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Friday, 28 February 2014

Camping in Tasmania

Earlier this month, we hired a campervan and spent six days touring the Tasmanian East Coast, staying beachfront in Freycinet National Park and the Bay of Fires.  

The road to the coast weaves inland and out again, through ancient forest and quiet coastal towns of fibro shacks and million-dollar vistas, the winding roads heaven for motorcyclists (and babies who need a sleep!). 

We found our site at dusk and settled in just in time to watch the sunset over Coles Bay, before cooking dinner in the very well-appointed van kitchen. After going bush camping without running water a few weeks earlier, it was quite luxurious! The following day we did the walk to Wineglass Bay, a 2.5 hour return. Hugo happily travelled in the Ergobaby carrier on Marcus' back, sleeping when he needed to. 

While staying in Freycinet, we also took part in a Ranger activity on bush teas and edible plants. We sipped tea, and sampled nuts, seeds and berries from surrounding bushland, while learning about the settlement of the region and indigenous customs. 

After three nights in Freycinet we headed north to a free camping spot at Cosy Corner, at the southern end of the region known as the 'Bay of Fires'. It was given this name in 1773 by an explorer who saw many fires on the beach, lit by the local indigenous people. 

It's name could also be attributed to the fiery orange-red granite of the rocks, quite breathtaking against the aqua water. The colour of the water was a real surprise; we didn't imagine Tassie to have the inviting waters of other parts of Australia, I suppose due to the climate. February is a fantastic time to camp in Tassie as it's the end of the holiday season and the weather is still warm. I'm sure the crisp winter days are beautiful too, but with a baby it was definitely easier being outdoors as much as possible.

Here are our baby travel essentials:
  • car seat for interstate travel (you can hire them, but we've enjoyed the peace-of-mind knowing that Hugo is comfortable sleeping in his own seat for long drives
  • a baby carrier or two: we take the Ergobaby carrier and a woven wrap/sling
  • lots of changes of clothes, particularly if you have a mobile baby!
  • disposable nappies (we use cloth at home but use eco-disposables when travelling)
  • bibs, washcloths, baby wipes 
  • a plan for daily meals (we meal-planned for the week on our first day, doing most of the shopping in Hobart)
  • a picnic blanket
  • first-aid kit 
  • stroller 
  • a few favourite toys and books

Hugo enjoyed watching the wildlife, eating dirt and chewing travel brochures more than his own toys, but they were handy to have when we needed to confine him to the van. 

Have you done much travelling with young children? What would your 'essentials' list look like?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

When worlds collide

Today I returned to paid employment after 12 months maternity leave. Waking up before the alarm, I slip out of bed, leaving my two sleeping boys, and pull on a pair of pre-pregnancy 'work pants'; they look different on this body, irrevocably changed by motherhood. And not unhappily so; where yoga teaches respect for the body, pregnancy and childbirth leave me in awe.

With post-it notes on lunches for husband, baby and grandma in the fridge, and my lunch and breast pump in a bag, I say my distracted goodbyes and i'm out the door to make the train. 

My head already at work, my heart forever at home.

I bounce up the stairs of Parliament station, greeted by the familiar cheer of the homeless man selling the Big Issue, his weather spiel unchanged (forecasting a scorching 62 million degrees today). 

My mind is a sponge, trying to absorb the information; of conversion funnels, user experience and journey mapping. Everyone asks about my son, now almost one: "how times flies!"

Everything changes, yet everything stays the same.

But I am different. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

On sourcing food and growing your own

Every Friday is 'co-op day' for us, and this assortment of organic goodness is just some of this week's haul. I'm fortunate to be part of a lovely little community of people who share the tasks involved in ordering from the farm, picking up and packing our produce. We get a mixture of farm-grown and market-sourced organic produce and functioning as a co-operative means we're making significant savings on our food bill, which of course can get quite hefty if you want to eat mostly organic! 

I supplement this with produce from our local farmers markets, our local greengrocer (for organic milk and bread), ALDI, and as a last resort, the big two supermarkets. I'd love to say we eat lots of home grown stuff but that's just not happening at the moment, apart from a handful of green beans and cherry tomatoes. 

Our plan is to clear the yard for four large raised veggie beds, put in a tank and irrigation and get some chooks. When I was pregnant we had a permaculture design plan done, but it's taken a bit of a back seat until now. The 1950s Hills Hoist in the backyard is sadly meeting its end this weekend, but it's exciting to finally be making things happen in our sad and scorched looking yard!

I'm reading Jamie Durie's 'Edible Garden Design' at the moment and it's so inspiring, I really want to get outdoors and get my hands dirty. I have a little person who I know will be happy to join me too (though i'll have to keep him well away from the potting mix, he'd eat fistfuls of the stuff if he could!)

Do you grow much of your own food? How important is it to you where your food comes from?  

Dear Hugo: Eleven months old

Dearest Hugo,

Wow, they say the early days are fleeting with a baby and i've never felt it to be more true than now, as I reflect on this past year. You're crawling around and pulling up onto everything, exploring your world with gusto. You love music and 'dancing', using me as a climbing frame, Bronco the labrador, 'birdies' and my boobs when it's sleep time. 

You like playing with food just as much as eating it, and the high chair 'car ride' to the sink to cleanup is the highlight of mealtimes; you squeal with excitement! Your favourite books are 'Noni the pony' and 'Moo, Baa, La La La'. At bedtime we read 'Kissed by the moon'. 

So far you've been in an aeroplane twice, to Western Australia and Tasmania, and you've camped in a tent and campervan. You adapt really well to new environments and you give a beaming smile to just about everyone. 

You clearly recognise the 'light', 'fan', 'dog' and 'water', and your dad thinks you've got 'mum' down pat too. Or rather, 'mum-mum-mum-mum'! You like pinching your dad, giving open mouth 'kisses', standing in the bath, putting everything in your mouth and keys. You don't like going to sleep, having your nappy changed or getting dressed.  

You're a determined, sweet and funny little person who fills our home and hearts with love and laughter every day. Raising you is our greatest privilege and our greatest responsibility and we feel so incredibly blessed to have you in our lives.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Three in the bed

Like any design-loving mother-to-be, I spent many hours perusing Pinterest looking at baby nurseries. I wanted to create a warm, gender-neutral room with a comfy yet stylish aesthetic. I put it all together and was so pleased with the result; I imagined reading stories in the white Acapulco chair, placing tiny folded outfits in the mustard yellow chest of drawers, and laying my contented sleepy baby into the lovingly painted grey cot.

Well. Hugo has never slept in the cot, we’ve read a handful of stories in the chair and the drawers are still filled with odds and ends. Oh and his bedroom was pretty much a storage room with a change table until he was eight months old. 

You see, as my post 24 hours – the newborn phase details, we didn’t have one of those babies who sleeps all the time, even as a newborn. For weeks I diligently picked up my hungry/unsettled baby from the moses basket next to my bed and fed him on the couch in the lounge, keeping myself awake by reading blogs on the Ipad. Then it was a quick nappy change and back to bed - for an hour, tops.  We'd mastered feeding lying down for day naps, so Hugo would come into bed with me at 5am. Then it became 3am, then finally 1am. We were both sleeping so much better together; it was a revelation. But of course, SIDS guidelines recommend against bedsharing, plus it’s just not the ‘done thing’ (in mainstream parenting circles at least). I felt I was doing something that was taboo, even though it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
So I got informed. If we were going to do this, I needed to understand the risks, how to mitigate them, and I needed Marcus on board. Thankfully, he was – anything to ensure I got the rest I needed – and he even built a beautiful side cart to give us more space in the bed.

I read Dr James McKenna's work on mother-infant sleep and the physiological benefits of bedsharing and how well it facilitates the breastfeeding relationship, and the many evidence-based articles on the Evolutionary parenting site, and I was sold. 

These days Hugo goes to sleep at night on a king single on the floor in his room, and comes in with us when I got to bed. He feeds when he wants to overnight, and we all get a pretty good sleep – and a smiling, playful baby to wake us up every morning.

Bedsharing wasn’t something we set out to do, and it won’t be forever, but right now it works for us!