Saturday, April 5, 2014

14/52


This morning something stirred beneath the soft woollen comforts of my bed. Slowly, gradually she emerged from beneath the cocoon of warmth to reveal her tiny face, wide brown eyes and unique wrinkled brow. The ear styling is all her own. Oh those ears! I could wrap her up and kiss her!

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I told we'd be popping in from time to time with Jodi's 52 project. This week I fell in love with these beauties... The blurry wonder surrounding Anaru / Splish! Splash! Baby girl / Mastering jump rope... Hannah...

Bella xx

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Bumpin' Series: YouTube Video My Pregnancy at 10 Weeks

Dear Friends,

I've uploaded a YouTube video, documenting our pregnancy at 10 weeks.


Recording and editing was fun, although time consuming (not to mention difficult to do by myself whilst Byron was at work, especially with a curious cat who kept jumping up on the camera and a barking dog...) so we won't be able to realistically post weekly updates due to juggling full time work, long travel hours and wanting to enjoy what sparse leisure time we have remaining. You may also notice that we're a fair way behind with the video update in relation to where we are now... 19 weeks down the track.

The reason is simple enough: I needed to take a much needed hiatus due to unexpected and rather unpleasant hyperemesis, which took control of my life. Thankfully I have now regained that control and I will endeavour to bring you more regular posts and videos... But I've got to say, I always find it interesting to hear the voices of people I know through blogs, it somehow makes me feel more connected to this wonderful, supportive community.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us, including your advice and personal experiences. Please know that I value your comments and take your advice.

Julie from Iliska Dreams suggested I remove my navel piercing sooner rather than later. Well Julie, you'll be happy to learn that. It. Is. Out!

Click the link to be taken to our YouTube video about our pregnancy at 10 weeks!

Much love from this mama-to-be,

Bella xx

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bumpin' 19 weeks... Baby, You Got the Moves!

Dear Little One,

Your rapid growth took my breath away this week. In previous weeks I haven't had much to gauge how much you had changed. I've relied on medical textbooks, journal articles and of course the lighter reading found on websites dedicated to pregnancy and comparing your size to that of various pieces of common fruit (this week you're as large as a heirloom tomato if you were wondering...).

Personally, I like to feel informed from my own research but with the heavier, arduous task of reading scientific articles it can be quite overwhelming. You see, to learn about your growth, development and the progression of pregnancy is exciting but at the same time I am also learning about the less desirable or frightening aspects of pregnancy. The complications, the heartaches and the loss that some women experience.

Responsible research is important but for now I'm going to focus on the positives because you're reaching your milestones and that in itself is a miracle for us.


You: Monday saw us visit the Radiology Centre where I waddled in like a duck with a very full bladder. For 45 minutes we saw intimate details of your tiny body, your internal organs in two-dimensional black and white images. Some were very easy to identify, your tiny heart could be witnessed beating away with such fervour that I felt a sense of calm pride I have never before experienced.


Concerns: We've been advised that I have a lobulated placenta, which could be normal, although I've been informed that it could potentially be a cause for concern a little way down the track if it begins to starve you of nourishment. At this stage, however you are healthy, your growth is increasing as it should and with further ultrasounds we will be able to monitor whether or not this will affect you.

Sex: You're a modest one too, which in my opinion is quite classy. We looked away from the screen when instructed so as to avoid learning your sex just yet and it turns out we needn't have worried. Your tiny legs were crossed protectively in front of your body so that even the skilled sonographer could not discern whether you are a Miss or a Master. We of course have a preference only for your perfect health, anything else is a bonus.

Movement: Tiny sensations have rippled through my lower abdomen this week that feel more like tiny tickles than flutters. It's a bizarre sensation but one that I identify as uniquely you. Pecan, you have no idea how relieved I now feel because I have another, subtle physical sign that you are with me.


Me: Slightly more round this week, so much so that I will have to pass on the freshly pressed white cotton work shirts in my wardrobe within the next week or so.

Hmmm... I've also fallen in love with lavender all over again. Thankfully our tiny shrub is flowering and so the house is filled with tiny glass jars stacked with green stalks topped with these fragrant purple beauties.

Us: Family Unit! Byron took me to purchase more comfortable pants. Maternity pants if you must know, there I said it. I will be wearing maternity pants from the 19th week onwards every fat chance I get.

They're not necessary at this early stage but ohhh la la are they comfy. We don't splurge on anything these days so it was a welcome treat to be able to search for a clothing bargain.

We've also been busy decluttering, donating and scrubbing. My mother visited us on the weekend to assist us to move some of her belongings out of the spare room. It was a loooonnnnggg weekend spent dusting, vacuuming, shifting lifting, sweating and bumping ourselves into doorways, walls, up and down stairs and out to the moving van.


The result was well worth the effort with one completely empty room ready for a nursery makeover. Within the space of a couple of days we managed to create a blank canvas. One we will not over clutter. One we nuture and gradually build into your room. One we will furnish with your donated cot, hand-me-down clothes and refurbished dresser.

Along the way, we'll decorate with a handmade mobile (a little project I'm working on to remind you of the sea), a patchwork quilt I'm sewing from scrap fabric and some of my own artwork.

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Any suggestions for a functional, aesthetically pleasing seaside nursery? Would you like to see the nursery makeover as we add to it?

So what do you all think? Any visible growth? It's all a matter of perspective really. From the top looking down I think I look rather round however, I don't see as much difference from the side angle (must ask Byron to take more of these!).

Oh! one final difference I've noticed: My bellybutton is more shallow than before. It might be time to remove the piercing in a few weeks.

If you have any questions or wish to share your own experiences, please do so below as I love to read your comments.

So this is my first week of participation in Jodi's 52 project: Week 13/52. For those of you linking in from Practising Simplicity, the warmest Autumn welcome to you.

Bella xx

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Autumn Warmers ... Creamy Gnocchi Bake with Aubergine, Pancetta and Cherry Tomatoes

This past week has really cooled down and I am truly grateful for the Autumn weather. I've written of my love for the change in seasons before and this time is no different. To witness the changes in the air, in nature and in our daily habits is remarkable.


Most mornings this March I have risen before the sun. My routine usually follows the same course during the working week: I slip into a robe and quietly float downstairs where Maxi cat watches me stir rice porridge on the stove for the next fifteen minutes.

This is our quiet time when the puppy sleeps soundly at the foot of the bed and Byron dreams deeply after having worked a long night shift.

Next I'll sit on a breakfast stool, spoon in hand as I hover over the warm cinnamon scented porridge. I usually read as Maxi purrs gently next to me, occasionally rubbing his soft head against me or reaching forward with an expectant paw for a little milk. I usually oblige by giving him a dollop of natural yoghurt or tablespoon of milk and it satisfies him enough to go and lay on cushion and watch me from under sleepy lids.

I'll shower and dress for work, twist and pin my hair, let Coco out on the grass, and kiss my husband's forehead before commencing the long drive to work through beautiful countryside.

In the evenings I walk with Coco along the beach. The autumn sea breezes are refreshing against my face and the sea water is still warm enough to splash about in, although a cardigan and scarf is necessary when the sun sets.

By the end of the working week I am exhausted and that, my dear friends is where this easy dish comes into it's own.

A warm, hearty dish to fill your tummy and relax you into the weekend. Byron and I decided this can be one of our go-to Autumn dishes for Fun Fridays, when we stir vegetables in a large pot and bake it for a quick, no-fuss delicious meal with our family.

This is our creamy gnocchi bake with eggplant and cheery tomatoes. It's more of a throw everything in and let it do it's thing kind of dish, rather than a precise recipe but the flavours are there and the more you play around with it, the better it gets. We use a large enamelled cast iron Chasseur cooking pot, which can be taken from stove top to oven in seconds and is ideal for this dish.

Creamy Gnocchi Bake
Serves 4

1/2 large or 1 medium eggplant
olive oil
5 rashers short cut bacon or 75g uncut pancetta
6-8 swiss brown mushrooms, quartered
dried oregano
1 medium brown onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/3 cup white wine
300mL cream
1 packet gluten free gnocchi
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes
small handful fresh sweet basil
mozzarella
sea salt and cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Slice the eggplant into 1cm to half inch rounds. Fry with olive oil and a little sea salt over medium heat, turning once to brown evenly on both sides. Remove from heat just before cooked as they will continue to soften during baking.

We then fried rashers of bacon in the same pot before removing from the heat and roughly slicing. Alternatively, cut pieces of pancetta into cubes approximately 5mm thick (I like to cut mine into 5mm x 5mm x 20mm batons) and fry, turning occasionally until cooked. Remove from heat.


Next, brown the mushrooms with olive oil and dried oregano. When brown, add the onions and garlic and sweat with the wine until the onions have softened. Pour in the cream and uncooked gnocchi. Stir over low heat until the gnocchi begins to soften (about 10-15 minutes). Season with cracked pepper.



Return the eggplant and bacon or pancetta to the pot, add the cheery tomatoes and torn sweet basil and stir to combine.
Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake for 15-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and begins to turn golden. Serve hot.


The perfect dish for cooler weather and only one pot to wash at the end.

Some meals should be as fun, rustic and easy as this one is to prepare. It means you have more time to focus on your family and that's what Fun Fridays mean to us.

Instead of ordering a pizza or takeout, we used organic produce from the farmers market. We support local businesses and the kids can help prepare this comfort food.

You may wish to omit the wine and meat to create a tasty vegetarian, kid-friendly version of this dish, the choice is yours.

What delicious meals grace your dinner table during the cooler seasons?

Bella xx

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bumpin'... 18 Weeks

So the eighteenth week is upon us and what better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than in the cool shade cast by the tall gums of the Botanic Gardens.

But it hasn't all been roses, bromeliads, cacti and orchids... Up until this week things have been rather bumpy but thankfully the sickness has slowed and my energy levels have picked up. We're still not back to where we were (are we, Pecan?), but we're taking each day as it comes.


You: You're growing, Pecan. Fast. This week you're about the size of a bell pepper. Your ears have settled into place and your skin is less translucent. If you are a girl, your fallopian tubes have formed. If you are a boy, it may be noticeable during your 19 week ultrasound on Monday. I hope we don't find out your sex just yet as it will be the greastest surprise you can ever give us. Better than every childhood Christmas, even the one where Mum surprised me with a vintage pink bicycle! You will continue to grow and almost double in size every week for the next few weeks. This both excites and terrifies me but I'm going to be with you throughout it all.

I'm still waiting to feel you, although I have a sneaking suspicion that you may have fluttered in my belly on Monday night.

We keep trying to listen for your heartbeat with my stethoscope but thus far your tiny beats have eluded our keen ears. Perhaps next week your tiny pump will beat a little stronger.

We'll be listening...


Me: Make mine a double. No, seriously. Helllllooooo appetite. This week I've managed to increase the volume of food that I am consuming, and the frequency of my small meals. I'm keeping it healthy, with plums, mangoes and bananas satisfying my sweet cravings. I did try a blueberry, lavender and honeycomb smoothie this week but it did cross my sweetness threshold so I was unable to finish it.

Needless to say, I think I've popped a little. What do you think? Does this noticeable roundness pass for a pregnant belly or do I look bloated? (Now I know I can get quite bloated... But that's a story for next week!)

Come again? This week I've realised that 'Baby Brain' does exist. I call Coco by the name of my first chihuahua, Portia. I made gluten free pecan and pear puddings but forgot to add a syrup before baking. Not sure why the mixture was so dry, I poured in several generous glugs of milk, stirred and placed the puddings in a bain-marie in the oven. As I turned back around, I observed a lonely little jug filled with my syrup mixture on the very same workbench I had been using to whip the batter. We ended up using the syrup as a sauce post-baking and they turned out quite tasty and moist, thankfully.

Can you relate to forgetting the names of animals or people at this stage in your pregnancy? Have you found yourself mid-sentence in a particularly riveting story, only to find yourself absolutely flabbergasted as to what the hell you are talking about? Mayday! This story is going dowwwwwnnnn!!!


Us: Byron and I have been spending more time together now that I no longer need to study behavioural statistics this trimester. We've been hanging out at the seaside markets, walking amongst the gums, listening to bush poetry recitals in the rainforest, watching cooking demonstrations in the glades of the Botanic Gardens and spending far more time cuddling each other that I can ever recall doing in the first trimester.

We even had time to listen to a beautiful choir sing African songs and tributes to the late, great Mr Nelson Mandela at the Multicultural Harmony Festival on the weekend.

We're making movies too, to upload onto YouTube to keep you all updated. As soon as the weekly videos are ready to post, we'll announce them here and add links for you to follow along.

Coco and Maxi cat have been extremely affectionate this week. It's been nice to be able to snuggle with them in front of a movie. I wonder if they know.

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Thanks for tuning in to this little blog as we bump our way through the 18th week. If you'd like more updates, please let us know.

If you have any questions or wish to share your own experiences, please do so below as I love to read your comments.

Bella xx

Friday, March 7, 2014

Slow Down...

Finding the time to do nothing. That is a skill I have never mastered. I'm always doing something, even when I'm home by myself with a book that I tell myself I'm dying to read. It usually sits sadly on my bedside table, gathering dust whilst I manically vacuum, hang the washing, stir a pot of soup or scrub the shower.

I try to keep my weekends as free as possible yet somehow I always feel utterly exhausted at the end of each day, like I need another weekend to recover from the busyness of a handful of activities that somehow always manage to thread together to consume all of my 'me time'.


In the past few months I haven't had much choice in the Resting Department. With all these surges of hormones pulsating through my veins, I've reluctantly found myself bed ridden, lying on my side in the foetal position between dashes to the bathroom with morning sickness.

I'm sick of morning sickness.

Initially I thought to myself that I had wasted precious time whilst confined to the bed but I had time to think... And think I did.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I made plans. I thought about new recipes whenever the thought of food agreed with my stomach, rather than fighting with it.

I thought about the year ahead and made a mental To Do list in chronological order of all the necessary tasks we needed to accomplish as a team before Pecan arrives in the winter time.


With each day, I regained more spirit and more energy. I felt encouraged by achieving simple tasks, such as eating breakfast without becoming ill (a personal victory, I might add), opening the windows to allow the sea breeze to cleanse the house and reading a few chapters from my formerly neglected novel.


During the afternoons, I still have a lull in energy but with some nourishing food prepared by Byron, I am able to eat, rest and slowly make my way to the car. Byron drives us to the end of the beach and we walk. We don't run or jump or surf but we walk and sometimes, we play Tug-O-War with Coco with pieces of driftwood and seaweed.

We stretch and breathe, being mindful of how it feels to be outside, how it feels to be supported, how the sand feels between our toes and we marvel at how wonderful the sea air feels in our lungs.


Sometimes our bodies make us drop back a gear or two. I'm here to tell you that it's ok to trust what you're feeling and just go with it.

It's ok to slow down.

Bella xx

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Bumpin' Series…

Pregnant bellies, maternity images and gorgeous bumps flood blogs, Facebook pages, Pinterest and every corner of the web these days. I love it. I love to embrace the female form in all her various shapes, colours and sizes.


It's not everyone's cup of tea but I'm putting myself out there for those of you who might be interested.

Byron and I will soon be bringing you the Bumpin' Series. A collection of images, words and movies from this pregnancy. We'll discuss diet, body changes, stretch marks, hair, nails, relationships and of course bring you bumpin' pictures of bellies, including my own.


Along the way, there will be adventures, dramas, tears and laughter. This will be an honest account of our journey, with the occasional interview and images of fellow Bumpin' ladies, including the gorgeous Elyse, pictured earlier.

I can't wait! Thank you for joining us on this journey!

Bella xx

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