Monday, September 21, 2009

Nina Mobbed

Nina mobbed by Chinese tourists Nina mobbed by Chinese tourists

We have just been out to Katoomba for lunch with Nina in tow. Bianca and I have decided that we can't go travelling to Asian countries for a few years as we will never get out of the hotel lobby with locals going crazy over Nina. We have been out and about with Nina a couple of times around the Blue Mountains and been mobbed with enamoured Asian tourists. This lunchtime I got it on camera. Also got a short video of Nina eating a straw while we wait for food.

Bianca: What this photo doesn't show is me flapping in the background like a nervous mother hen as all these complete strangers pass Nina around like the latest accessory!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Food wrangling

Food wrangling

Phil trying to get some food into Nina
Originally uploaded by Mistress B
Despite her parents' fondness for their tucker, Nina is far more interested in the world around her than she is in eating. We've been getting all sorts of grief from the childhood health nurses over her weight - she sits right on the bottom of the healthy weight curve and this week has actually dropped off the healthy weight curve. We've tried every trick in the book to cram more milk into her but we've come to the conclusion that she's such an active little thing that she just burns up way more calories than she eats.
So the latest solution is to start her on solids, seeing as she's nearly 6 months old. We're trying some baby cereal to try to get some more calories into her (but still breastfeeding as well), but it's easier said than done ... as these photos show. I think more of the cereal ended up on her face than in her mouth, and it was helped by the fact that she kept trying to grab the spoon and do it herself!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First girlie outfit

First girlie outfit
Originally uploaded by Mistress B
Poor Nina spent the first couple of months of her life largely in her pyjamas while we tried to get the hang of juggling it all, but we have become a little bit more adventurous with her outfits and she has acquired some rather stylish little numbers, including this cute knit dress. It's a long way from the 'funky goth chick' look that Phil is hoping for, but they don't really make baby clothes in black.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Mothers' group

Mums and bubs yoga
Originally uploaded by Mistress B
I haven't blogged about my fabulous mothers' group yet, and I don't know why because as Phil will attest, I never stop talking about it!
All new mums are put in touch with other new mums and bubs in the area (of the same bub age), via the childhood health nurses up here, and it's a fantastic program. It started with four get-togethers organised by the nurses, but now we organise our own get-togethers, and it's a non-stop social whirl.
We have a regular Friday get-together at someone's house, which is always a fabulous frenzy of babies and women (and some men) chattering, but then there's also mums and bubs yoga, bushwalks, gallery visit, movie excursions, endless excuses for lunches and home visits ... there's barely time for Nina to get her daily naps in!
It's exactly what we both hoped would happen when Nina came along - that we would meet other parents and finally start to establish our own social network in the mountains.
And it's lovely to think that these are the kids Nina will grow up with, go to school with, get into trouble with ... no, of course she won't be getting into trouble. With her innocent angel expression, she'll be the one standing in the middle of it all saying "moi?"

Friday, July 03, 2009

Moved to the Arctic?

Moved to the arctic?
Originally uploaded by nospuds
Its cold in the mountains. By the look of Bianca and Nina we could be in the Arctic!
We have a big pile of wood that I need to carry up the stairs but really its too cold to carry wood. Please, I don't need to hear that if I carry it up it will warm me twice ;)

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Morning Ride

It's officially cold. In fact it is freezing...literally. It was zero which with a wind chill at 90kph makes it -10°C for a trip to Sydney at 7:30am. Luckily I have new motorbike gear and my beema has heated hand grips. I was missing a heated seat though as the frosted seat meant that I slid backwards and forwards on the seat for the first 3 mins of the trip until my butt thawed the seat. At home we have the log fire going 24/7 which is really nice for Bianca when she gets up at 3am to feed Nina milky chops.
Frozen Beema - just gonna ride Frozen Beema - just gonna ride

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nina falling asleep...

... on arm at a time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Baby earmuffs

Baby earmuffs
Originally uploaded by Mistress B
Just been for our first trip to the movies with poor poor Nina. Bianca was worried about her hearing so made her wear socks on her ears!!
She slept through Star Trek except for a good feed somewhere in the middle.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Originally uploaded by Mistress B
I know there's this thing called maternity leave (and paternity leave), whereby a couple produce a baby and then they both get a period of time where they don't work... but we seemed to have missed that memo.
With Phil going great guns on NoSpuds, and me working on a special big project (soon to be revealed) plus doing a story for Scientific American, I'm not sure we even had a week where we both truly stopped working.
But little Nina has been very accommodating of our foolishness, and as you can see from this photo, happily takes her afternoon siesta tucked up on Phil's chest, or in the sling on my chest. We're both learning to snatch time to work in between feeds, nappies, walks and screams, and so far are doing OK.
Mind you, I've decided when bub number 2 comes along, I am actually going to STOP work for at least 3 months... at least that's the plan.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Monkey face!

got it!
Originally uploaded by Mistress B
Who'd have thought that breast milk was such good stuff, but the faces Nina pulls after a good feed look positively blissful! (and that's my arm, not my bosom, on the left of this pic, in case you're wondering).
Nina has just passed the one month mark, and it has been a pretty amazing month. As well as being just impossibly gorgeous, it feels like we've been blessed with a pretty easy-going bub as well. She's feeding well, sleeping pretty well and even her 2-3 screaming sessions each day are pretty tolerable at this stage. Mind you, have had visits from friends with slightly older babies and toddlers, we're realising that the screams are only going to get louder, so we're bracing ourselves for that!
But she's taken well to being walked around in the sling and pram, and has already become an accomplished bushwalker. The big test is an overnight trip to Sydney next week - mum is a little nervous about how the car trip will go, but there's a first time for everything.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Two babies get their outings

Baby one - Nina, 3 weeks old today, enjoying her second pram outing. A good hike for her parents too, as we walked to this spot all the way from home and back, a 2hr hour walk.
Baby two - Phil's NoSpuds bag, or more precisely, NoSpuds. This baby was delivered just before Nina, and can be viewed online at Feedback welcome!

New season mushrooms

Bianca picked our first wild mushrooms of the season...yum. Just had some with egg and goats cheese on sour dough bread. The rest will go on mushroom pizza tonight.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sock for gloves

It's enough to confuse any little girl. No wonder she has a frown. Bianca has taken to putting socks on Nina's hands to stop her scratching herself...when they wake up I need to tell Bianca about new fangled inventions like gloves and nail clippers...poor poor Nina.

Breakfast & Coffee


I’ve been meaning to write about my breakfast for ages and my coffee machine. I love my modded coffee machine! I added a temperature controller to my Rancillo machine to take out the faffage of ‘temperature surfing’ to get my machine to the right temperature for coffee (apparently 109.0°C). I’ve been drinking Campos Obama Blend which was a gift from some friends and it makes a really nice cup. Yum.

There are only 2 things that can help improve the start to the day...need I say more?

Obviously you need to check out NoSpuds for coffee courses and barista training ;)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

First day at home

... and already little Nina is fitting right in! Seen here in her sling while Dad enjoys his morning toast.
What an incredible feeling to be able to bring Nina, aka Sprout, into the family. She and I came home from hospital on Monday, and every day has been an adventure, a learning experience, and a total cornucopia of delight.
There aren't really the right words to describe the emotions of all this. There's so much wonder in every little detail, from her long legs and big feet (go Phil's tall genes!), to the silky hair on her head, her blue-grey eyes, which will no doubt change colour, to her tiny little fingernails. There's also wonder in how such a small creature can consume so much milk. I'd wonder where it all went if it weren't for the fact that I see the end products in her nappies.
And yep, she cries, lots, and sleeps lots except when we want her to but usually we work it out in the end.
Ooops, I hear a cry that says "where's my milk!!!" so this is a shortened blog post, but we're loving it, even the mucky freaky bits.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Girls

Well here you go! Please welcome Nina to the world.
She is lovely. A bit of crying and lots of sleeping :)
Bianca is recovering well but is very tired.
Stats: time of birth:10:13am; weight:3.37kg; poo:yes; cute:absolutely; date of birth:
We are looking forward to sharing our new life with you!
Mobile network is crap at the hospital but you can phone the hospital to have a chat...maybe tomorrow afternoon onwards.
Dad is now tired and is going to bed after holding my new girl for hours and hours =)
Very happy

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sofa gets a makeover

Phil's incredible sofa is one of the things that people really remember about our house. It's huge (Phil can stretch out fully on it), it's as welcoming and comfortable as a grandma's hug and a bowl of warm porridge, and it moulds itself to your body like a glove. So many of our friends when they come to our house go straight to the sofa, settle in and don't move for the rest of the day. Some even fall asleep there (miss g!!).
After a very good life, the sofa was starting to get a bit dog-eared, stained and was shedding feathers like a sick rooster, so the time had come for it to get a new lease on life.
A trip to Warwick fabrics later, and thanks to the fine efforts of Springwood Upholstery Services, we now have a new look sofa that is even comfier than the old one. It's replumped and lights up the room like a sunset.
p.s this will probably be the last non-baby-related post for a while as we're off to hospital tomorrow, so enjoy it! We will try not to overwhelm this blog with baby stuff, but can't promise anything!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rant of impotent fury

(Be warned: this is the cumulation of several months worth of frustration and rage, so it's going to be somewhat incoherent and indiscriminate!)

I must write all this down or I swear by the hormonal powers-that-be that the top of my head will burst open and this fury will vent forth with a power that will put Vesuvius to shame. In no particular order, here are the causes of my current state of impotent rage, along with a description of the sin that has earned them a position on this distinguished list of Companies That Bianca Now Has A Vendetta Against.

1. Integral Energy. It's a bright sunny day, and yet I have the overwhelming urge to kick Integral Energy in the balls. Why? Because they are currently cutting down the pine trees on the block of land up the hill from us (good because they block the sun) but while cutting down the tree closest to the top of our block, have decided it's perfectly acceptable to dump the branches and lengths of heavy pine log on the top of our block, RIGHT on top of my precious vege patch. RIP one blackcurrant bush and several raspberry canes. And to add insult to injury, when I strode up there fired with righteous anger and attempted to communicate with the neaderthal wielding the chainsaw and ask him if he was aware that there was in fact a vegetable patch under his pile of dumpings, he simply shrugged at me.

2. Katoomba Post Office and Australia Post. Went in there yesterday to use their Justice of the Peace service to certify 10 copies of our marriage certificate so I can change my name on important things like health insurance. Post office is empty but for one person in a queue. I join the queue, wait to be called (about 5 minutes later), go to the desk and nicely ask if they could certify the copies. Unbeknownst to me, in the time I was waiting, about 10 people had come into the post office after me, so there was a queue behind me. Sour-faced cow behind the desk rolls her eyes and sotto voce, mutters "you could have picked a better time". BAD move. I ask when would be a better time... no response. So she starts stamping and signing the copies. "Why do you need so many", she says grumpily. I think: "none of your f@#%ing business" but restrain myself and explain calmly I am changing my name. So she labours through 3 copies, taking a grand total of about 1 minute, then tells me I should go and get the rest done at the NRMA because there's a big queue. I point out that I am extremely pregnant and due to give birth this week, hoping she'll realise that this may be one of my last excursions in public for several weeks and really am not in any state to be traipsing around Katoomba, but she refuses to look at me or look me in the eye and adopts the pose most commonly seen by small cringing things in the wild - bow head, keep still and hope the problem goes away. Unfortunately, I did and have been stewing about it ever since. It would have taken a grand total of 5 minutes to do the job - about the same amount of time your average little old lady would take to count out enough coins to pay for her weekly stamp allowance, so I can only presume that as my request would make no money for Australia Post, that whole smiley "we're here to serve you" charade got flushed well and truly down the toilet.

3. Computershare. Computershare owes me $1300 from the sale of some shares that happened more than a YEAR ago. Since October last year, I have been trying to get them to reissue the cheque to my new address. Sounds like a simple procedure? WRONG! To cut a long and painful saga short, it has taken at least 8 phone calls, numerous documents being sent, faxed, certified, sent again, faxed again, lost, rediscovered, request for documents made then retracted, and still no sign of my moolah. Every single person I have spoken to each time has assured me this is definitely the last thing I need to do before they can reissue me with the cheque, and each time, no cheque arrives, or I get another letter requesting yet another piece of documentation that they already have on file but have somehow overlooked. Last phone call was this morning, and now I have to get certified copies of three different documents sent to them. Which will be great fun after Rant 2 above. Might get to deal with po-face again.

4. Netgear. Working from home means internet connection is rather important. So when a router dies, panic ensues. In this case, the VoIP component of our netgear router gave up the ghost. Thankfully, Netgear said they would replace it (big tick) so we send off the broken router and await arrival of the replacement. Replacement arrives very swiftly, we connect it up only to discover that this particular router is locked to a particular VoIP service provider (not the one we use) so we can't adjust the VoIP settings. Ring Netear, explain the problem, they are apologetic and say they will send out another replacement, no need for us to send back the first replacement first. How nice of them, as it means we at least have internet access, just no internet telephone. Second replacement router arrives a few days later and lo, it is also locked to another VoIP provider. So, we now have two replacement routers, both unusable for VoIP. Ring Netgear again, this time somewhat pissed off, and explain they have made the same mistake twice. Refrain from adding "you blithering idiots" to the end of every sentence. Technician again apologetic and says a third replacement router will be sent out. I ask about what the heck I'm supposed to do with all these bloody routers clogging up my office. Turns out I'm supposed to send them back at my own expense. I suggest this is the shittiest thing since Fat Bob fell in the pit loo, only to be warned that should I refuse to send back the replacement routers I will go on some dire blacklist that will no doubt see Netgear heavies knocking at the door and attempting to repossess our first born. I demand to talk to managers, but it seems they're all on smoko, so I'm reassured they will ring me back to discuss the matter further. No response, oh well. Must be a big spliff they're working on.
In due course, third replacement router arrives and GUESS WHAT!! It's another locked router. To quote my lovely sister "where's my surprised face?". By this stage I have gone out the other side of rage and into mild hysteria, so I ring again, and finally get a technician who obviously graduated from primary school who realises that none of the previous technicians actually recorded the request for a non-locked router. Thankfully, he now sends a corrected request to their warehouse, and we are now waiting for our fourth replacement router, which is apparently delayed due to lack of stock. Watch this space (well, actually, that's not going to be much fun for you so maybe don't).

5. Water tank people. Who shall for the moment remain nameless as there is a chance they may yet redeem themselves. After 2 years of effort, we recently finally got our water tank installed and plumbed into the house. The water tank went in before Christmas, so had plenty of time to fill up, and was finally plumbed into the whole house about 3 weeks ago. The munchkins who plumbed it in obviously didn't read the instructions because initially, they set up the system so the switch that decides between mains and water tank would never actually pick the water tank because the entire system was driven by the mains. Phil, god bless his clever cranium, spotted the error, so they had to come back a week later and completely replumb the system. After that, pump makes satisfyingly busy noises when turned on and we rejoice in the knowledge we are now completely independent of mains water (until the drought really bites). Cue guilt-free baths, wanton watering of the vege patch, stoking of green egos etc. Until I start to wonder why the level of the water tank isn't going down at all. Yesterday, as a little experiment, we check the counter on our water mains box and it turns out that we are still drawing from the mains. What the?!? We examine the layout of the plumbing and can't work out why the pump, which draws directly from the water tank, is going on if we're still drawing mains water. Sleep on the problem, Phil wakes up having solved it in his sleep (he does this a lot!) - the outlet valve from the water tank to the pump is actually shut. So the rainbank switch which controls the flow of water from mains or tank has been switching the pump on whenever we turn the tap on, but no water has been coming from the tank (because the valve is closed) so it then draws from the mains (while keeping the pump running). So our new pump has been running dry for nearly 2 weeks, which I'm sure, even with my limited plumbing knowledge, qualifies as a bad thing. We have now turned on the tank valve (hearing much gurgling as water starts flowing through pipes) but we're still drawing from the mains, which leads us to believe that either the pump is stuffed, the pump wasn't primed by the plumbers (you blithering idiots), or there's another problem we haven't thought of (given track record so far, highly likely).

Phew ... I think that's it. I don't know if it's just bad timing that this crap is raining down on my hormonal, pregnant head now, or if I'm just noticing because I'm hormonal and pregnant, but either way, I've got Warpath Exhaustion.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sprout at 37 weeks

"Here's lookin' at you, kid"
Yep, this is the face of Sprout, snapped just a week ago, looking quite comfortable.
Typical of a child of mine, it's facing 180 degrees in the wrong direction (head up instead of head down), which has given us a few headaches in terms of deciding what to do about birth choices. Breech deliveries aren't very common these days because they're a bit more complex than the usual delivery, so we're currently staring down the barrel of a caesarean section. It's a bit disconcerting to contemplate surgery, especially given my enthusiasm for a 'natural labour' (I wrote about this recently for The Weekend Australian newspaper, which you can read here).
Sprout has so far resisted all efforts to turn it the right way around, which have included regular swims, spending 20 mins a day on all fours with my backside in the air, and even a medical procedure in which the doctor tries to turn it around from the outside.
This last procedure was done last week and our obstetrician seemed a little put out that Sprout just refused to budge an inch! While we were disappointed that it didn't work, there was a small twinge of pride in our stubborn little offspring!
And the good news is Sprout is otherwise very healthy, normal size and weight, and wriggling like an octopus most hours of the day.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Got my motorbike fixed!!

glow worm tunnel


Along with a couple of trips down to Sydney I also managed to get in an off road trip for a walk and a look at a local glow worm tunnel that I hadn’t been to for years.

I’d forgotten how tiring dirt roads are on a motorbike. Your hands go numb with the corrugation of the dirt road and you have to really focus on the road surface for holes and slippery stuff. Lots of the time you are kinda half standing as you use your legs as a shock absorber. The next day my muscles ached. It was only 70km and I had big memories of doing over 500km of the Birdsville track in just one day...I was sooooo

The glow worm tunnel was brill, just as I remembered it. Luckily I remembered to take a torch as the middle of the tunnel is pitch black. The glow worms have a small blue’ish light and cluster like star constellations. The tree ferns outside were lush with the recent rains and I love the very big eucalypts around there.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our Pizza Oven

I do love my pizza oven. The oven goes up to 320°C which is great for pizza. We have made Indian Naan bread, lots of pizza and calzone so far.

This calzone worked a treat with a ratatouille with mozzarella and fontina cheese. The oven is gas fired but comes with a smoke box which was great for pizza.

Pizza Oven Vegi Calzone Vegi Calzone

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rain, rain, rain

Within one week we have gone from 38°C heat to solid days of rain, central heating and 10°C. I had predicted that once the tank was plumbed in that we would have a 5 year drought but gladly I was wrong :) I think we have had 5 days of rain now and we have small streams running by our house down the garden.

On the news we currently have fires and floods in Australia. The weather is very strange...

Check out the red level indicator on the side of the tank though!! Yippee.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Blooming marvellous

Nearly there
Originally uploaded by Mistress B
Warm from the sun, plump and bursting with tangy, acid sweetness ... is there anything better than a home-grown tomato? I think not, hence all the sweat, toil and money than has been ploughed into our vegetable patch.
But it has all been worthwhile. We have an enormous crop of (green) tomatoes just waiting for another week or two of sunshine to turn red and flood us with more tomatoes than we know what to do with. Plus the rhubarb is going mental, although also yet to turn red, the zucchini (that's courgette for you Poms) has lots of flowers but no fruit just yet, the leeks are growing tall and the herb garden on the balcony is lush with basil, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and even lemongrass.
I love having a garden again!

Asparagus Weirdo Rhubarb
Rhubarb Tomatoes! Leeks
Herb garden Tomatoes and rhubarb

Friday, January 30, 2009

You know you're a local when ...

...the woman at the local bakery knows what loaf you always buy.
... the guy at the fruit and veg shop feels comfortable enough commenting on your expanding pregnant belly even when it's still small enough to just be a beer gut. get a wave when you walk past the hardware store.
...courier and parcel services don't bother trying to drive up the Driveway From Hell anymore, they just park at the bottom and walk up.

Monday, January 19, 2009

So you're going to be a Dad

My forward-thinking parents bought Phil this book for Christmas (So You're Going To Be A Dad, by Peter Downey), and much to my surprise, he read it cover to cover in just a few days.
I say 'surprise' because, unlike me, Phil is a more practical, logical hands-on guy who, rather than dither, research extensively, read widely, dither some more, procrastinate and finally act on a random whim, has an instinct for the right thing to do and just does it.
At last count I had about five books to do with getting pregnant, pregnancy, childbirth and child-raising by my bedside. In my defence, most are donations from friends and family, but I have read most of them at least in part, and in the case of the childbirth book, have even been taking notes. Despite this, I suspect all that rationalisation and logic is going to go completely pear-shaped once reality kicks in/the first contractions hit.
Anyway, this book by Downey is actually a very enjoyable read, and written with great wit, humour and wry observation (yes, I read it through too), so I can see why Phil is enjoying it so much. It's very non-prescriptive, non-judgemental and pleasantly honest.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Love in the mountain air

Our good friends Em and Dan - Bianca's former housemates, now of London - exchanged vows, rings and numerous loving glances last weekend at a stunning wedding in Leura and Katoomba.
I got to play bridesmaid for the first time in my life, which was so much fun. I managed to find a dress that succeed in making me look elegant while covering the Sprout's ever-expanding domain, and Phil got to play chauffeur to the married couple after the ceremony.
It was the most beautiful day - the sun even came out during the ceremony in a fruitless attempt to outshine the gorgeous couple.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Christmas at Treetops

"I shot the sheriff..."
Treetops hosted its first Christmas this/last year, featuring Mum, Dad and Matty and a visit from Mary and Dave Keeling.
We had the usual features of a Nogrady Christmas - huge numbers of presents, copious quantities of wine and bubbly, more food than we could possibly eat in a year and lots of afternoon naps.
But unlike previous Christmases, we actually got a bit of exercise on this one - three good solid mountain walks in the heat. Of course, we then had to eat extra to make up for all that calorie burning.
And we enjoyed quite a few excellent vegetarian meals cooked by Phil, so slightly fewer beasties than usual were sacrificed to the Christmas gods this year.
Lucy, Dave and of course Nan were sorely missed but what's Christmas without a few tugs on the heart strings.
And special mention to Matty's inflatable moose head, and Dad's steak t-shirt - displayed here with great pride alongside Phil's "I love tofu" t-shirt!