Sass and Spice

30/52

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”A portrait of our children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

Lily: After being in the house for practically the whole of Sunday, you immediately bolted out of the door and onto the scooter when I said it had stopped raining.

Nyla: I can’t believe you are now one! It’s beautiful to look back at all these pictures to see how much you have changed in only a year…

Linking up to Practising Simplicity’s 52 portrait a week challenge for 30/52.

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My Family Lens – Memory (Snapshots in Paris)

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We are nothing without our memories. It is essential to who we are and we wouldn’t be able to function properly if we couldn’t recall moments big and small.

I am sharing you my favourite photos of our recent trip to Paris using the Olympus OM-D E-M10 digital camera. Whilst they aren’t the typical touristy pictures of Paris, they are the ones which make me smile. And this is what I love most about photographs; they evoke emotion by capturing a moment in time that is gone forever and never to be reproduced exactly the same again.

Although before uploading a single photo, I just wanted to forget everything about our trip as soon as I got back home. We seemed to have had so much bad luck that it left me feeling so irritated and wishing we went somewhere more relaxing like Bali (like any other typical Australian family) instead. I knew travelling with kids is by no means an easy feat but surely we wouldn’t be feeling ten times more stressed than before going on holiday?

A day before flying we all get hit with a nasty cold. So bad that our throats are burning and we lose our voices. In the next few days we just get even more sick. My mobile phone goes missing on our first flight to Singapore. I realise when I take my laptop out on the flight that I left the charger at home. Our family gets separate seating on the next leg to France. By the time we get to Paris, my husband’s phone is gone too.

And then it just seems to get worse. Lily develops heat rash and Nyla’s teething returns. After the difficult task of lifting the pram down the stairs to the Metro train, the train services get cancelled.  We never seem to have any luck hailing a taxi. Not even shopping (my usual happy fix) could calm my nerves as the amount of tourist shoppers elbowing you out of the way during the sales and crowding the lifts got too much. The final straw was when my lovely (and unfortunately expensive) blue lace dress splits right in the middle of Avenue des Champs-Élysées whilst trying to grab a taxi after waiting for 45 minutes. By this stage I just wanted to scream, roll around in a foetal position and take the first plane home!

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All photos taken on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Camera. Picture above of Lily was taken using the ‘Dramatic Tone’ Art Filter.

We may have abandoned our plans to go to the Eiffel tower that day and therefore didn’t get to capture a photo of it but the photos I did take manage to bring some of the joyful memories back to life. Such as the the beautiful sunlight streaming through the leaves at Jardin des Luxemborg which takes me back to the laughter of children as they sail their little boats in the pond. And the look on Lily’s face when she won that silly duck at the summer carnival at and then would not let go as she rode at the back of the pram as it slowly deflated.

There was also that feast we had at the Buddha Bar and I’m sure we got some strange looks as Nyla shoved cheese all over her face and Lily pouring most of the fries down her lap.

My favourite memory was probably the day it absolutely poured down with torrential rain and we took shelter in a random cafe. It was here that we found 10 minutes of peace indulging in the simplest of delights of cream butter, red wine and of course people watching.

Everywhere you look in Paris you are reminded of days long gone as the grand architecture, food and landscaped gardens are embedded in history. Soldiers march proud on Bastille Day and for the French they will never want to forget the importance of the storming of the Bastille, on the 14th of July 1789. A day which symbolises the birth of the Republic.

And now I don’t ever want to take the memories of our trip away and can even appreciate the stressful times. We are so grateful as a family to have shared these small yet precious moments and especially in light of the recent aviation disasters we know are very very lucky.

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This is my first post in Kidspot Voices of 2014 Olympus Challenge #myfamilylens series. All photographs have been taken using the Olympus OM-D E-M10. Olympus have kindly sent me this camera with the 14-42mm lens to test out for two months. All words, opinions and views are my own.

I decided to leave my beloved SLR at home and take just the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with me on this trip. I basically received the camera on Friday and flew on Sunday, so had to learnt how to use the camera on the plane!

The compactness and portability makes the Olympus OM-D E-M10 a huge winner in my books as since I’m carrying a baby anyway (and a zillion other things in a nappy bag), the last thing I need is to lug around a heavy camera as well. It even fits into my small handbag (my Chanel 2.55 in case you were wondering) so it’s the ideal size for travelling.

It didn’t take me long to learn how to use the camera and for most of these pictures I either used Manual or Aperture setting in RAW format. The auto focus is pretty quick and the 8 frames per second continuous shooting is very handy especially if you have quick kids! The dual dial with the tilting LCD touchscreen makes it easy to modify your settings such as exposure, ISO and White Balance pretty quickly.

Beginners can relax with auto mode and there are even 12 inbuilt camera art filters which you can pre-select before taking the photo. In the last picture of Lily, I’ve used the ‘Dramatic Tone’ art filter.

My favourite feature is the in-built Wifi which allows you to send pictures from the camera onto your smartphone and upload on social media. I’ve used this feature to upload pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (have a look at @SassandSpice #myfamilylens)

Thank you to lovely people at Olympus and Kidspot for allowing me to participate in this competition and have the Olympus OM-D E-M10 on loan. All views expressed in this blog post are my own and are in no way influenced by the loan product. Since I really love this camera I’m trying my very best to win it! Please let me know what you think of my photos and my thoughts on the camera, as I’d really appreciate the support!

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29/52

29/52

29/52

”A portrait of our children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

Nyla: Lazy in bed. Too bad you can’t be this at night time as jet lag is still affecting you…

Lily: ” I’m king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal!” Isn’t it strange that all kids sing this when they are at the playground?

This week’s photos were taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 on loan.

Linking up to Practising Simplicity’s 52 portrait a week challenge for 29/52.

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28/52

28/52

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”A portrait of our children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

Some scenes from our last week at my in-laws. Lily laughing hysterically mid-photo for no particular reason and Nyla learning to walk.

Pictures taken on our trip in England and using the Olympus OM-D E-M10 on loan.

Linking up to Practising Simplicity’s 52 portrait a week challenge for 28/52.

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27/52

27/52

27/52

”A portrait of our children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

Lily: We were at a summer fair and you saw the bouncing castle from afar….you could easily stay on for the entire day!

Nyla: Being sick and on the onset of toddlerhood has made you very grumpy this week!

Pictures taken on our trip in England and using the Olympus OM-D E-M10 on loan.

Linking up to Practising Simplicity’s 52 portrait a week challenge for 27/52.

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26/52

26/52

25/52

”A portrait of our children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

Lily: Absolute delight at making cupcakes with her Grandma…

Nyla: Into anything and everything…including trying to eat the flowers!

Photos taken in England using the Olympus OM-D E-M10 camera on loan.

Linking up to Practising Simplicity’s 52 portrait a week challenge for 26/52.

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My Child Magazine – new digital only version

My Child magazine

Have you checked out the new digital-only version of My Child Magazine* (http://www.mychildmagazine.com.au/) ? It’s aimed at pregnant women, new mothers and parents of children aged 0-8 and features parenting articles and cool maternity/baby/kid products. The magazine used to be published in print format quarterly in Australia but it is now only available monthly in a digital format so therefore accessible to parents around the world. The magazine is also independently produced by a small team with even the editor working from her study at home – a very typical work-from-home mother scenario. I’ve been asked to review the magazine and have to admit that I’m very much a digital magazine novice as I still prefer to feel the smooth paper between my fingers and rip out inspirational pages. But even though I do enjoy reading a paper-based magazine, I do think the digital version is more eco-friendly (my home is ridden with magazines at the moment), compact and convenient to take anywhere and just a simple click can take you to a stockist to immediately buy a product or bookmark/pin an article for further reading.

My Child magazine

When I first went to the magazine it took me a while to set up the font size big enough for me to read but also to position the page so it could fit on the screen without the need to constantly scroll down. I also found doing this got me accidentally clicking on ads which would open another internet page. And also like a paper-based magazine, there are lot of ads in the beginning so I found myself clicking a lot just to get to the article that was of interest to me.

But once I sorted out the navigation and page set up, there were plenty of cool products to drool over and insightful articles such as toddler taming tips and active birth to even a second-time parent such as me. I’m having to organise my daughter’s first birthday party online too so will find the direct links to stockists/products to be especially useful. Compared to their previous paper-based versions, the digital version has a lot more pages.

And now that I take the train to work, this magazine will be useful to read on my tablet and my husband will be glad I won’t be subscribing to yet another paper based magazine. Get the July issue here (it’s FREE to subscribe) and let me know what you think…

* I was asked my My Child magazine to provide an honest review on their new digital magazine. No payment or product has been given for this review.

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25/52

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”A portrait of our children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

Both girls having fun on the slide until Lily lands on Nyla’s head and makes her cry. It was at that point I put down the camera…

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Linking up to Practising Simplicity’s 52 portrait a week challenge for 25/52.

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Labour…so what is it really like?

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Can you believe it was nearly a year ago when I gave birth to Nyla? This is a long post so I hope you are comfortable with a cup of tea…

I remember the time when first pregnant I laid my eyes on those double lines on the test. Trembling, I was both excited beyond belief but fearful of the unknown – that unknown frontier with being a parent for the first time but for me more so about giving birth. And for a scaredy cat like me, going through birth was definitely going to be beyond anything I had ever experienced before.

So is it painful? Yes, probably the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life but certainly not a horrific experience like in the movies. With the right preparation and support network, the pain is manageable; and just to give you an example of my pain threshold, I’m holding to dear life and demanding for aesthetic for a simple scale and clean at the dentist – I’m a total wimp! The key for me was not hiding my head in the sand; instead I chose to preparing myself with knowledge with a ‘can do’ attitude rather than not believing that my mind and body could handle it.

The first part of the pain are the contractions. They don’t last longer than a minute and you have a couple of minutes between each contraction. The contractions feel like a real intense stomach cramp but the pain intensifies as time goes by to the point that you are gripping on to the bed, grinding your teeth and then howling like a wild animal as each contraction thunders through your body like a huge wave.

The second part of pain is the pushing. This is where it can get a bit gory and embarrassing  (well to someone who hasn’t given birth before) and the whole tearing and crowning aspect used to scare me to death but on two occasions I’ve been fortunate to not have any major tearing (second time I actually had none!) or an episiotomy. So even though it’s certainly not a walk in the park, the pain is definitely manageable and in most cases when it’s all over you don’t remember how much it hurt.

For my first labour, Lily was positioned posterior which meant for a more painful labour as you feel the pain all over your back as well as the usual tummy area. After 20+ hours lets just say ‘feeling absolutely exhausted’ was an understatement and when I had to be hooked up I opted for the epidural and all the pain was lifted instantly. The contractions disappeared and I didn’t even feel the pushing as she was ‘vacuumed’ out. All I could feel was that something slippery was being dragged out of me.

With Nyla I went total natural…yeap totally drug free. There was a point when I suddenly started to lose confidence in myself (a phase called ‘transition’) and was at the point of breaking down. So when the hospital told me I was at the last stage and ready to push, all that emotion lifted and I was determined to get through it with positive energy again. That adrenalin helped and afterwards I didn’t even remember the pain of pushing to be that different to doing a a number two. Seriously!

Here is the advice I usually give to my girlfriends about giving birth:

  • Prepare for childbirth - The hospital runs antenatal classes but I learnt a lot more through classes run at the community midwifery group. I also wanted to go natural but didn’t know how to achieve this so took up hypnobirthing (highly recommended) which helped me immensely with breathing techniques, self relaxation techniques and a positive belief.
  • Birth your own way - You might want a natural birth or choose the epidural or have an elective caesarean or have a home birth. Everyone is different but make sure your decisions are well informed. At the end of the day it is your birthing experience and your body. For a natural birth, investigate different birthing positions.
  • Write down and communicate your birth preferences - Communicate with your doctor/midwive regularly with the type of birth you would prefer. Write down the preferences you have if things don’t go to plan and show it to them. It’s important to feel like you are part of the birthing process and to keep positive no matter the outcome.
  • Choose your birthing centre wisely - If you are in Australia book the Obstetrician AND a birthing centre as soon as you can. The Obstetrician and birthing centres book really early so you just need to get on the list and then after doing research choose if you want to go down the private hospital route or natural at a birthing centre. The private hospitals have strict protocols so it is more likely to be more medical intervention at your birth (i.e. emergency caesarean, episiotomy etc) and at a birthing centre you will have to prepared that if you can’t go natural or if intervention is needed, you will be transported to the nearest public hospital. Basically choose the birthing support which runs true with your birthing preferences.
  • Have a Doula/birth partner - If I was to give birth again for the first time, I would have chosen a doula because a lot of the time my husband and I were pretty much alone in the birthing suite and would have been useful to have someone experienced with the birthing process to encourage us through and provide us support. My husband was my birth partner for both births (he even did the hypnobirthing course with me) and I also signed up for a student midwife for my second birth (but sadly she missed it!).
  • Avoid listening to horror birth stories  - People love sharing the drama rather than something that went smooth sailing right? And even though it’s useful to know that things don’t always go to plan and you aren’t 100% control of the situation, it’s not helpful when you are pregnant and most likely already shit scared. So hard as it is, try not listen too intently to these stories as they do nothing to help you keep in a positive mindset or gain any confidence.

So you will hurt, get the shakes, make animal noises, cry out for your mother and it’s bloody; but the emotion and energy is more powerful than I could have ever imagined – it’s exhilarating, full of adrenaline and your heart explodes with all the love in the world once your baby is delivered safely in your arms. And cliche as it sounds, that is why it is worth it.

Click here for Lily’s birth story.

Click here for Nyla’s birth story.

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24/52

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”A portrait of our children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

Nyla: This photo was taken after a night of 4 hours sleep! Thank goodness no one is doing a 52 project of me as I looked 100 times worst – completely shattered!!!

Lily: Here you are making a card for your Aunty’s birthday. After 10 minutes you get really indecisive so start again – you got there at the end though! You seem to be in this creative phase of making things from scrap paper and odd pieces of string.

Linking up to Practising Simplicity’s 52 portrait a week challenge for 24/52.

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