Saturday, 28 April 2007

What to eat?

The doctor has put me on an elimination diet in order to see if anything that I am eating is contributing to Lily's reflux. For the next two weeks I can't eat tomatoes, wheat, onions, garlic, chocolate, nuts or spicy foods. I am most sad about the tomatoes, since they are basically my favourite food, but the onions and garlic probably create the biggest challenge.

So far I have thought of eating sushi, rice paper rolls, ginger stir fries, bean soups and salads for dinner, but I am feeling pretty uninspired. Does anyone have any good dinner ideas?

Friday, 27 April 2007

Democracy and climate change, an interesting week

Perusing the Economist this morning (as I sometimes do, despite often disagreeing with the vast majority of their opinions) I saw a few things that spiked my interest.

The first was about democracy – its reluctant birth and flailing death.

The reluctant birth, or a trail run at least, happened in Bhutan, where, at the behest of King Wangchuck, mock elections were held as a trial run for the real democracy that the King wants to see implemented before his reign ends. Well, technically, his reign has already ended, as he, The Economist tells me, passed his throne to one of his sons late last year. It seems the people still adore him in general and would prefer him back in his place. It seems the majority of Bhutanese are quite happy under the yolk of absolute monarchy. And why wouldn’t they be?
At his accession, the average Bhutanese died at 40 after a life of uneased toil. Continuing a modernisation begun by his father, and underwritten by foreign aid, the king oversaw a transformation. Life expectancy for the 700,000 Bhutanese is now 64 years. The economy grew by 12% last year; GDP per person is reckoned to be $1,400—twice that of India.
Added to that is Wangchuck’s introduction of Gross National Happiness as the primary measure of development success over the more familiar Gross National Product. The Economist defines it thusly:
a policy most constructively defined as favouring sustainable development over growth at any cost.
Still, democracy is coming, like it or not. This, I’d hope, might be a good thing for all those Bhutanese languishing in refugee camps in Nepal – excluded from society for speaking Nepali and worshiping the wrong god(s).

On the flailing death side, Nigeria held "elections" guaranteed to return the People's Democratic Party – a dictatorship by any other name...

The other story that caught my eye was this one. It seems China is set to become the world’s biggest polluter in the very near future. I wonder if the US will redouble its efforts in response. Surely they can’t let China beat them at something as serious as this!

We, it turns out, aren’t much better. Our latest report card says we’re heading to miss our Kyoto targets (i.e. we’re going to increase emissions more than we were allowed to). But, wait. It doesn’t matter anyway because we never signed the protocol. Well, now I see the cleverness of the current Government.

Don’t sign Kyoto.

Tell the world that the protocol is fundamentally flawed.

Tell the world that we will meet and exceed the targets we would have been set under Kyoto.

Tell the world that we are doing so much better than them, even without Kyoto.


Repeat again.

And again.

Eventually, in the distant future of 2012, exceed our Kyoto targets.

Tell the world it doesn’t matter because we didn’t sign the stupid protocol anyway. And besides, we have AP6 – technology will save us.

Still, there's no way we'll reach the dizzying heights of the US and China. It's just not fair. If we had half the population of China we'd be so much better at polluting than they are.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Falling in love again...

Lately Lily has been giggling in her sleep. I don't think that I can imagine anything cuter that watching her do this.

Someone told us the other that their sister had had an epiphany as to why some people end up having so many children - she said that it was because with each baby it was like falling in love again (something that you may have thought was all done with when you settled down with your great love).

I can see what she means. Sometimes it makes me feel quite giddy.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

6 weeks

Lily is 6 weeks old today. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed or how big she is getting. I am loving watching her grow and develop, but at the same time I am already mourning the loss of that tiny little newborn munchkin who came into our lives so recently.

The last 6 weeks have been an amazing learning experience. Through trial and error we seem to be embracing attachment parenting - something that I thought was a little full-on before Lily came into our lives.

We both really love co-sleeping with her. She is a quiet sleeper and very snuggly and basically wakes only to feed when she sleeps in our bed - meaning that we get a pretty good night's sleep.

I have also started carrying her in the sling for most of the day, instead of waiting until the afternoon to put her in. I have found that this means that I can get so much more done during the day and that she sleeps far better than she was previously. In the evenings, P. puts her in the Bjorn and we go for a walk (in order to avoid arsenic hour). When it is cold and wet (like last night) it would be nicer to be able to stay in, but these evening walks help her to sleep through her grumpiness and give P. and I a nice chance to catch up on the day and really talk to each other.

Another benefit of the sling (and the Bjorn) is that it keeps her upright. Unfortunately, Lily suffers from reflux and so putting her on her back after a feed is a big no-no right now. We are seeing a doctor on Friday and have an appointment with an osteopath that specialises in treating children, so hopefully we will be able to fix her reflux soon. Watching her experience so much pain after feeding and projectile vomiting everywhere is very distressing.

For now, she is stretched out on her papa's chest fast asleep (after a busy morning of staring at the world and smiling at us). So I might take advantage of this time and have a shower...

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

A milestone

Today I did up the top button on a pair of my pre-pregnancy pants.

Admittedly they were slightly baggy beforehand, but still it was exciting.

OH! And Lily just spent the last 10 minutes staring into my eyes and smiling - that basically eclipsed the pants thing.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Raising vegan children

This post sums up nicely the answer to a question that Paul and I have been asked more and more of late - "What will you do if Lily wants to eat meat?"

I was talking with a woman today about being vegan. She was very curious about our favorite foods mainly because she has just graduated. She said that she was telling a friend of hers about how we were raising K vegan and this other woman said “Well, what are they going to do when he wants to try meat?”

I told her that was a common question and then I asked her to think about a value or moral that they definitely wanted their child to be raised with (she is pregnant). Then I asked her what she might do if her child asked questions about this value or defied it or even wanted to change it. Her reply was that she would try to be open minded about it. I agreed.

My response was that being vegan for our family goes beyond our diet and what we do and don’t eat, it is our lifestyle, our belief system, our spirituality. And that every parent raises their child with the beliefs that they have because they believe that it is the best for their family and they believe that there is something inherently right about those values. Raising our son vegan is not about food it is about compassion and peace and love towards other living creatures. If there comes a time, and I really hope there doesn’t, when K is old enough (and preferably making his own money) and can developmentally grasp it all and he wants to try cow or pig or chicken I guess there is no way that I can stop him. I can only hope that with the love and guidance that we have provided for him as he grows up he won’t want to try dead animals because he believes that it is right but because he is interested in what the rest of the world is eating and what the fuss is all about. And I can only hope that it is the love and compassion that he was given that will make the interest just a fleeting thought and he won’t want to eat animals anymore because of the suffering they endured.

I told my parents that I would probably respond in exactly the same way as I would respond if she wanted to take up smoking; i.e. that I would be disappointed, but try not to be too judgmental and just hope that it wasn't a longterm lifestyle choice.

As for the health benefits for Lily of being raised as a vegan. Well, that will just have to wait for another post. For now we are all going to bed.

The hardest thing yet

There have been a few tricky times since 3rd Pea entered our lives. Occasional inconsolable crying (thankfully for short periods) and utter exhaustion (with no foreseeable end in sight) are the two that spring to mind most readily.

But today was the worst of all.

I had to go back to work.

Tearing myself away from the house this morning was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I know I've been incredibly lucky to have had as much time off as I have. And I know that living in our society demands that we maintain an income, if for no other reason than to provide for 3rd Pea's wants and needs. But none of that knowledge made this morning any easier to bear.

I was in the office for 4 hours before meeting C. and L. for lunch in a nearby park, and it was the longest 4 hours of my life.

I find myself counting the seconds and wondering why I'm here. Nothing seems to matter as much as my family and I can't help but wonder why I'm here. I have a niggling feeling in the back of my brain that I've somehow ended up in the wrong place. It's awfully familiar and the people are lovely, but it's just all wrong somehow.

I'm sure things will get easier (or I'll get more accustomed to the absences), but somehow I'm sure this week will be one of the longest in my life.

So here I sit, counting the seconds till 5 o'clock (not sure I've ever actually left the office that early before, but will be making sure I don't stay a second longer unless absolutely necessary from now on) and trying to look like I'm supposed to be here.

It's a tough gig and I'm not sure my charade is entirely convincing my colleagues...

Stop Press!

Lily slept in her hammock for 30 minutes all by herself.

Not very long, I realise, but that is about 30 times longer than she has ever slept by herself before (if you don't count her first week of life).

Now we just have to work on those transitions...

Sunday, 15 April 2007


Whenever we run into anyone these days, one of their first questions to us is: Are you getting any sleep? Newborns are, of course, notorious for keeping their parents awake at night and Lily was no exception before the Easter long weekend. About 30-45 minutes after every feed she would start grunting with pain, pulling her knees up and then screaming. It was horrible.

Anyway, after being completely dismissed by the maternal and child health nurse, I got online and discovered that there are a whole range of products out there to help little ones deal with wind and reflux - which seemed to be what she was suffering from. So, on good Friday we headed off to the pharmacy and bought some Brauer's Colic Relief. Within that day we could see the difference.

First, Lily started to burp immediately after feeds - something that she had never done before. That night we all went to bed and Lily slept through the night - waking only to feed - something that she has now done ever since. It has been fantastic.

Unfortunately, Lily is not such a good daytime sleeper. Well, that isn't entirely true. She is fairly good at sleeping when she is being held or in her sling, and quite good at sleeping in her pram while it is moving, but when we try to put her down in a bassinet the gig is up.

We thought that maybe it was the lack of movement that made her so wakeful in the bassinet and so we got a baby hammock for her to nap in (secondhand).

She does seem to like being in there, but even when we put her in there fast asleep she wakes up within minutes.

So, for the time being, she has to be held or walked... and Paul goes back to work tomorrow.

Monday is going to be interesting...

It's lucky that she is so cute.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

5am zatar

"I know it's 5am papa, but I'm awake and would really like to play."

If 3rd Pea could speak English already, that's probably what she would have said a half hour or so ago. So we're up and I'm peckish, which reminds me about the zatar toast I made yesterday...

It's super easy, as it turns out.

Just mix:
1/4 cup dried Oregano
1/4 cup dried thyme
1/4 cup ground sumac
2 tablespoons toasted Sesame Seeds
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Black Pepper to taste

The easiest thing to do is toss it all in a jar and shake (after putting the lid on).

Then brush some pita bread with olive oil - we didn't have any pita handy, so I used some lightly toasted sourdough olive ends, which was lovely too (maybe better).

Sprinkle the oiled bread with the zatar mix and toss under the grill briefly.

After I made the photo I topped the toast with fresh tomato which created a wonderful contrast.

So there you have it, a traditional Lebanese breakfast that makes a pretty darn good anytime of day snack. Delicious and already super vegan friendly.

I might even have some now...

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Join Us

It's a tough call, but I think that this was my favourite sign in China.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Sunday, 8 April 2007


Cleaning up some old negatives the other day we came across this nugget of gold from a museum in Xian, China; taken a few years back. The joys of English grammar...

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Week Three

I have been meaning to write an actual post for some time now, but time hasn't been my friend lately so that hasn't happened. However, I have had requests for more photos of Lily - so apologies to those of you who are not quite as fascinated by her as her relatives are!

Lying out in the sun with papa:

Proving me wrong that she doesn't like being wrapped up - I guess it just depends on her mood...

Challenging the idea that newborns have a good sense of smell:

Passed out blissfully safe in papa's arms:

Looking like an ancient turtle with her mama:

Playing on her tummy:

Getting her thumb to her mouth:

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Random facts - day 18

  • Labour is hard work - especially when your little munchkin decides to turn around the wrong way.

  • All of the pain and hard work were worth it when I got to hold a little bundle of perfection in my arms. Everything else just melted away into irrelevance.
  • She spent most of the first night sleeping.

  • I spent most of the first night staring at her in awe and wonder. I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life.
  • Newborns feed almost constantly during their second 24 hours of life. It would have been nice if someone could have warned me about this...

  • Zoe was right; her head does smell like caramel.

  • I love watching her breast feed. At the beginning she stares straight at me; alert and content. As the feed progresses I can see her getting almost drunk on my milk. Her eyes start to roll back into her head, her chubby cheeks puff out even more, her eyebrows rise up into her forehead and her toes start to curl with pleasure. At the end of the feed, she detaches and sprawls exhausted on my chest; arms and legs completely limp by her sides; all care abandoned. It is all just so cute. It breaks my heart.

  • She loves to feed. She started out feeding every one to two hours (after her 24 hour marathon effort). Now we get the occasional three hour break - which I am hoping will get more frequent.

  • She gained 500 grams in her first two weeks of life (see above point). She is now a little chubba and it is very cute.

  • She doesn't like to sleep alone. I can relate to this - I don't either - so we oblige and give her snuggles in bed.

  • Despite all the advice to wrap newborns, Lily hates being wrapped and will escape within minutes. Instead of fighting this, we have bought her a gro-bag.


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