quick canapes – some for the parents and others for toddler

I thought i would share some quick and simple canapes.

The first is a pear, danish blue and walnut on dark rye ,

ingredients: makes 20

1 pear ( core and slice thin) , 6 slices of dark rye cut off crust and toast cut each slice into 3 finger, mix 100 grams of cream cheese and 50 grams of blue cheese, 20 walnuts, assemble like the picture

Second is a smoked salmon rose with chive cream cheese.  Fast simple and flashy. Same ingredients just swap the pear and no blue cheese for smoked salmon.  If you have more time make little picklets instead of the toast. 

Rice balls are a hit with both toddlers and parents

This recipe makes 12 golf ball size balls.

Ingredients ( place all in a rice cooker according to manufacturers directions)

1 cup raw jasmine rice ( don’t use basmatti)

1  1/2 cups warm water

1/2 cup grated carrots

200 g of diced baby beets ( you can use fresh but from a tin is much simpler)

Plastic wrap

once rice has cooked, place a small portion inside plastic wrap, twist ends until tight, let cool slightly unwrap once set ( about 15 minutes) and eat.

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Things I’ve learnt from our recent trip to the hospital…

Sash with oxygen and NG-tube.

As some may know, our littlest man has just returned home to us after a 9 day stint in the Royal Children’s Hospital. 3 days prior he had been coughing through the night but then seemed better. Than the fever started and then he stopped eating. After he failed to have a wet nappy in 8 hours we took ourselves off to emergency at RCH and after a lengthy wait for a bed were admitted to the Sugarglider ward. Thankfully, whilst things got a lot worse, they also got better and Sash is bouncing and babbling beside me as if none of this has happened. Meanwhile I thought it was useful to share some of our practical lessons.

1. Bring in your own bedding ASAP. The new RCH is freezing and the hospital blankets just don’t cut it. In addition, the shock you may experience with your child in hospital will also drop your body temperature. Half way through I asked for my own quilt and pillow to be bought in and it made the world of difference. I was warm, I wasn’t tangled in millions of hospital blankets and a little bit of home was with me in the ward.

2. Be nice to your team- especially the nurses. You’re an anxious parent, the nursing staff understand that, but that’s no excuse for giving them a hard time. They love children too- it’s why they went into paediatric nursing- so they’re doing the best for your child and have all the experience that you don’t. Forming a bond with your nursing team is really important as they see your child over an 8 hour shift and the doctors depend on their opinion as they only drift in for 10 minute examinations. Our night nurse was a savior and worked with me to track the early signs of Sash’s respiratory distress which meant many tests had been performed before ICU were called in.

3. Use the volunteer staff. When you’re in there by yourself it’s hard to get the simplest things done, such as have a shower or grab some lunch. The volunteers are able to look after your baby whilst you do these things and after a stressful night having a shower (or having a brief cry in the shower in my case) will keep you sane.

4. Take family and friends up on their offers. I’m an independent woman so this one was a hard lesson to learn- but having the mothers take home our washing and returning with clothes that matched was great. They also did all the washing at home so the boys were kept going too. Very important, unless your husband is talented- ask your mum to pick out the clothes. Dave picks= his tracksuit pants, black bra, white old t-shirt. Mum’s picks= comfortable leggings with shift dress with matching underwear and I felt presentable.

5. Incorporate siblings.  The new RCH is a great play ground for all siblings-each ward has a play therapist and fully equipped play room (games, paints etc), the playground is great, there is a two storey aquarium and of course the meer cats. We had Oscar in every night for family dinner and then I went and played whilst Dave stayed with Sash. AT home I would usually read to Oscar in bed- so we continued this in the hospital.

6. There is no shame in leaving the room during procedures. Sash had to have a nasogastric tube inserted twice during his visit. Whilst it was essential and didn’t cause him harm- it is invasive and frightening to watch. If you don’t want images of your child screaming whilst they insert the tubes then opt out and let the medical staff do their job. Your job is to step in and comfort once it’s done.

I hope that none of you find yourselves in the RCH- but if you do I hope this a helpful guide that limits your stress a little.

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Fun times in the G (aka Geelong)

I’ve focussed alot on the weightier issues lately so I’ll begin with a quick summary and then move onto a report on our lastest Sunday excursion.

I’ve moved on to the 1 million kilo challenge (www.1millionkilochallenge.com.au).  I highly recommend signing up.  It’s free to join and each week you have access to a meal plan which inlcudes recipes, shopping list etc and an exercise plan.  They’ve included options for vegetarians for each meal and the meals have been delish and easily made for the whole family.  In the first week I lost 0.6kg and I’m feeling great due to the large amounts of fruit and vegetables I’m eating.  Most importantly this seems to be an easy program to maintain.  It basically teaches you to minimise bread and pasta and include protein in each meal. 

Onto our latest Sunday adventure.  This week we decided to visit Dave’s old stomping ground and headed off to Geelong.  It was a fantastic day out.  Our personal highlights are as follows;

  • A highlight for Oscar was stopping at the side of the road near Avalon airport so he could watch the planes and their hangars.  An easy detour which he adored.  Now to find a similar great viewing area near Tullamrine.
  • For me the highlight was stopping at the side of the freeway fruit shop (near the big servo and info centre, just before Avalon).  I would have enjoyed our visit if only for the owner of the fruit shop who was hilarious, but even better was the 3 x300g punnets for $5, Geelong honey and delicious coffee scrolls from Geelong’s Papa Mio Bakery.  All produce is grown/produced locally, so you’re supporting farmers, not supermarkets.
  • Dave’s favourite was our visit to the National Wool Museum (http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/nwm/).  His summary was ‘like scienceworks without the crowds’.  The museum has permanent exhibits examining the impoartnce of the wool industry as well as a gallery space and a touring exhibition space.  On Sunday we saw an amazing photography exhibit highlighting ship salvage operations and undersea life (sadly this ended yesterday).  The touring exhibit present until 26th February is Backyard adventures.  It’s great fun for everyine with a giant bee you can fly to collect pollen, nightvision googles, gian grass and tunnels and even insect dress-ups.  For mechanically minded kids they also have a giant loom set up to make custom-made carpets-Oscar could have watched this the whole time.  We loved this excursion so much we bought museum membership.  For $35/year; 2 adults and up to 4 children can visit the museum.  You can swap your two adults so I can take my mum, nan or others when Dave is busy.  I’m really looking forward to other 2012 exhibits inlcuding ‘wish you were here’ which looks at postacrds and ‘permian monsters’.

I haven’t spoken much about the waterfront.  The Geelong triatholon was on so access was a little difficult.  Given our love of Geelong we’re happy to leave this for another day.

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Justify my love

Whilst I’ve been focussing on improving my overall physical fitness, I’d like to widen my New Years Resolution to include strengthening my emotional health.  Having all those hormones raging around over the last 12 months has sent me on quite the rollercoaster of emotions.  I had been feeling like they were finally starting to sort themselves out.  The physical effects such as night sweats and fuzzy hair had finally ceased and whilst I was still crying during the workcover ad’s I could sit through an episode of Dr Phil completely dry-eyed. 

 I began to question my emotional health however when I started counting the times I justified myself to people over a week.  It seems that I have lost my strong self who was confident in her choices and replaced her with someone who needs to justify those choices to complete strangers.  This has come up in particular with choices I have made concerning my children; namely the choice to have a caesarean birth, the choice to use a bottle rather than breast feed and the choice to put my baby in childcare and go back to work.  Strangers and acquaintances have felt the need to question all of these choices, and I’ve felt the need to justify myself to them.   But why?  I don’t know them, I would never ask their opinion on these matters  and I would never opinionate to complete strangers myself.  Yet somehow I’ve lacked the emotional strength to ignore them.


So whilst continuing  my health kick into its 4th week, this week in addition to exercising and eating well I’m going to work on getting my self-confidence back.  That isn’t to say I’m not going to take advice anymore- but I’m only listening to advice given by people whose opinion I respect, and once I’ve made a decision I’m going to remind myself why that is the right choice for me. 


Weight wise I’ve lost -0.3kg this week and reduced my fitness age from 45 years to 36 years, which is great news.  Going back to work last week I found fitting exercise in hard.  I seemed to spend my free time catching up on the work I would have done on those two days.  But in the end that’s just an excuse as the housework can wait for 30 minutes.  So I’m going to try for 30 minutes/day this week, and see if I can build it up from there.

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My parents marriage is an arrange marriage, they have been married for almost 40 years. It happens a lot in Vietnam and as I’ve come to realise it’s pretty common in Australia too. My cousin last week just got engaged, they met through a match maker, both families met and a month later they were engaged. My cousin has never been kissed and my Aunt was getting worried that her daughter was going to turn in to spinster and she would have no grand children.

“If you don’t get married what are you going to do with your life?”

That really made me arch up, she is 32, well-educated, is financially stable and is such a beautiful person anyone would be lucky to have her as a friend let alone a life partner. Discussion came about in regards to expectations of this arrangement. She had to be a traditional wife, cook clean and not permitted to work. The problem I have here is the word permitted. Permitted, isn’t that a little too far and so early in the relationship. Permitted, really? My Aunt wants grand children and soon.

With every profession you need qualifications, what skills do you need to be a great parent no matter how the couple starts out? First aid certificate, councillor, cook, mediator, etc ….

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Is child-rearing really responsible for Posh’s body?

Some people seem to lose their baby weight quickly and celebrities in particular seem to experience accelerated weight loss post the birth of their stunning children. When media-types speculate on the weight loss there are always two reasons given by skinny celebrity; (1) I’m breast feeding and/or (2) it’s due to running after the child/children. Posh spice in particular when queried about her slim, post-baby figure suggested it was purely due to running around after her children and was a testimony to her mothering skills (OK I may have added the last bit in, but I was reading between her lines).


This week started with middle back pain which prevented me from exercising and then continued with little sleep, too much work around the house or excursions and thus found me too tired to do any scheduled exercise. This provided me with the perfect opportunity to test Posh’s claims as I investigated if solely conducting the business of child-rearing was enough to cause weight loss. Child rearing seems to mainly consist of incidental exercises such as rough housing with big O (i.e. weight training), conducting a tour of the zoo in half a day (i.e. power walking) and lots of lunges, dancing and squats (i.e. Justine Clark, toilet training, train playing etc). Whilst this was all physically demanding and left hubby and I too tired to Wii it rarely had our hearts pounding so aerobic exercise was minimal.


The results; Prue: BMI = 32.51, Weight = 88.5kg (-0.2kg)

                      David: BMI = 33.36, Weight = 98.75kg (+0.5kg)

So it would appear from this weeks experiment that the results are variable. For me the result was better than expected but just drove home that I really need to find the time somewhere this week for some heart-pounding Zumba. For David it was much more disheartening.

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You don’t see fat kids at the park

Hi and welcome to the end of week 1 of our New Years Resolution to get healthier. If you want instant gratification regarding our results scroll to the end now…if you’ve been enticed into reading by the controversial title of this week’s blog then continue on.

Anyone who has been on a ‘change your lifestyle’ plan knows that as soon as you start you begin to notice everything around you connected with your own ambitions for change. For me it began with simply counting the ingredients in everything I picked up, which developed into checking my favourite recipes and cook books. Such obsession with food was expected given my diet plan was based on limiting highly processed foods from my life. But what I hadn’t expected prior to starting was my sub-conscious focus on observing my boys and their diet and exercise. The first thing that occurred to me was that whilst I had strong ideas on the type of emotional and empathetic values I wanted to instill in our boys (such as be confident in yourself and kind to others) and had tried emulate them within myself as a role model for them, but I hadn’t adapted the same approach to their health values.

I’ve realised I have adopted more of a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach. If I’m sick I wait it out for weeks, but if the kids are sick they’re straight to the doctors. I’m planning Oscar’s first visit to the dentist but neither Dave nor I have been in a decade. Thankfully, to date, whilst making poor food choices for ourselves (always in secret when the kids are in bed like food-junkies) I’m confident we’ve made good choices for Oscar. He doesn’t have treat foods at home as we know he’ll have them when out with the grandmothers each week, he loves fruit and will tolerate vegetables and has never been given soft drink. This isn’t to say we haven’t stumbled, but we’ve paid the price and learnt our lesson (Oscar is really susceptible to sugar and our angel turns into a demon with the smallest wedge of chocolate cake).

The exercise side to this is interesting. We haven’t actively pushed Oscar into activity and away from the TV but like the sugar incidents we quickly learnt that Oscar has always been an active kid who thrives when outside but becomes a tantrum-throwing devil when kept in doors for long periods of time, so trips to the park are for us a regular occurrence. Thus yesterday I found myself at the park when my epiphany occurred and I realised you don’t see fat kids at the park, but you do see fat parents. So whilst the experts are talking about how our children learn from us, in regards to exercise I don’t think this is entirely true. Oscar’s exercise choices are never likely to be influenced by our own exercise choices- he doesn’t like to run like his dad or dance like his mum. So perhaps our instilling an exercise philosophy in Oscar will be as easy as encouraging him to do what he likes-going to the park- and he’ll be fine.  I’m not saying I’m giving up the exercise caper- I’d like to still be around to see him grow up and exercise will prevent a heart attack or two- but for now I think I’ll let him discover what activities he likes for himself and give up worrying that the TV he watches is going to turn him into fat Albert one day. 

Week 1 results: Prue: weight = -0.7kg, BMI = 32.58

                                 Dave: weight = -0.9kg, BMI = 33.19

Note on week 1: I have to say that whilst we were conscious of our food choices this week we really slipped into it, rather than hitting it with a bang. Claire’s cake, the Lions fruit cake and other misdemeanours were still too inviting. What was encouraging was how I’ve begun to look forward to my daily sessions with the wii. I’ve mixed it up (Zumba’s effect cannot be repeated on consecutive days yet) and that’s kept it fun and do-able. Dave admittedly is one of those annoying people who lose weight by thinking about it- he may of consumed less calories this week but performed no exercise- bah.

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