It’s Been A While…

13 months have passed since I last blogged here.

In that time, I’ve had a baby; our second son, who turned 1 a month ago. The Small One is a joy – eats well (as is evidenced by his round rosy cheeks and his even rounder tummy), sleeps fairly well (he’s been more or less sleeping through the night for the past couple of months), and is generally a happy baby. He talks and talks and talks (no idea where he gets that from?!) and is so very very loud. He’s very strong – a well placed kick during a nappy change can render me breathless, and he packs a punch with his arms and hands and teeny little fists too. He started walking at 11 months and hasn’t stopped – he now runs, non-stop. And just this week, he started saying “Momma”.

The Big One is now 4 and started preschool earlier this year. He loves preschool and has made some new friends. I can see his imagination growing by the day – he’s always making up stories and using his toys as part of his story-telling. Most of his stories involve Transformers Rescue Bots, in particular Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, and the adventures they go on, fighting the good fight in the universe. He’s even more active these days – running, jumping, sliding (as in “sliding into a base” or “slide tackle” style). It’s hard to keep up with him!

It’s hard to believe that J and I have been together now for over 7 years, and that our 5th wedding anniversary is fast approaching. It honestly feels like we met only last year. Which, of course, defies logic as we have a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. We’ve both been busy with life – him with his job and its ever evolving demands, and me with looking after the kids and the house as I enjoy the final months of my last ever lot of maternity leave.

I know I am so very fortunate to have a job that allows me to take 2 years off work to spend time watching my baby grow from a little lump to a little person. Although circumstances were different with the Big One, when I was forced to take 2 years off work, this time around, I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to stay home. I bear witness to the growing bond between the Big One and the Small One, and the Small One developing all sorts of new skills. Due to the Big One’s illness, we missed seeing the “typical” behaviour and development of a little person between the ages of 11 months to 16 months. The Big One didn’t enjoy eating, or playing, or doing anything really because he was so so sick at the time. He more than caught up after he got better; in fact, he’s one of the more “advanced” kids in his preschool class, even though there are plenty of classmates who are older than him. The Small One is showing us exactly what we missed, and it’s a joy to experience all those “firsts” again, knowing that we have 2 healthy and happy little boys.

As much as I love my boys, they’re not exactly providing scintillating conversations or challenging discussions to keep my adult brain ticking over. So to keep me amused and occupied, I’ve set myself a cooking challenge; to cook healthy and delicious recipes I find on the Internet at various food blogs using fresh ingredients and making everything from scratch, and steer away from my trusted “brown meat, add ready-made sauce and veggies, serve” method. I figured this year is the perfect time to experiment with my cooking, as I don’t see myself having the same amount of time to do a lot of “made from scratch” cooking once I go back to work. This week marks the 13th week of my cooking adventures, all of which I’m blogging about on my new Tumblr blog, Food Oh Glorious Food. I have to say, I’m really enjoying this little challenge, which involves me doing hours of research by looking at many, many recipes, drawing up a weekly menu, and making shopping lists of groceries needed for the week and committing to cooking and using everything we buy. The ulterior motive behind this challenge is to make sure we stick to our weekly budget – money is tight as I chose to take this extended unpaid leave, and the thought of us running out of money a week before the monthly pay day gives me heart palpitations. And the added bonus of this entire exercise is that we are losing weight. Not a huge amount per week, but the number keeps getting smaller.

So if you were wondering what I’ve been up to, head over to Food Oh Glorious Food and check it out! For those who have enjoyed seeing my photos from Fat Mum Slim Photo A Day Challenge, I am still taking photos and sharing them on Instagram and Twitter. I may start posting my photos on here again, if and when time allows.

I will be back here from time to time, I hope. Till next time!

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Vale Dave Parker

Rest in peace, old friend. The world is less shiny without you.

I woke at 4am today, unable to breathe after a coughing fit brought on by a nasty cold, coupled with the weight of a full-term baby pressing on various internal organs. I was extremely uncomfortable, and after some tossing and turning in bed, I decided to grab my phone and scroll through Facebook in an attempt to lull myself back to sleep.

I was almost up to date with what people had gotten up to while I was sleeping when my scrolling stopped on a photo of you, on our mutual friend’s page, with a message that read “You will be missed, Dave. RIP.”

What. The. Feck.

I jumped out of bed, leaving my husband to continue his slumber, and lumbered out to the living room to my laptop, where I spent the next 90 or so minutes stalking our mutual friends, trying to find out what happened. Although we lost touch a thousand years ago, rarely a week goes by where I don’t think about you, and wonder how you’re getting on with life.

I sent desperate messages to a couple of mutual friends, and waited, and waited, and waited to hear news. As everyone was asleep, there wasn’t much I could do except a bit more Facebook stalking. Finally, I heard from one of them, saying that the cancer had returned and the doctors weren’t able to slow it down.

Cancer? I didn’t even know you had cancer.

Later, I had a long chat with another friend, who had more information. You were a survivor, having already dealt with one bout and seemingly won. When it returned, you fought hard, like you did the first time, with good humour and steely determination. Unfortunately, even though you got into a medical trial to try and slow down the progress, the cancer made its way into your lungs, then kidneys and liver.

I was told you arrived home on the weekend, in time to spend a couple of days with your family, before you left us. I’m glad you were home, and surrounded by all those you love, and who love you so much.

I don’t remember how or when we met – I know we met through friends of friends of friends at Macquarie University, and for some strange reason, you tolerated my loud and sometimes abrasive personality. We became friends, and for a time, we were very close – we saw each other every week, and we hung out all the time. You were such a good friend to me, more than I deserved, as I often whinged and complained about all my problems and woes, and you always listened and provided support. For years, you put up with me dishing the crap, and so it wasn’t alltogether surprising when you woke up one morning and realised you didn’t need my negativity in your life. We drifted apart, and then, later, with separate lives to live, we lost touch.

You were one of those rare people who never had a bad word to say about anyone. You were also one of those rare people who never had a bad word said about you. Everyone you met loved you at first sight. Everyone lucky enough to have been able to call you “friend” was treated with utmost respect and fierce loyalty. You always lit up a room with your presence, with your ready smile and easygoing nature.

I am shattered by the knowledge I will never see you again, and the inexplicable loss of someone so young and vibrant. I’m a bit numb as well, grieving for you as many many others are grieving for you too. But I know you are in a better place now, watching over us, beaming down with your trademark goofy smile.

Dave, I thank you for the years of friendship, and for making my life so shiny with your kindness and love. I will always remember the awesome times we had – all the times you made me laugh, picked me up when I was down, and the pearls of wisdom you imparted. Hearing of your passing today hit hard, even though it’s been years since we last saw each other. You will always be remembered as a great bloke, a friend to one and all, and the life of the party.

You will be missed.

Photo A Day Challenge | 2014 January | Day 4

Mood: Happy Snapper

Photo A Day Challenge | 2014 January | Day 1

Mood: Happy Snapper

Photo A Day Challenge | January 2014

Mood: Happy Snapper

Happy New Year!!!

First day of 2014. A brand new year. And to make today even more special, it’s Master S’s 3rd birthday.

Happy birthday to our darling boy. Life has been richer and fuller and so much more fun since you joined us 3 years ago. We can’t imagine life without you, and we are so blessed to have you in our lives. Our love for you grow every day, and you make us much braver and stronger than we ever give ourselves credit for. Thank you, darling heart. Hope you have had a most wonderful day today!

J and I barely made it to midnight last night. The only reason we stayed awake was because the night air was too warm for comfortable sleep. We managed to catch all THREE sets of fireworks that lit up Sydney’s night skies. Yes, that’s right, Sydney fired off 3 sets of fireworks. At 9pm, 10.30pm and at midnight. The 10.30pm fireworks lasted about 2 minutes, at most, and it was touted as a “one-off”. I wonder if this will continue as a tradition. It was a bit of a waste of money, in my opinion. The 9pm “family fireworks” and the midnight extravaganza were both good. I quite enjoyed the midnight ones, and was glad to be awake for them.

It dawned on me earlier yesterday that this NYE was the first NYE that I hadn’t either attended a party or hosted a party in 25 years. Even on the night when 2010 wound down and 2011 dawned and I was officially in labour just before the 9pm fireworks burst through the skies, we still went to dinner with my family to celebrate the new year. J jokes that he finally “broke” me and my social butterfly behaviour.

We have so much to look forward to this year. Magic Bean will be joining us in March, followed by J’s parents who will be flying in from NZ to help us settle in. We have a few trips towards the end of next year, with a wedding in South Australia, a family wedding in Hong Kong and J’s 40th all taking place in the latter part of 2014. But before any of these events take place, there’s Master S’s birthday party to plan and execute. Wheels are in motion already, so here’s hoping we get it right by the day!

I mentioned in a post in December that I had been experiencing some mixed feelings about the Fat Mum Slim Photo A Day Challenge. After a bit of soul searching, I’ve decided to continue on with the challenge, albeit with a much looser commitment. I have also decided to stop posting to the special Facebook FMS Photo A Day group – this is the group that showcases the Fab Four (chosen by a panel of moderators, all of whom are challenge participants). I figured: if I’m not in it, then I can’t expect to “win” it.

I will still continue to share my photos on Instagram, as well as Fat Mum Slim’s Facebook page. And of course, you will also find my photos on Twitter, StreamZoo and EyeEm.

I can’t promise to take a photo every day, but I will try. Let’s see if I can rebuild my enthusiasm for this challenge.

Photo A Day Challenge | 2013 December | Days 30 & 31

Mood: Happy Snapper

Photo A Day Challenge | 2013 December | Day 29

Mood: Happy Snapper