[UPDATE] Morning Routine

[UPDATE] Morning Routine

Ok here we go!

I’m going to show you how our usual morning routine looks.

I first wrote about this topic 18 months ago. A LOT has changed. We’ve moved house, changed some of our food habits and had baby no #2. Read about it – HERE.

It’s always a work in progress but this is how it is 80% of the time in the average week.

It’s really my husband Leki that drives the mornings because I’m up a couple of times over the night depending on how our 8 month son Ky is sleeping. Our 3yo daughter Emelina sleeps like a champion 🙂

So I’ve invited my husband Leki to write this blog and how he manages it all until I can drag myself out of bed 😉

Enjoy.


Howdy everyone.

My mornings usually start around 4:30am to 6:30am depending on Ky’s sleep.

If Ky’s last feed was at 8pm then he usually needs a few short 5-10min nursing moments at 2am-3am. (Belinda does a great job as I’m knocked out cold).

So let’s say he’s up 5:30am.

I’d spend time with him in the morning as I usually get up at 4:30am. (I practice biphasic sleep which allows me to wake early)

So between 4:30am-7am I’ve got 2.5 hours to myself to read, study and think. Plus when my son wakes up I can spend some quality time together because my work hours are usually 9am until 8pm.

I really enjoy the mornings because that’s the only time during the week where we are all together. During the day I’m working and Belinda and kids have their own schedule to keep.

Some families sit down over dinner together.

Our family meal is in the morning.

I eat lunch and dinner at work and Belinda and our kids eat at home.

Because we bulk prep on Sunday’s we are pretty organised for the working week with the main meals.

My job is to ensure we have our quality morning routine which is preparing a hot breakfast at 7am.

It takes me 30-45mins to organise.

Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • 3 x lightly pan fried eggs for Belinda and I plus Eme and Ky have 1 x lightly pan fried egg each cooking in coconut oil
    • baby spinach
    • asparagus
    • avocado
    • grass fed butter
  • Belinda’s breastmilk booster shake which Eme and Ky also have
    • almonds
    • flax seeds
    • MCT oil
    • coconut water
    • oats
    • chia seeds
    • banana
    • ground cinnamon powder
  • Belinda’s boobie cookies and fenugreek supplement
  • Water and lemon water with apple cider vinegar
  • Bulletproof coffee (blended together)
    • MCT oil
    • 1 tablespoon of ground coffee
    • grass fed butter

I cook with Ky watching me in the pram and then Eme usually gets up at 7:30am because of the noise.

Ky is ready to have his morning feed from Belinda at 7:30am and when Eme rises I get her to wake up Mama for breakfast.

I then spend 15 mins getting ready for work and then we sit down for a good 20 mins together to eat a nice hot breakfast.

Eme says grace and then down the hatch 🙂

Breakfast Breakdown:

Eme and Ky have 1 x pan fried egg each (as described above) with a bit of the smoothie along with water.

Belinda has 3 x eggs with a glass of water, boobie smoothie, a fenugreek supplement and boobie cookies. (Remember Belinda has fasted from 4pm the day before so she’s hungry in the morning)

I make the 3 x eggs but I pack it to have with my lunch.  I add the eggs together with my pre-prepped lunch around 1:30pm and I eat dinner at around 6pm. (I fast from 6pm to 1pm the next day) At breakfast I drink hot lemon water with apple cider vinegar then 15 mins later I enjoy my Bulletproof coffee.

Voila!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little insight into our usual morning routine.

It’s not really important what we do or what we eat in the morning.

The point of the post today is actively setting the time to be there for each other in the morning.

I think it’s important to spend as much family time together daily even if it’s only for a short time.

There will be a time that our kids will be ready to move out of our home and be independent young adults.

At that time Belinda and I will wish to be able to sit down over breakfast one more time together as a family. (Belinda wrote an awesome post about this earlier – read about it here)

We are all busy but we actively try and prioritise our mornings to spend quality time together and be happy.

To your happiness,

Leki.

[Update] Meal Plans on Auto-Pilot

[Update] Meal Plans on Auto-Pilot

Hi guys,

This is an update from my first post on this topic almost 10 months ago. Read about it here.

There have been some slight changes in how we organise our grocery shopping, our bulk prep work and the meal plans after monitoring our results over this period of time.

The big factors in deciding what we’ll eat is taste, prep time and quality of the produce.

I previously wrote about how we prefer to spend a little extra on quality food and cut back on other things as the trade off.

Using the grocery list I outlined earlier here – we spend 2 hours on Sunday cooking for the week as a family. We look at it as a bit of bonding time 🙂

Word of warning!

We don’t count calories.

We lean towards having a nutrient rich meal (paleo food source) which keeps us in ketosis for 3-5 days of the week.

We then ‘refeed’ carbs on Saturday or Sun so we don’t get too tired or overwhelmed!

It’s called cyclic ketosis.

I’ll talk more about this down the track but for now here’s more information that I’ve found helpful 🙂

On top of that I try and move (HIIT 1-2 per day) regularly and practice intermittent fasting where I eat only within an 8 hours window from 8am-4pm.

That sounds like a lot of work but once you get into a routine and develop a discipline it quickly becomes a lifestyle.

Due to this routine I’ve been able to lose weight quite quickly and easily since having baby #2 earlier this year.

I open up and report my findings monthly – read the August issue here.

So back to the original point of this blog post – here are the updated 3 x meals we prepare weekly:

beef burger with lettuce
Beef burger with tomato, carrot, lightly pan fried egg and lettuce bun (no cheese)
salmon sweet potato
Pan grilled salmon with pine nuts, asparagus, broccoli and baked sweet potato
Minced beef
Grass fed minced beef with green beans, broccoli and spiralised zucchini

Here’s the process on how I prep everything:

  • Prepare the meat (lightly grill or oven bake) = 30min
  • Prepare the vegetables by washing them and preparing them (boil, oven bake, spiralise or light grilled) = 30min
  • Allow the food to cool > 1 hour
  • Pack the food into containers = 10min

The end result is we can pick from a variety of food to eat on any given day.

Check out how we do this together on a typical Sunday:

https://youtu.be/ZGMNGqkvb2o

For example I might have the burger + lettuce bun for lunch with the kids at home and then salmon for dinner.

All I have to do is heat it up.

Similarly Leki picks what he wants in the morning as he’s packing his food to eat lunch and dinner at work.

So as breakfast is prepared every morning by Leki and lunch and dinner for the week is organised after our Sun cook out the whole week is pretty much running on autopilot.

Can’t get any better then that!

In terms of cooking oil we only use coconut oil for all pan/cooked prep work and it costs about $12-$15 per jar at Costco.

Costco63

Here are my go to ‘snacks’ for the day:

  • Fruit – blackberries, strawberries, apples, pawpaw and bananas
  • Natural or Greek yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Keto friendly snacks like chocolate drops and cookies which I make at home with Eme

My main weakness is dessert and sweets. On my weaker days especially when my monthly visitor arrives my poison of choice is usually:

  • Tim Tams
  • Corn chips

This is an update on how we keep on top of our food prep and making sure it is healthy and most importantly tasty! No one likes eating cardboard 🙂

We’ve made the effort to drop our sugar/sweets intake over the last 10 months but it’s always a work in progress.

We’ll see how good we’ve been over the next 6 months where I aim to provide you an update on how we’re going food prep wise and whether we’ve made any changes.

What works for you? Do you practice intermittent fasting? Are you apart of the Keto cult 😉 or do you follow another game plan? Either way I always try and keep an open mind when trying new things!

Have a great day.

Belinda.

[UPDATE] Daily Routine With 2 Kids

[UPDATE] Daily Routine With 2 Kids

Hi all,

This is an update from an earlier post about this very topic.

The only difference is that we are 4 months down the track and I’d like to report on some developments since then 🙂

Compare notes with my previous post by clicking here.

What are the main changes?

  1. Kyneton is out of the bassinet and in his own room
  2. Emelina was getting scared sleeping in her own room
  3. Everyone is in bed by 8:30pm (ish)

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1. Ky’s sleeping on his own… well kind of

So let me start by saying that this is quite difficult for us.

We had Ky in the bassinet next to our bed from day 1.

He’s now 7 months old and has a few teeth poking through the gums and he can be quite irritable during the day and upset overnight.

Despite that we both agreed it was time to put him in his own room – the nursery aka bedroom #3.

The funny thing is we are all doing a little better at night time since we decided on that.

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Let me explain.

When he was sleeping right next to me in the bassinet, every little breath and splutter was heard by the Mama Bear 😉

That would always have me on edge and have me in a light superficial sleep.

Since he’s been in his own room two things have happened:

  1. Ky is sleeping more soundly
  2. I’m getting better sleep

Now let me break this down for a minute.

Pre-nursery Kyneton was waking probably every 2-3 hours over the night time.

Now I only attend to Ky on average 2 x times over the night when he’s hungry or uncomfortable.

The other thing is that when my Mum visited the other day she told me off for having Ky mostly lying on his back. As a result he was developing a flat head.

Now I alternate his position at night so that he’s more comfortable and overtime the ‘flat headedness’ will settle.

For example, if I place him on his left side when I put him down at 8pm I’d probably be attending to him around 10-11pm (uncomfortable and hungry) and feed him then switch him to the right side in the crib.

Often when I return at 4am (usually he’s hungry) I then see that he’s lying on his back and after I feed him I return him to side lying.

In terms of my own situation I’m getting much better rest averaging 2 hours (9-11pm) in the first block then another 4-5 hours (11pm-4am) in the second block of rest.

We do not practice co-sleeping at all although it is quite common in our culture.

So there you go, 7 months old and kicked out of our room into his own setup 🙂


2. Eme’s new sleeping routine… well kind of

We decided to put Emelina in her own room when she was 3 months old but let me back up a little and remind you that our 3yo daughter was a dream baby.

Slept well all the way through the night even when she was teething and right through until today.

What’s changed?

She sees ‘monsters’ and has some nightmares.

It might be something she saw on the TV during the day and then she brings it up when we begin her ‘wind down’ routine for bed time.

So here’s our traditional game plan.

5:30pm – Shower/bath

6pm – Dinner

6:30pm-7:30pm – Screen time

7:30pm-8:30pm – Wind down routine

IMG-d73fbc204d8c306c4706cf24905557a4-V

So what’s our wind down routine?

Well we start off with brushing her teeth and taking her to the loo to empty her little bladder. (Only occasional accident in bed now… last one was in Thailand)

Then she goes to kiss her brother goodnight and Leki if he’s home by then.

I then follow her into her room and tuck her into bed.

We then say our nightly prayer and then my final instructions are that you can now ‘rest your body‘ and read your books and sleep when you’re tired.

That is the key difference.

We don’t force her to sleep and turn the light off.

She would get upset when we used the words ‘it’s time for bed’ or ‘go to sleep’. We now reframe it to ‘it’s story time‘ and ‘our bodies need to rest to have energy for tomorrow‘.

I then tell her it’s ok she can stay warm in bed and read her book (which I pile up next to her so she doesn’t have to get out of bed).

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In her own time and with the lamp light on she’s reading and then falls off to sleep when she’s tired.

There’s no more dramas about monsters lurking in the darkness as she’s looking at her picture book and talking to herself.

Often we walk by (quietly) and we’ve either seen her konked out or she’s busily ‘reading’ the words and looking at the pictures of the book!

My last little tip is that we try and manage Eme’s day so that she doesn’t nap during the day.

We’ve found that when she naps she’s either pretty grumpy and clingly for 1-2 hours after she wakes or when we’re in our wind down mode it’s hard to get her settled because she’s still energised and not ready to ‘go down’ to bed.

Your mileage may vary 🙂


3. Bed time is 8:30PM… well kind of

So to bring us back to the general timeline. (Please review my last entry about this here.)

In the morning my husband Leki makes breakfast before he’s off to work around 8am. I also squeeze in my little 9 min HIIT session while he’s preparing our breakfast.

This has been a little change for our family as we’ve moved and some days of the week Leki needs to leave home a touch earlier so he can’t help with some things like he used to.

Between 8am-9am I’ve finished getting the kids ready so we travel to either Montessori school for Eme or gymnastics.

From around 11am-1pm we’re out shopping or running errands before we head home for my main meal (pre-prepared).

Once home again I then try and put Ky down for 1-2 hours if I’m lucky and Eme is content with playing in her Montessori space at home or watching a movie. (I’m still unpacking a little bit from our move!)

It’s around 4pm I try and get my second HIIT session before having my last meal for the day. I practice intermittent fasting for 16 hours starting at 4pm until breakfast at 7:30am. My eating window is usually 8 hours from 8am-4pm on average.

After my last meal I then try and wash Eme and Ky at 5pm then feed them so that when Leki gets home we can maximise our family time together and just hang out.

He usually gets home around 7pm.

Sometimes Leki plays with Eme in her Montessori space.

Other times Eme is having screen time and then we watch reruns of GoT or whatever series we are watching to pass the time until GoT returns 🙂

Our set routine has sorted out the food so that Leki eats at work and comes home just to chill out with us, it allows the kids to be prepared for the wind down routine and gives Mum and Dad a chance to have couple time!

So when we’re all watching programs or just hanging out Kyneton is usually happy to sit with us and giggle and laugh. As soon as he gets irritable it’s probably because he’s hungry and tired.

Easy fix!

I feed him and then place him into his crib. One down one to go!

Around 7:30pm Eme has already had her screen time and I initiate the wind down routine and she’s usually asleep by 9pm.

From 8pm onward Leki and I often watch an episode of something but other times we decide to go to bed and talk about the day and start looking forward to things that are coming up.

Most nights Mum and Dad are asleep at 9:30pm until the Kyneton alarm wakes us up.

Well that’s how the picture looks like in our little household.

I’ll most likely update this in 1 year and see what kind of changes have happened since!

With love,

Belinda xo

Kids and Sport

Kids and Sport

Hi guys,

Today I would like to share the first real sport we’ve placed Emelina in – gymnastics.

To date we’ve had her in a short swimming class (Mums and bubs) and other local ‘play’ events but this is her first real effort at weekly sport/exercise.

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How does gymnastics work?

Well to be honest it’s more specialised play at this age 3-4yo group.

She’s grouped together with other kids who are at a similar motor skill, movement patterns, spatial awareness and memory called Comets.

 

We spend 1 hour in the gym per week at this stage and in the Comets group the parents play a vital role in facilitating what the instructor wants from the kids.

As you can imagine a lot of kids this age are very excited and the teacher can struggle to rein in their enthusiasm – especially Emelina 🙂

Once Eme gets the hang of the weekly routine and shows that she’s mastered the movements she progresses to the next group – Meteors.

It could almost be 2-3 years until Eme progresses so a lot depends on how well she responds to her training and if she continues to enjoy it.

Once the kids develop and train independently parents are welcome to watch the kids practice in the observation deck from above.

play
Play and observation deck above

But I wanted to go through the thought process on why we picked gymnastics for Eme.

You see, both Leki and I were pretty sporty growing up. I was a keen netballer and Leki played soccer and rugby union.

IMG-b13406761ff7f44f6d40575684e8bb10-V
Playing netball in 2014

We both played in team sports.

We had our fair share of dizzy highs and tough lows and the thing about sport is that you learn a lot of great lessons along the way.

It teaches how you work together in a team environment for the common goal, how to gracefully accept defeat, make sacrifices for your team members and to always try your best.

I always wondered how I would go in a sport where I only have myself to depend on. So if I ‘won or lost’ it was completely on my own effort.

For example, when I played netball, if I played poorly it wouldn’t be so bad because my team members can help me by lifting their game to a higher standard. Or if we lost because my team mate made a poor decision we would all suffer the consequences.

IMAG0137
3rd Grade | Footscray Rugby Union Club | 2013

In an individual sport I think it teaches you to be even more disciplined because you are only going to get out of it as much as you put in.

I think of athletics, swimming, tennis, boxing, running and plenty more.

Can you imagine showing up to training with only you and the coach working on your skills. It’d be tough work! When you have other people around you in team sport you can be more enthusiastic because they can pump you up and vice versa.

Not so much with solo sports like gymnastics.

So why have we decided on gymnastics?

Because of the discipline.

Of course she’s still young and enjoying running around and jumping about but when she’s of a certain age she will have to knuckle down and really learn to persist. 

No one else can do it for her. She can’t hide behind her team mates if she’s not performing well. She has to be good enough or simply train and try harder.

The other reason is because gymnastics can simply get the best out of your body.

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Our little gymnast

Do you watch the top level athletes at a big international event like the Olympics Games?

My favourite athlete were always the gymnasts. Bodies carved out of marble but as bendable as a rubber band. Not only were they strong they were flexible too! That is something I would love for Eme to have.

Strong mind and body but a flexible spirit because her body won’t be the limitation.

I appreciate all the different types of sports that are available to us but we’ll stick with gymnastics and see how we go. The great thing about gymnastics is that she can use her ‘powers’ for other sports if she decides to try them out.

How did you pick sports for your children? Do you simply pick whatever your interests were or did you leave it completely up to them?

Healthy mind, healthy body 🙂

With love,

Belinda xo

[UPDATE] Daily Routine With 2 Kids

[UPDATE] Daily Routine With 2 Kids

Hi all,

As you may know we had our 2nd child, Kyneton, on the Jan 3 2018 and he joins his older sister Emelina who recently turned 3!

Something my hubby Leki and I are both really into is designing our day so we can have TIME.

So what does that mean?

ROUTINE!

In one of my earliest posts I outlined what our usual routine looked like at that time.

In that context Leki works full time, I am at home full time and our 2yo daughter Emelina is at home full time with some activities throughout the week I outlined here.

So what’s changed?

Well… Leki has returned back to full time work after having 6 weeks of part time work to help at home with our newborn, I’m full time at home and we now have 2 little cherubs to manage at home.

So I thought I would share some of the things we find that are serving us really well and I would appreciate any feedback or observations that you’ve found helpful in your parenting journey too 🙂


Let’s start at the beginning.

Morning Routine

I get up 7am and my mood is very dependent on how Ky and Eme sleep overnight (obviously?!).

To back track slightly we try and put the kids to bed at 8:30pm-9pm the night before and we had worked very hard to have Emelina sleeping in her own room and self soothe so we can give appropriate time and effort to Kyneton.

Fortunately, Emelina is now 80% toilet trained and sleeps throughout the whole night with the occasional ‘code yellow’ at night and sometimes struggles to settle into her sleep routine although we strongly believe in the ‘self soothe‘ strategy. (This might be a future blog post if you’re interested – let me know if you’d like to know more)

The reward for our early hard work is that 6 out of 7 nights Emelina sleeps in her own bed in her room, sleeps all the way through the night and without any accidents. We can almost see the finish line YAY! 🙂

So let’s assume I’ve had a standard night where Emelina is asleep solid throughout the night and Leki is out like log next to me.

Kyneton sleeps from 9pm to 3am then he stirs and requires a feed.

I usually have full engorged breasts ready for him to feed so I give him one breast to settle him and then I change him then feed him with the other breast. This whole process can take up to 60 mins.

I complete this process in bed sitting upright with my night light from my phone and I’m blessed because if Kyneton is crying and wailing (and boy does he have a set of lungs!?) both Leki and Emelina continue to sleep without any problems.

At 4am I put Kyneton down and then I return to sleep until I wake around 7am. Leki usually gets up early to make breakfast for us, help clean up/wash dishes and packs his food for the day at work (I’ve trained him well LOL).

We have automated our food habits which make it one less thing to worry about.

I previously wrote that we have the same 2-3 options at breakfast and the same 2-3 food options for lunch and dinner which are pre-prepared – read about it here.

We pre-cook our meals for that day around lunch time and to have enough left over for the next day’s lunch and dinner meals. We use pre-packed containers and all that Leki has to do is pick what he wants to eat at work for lunch and dinner when he’s sorting everything out in the morning for breakfast.

I firmly believe that structuring your day via routine allows you to make better decisions i.e. deciding to prepare nutritious food or allocate more time to important tasks.

By 8am Leki and I have weighed ourselves and updated out tracking sheet, Leki has prepared breakfast and has himself changed and cleaned up ready for work, Emelina is up after having about 8-10 hours of sleep (AWESOME?!) and Kyneton is ready for his morning feed. Ky sleeps very well averaging 6 hours (feed #1 at 3am) then 5 hours (feed #2 at 8am).

Dishes
Trained them both myself 🙂

We sit together and hold hands and Emelina repeats her morning prayer to bless our food then we talk and enjoy each other’s company. We talk about our plans for the day and look ahead to the week, month and any events coming up over the next few months.

I really enjoy having this time together in the morning because Leki usually gets home 6pm-7pm and we don’t get a chance to sit and eat together at dinner so we put in a massive amount of effort to get at least one meal together.

And with that… the morning is done.

Daily Routine

During breakfast we discuss what the plan for the day may be.

I have this system where I try and complete the ONE THING before lunchtime. Regardless of how the day goes as long as I complete that ONE THING then I’ll be satisfied with my day.

For example, if I want to clean the bathroom or commit to ‘Arts & Crafts’ time with Eme for 1 hour or call and follow up on an inquiry from the previous week – whatever it may be I always plan to have that completed before lunch time.

Why?

Something always comes up.

I may get distracted with something on my phone, get lazy and park in front of the TV, Ky might get too clingy and I can’t get around too easily.

I have found that if I commit to completing one thing I’ll feel happy.

So, after Leki leaves and I’m home alone with the kids (remember I’ve breastfed Ky while we all have breakfast) I’ll take Eme to wash up, brush her teeth and make sure she’s gone to the toilet to avoid any accidents. Kyneton is in a semi-conscious Zen like state 🙂 after his morning feed so he usually leaves me alone for 1-2 hours if I’m lucky.

It’s this 1-2 hour window that I get my MOST IMPORTANT WORK DONE.

So from 9am-11am the important work can be:

  • Hanging out the washing (I tend to put the load on the night before then hang the next day)
  • Cleaning/vacuuming
  • 1:1 time with Eme
  • Cooking dinner and pre-packing for the following day
  • Chasing up loose ends with family and friends over the phone
  • Working on my diary/blog 🙂
Montessori
Eme at Montessori on Monday!

For instance some days I take Eme to Montessori School (we call it her ‘big girl’ school – she loves it)  or other days we need to go to the Doctor for Ky’s check up or maybe Ky had a poor night so it throws our morning out of whack. That aside, 80% of our mornings look like what I’ve described above.

The 11am-4pm time frame allows me time to get out for some grocery shopping or relax at home or most of the time I’m doing more the work outlined above.

Night Routine

The wind down for the day sometimes starts around 4pm.

I try and factor in my daily program that I watch at 6:30pm (I’m a massive Neighbours fan – wrote about organising my day earlier here so I can be ready to sit down and watch) so I have my usual end of day routine mapped out.

Between 4pm-6pm I’m either warming up dinner or taking Eme for a bath to wash. Once I’ve done then I finish off with the other. For example, I usually bath her first and then feed her dinner after and manage Ky around that. I may feed him first to settle him and when he’s content in the bouncer I’ll focus on Eme.

During the day I have Ky on the baby wrap or down in the bouncer as he tends to feed every 2 hours then he falls asleep.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE – You may notice that there are big chunks of time that are unaccounted for. E.g. If I’m at home from 9am-11am or 11am-4pm what does Eme do?

She plays.

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We have ABC Kids on the TV in the background but for 80% of the day she’s running around entertaining herself. WE DO NOT ENCOURAGE ANY SCREEN TIME UNTIL LEKI GETS HOME AND ONLY FOR 1 HR MAX!

I previously wrote about Curiosity Over Judgement in a previous post and it’s basically trying to avoid judging what our kids are doing and allowing them to be curious (unless it’s dangerous).

One example I can share is that when Eme was helping me do the dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher) and she picked up an empty glass jar to scoop up the dish water. Now I was very close to telling her off but I practised ‘curiosity over judgement’ and waited to see what she’d do. She then raced over to her toys and picked up a handful of tiny toy fish and placed carefully into the bottle with the dish water and sealed the glass jar with the lid. She then looked at me with a cheeky smile and with a sense of accomplishment and said “Look Mama – fishies!”.

You can imagine my shock and amazement with the imagination of this little girl. She had this spirit of joy that I would have stunted if I told her to ‘stop it’ or ‘don’t make mess’. That look she had I’ll keep with me forever 🙂

Rocking Chair
Rocking Chair is one of my prized possessions 🙂

So to bring us back to the timeline – it’s usually 6:30pm and I’m parked on my favourite recliner rocking chair (picked it up off Gumtree for $60!) and Eme is clean and fed, Ky is usually latched on and feeding and I’m watching Neighbours. Organised crime really!

Leki arrives home from work at 7pm and he’s already had his pre-prepped dinner at work. He then has a quick wash then comes and keeps an eye on Eme while I have a shower and freshen up and then we start the “Wind Down Routine”.

“Wind Down” Routine

So at 7:30pm we have 2 x kids who are fed and washed (we bathe Ky every 4-5 days as instructed until we have a review with the local maternity nurse when he’s 3 months) and we start the relaxing part of the day.

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We have our desserts together which is usually something naughty like chocolate almond ice cream or coco balls which we make at home (usually both LOL) and Leki and I watch our nightly ‘program’ which is The Blacklist at the moment. We are basically watching anything that takes our fancy until GoT returns in 2019 🙂

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While Leki and I tune into our nightly program, Ky is being breastfed and cuddled and Eme is watching her program (Free ABC Kids iView app) on the family iPad. This is usually from 7:30pm-8:30pm.

After an hour and our program has finished I then lay Ky down in his bassinet next to our bed, Leki and Eme brush their teeth together and he takes her to the toilet and then he tucks her into her ‘big girl bed’ in her own room. (This may be another blog post in the future as we decided to have Eme in a bassinet for 3 months then moved her into her own room. We have the same game plan for Ky!)

Every night Emelina has her standard prayer for her family and asks for a good night sleep 🙂 We remind her that if she needs to go to the bathroom to get out of her bed and let us know – she responds with ‘no weewee undies, no weewee bed” – she’s such a cutie pie!

After we tuck her in and she’s snug we keep a small night light next to her and start the countdown timer to turn the light off… 3… 2… 1 and off the room light goes! We get the occasional grizzle for 5-10 mins but then she fades away and falls off to sleep really quickly.

OBSERVATION: There was a point when Eme was 1-2yo and having 1-2 mid day naps but as she got to >2.5yo we found that she could power through the day without the nap and sleep the whole way through the night.

Well, that’s our typical day and it does seem like a lot of work goes into it but it’s worth all the planning because I feel like I can enjoy each day without feeling too overrun.

There is no perfect day and sometimes I feel overwhelmed with my normal routine but I always try my best.

I’d love to hear how you plan your typical days – you know the one… the days where no one sees what you’re up to and you need to get shit done!

Hope you found today’s post valuable!

With love,

Belinda xo

The Montessori Method

The Montessori Method

Hi guys.

Thank you for tuning in.

Today I would like to congratulate all the children returning to school for the new calendar year in Australia – especially the little kiddies starting prep 🙂

My Facebook feed was blessed with photos and testimonials of parents wishing their kids all the best for the upcoming year.

I’m looking forward to be one of you doting Mothers tearfully saying goodbye to your kids as they return to school!

But… not too soon as I’m enjoying having them at home 😉


We are a Montessori family.

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Eme’s 1st day at Montessori – June 2017

We arrived at Montessori after being recommended by a friend who has their 3 x girls at their local Montessori school in Sydney.

Skeptical Leki and I discussed the different pre-school options and decided that The Montessori Method fits our perspective of lifelong learning.

This short video can give you an idea of why we chose Montessori.

We enrolled Emelina into Montessori in June 2017 and so she’s completed 6 months and we have enrolled her for 2018. We are really enjoying everything the school offers and we invite you to research this as an option for your children 🙂

So I thought I would share our thoughts on how we arrived on Montessori from all the pre-schooling options.

To give you some context I wrote in the past about our commitment to have one of us working full time and the other one at home to help raise the kids and keep the home homely.

It’s a common sacrifice that many parents make but I also acknowledge that some parents also choose to have both parents working too!

We looked for information on local support groups, community groups and casual groups that I could join allowing me the chance to meet new people and act as a gauge for Emelina to start 3yo kindergarten!

So after finding some local groups this is what Emelina’s weekly routine looked like early-2017:

Day Time Activity
 Mon  10am-11am  Library
 Tues  9:30am-11am  Mainly Music
 Wed  10am-11am  Playgroup
 Thurs  10am-11am  Playgroup
 Fri  Free Day  REST

After 6 months of local community activities we found that Emelina was needing a bit more of challenge for her day so we decided to do some research and compare the benefits of daycare vs 3yo Kindergarten vs home schooling vs Montessori.

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Eme at Mainly Music – Feb 2017

Here are the main pros and cons with the options available to us:

Activity

PROS

CONS

 Library/Playgroup  – FREE

– Meet locals

– Walking distance

 – Repetitive

– No structure

– No flexibility

 Mainly Music  – Cheap

– Fun/Play!

– Community focused

– Very organised

– No flexibility

– Require close supervision

Daycare/3yo Kindy  – Fun/Play!

– Local families

– Free time for Mama

 – Costly+

– Get sick often

– Can’t control food sources

Home Schooling – Work from home

– Coursework supplied

– Protect Kids

 – Work from home 🙂

– Costly++

– Sheltered Kids

 Montessori – Self directed learning

– Open structure

– No homework

 – Costly++

– Dealing with older kids

– Not going to a ‘normal’ school

So after some initial research and visiting different centres we decided to enroll her in our local Montessori school about 25 minutes away from home.

We are very much in the early stages of being a Montessori family and I’m sure there will be challenges ahead but we are loving it so far!

 

Eme’s 2018 calendar now looks like this:

 Day Time Activity 
Mon  9:30am-11:30am  Montessori
 Tues  10am-11am  Mainly Music
 Wed  Free Day  REST
 Thurs  10am-11am  Playgroup
 Fri  9:30am-11:30am  Montessori

To be honest with you – I wasn’t the best student in school and always struggled from as early as Grade 3.

I couldn’t believe that I graduated from primary school because I couldn’t even spell properly! Leki and the other hand comes from a family where education was very important. (He helps me a lot with this blog and I’m so grateful that we can work together on this!)

So in closing we are big raving fans of the Montessori Method of teaching and learning but Leki and I are already discussing and planning primary and secondary schooling options for our kids.

Although we will continue with Montessori we do plan to send our kids to Tonga for a semester during the primary school years to learn the culture and to understand the humility of having the ‘good life’ in Australia.

I know this may sound strange given that our kids are still small but we are already thinking of sending them to boarding school overseas in high school!

Why would we do that? There are several reasons but giving that the world is changing so quickly having a worldly view is very important to us!

We are not hard set on anything at the moment but we are definitely putting some serious thought on this.

We have a 3yo and 1 month old and we are already talking about boarding school and overseas schooling – sounds crazy but if you think about it a lot of cultures do this for their kids.

Believe it or not I genuinely believe the Montessori Method coupled with overseas experience will serve them best in this rapidly changing world… more on this down the track 😉

With love,

Belinda.

Girls Are Weaklings

Girls Are Weaklings

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by! I’ve received great feedback on my online diary from friends, family and Mothers I haven’t met who enjoy reading my blog.

I truly appreciate all your feedback – whether it’s great feedback or something you didn’t like I’d still love to hear from you 🙂

It helps me understand on what you find helpful, either way I’ll continue to write about things that interest me. Hope you continue to enjoy it!

Please feel free to leave feedback by commenting on this blog post at the bottom, replying on Facebook or Instagram.

I really appreciate your time.


So… what’s the topic of today’s post? Girls are weaklings!

I would like to begin with this quote from Caroline Paul who is an amazing woman – find out more about her here!

“We are raising our girls to be timid, even helpless and it begins when we caution them against physical risk”

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Has anyone told you: “Don’t do that you might hurt yourself” or “It’s ok you’re a girl” or “You did pretty well considering you’re a girl” or “Be careful you aren’t strong enough”.

I’ve always been one to embrace the challenge of proving people wrong.

I remember when I was in primary school and all I wanted to do was climb trees and play rough with boys because girls were boring and shy. It may have been my tomboy stage but I didn’t find much in common with most girls at the time.

Anyway, at this early age (between 5-10yo) when we are at our most curious and adventurous I remember most adults telling me to be careful because I might get hurt.

I’m not sure if they genuinely thought I’d get hurt but it almost felt like they threw an invisible blanket  over me to limit what I really wanted to do and explore.

On top of that it often struck me as weird that the same people would let boys do the crazy things I was attempting and not be as worried or strict on them.

Being cautious and ‘safe’ has always stuck with me and I’m ashamed to say I’ve caught myself placing those same restrictions on my children.

So what am I talking about? Let me explain…

I’ve recently had a little boy Kyneton who is 1 month old now 🙂

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Little Ky – 1 month old

My daughter Emelina will be 3yo in March 2018.

I feel that I treat them differently already – simply because he’s a boy.

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Eme – almost 3yo

For example I accidentally bumped Ky’s head in the bassinet when I was a trying to soothe him. I felt terrible but I don’t think I reacted as bad when the same thing happened to Eme when she was an infant.

How have I subconsciously placed more importance on my daughter’s safety over my son? Seems really strange doesn’t it!

I remember when we moved Eme from the crib to her ‘big girl bed’. We were so fearful that she’d fall and crack her head open that we surrounded her with pillows and boxed her in as she slept.

Did she fall? A couple of times. Did she crack her head open? Not even close 🙂

Now I’ve caught myself repeating the same words and placing the same limitations on my daughter… “Don’t do that you might hurt yourself”

So I wanted to dive deep into the idea of boys vs girls and our perception of that as parents.

What is the driving force behind this ‘safe vs risk’ mentality and how I can unpack these subconscious feelings between boys and girls?

So what did I find? Check out Caroline Paul’s presentation below and her thoughts on “Micro Bravery”:

So what does this mean to me?

The best summary of her talk is at the 9:25 min mark:

“Bravery is learned and like anything learned it just needs to be practiced.”

Caroline presents this idea of building confidence by practicing micro bravery.

So how do we become brave? Here are the 3 main points:

1. Kids develop valuable life lessons with risky play

Instead of limiting young girls, encourage them to try things and grow their curiosity.

Encourage adventure and learn the lessons on the discovering new things or the lessons from failure if it was a misadventure!

Risky play is really important for all kids because it teaches hazard assessment, delayed gratification, resilience and confidence. Important skills to develop and serve young girls to become confident young women.

2. Try and avoid being over-cautious with girls

When you warn or caution your girls try and pay attention to what you are saying – “Be careful it’s dangerous”, “Don’t do that” or “Watch out you might fall”.

Be mindful that what you are really telling your daughter is – “Don’t push yourself”, “You’re not good enough” or “You should be afraid”.

3. Women have to practice bravery and be an example to our girls

Caroline says that “fear and exhilaration feels like the same thing”.

This resonates with me because it is SO TRUE!

For example, not too long ago I was so fearful in speaking publicly. Even if it was a family birthday where I knew everyone I would still  get so embarrassed and red (I wrote about this earlier here) that I almost felt like passing out so many times!

The fear > exhilaration with public speaking.

After building confidence over time and forcing myself to speak publicly I’ve gained an improving skill in being able to speak at a variety of functions from family gatherings to a faceless crowd 🙂

Now the exhilaration > fear with public speaking!

The feeling of fear and exhilaration is almost identical it just depends on how you look at things!


So my dream for Emelina is to grow up being courageous and to not be limited by fear. Overcome challenges through courage rather then shying away from it.

In the meantime I’ll have to check myself and encourage her to be brave and try new things and avoid placing limitations on her.

So in closing I would like to emphasise Caroline’s final statement:

“This is not about the challenges in front of her right now. It’s about the life ahead of her and that she has the tools to handle and assess all the dangers that we cannot be there to protect her from”

I hope you see the value in Caroline’s TED talk and the idea behind ‘risky play’ especially for young girls.

I love both my kids equally. Now I have to work on treating them the same.

Wish me luck 😉

Belinda.

Puberty Blues

Puberty Blues

Hi friends 🙂

Second post for 2018 and I feel like we are continuing with great momentum from 2017.

I hope you had a great time with your family and friends over the festive season!

I was recharging with Leki’s family at our annual getaway down the coast. We hired our first AirBnB which was a positive experience with 5 bedrooms, 2 living spaces, 3.5 bathrooms and an indoor pool 🙂 Relaxing was the top priority!

During this time together I took the chance to observe how we all interact with each other and paid close attention to how the little cousins play together.

One particular conversation I’d like to have with you today is about puberty.

One of my nieces is in the early stages of puberty which makes me think about my own experience around that time.

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Eme (6 months) 2015 | Belinda (6 months) 1986

I started developing a ‘womanly’ body in Grade 6 and I was 11yo. I started to stretch in height and put more weight on my shapely frame, had unwanted attention to my growing breasts and a lot of confusion with my first period.

Confused, embarrassed and anxious I remember thinking am I the only one going through this? How can I be bleeding, I didn’t hurt myself? What will my Mum think? Can I hide somewhere?

What an incredibly strange and confusing time!

2
Belinda (3yo) 1989 | Eme (nearly 3yo) 2017

Naturally my thoughts move from my experience and shift focus to Emelina who will be 3yo in March 2018.

I like to think that I’m not a helicopter parent but I would like to reduce the chance of Emelina getting hurt or avoid challenges that are out of my control.

On the other hand, it’s quite a normal process to go through puberty.

Although we may come out the other end differently.

Kids going through puberty can be swayed by peer pressure, some children are exposed to adult ideas earlier then others, some may be too sheltered and overprotected from the big wide world and some people I grew up with almost glide through puberty without any scars – or none that I could see!

The puberty experience is unique to each and everyone of us. To be honest I’m glad it’s behind me as it was a very awkward and confusing time for me personally. (I previously wrote something on this topic earlier here).

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Belinda (Grade 5) 1996

How do you recall your experience? Were your parents open and transparent about it or did they duck and hide? Did you have other siblings that went through all the trauma first and softened the landing for you?

Right now we bathe Eme in her little bathtub while we shower next to her. Leki and I are maximising all the skin on skin time before she gets too big or too cool 🙂 for it! Over 6 months ago she noticed that Mum and Dad had different parts and pieces while in the shower. Not surprising soon after that Leki now wears shorts in the shower 😉

4
Belinda (Grade 6) 1997 – looking forward to high school next year!

When will we start introducing the idea of puberty to Eme? How will we approach it? How will we know that she’s ready to talk about it? I have no idea!

Well we have around 8 years to prepare ourselves and work on being mindful that Eme has already evolved from being a toddler to a small child. She can construct small sentences and respond to simple questions!

Next thing I know she’ll be asking me all those uncomfortable questions parents dread. I guess I’ll have to work on being comfortable in discomfort 🙂

More to report on this issue in a future post.

With love,

Belinda.

Living Longer

Living Longer

Hi there,

My first post for 2018 is about living longer. A bit strange coming from a 32yo Mum of 1 very soon to be 2 😉 but there’s a reason why I’ve been thinking about this recently.

I’m a Pacific Islander and we can be notorious for eating a massive amount of food. This over-consumption can lead to poor lifestyle choices and poor health indicators. What sort of poor health indicators?

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Type II diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Gout… the list goes on.

It wasn’t always this way though.

yeh yeh 061
Our local church in Ma’ufanga, Tonga – 2007

If I were to take you to my mother’s village, Ma’ufanga in Tonga you would see a vast difference from the type of person living in the Islands compared to those of us who have migrated overseas.

Picture this – you can only eat from seeds you’ve planted, pick fruit from trees you climb, harvest produce from your land you work on, meat from your animals you prepare or fish you catch.

In summary you eat well, you’re physically working the land and you are involved in your village/community.

Now picture this other scenario. Convenience food has allowed fast food to be quickly prepared and poorly produced, rarely eat fruit and vegetables, regular exercise is a genuine struggle and there is a huge disconnect with the cattle grazing in the field to the beef sitting in your Big Mac burger.

So food quality is generally poor, exercise infrequently and are disconnected from your local community.

It’s almost polar opposites of how Pacific Islanders from the Islands live compared to the Pacific Islanders overseas.

Some relatives of mine pass too early and way before their time. My 55yo uncle had a stroke and died from an unfortunate head trauma when he fell, an aunty needs dialysis 4 days a week to filter her blood otherwise she’ll die, 30yo cousins struggle to walk due to gout.

I would have loved to have my uncle still involved in my life and in our community but his untimely death cut short his time with us by 30 years! Makes me sad. Imagine if your time was cut short by 30 years!

So why is this the case?

I found this great article that talks about how people live longer and what the common trait among them are? Where do they live? What are their daily habits? How to they deal with stress and so on…

So what were the main findings?

  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle – regular exercise, managing stress, eating the right foods in the right portions and not eating and drinking to excess
  2. Being involved in supportive groups – family, religious communities and social groups

Common sense really but living this way means living better and living longer 🙂

Start small and build slowly. Try a daily walk. Practice being alone without technology for a short period of time. Question the food you’re eating – is it giving you energy or is it sapping your energy? How are you dealing with stress?

I don’t want to lose 30 years… do you?

With love,

Belinda.

Half Caste But Full Of Pride

Half Caste But Full Of Pride

Hi guys,

Some of you may realise that I am not quite white and not completely brown.

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Mum and Dad

 

My mother was born in Tonga which is a little island found right along side our more famous neighbour – Fiji –  in the expansive South Pacific ocean. Mum’s skin is a sun weathered brown with black hair and dark brown eyes. My father on the other hand is a true blue Australian and from English stock with accompanying blonde hair (greying now after having to deal with four daughters?!) with piercing blue eyes.

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My sisters and Mum at her recent 60th birthday bash!

So my sisters and I are the result of their union – we are half caste. Half Australian, half Tongan.

FUN FACT:
Capture

Having been born and raised in suburban Australia I always felt different from most other kids. You see I never felt completely accepted by either community. I wasn’t white enough to be Australian or I couldn’t speak or understand the Tongan language enough to be 100% Tongan. I was in this ‘twilight zone’ where I didn’t belong anywhere.

This is not a reflection on the job my parents did. They did a fantastic job and managed to raise girls successfully while making us feel included and accepted – it was just a gut feeling that you knew but not widely acknowledged.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. I was raised in a devout Catholic household and we went to Mass every Sunday and our Tongan Catholic community was very active and always held barbecues which kept us very close.

Being raised in a Tongan household meant that you had certain duties to perform as the culture is quite hierarchical. On the flip side having Australian roots also gave you a sense of ease as there is not as much importance placed on things that Tongans emphasise. On reflection, growing up it in that environment made things very confusing for me personally.

Tonga

Being a young Tongan girl albeit half caste, there are cultural expectations that are placed on you. You obey your parents, daily chores are expected to be completed without fuss or promises of reward, firm discipline/getting a smack is normal and there are so many branches to the family tree it can be challenging to keep count of how many cousin you have 🙂 As with anything you always take the good with the bad with a pinch of salt.

During times of despair (such as a funeral) or celebrations (such as a birthday) having a certain structure within a culture can help with you cope. Being a hierarchical community your know your ‘place’ within the Family and community at large.

Within the Tongan culture you ‘rank’ higher if you are a descendant from the female rather then male line. Indeed your Father is the head of the household but the actual ‘rank’ within the Family and wider community comes from your Mother’s side! Sounds good to me 😉

We can also party! Our National Rugby League team – Mate Ma’a Tonga – played courageously during the recent Rugby League World Cup and the Tongan community worldwide was swollen with pride and enthusiasm – check it out here.

From all over the United States, the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in the Australian Outback to the humble homes in the Islands you can see the red and white flags waving furiously in proud support. Check out my friend Alan Latu’s popular video below! Not bad for a little Island in the Pacific 🙂

 

I love learning about all types of people and cultures and I come from a special mix myself! I used to see this as a weakness or that there was something wrong with me. Now I feel completely different about it.

This is an affirmation that I’m happy. Celebrate who you are.

With love,

Belinda