Time

Hard to believe but our little one is now 4 months old! We’ve found our groove and she really is a good little baby.

What I can’t seem to get a handle on is having enough time to do everything that needs to be done. For the first time in my life, I find myself truly time poor.

My GP wants me to go for two walks a day. The Child Health Nurse wants me to work on napping in her cot. My mum wants me to take endless photos. The cats want more cuddles particularly now that it’s cold. Some relatives expect me to be available whenever they want to see the little girl. The housework gets neglected except the basics and I don’t have as much time to catch up with friends as I thought I would have.

If only Hermione’s time twirler thing from Harry Potter was real!

Two weeks down the track

So our little girl finally arrived! Four days past her due date, every one of which seemed like an eternity to me. I got sick of people asking “any news” at least a week before she was due so by the time I was overdue, the phone was put to silent and I stopped answering it. Seriously people – if you know someone who is waiting to give birth, don’t make it harder on them by asking frequently if the baby has arrived yet. I assure you the pregnant lady will not appreciate it.

I’m not really into sharing birth stories so I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details. Our little one came into the world by emergency caesarian after a very trying full day of labour. In the end, it was obvious she was not going to come out the traditional way so I am glad we went private and didn’t have some crazy “natural birth is the only way to go” type of person involved with our care. Heaven knows I’ve met enough of those types working in the public sector over the years. Had we persisted with a traditional labour, things might not have ended so well. I have no regrets and should there be any more children, it will definitely be by an elective caesar. I’ve had my fill of what normal labour feels like and I really didn’t like it. Enough said there.

I was really lucky not to gain any weight during pregnancy and was cautioned not to early in the piece by my GP. I didn’t really watch what I ate but I didn’t go overboard with eating either. I stayed reasonably active up until the last few weeks where even walking seemed like a chore some days. By second trimester, I’d lost weight compared to pre-pregnancy and by third, I hadn’t really gained that much back. Clearly it didn’t affect the little girl because she came out not so little – a whopping 4kg baby! Guess all those baby growing pills really do work.

Now I feel like I’m slowly melting off my fat reserves. In the hospital, in the few days after the caesar, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and was a little disappointed that I still looked like I was sporting a good 6 months in my belly. Gah! Wasn’t I supposed to come out of it looking like maybe 4 months?? In any case, my maternity shorts were staying up around my belly (they had started falling down towards the end of pregnancy) so I decided it was a good thing anyway.

One of the first things I did when I got home was to hop on the scales. I couldn’t help myself but I had to know I hadn’t gained weight after all the good food I ate in hospital. The scales smiled in my favour.

Two weeks post birth and I’ve dropped a little more than 14kg off my pre-pregnancy weight and I am sub 100kg for the first time in at least a year. Happy days!

He really has got a point

I first heard this ad on the radio so when I got home, I had to watch it on YouTube. I have to confess – I’m one of those people who should be holding an “Unfit to DSLR” sign in the video. I don’t always take photos in auto mode but I do the next worst thing I guess. I shoot in aperture priority mode if I’m not in automatic mode. I’m fairly scared of using manual because the times that I have, I’ve ended up with some really mixed results. Most horrible and then the odd one which surprises me because it’s actually half decent. Shock horror.

When I first got it, I was really enthusiastic. I pulled it out at every opportunity and took photos of lots of random things (mainly the cats) so that I could learn how to make the most of the equipment I had. And wow! Some of the photos were amazing compared to my humble little point and shoot. So what if I mainly took photos in automatic mode – they were much better than any I had taken on a point and shoot.

But then point and shoot technology got better and cameras on phones got better. Let’s face it – a DSLR and attached lens is a bulky bit of kit to lug around. If I’m on a 14hr hike in the hinterland, it’s hard to justify including an additional 3kg odd of weight because unlike food and water, it’s weight doesn’t disappear during the course of the day. For special occasions and weddings, it’s also fairly impractical as a camera to take some happy memories with while not getting in the way of the professional who is paid to do that job!

So I got a better point and shoot to fill that gap. It takes relatively good quality photos even at high resolution and it has manual modes should I want to use them. I’m less scared of using the manual modes on it than I am on the DSLR yet the principle behind it is the same. For some reason, it’s not as overwhelming. It’s also much smaller and lightweight. For that reason, the last time we went on holidays, I left the DSLR at home and only took the compact point and shoot. I thought there would be times when I wished I had the DSLR (and there were) but for the most part, we got the photos we wanted with the equipment we had. To quote some random from the internet (most likely something I read on DPS) – “the best camera you own is the one you have in your hands at the time”.

If the Sony NEX cameras had been out when I got my DSLR, I might have been tempted to just get one of those. Small, compact and lightweight yet they seem to perform pretty well up against an entry level DSLR in a beginner’s hands. What’s not to love? Sure there will be features missing that a pro photographer would want but I’m far from being that skilled. Pro photographers are able to take infinitely better photos on their phones than I can with a DSLR simply because they have the knowledge, skills and many hours of practice behind them.

I figure that if I achieve nothing else over the next year when I’m not at work, I want to feel comfortable using my DSLR again and venture a little further away from the automatic modes. With the little one very close to arriving now, I’ll have plenty of reasons to pull it out. I’m sure the cats will be relieved to have a little respite from the lens as well. ;)

Dear Spotify

I will start out by saying I love Spotify. I love being able to pay a small monthly fee to listen to as much music as I like. I like being able to stream the music to get a taste of it before I download it. I’m even happier that Spotify has an iPhone app so that I can use my iPhone as a glorified MP3 player using the music I’ve already chosen from Spotify. Even happier still that I’ve discovered I can import music that I’ve already purchased (through iTunes or CD) in the past into Spotify so that I can use the one app to play my music. The radio feature is great – pick any artist from a playlist, hit radio and you get music based on the genre of that artist. It’s a fantastic way of exploring new artists who I previously haven’t heard of on the normal radio – oh and the blissful part? No advertising. Awesome.

But there are a few niggles that irritate me. I will confess that some of these might have fixes that I haven’t yet discovered and if you know of any, I would love to know how you have gotten around them.

1) Why won’t Spotify play DRM protected music?
I understand why DRM protection exists but this is music I have paid good money for and I would like to be able to listen to it without exiting Spotify and going through another app. I’d also like to be able to listen to it on my android phone rather than be limited to the iPhone at home. Yes – it’s some of that pesky iTunes format music that Spotify has a little trouble with but some of it is just from CDs that I have bought long before digital media took over.

2) If I own music already which I have imported into Spotify so that I can listen on multiple devices, why can’t I shift it to my SD card on my android? 
I already own it. I’d love to be able to connect my phone up to the computer, transfer my existing music onto it and have Spotify be able to play it directly from the SD card. But while I can have the music on there in that capacity, I haven’t yet been able to make Spotify play a track from my SD card.

I did have one other major beef about playing an entire library on shuffle but I’ve since been stalking the Spotify community page and came up with the answer. Thank goodness for that because I was getting about as testy about it as the American gent in that thread. It is a basic feature of a MP3 player so I was astonished when I couldn’t easily figure out how to do it.

If you’re reading this and you’re asking what’s Spotify then you really aren’t the target demographic here. But if you do have some tweaks you would like to share, I’d love to hear about them.

On the downhill slope now…

And there’s no turning back!

Kind of excited, somewhat terrified and happy all at the same time. Strange having so many conflicting emotions at once really. I did think that once I stopped work that I would go into this flurry of domestic goddess type activity.  In terms of being prepared, I guess that has happened. Every stitch of linen, towels and clothing that I have bought or been given has been washed and is ready for the new arrival. The nursery hasn’t been painted since the house is still fairly new and it was a gender neutral colour anyway.

There has been an utter explosion of Pooh Bear related items in there so I guess we have a theme. And who doesn’t like Pooh Bear anyway? I swear if there is a Pooh Bear decoration in plush or furnishing, I probably have it.

More Pooh Bear stuff

 

Why stop at soft furnishings when there’s stickers to put up as well to extend the Pooh Bear-ness even further. I’m surprised with how much decorating we actually have done, considering I said I had no intentions of going overboard. Whoops.

Wall stickers

 

The last few days we have had some rain finally so of course, no better time to put some more Pooh Bear merchandise up on the walls. Three little photo frames with some of my favourite Pooh Bear quotes – finally up on the wall instead of sitting on top of the change table. If you look out the left hand window, you can see our neighbour’s palm tree getting buffeted by the squally winds out there.

A bit more Pooh Bear

 

Not exactly how I pictured the Australia Day weekend but we had our customary damper and lammingtons anyway. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – OI OI OI and all of that. Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend – even if the weather has driven you indoors to amuse yourselves.

What I love about Port Macquarie

October already and I’m now 33. Turns out it will be a year (and a bit) for threes. I’m 33, soon to have a third person in the house who is due to arrive 3/3/2013. Freaky hey? I will be astounded if she actually arrives on that date, given I’ve been told it only happens in a small percentage of all natural births. The sonographer swears it will be a girl so hopefully I won’t be screaming “OMG what do you mean it’s a boy?!” in the birth suite. That would be a little embarrassing.

So in light of the fact that our lives are going to be radically changing next year, we headed off for one last holiday while it’s just the two of us. We went to Port Macquarie a couple of years ago and combined it with a week in Coffs Harbour as well. Considering we only had a week off this time, we decided to spend it all in one place and hopefully have a more relaxing time. Only I have a hard time just sitting around a hotel pool – I figure that I’m somewhere that isn’t home and I should be out seeing and doing things I couldn’t do at home. We still had a fair bit of slothing time but it was nice to go back and revisit some old favourites.

One of the things on my “to do” list was to go on another whale watching trip. We did head off shore last time we were in Port Macquarie in a small RIB but the closest I got to photographing a whale was this.

Whalewatching

Essentially a huge splash right near the boat. I had been looking over the other side of the boat at the time and by the time I’d snapped my head back around, the whale had long disappeared. So this time I was eager to see some more “leaping leviathans” off the coast and hopefully catch one on film, just like this. While the whales were definitely around, they were far from being playful. Two days before we went out, they were putting on a fine show but as our skipper quite rightly pointed out “this is as quiet as they get without sleeping”. Just gently breaching the surface to take another breath before continuing on their merry way south.

Oh hey, a whale!

This time, I could see the whale but not the massive tail or huge head coming out of the water that would have been a real delight to capture. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the right day for that but there’s always next time. It was still a wonderful break away from the daily grind and plenty of other things to enjoy – like the yummy strawberries from Ricardoes, walking along the wharf getting mobbed by pelicans and venturing out to nearby places like Crowdy Bay National Park and Ellenborough Falls. Did you know that there are around 640 steps to the bottom of the falls? I didn’t, until I went all the way to the bottom, then climbed all the way back to the top (incredibly slowly). It reminded me a lot of Mackenzie Falls in the Grampians or even Devil’s Punchbowl Falls in Arthur’s Pass across the ditch in NZ. In each of those places, I’ve felt a real sense of achievement in reaching the top again!

Port Macquarie & Surrounds

Clockwise from top left: 1) View from North Brother lookout in Dooragan NP; 2) Lilies in the everglades region up river; 3) Crowdy Head lighthouse; 4) Pair of white-bellied sea eagles on the Hastings River; 5) Strawberries in plentiful supply at Ricardoes Tomato & Strawberry farm; 6) Pelicans in the wharf area of Port Macquarie CBD; 7) At the bottom of Ellenborough Falls in the hinterland area; and, 8) Cruising up the Hastings River on Discovery 2

Poor Mojo

It’s not easy being an old kitty.  Mojo is generally in good health but there is that pesky once a year chore of going to the vet for vaccinations. It’s also a rare treat for me because he will let the vet trim his nails.

This year, given he is closer to 14 years old, we were asked if we wanted to have a senior health check done. I had one done when he was 10 years old and he had no problems then. Last time he had to be sedated so I was surprised when she was prepared to do it then and there.

Because there was an emergency surgery going on, we’d been waiting about 30 minutes to see the vet. I guess he doesn’t like waiting because he was in a foul mood. He had his nails trimmed first. Then came time for the urine sample. Cats don’t pee on command, so they get the urine by aspirating it through a needle and syringe. By the time that was done, he was in fine form.

The blood test they planned to do next was abandoned and they were hard pressed getting his vaccination into him.

No small wonder that he crawled back into his carrier and hid under the blanket.

image

Hard yakka for the holidays

Yay for Easter time again! I know it was a couple of weeks ago now but it coincided with annual leave from work – always nice to stretch out the break. Sixteen days off for the price of eight days deducted from my leave balance, thanks to the public holidays, weekends and rostered off days. Very very nice indeed.

Ever since we moved here, I’ve been thinking what we can do with the retaining wall which forms a large part of our side boundary. It’s more than 20 metres long, with about 12 metres of it in the back yard and another 10 metres in the front. Because our builder had to comply with a covenant, it wasn’t possible to raise the retaining wall beyond a metre and any retaining walls had to be at least 50cm inside our boundary. Consequently, we have this cavity which doesn’t bother me that much. What does bother me is that everyone else around us has chosen to pancake their block rather than working with the natural slope – so our house sits up much higher than theirs.

Bit of a landscaping challenge

I hate being able to see into their back yards. I feel like we are intruding on their privacy, even though we aren’t the kind of neighbours that take an interest in what others are doing. Plus, if we can see into their yards, they can probably see into ours. That’s probably what bothers me a little more. Fast forward a few years and we finally have done something about it.

Admittedly it will probably be a good year or so before they offer any kind of screening, but the beginnings of a screening hedge of Murraya paniculata (Mock Orange or Orange Jasmine) are there. So far it’s only along the timber retaining wall but we’re planning to bring it along the top of the sandstone wall which surrounds our shed (put in after the above photo was taken years ago).

 Murraya hedge       Murraya Hedge

Looking forward to seeing them grow and hopefully flourish – fingers crossed!

Another year bites the dust

It’s amazing how the year manages to fly past just a little bit quicker every year that I get older. It seems not that long ago that we were sitting near the Coomera river watching the fireworks display on the upper Gold Coast.

This year we made a last minute decision to head up to Mt Coot-tha to watch the fireworks from up there. They are fairly distant so we figured that it might not be as busy as the city. So off we went, roads extremely clear, no delays to find that every man, woman, child and a few dogs as well were up there as well even on the lower reaches. We managed to find an illegal park and caught the end of the early display in the city at which time, most people started heading off. We hung around to see a few more of the more distant displays starting up. An hour later, we had provided enough food to the local mosquito population and we just headed off home again on even clearer roads and not a single police officer to be seen.

Happy New Year

All the lights made the night time view a little special, even if you could sometimes barely make out the fireworks in the distance.

Happy New Year, welcome 2012!

This is why I’m not a “girlie” girl

Three weeks flies so quickly normally and it’s certainly no different when on holidays. It only seems like a week ago that I was on the plane tapping out a post to publish as soon as I had connection to the outside world again. Yet here I am, almost a month later, back from holidays and already wondering when and where the next one will be. But that’s the way the mop flops when you have a day job to go to. I’m still sifting through photos and such and in the middle of writing a highlights reel as it were for those interested in a little armchair travel.

So back to reality it is. Only to be reminded that this Friday night is our annual Christmas party come combined birthday party for a few of my co-workers who are celebrating the big 5-0 this year. It should be a real blast but there is one major issue slight problem.

I have to wear something pink. :O

Seriously, this is a disaster. I do not own anything pink. The closest thing I have is maroon and I’m SOL on that account because I wore it to work today and the party is Friday. Enter problem solving mode for which I am famous – I will just accessorise with pink! No sweat, this will be EASY.

Except it’s also Pink for October and the only thing remotely acceptable is a weird looking “pendant scarf” purchased at a ridiculously cheap price. I figure I will just wear it as a belt given it is far too hot to wear a scarf now. I have visions of looking something like this.

Image courtesy of Grace N Glamour

Only my stupid jeans don’t have belt loops. Curse the twits who decided that women don’t need front pockets or belt loops on their jeans but sadly my favourite jeans have neither. Thanks for that clothing manufacturers! No problem, I’ll just get one of those belt buckle thingies that I see girlie girls wearing and hopefully that will keep it in place.

Do you think I can find one of those thingies anywhere? Or even what it is called? So I can’t even Google it effectively to come up with a list of retailers that might stock it. It’s just all too bloody hard so I will just tie the stupid scarf around my waist and hope that it doesn’t look completely stupid. May the force be with me.

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