We chatted about how bullying isn’t right but that it seems to be in every school. She went on to tell me that this boy, ‘had an operation when he was a baby and has a cut here…’ (she drew a line across her mid back towards her front which indicated to me it was probably his kidneys) ‘…and he has to go to the toilet a lot because of it…’ (yep! his kidneys!) ‘…we told the teacher he is being mean to us and she said…’

So this is where the punch line comes in but I’m not going to tell you just yet what the teacher said. At this point I began to wonder just how they might tackle bullying in PNG. Back in Australia, everyone has their opinions on how to tackle it and generally speaking, none of the theories seem to be sticking (except for the few triumphs here and there). It seems that with every step forward, there is also a few steps back. So I wondered… could PNG have a great example of how to deal with a bully and put an end to their disruptive behaviour?

The teacher responded with the following (this is word for word on what the girl told me)…

‘…she said, “Well next time he does it, you tell me so that next time he asks to go to the toilet I will tell him he cannot so that he will wet himself and you can laugh at him.’

Hmmm… somehow I don’t think PNG can offer a great solution just yet.

Featured image is thanks to the Holland Elementary School’s article on bullying.

Autobiography: An opening sentence

I saw a tweet yesterday from @plinkyprompts asking, ‘You’re writing your autobiography. What is your opening sentence?’ I thought this was a fun prompt for a blog.

Cheers to Life as I know it

My autobiography would have this photo or one like it. An autobiography would be a toast to ‘moi’ wouldn’t it?

I came up with the following options for my opening sentence:

  • I sang, I danced (terribly) and I came to realise that neither pays well… so I did other things instead.
  • The rollercoaster of life happens for us all… this is my rollercoaster.
  • Hello.
  • Thank you for reading this autobiography.
  • This is my story.
  • Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Cleaner, Teacher, Nurse, Knitter, Blogger.
  • From the crazy life to the mellow life, I’ve done it all. (This one probably sums it all up the best).

So what would you write as your opening sentence?

Dear Pebbles… For your 1st Birthday

                                BG blowing raspberries at the airport in August 2011

I am writing this just over a week after your birthday because I have struggled to put my thoughts into words. How do I express just how much I love you or how much you have changed my life?

Two weekends ago was your first birthday which also marked my first birthday of being your Mum. I knew that when you arrived life would change but I didn’t know how much you would change me… for the better.

You have brought so much happiness to my life that I feel like I am going to explode whenever you are around. When you are asleep I miss you. When you are awake and you smile or dance or do something incredibly cute or funny, I just fill up with joy.

You are a very funny girl and I think you already know that even though you can’t talk yet. Like the other day when I was washing up the dishes in my undies and you tried to use my undies to pull yourself up but they fell down instead. There I was stuck with my hands in the basin, with my undies around my knees and you started slapping my butt and giggling! I get the giggles just thinking about it.

I love looking at the world so differently- through your eyes. Going for walks takes so much longer but I don’t mind stopping to look at every flower, or waving goodbye to complete strangers- you have an art for finding all the wonders in this world.

You make cooking more interesting like the other day when we were making soup and I was cutting up all the veges. You tried to show me a much easier, faster way where we don’t cut up the veges and just put them whole and unpeeled into the saucepan… why didn’t I think of that? 😛

Baby Girl (or Pebbles, not Bam Bam anymore because your Dad cringed at that nickname- aparently Bam Bam is a boy)… you are such a joy to have in my life and so I wanted to say,

Happy Birthday gorgeous girl!

Love Mum xxx

P.S. Some things you might want to know one day:

  • 10th September 2011 – you took your first steps (4 of them!) at a friend’s house and then another 4 at home for Dad
  • The week of your birthday- you started walking for good
  • Your first word- this is a tough one because you said ‘Mumma’ and ‘Dad’ but don’t use them all that much (now I get ‘Me-me’ pronounced with an ‘e’ like the first e in ‘every’); you said ‘ball’ in July but then stopped saying it after a week; you said ‘Bup’ for ‘up’ from 24th September and you have said ‘Nam Nam’ when calling out for your cousin Jasmine just the one time in August 2011. So pinning down your first word is a tough one!
  • You had a dummy until you were 4 months
  • You started sleeping through (most nights) from about 5 months when we sleep trained you.
  • Your first sign was ‘milk’ and you started doing that at 10 months followed by ‘more’, ‘bath’ and ‘all done’ before you were 12 months.
  • Your favourite show is ‘Play School’ (but you loved ‘Signing Time’ for about 3 months at 4 months of age)
  • Your favourite food is ‘blueberries’ although you will eat ANYTHING (you little Italian)
  • Your favourite song is ‘My Body makes Music’ (I have a lot of fun with that one so thank you)
  • You have lots of friends but there are 2 in particular that you play with called Jesse and Emily.

Cake Balls

I’m sure you have all heard of Cake Pops, the cakes on a stick invented by Bakerella… well I’ve had a problem with these since I wanted to make them. I love the idea of Cake Pops and I love how cute they all look (if only I could make them look so gorgeous!) but…

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Isolation

It’s that time again… when we are about to get on the move to another posting. Next year we will begin a new life in Townsville, Far North Queensland. We have moved cities (the number of houses is another thing!) a total of 4 times in the past 5 years because of Daryl’s work.

There are pros and cons to moving all the time. You can start with a clean slate for each move for example, or you can run from the awkwardness that may have developed among friends. I usually try to focus on the positives and not get caught up in the negatives. It doesn’t do anyone any good. A great positive is that I have some great friends in each place that I keep in contact with regularly. I would never have met them if I hadn’t lived all over the place and that’s another positive… I have lived in some far off places that I would never have dreamed of living in and I have LOVED it.

The hardest thing about living such a nomadic life is that I have always found making friends with people a tough business. It is really difficult to infiltrate that inner circle. I often think I have and that I have some great friends again but only to discover that they don’t feel the same and I am merely an acquaintance in their eyes. Each time I feel gutted but most times I understand it. If you aren’t in need of friends, you don’t place as much importance on your new friends.

Why is it that women make it so hard for one another to get on the inside though? I have watched Daryl in each move and admittedly he usually has friends from ADFA (The Australian Defence Force Academy) or RMC (The Royal Military COllege) who are posted to each location (something I get incredibly jealous of) however he doesn’t seem to have trouble invading a mate’s circle of friends. That’s what it is for women isn’t it? Invading…

So that is my greatest challenge as a Defence wife and I am finding it a lot harder now that I am a SAHM.

I was given a choice a few months back by another mother over here. She told me, ‘You should get a Pikinini Meri (PM- nanny) because you will regret it if you don’t especially when you see all the fun us other Mum’s are having at all those lunches where kids aren’t invited.’

I trialled a PM and it went terribly. It was incredibly stressful watching someone care for my daughter to a standard well below what I believe is basic… maybe I just had bad luck or maybe my standards are set really high but then again I felt, ‘Why on earth do I need a PM when I do nothing at home anyhow?’ I had a Haus Meri (HM- cleaner) at the time so I wasn’t even cleaning my own home nor was I working! I figured the lunches were something I was willing to sacrifice and to this day I know I made the right choice for both BG and I BUT it has certainly put me on the outter edge of the circle and some days that is just plain lonely…

But alas… I start again in 12 weeks don’t I? And that’s the positive I am going to focus on…

(not the fact I just started a sentence with ‘and’ for the very first time in my life… the perfectionist in me wants to rub it out now! OMG!)

Irresponsible Parenting

Thats my daughter driving the car with her Dad at only 11 months. That is what we do here (PNG)… Ok no it isn’t (we set this pic up) BUT we often have her on our laps especially at night and only sometimes in the day. You see PNG isn’t just the land ‘where anything can happen’ (according to the International media), it is also the land of ‘no rules’ or ‘rules are merely a suggestion’.

Now before you all start telling me I AM irresponsible, my reasons are fair and are carefully weighed up chances. I learned all about this when working as a nurse. Here’s a hypothetical scenario… Mr. Smith has cancer and has a 40% chance of survival. He needs to have medication X in order to have a chance of surviving BUT this medication has a 90% chance of giving him Kidney Failure. Do we A) give it to him?; B) try another cancer drug?; or C) give up and tell him he is going to die regardless? The answer is A peoples! We just give it to him and deal with the other issues IF they arise. You see it is all about calculated RISK.

How does this relate to my hubby and I not using the perfectly fine car seat for BG?

Well depending on the time of day over, we will decide if we should put her in the car seat or not. If it is during the day and we aren’t headed anywhere dodgy, we will stick her in the car seat. If it is night time (and we rarely go out at night anyhow) then we will have her on my lap as hubby drives.

Why?

The rate of car jackings increases at night and areas around our compound are ‘hot spots’. We don’t want to be messing about with the car seat buckle under the pressure of a carjacking experience. It is my biggest fear that I won’t get BG out in time. The chances of a car accident are a lot less than being car jacked at those times.

So now that I have made it sound really dangerous… You can actually go out without being carjacked, you just have to be aware of the risks and the potential that you can be carjacked particularly at certain times of the day. If it’s raining for example, you will more than likely be ok 🙂

Home-made Shepherd’s Pie


This is another recipe that I had at my sister’s place. When I asked her for the recipe, she sent me 2 recipes with a note saying, ‘I mix these two up’. I loved her approach because I prefer to use recipes as a guide only whenever I can so that I can make it up to my taste AND then I have a recipe I can claim is all mine (evil laugh).

BG loves it too by the way…

Do you have a meal you have made up from a few recipes combined?

I have now made this twice in the past 2 weeks as it is super easy and super delicious.

Ingredients

400g mince (beef or lamb or both)
Butter (enough to sweat the veges)
1 medium brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 carrot, cut into 1cm pieces
broccoli, cut into 1cm pieces (put in as much as you like but I match it in quantity to the carrot)
500mL beef stock
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 tbsp thyme, chopped
1/2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp corn flour, mixed with 1 tbsp water to make a paste

The Potato Top
3 potatoes, skinned and cut into 2cm pieces
butter to taste
milk (enough to get your mashed potato wet but still able to hold itself)
50g Tasty Cheese, grated

Method

1. Turn on oven griller (if yours takes a while to get to a high heat).
2. Put the potatoes on to boil.
3. Melt the butter in a fry pan and add the onion and carrot. Cook until onion is almost translucent.
4. Add the broccoli to the pan and fry for a further 2 mins.
5. Add the meat and brown (try to separate the meat so that it cooks into small minced pieces).
6. Once the meat has been browned, add the beef stock, thyme and rosemary and simmer until the liquid halves.
7. Check your potatoes and if ready, remove from boil and drain.
8. Add the corn, peas and corn flour paste to the meat mix and stir thoroughly (the corn flour is supposed to slighty thicken the remaining stock like a gravy so keep stirring until you have the consistency you want).
9. Mash your potatoes while adding the butter and milk slowly until you have the right consistency.
10. Transfer the meat to an oven proof pie dish put potato mash on top and then the grated cheese (spread evenly over top).
11. Put the pie under the grill until the cheese has melted and turned golden in parts.
12. Serve (with salad).

Note:
You can put just about any vegetable into this and mine ends up half veges and half meat. I have put zucchini in my pie as well. It’s a great way to increase the vege intake for your kids.

My Little Helper

On Saturday I decided I needed to get on top of things again. The house wasn’t too bad but when I feel good I need to take advantage of it and I felt good because I had finally slept like a log (literally… I didn’t move) the night before. Daryl even let me sleep in until 9am because he realised I was gone when I didn’t even flinch at the first sound of BG calling out in her bed.

Daryl had a Uni assignment to finish so he locked himself away in the study while I carried on with the day with BG.

I’ve recently noticed that BG is becoming more and more interested in getting involved in what I am doing. For example she hates the vacuum but if I am vacuuming she will keep a distance but follow me around while pushing her little bumble bee and yelling at the vacuum (yes, I contend with the loud noise of the vacuum as well as BG’s ARGH’s… it’s torture). Another thing she has started doing is insisting on being lifted up so she can see what I am doing on the bench. This usually results in her being placed in her bumbo while I chop veges and hand some to her to try. It’s quite nice actually.

So back to the point…

On Saturday I was doing some washing and BG insisted on joining me in the laundry. She NEVER goes into the laundry with me but on this particular occassion she insisted. I started to load some towels into the dryer and next thing she is there ‘helping’. It was all very cute and I think I will let her do it again because she had a really good time!

What do you let your kids help with?

Here’s some pics of her learning how to fill up the dryer, close the door and start it (ok, not start it… that would make me irresponsible wouldn’t it?)…

Putting the clothes in…

Right… there’s a door and I’m sick of trying to get these damned clothes in when they won’t go in!

I’m gonna see if I can just shut it anyhow…

Tandoori Puffs

Last Saturday I was able to do the shopping all on my own while BG napped and Daryl did his Uni assignment. Before I went I made up a shopping list as I usually do to match the meals I have planned for the week.

I feel like our culinary experiments have waned lately and I really enjoy trying new meals in the kitchen. As a result, I went to my usual online recipe diectory for some inspiration. As a result there are a few things I am going to try this week but on Saturday night, we tried the Tandoori Puffs. They were absolutely delicious and we were gland there were left overs for lunch the next day.

I made changes to the recipe while I made it by adding onion and changing how the chickeis cooked because it called for the chicken to be cooked in the microwave – gross! This would be good if you were time poor however I’m personally not a fan. I won’t judge you for doing it though 🙂

Ingredients
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1cm pieces
2 tbsp tandoori paste
1/2 medium onion, thinly chopped
4 sheets frozen puff pastry, half defrosted
1 tbsp milk

Tzatziki
2 tbsp Greek Yoghurt
2cm piece of cucumber, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
mint, chopped (optional)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 220C.
2. Mix the cut chicken breasts, chopped onion and tandoori paste in a bowl and cook in a non-stick fry pan until chicken is cooked through. Put aside.
3. Cut each of the pastry sheets into 4 squares of equal size and then layer the 4 squares on top of each other. You should have 4 layered squares (4 serves) when you are finished.
4. Spoon the chicken mix into the centre of the squares and brush the edges with milk.
5. Place squares with chicken into the oven for 20 mins or until the pastry is puffed and golden on the edges.
6. To make Tzatziki, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and set to the side (in the refrigerator).
7. When the squares are ready, remove from oven and serve with a dollop of Tzatziki in the middle of the puff.