Sunday, 30 December 2012

Playdough & pancakes

Having recently renovated our house we have a brand, spanking new kitchen in which I quite enjoy cooking in. But my time is often limited so I when I cook I want to do so fast.

One of Isabella's favourite things to do is "help" me in the kitchen. Helping often involves stirring, mixing & pouring. Not just in the bowl but on the floorboards, the bench and her clothes. It's double the work but more fun, or so I tell myself. So with Isabella's helping hands and my preference for quick meal making I wanted to share two of our favourites (one for eating and one for playing) - playdough & pancakes.

No cook playdough

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 Tbs cooking oil
  • 1 cup of cold water
  • 2 drops of food colouring

1. Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl
2. Combine wet ingredients in a seperate bowl.
3. Make a well in middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the centre of the well. Mix together with your hands until it forms a dough.
4. Knead the dough with your hands until you have the right consistancy. You may need to add more water or flour.

One-cup pancakes

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup of milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon of oil or butter


1.Put the flour, milk & egg in a mixing bowl and whisk until its a smooth consistency.

2. Put a large pan on a medium heat and add some olive oil or butter. Once that melts, add a large spoonful of the batter and cook in batches, flipping over the pancake and cooking the other side when it forms lots of little bubbles on top and is golden underneath. It will take a few minutes to cook each one.




Friday, 14 September 2012

Rest easy risotto

My rest easy oven baked risotto. The left one has parmesan
cheese and the right has goat's feta.Tastes better than it looks!
I looove risotto! Yum, yum, YUM! The the saltiness of the stock, the tangy sweetness of white wine and the gluggy, sticky rice is just too delicious.

What I don't like about risotto is the damn hard work you've got to put into it. Stirring, stirring, stirring until you feel like your arm is about to drop off - it's called the risotto cramp.  It starts in your shoulder then slowly works it's way along your arm, extending into each of your fingers like crippling arthritis. This is where I ask my husband to take over. I am a wimp. He's got muscles and he can get the risotto on my plate faster than what I can.

It may sound romantic, cooking risotto together, sipping on leftover cooking wine and chatting about the day while leaving the kids to scream. But it can be even better than this! It's called 'Rest easy, oven baked risotto'.  So throw out your pain in the arm risotto recipe and take notes on this one.


50g butter
1 large leek or onion thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
1L of chicken or veg stock
600g of aborio rice
250 ml of dry white wine
1/2 (about 500g) of butternut pumpkin, peeled, desseded and cut into cubes
2 cups of baby spinach
2 tsp of olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese or goat's fetta.

N.B I generally cook by sight so if it looks like your risotto needs more liquid then add more stock. This receipe also tastes great with chicken added.


1. Preheat oven to 200 degress c. Melt butter in a large flameproof dish over medium heat until it's melted.

2. Add leek and garlic to the pan and cook until leek is soft. Pour in the stock, rice & wine. Bring to boil, pop the lid on and put it in the oven for 30 mins or until the rice is tender and the stock absorbed.

3. Place the pumpkin on a baking tray with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 mins until it is golden.

4. Once the risotto is cooked, stir through the pumpkin, baby spinach, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Serve it up. Yummy & arm cramp free!

A day in the life of a mum

Before I became a mum I had no idea what mums did all day. Especially a mum with a newborn baby.

My close friend Jem was the first of all my friends to marry and have a baby. When we would meet up for coffee I would have a hard time finding questions to ask. I just couldn't get my head into her world. For the first time I felt like there was a huge chasm of difference between us.

A couple of years later I was pregnant. At the time I remember picking up a book which details one woman's daily life with her newborn baby. The book was written with blunt honesty and precise detail - every minute was accounted for and nothing was left for the imagination. "So, this is what mums do all day," I said out loud. "Oh, help me."

As I trawled through this woman's account of her monotonous days involving nappy changes, breast feeding, settling, and cleaning, I worried. I realised. I learnt.

It was a busy day being a mum, a full day. There was no time for boredom and no "me time." Right now, this is my reality.

Having a newborn and a toddler means it's even more crazy and busy. Sometimes I feel like I spend all day wiping bums and feeding my children from the breast or fridge. I can't wait to get my alone time in the toilet or the shower. Some days I am lucky to get two children sleeping at once and I race around the house cleaning and trying to embrace the empty space with "me time." There are also many good things about being a stay at home mum  - play dates with friends, family outings, hours spent playing in the sunshine, and watching my children laugh, grow and change.

Sometimes when I am asked what I do all day, I sugar-coat it, like I am trying to sell my new career or make my life seem interesting and valuable. The reality is that although we have a lot of fun days, many are also hard work!

So, for those who don't know what it's like being a mum, here's a little insight into a day I had recently.

12am - Isabella wakes up screaming. Luke resettles her and Finn stirs and begins crying. I feed him and accidently fall asleep with him in my arms.

2.30am - I wake up and realise two hours have passed and I didn't finish the feed. I start all over, change two nappies and resettle finn. I fall asleep around 4am.

5 am - Isabella wakes up. Luke tries to get her back to bed. I am drifting in and out of sleep but wake to Finn at 5.30am. Isabella is up and not sleeping.

6.30am - I finish feeding Finn and start getting my breakfast.

6.30 - 8.30am - These two hours involve taking Issy to the toilet countless times, making her more breakfast, singing songs to Finn to make him smile, washing up, putting the clothes in the wash, a quick clean of house, get both kids dressed and settle Finn for a nap.

9.00am Isabella and I play a quick game of memory. Luke calls me and Isabella begins screaming for attention. Nothing works. I lose my cool, feel guilty and then we both say sorry. Finn wakes up and I breastfeed him while Isabella hits me over the head with a pillow and pulls my hair.

10.00am I pack the kids up for a quick trip to Grandma's house to drop off a card. Before we go I change Finn's nappy, quickly make some morning tea for Issy and have issues over putting on her shoes and socks.

11.00am Drop into grocery store and grab the essentials. A man asks me if Isabella is my sister. Ha, very funny. He says I look too young to be a parent. I think he is too old to chat me up.

11.30am We arrive at the park and I breastfeed Finn while Issy plays by herself. We then make a trip to the toilet and I watch Issy crawl around on the dirty public toilet floor while I sit on the loo. "Yuck Issy, get up!" While I wash my hands she runs off. I race out of the toilet with the pram but now she is nowhere in sight.

I spot a doberman dog on the loose and two sketchy looking men walking around the park. The park is also right next to the highway.My imagination goes wild with scenarios fit for the 6 o'clock news headlines. I begin to think the worse and start screaming out her name. I then see a flash of colour ahead and there's Isabella racing through the trees. I call out but she won't stop running. Finally she listens and sits down.

"We are going home RIGHT NOW!" I exclaim. Finlay is now crying and Issy sulks as I drag her to the car. I am angry on the outside but inside I am relieved she's okay.

12.30pm. Bedtime books and then settling Issy and Finn for bed. Issy keeps coming out but eventually after a stern word to her she falls asleep. I rock Finn in his cradle for 45 minutes and then he finally falls asleep. I fall asleep for 30 minutes.

3.00 pm. I have 15 minutes to myself where i make lunch and enjoy the peace and quiet.

3.15pm. Isabella wakes. I get her afternoon tea and begin dinner preparation.

4.00 pm Isabella and I play with the blocks and chat.

4.30 pm Finn wakes and I feed him.

5.15 pm Luke comes home and I finish the dinner prep and we have a quick chat while Issy goes to time out for screaming over and over again. Luke baths her and dresses her and they watch a show together on ABC 2.

6.15pm. Finn has lost the plot and won't stop screaming. I breastfeed him again, change his nappy and cuddle him. I then put him in a baby carrier and serve out dinner. He falls asleep in the carrier.

6.30pm. Dinner time - meatloaf - Isabella's new favourite. She keeps asking for more and more. She tries mashed potato for the first time in 18 months. Yay!

7.00 pm. I clean up dinner and Luke puts Issy to bed.

7.15 pm. I feed Finn, bath him and settle him to sleep in his cot.

8.30pm. Luke goes to bed and I begin my blog writing.

10.37pm. Now...I am tired! Wondering how many hours of sleep lay before me. Tomorrow I'll wake up and do it all again.

Sometimes days like this can be so draining. But when I go off to bed at night and check on my two sleeping children, I can only smile. My heart melts for them and my love for them only grows.

Welcome to my daily life.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Welcome to the world Finlay!

Since my last post almost two years ago a lot has changed. We have recently welcomed into the world a new little addition - Finlay Benjamin O'Connell. A beautiful boy born on June 30th at 5.20pm.

The journey of meeting Fin is a special one for me. Around this time last year I was told by my cardiologist that it was best to put off having a second child. I was experiencing a lot of trouble with the electrical rhythm of my heart. It was a scary and stressful time. I was hoping to try for a baby but instead I putting my name on a waiting list for an electrical study of my heart and popping calcium channel blockers to keep my beat regular.

There were many tears and prayers. Then after talking and praying with people I felt like this was the right time for a baby - despite what I was told. I just had this feeling.

Not long after, I did a few over the counter pregnancy tests which showed two negative and one faint positive. After a doctor's appointment we finally got the good news that I was pregnant at just 4-5 weeks!

I was excited to find out that we were going to have a baby but I also found it daunting. I had to come off my heart medication immediately and just hope and pray all would be okay. Thankfully, it was. Throughout the entire pregnancy I only experienced three short SVT episodes where my heart would beat around 180 bpm. This is a miracle considering I was having them at least once a week before I was pregnant.

This was nothing short of a miracle. Praise God. I still had a challenging time with an irregular heartbeat, but this was not dangerous on its own.

The last two weeks of pregnancy were the most challenging weeks of my life. I was desperately unwell with the Worst Cold Ever. My nose was so blocked that I struggled to swallow and eat. Luke was busy and stressed trying to finish our house renovations. I was meeting every second day with different trades people at the house and trying to make decisions on colours and styles of everything. On top of all of this Isabella decided to give up her day sleep. Aughhhh!

Then the day after my cold eased, I began experiencing pre-labour contractions for three days. Day one was like period pain every 20 mins which increased in the night. I got excited and decided to walk around the house at 1am, hoping to bring on labour. The next day, my due date, it became worse again with the pain increasing and coming every 10 to 15 minutes. I could not rest. I was sleeping in between contractions but never entering a deep sleep. That night you could find me on the floor, on all fours, scrubbing the kitchen floor and walking up and down the hallway for hours. Bad idea.

The next day,  with still no sign of labour coming on, I was physically and emotionally spent. All day the contractions which were around seven to 15 minutes apart. I called the hospital and the midwife said that my contractions needed to consistently be five minutes apart and not ease when I rested. I sat down to rest and they eased to around ten minutes apart. Not a good sign.

I was desperate to know how far along I was so we decided to head to the hospital that night. After a long wait and a check I was told I was not dilated at all. The midwife that saw me was lovely. She was very understanding and gave me some good advice: "When you are in estbalished labour, you will know. It will be different to this. You will just feel it."

I took hope that I would have that feeling soon. The baby can't wait forever! I went home after having a couple of Panadol Forte (heaven for four hours) and had a couple of hours sleep. I woke again in the early hours of the morning in more pain. The contractions were now at the point where I had to breathe through them. In the afternoon I ended up in the bath moaning through the pain and yelling out for Luke to come and massage my back.

This was it! It felt different. This time I knew I was in labour. The 20 minute car trip to the hospital was painful but manageable. Finally at the hospital I was ushered into a delivery suite right away. They monitored the baby's heartbeat and my contractions. Then I was told some bad news.

"Your contractions are too erratic and not strong enough so it's looks as through you're not in established labour yet," the midwife told me.

My heart sunk. "You've got to be kidding,"  I thought.  The midwife left to see someone else and another midwife came in. I asked for an examination to check if anything had changed from the previous night. She was hesitant but finally agreed and told me with full certainty that I wasn't going to be in labour. Thirty seconds later she looked up at me and said, "You're going to be very happy."

"What?" I asked eagerly.

"You are in labour. You are four centimetres dilated," she said, with a huge smile on her face.

I beamed back and exclaimed, "Praise God!"

After three nights of barely any sleep the end was in sight. It was around 12.30pm and the next five hours went by so quickly.At around 5pm I began to feel a lot of pressure. My mucus plug came away and soon my waters broke. I couldn't believe the mess I was making!  I then began to feel quite a lot of pressure. No position was comfortable. Everything was unbearable and I started to feel like I couldn't cope any more.

Much to my relief my obstetrician had just walked in, checked me and said I would be ready to push any minute. I felt suddenly nervous and was shaking in between contractions. My face felt like it was burning and my throat felt parched. Transition - so this is what it felt like! With my birth of Isabella I never felt any of this as I had an epidural.

I then felt the most incredible sensation to the push! It reminded me of the same involuntary feeling you have in  your stomach muscles when you vomit - your body just takes over and you have to roll with it.  As my muscles pushed down I couldn't help but let out a huge roaring sound. It felt so instinctual. In between my lioness roars, I yelled out for Luke to bring me water and at one point I screamed, "I am so hungry!" I felt like I had this rolling surge of power erupting throughout my body that was overtaking me and using all of my resources.

I was up on the bed kneeling and gripping the cold, steel bed rail during each contraction. I then felt the baby's head begin to emerge. There was a stretching and tingling sensation. It wasn't as painful as I had imagined.  Perhaps it was because this pain had a purpose and soon I would be holding my little loved one. They quickly monitored the heart rate and found that bub's heart rate had dropped. He had to come out fast. It was either me or the vacuum. I pushed and my body did the rest. I then felt his little body slide out like slippery jelly.

"It's a boy!"  Luke said with excitement. I turned around and saw this little person, eyes wide and little lungs sucking in and out as he cried loudly. My boy, Finlay Benjamin O'Connell.

The cord was cut and he was placed on my chest and into my arms. He was so beautiful. I whispered into his ear and sang softly to him, trying to settle his piercing cries. I felt an incredible sense of love for him. He seemed like he was in shock after his dark and cramped journey down the birth canal. He must have been thinking, "Where am I and what just happened?"

Around half an hour later he calmed down and was settled enough to feed. He then feel into a deep sleep and didn't wake to feed until seven hours later! However,  I was awake most of the night going over the entire journey in my head. I felt unbelievably blessed to have this little man in our lives. I had worried that it may not have been possible at that time in my life but I know God made it possible. Finlay, meaning 'fair-haired warrior', was right where he belonged.

Psalm 139, verses 13 - 16 

For you created my inmost being; 
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, 
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

  We are so happy you've joined our family


Cuddles with mummy

Back at home all rugged up

Tummy time at 5 weeks old

You love to smile

Your sister Issy loves to cuddle and crush you