Creating Magic: Elephants

Elephun

Sitting in our rocking chair one night before bed, I happened to glance across the room at three little elephants sitting on top of my son’s dresser. Looking at those three little elephants brought me back to the day I bought them, when CJ was a mere collection of cells in my womb. We’d been away in Rotorua for our wedding anniversary and had obviously done all the required actions at the required time (haha bow-chicka-wow-wow) but it hadn’t worked for us in the past and I wasn’t holding high expectations that it would work this time either. I really wanted to get a spa treatment but Papa M was starting to get a cold and wasn’t feeling it. We went our separate ways; he for a walk along the shores of Lake Rotorua, me to the Polynesian Spa.

After months of studiously avoiding hot pools in the hopes that I was pregnant, I gave into the temptation of soaking in the lakefront hot pools prior to my treatment. Looking out at the beautiful view, I thought about the travel plans we had discussed since having children didn’t seem to be happening. I relaxed and enjoyed the moment, something that I had been struggling to do at that time. Time ticked on and it was soon time for my Exfoli-Aix treatment; a simply divine scrub and massage under jets of water that mimic rain. Thoroughly relaxed, I dressed and headed on out, planning to meet up with Papa M.

Meandering through the gift shop, this little trio of elephants caught my eye. Not terribly expensive but tremendously cute, I finally allowed myself to think – what if? What if we had created life on this magical weekend away? What if we were that lucky? I whipped them up to the counter, thinking that at worst, I could gift them to one of my seemingly more fertile friends. As we know now, what if became what was, we were that lucky, and I have a beautiful physical embodiment in the three elephants of the moment that I first believed that CJ would enter our lives.

Casting my eye around CJ’s room, it’s amazing how often the Elephant motif shows up. As we wanted a gender-neutral room design, we went with an animal theme but consistently those little pops of Elephant come through. The elephant trio that usually resides on the dresser, CJ’s travel buddy (the toy that always rides with him in the car and stroller), the material in his quilt made by Greer’s lovely mother – all elephants there. Even the fabric on the rocking chair cushions (a second choice and very rushed decision) is elephants. As elephants are renowned as symbols of strength and loyalty, I can’t think of better symbols with which to surround my little dude, especially when he chose one of them himself. I can’t wait to take him to meet real elephants at the zoo this summer! Are there any motifs that stand out in your life?

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CJ @ 5 Months

CJ is five months old! It wasn’t until I was visiting the beautiful Corrine of Frock ‘n’ Roll fame and seeing her beautiful wee baby Charlie that I realized just how much I have changed in these past few months. I could never have conceived in those first few days that, this far down the track, there would be very little that flustered me. So what’s happening in CJ’s world at the moment?

5Months

He’s about to start solids! Just over this past week, he’s started grabbing at our food. Cups of coffee and hot chocolate in particular, but anything that you put within his grasp. At a family get-together this past weekend, he kept grasping at his aunty R’s spoon for brownies and ice-cream. We got a teaspoon for him to play with and I was STUNNED to see him put it straight into his mouth. He then got pissed off that there was nothing on it so I may have given him the teeniest bit of his aunty’s ice-cream (like the tip of a spoon)… I know. Call the parenting police! Over the course of this next week we’ll start slowly phasing in a little bit of something more conventional – maybe apple puree? – in at dinner time.

I attempted to put him down with one arm out of his swaddle. At first it seemed like a novelty; he knocked the dummy out of his mouth and then waved the loose arm around, yelling at it like it was naughty. I went and replaced the dummy but had barely got back to the lounge when his flailing arm took it out again. I went back a third time and this time put a little teddy beside him to keep his loose hand occupied. No dice. I could see through the baby monitor him sobbing at his “naughty” hand. I went back in and he looked at me like his world was ending. My heart broke and I zipped his arm back into the swaddle as he gave an audible sigh. It’s alright buddy, it’s okay that you aren’t ready.

One thing he is ready for is rolling! He’s rolled on occasion for a while now, but something just clicked about a fortnight ago and BAM rolling all the time now! Mainly back to front (which is funny considering he used to hate tummy time) but sometimes he manages a full back-front-back roll. Poor blighter though, he’s seen the other kids crawling at our mixed-age coffee group so often stays on his tummy with his arms and legs frantically windmilling trying to gain traction.

Scaring the bleep out of us with his first fever. After his last feed of the day we noticed that his breathing was a bit laboured and that he felt a bit hot (not excessively so, about a degree more than normal) so we rang Healthline, a free 24 hour phone service with trained nurses. She told us that we were right to be concerned and to take him to either the emergency room or the nearest 24 hour doctor. Knowing the wait times in our nearest ER, and the distance being comparable, we drove to the 24 hour doctor. Did I mention that by this time it was 11pm? I was absolutely sick with worry, praying the whole way there he would be OK. By the time we arrived CJ was beside himself and his fever was absolutely raging. The doctor checked him over for any danger signs (ear infection, throat infection, chest infection/pneumonia, meningitis) and thankfully concluded that it was just a virus. They gave him a higher dose of paracetamol and gave us a darkened room to wait in while they did observations on them. It was such a relief to see our little man start to return to his usual self before our eyes. With his temperature decreasing, we were sent on our way at around 1am but both Papa M and I were very bleary-eyed the next morning. It was a 12 hour thing – by the time that we took him to our usual doctor for a follow up appointment he was completely back to normal.

Still loving his little car walker – he can now control more of the “noise makers” by himself and is feeling pretty darn chuffed when he manages to make it do cool sounds! It’s also very handy when Mummy is doing chores – he can be wheeled to wherever mummy is and play there!

Down to two breast feeds – breakfast and dinner time, and up to two full bottle feeds now as lunch is completely formula fed. No dramas from this wee chap; food is food as far as he is concerned which makes me feel so much better. Would I have loved to exclusively breast-feed? Yes! But this works well for us too and allows us a bit more flexibility during the day as he is such a poor breast-feeder.

He’s teething with a vengeance, little pink cheeks and all. I’ll be shocked if we don’t have a tooth to tell you about in our next monthly update. For the most part he’s handling it well, but we have some rough days too. We love Naturo-Pharm TeethMed Spray though!

Day naps can be touch-and-go; some days great, other days not so much. We try to instigate quiet time even on the days where we have a sleep fighter because I think it’s a good habit for him to get into as he gets older. Gone are the days of three hour afternoon naps, alas!

Night time sleeps are usually pretty awesome although we’ve had a bit of a bad run in this past week with the fever, a couple of particularly chilly nights and teething. The chilly nights should cease to be an issue, however, as our landlord has finally got around to installing underfloor insulation, keeping us much warmer!

The Hungry Little Caterpillar is still our bedtime read, although he’s also become quite a fan of Hairy Maclary – particularly the part where Scarface Claw makes his appearance. If you’re not a kiwi, this may mean nothing to you – but the video below should help!

It’s amazing to think that the next time I write one of these updates, CJ will have been in our lives for half a year. It really is an amazing experience to watch a child grow before your very eyes!

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Loving It: 17.7.14

Here’s what I’m loving this week:

OwnPath

Source

  • The above from Daily Advice - it’s so valuable to remember that we are all on different pathways and that we need to recognize that our journey is an individual one and can’t be compared with others.
  • This interesting take on the traditionally Eurocentric Disney Princesses; it makes you consider how much you attribute a character’s persona to your perception of their culture.
  • How much CJ is fixated on rolling right now; he’s done it before but now he LOVES it.
  • Caramel – I’ve never been particularly partial to it in the past but I’m really digging it at the moment. Delicious!
  • This Parisian Flan from Made From Scratch that looks amazing! Bastille Day has come and gone but this is still on my list of desserts to try and create.
  • Doing the grocery shopping with my two boys – I used to love going grocery shopping with my darling and now I can do it with both of my darlings! The only time CJ got irritated was when I was taking too long choosing my treat in the chocolate aisle!
  • These pictures that provide an insightful social commentary and may just make you think twice on societal issues that people tend to gloss over.
  • The anticipation of seeing the sweet bundle of delight that is Corrine’s beautiful girl Charlotte this weekend – I am so excited!

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Out & About: Westfield 277 Newmarket

Enjoy our new series, Out & About, focusing on accessibility and suitability of various public places in Auckland for babies and small children.

In search of a mattress that would fit our vintage cot, we ended up deciding on NatureBaby. Interesting aside, almost all mattresses sold in chain stores are now the American size mattress (as opposed to what is usually called the continental size mattress) and won’t fit many older New Zealand cots. We have the cot that my sisters and I all slept in and wanted to avoid freighting charges so a family trip to Newmarket was decided on. We set off bright and early, planning that CJ would have a morning nap in the car and headed on our way.

Having worked in Newmarket in the past, I did know that it’s not the most family friendly destination. Parking can be a challenge (although there is a nice parking building on Nuffield Street, as well as a couple of other parking garages and on-street parking) and many of the boutiques are not easily push-chair/wheel-chair accessible as they have stairs in the front. Having purchased our cot mattress and returned it to the car, it was ticking round to that time where CJ was due to be fed. With our feeding issues, I prefer somewhere private to breast-feed so we tootled off to 277, the Westfield shopping mall, in order to feed.

Entering in at ground level, we consulted the directory to find the parents’ room. Seeing that there was one located on the ground floor and one located on the food court level, I decided that I’d try the ground floor room and sent Papa M on his way to spend his vouchers. Rounding the corner to look for the parents’ room, I realized that “room” was overselling it a bit.

277a

Maybe I’ve been spoiled by some truly fantastic parent rooms but this area was significantly underwhelming. Entering through what basically amounts to a pool gate, changing tables are on view to everyone that walks past. As this is off the main thoroughfare to both male and female bathrooms, and one of the car parking levels, it’s a significant amount of people. Not to mention the chilly breeze flowing in every time someone entered through the doors from the carpark. Not an ideal situation in which to be stripping the pants of your wriggly baby.

Our first priority, however, was to feed and so I meandered down to the two cubicles at the end of the area, choosing the cubicle at the end and wheeling the stroller in. Well, trying to. The cubicle isn’t actually large enough to fit the stroller in without pushing out the curtain. I imagine that if you had a small umbrella-style stroller, you might manage to squeeze in. The long, narrow room also seemed to act as a sort of wind and aural tunnel, meaning that we were still feeling the breeze from the carpark and hearing lots of noises. CJ couldn’t settle into breast-feeding at all and started to have an epic meltdown. Luckily, since starting mixed feeding, I always carry an emergency bottle and was able to get a feed into him that way while he kept his eyes peeled for what was making those sounds.

I thought that maybe I had just chosen the wrong room, that the one near the food court might be better and so once CJ was finished, we met up with Papa M and headed up to the food court to suss the food situation and change CJ. No such luck, unfortunately. What we found could basically be summed up as an extended disabled toilet.

277b

While this room was large enough to fit two adults and a stroller, it was only able to be used by one party at a time. In a high-traffic area like the food court, this was not ideal; we had people knocking on the door for the five minutes we were in there. Thumbs up that it had an adult toilet in the room (something that the other parents’ area did not) and a door for privacy but thumbs down that there was no chair or cubicle for feeding. Other mothers may be able to feed in the food court area, but that’s not a situation that works for us and this was disappointing. Thoroughly disheartened by our experience, we decided to leave the mall and head over to Nuffield Street to eat instead. We had a delicious meal at Tasca, who were incredibly family-friendly and we’d highly recommend. Knowing now that we’ll have to bottle-feed during our trips to Newmarket, we’ll skip the mall next time and just enjoy ourselves some delicious lunch with friendly staff members who smile at our little one.

As parents we know we need to be flexible; changing the odd nappy on the back seat of the car or closing ourselves off in a bedroom at a friend’s house to feed can be par for the course. We just expected better from Westfield, given that they own many shopping malls both domestically and internationally. Making parents’ rooms a more comfortable place to hang out ensures that you gain more of our time in your mall, and therefore more of our dollars. While your parent rooms at 277 may work for some, they are not ideal during winter, for fussy breastfeeders or if you had an infant and a toddler as there is nothing to keep them entertained.

A solid C for effort, Westfield 277 Newmarket.

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Stepping Back…

Lately I’ve found myself falling into one of the classic mummy traps. Picture this, if you will: it’s night-time or the weekend, CJ and I have the pleasure of having Papa M home from work and we’re trying to get something done. CJ is getting a little scratchy and Papa M is getting a bit flustered. Wanting to avert a fully-fledged crisis, I jump in. “Oh, just let me do it” I snap in exasperation. I manage to get the task done quickly and CJ is back to his cheerful self but I’ve got that little grumbly knot inside me whispering “Why do I always have to do everything?”. Papa M is too nice to say it, but he’s probably none too pleased that I’ve made him feel incompetent, especially when he really is an awesome daddy. It becomes a perpetual cycle, because I’m never giving Papa M the chance to learn to do things better. I really needed to do something different.

Stepping

I’m making a conscious effort to step back. Unless the situation is dire or CJ’s safety is at risk, I’m just giving Papa M his chance to shine. On our recent trip to the Botanical Gardens, I let Papa M take the lead. He took CJ in to change his nappy whilst I found a spot for the car. He fed CJ and I stood in line for ordering lunch. He put CJ in the car and I just stood there (a bit cheeky, I know). We came home minus a change mat (oh, how sad, I’ve just had to order this new change mat wallet) and I had to remind Papa M to put the handle up on the capsule before driving – but we survived! The sad truth of it all is that I think that CJ has far more patience for his daddy; mummy better get it right first time.

I think that sometimes as mums (or primary care-givers, don’t want to get all gender-biased and hetero-normative) we get into the trap of thinking that it is just easier if we do everything, if we fulfill all our little one’s needs. I’m not saying that we can’t (solo mothers definitely have to do this more often than most) but that maybe we shouldn’t. We should be careful that we don’t relegate our partners to a peripheral role and set ourselves up as the gatekeeper to the baby. My dudes have such a good relationship with each other and I want CJ to grow up knowing that he can run to both mummy AND daddy when he needs help.

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Wines & Dines: Mama Loco, Sylvia Park, Auckland

Recently we took the chance to have our first movie outing since CJ was born. I’m a total X-Men franchise fan and really wanted to see Days of Future Past in the cinema so we made it happen. Ever the financially-conscious new parents, we headed to Sylvia Park where we can use our credit card rewards points to pay for our tickets. Casablanca Cafe is a usual favorite for us there, but we thought that this time we would try the new-ish offering of  Mama Loco, a Mexican-inspired tapas-style restaurant with a wide range of small and large offerings, perfect for sharing. For those located north of the harbor bridge, you can also taste the deliciousness at Mama Loco Albany. We’re big fans of the tapas/mezze style meal and Papa M is a huge tex-mex fan so we thought this might be a winner.

MamaLocoAmbience

Located in what used to be a magazine store, the restaurant appears to be going for a festive, industrial vibe. I liked the rawness of the materials that they used and that the place didn’t look too overdone, but a couple more little nods to comfort would have been nice. The only available booth seating was at the back of the restaurant (these tired parents weren’t up to perching themselves on the admittedly adorable stools) and the only table available was right next to a window. Probably brilliant in summer (especially to watch the sun set with a cerveza) but a little bit chilly in winter. The bathrooms at Mama Loco continue along the same theme as the restaurant and are well worth a visit while you are there.

The service was speedy – great for the cinema crowd – to the point that the food arrived almost unexpectedly. There was, however, no sign of any flaw in attention to detail. Each dish arrived on the table as the kitchen finished preparing it giving us a steady stream of food to the table – and our mouths. Papa M ordered a beer-inspired cocktail from their considerable list while I contented myself with a delicious mocktail.

Just an aside, as a breast-feeding mama who doesn’t always feel like an alcoholic beverage while out (I have trouble staying hydrated as it is), I love love LOVE restaurants that have mocktail options. Just because I’m avoiding the hard stuff doesn’t mean I don’t want a gorgeous drink in a tall glass. Anyway, back to the food…

MamaLocoFood

For dinner we ordered pulled pork tostaditas, stuffed peppers, pork belly and pineapple skewers, and MFC Fried Chicken. Papa M is not a huge fan of pork belly so I had that largely to myself and he (albeit slightly grudgingly) offered me a small amount of his stuffed peppers, definitely his favorite dish of the night.I loved the taste of the tostaditas, only wishing that they weren’t quite so bite-sized as they were finished very quickly. The MFC was very crispy and snackable, I could quite easily this being a hit in some of the larger platters that they offer.

Service for dessert was a little bit slow, but I have a hard time saying no any time that there are churros on the menu. I think it’s a hangover from the epic family holiday we had in the US when I was ten. When our churro bites arrived, we weren’t disappointed. Crispy outside, spongey inside – it was one of those times when you inelegantly try to snarf down your “share” so that the other person doesn’t eat more than they are entitled to. Churros, you are my kryptonite.

All in all, it was a fun dinner experience and seemed quite popular with both large groups and couples alike. There’s a broad range of offerings that are priced reasonably for a good night out. It’s not the type of place you are going to go to for an intimate, romantic dinner but it more than acquits itself with other more established offerings in the dining lane at Sylvia Park. We will return.

Mama Loco, Sylvia Park Shopping Centre, 286 Mt Wellington Highway, Mt Wellington, Auckland

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CJ @ Four Months

Four months; that’s just completely ridiculous. Didn’t I just have a baby? Yet the evidence is right before my eyes. Gone is the scrunchy, teeny weeny baby and here is a proper little lad.  The fourth trimester is well and truly over here!

4months

At four months, CJ:

  • has had his first proper cold, which we all shared as a family – thus no posts last week
  • is starting to cut his first tooth; we’re hoping it’s a smooth transition that only takes a few days as opposed to the months it can be for that first wee tooth
  • squeals ALL THE TIME! Mostly with glee so can’t complain too much
  • loves to stand! Thank goodness for his activity walker (pictured above) and the Jolly Jumper as our arms can get very tired
  • saw his first train and was all “whoa!” – we might have a bit of a Thomas the Tank Engine lover in future
  • went to his first party with just mummy for SC’s first birthday
  • likes walking in the stroller way more now that we’ve transitioned to the stroller seat from the capsule – he likes to be able to see the world
  • thinks it is hilarious when we make his little fists punch us in the face and then make big reactions – it’s the first time we’ve heard really consistent baby giggles
  • loves music in any form, including the SEGA sounding tunes that his activity walker plays
  • has visited his daddy at work and had the office go gaga over him
  • is mixed-feeding, which felt like a little bit of a fail for me but he’s consistently gaining weight now and is such a happy wee dude that I’m definitely more at peace with it. The feeding journey is still a difficult one for us and so I’m proud I’m still persisting with some breast-feeding
  • goes to the mall with mummy and loves to people-watch
  • is very handsy – loves to grab things and has a new found love for his activity links
  • still naps twice a day, although the naps are getting shorter now
  • sleeps well overnight, occasionally stirring around 5am wanting his dummy but quite frequently sleeping right through
  • is so happy to see his daddy whenever they have been apart – really warms my heart!

It sure does make me laugh that despite not being the sort of parents who care whether he has a fondness for gender-stereotypical things, we’ve ended up with a boy who loves to look at trucks and trains, cracks huge grins when we make car or fart sounds and loves to play fight and watch sports already! That’s life for you!

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Loving It: 13.6.14 featuring The Honest Food Co.

In the wonderful small world that is New Zealand on Twitter, you sometimes come across some real gems. One such woman is Belinda, the fabulous entrepreneur behind The Honest Food Company. Given my lactose intolerance I have no idea how we didn’t cross paths earlier, I’m sure that my life would have been more enriched for it – I know my belly would! The Honest Food Company has a focus on healthy, clean food free from grains and dairy; great for those of you who are pursuing a Paleo diet or like myself, have sensitive tummies.

HFLogo

Right now, Belinda is trying to crowd-fund her entry into a commercial kitchen premises so that she can bring more of this yummy food to the masses. Never participated in crowd-funding before? Basically, small businesses offer “investors” – that’s you and me – rewards proportionate to our contributions in order to reach a particular investment goal. Rather than put their businesses in the hands of mighty banks, they’re putting their faith in their communities through the use of helpful organizations like PledgeMe. I really think it’s a lovely idea and with Belinda, it’s not just about the food. A new kitchen means that she can expand her operations and this means that she’ll need more staff. But not just any staff, no no. Belinda would like to provide single mothers with a pathway back into employment; something that is often difficult for them to achieve when other business owners and corporate entities aren’t willing to cut them a break.

Check out this fabulous video from Kat at Multitude with seven great reasons to pledge money to the cause and help this mother help other mothers:

Want to help Belinda create a beautiful kitchen where she can make delicious food and help our fellow mummies. She has 10 days left on her Pledge Me campaign and just shy of $25,000 to go. She provides a detailed breakdown of exactly where your cash will be going so you can be assured that your donation can be used wisely. There’s also a wide range of donation options with varying rewards – I wish that we’d been able to contribute more because some of those higher level rewards look pretty sweet! Eager to help?

Click here to go through to The Honest Food Kitchen PledgeMe page

Do it! I really want Belinda to open the kitchen so that I can go hang out there, eat all the goodies and try and convince her to make me the banana panikeke that I’ve been thinking about ever since she tweeted about it. Doesn’t she just look like the most fun lady?

Belinda

Anywho, now that you’ve done that, here’s a few other quick things I’m loving right now:

Still iced chocolates, cannot get enough – CJ in his walker – cafe dates with my little dude – getting out for lunchtime walks – my polar fleece onesie (so unsexy) – our new rain cover for the stroller – persimmons – Banana Bean Nice Cream – cooking and baking again – exciting new opportunities (albeit in very early stages) – my new red hair – the fact that CJ gets shocked at intercom announcements while shopping, it’s like he thinks God is speaking or something!

Hope you have a great weekend, lovelies.

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Disclaimer: No financial compensation was received to promote The Honest Food Company, just one mama wanting to help another!

 

 

I’m still me…

One thing that has become abundantly clear to me since having a child of my own is that I haven’t changed at all.

*record screech*

Now, that’s not to say that my life hasn’t changed. There’s a huge adjustment that comes with being a mother, a loss of some freedoms. I discussed that at a dinner with a few fellow mums – you have that moment when you are at home, your baby is sleeping and you realize that you need something from the shops (bread, milk, dinner?) and that there is no way to get it. You sit there doing the mental arithmetic as to whether it is worth it to wake your child up. Going out requires a lot of forward planning. Life is different, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The essence of who I am is still the same.

What do I mean?

I’m still not a cuddly person. I’m not a particularly cuddly person and I generally have a larger-than-average personal space zone. In the early days, this meant I really struggled with a baby who was feeding all the time and got the “touched out” feeling. My son, bless him, is looking like he is taking after me in this regard. He only likes a cuddle if he’s feeling sleepy, other than that he’d much rather be on the floor with his play gym, sitting in his bouncer, lying on his tummy on a blanket. Currently he’ll tolerate using people to lean against as sitting props but he’s not a big cuddler. This makes me feel better about being the same way – we’ll have our lovely bedtime snuggles and that’s enough for the both of us.

I’m still a planner, schemer & active relaxer. I was always on the go-go-go before CJ was born and things seem to be returning to a new normal there too. I can’t be out for the whole day (well, I haven’t been game enough to try yet) but we’re getting more comfortable with getting out and about and planning bigger adventures. I’m also enjoying afternoons in the kitchen – on Sunday I made cheese scones for Papa M’s lunches and a delicious Maltesers & Mars Bar Slice for one of my friends. As discussed previously, I’m still a bit of a bossy boots… that hasn’t changed either. I’m also still writing, even if I have to fit it in around naps.

Possibly the biggest surprise is one that made me wonder if I wasn’t maternal. I still love to go out… without my baby. Having heard many mothers say “Oh, it’s too hard to leave the baby at home – I miss them so much!” I had presumed I would be the same. And then I went to my cousin’s engagement party when CJ was a month old by myself. After a hard first few weeks, it was like I could breathe again. We’re so blessed to have some really good support (including my sister who is a childcare professional by trade) and so we’re able to get out on a semi-regular basis and enjoy some time as a couple. Papa M and CJ also have an AWESOME relationship and love to hang out, leaving me some time to go out and run baby-free errands. Now don’t be scandalized, but during those times I don’t miss my baby at all. Sometimes I am a little bit anxious that he won’t go down for a nap, etc. but I know he’s in great hands and I take those times for what they are – a welcome break from being continuously “switched on”. I’ve come to the realization that it’s not that I’m not maternal (because lordy, do I love to hang with my little dude!) but that thanks to the support of some fantastic people that I trust, it’s just who I am.

I guess that’s the take-away from all this. If you are becoming a mother, don’t expect to be any different than the person that you are. If you are a person that loves to hang out with your loved ones all the time, you’ll be that mum that doesn’t like to leave her baby. If you need time on your own to recharge, that’s not going to change either. Both points of view are equally alright and you shouldn’t have to squish yourself into a little box to fit someone else’s convention. You will be an awesome mother either way – I promise!

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Wines & Dines: Orleans

Orleans

We first ventured to try Orleans in November last year after watching Cirque du Soleil; unfortunately almost the entire audience appeared to have the same idea. Orleans doesn’t take advance bookings (possibly the only downfall of the place) and it was going to be an hour and a half’s wait – there was no way a heavily pregnant Mama M was going to be able to wait that long to eat! With CJ being three months old and our wedding anniversary providing the perfect opportunity, we weren’t going to miss another chance. Papa M must have been some sort of itinerant traveller in the American South during a previous life – boy cannot get enough of cajun and tex-mex foods!

We decided to head in early to guarantee speedy seating and arrived at about 5:45 only to find that we’d probably been a little on the conservative side. We were seated immediately at one of the indoor tables and settled in to enjoy our surrounds and peruse the menus. Note to the ladies: all indoor seating appeared to be on tall barstool and bench seats so this might be a restaurant where you want to leave your mini-skirts at home if you want to avoid an inelegant scramble. After deciding on drinks (a Sazerac for him, a Dr Pepper and Dark Cherry ice-cream float for me) we then began menu negotiations. Orleans focuses on serving southern food tapas style and so there are a multitude of dishes to choose from. We focused on their small bowls and sides as to get more variety and simply try more of the scrumptious-sounding food. After some back-and-forth, we decided on the following:

Hot Pimento Cheese and Artichoke Dip: Similar to previous queso dips that we’ve tried but made ever more scrumptious by the addition of perfect chunks of artichoke. It could have done with a few more tortilla chips, but that didn’t stop Papa M sneakily finishing off the dip with a spoon!

Orleans’ Fried Chicken: Perfectly set off with a delicious blend of ranch sauce and hot sauce for just the right bite without setting your mouth on fire. Bite-sized boneless chicken morsels made this an easy eat. This was definitely one of those dishes where we had to share very evenly – “one for me, one for you…”

Chicken Waffle: If I could hire someone to make this for my breakfast every morning… damn, I would. I’d also probably be the size of a house but I would be so happy! The perfect contrast of the sage butter and the chipotle maple syrup give it the ideal blend of salty and sweet and the fried sage leaves literally melt in your mouth.

Curly Fries: While this was probably the least adventurous of all our dishes (although served with chipotle mayo), these chips were perfectly cooked with a delightfully crispy outside and nice tender inside.

Everything was so delicious that it seems physically impossible to slowly savor it, but we weren’t quite ready to leave just yet. We decided to order two out of the four Po Boy sandwiches available – I’d definitely love to return and try the Wild Venison and Andouille version!

Fried Chicken Po Boy: More of that delicious fried chicken and more of that ranch! Seriously, if you go to Orleans and don’t try at least one of their fried chicken dishes, you are a fool.

Pig Po Boy: A delicious contrast to the fried chicken, the sharp tang of the BBQ sauce and the chill vinegar combined perfectly with the pulled pork

We had plans elsewhere for dessert but the cookie sandwich (with peanut butter semifreddo & raspberry jam, cereal milk) definitely caught my eye and will be a go on a repeat visit. As we tootled on our merry way, we could see that the cobblestone outdoor area had definitely filled up, so I suggest getting in early if you are wanting outdoor seating.

What else can I say but GO! It was a delicious, yet relatively casual dining experience for an extremely affordable time. Hot tip – if you sign up for their newsletter, you can currently receive a $12 voucher and you can use two per table. When trying to save for a house deposit, there really is nothing more romantic than being able to use a coupon! I hope you try it and love it as much as we did.

Orleans - 48 Customs Street East, Britomart Precinct, Auckland. 

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