Friday, August 29, 2014
You all probably know by now that I love, love, love dessert. My husband, however, does not. He's weird.
Anyhow, this means that whenever the mood strikes to make sweet treats, I end up eating them all myself. So when I'm feeling sensible, I opt for individual desserts, like this healthy(ish) apple crumble. This is a pretty simple, just-wing-it kind of recipe, but here it is in case you're a recipe follower:
1 Tablespoon flour (any kind you like)
1 Tablespoon sugar (I used rapadura)
1 Tablespoon rolled oats
1 Tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a ramekin.
Peel and dice your apple, then place in the ramekin. Combine the rest of the ingredients, cutting in the butter last until you have a mixture that resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apple. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes.
Enjoy with a big scoop of ice cream!
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
We have this neighbour who adores Clementine. Whenever he sees her, he grabs her, plays peekaboo, throws her up in the air, cuddles her and she just loves it. Yesterday he saw us coming in and came over to help. While he was goofing around with the little one, his friend said to him, "You know you can have one of these, right?" To which our neighbour replied, "Nah, I want a big house and a nice car before we have a baby."
If I had a penny for every time I heard something similar! One of my husband's friends said that he wouldn't have a baby until he had x amount of money in the bank, and it was a large sum. So many people seem to let money hold them back from starting a family, and I can't understand it. It's not as if the baby is going to bust out of your womb demanding to see your latest bank statement or requesting an SUV to be chauffeured around in.
Now, I'm not completely naive. I live in one of the world's most unaffordable cities; I know that money is important, I just don't think it's the most important. When my parents had me, they didn't have much. We lived in Cartagena where they worked as English teachers and tour guides. They certainly didn't let money, or lack thereof, stop them from having a baby and they didn't let having a baby stop them from living an adventurous life. Similarly, my husband and I happily had a baby while living in a funky little apartment, knowing that we still wanted to travel, and not being sure where we would end up living.
I've noticed that here in Sydney in particular, people are obsessed with home ownership and private school. It's something my husband and I have talked about at length, but I still don't get. Where I grew up in Vancouver, everyone went to public school, even the rich kids. If we waited until the day we could buy a house in Sydney and afford to pay private school tuition for two kids, we would miss our chance to have children. No exaggeration.
When you start talking about the cost of raising children, all sorts of figures get thrown around. Again, we're not immune to this and the fact that we're a bi-cultural family puts a big strain on us. We know that two children will most likely be our maximum as we need to be able to travel back and forth between Canada and Australia. But, I think that having a baby doesn't need to be the huge financial drain that everyone says it is. Most of the big tickets items we needed for Clementine (e.g. bassinet, stroller, crib, playpen, carseat, swing etc) we bought used, borrowed from friends or received as gifts. I even wrote a post about it here. Cloth diapering has saved us a lot of money, as has breastfeeding.
Apart from travel, our lifestyle costs us less now that we have a baby. I hardly ever buy clothes anymore (one perk of a weird postpartum body), and we rarely go out. We use our car far less than we used to because my husband cycles to work and I find life easier when I stay in our neighbourhood. We gratefully accept hand-me-downs and our social life revolves around visits to the park or the beach. I'm glad we had our daughter when we did, fancy house or not.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
I have a couple of photos in the latest issue of Australian Yoga Journal (the chai article) / My new website
I've always been the girl with a camera glued to my face. When I first went to Europe on a high school exchange, I came back with thousands of photos, and that was before digital. I took some courses and got to know my way around a darkroom, and then, my dad gave me a DSLR for my birthday/Christmas. I took so many photos that first winter with my Nikon. I literally have albums upon albums filled with pictures of Scout.
I kept shooting, but never really got to know my camera and all it was capable of. In the last couple of years, I've made it my mission to change that. I switched to Canon, did a workshop, picked other photographers' brains, and practiced, practiced, practiced. I've spent the last year doing maternity, newborn and family sessions for friends, and now those friends are recommending me to their friends. It's wonderful, but also a bit scary to all of a sudden be declaring myself a photographer. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I feel that way about most things in life, and so I won't let it stop me.
All that to say that I have a new website, hooray! It's a place dedicated to my photography, complete with a blog of its own. The design is simple and it's easy to navigate, which is just what I wanted. I have my brilliant friend Alanna to thank for it.
I'm happy to say that I'm now available for maternity, newborn and family shoots. Feel free to get in touch with any questions or to book a session.
Monday, August 18, 2014
1) Endless cups of tea. 2) A basket full of toys. 4) Homemade chocolate cake. Just 'cause. 5) A stack of books. 6) Not pictured - the many, many episodes of Peppa Pig that Clementine watched.
Our winter has been a mild one. We've had hardly any rain, so most days we just rug up and go outside to play. Yesterday was the first day it was raining so hard that I wondered how I would survive the day inside with my rambunctious toddler. Between endless cups of tea and the baking of a chocolate cake (just because I felt like it), we played with new to us toys and read a pile of books. Thank goodness for our local library; we were at the doors when they opened and came home with a pram full of goodies. Of course, toys and books will only entertain so long, so it was a relief when the sun came out in the afternoon.
Today was much the same but we headed further afield to check out an indoor trampoline park. It wore Clementine out (success!) and was surprisingly fun for my husband and I. It brought me back to my gymnast days, and I flipped and flopped with glee. After an hour we were feeling so cheerful and energised, amazing what some bouncing can do for your mood!
If there are any North American/European moms reading, can you please tell me how you survive the winter months with a toddler???
Saturday, August 16, 2014
These days I'm craving and relishing simplicity. It might have something to do with the lingering cold I've had for the last 2 weeks, or it may be because my energy has been low, but whatever the reasons, I'm rolling with it. I've been meaning to give my blog a makeover for 6 months now, but I'm a procrastinator so I've only just gotten to it. I loved the pink, but it's nice to have a clean, fresh, simple look. I hope you like it too.
Over the last 5 weeks I've been doing this course through The Red Tent. It's been eye opening and full of practical advice. I've learned a lot! It's really changed my approach to feeding Clementine. I used to think that if I wanted her to be a good eater, I had to expose her to every food under the sun in her first years of life. She's never been a great eater and I've been stressing over it since she was 1 month old (seriously). I've been learning, however, that from a Chinese Medicine perspective, children need simple, warm food. I've been changing Clementine's diet to include less dairy and fruit, and more easy to digest, nourishing foods like chicken congee, home-made bone broths, steamed vegetables and oatmeal. She's been responding so well! My husband (ever skeptical of "alternative" methods like Chinese Medicine) was just saying that he can't believe how well Clementine has been eating lately. He's a total convert now. Mealtimes have become so much more simple and she's eating so much more. I can't tell you how happy that makes me.
I hope you're all having a wonderful, relaxing weekend!
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I think every parent gets to that stage where they realise that their child is mimicking everything they do. This has been on my mind for a while now, because I know that in some ways, I'm not setting a very good example for my little one. Ever since she started on solids I've been quite strict with what I feed her. I don't let her have any sugar at all, and certainly no junk food. Most of her food is made from scratch, and it's also mostly organic. I definitely won't be the mum not letting her kid have cake at a birthday party, but I feel strongly that at this age, she does not need to have cakes/cookies/brownies etc.
But, I am a sugar fiend. I've always had a sweet tooth, and since having Clementine, it's gotten out of control. As a new mum, most of my social life has revolved around cafe dates with friends over coffee and cake. Nowadays we mostly hang out at the park, but we still very often stop for a takeaway coffee and treat. Clementine now wants to try a bite of everything I eat, so I'm discovering that I can't eat my usual treats when she's around. I know that if I want to foster healthy eating habits in her, I have to change my own habits. I definitely have more to say on this, but I'll leave it for another post. For now I'm trying to embrace one of my favourite sayings: everything in moderation, including moderation.
On a lighter note, I'm also trying so hard not to swear but it is tough! So far Clementine only has a few words, but I worry that if we keep up the way we are her first word will be a 4 letter one. Both my husband and I are pretty bad. Just today he was working on something that was frustrating him, and he was muttering and swearing under his breath. "Bloody f&*% s#$t c@#p son of a…" and on it went. He caught me glaring at him and toned it down to, "bloody bastard, mumble, grumble…" Because that's not swearing apparently. It's safe to say that we have some work to do in this department. Please tell me we're not the only ones...
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
a photo from my very first trip to Australia, when I was your typical Canadian backpacker
Today I am so, so excited to be featured on one of my favourite blogs, A Cup of Jo. Joanna's lovely editor, Caroline, interviewed me about my experience of being a Canadian mother in Australia. When she sent over the first round of questions, I found myself writing an essay in response to each and every one. It was the first time I've ever sat down, reflected on and put into writing all of my thoughts on being an expat. I had so much to say, and I kept thinking, "I should write a book about this!" For now though, you can read my interview here.
And if you've found your way here via A Cup of Jo, welcome! I hope you can make yourself a cup of tea and stay a while.
p.s. As a disclaimer, I know that my experience does not speak for all expats in Australia, or even for all Canadian expats in Australia. I did my best to keep that in mind as I answered the questions, and also to keep in mind that while I have travelled throughout Australia, I have only ever lived in Sydney.
Friday, August 1, 2014
I've been thinking a lot lately about being an expat (you'll understand why soon), and the inevitable homesickness that comes with living overseas. I had always loved to travel and had never actually felt homesick until I moved to Australia in 2009. Then, after having a baby here, I became even more homesick! I do, however, have some coping mechanisms and I thought I'd share them here today. If any of my fellow expats have other tips please share in the comments section.
Skype. This one is pretty obvious and is the main way I deal with missing my family and friends. I Skype with my mom at least 3 times a week, and honestly don't know what I'd do without it. Often we'll have Skype on while one of us is cooking or eating, and it makes it feel like we're just hanging out together and sharing a meal.
WhatsApp. One of my best friends just moved to Canada and we've been using WhatsApp to stay in touch. Just like when she lived here, we'll text each other bits and pieces throughout the day, normal things, like what we ate for lunch and photos of what we're up to. The casual nature of it makes it feel like she hasn't left. One of the things that makes me the saddest about living here, is that I feel like I've lost that close relationship with some of my best friends. We keep in touch but I know so little about their everyday life. Communicating every day, about the little things, really helps.
Maintain your traditions. Australians don't do Thanksgiving and Halloween has only recently been embraced, mostly by kids. One year we had a Halloween party, which mostly seemed to confuse our Australian friends, and was hilarious in its own way. I do make an effort each year to celebrate Thanksgiving though. Some years we've invited friends over and other times it has just been the two of us, eating stuffing and pumpkin pie, but I love it. One of my fellow Canadian yoga teaching friends and I were talking about doing a Thanksgiving yoga workshop followed by a feast this October, so stay tuned for that...
Have expat friends. This point was really driven home to me the other night. I was at a staff dinner where many of us are Canadians/Americans with Australian partners. We ended up having such a great heart to heart. It was so nice to connect with others who are in the exact same boat as me. We talked about our long term plans, missing our family, raising kids here and all kinds of other topics near and dear to us. Fair warning though, if you're a long term expat, make sure you also have friends who are from your new city. If your circle of friends is made up exclusively of other expats, you will never feel totally settled and you will be losing friends constantly (I know from experience).
Have a visit to look forward to. There was a stretch of 2.5 years where I didn't go home, and I didn't have a trip to look forward to. It was way too long! Even though our next visit to Vancouver is still 4 months away (and we booked our flights a couple of months ago), it makes such a difference to have a date in the calendar circled. Something to look forward to.
Don't expect everything to be the same at home. This is something I struggle with when I go home. There's a part of me that wants things to be just the same as when I left, but of course, they're not. My friends have new partners and jobs, businesses close and new ones take their place, and even my family moves and shifts. It's true that the only constant is change, and it's best to embrace it.
My next tips all fall under the same umbrella of immersing yourself:
Read. When I'm feeling homesick I like to re-read my favourite Canadian authors, like Douglas Coupland and L.M. Montgomery. I find the familiarity really soothing.
Watch. Watching movies and tv shows from Canada helps to quell the sadness that creeps in when I start to miss that good ol' Canadian accent. Earlier this year, I got hooked on Arctic Air. Sure, it's not the best show ever made but the Canadian accents and references made me happy and I was devastated that it was cancelled.
Listen. Every week I listen to my favourite podcast, The Vinyl Cafe, and it never fails to warm my heart. I also like to listen to CBC radio on my computer. I love hearing the news from Vancouver; it makes me feel like I'm still in touch.
Eat. Ok, so we don't really have a Canadian cuisine, per se, but we do have poutine. And maple syrup. And bloody caesars. And pumpkin pie. And enjoying them does me a world of good when I'm longing for Vancouver.