When he is a little bit older...

My new blogging friend Lisa recently wrote this post about the things she'd like to be doing in 2020 when her children are older and she can finally "reclaim her life back". It was a really fun post to read and chuckled hard at quite a few things on her list ("Wiping ONLY her butt", for example). So I thought I would make a little list of my own so I have something to look forward to in say, ten years time?!
1. Reclaim my pre-pregnancy wardrobe. Even though I can fit into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes now, I'm still staying away from my lovely silks, cashmeres, and other delicate fabrics. There's not a single day that goes past where I'm not covered in some sort of gunk - food, mud, garden stains etc, so I'm only wearing machine washable clothes for now. I really look forward to the day when I can wear silk dresses and towering high heels again!

2. Buy the car of my dreams. Early last year, about a month before I found out I was pregnant, I nearly bought a new car - it was a black sedan with creamy leather interior. It looked incredibly elegant and was most certainly the car of my dreams. But Stu reminded me that even though it looked great, the cream interior was not going stay clean once we have children. He's right of course and I'm glad I ended up buying a more practical car instead. But once Alexander is older, I'm getting that car of my dreams.

3. Go on a romantic holiday in Tahiti. About a GAZILLION years ago, Stu and I honeymooned in The Maldives and I really really want to relive the experience but somewhere closer to home - Tahiti. We will stay in one of those gorgeous overwater bungalows so we can jump in the water whenever we like and be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves. This is probably quite sad but I've been spending way too much time browsing Tahiti holidays online and can almost smell the salty sea air from my computer screen. According to this little quiz by Travel Associates, I'm a Romantic Tahiti and it's good to know there will be a romantic holiday filled with love and relaxation in store for me.

4. Host dinner parties. Once upon a time, Stu and I loved hosting dinner parties where the food came in elegant courses and the wine kept sloshing till late at night. These days we've traded that for more family friendly barbeques and outdoor lunches. Don't get me wrong, -I love these outdoor fun filled parties too. They're great fun but I think at some point, it'll be nice to not have to chase kids around and be able to put the fine china, silverware and crystal glassware to good use again.

5. Enrol in a creative course. The top three courses I have in mind are floristry, pottery and letterpress. But I hope to be able to eventually do all three in this lifetime. These are the things I regret not doing before baby came along and I know I won't find time for them for a little while. It'll be nice to do something creative and make beautiful things with my own bare hands.

One year

How did this happen?!

Everyone told me it would go quickly but it still astonishes me how swiftly the past year has flown past. I can't hardly believe that the bright red, wailing baby who emerged from my womb a year ago has now grown into this cheeky little boy.

Both Stu and I wanted Alexander to spend his birthday with the people who loved him the most so we invited his Nanna and Granddad to join us for lunch and some birthday cake. It was a fun, special and intimate celebration. The birthday boy lapped up all the attention, had fun tearing the wrapper paper off his presents, wasn't too sure about the candle but LOVED his first taste of ice cream cake.
the magical first taste of ice cream cake
Thank you for being with me through my motherhood journey, for indulging me as I rattle on about my boy, for your kind words and encouragement from when I struggled with my new responsibilities to when I finally landed on my own two feet. I'm still learning everyday about how to be the best mum that I can be.

PS: The night of his birthday, I lay in bed thinking about that night when he was born; he was so tiny as I cradled him in my arms for his first feed. I started to feel all warm, fuzzy and a wee bit clucky when I suddenly recalled the shock I felt when a mere two hours later, the nurse woke me up for another feed! And then another! And then another! Oh the horror of those first few months of sleepless nights. That's when I shuddered and realised I'm so not ready for another baby just yet! So (in case you're wondering) for a little while at least, Alexander will still be my one and only.

PSS: Alexander's journey from birth to now and my recipe for ice cream cake

Ways to cut down on household expenses

Thank you for your encouraging comments on my last post. I knew that being a stay a home mum is the right decision for me but it is nevertheless, nice to have support. The thing that scared me the most was losing my salary. Stu and I always had two incomes and we had become accustomed to a certain lifestyle.

These days, I've learnt to live and spend differently; I'm not spending money on lunches, coffee, banana bread, after work drinks at work anymore. Nor do I need to constantly update my wardrobe because let's face it, there's hardly a need to get dressed up at the playground. I've also figured out a few ways to cut down on household expenses which I'll share with you today...
something new growing in the vegetable patch
1. Grow an edible garden. How many times have you had to buy a whole bunch of herbs only to use say, five leaves? I still have a long way to go before I can finally have the edible garden of my dreams, but my little vegetable patch is a good start, I think. I love the ease of being able to gather my own vegetables, fruits and herbs from the garden and create dishes with them. For ideas and inspiration, do check out my "From garden to kitchen" series.

2. Menu planning/ bulk buy groceries. It's usually cheaper to buy groceries in bulk but it requires careful menu planning to ensure there is no wastage. I plan my menu two weeks in advance, make a list and stick to it. I also try to bulk buy meat and items that I use lots of (such as pasta and rice). With the meat, I divide into portions to freeze for later use. Or sometimes, I buy and cook in bulk, then freeze individual portions for reheating later.

3. Clever cooking. There are many clever ways to do this, such as cooking with broccoli florets and stems, or using bones and vegetable scraps to make stock, or using lemon zest for flavoring in cakes and seafood pasta. I also have a few "leftover meal" recipes which allows me to make an entire meals our of whatever is left in the fridge and cupboard (a stray tomato, some mushrooms, a couple of eggs and the odd potato makes an excellent frittata, for example).

4. Cold laundry wash/ line dry. Not only does using cold water saves me money, it is also gentler on clothes, which means they'll last longer (hot water causes fading, wrinkling and shrinkage). I used to rely heavily on a clothes dryer, but now, I line dry all my clothes - it is environmentally friendly and gentler on clothes, there is no static cling and the sun does a great job of disinfecting and whitening clothes and best of all, it's FREE.

5. Solar electricity. Sure, the set up costs are high but with a quarterly electricity bill of $400-$600, installing solar panels was the right way to go for us. That said, it is important to consider your average energy consumption as well as usage pattern. Make sure to do your research to find out which local installers have the best price for you; a company like Australian Solar Quotes can help you with this and their website also contains great resources about solar power.

6. DIY spa. I used to treat myself to monthly facials, manicures and pedicures at a spa near work. Then bub came along and it was just impossible to find the opportunity to do that anymore, so I decided to create the spa experience at home. It was fun, calming and relaxing and saved me a ton of money. I even went one step further and made my own bath salts and foot scrub, which you should absolutely check out!

Do you have any tips to share too?

Motherhood series: to work or to stay at home? Pt 6

It's 11 in the morning on a weekday - usually the time when my workmates and I would be heading out to get coffee. We might share a banana bread, and swap stories about our day so far and share a few laughs before going back to our desk to continue with our work day.

Instead of being at my desk at work, I'm sitting at our dining table at home, having a little break while Alexander is napping. My day started at 6.30am when I got out of bed, nursed him, fed him his breakfast of toast and weetbix, cleaned up, changed his nappy, made the bed while he pulls out all his toys and makes more mess. Halfway through that, I had to stop him from climbing onto the chair to look out the window - twice. After that I take him out for a crawl in the backyard (thank goodness it's a sunny day), play a game of fetch with my other baby, Frankie, put him on the swing until he's had enough. It's 10.30am when he goes down for his nap, I hurriedly take a shower, get dressed, brush my hair and have my cup of coffee while I work on this post.

And this is what I do everyday now, my friends. Yes, I have finally taken the plunge; I have become a stay at home mum.
It wasn't an easy decision and I spent months dithering about it. But once I'd handed in my resignation, I stopped stressing - a clear sign it was the right decision for me. There were a number of reasons why I did it. Firstly, I had a really long commute (2 hours return, on a good day), which means I'd be away from Alexander for at least 10 hours per day. Secondly, when Stu and I actually sat down and did the maths, we soon realised it was not financially viable for me to go to work. After we take out all the costs (ie. childcare, parking, petrol, tolls) my salary works out to be pitiful few dollars an hour. But mostly I made this decision because the thought of being away from him just broke my heart.

The best thing about being a stay at home mum is being able to spend everyday with Alex. We go to the beach, the park and the shops all the time and my days are filled with laughter (along with the crankiness and dirty nappies). Another thing I love is how I am now much more involved with my local community. I chat to shopkeepers who love giving Alex a cuddle and I have really started to get to know my neighbours. I meet other mums at playgroup and have joined in other activities like swimming lessons, pilates wth a creche, and next term I'll sign us up for baby gym.

One day I will go back to paid work but for now I am proud and happy to be a stay at home mum. I am so grateful to have Stu's support. In the grand scheme of things I feel that the tender baby years is only a very short period of time and I want to be there for every moment of it.

Motherhood is... having your life turned upside down, and loving through it all.

***

This post brings us to the end of this motherhood series. I hope you have enjoyed it. I would like to thank the mothers who contributed, namely Julie, Melinda, Nikki, Melissa and my mum.

Spot the odd one out

I was just looking through old photos on my phone when I noticed a certain recurring theme...
Can you spot the odd one out? (It's so hard, I know!)
Have a great week ahead xo