Impatiently waiting: does following the old wives’ tales really help you go into labour?

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With an impending baby boom amongst my friends, two are entering their final weeks of pregnancy. Tonight a group of us girls are heading out for a curry dinner in the hopes of coaxing a rather large baby to enter the world a little early and give its mother a break. We know that realistically it comes down to baby being ready but it’s a good chance for us girls to get together one last time before one of us sinks into the newborn fog again. It got me thinking of all the old wives’ tales that we’re told will bring on a baby – and I’m fairly sure that the list below comes nowhere close to a complete list of all folklore ways to induce labour!

Old Wives’ Tales to Induce Labour:

  • Spicy food – the good old curry. Sadly didn’t do anything for me but hey, I didn’t cook it so it was one less thing for me to do while unpacking the house!
  • Acupuncture or Acupressure – I didn’t end up making it to my acupuncture appointment (my acupuncturist preferred not to do the points until 40 weeks) but acupuncture helped me overcome other crippling physiological issues so I would actually credit this as being possibility
  • Bad weather – the theory being changes in atmospheric pressure and perhaps just the universe laughing at the fact that you’ll have to do what should be a quick drive to the hospital in absolute snail’s pace traffic as the worst thunderstorm in 20 years rolls through.
  • Walk – the theory here is that the gravity helps your baby apply pressure to the cervix. Some argue for the kerb-walking method where you walk with one foot on the footpath and one foot on the road. Personally I think those people want to laugh at you while you waddle along.
  • Sex (or foreplay) – as much as I understand the theory behind this (oxytocin release at orgasm can start contractions, although these will not necessarily turn into labour) it makes me cringe that this is one of the first old wives’ tales that even strangers will recommend to you. Thanks elderly woman at the greengrocers; I really want to answer your question about whether my husband and I have tried sex to get things underway.
  • Nipple stimulation – scientifically, same reason as above. My bosom was a “no fly zone” for the later half of my pregnancy and so I was not keen for this one!
  • Pineapple, papaya, mango, chinese food & eggplant parmigiana – I can’t find any scientific backing for this one (in theory for the active ingredient for pineapple to help you’d have to eat six whole ones) but it sounds delicious. And Lord knows I love delicious food!
  • Jumping on a trampoline – brought to you by the same people who want you to kerb-walk. I cannot think of anything more frightening than me at 38 weeks pregnant flopping around on a trampoline. I may have done a little light bouncing on a swiss ball, that was my limit.
  • Squatting – not like the exercise style but hanging out in a squat like you see little kids do while examining bugs. The theory behind this is that you’re opening up your pelvis and allowing baby to engage fully. I see how this could work but can also see how someone heavily pregnant would end up stuck there. Try this with a spotter.
  • Evening Primrose Oil capsules, pierced and inserted vaginally – the theory behind this is that it softens and “ripens” the cervix. I couldn’t find any scientific evidence for this but put it in the “can’t hurt” file.
  • A full moon or eclipse – but it’s a little hard to just order one of those up.
  • A stretch and sweep (or membrane sweep) procedure – I’ll admit that I had to research this as I had no idea what it actually was despite many friends having had the procedure. I found this fantastic plain-speak definition on the Huggies website:

The midwife or doctor gently inserts two gloved fingers into your vagina and their forefinger through your cervix. They will check if your cervix is what is known as “favourable” e.g. soft, beginning to dilate and effacing/ thinning. A cervix which is high and closed is not ideal for a stretch and sweep. It also increases the likelihood of this being a painful, rather than uncomfortable procedure.

They will then feel for the membranes which are enclosing the baby and resting on your cervix. Stretch refers to the process of stretching the cervix so it opens a little and sweep refers to separating the membranes from where they adhere around the cervix in the lower portion of the uterus.

The cervix needs to be soft and slightly open already so that a finger can be inserted. If the mother’s cervix is not open then another option is for the obstetrician/midwife to gently massage the cervix so that prostaglandins may be released.

The aim with a stretch and sweep is for the obstetrician or midwife is to rotate their finger in a sweeping and circular motion to a full 360 degrees. They need to be careful that they do not break the membranes when they are doing this. Though sometimes this is inevitable, especially if the membranes are bulging and about to rupture spontaneously.

While this is a medically-based rather than natural procedure, I’ve included this in the round up because it doesn’t always work and should be considered a possible rather than inevitable induction.

Big Flashing Sirens Note: Castor oil is NOT recommended as a natural form of induction any more. It works as a powerful laxative – the spasms in your bowels starting off contractions in your uterus – and this leads to increased chances of diarrhea and dehydration in the mother, in turn raising the probability of labour complications. There is also medical debate about whether it increases the chance of meconium contamination of the amniotic fluid but there are no studies to date that prove this. Take at your own peril.

The reality is that unless you are medically induced, baby will come when baby is ready. I stand by the fact that CJ started his journey into the world after I’d had a big bawling cry-session (we’re talking about an hour of tears) and that the oxytocin from that release did the trick. But if he hadn’t been ready to make his way into the world, rushing then like he does now, it wouldn’t have happened. It sure does give us plenty to do to keep us occupied though doesn’t it?

Can you think of any old wives’ tales you’ve heard of that aren’t mentioned above?

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30 by 30 – the summary

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Just a sample of the fab food we had at Masu!

On September 1st, I decided to set goals to be achieved by my 30th birthday on the 1st of March this year. Despite some major changes in our lives I think that I actually managed to do fairly well – here’s the breakdown:

  1. Work a polling booth for Election Day – this goal has already required some preplanning (applying for and accepting position) but I’m pleased to tick it off my nerdy bucket list  Completed 20/9/14
  2. Wean CJ out of a swaddle – I know, funny goal, but it seems like a mountain of a challenge at the moment! Completed – he just decided to do it all by himself
  3. Guest-post on 10 different blogs. Half there No. 1, No. 2, No. 3
  4. Find two new networking groups. Completed
  5. Give cloth diapering a good try – summer will probably be ideal for this given it will increase our washing load! Completed - part of our regular routine now!
  6. Support NZ businesses (where possible) for upcoming gift occasions Completed
  7. Declutter and sell a whole bunch of items – our house is very little and a lot of stuff lives in the garage that we never use. Flick it on, I say! Half there – we did manage to get a lot of this done prior to our unexpected move (would never have picked it when I constructed our list) but there is definitely more that can be done!
  8. Plan a family tropical holiday for August 2015 (we’re thinking Rarotonga!) Half there – we’ve decided for sure on Rarotonga and we’re just socking away money and waiting for a great deal.
  9. Meet with a mortgage broker – we keep putting this off but we really need to find out where we need to be so that we have a goal to work towards Fail – started down the road with this but then with our unexpected move that’s been put on the back burner. Lots of background plotting going on though!
  10. Find an AWESOME at-home child care person for CJ to start with in February next year (eeee!) Completed – we have such a great carer!
  11. Get our wills sorted – how boring and adult, but necessary Fail – need to get on this!
  12. Take a dance class – not fussed as to what, just need to get my body moving Changed my mind – with limited time I’ve gone back to aqua-exercise (aerobics, jogging, swim) as it has worked for me in the past
  13. Find six new recipes to add to the usual menu of meals in this house Completed! One of the best things about having my dad live with us part-time is that I can cook larger family meals!
  14. Find a swim outfit that makes me feel confident at the pool/beach/wherever. I don’t need to have a son growing up with a mum constantly trying to hide her body Completed – I underestimated how difficult it would be to find boardies in a length between bootie shorts and bloomers!
  15. On this note – get to the beach this summer! I was so sore and whale-like last summer, I did not enjoy myself at all. I want a real summer this time, with my big and little adventure buddiesCompleted – and we are still having ridiculously warm beautiful days so there may even be some more beach days yet!
  16. Own a pair of Toms Not yet
  17. Get a proper pair of cross-trainers after getting a stride analysis Not yet
  18. Eat waffles at Ben Gusto Howick Completed 5/10/14
  19. Eat everything (haha) at Masu  Completed – so good!
  20. Take Papa M to Tanuki’s Cave Not yet
  21. Have Giapo ice-cream again – it’s been FAR too long Completed 20/11/14
  22. Take CJ to the zoo for the first time Completed 29/12/14
  23. Have a family day-trip to Waiheke Island Not yet, although there’s a high probability of a day trip over Easter.
  24. Get down to my wedding weight – this is still a good 15 kg above my goal weight but a realistic goal in the next six months Literal big fat fail – this definitely needs more work!
  25. Have a 24-hour girlie getaway as a trial run before my trip to Perth – more a trial run for Papa M Completed 17/1/15
  26. Have family portrait taken in the weeks leading up to CJ’s first birthday Had a non-professional one taken on this birthday – I’ll take it as a pass!
  27. Finish writing my novel and grow the metaphorical testes to try and get it published In Progress – I had hoped to be further down the track with this but moving and workload have conspired against me. I am loving that extra cash-flow though!
  28. Try a flotation tank Not yet and I still REALLY want to!
  29. Throw a kick-ass first birthday for CJ Completed – it was such a fun day!
  30. Book a delicious weekend getaway at The Langham for my 30th!  Completed and it was a fantastic weekend!

So that’s over half completed and only seven that were complete fails – or a failure rate of 23%. That’s a rate I’m willing to accept given the changes (my slow reentry into the work force, our moving houses and towns) that I couldn’t have forseen when creating these goals in September last year. I’m definitely looking forward to fulfilling some of my more materialistic goals now that I’m contributing to our family funds, something that I really felt that I couldn’t justify before. It is hard though, since becoming a mum I want to spend our money on things that will benefit our whole family and it is difficult to be selfish – do other mummies feel the same?

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The light at the end of the tunnel…

As part of my 30th birthday celebrations, I had a high tea with some of my closest girlfriends. One of the girls is 38 weeks pregnant and is right in that over-it, so uncomfortable stage. I remember it vividly, the days of lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself and being pretty sure that I was going to be pregnant forever. At the same time, pictures of my son at a month old are popping up on my Timehop app. While they are adorable, they also remind me of a time where my big world felt incredibly small and claustrophobic; new mother anxiety meaning that we barely went anywhere or did anything.

Happy little vegemite - picture sent to me by his auntie!

Happy little vegemite – picture sent to me by his auntie!

This past weekend was the first time that both of us as parents have been away from our son for a fun purpose (he’s had one night at his grandparents when we moved house) and some decent time for us to sit and connect with each other as a couple. As well as enjoying good food (something that has always been a part of our relationship) and watching trashy TV, the conversation turned to future plans. And future plans will (hopefully) include another child for us – don’t get too excited, not yet!

I’m not going to lie, the thought of that first three months with a new baby – the fourth trimester – scares the crap out of me. Especially with an active kid already on the scene. My introverted nature is going to struggle again, I’m sure. But the thing I have realized, that me a year ago would never have credited, is how quickly the light would appear at the end of the tunnel. It was worth going through all that to end up with the precious ball of light that is CJ and it will be worth going through all of that to have the little one that will make our family feel complete.

Just remind me of that when I am in that tunnel again!

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Child-friendly brunch at Charlie and George – #brunchclubnz

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When you’re a parent, it isn’t as easy to just pop out to events as it was before children came along. Quite often you’ll have people chime in “Bring them! It will be fine! We don’t mind!” but you live in terror of your darling little angel doing something dreadfully antisocial but yet completely normal. I’m lucky enough to have my husband available to look after CJ most of the time but in discussion with the other founders of Brunch Club we realized that it wasn’t that easy for all our Brunch Club parents to attend.

Thus the idea of the child-friendly brunch club was born. Initially we thought it might solely be targeted at parents but then opened it up to people who are chill enough to accept that it is an event at which our littlest attendants are king – and we’ve found that that does tend to be those who are parents or who are intending on becoming parents in the future. It was a mixed bag as to whether people brought their little (and slightly less little) ones or not but in the end we had a heck of a lot of fun!

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We were lucky enough to hold it at the Charlie & George cafe in Stonefields – while they don’t usually have reservations on the weekend, they were sweet enough to hold us a table (or four) to ensure speedy service for the little ones. The decor here is SO cool, and they have an open kitchen which I absolutely love; there’s something so special about seeing your food being prepared. There’s an abundance of high chairs – great if you are visiting during peak times and also if, like our group, there is more than one tot that needs a seat. There’s activities outside for older kids but bare in mind that there is no fencing if you have a “bolter”.

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The food was fantastic. The buttermilk pancakes were HUGE – I doubt i finished even two! Papa M’s salmon bagel would have created serious envy in me if I hadn’t had the delight of a delish Green Goddess smoothie – although I have to admit I was also giving the glad-eye to Courtney’s banoffee smoothie too! The coffee is Kokako so you know that it is going to be good! There was an abundance of items to choose from in the cabinet as well – the little dude made a heck of a mess of a ginormous cheese scone!

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It was so good to meet some bloggers for the first time and some of their offspring for the first time too! I’m pretty sure that CJ was the cheekiest kid there — the others all acted rather angelic, always the way when you plan for the worst! It also felt great to not feel like you were boring people with your child-related anecdotes, something that I am continually worried about. I’m very nervous of becoming “that person” that has nothing better to talk about than my kid… although in my defense I can’t help that he’s so awesome :)

We also had some amazing goodie bag sponsors. Good Buzz Brewing Company is a NZ-made family-run kombucha company and I tell you what, Papa M has turned into the biggest booch addict since tucking into the bottles in his goodie bag. There are definitely worse things in the world to be addicted to! Whoopie & Co supplied everybody with whoopie pies and vouchers to use in either of their stores or online – I ate my whoopie pie so quickly I didn’t even have time to take a photo. Bad blogger! My Care Pack were also incredibly generous, including miniature versions of their care packs (similar to beauty boxes but full of all sorts of wonderful green, healthy goodies for individuals and families) and I now have a new favorite toothpaste! Finally P.Arty Lab supplied us with some gorgeous paper butterflies that are just begging for a beautiful art project! I felt like Santa getting to give these lovely bags to such stellar brunch companions.

Check out the blogs/social media of other attendees here:

Jordanne & Corrine also received a goodie bag although unable to attend as they were two of our motivations to start these brunches. Jordanne was unable to make it due to having a newborn (eeee!) and Corrine was moving house that weekend into a place that she bought for her an her darling Charlie (go solo mama!). We’re so looking forward to having them attend future brunches!

While the brunches do take a lot of effort to organize (I have nothing but high fives for the founding three who manage to crank one out per month) I think that they have huge value in allowing parents who blog to connect in an environment that feels warm and comforting for both them and their children… I will admit though, that I’m glad I’ve got a couple more months up my sleeve to plan the next one!

If you’re a blogger that would like to attend either one of our monthly Auckland, Palmerston North or Wellington brunches or our quarterly child-friendly brunches, check out the Brunch Club website here. You won’t be sorry that you did!

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Currently…

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I didn’t expect a week-long hiatus from blogging with the move (especially seeing we were moving into a place that already had connected internet) but in those infamous words from Frozen – start hating on me now, mamas – I had to let it go. Battling through a stomach bug the weekend of our move and then loads of work this week meant that nights were for unpacking and sleeping. It’s taken until this weekend to get most of the boxes unpacked and really make this place feel like a home for us. Living with a toddler, I thought that “mess” wouldn’t bug me – turns out that I really do need an ordered space to be able to collect my thoughts and write anything that seems vaguely coherent.

It hasn’t been all snore-worthy around here though:

We organized and attended our first kid-friendly bloggers’ brunch club! I have a post about this on the way (once I collate my photos) but you can also read the wonderful recap that Maria did over at Happy Mum Happy Child.

I started working – one school is in particular need of substitute teachers at the moment so I went from no work to LOTS of work all at once. My bank balance is thanking me and my feet are going “what have you done??”

CJ and I met up with my friend Leah from Naturally, Leah. She’s back in New Zealand and getting married next weekend but we were lucky enough to score some time with her before she flew down to Wellington. It was a chaotic visit with our plans to meet at the mall scuttled by a burst water main and a scramble to find a place to meet up in an area that neither of us were familiar with. It was so good to see her though; she got to meet CJ for the first time, we found an awesome wee park and had an adventure in a place that we would probably never had before.

On the same trip we also saw our friends the Bhosales – we’re usually never in the neighborhood unplanned (we live at literal opposite ends of the city) so we popped by. CJ was very lucky, he got to go with Vijay to pick up his buddy from day care and even had a bath there before coming home. A delightful afternoon/evening – especially seeing the alternative was being stuck for hours in outrageous traffic!

Yesterday CJ and I headed into the Auckland CBD with Sophie of Nana Wintour while Papa M stayed at home to finish unpacking without the pleasure of having a toddler into every box you open. First off we hit Aotea Square (which is going off with the Auckland Arts Festival) to catch up with some of our Brunch Club buddies but had to move on fairly smartly after CJ realized he could climb the stairs to the bar! We stopped in at Giapo and met up with our friends Wendy and Miss R before heading down to Manuka Doctor to start our Big Egg Hunt. I was lucky enough to pick up some manuka honey-based face cleaning wipes while we were there – I’m hideously lazy/don’t prioritize the time when it comes to skin care so I love the short cuts.

The Big Egg Hunt is an awesome easter activity sponsored by Whittakers Chocolate. Hundreds of artists create masterpieces on massive egg sculptures and these are then hidden round three major New Zealand cities – Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. I desperately wanted to go hunting for the eggs last year but CJ was less than a month old so it didn’t happen. This year we managed to locate seventeen eggs in the city before my little egg hunting buddy decided that he’d had enough. Talk about a great fitness incentive though – I was pouring with sweat and my calves and thighs were killing me but I still decided to push our stroller all the way up the hill to get to the Auckland Art Gallery to get one more! You can see some of the eggs we collected here. I’m hoping that we can make this a yearly tradition for our family!

The week ahead isn’t looking any quieter either – I’m off to The Eagles concert tonight with my dad and then up early tomorrow for an opthamologist appointment for CJ (hopefully nothing serious)! Full week of work booked and then this weekend we’ll be belatedly celebrating my 30th birthday with an overnight visit in the city. For now though, I’m going to kick back and relax in my back yard (and how overjoyed am I that I can finally do that) before Cyclone Pam arrives tonight.

Check back on Thursday as we return to our regularly scheduled programming with a long over-due recap of the first child-friendly brunch club!

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Goddamn it, I love being a mum.

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I know some of you are reading the title and going “Huh? Why wouldn’t you love being a mum?”.

But while I’ve always loved CJ, I can’t say that I’ve always loved this new job description. Being a mama to a baby was hard. Being mama to a toddler is a different kind of hard, but it’s a kind of hard that I love. As much as it’s a bit of a struggle continuing on with casual work and taking that extra year of parental leave, I am SO glad that I did.

I posted a photo on Instagram the other day of CJ and I down by the river. It’s the place I used to drive by myself when he was six weeks old; I’d leave him at home with his father and go sit on the swings and watch the river and have thirty minutes of my thoughts and my boobs to myself. Now I’d much rather go with him because it is so fun seeing the world through his eyes.

I love watching him play a very serious game of “place bark on the swing”.

I love that he waves to the lady at the corner store when we leave but he won’t even wave goodbye to his own mother when she drops him at daycare.

I love the way that he wakes up slowly like me, and isn’t ready to face the world until he’s had that first drink.

I love that he’d rather talk than eat breakfast and the way his little half-dressed bum will scurry off to hang out with daddy in the bathroom.

I love that his cheeky face screws up when I tell him to keep his food on his high chair tray, and the fact that he’ll stare me dead in the eye as he drops it off anyway.

I love the way that he will climb up on me for a cuddle and then madly dash off to do the next thing, even if that is climbing and reaching for things he shouldn’t have.

I love his little dance that he does to his favorite show’s theme songs even though half the time he will wander off halfway through the show.

I even love when he manages to open the doors of the rooms he shouldn’t be in and then close the door after himself, the devious little sausage.

It’s all happened so gradually and yet so quickly; I feel like just in the last week it has really slapped me in the face that my baby has gone and instead I have this awesome little dude in my life. I couldn’t see this time in my newborn fog and I doubt I would have believed it would come so soon. I don’t mourn for the baby that I no longer have and that’s okay too! I’m in love with being a mum to my toddler son.

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Moving…

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That’s me in the picture above… I wish! The reality of moving house while still looking after a toddler, and a toddler with a tummy bug at that, is far less glamourous and photo-worthy! I can’t count the number of times I’ve started to second-guess myself about this move but we’re committed to it now and all the late nights and hard work will hopefully be worth it! And if not, I’m going to run away to the beach and live with Corrine from Frock & Roll in her new home – sound like a plan? Yes?

All jokes aside, just a heads up to all my beautiful readers that posting is going to be a little sparse around here for the next week or so while we find our feet in our new place. I’ll still be posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so follow me on those accounts if you want to keep up to date with where we are at. Pray for me and my sanity too!

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My Birthday Wish List…

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I can hardly fathom it, but this weekend I turn 30! It’s the type of age that always seems old when you are young but now that I’m there I feel barely mature enough to be part of the 30s club! Just goes to show that our parents were never as grown-up as we thought they were anyway.

I sat down to write this wish list and while there are a few material things I want (leopard print Toms, vouchers to revamp my wardrobe, a spa treatment like above, a new computer so I don’t feel like smashing this one into a wall), there is really nothing material that I need. What a blessed place to be! That said, there are some things that I’m hoping to get this year!

Me time

I’m very guilty of taking on lots of different things at once – I’m terrible at saying no. I still make an effort to be a good wife and good mother and so that inevitably means that I’m the one that misses out. I’m hoping to become more judicious with how I use my “yeses”. With this move reducing Papa M’s commute, I’m also hoping to reclaim some of the evenings for my own personal project time. Which leads me to…

Fit and healthy

I know I sound like a broken record but this really is a priority for me this year! My plan is to hit the pools at least twice a week  after Papa M gets home from work. Pool work (swimming, aqua jogging, aquarobics) was what got me trim and toned for my wedding – I know it works for me so I just need to get back in the habit.

My hostess groove back

Living in a tiny house on the rural fringe of Auckland has been great in some regards but it has been incredibly limiting in others – it’s a bit hard to have people round for dinner when you don’t even have room for a dining table. I’m looking forward to building back up that sense of community with our friends again – I definitely think that one of my love languages is food!

An understanding of my own personal style

Looking at my wardrobe as I pack,  I see a really eclectic range of clothes. I think I’m finally grasping what a) looks good on me post-baby and b) caring less about current fads. I really want to focus on buying timeless pieces that I will love as much five years from now as I do today.

What intangibles are you hoping for this year?

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CJ @ 1 year!

We all survived! CJ turned one at the end of last week and we celebrated with an absolutely massive party at what is soon to be our new house. He was a huge fan of his first ever cupcake and the bouncy castle – will have a much bigger post on that later this week.

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CJ – 20/2/14 and 20/2/15 – be still my heart!

This month CJ:

  • Became a much better crawler – he’d been haphazardly on his knees and then bam when I came back from Perth he was properly crawling. He’ll occasionally revert to his army crawl but he’s pretty happy with himself right now
  • Started cruising – it hasn’t been without his share of bumps and bruises but he’s so nimble with pulling himself up and along. This also means that nothing is safe! We’ve been putting off relocating things because of the upcoming move but we’re seriously going to have to rethink where we put things “out of reach”
  • Has started saying two word sentences – the best have to be when he yelled “hello daddy” at some stranger’s phone – we often call Papa M on speaker phone – and then he said “Daddy naughty” when things weren’t going his way. Not backwards  in coming forward, this boy
  • Loves daycare – he’s always so chuffed to see the backpack coming off the counter on daycare days and is climbing out of his carseat as soon as we arrive. He gets to do so many fun activities that just aren’t possible for us to do here
  • Is cutting his eye teeth which seems to be a particularly painful business. Thank goodness it’s just sporadically on and off, meaning that he’s been able to enjoy things like his birthday party without any tears
  • Had his first meal off the kid’s menu! We caught up with Papa M for lunch on CJ’s birthday (cause how better to spend your birthday than seeing your daddy when he’s usually at work?) and dined at this fantastic hidden gem by the airport – Szimpla Gastro Bar. CJ got his first meal off the kids menu – a pita pizza and chips! He loved it and the staff there were super nice – more on that soon over on my Zomato page
  • Loves his books – this makes his teacher mummy so happy. Quite often he’ll just disappear into his room and pull his books off his little low shelf for a read. We’ve had to remove some of his more fragile books due to his lack of gentleness but he still has plenty he loves to look through
  • Is all about the wheels, baby! Got a Smartrike from his grandparents for his birthday and we’ve used that in lieu of a stroller to run some errands downtown. I’m pretty taken aback at how quickly he’s taken to his new ride!

I have to say that I am really loving this time. Despite the tantrums, the dirty nappies and the occasional nights of interrupted sleep, one is SO much fun. I can’t wait to see how this cheeky little monkey grows in the year to come. I haven’t decided yet whether I am going to continue with monthly updates or perhaps move into a slightly different formal, but never fear – you haven’t heard the last of CJ by a long shot.

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Wines & Dines: Sachie’s Kitchen Dumpling Class

On Sunday the 15th of February, I was lucky enough to attend a dumpling class hosted by Contiki New Zealand at Sachie’s Kitchen. For those unfamiliar with Sachie’s Kitchen, it is a fun, team-building Asian cuisine cooking school set in a beautiful building in Parnell, Auckland. Contiki have recently released a new tour of Japan and so twenty bloggers descended upon the school to learn how to make gyoza dumplings. Little known fact? I LOVE dumplings. The sales reps I worked with straight out of university used to take me to yum cha to butter me up and they are one of my favorite things to order at the cafe across from work.

We were divided into groups, a little like school camp, and given some genuinely fun team building activities to help us bond. I have to admit that I liked that this was done as it gave me the chance to talk to some bloggers that I might otherwise never had the opportunity to meet. Our team did relatively well in the pre-cook off activities, scoring a fairly decent amount of points. Once we were dressed in our chef kimonos and headbands, we were able to watch Sachie give us her demonstration. I was impressed at her skill but also her personality – it is clear that she loves and enjoys what she does.

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Team Ninja Hands livery

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Sachie completing her demonstration

Demonstrations complete, it was back to our stations for preparation. We had three different methods of cooking (pan-fry, steam and deep-fry) and three different flavors – pork, prawn and cheese (this last one was the one to be deep-fried and yes it is just as amazing as you are thinking) dumplings to be presented for judging. I found the pleating on the dumplings a little bit difficult but nothing that I wouldn’t be able to practice in future. One of my team mates also showed me how to wrap up a tortellini – as they say in Thailand, same same but different – which I think will also be a useful skill! I was actually surprised by how simple they were to make and I can definitely see this becoming part of our meal rotation at home. As time wound down we were feeling under pressure to plate perfectly; those cooking shows we all love are such an influence!

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Prepping our dumpling contents

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Perfectly pan-fried dumpling

 

Sachie came round to view and taste the meals and I felt as nervous as when Plunket weighs and measures CJ – did we do well enough? Our sauce wasn’t quite spot on and when I tasted another group’s I realized our proportion of soy to vinegar was off – too salty, not enough tart. I was therefore surprised to see that we remained the head of the pack in points. One more round of “guess the ingredients” – yay umeboshi! – and we had won! I don’t think I’ve won a medal since gymnastics when I was about nine years old! I was chuffed.

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Winner winner dumpling dinner

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Part of aforementioned dumpling dinner

We then had a Q & A with Contiki. While still fitting in the age group of Contiki, the reality is that most of our future travel will be with the little dude and I wondered whether they had anything to offer. Clever Melissa asked that question and I was excited to find out that their sister company Trafalgar does family tours – basically Contiki for the whole family! Talk about taking the stress out of travel with children; this is definitely something I would look into if we make it over to Europe while we have young children.

Arigato Sachie’s Kitchen and Contiki New Zealand – an awesome AND educational time!

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