25 January, 2012

From cradle to corn

As an Aussie with a Mediterranean heritage, gardening is practically part of my birth right. One, because my ethnicity is based on eating, laughing, enjoying good food and.......ahhh did I mention eating? 

I grew up with little to nothing so as I developed, my palate also acquired an appreciation for every meal we had. Thus, as an adult my affinity with nature and respect for where our food came from matured into something profound.

Both my parents also always grew herbs and vegetables in their gardens. Propagating my own food came as a natural progression from my families sustainable ethos. Though, as a child I thought it was very daggy and that it was something only old people did.

 Firstly, I took interest in the versatility of herbs. Studying their usefulness for home remedies and then the important role they played in the kitchen. Particularly a Mediterranean one.

When I started renting initially I had two pots of herbs. Then, as I moved around they seem to multiply into more and more until eventually I started establishing modest patches with tomatoes and the like.

Finally, when I moved into my own home I knew I would create a vegetable plot though, never did I for see I would have the mother of veggie plots and that it would consume all my time.

It took me four years to landscape the barren earth I started with after building my first home. Check out the before and after pics. I still can't see myself ever finishing it. I think that is the amazing thing about nature. It is forever changing and needs constant looking after.

Landscaping and growing your own fresh produce is a bit like having a baby;

- It needs to be nurtured;
- Feeding;
- You have to follow your intuition;
- Keep a watchful eye over it as it grows;
- Reap the benefits of your hard work.

When people come to my house and ask me what is growing in the garden firstly, I take them to my herbs and walk them through which ones I have and their uses. Of course, I don't bore them with all the details but just cover the cooking stuff. I always find it amazing that most or all people have little to no knowledge of herbs and rarely use them when cooking. Personally I would find food very bland without them.

Since the advent of Australia's worst draught over the past ten years- unless you had a wog background - people started living off the land and re-gaining an appreciation of Mother nature. The ole backyard veggie patch has grown in popularity once more and are cropping up in the most unusual places throughout Australian suburbs. Take the apartment veranda for example.

 Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, gave birth to the agricultural earth science named Permaculture during the 70's in Australia. It is based on the premise of enabling human settlements to live sustainably among nature that can be practised in any ones backyard when applying specific design principles.

I have adapted this ecological design to my suburban home setting and find it useful and inspiring.

Now, after having my daughter I've realised the importance for her generation to have a connection with nature and the earth as we sit more and more behind our PCs and Wide screen TVs. Therefore, I hope that my efforts and passion for mother nature will inspire and instill in her, as she grows, the benefits and value of living sustainably.

I'd love to hear more stories of how you share your time in the garden with your children.

20 January, 2012

Much ado about my boobs

Over the past ten months I have had so many in-depth discussions about my boobs I feel like they have taken on a persona of their own. I almost talk about them in the third person. Not quite knowing what they are going to do next but, having a sixth sense about their existence and function.

Because of these conversations its as if the world has been watching them and their development. Almost as if they have been submitting posts on Utube. They might have as well. In fact, I have spoken about my boobs more than I care. Though, I have gotten some cheap laughs from them and some disturbing memories too.

Before my daughter was born I was adamant that she would be breast fed. I am one of the willing followers of the "breast is best" philosophy until I realised how hard breast feeding was. It has been an uphill struggle for me since the day she was born. After my milk came in-If  that was a chapter in my life's memoirs I think I would dub it "the day I thought my boobs were going to explode."- I didn't have any difficulties with attachment so I thought I was one of the lucky ones and breast feeding was going to be a cinch. Ha Ha!! not so after all.

For the first two months I struggled with cracked nipples, if that was another chapter that would be named "the weeks I thought my nipples were going to drop off!" It was so very painful for the first few weeks and I was obsessed solely with correct attachment. Then, after my nipples healed my daughter seemed so unsettled that I became preoccupied with low milk production. This continued everyday. If it wasn't one thing than it was the other.

Of course, every time someone asked me how everything was going I would launch into detailed conversation about my boobs. For years I never thought much about them. I have always had relatively small sized ones and always considered myself blessed by the boob fairy. Now I was starting to think that I had been scorned.

So, after much pumping, attachment-every hour, and gallons of water to the point where I thought my bladder was going to fail, and a very unsettled baby for weeks on end I finally pleaded mercy and gave my daughter a top-up bottle. She slept like she had never slept before and so did I.

Initially, I felt physically maimed when I gave it to her, like I had just been punched in the stomach, but as she drifted soundly off to sleep for the first time I could see, she had been hungry.

Its so hard when your a first-time mum to know whether your baby is getting enough to eat and why they are crying. In the beginning it is so confusing to know whether you are reading your babies signals correctly. People tell you that you will understand their cries-I didn't. Others would ask questions like "Are you also pumping", "feed them more often", as if every ten minutes all day everyday wasn't enough!! and then relaying their horror stories about how so and so's milk wouldn't come in or how this person did this and it was alright.

Even after speaking to many health nurses in person or on the phone and seeing a lactation consultant I received so many mixed messages I did what I thought worked well for me and my baby.

Therefore, I continued to top her up with a bottle and breast feed for ten months now. Contrary to all of the 'good advice' I have received this has been the perfect solution to mine and my daughter's settling problems.

Frankly, I do still strongly believe that breast is best but only if all parties are happy, settled and comfortable with this option then so be it.

Has anyone had similar experiences. What were your reasons? why have you personally made this choice?

15 December, 2011

To eat or not to eat

To eat or not to eat.......this is a highly controversial question which I ask myself constantly. Particularly as I stare down the barrel of my vanilla ice-cream tub.

I have struggled with this question while eating many delicious sweets post - par tum.

Sometimes I wonder how I managed to gain  twenty kilos during my pregnancy.

Initially, from the beginning of my pregnancy I was determined to only eat healthy food. I figured that eating well had so far been my life long mantra so, why not ice my self congratulatory cake by excelling at eating well during this time too.

For the first trimester I did really well. Eating, fresh fruit and vegetables mostly from my garden with the occasional treat. At this point I didn't feel like I was overindulging until I hit the second trimester. All of a sudden I became a human eating machine.

I continued eating a well balanced diet but also included in my food pyramid copious amounts of teddy bear biscuits, vanilla thick shakes and cinnamon donuts.

I kept saying to myself "Your not eating for two you know". Somehow I managed to eat for four.

I was recently talking to a friend who also eats well and had just given birth two months ago. She shared the same sentiment and  was concerned about her recent pregnancy weight gain.

It got me thinking. "Is this something women were really concerned about or, was this because this is something we were socially pressured into?

All I know is that it doesn't help to see women like, Victoria Beckham, Amanda Kerr, Angelina Jolie and Princess Mary toted as the epitome of Mothers. Not to mention, how the media carry on about how amazing they look after weeks of giving birth.

I fell into the trap of expecting to feel and see my old figure return shortly after I gave birth. Therefore, I placed unnecessary and unrealistic pressure on myself to attempt boot camp only six weeks after giving birth. In retrospect I think I was going through a very self - destructive phase. All this did was set myself up for a terrible fall.

Each time I failed to achieve my weight loss goals I found myself baking. I think I would go into a sugar blackout, to achieve a catharsis.This seem to console me.

Also, every time a health professional or well meaning friend would tell me that breast feeding would help me loose weight. Not me, not one gram!! Apparently my boobs are broken and would only steer me back to my kitchen to bake instead.

So, I had to ask myself "who am I trying to impress?? If it is my Husband than I should know, he will always love my arse no matter what it looks like. One thing he cares about and that is he has access to all areas and won't reject me if I have a little spare tire around my waist after I've given birth to our baby.

So, the conclusion I have come to is that if it's not our partners who place these expectations on us than, maybe its us. Personally I can understand that because I have high standards but, at what expense? To the point where I loathe my image in the mirror? Beat myself up for not looking like an enigma?

If you have a daughter like I, is this how you want her to see you or perhaps to adopt your insecure body image self destructiveness?

The best thing I think we can do is throw out any diet, turn a blind eye to celebrity gossip, don't get tempted by the Swivell Pro or Light and easy. After all, your a mother, The most important person in someones life who loves you unconditionally  for who you are.

Shouldn't that be enough? So take a look in the mirror now and see how beautiful you really are.

27 November, 2011

No place like home

(EBQM5U4NG4V7) I recently stayed at my sister in-law's house in the outback so my husband and I could attend her 50th Birthday. When we first booked the flights for the trip I was so excited.

I had been pent up in the house for seven months and was looking forward to having a real conversation where someone actually talks to you. Not to mention having an excuse to wear something other than my pyjamas, don a bra and do my hair also seemed rather appealing.

When I spoke to my sister in-law she reciprocated with eagerness in having the three of us being her house guests. From when I told her that we were coming she burst in tears while sincerely thanking us for coming. From that moment, she busied herself by getting items my daughter needed to ensure she was safe and comfortable.

I couldn't believe all the trouble she was going to for a smooth transition for us all while we stayed with them. Before we left she reported in to me that she had acquired a high chair, bouncer, car seat, jolly jumper and pool floaty to boot!!

From the month we booked till we arrived at their house I counted the days and so did my sister in-law. I was bursting with enthusiasm about our first family holiday and was really looking forward to having a change of scenery.

In conversation with my sister in-law, regarding our arrival, she told me many times that they had a big house with a pool and air-conditioning. I created a picture of luxury in central Queensland and how I would spend my days sitting by the pool enjoying the warmth and having a chance to put my feet up as well. Just what the doctor ordered.

When we arrived at the airport we were all exhausted already - but my daughter had actually slept through the night for the first time in ages. I was pleasantly surprised sd I was rested for once too. Upon boarding the plane I could feel a sense of uneasiness creeping in my throat because I kept having visions of  an inconsolable baby with an audience of strangers watching. My worst nightmare. Amazingly enough though she slept the whole time we were flying. I was thrilled and very optimistic about deciding to take this trip.

When we arrived at our destination my sister in-law was dutifully waiting at the arrival gate for us with a smile that beamed. She instantly dashed towards to my daughter who was strapped in a Baby Bjorn on my chest.

It was great to see her but all I wanted to do was get to her house and get on this holiday train. It was going to take  forty five minutes to drive to her house from the airport.

Initially, when we got to her car I went to strap my daughter into the car seat my sister had just installed, and raved to me about on the phone, I noticed immediately something was very wrong. It appeared that the second had car seat had, had all of it's protective padding and inserts removed. All that remained was the shell of the unit.I looked at it and felt sick. It would have been safer to strap my daughter to the roof racks. However, I didn't want to offend my sister but, more importantly, I didn't want to put my daughter in it or get into the car without her being safely secured!!!

I gave my husband a look of fear and he returned the sentiment but with defeat in his eyes. I knew there was no other way we could proceed. We continued with our journey without protest and I put it down to being an unfortunate misunderstanding. As we proceeded down the road with my daughter strapped in the seat of death!!!!!! her head was flailing about because of nothing restraining her little neck. Quickly I rolled up my jumper and some unidentified material I found and tried to use it to wedge her bobbing head between it and the side of the seat. I was panic stricken the entire car ride.

As my sister announced that we were arriving at her house we had to drive down a pot hole filled dirt road. As we did, I cupped my daughter's head between my palms in a feeble attempt to keep her head still and safe. This was not my idea of a good start to our holiday.

When we arrived I was looking for the house. All I could see was a very old tin shack!!!
I fearfully asked if that was my sister's house and she cheerfully replied ├┐es". Again, this was not the picture I had in my head. When we grabbed our bags we were shown to a bungalow attached to the front of the shack. It had a double bed bunk, one small upright fan in it, no fly wires and at least forty degrees inside.The reality of my relaxing holiday had just come to a crashing end.

I then asked where the air-conditioning was and I was innocently told that it was in my brother and sister in-law's bedroom. Of course!! Then I thought what the hell, I'll go for the trifecta and ask where was the pool. I was shown to it and found that it was an above ground one only a little bit bigger than my en suite at home.

This set the scene for for the days to come.

Due to the humidity, and the inability to cool my daughter down her eczema ravaged her little body. This was intolerable for my poor little girl so she was cranky, itchy and hot. I couldn't get her to eat any solids and she definitely wasn't interested in sleep. During the day I battled with her to take her naps without avail. So, including all of the other issues she was also struggling while being deliriously overtired.

This is what I call EXTREME holidaying. The only way she would sleep was at night with us in our bunk bed.

After our second night in our mosquito infested hot box panic started to set in. To make matters worse I couldn't go for a walk or even take my daughter for one because there is no such things as footpaths or even walking tracks in the bush.

As the days passed I dreamed of going home. I would have given a limb just to be in the comfort of my own home.

When I really needed him my husband conveniently seemed to disappear with his sister or brother and I was left literally holding the screaming baby everyday in a 40 degree plus room.When I had words with him about needing more help and support he would just calmly look at me and tell me to relax and calm down "the baby can sense your stress and is reacting to you" he said. I wanted to say "I'll show you stress when I rip your head off " but I would just give him a look that could cause a thousand deaths and say calmly "fine"and walk away with my daughter. I didn't feel like I was having a holiday at all.

On our last day I leaped out of bed and almost ran with my daughter in my arms to the airport. Just air-conditioning would have improved our predicament marginally.When we arrived at the airport to depart I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I almost bought a bottle of something to celebrate.

Our journey home was heaven. I felt like I was in luxury. My daughter slept in my arms the entire four hours, including when we were in transit.

While we we were flying I met a business woman sitting next to me who talked of her two children. Clearly she missed them. We exchanged funny stories of madness and mothering. One thing we agreed was that men don't seem to understand our urgency meter that assist us in accomplishing things. Important things such as, sleep, going to the toilet, personal hygiene and organising the family. Its like when my husband told me to relax. How in god's name are you supposed to be a zen goddess when your baby has been screaming non stop for several days, won't eat or sleep????

Once we arrived home I initiated my daughter's usual bed time routine and of course, she slept like a little angel. No matter how old you are there is no place like home. Next holiday I think I will take a brake in my backyard among the veggies.

21 November, 2011


I'm a new mum with an eight month old baby girl who has a passion for gardening. I'm writing this blog for many reasons;

1) Share my experiences in Motherhood with like-minded individuals who can have a laugh at silly things.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
2) Exchange tips, ideas and experiences with gardening;
3) do a screen dump of all the thoughts spinning around in my head;
4) to stay sane.

I've been intending on writing this for some time but you know - not enough time or inspiration.

Before my daughter was born I thought I was getting to know my stuff in life. Afterwards, I have come to the realization that I had a narrow view of the world. Now, every day is bumbling experience of getting to know myself, my daughter and this new found world.

One thing I have learnt is just when I'm starting to get the hang of this Mother thing I know that it will change again!!!

I have traded in coffee and cigarettes for leaking boobs and pooy nappies. ALL which should come with a health warning. Not just the latter. This transition has also preceded a wobbly belly and a crinkle cut but which again, should come with a mental health warning.

However, since my daughter was born even though it has felt like an eon of pyjama wearing, house arrest and constant crying. Also, desperation for sleep, food and the opportunity for shower became my daily objectives. Now, little stolen moments of happiness and smiles have replaced it all.

My question is "why aren't you told about these things from the beginning." women make little comments or say "It's the hardest job in the world" but!! It’s as if there is a women's club and if you haven't had a baby their secrets aren't divulged. No one talks of their negative experiences, just the positive ones. I'm going to be completely unabashed and tell it how it is.

This is where gardening is something universal we can all share, empathize with and teach. Being a Mother is a learned behaviour although some are good at it, others struggle. Gardening is something that can be taught and if you follow the instructions, you will achieve success. It is although like mothering. There is a lot of trial and error involved but if you persistent you will reap the benefits of what you have nurtured.

Before my daughter was born I thought I had found my ‘happy place’ and it was in my garden. Now, all I need is the glint of a smile in my baby girl’s eye or a joyful squeal.

Instead of getting down and dirty in the garden to feel satisfied I now find myself teaching someone to walk, talk and how to be good to themselves and kind to others. Albeit, gardening is something I also can teach her too. We inspect the vegetables on a daily basis and have picked snow peas, played with paper flowers and dug a new patch.

These are things that don’t have any age boundaries. More importantly, every day she and I learn more about the preciousness of our environment and how to treat it with respect.