Our Pram is Full

I have learnt a heck of a lot in the last 3 and a half months… I have learnt that babies are resilient as hell, NICU mums are a special bread of lady, that you can get addicted to monitors, that life is precious, that a change in rooms can mean more than just a different view and that gigil cafe at Monash Children’s Hospital can sustain you for 3 and a half months. I have learnt that Dave and I are a better team than we have ever been before, I have learnt that I have a voice and I can speak up, I can advocate and I can do more than I realised… and I have learnt that as much as I wish it was, my experience is not unique.

This week Dave and I are Participating in the Mercy Pram Jam. An event that is designed to raise awareness and much needed funds for research to prevent stillbirth and complications from premature birth. Even though our experiences have been at the Monash medical centre and the Monash children’s hospital, the pram jam is unique in its purpose… and being one of the 4 level 6 NICUs in Victoria, the knowledge gained by them through their research has the potential to impact the whole state… and any research that prevents the heart ache of still birth and the roller coaster of premature birth is a cause worth championing.

Dave and I first heard about Pram Jam in November last year when a Facebook friend of mine posted about her Pram Jam efforts. At the time, we had just lost Joshua, our beautiful first born son. The idea of raising pushing a pram to raise awareness was something that I really liked the idea of. It ticked all the boxes for me… a fun idea, a list worthy item and a good cause. But last year it was too soon… this year we found ourselves with a new baby boy also born way to soon, a tiny warrior with a huge fight on his hands and when we saw an opportunity to raise some money but more importantly awareness, we knew that this year we would be pram jamming. At the beginning of October when Dave and I decided to sign up, I thought we would have had weeks at home with Isaac already… well maybe a week… but there was no doubt in my mind that he would be home for it. As November got closer and closer I realised that there was a very real possibility that we would be pram jamming with an empty pram… not a problem, but not how I had pictured it… but today we are starting, and after 107 days he is home… and I am learning to drive the pram… which it turns out isn’t always as easy as it looks.

We are jamming for Josh and for Isaac, but we are also jamming for those mothers with whom I shared a knowing nod, for the mothers who weren’t as lucky as me and didn’t get to take their baby home. We are jamming for the babies that we left in the hospital who we hope will go home soon… but we are also jamming for the babies who will not. We are jamming with hope that the money we raise will make a difference, that discoveries will be made and that other families won’t have to travel the same path we have. We are jamming because even though I felt alone in my experience, I am not… We are jamming for the mums of the one baby in every 130 pregnancies that ends in still birth in Australia… We are jamming for all the families who lose their babies to the biggest killer of children under five worldwide, being born too soon… We are jamming to make it stop.

So how can you help? Well, just getting this far is a good start… but if you would like to support our Pram Jam fundraising you can also do that by clicking this link… https://pramjam2017.everydayhero.com/au/emma

I am not good at asking for money, in fact, it is something that I really don’t like doing… but this cause is bigger than me. It is something that 2 years ago I would have never thought about, but something that now makes me who I am, a mum of 2, raiser of 1.

This week Dave and I will be walking 20kms across the week… it may not sound like much, but given my novice pram status, our ‘new to us’ baby at home, the fact that I haven’t exercised well in almost 2 years and the very real possibility that my pelvic or abdominal muscles may not make it… it is quite the task and we are only 2kms in… but the goal is good and the cause is better… come pram jam with us.

Home Sweet Home

So a little while ago now, Dave and I brought a house… ok so in terms of home ownership… it wasn’t that long ago, but it’s long enough that I have had some time to let it sink in.  And it turns out, that even after all this thinking time, I am still not really sure how I feel. It’s a mixture of things to be honest… maybe I am still making up my mind.

There are lots of things I am really excited about… I will get to do some little changes and really make it my own, I will be able to paint, decorate and put my veggie garden actually in the ground.  But mostly I am excited about the fact that it will be ours… and this is something that we have been thinking about, planning and saving for, for a long time.  I have even found my self showing pictures of the new place to anyone who’ll look, like a proud grandparent… I am really excited that it’s all happening… but now that it is I am also super nervous about moving.

It turns out that while I like the idea of change… when it comes to following through… i’m not so good. I would love to think of myself as someone who embraces new things, exciting adventures and tackles the next chapter of life head on… but it’s just not me… in reality I spend a lot of time second guessing my decisions, even when I know I have made the right choice, and becoming a home owner has been no different. I have been struggling to get my head around moving suburbs, finding a new supermarket, a new coffee shop and a comfy new walking track and getting over the fact that where I am now, really feels like the place to be.  The truth is it’s not really that far from where we are now, but it isn’t the same.  As my school would have made me say… “It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different”. And it’s true… it is just different. It will take a while to feel comfy, to find my spots and get used to traveling from a different place (even though for most things it’ll take the same time). When we move, which is actually still a couple of month off anyway, it’ll just take some time to adjust…

I know that this time next year I will look at this blog, and think about how silly I was to be worrying, but I still need to let it out now.  I think I have really just discovered the truth of the saying that ‘you don’t know what you have, until you lose it’.  And as I start to reflect on where we live at the moment, with my current suburb comforts, filled with convenient commutes to my friends places, an awesome little cafe, green streets and a supermarket a familiar as my own house, I am reminded of how blessed we have been to have had this opportunity. To have been allowed to stay where we have in a neat little home, perfectly located.  It will be hard to say goodbye.

I have to remember though, that a lot of prayer went into our house hunting, and the way things fell into place when we purchased our new home is also a reminder that God listens and he provides, but even more importantly that he knows what is best.  So if we have trusted him to help make the decision, I have to keep trusting now that the decision is done.

So between now and when we move in May, I am sure this state of limbo will continue, being torn between comfortable and new… familiar and exciting… but I know that it will be good… and different… but still good.

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Sometimes means sometimes

I am currently on day four of trying to cross no. 11 “Go 1 week without a sometimes food” off this years list… and it’s actually been both easier and harder than I had imagined.  It was something that I had put on the list because I thought it was time to address another one of my bad food habits…. but what does it all mean… Well over the last couple of years there has been a push to shift the terminology around food to move from good foods and bad foods to everyday foods and sometimes foods…  in fact in the most recent update of the Australian Dietary Guidelines ‘sometimes foods’ are now referred to as ‘discretionary choices’… however the idea remains the same… it’s a pretty simple concept… you can eat what ever you want, but there some foods which you can have all the time and then others that are best left to occassionally… here enters my third bad food habit confession…

Em’s Bad Food Habit no. 3

I love sometimes foods, which is not that surprising to most… I love all the foods I shouldn’t and generally speaking the ‘sometimes food’ category has become and an everyday food.  Sure they might be different each day, but most days… oh who am I kidding… every day I have a sometimes food… in fact, if I am honest I probably have a few.  It might not be massive, it could be something simple like a couple of biscuits for afternoon tea, dessert after dinner, or some chocolate with a cuppa, but it’s always there… it’s not sometimes.  In fact most of the foods that I would associate with the word ‘treat’, aren’t really treats anymore, they have become staples.  It’s not special or exciting or sometimes even enjoyable when I have these foods because they are way too common.  If I am going to get better at this practicing what I preach business I need to make sometimes foods sometimes… not all the time.

So why can we only eat them sometimes? 

Well like all my other attempts at practicing what I preach there are a couple of reasons…

  1. I guess we should start with what exactly is a ‘sometimes food’… well according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines discretionary foods are those that are not directly necessary for a healthy body, that is they don’t contain enough nutrients that the body needs to justify their intake.  These foods are also often high in sugars, salt, saturated fat and at times alcohol and are best described as energy dense.  That is you get a lot of energy or kilojoules/calories, for not much else.

  2. ‘Sometimes foods’ or ‘Discretionary choices’ are put this in category for a reason.  The dietitians of the world aren’t food kill joys, we do actually want our and your diets to be the best choices for a long, happy and healthy life.  Having said that we know that these foods are things we are wired to like, its just the way it is… thats why they are ok sometimes… or with discretion… If we have them too often, we get too much of things we don’t need, or are detrimental to our health, and we are often displacing things we should be getting.  I know if given the choice I will always choice chocolate, whatever the other option is… but it doesn’t make it a good choice, in fact maybe I am choosing it instead of something I do need, like dairy, fruit or vegetables.

  3. They are easy to over consume, really easy… being so energy dense it doesn’t take a large volume to get lots of nutrients that our body just doesn’t need.  Foods high in fat and sugar are also high in calories and as I mentioned in my original dietitian rant ‘enough is enough’, the reality is if too many calories go in and not enough out, it causes weight gain, and excess weight leads to a whole other list of health concerns.  Also those high in saturated fat can also lead elevated cholesterol which increases risk of heart disease and stroke… not something that is conducive to a long, happy and healthy life.

When it really boils down to it… other than enjoyment they don’t offer enough of what we need to have then everyday, yes they are an important part of a healthy balanced diet, but they need to be a small part, not an everyday item.  They also can’t stop us from getting the things that we actually do need.

My goal…

Jelly SliceWell this week its to go without them all together,  which is probably a little extreme… and very unsustainable… in fact while I have found it quite easy to find alternative everyday snacks, I have been thinking about all the the sometimes foods I would prefer to be eating (I actually dreamt about gingerbread biscuits and chocolate last night)… this is why total deprivation and cold turkey tactics just don’t work, but that’s a whole different blog!  My longer term goal is to get some balance back, to make sure I get my fruit, veg and diary in by using healthier snacks rather than always picking things that I know just aren’t that good for me.  Again just like the salad goal… it’s pretty hard to measure, but here is a little list of alternative go to snacks that I can have instead of my regular sometimes go to.
– a piece of fruit or a small bowl of cut up fruit and salad
– a small tub of low fat yogurt
– some veggie sticks and low fat dip
– some air popped pop corn
– a handful of dried fruit
– a handful of nuts
– some low fat cheese on some vita weats

So I guess the rough plan is that more often I choose something from the list above or something similar… making sure I am more deliberate about getting both my pieces of fruit for the day, rather than substituting them for something best left for sometimes, practicing what I preach… sometimes means sometimes.

You Don’t Win Friends With Salad

It’s time for my first food confession of the year… and while my battle over breakfast continues – although I am glad to report that I am getting better, and so far this year I have been back at work for a week and I have had a good breakfast everyday… but summer has challenged me on another life long bad habit…

Em’s Bad Food Habit no. 2

I really don’t like eating salad…  I love vegetables – in fact I can’t think of a single cooked vegetable that I don’t enjoy… but when it comes to fresh salad… I just struggle… really really struggle… It’s always been like this… even in summer when I was younger, my brothers and I would always go for some cooked veg over salad… despite the fact that a salad would have been much more refreshing.  As I have gotten older there have been numerous occasions when I have eaten salad because I was being watched, or I was at someones house or I didn’t want to be a bad example, but at home… I still avoid it.

When it comes to getting my 5 veggies, not eating salad isn’t that big a deal, but I know that if I am going to practice what I preach… I am going to have to start eating my fresh greens.  (as a side note Dave loves salads, so learning to eat them would also make family meals over summer much more enjoyable for Davo.)

There is no reason I don’t eat them, they just don’t get me excited like roasted veggies do… the thought of sitting down to a salad makes me feel like I am missing out on something better, something more satisfying, something tasty.  But the truth is a salad can be all of those things… I just need to get creative.

So why is salad so important?

Well… it’s not really salad… it’s vegetables and if I am really honest over summer, while I would happily eat hot vegetables everyday, I often don’t want to cook them in the heat, especially in the weather we have had this week… I don’t want to be cooking anything… so I just skip them… which is not ideal… so salad needs to become the way I get my 5 veg in the warmer weather.  And why do we need to get our 5 veg? Well let me tell you…

  1. Veggies are nutrient dense – that is they are packed full of nutritious vitamins and minerals without all the extra calories.  They give us just what we need and very little of what we don’t.  Different veggies have different vitamins and minerals so the best way to make sure you are getting what you need is to eat a variety different types and colour veggies.

  2. Veggies are also high in fibre – they keep us regular and help our bodies get rid of waste as efficiently as possible.

Just like a regular breakfast, getting adequate amounts of vegetables has no downside… it helps maintain a healthy weight, assists with waste disposal and provides us with exactly what we need.   The key with vegetables is variety… lots of different colours and types, as they all offer slightly different things, but if you are including a little bit of all of them regularly you can’t go wrong.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be there.

My goal…

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The reality is I need to embrace salads, not the creamy ones filled with pasta, potato and rice, but the salad salads, filled with salad greens and what not.  I need to practice what I preach and if I can’t have cooked veg, or I can’t be bothered cooking veg, then I have to go with salad… it’s not a meal if it doesn’t have vegetables.  (In fact a good rule of thumb is to make sure half the plate at lunch and dinner is non-starchy vegetables, that is… everything except potato and corn).  I need to take some of my own advice and give it a go, try a few different salads, play around with different combos and maybe even through some fruit and cheese in there to spice it up, but not too much or it’ll be missing the whole point.

I am not really sure how I will measure this… but it is something that needs to be done… I have to be committed and give it a go… in fact the picture above is dinner from Monday night… my first attempt at a friends dressed Greek Salad recipe… maybe I can post some more pictures and some salad recipes of the favourites I find along the way… but most importantly I need to practice what I preach… walk the talk… eat my salad… and be better for it…

Beating Breakfast

Ok… so this is my first attempt and practicing what I preach and sharing that journey with you, I have decided to set out with a little structure, just so that it is clear what to do and what not to do… because trust me, just because I am currently doing it, doesn’t mean it is ok… So here is how it will work… I will let you in on my secret bad food habits, tell you why it is bad and what needs to be done instead and then tell you my plan… coz lets face it accountability is what makes the world go round…

Em’s Bad Food Habit no. 1

Breakfast is something that I am constantly telling my clients is important, but unfortunately it is also my worst meal of the day… I just find it really hard… so hard that  last year I had 3 breakfast specific items on my list and this years list includes a breakfast ultimatum… coming in at no. 8 is ‘Stop buying breakfast regularly’… it’s time to break my bad breakky habits, which include skipping it altogether, allowing chocolate to be an appropriate choice and various forms of liquid breakfast including up & go and ice breaks.  Now if you want me to I can justify all of these choices, but the reality is its not ok… I need to start the day right… and that means a nutritious and regular breakfast.

So why is breakfast so important?

Well there are a couple of reasons…

  1. Our bodies work with a feedback system, telling us when to eat and when we are full, the second part of that feedback isn’t as quick as the first, but regular meals can help the body better regulate these systems to make them more effective.

  2. Our brains need fuel to work… no breakfast usually means a slower brain, well not exactly but you know what I mean, concentration is hard without food.

  3. Breakfast can help with weight control… research tells us that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who skip this meal regularly!

Basically having breakfast has no downside… it helps maintain a healthy weight, regulates our body and makes us work better… what is there to lose…  The good news is it doesn’t have to be gourmet or fancy… your best bet is a high fibre, low GI choice… from a cereal to multi-grain toast to a breaky muffin (not the store brought variety)… the hardest bit is actually doing it… or maybe that’s just me.

My goal…

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Well it is pretty much what is on the list… stop buying breakfast… when I buy breakfast I make bad choices… usually an ice break from 7-11… it not only expensive… but just lazy…  since I have started my new job I have been making a concerted effort to have breakfast before I leave the house so that I have no reason to stop… and so I don’t buy rubbish… and so far there have been some good days, but some of my old habits have snuck back in.  I have often stuffed up and brought an ice break, but there has still been a whole lot more eating breakfast at home than I have done probably in the last 4 years…  so as a little encouragement for me to stop, and a deterrent from going back… I have done some maths for my weekday breakfasts… an ice break from 7-11 costs $3.80, that’s at the very least $19 (if I don’t get tempted by all the other goodies available) which is $912 a year… wow… which also comes out of my pocket money which I could be using for much more exciting things… compared to having breaky at home… lets take some Weetbix, just as an example… 3 Weetbix with a cup of low fat milk costs about 68cents… that’s $3.40 a week… or $163.2 a year… so by just having breakfast at home I can save $749… that’s CRAZY!

So not only will I save a bunch of money… but I will be setting myself up for the day, helping improve my intake (coz lets face it, everyone knows Weetbix are better for you than iced coffee) and hopefully my weight…  but more importantly I will be practicing what I preach… walking the talk… and being better for it…

No. 17… Camping… in Winter

I survived… that’s probably the first thing I need to say… but the second is, it actually wasn’t that bad… seriously, it turns out I am not that bad at camping. This weekend Dave and I headed north to Echuca Moama for a spot of camping… now in fairness, it wasn’t as rough as it could have been, it was really just a warm up. We stayed at a caravan park… but still in a tent and it was still very very very cold.

Generally speaking I am a bit soft… well at least that’s the way I think of my self. I am not super good at things that require co-ordination or are outside, I am not really sure why this is… it just is, but for a long time I have wished this wasn’t the case. Recently I have had lots of blogs about wanting to be better, healthier, fitter and stronger… generally a better person, because when it comes down to it, even though I know they are good for me sports are not my strong point… in fact usually they don’t go well, it’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I am just not very good… and I had putting camping in this same boat. I have actually been camping more than I realized, a few school camps, lots of years at SYG and even a previous trip with Dave and his family. But between trips I always start to panic and convince myself that it isn’t a good idea, but it turns out I was wrong. I actually enjoy it, sure it would be nicer a little warmer, but I still enjoy it. My sleeping bag is warm, my tent is generally dry and I usually get to see a part of Australia that I haven’t seen before, plus it usually means getting away from the business of everyday life and spending some quality time with Davo… which I love and as a bonus he loves too… (camping that is… not always having constant attention from me).

Prior to the trip Dave decided that he would encourage me with getting me some gear to making camping easier… earlier this year I go a new sleeping bag… which was awesome, and just last week I got some new walking/hiking shoes so that I didn’t have to wreck my nice purple runners out in the bush… and now that he knows we can do it… camp that is… the list of potential purchases is growing. One thing I will be looking into before our next trip though is how to cook on a trangia (camp cooker) properly. I think we did a pretty good job for rookies but I am sure we can do it better… Maybe even perfect our new favourite dish ‘Peachy Keeny Custard’.

Anyway, here are a few of my favourite photos from the trip… oh and some of my new favourite tradition, photos using the camera timer with the town sign.

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Oh and I got to cross number 47. ‘Lie on the ground and look at the stars off the list too… win!