I love reading to my daughter! She just turned two and a half, and we probably read to her about one hour a day. She has a mountain of books, loves "reading" and playing on her own, but she particularly loves when we read to her. She's even memorised a lot of the words from her books and recites them randomly throughout the day.
My Recommended Books for Toddlers Aged 2-3 Years
(Boys and Girls)
Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas, Aaron Blabey
Beautiful Oops, Barney Saltzberg
Oi Frog, Kes Gray
Pig The Pug, Aaron Blabey
Each Peach Pear Plum, Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Once Upon a Potty, Alona Frankel
The Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
The Grouchy Ladybug, Eric Carle
Let's Sign Baby, Kelly Ault
We're Going On a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen
Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney
Pout Pout Fish, Deborah Diesen
The Very Cranky Bear, Nick Bland
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Mem Fox
First 100 Words, Roger Priddy
Where is the Green Sheep, Mem Fox
On the Night You Were Born, Nancy Tillman
The Wishing Tree, Nancy Tillman
I'd Know You Anywhere, Nancy Tillman
Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You, Nancy Tillman
FUN FACT: We are part of the 1000 books before school program, which is really neat. You log the books you've read to your child online, and every 100 books they get a badge.
Going to the library, checking the books out, reading and logging them has become a fun little exercise for us to do together.
Hope you enjoy this list. Comment below with your favourite titles!
Eating well from day dot
It's important to replenish your body from the inside out. Growing a human and then giving birth is no small feat, no matter how you delivered your child. Drinking a lot of water, eating well-balanced colourful foods and getting rest are crucial to your recovery. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in getting back to your old self quick smart. It offers a complete guide as to how you can rebuild your health and reclaim your energy. It's appropriate for mums of newborns, toddlers or young children which I really appreciated.
I stayed in private hospital, so I was given a menu each day for the following day. I choose the vegetarian option most days, selected the seasonal vegetables and would add a side salad. I ate when I was hungry and I listened to my body.
Make FIBRE your friend:
I'd have 3-4 prunes each day to help keep things moving. It's very normal for things to be sluggish after giving birth because being idle slows the gut down. And after having a baby we are typically more idle because we are exhausted, sore from labour, etc. Eating well and moving (slow walks) will help your gut/bowels to work more efficiently.
All hospitals also have things like metamucil to help you out, so don't be shy and ask for some if you are concerned (especially if you had to get stitches, ouch).
Get bub OUT of your room
This one will no doubt divide the crowd! I had the basinet in our room for two nights only with both newborns. Listening to the coos, baby meconium sharts and fidgeting drove me absolutely insane. Get bub into their own room ASAP, and you'll sleep better.
We also didn't have a monitor for either child because I knew I'd be glued to it non-stop. Taking a step away and allowing some space was the best thing for me in my own personal experience.
Get yourself a Haakaa breast pump:
My sweet friend Lisa gave me her Haakaa, and man this thing has been a lifesaver. It's silicone pump that suctions on the breast you're not feeding from, and it catches all your let down milk! SO ingenious, really. I was getting 30-50ml by just sitting there and feeding off the opposite boob. You can keep the milk fresh in the fridge for three days, you can freeze it for 3 months or deep freeze will last 6 months. I typically gave the extra milk to Riley which she throughly enjoyed.
Accept help graciously:
If you have it, utilise it! We don't typically have help because our families live in Melbourne and California. This time around we had both sets of parents up visiting, and a brief but wonderful visit from aunties, uncles and cousins. It's has been amazing to sleep in and know that my toddler has been fed breakfast, read to and so well looked after.
Remember there is no award for having your shit together and you don't have anything to prove to anyone. When people come over, ask them to make YOU a tea, ask them to tidy up, let them hold the baby while you have a shower. If you have a toddler, ask family or friends to take the toddler out for a few hours while you sleep. It takes a village to raise a mother.
Focus on the positives
It's easy to feel overwhelmed, whether you are home with one, two or more. Women get especially emotional around the time of their milk coming in and it's common to experience what's called the baby blues. Try to focus on the tasks in front of you rather then the big picture. For example: right now I'm feeding my baby and then putting them down for a sleep -VS- this feed is taking so long... I'm never going to be able to get dinner started at a reasonable hour... and then bath time will be stuffed and the whole evening routine is going to be horrible.
Focus on the things that make you happy and spark joy. It's a slippery slope when we are new parents; navigating a new family dynamic and a new postpartum body too. A gratitude journal is a great place to start if this concept feels forced or foreign to you. Simply keep a journal by your bed, and when you wake up, write down three things you are grateful for.
If you or someone you know are in need of help or assistance, get in contact with PANDA.
Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood.
PANDA National Helpline (Mon to Fri, 9am - 7.30pm AEST/AEDT) Call 1300 726 306
Packing your hospital bag for the first time can be so exciting, and tainted with a bit of anxiety. I postponed packing mine for ages because I was unsure of what to bring and overwhelmed by all the lists I saw online.
Here are a few tips on the packing process
1. Don't wait too long to pack your bag!
Last thing you want is to be throwing a bunch of odds and ends into a bag after your waters have broken. Aim to have your bag packed and set aside at least a few weeks before your due date.
2. Don't stress or overthink about the bag you bring.
If you want to special order something from Etsy with your initials monogramed on it, be my guest. My husband and I used our carry on luggage which was easy and practical.
3. Pack light.
I didn't use half of the things I packed to my first birth! I felt like it was such a waste of space and time coming home and unpacking the bag.
4. Only take things you need or would really like to have.
5. Wash all your new and gifted baby clothes before you pack them.
1. Nipple cream.
This is a must! So many people carry on and on about the birth and recovery, but rarely talk about the struggles (and pains) of breastfeeding. My milk came in on day 2/3 (crazy fast!) and nipple cream was a savior for me. Remember to only use a little bit, as you don't want to unnecessarily clog the pores and cause mastitis.
2. TOM Organic Maternity pads.
These are made of ACO organic cotton, extra long, hypoallergenic and cruelty free.
3. Black underwear, sized up!
I bought a three pack of black BONDS undies, 2 sizes bigger than I normally wear. Black because it's forgiving with stains, and sizing up for obvious comfort and to have room for your maternity pads or ice packs to help the labia recover. I plan on putting my TOM organic maternity pads in the freezer to make my own recovery inserts.
4. My Eco Store chapsick.
Labour can really dry out your lips because of all the mouth breathing/panting.
Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, hair brush, hair ties, natural deodorant, dry shampoo, bamboo face cloth, oil cleanser and moisturising facial serum. The basics... duh!
5. No fuss make up routine.
For me this means my organic BB cream, and my natural mascara and my highlighter to help make me look a little less tired.
6. Cosy, breastfeeding friendly loungewear.
Highly recommend packing some cosy, baggy, nursing friendly loungewear. And don't forget your thick socks and/or slippers for hygiene reasons!
7. Nursing tanks.
I'm no fashionista, and no surprise here, that didn't change after giving birth. I lived in these cute and easy nursing tanks, paired with my recovery shorts, maternity jeans and a simple something over the top like a cardigan or duster kimono.
8. Reusable water bottle.
I've heard so many nurses say the plastic hospital water jugs are a big no-no and not to use them. All the more reason to bring your own.
9. Your phone charger.
10. TENS machine for natural pain relief.
11. Bamboobies: these are reusable, washable nursing pads made of bamboo rayon velour with an absorbent inner cotton layer. After my first childbirth, I purchased the single use Advent nursing pads, but there weren't very breathable and not great for the environment either. I got two packs of the heavy, overnight Bamboobies and I'm so excited to give them a go!
1. Newborn nappies and baby wipes.
2. Baby Swaddle x 2.
I really like the Love to Dream ones! They are so easy to use (all the praise hands for having a zipper), and they are comforting for bub too.
3. Burp clothes
Just use cloth nappies! Cheap and easy.
4. First outfit! This is such a fun thing to decide on and pack. Be sure to give this to your midwife before you are in active labour so that it can be placed in the clothes "oven" making it nice and warm for bubba once they are earth-side.
5. Soothies x two
These dummies are the BEST! They are made of flexible medical grade silicone, are BPA free and easy to clean. We didn't use them in the hospital the first time around because we wanted to establish heathy attachment or "latching" for breastfeeding, but they are nice to have on hand.
6. Mittens for their hands, socks and a cosy beanie for their little head.
7. Anything you might want for that first photo, whether it's a Hello My Name Is sign, or a small letterboard, pink/blue blanket etc.
8. Car seat, or capsule, safely installed along with certificate (some hospitals will ask to see the certificate)!
9. Enough clothes for your time/stay in hospital because you won't be doing laundry.
1. Food/snacks/reusable water bottle to keep them going (and hopefully at your side) so that they don't need to run to the local cafe.
2. Their own phone charger and video camera or computer.
3. Swimsuit for when/if they get in the shower or birth tub with you.
4. Flip flops (at the bare minimum), preferably thick socks like Explorerers.
5. Pajamas for your first sleep over if your lucky enough to stay in hospital.
We are going private again because we had such a good experience, and that means that we are allowed 5 days in hospital. If it's your second baby, hospitals will often times send you to a hotel to recover instead because it's actually cheaper (believe it or not) to care for you that way with a midwife onsite. It goes without saying, but if you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time, pack enough clothes for those days).
1. Essential oil diffuser and oils (if you're into that).
2. Journal/ diary.
My husband and I both wrote handwritten love letters to our daughter on the night she was born a few hours after she came into the world. I also wrote in my journal about my birth experience and jotted down things I really wanted to remember while it was fresh in the forefront of my mind.
3. Baby journal and a pen or pencil.
This is great idea because sleep deprivation is a thing! It's important to document the baby's pee and poo movements as well as feeding, and from which breast. The last thing you need to be doing in your postnatal fog is trying to remember all that information! Having a journal on your nightstand is a great way to document everything in a stress free way, and anyone can do it for you. Your partner, a visitor or even the midwife can jot it down if your hands are full or you are having a much needed nap.
4. Snacks for post-recovery.
You might give birth when the hospital kitchen is closed! Good things to bring are nuts, trail mix, apples, bananas, homemade banana bread (if you're organised), kombucha, sparkling water, etc.
5. Vitamins and supplements.
NOT in my bag, but honorary mentions
Massage Oil: (not actually in my bag like I said, but recommend having one if you like to be touched while in labour or want a back rub).
Annndddd, that's a wrap!
What did I forget?
Tell me what you MUST have in your hospital bag below in the comments!
My Five Manifestations
1. A calm and peaceful labour, but an ACTIVE birth
My first birth was surprisingly good, but I was not as active as I had imagined. An "active birth" is described as a birth where the mother moves about freely and finds comfortable positions for labour and delivery. My bub was posterior for part of my labour, which means we were rubbing spine to spine, and this was quite uncomfortable. I had imagined that I'd be walking up and down the hospital hallways and bouncing on the birth ball like the energizer bunny. In reality, I was in the shower for a long time during my early labour, and then I put on my TENS machine and spent a significant amount of time in bed, switching from my right to left side. Bouncing on the ball and rolling my hips around on all fours didn't give me the relief I was hoping for, so I kept listening to my body and just moved into positions that offered the most relief. If you want to know more about an active birth, then I highly recommend this book.
* I am manifesting a calm and peaceful labour where I am an active and moving to my heart's content.
2. A drug free labour
My aim is always to have as natural a childbirth as possible, and this mean little to no intervention. I believe in letting my body lead the way, and my mantra this birth is "pain with purpose."
* I am manifesting a labour where I trust my body implicitly and let her do what she was made to do, without the aid of synthetic drugs.
3. A natural birth
Also known as a vaginal birth. I had a vaginal birth with my firstborn, and I would like to avoid the major surgery of a c-section at all costs.
* I am manifesting that my baby enter the world, head first through my birth canal and will ring out the most beautiful song upon her first breath.
4. No stitches
I had to push for an hour in my first labour, and when the time came to get bub out because she was getting distressed, my doctor told me he wanted to do a half centimeter episiotomy. I was hoping to avoid this, but at the time it was the right decision and I was happy with the result.
* I am manifesting a quicker labour with time to stretch and grow, allowing my body and skin to move in such a way that I don't need stitches after the delivery.
5. Successful latching for breastfeeding
I had success with breastfeeding in my first birth, but I was thankful to be in hospital for five days under the care of the midwives. Breastfeeding was harder than I imagined and their support was invaluable to me.
* I am manifesting a big cuddle with my vernix covered baby as it's laid upon my chest, naked and burrowing for my breast with a successful and fervent latch.
What were some of your manifestations or goals for your labour and delivery?
Tell me in the comments below.
We have been in our new home for one week, and are nearly sorted, unpacked and organised. I've had to allow a bit of grace because we are also attempting to nest and prepare for this new bub simultaneously (#noteasy). It was a mammoth week that saw us move over three days with two different moving companies.
We only had one small bin of garbage (red lid for you NSW folk), and a large recycling bin FULL when the time came to leave, and that included all our waste from the week, not simply "moving house" rubbish.
Here are a few tips to help you achieve a low-waste move:
1. Keep your moving boxes
We kept all of our moving boxes from our previous move from QLD to NSW, and we only needed to purchase one heavy duty cardboard box for our kitchen pots and pans! We utilised the boxes we already had, suitcases, travel bags, carry on baggage and the like. We were able to borrow a van and use our cars as well for smaller items.
2. Hire moving boxes:
There are a lot of companies out there now that offer easy to use, stackable moving boxes. Movers like this option because they are compact and stack well. Companies like Boomerang Box (servicing Sydney and surrounding suburbs) will accept your online order, deliver your boxes, and then pick them up after your move is finished. For instance, you can hire 25 large boxes, one moving dollie, one marker, free labels and free zip ties for $119 for a week (and its $33 for each additional week).
If you don't have boxes already, and need cardboard boxes from Bunnings for example, their boxes run you $4-$20 EACH, depending on the size. A few other companies are Koala Box (Sydney and surrounds) and Eco Move (Melbourne).
3. Use biodegradable or composting padding
Bunnings sells biodegradable bubble wrap, I had no idea. Also, if you get the right kind of soft plastics, you can recycle them at your nearest RedCycle, or keep them for your next move. We also used beach towels and sheets to help with extra padding since they needed to be packed anyway. Newspaper is always an oldie but goodie for your fragile items.
4. Have a garage sale
This one requires a bit of effort, but it is a great way to pre-lighten the load and add a few bills to the back pocket.
5. Organise a hard rubbish pick up and donate to charity
Do as best you can to eliminate the waste in the house as efficiently as possible. This means recycling properly, and not simply purging everything into your garbage headed for landfill out of laziness. Plan ahead if you can and organise a hard rubbish pick up with your council. You'll probably be surprised how many things people will actually take before the council even arrives to dispose of your belongings. If things are in good nick, drive them to the local charity drop box, Vinnies or Salvos. It always feels to good to give to those in need, especially if you have some decent things that are able to be passed on.
Hope that helped, and that none of you have to move house soon, because man it SUCKS!
Any questions at all, just pop them below!
Before your imagination starts to run wild and you envision me tucking into my placenta on a dinner plate with a steak knife and glass of red while recovering in my birthing suite, think again.
What is the Placenta & What Does it Do?
The word placenta come from the Greek, meaning "plate" or "discoid." This is because the placenta resembles the shape of a dinner plate attached to the side of the uterus, with the umbilical cord connecting the baby's belly. Without a placenta, no fetus could ever survive.
The placenta has many unique and important roles. It can assist in the sharing of information from the mother to the baby and then back to the mother. Crazy, right?
1. Acts as a filter: with the help of the umbilical cord that is, allowing the goodness from mum to reach the fetus, all while keeping the toxins at bay.
2. Functions as a sensor: the placenta helps decipher what the fetus needs also helps to regulate the absorption of amino acids, fat, oxygen and vitamins.
3. Operates as a hormone factory: it produces high levels of oestrogen, progesterone and cortisol for mum and fetus.
The first time I’d ever heard of eating one’s placenta was many years ago when I was trying to fall pregnant myself. I stumbled across Jennifer Stano who had quite a social media following and was expecting her first child. From memory, I loved her pregnancy style, and followed her in the hopes of getting some helpful dress-the-bump tips.
A video popped up on my Instagram one morning, and the still was of Jennifer and her husband. She had delivered her baby, and she’d had a little boy. The video caught my attention because she was in a hospital but had a kitchen blender in front of her. Perplexed and curious, I proceeded to watch her make a placenta smoothie and with a chunk of her raw placenta, fresh berries and some other ingredients. The video was about the smoothie and getting her husband to drink it, which he did. When I saw this video I was absolutely appalled! Why on earth would you make your husband do that? Shock value? How ridiculous. And what was the point of a placenta smoothie in the first place? I couldn’t help but think it was a grab for attention at the time, and I shook my head, chalking it up to wanting likes and dropped jaws.
Fast forward a few years to when I finally had a bun in the oven and my world shifts. It’s funny how pregnancy makes you pull out all the stops and really look after yourself for the sake of your baby. I was at the end of my third trimester living in Melbourne and a girlfriend of mine had mentioned that she had her placenta encapsulated. I was thrilled to have someone close to me that I could actually talk to about the experience. After all, when it comes to matters such as these, we need to peel back all the layers of assumptions, fear, and disgust that stem from ignorance.
She told me about her great experience with Anna Papadakis from Opening To Life and I called her immediately. Anna is a birth attendant, birth educator, body centered therapist and trainer. She started placenta encapsulation in 2012, and now it's a core part of her practice.
I confessed to Anna that I didn’t know much about the process, how it worked, or anything for that matter. I hadn't even read the website yet, but I was close to giving birth and keen as mustard to learn more. I also alluded to the fact that I’d heard consuming the placenta was good for a mother’s recovery, and that was something I desperately wanted to know more about.
Anna and I spoke on the phone at length about the process, the placenta itself and how sacred it is. I don’t mean that in a spiritual way (although it is pretty magical), but I personally feel that it's such a misunderstood organ. So if you're at all like me, and curious about this process, I find it easiest to break it down into two categories, the WHY and the HOW of consuming your placenta.
"We need to peel back all the layers of assumptions, fear, and disgust that stem from ignorance."
- Erica Kickert
As a soon to be new mum, I was quite worried about postnatal depression, commonly referred to as PND. The idea of PND being a dark horse that doesn't discriminate really spooked me. I'd spoken to a midwife who mentioned that I might be at risk for a few reasons, in particular due to our lack of support and absence of family from either side due to our move up to Queensland when our baby would be a mere 7 weeks old. My husband's family live in Melbourne and my family live in California, and I knew I'd particularly struggle when my parents had to say goodbye to their only child and their first grandchild.
In the same way that you commit to eating well and getting rest for the sake of your unborn baby, I committed to making my recovery the smoothest it could be, and that started by working from the inside out.
Anna went over a few key benefits, which were:
- Increasing our iron levels, which will help to combat fatigue, give you more energy, and therefore less depression. It's often difficult to absorb iron from supplements. You ingest crazy high does and the excess is expelled via black poop (if you've ever been on these supplements, you'd know exactly what I'm talking about)! However, when it's your own iron, it's much easier to absorb.
- Some research shows that increasing Vitamin B6 combats post natal depression and helps to regulate mental process and mood.
- The placenta contains high levels of Oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as the "love drug." Increasing the levels of this hormone increases your sense of wellbeing and happiness.
- The placenta also contains Lactogen which has been shown to help increase breast milk supply.
Click here to read about more benefits and how/why they work.
In Anna’s case, she only handles one placenta at a time in her work space. I really loved that she had this policy, for obvious reasons! Once the baby and the placenta have been born, it's set aside in a plastic tub by the hospital staff and awaits pick up. I didn't even know Anna had been to collect the placenta, and then I received a sweet text message that she would be dropping by with my capsules all ready to go and was excited to meet me.
It's your decision how you would like it to be prepared.
Anna offers two methods:
I wanted the placenta to retain as much goodness as possible, and opted not to cook it. This form of encapsulation involves less processing and will yield more capsules for you too. Once the placenta is cleaned, accessed, measured and cooked/dehydrated, it's then ground up and placed into clear organic capsules. Anna then bottles it up and it's delivered to you within 48-72 hours with specific instructions about how many to take a day.
My experience was outstanding. I ask most pregnant women if they are going to eat their placenta, and I get a lot of sideways glances, but I also meet a few women who say "YES" or who ask me for more information. My milk came in on day 2/3, I bounced back so quickly, got my period a few weeks later and didn't have any baby blues. I genuinely believe the encapsulation was responsible for my speedy recovery.
One of my favourite yoga students from Melbourne, Anna D, had asked me about the process and decided to have her placenta encapsulated after her second birth. This is what she had to say:
"I thought about having my placenta encapsulated during my first pregnancy but I let myself be talked out of it. After the birth of my first daughter the baby blues hit me hard. I was so scared that I was developing postnatal depression. (I was lucky that my baby blues only lasted a couple of weeks).
Second pregnancy I went with my gut and organised to have my placenta encapsulated, and I’m so glad that I did! No baby blues at all after the birth of my second daughter, plus my recovery was so much faster which was great as I had an active toddler to keep up with this time. I also found I had a lot more energy in the morning despite having to wake several times for night feeds.
My husband was also really sick at the time and I don’t know if they helped, but I didn’t catch whatever bug he had. I’d happily encouraged placenta encapsulation to any Mumma’s to be."
- Anna D, Melbourne
I highly recommend that you read some testimonials to get a feel for what people are saying about the process.
It's a great place to begin if this is something you're weighting up.
Have you ever had your placenta encapsulated?
Would you consider having it done? Tell me in the comments below.
What's in my bathroom cabinet while I'm growing a tiny human?
- Have a read below -
1. Biologi Bf Hydraton body serum: for my face and body. It's so versatile and nourishing.
2. Cedar and Stone's oil cleanser: for evening face wash, and I steam off the impurities with a bamboo or muslin face cloth.
3. Simple as That Sunscreen: it's 30 SPF and I use this daily. Most days I only wear this and mascara.
4. La Mav Organics BB Cream: in the medium shade.
1. Biologi Bf Hydraton body serum: for my face and body
2. Black Chicken's Axilla Barrier Booster natural deodorant: which is for sensitive skin. I can shave my armpits and use this right after, it's amazing!
3. Dr Bronner's bar soap: my favourite bars are the lavender, hemp rose and peppermint.
4. The Source Bulk Food's ylang ylang shampoo: I don't use conditioner because I don't have any need for it. If you would like to use an all natural, DIY conditioner that is free from nasties, try this.
5. Black Chicken Remedies dry shampoo: it's natural, organic, works well and smells amazing.
6. Dr Bronner's Organic Magic Balm as well as Black Chicken's Balm of Ages: for when I needed that little something extra on rough and very dry skin.
What I don't do:
What I do make an effort to do:
Well, that's it!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
1. Ina Mae's Guide to Childbirth by Ina Mae
2. Active Birth by Janet Balaskasrth
3. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley
(Appropriate pre and post natal, as the title implies).
4. The Mindful Mother by Naomi Chunilal
5. Being There by Erica Komisar
6. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth M.D.
7. Up The Duff by Kaz Cooke
8. Brain Rules for Baby, John Medina
9. Baby Love by Robin Barker
After Baby Arrives:
1. The Mother's Mind Cleanse by Jacqui Lewis
2. The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij
3. Being There by Erica Komisar
(Can read this before or after, but I recommend reading it before your birth so that you can make appropriate plans for your maternity leave).
4. The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Dr Oscar Serrallach
(Currently reading this now!)
Do you like to read and prepare, or wing it?
Tell me in the comments below!
I had a week to make the most of my time in the North Island of New Zealand. I asked my friend, and fellow American expat, if she would be keen to join my daughter and me, and she gave us an emphatic YES! We had less than 24 hours to plan an epic week, jam-packed full of adventures and a large TO-DO list.
Like I said, we didn't have long to prepare. I knew we would be taking two cars, which meant that I was going to be in the car alone with my toddler for long periods of time. This meant one thing.... SNACKS! I've limited her mid-morning and afternoons snacks of late, but when it comes to traveling with kids, snacks are sacred.
HOT TIP: I have blogged about this before, so have a read, especially if your are flying internationally with your munchkins.
In order to prepare for success, I hit up the shops the day we left. I bought trail mix, cherry tomatoes, popcorn, mandarines, apples, bananas, organic rolled oats, peanut butter, our homemade breakfast seed topping and a few organic baby food pouches (meat and veg only, no fruit) if I was caught in a pinch.
I also brought my slow cooker! Yep, you read that right. I knew that two nights we would be out in the bush, super remote and without wifi. I purchased everything I'd need to make a healthy veggie filled minestrone soup that would feed the three of us for two hearty dinners.
First Stop: Taupo
We booked and Airbnb a stones throw from Lake Taupo. It was a little A-frame cabin that was super cozy. We woke up early the following morning and watched a pink sunrise over Lake Taupo and Mt Taupo. It was spellbinding!
Pit Stop: Rotorua
We were only 40 minutes away from the highly recommended Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, and this was a non-negotiable, must-see in my book! To get there, we drove along the Thermal Explorer Highway which was incredibly scenic and showcases a myriad of lakes, hot springs, geysers, natural spas and mud pools.
Second Stop: Waitomo
We stayed at the Rock Retreat in Waitomo. As the name implies, it's a retreat, surrounded by rock formations and clusters that hold an insane resemblance to the Scottish highlands. We stayed in a quaint cabin, with a resident border collie, and we only had a wood burning fire place for heating. It was quite romantic and seemed like the perfect backdrop for an episode of Outlander.
My favourite parts of the cabin itself were:
The organisation of the kitchen with rubbish, recycling AND compost.
That you had to grind our own coffee beans in an ancient wall mounted churning device from back in the day.
The balcony overlooking the valley and the white puffy sheep that frequented our knolls.
The ladder to the attic with a kids play area and extra beds upstairs.
HOT TIP: You can follow Rock Retreat on Instagram
We were only 13 minutes from the famous Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, which was another must-see on our list. We loved the tour and can't recommend it highly enough. I particularly like that the caves were privately owned and all the employees were direct descendants of the Maori tribe leader who discovered the caves over 130 years ago.
Pit Stop: Zealong Tea Estate
We had a long drive ahead of us from Waitomo to Auckland, so we timed our pit stop perfectly to stretch our legs and explore the Zealong organic tea farm. We made a booking for their scrumptious high tea, which is only $49 and included 6-8 cups of tea from a bag of your choosing. Zealong have won a number of awards and it's not hard to see why. The grounds are exceptionally well kept and tidy, littered with large Japanese inspired bronze statues, tea pots and dragons. The tea tasting room looked like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie and was immaculate. Highly recommend stopping by for a tour, a bite to eat and look around their magnificent grounds.
Stop 3: Auckland
To be fair, we only drove past Auckland and didn't have a proper look. I heard it was quite similar to Melbourne, but not as nice. After all the remote explorations we had soaked up, the last place I wanted to be was a big city. A proper coffee was tempting, but we opted to stay in the inner city suburbs for a night and had some bomb Italian for dinner. We wanted to get an early start the next morning for The Coromandel.
At this point we had connected with our hubbys, so our party size doubled, and so did the fun. We all decided that the best way to see the Coromandel would be by boat tour. We booked online that morning and made the 2pm tour. The water was still and we had no waves in sight. This was a huge relief for me because I get dreadfully seasick. The tour was an hour long and featured some stunning caves, the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and the famous Cathedral Cove.
After the tour, we decided to hit up Hot Water Beach. Be sure to bring a shovel with because the novelty here is that you can dig your own spa! When you dig a hole in the sand, hot geothermal water under the sand gurgles up and makes a hot (sometime scolding hot) spa. We all burned our feet on a few occasions, but it was so fun trying to find the perfect spot, which did take a lot of trial and error. We all watched the sunset from our mini sand hot tub and walked home in the pitch black. It was such a fun, unique experience and not one you replicate anywhere else in the world I believe.
The Pit Stops on the Journey Home (The Coromandel ---> Hawkes Bay 5.5 hours)
Huka Falls : ragging waterfall, be sure to check it out.
Be sure to stop at the Otumuheke Stream as well. Warm geothermal water from the Otumuheke Stream flows into the Waikoto river, creating a mini spa with healing mineral water. It is open every single day and totally FREE.
Well that's it! Hope this has given you some guidance in preparation for your north island adventures. If you have any lingering questions, please pop them in the comments below.
Congrats! You're preggers. You're growing another being, and all your energy is going towards harvesting another person's vital organs, eyelashes and fingernails. How bizzare, right?!
Pregnancy is not a one size fits all experience. Some women wear pregnancy like a glove, glow the whole 40 weeks and have a three hour labour. Others might have horrible morning sickness, suffer daily back pain and have a 20+ hour labour. We cannot pigeon hole what experiences may or may not come your way.
Having said that, there are some things I feel we can touch on because a fair few us have had to deal with pregnancy cravings.
My OB is renowned in Melbourne and an absolute legend. I can't recommend him highly enough, and just quietly, I'm totally devo that we don't live in Melbourne anymore because we always said we wanted him to deliver all of our kids! You can listen to this 2 minute snippet with Dr Jo and Rebecca Judd on the MamaMia Podcast where he shares one of his incredibly sweet birthing rituals. (It brought me to tears listening to it because we did it for my daughter's birth and I had a beautiful flashback).
Around my 33+ week I remember having a chat with Dr Jo and he explained that we only need about 200 extra calories a day toward the end of the pregnancy. 200! That's about 1/2 a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, NOT a pint size container of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
But I get it. We're pregnant, uncomfortable and can have an insatiable appetite, especially if you are on steroids like I was (the worse side effect EVER)! We feel like it's our time to celebrate and indulge (it is), but we also want make educated decisions that will be good for us and for our bub.
Here are a few tips and tricks that I've implemented during my pregnancies:
1. Listen to your body
I've always been an intuitive eater, and I think it's good to be honest and forthcoming with what your body is trying to tell you. If you're pregnant and want to lick dirty potatoes, you're body is probably needing some essential vitamins and minerals! I'm not a huge red meat consumer, but I craved it fiercely with my first pregnancy. Turns out I was in the single digits for my iron levels = I was severely iron deficient (like really, really bad).
2. Make healthy swaps
Here are a few healthy swaps worth trying :: If you're craving this, try ________________ .
Snickers bar vs. RAW SNICKERS
Store bought, or boxed brownie mix vs. AVOCADO BROWNIES
Chocolate mouse vs. OVERNIGHT CHOCOLATE CHIA SEED PUDDING
Grab and go store bought granola bar vs. SWEET AND SALTY TRAIL MIX BARS
Greasy burger out vs. homemade SALMON BURGERS WITH SLAW
A mountain of cafe pancakes vs. HOMEMADE PANCAKES FOR 1
3. Be flexible
If you deny yourself time and time again without giving yourself a solid WHY.... you'll most likely binge and end up feeling really guilty. If I really want something, and can't stop thinking about it for a few days, I'll ask my husband to get it for me and throughly enjoy it. Leanne Ward, the Fitness Dietitian, shared a wonderful blog post about how to prevent binge eating and combat sugar cravings... have a read!
4. Make it from scratch
"Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you make it from scratch." This is Michale Pollan's #45th rule from his book, Food Rules. I love this rule so much! Eat whatever junk you want as long as you make it.... it's so completely and utterly brilliant. Why? Because if you have to make an apple pie from scratch, you'll either,
A. Rethink making it all together (most likely).
B. Spend an hour plus making and baking it and really appreciate it bite by bite.
C. You'll most likely have consumed a healthier version compared to a store bought apple pie.
HOT TIP: Speaking of sweets! If you're looking to really indulge, I highly recommend these two desserts. This vegan chocolate pie is healthy, and these peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake bars, not so much healthy- but bloody delish.
I eat five times a day without fail. This means I always have morning tea and afternoon snack, at least! I'm an intuitive eater and eat when my body us hungry- plain and simple.
Here are a few of my favourite snacks which have a nice blend of sweet and savory:
- Organic apple with crunchy peanut butter
- Veggie sticks with hummus
- Shared mini cheese board (pregnancy safe), with dried fruit (ex: apricots, prunes, pineapple), fresh fruit (ex: apple, mandarin, crispy pear), walnuts, and pickles. This makes a great dessert or netflix platter in our house.
- Cookie Dough Energy Bites (family FAV)
- Lemon Coconut chia energy balls
- Pumpkin bread
- This healthy banana bread
Hope that helped guys.
Wishing you all the best on your pregnancy journey!
This little corner of the internet is for non-yoga topics like motherhood, low-tox living and green beauty products I love.