Saturday, December 29, 2012

Part 4: The dad question

I've been avoiding writing the final part to this story for months now. I have to get inside my head and find those memories and feel, smell, breathe them so I can convey the tale to you accurately. I'm coming to the end of the story that forms the bridge between my old life and my new. I don't want to fuck up a detail and it is turning out to be a longer story than I first remembered. I'll have to break it up over a couple of posts.

Make sure you read the first three parts before you get stuck in here so it all makes sense:

Part 1: The day we met
Part 2: A new addiction
Part 3: Walking into the abyss


_________________

The opposite of rehab


The cab I ordered from the hospital took us straight back to his share house in the Inner West of Sydney. The house was on the corner of a busy road and a tree-lined avenue that lead up to the main street. All six bedrooms were occupied and there were two dilapidated caravans in the yard that sometimes housed random transients.

It was one of those old single story inner city homes that had had any trace of garden ripped out and replaced with concrete. The front door was never locked because there was always someone home and people were constantly coming and going. It was always dark inside to keep the power bills down because of the nine regular residents, only three had legit jobs.

The smell emanating from the joint was of weed, nicotine and damp. You could smell it from the footpath out the front of the house despite the constant stream of heavy vehicles which passed throughout the day. Every single one of the people who resided there smoked both marijuana and tobacco which bellowed out of the house like rotten dragon's breath. They each had a host of other drug and alcohol issues to their names as well. This was the only thing I had in common with them.

This house was the opposite of rehab, the place I had just escaped from: it was where people who didn't want to recover or couldn't afford to recover went to eke out the best life they could while maintaining their addictions. I could have gone back to the room I was paying extortionate rent for in the next suburb, but I felt comfortable and oddly safe here amongst society's dropouts.

His room was the second on the right. It was smallish, about three metres by four or five. He had an old wardrobe in the corner where the few clothes he owned were piled. Also, sitting on an upturned milk crate, was an outdated rear projection TV, alongside a kid's motorcycle, a chair and finally a single mattress made of foam laying directly on the linoleum floor.

I dumped the belongings I had taken with me to rehab on the floor: some clothes, toiletries and my doona, pillow and ugg boots which came with me every time I entered a psychiatric facility. No one should do rehab with hospital issued bed linen!

Before I even sat down we were on the phone hunting out drugs. I had to get wasted; as fucked up as I possibly could without dying, although that probably wouldn't have bothered me either as long as I got to enjoy myself and go out with a bang. I just needed something to shut out the voice of reason. The voice of anger. The voice of despair and worthlessness. The echo of the argument I'd had with my father only hours before.

And so began a three week orgy of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Back in London, in my cocaine snorting days, I'd always had the delusional fantasy that I was bit of a rock chick, cool with my constant supply of Charlie and ability to consume vast amounts of alcohol. Now though, spending nearly all of my time with this person on a foam mattress on the floor, off our heads for all our waking moments I felt like Sid and Nancy or Kurt and Courtney: So rock. So cool. So fucked up. But with a couple of glass pipes (one for smoking weed, one for meth) instead of a needle.

The only reason I didn't completely lose my head was a handy supply of Seroquel, an antipsychotic medication that when taken after consuming amphetamines will help bring you down and let you sleep. It also prevented any of the usual come downs I was used to in the past. It made having a three week binge possible.

The other factor allowing us to go on the ultimate bender of avoidance was my UK credit card which I'd paid off with an Aussie personal loan when I first arrived back home. In my "I don't give a fuck about anything" mind frame I just kept withdrawing cash off it. This, in retrospect, was why I think this man who would provide the seed that created my son, hung around for so long: I was buying him drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, paying his rent and feeding him. I even bought him some clothes and a pair of shoes in the short time we knew each other.

We hardly ever left the house. Actually, I hardly ever left the house. In my position as money provider I had all the power in the relationship and I used it to send him on trips for drugs, food and other supplies. I even gave him my pin numbers to get money out of my accounts from the ATM because I just couldn't be bothered to go anywhere.

I occasionally went up the road to the shops. Eventually I got all my stuff from my room in the boarding house and ended my rental agreement with the agent. While I was there I discovered that he had taken money from one of the students that lived in a neighbouring room with the promise to score pot for him. He'd never got the pot or returned the $50. I repaid the debt. Something I had to do on numerous occasions.

About two to three weeks from the day I left the hospital and arrived at the house I knew something was up with me. My last period had been strange: late and it stopped and started. I figured this was because of all the drugs I'd been taking. When it was late again, I thought I might be pregnant but I doubted it. Was my body even capable of such a task? I really thought it was probably the same situation as the month before.

I went to the chemist to get a test seriously thinking I was wasting another $20 bucks or whatever they cost at the time. I did the test as soon as we got back to the house and there were the two purple lines. I was pregnant and everything changed. Strangely enough it was almost one year to the day since I was raped in London, the almost catastrophic event that sent me skidding into the abyss in the first place.

When I showed Noo's father the testing stick he was shocked. The look on his face told me exactly what he thought and it wasn't positive. He actually looked scared.

Even though I'd only known him a short time, he'd already told me he loved me. He told me all the time that I was beautiful, that he was in love with me, that I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. We spent all our time together in our room in that house, except when he was on missions for supplies or when on the weekend he would see his kids.

He spent one day every single weekend with two of his children and he loved them very much. Although he talked to me about them in great detail, I won't write about them or their mother because I don't feel that is my right. All I'll say is he was estranged from their mother. I found out she had an AVO (Apprehended Violence Order) taken out against him and he wasn't supposed to go anywhere near her or the kids but they had an agreement he could see them one day a week because she had to work.

He and I had spent so much time talking and getting to know one another that a sort of bond had formed - for me anyway - but I hadn't returned the 'I love you' until that moment I showed him the pregnancy test. All that desperation, helplessness, uselessness I had felt for so long started to lift almost immediately. This wasn't going to be just another day to get high and avoid the reality of my life.

Morning sickness kicked in around three days after I found out I was pregnant. At first I was just a little nauseous but that could have been because I'd completely stopped all forms of illicit drugs, alcohol and cigarettes and my body was in shock. By the second week I was vomiting from 3am through to 5pm every single day and continued to do so until week 14.

Still not speaking to my family or friends I had to think about how I was going to manage my recovery and the pregnancy on my own. There was no way he was going to get sober with me, although I talked about it with him constantly. I was pretty naive and somehow thought that we would work this out together. I'd convinced myself that I did love him, despite the fact that we had nothing in common but a love for being wasted.

His mother was 16 when she had him and he'd been mostly raised by this grandparents who were Ten Pound Poms that came out to Australia in the late 60s. He somehow made it through the school system without learning to read or write. He told me he had excelled at all sports and that was how he scraped through.

His grandfather, a tradesman, took him on as an employee at age 15 and I'm guessing because he was illiterate he wouldn't have had any official trade certificate. In retrospect I guess he got through life with charm, wit, violence and a pathological ability to lie on his feet.

I heard him on the phone to his ex partner all the time lying through his teeth with ease. He was enormously paranoid of her coming around to the house and finding me there, which she never did. He was also overly concerned about any police attention the house might attract. I never understood either because, as far as I knew, they were broken up and, except for breaking the conditions of her AVO against him, the police should have no reason to want him.

As time wore on and I sobered up I became more and more incapacitated by the pregnancy. Vomiting all day had made me extremely dehydrated and couldn't even keep my antidepressants down. I saw our family doctor who was unimpressed with my state and told me he was very sad that I was pregnant. My doctor's connection with my parents was too strong so I opted to change GPs to keep them out it.

As the news I was pregnant made it around my family and old friends the reaction was negative to say the least. How could I possibly care for another human being if I couldn't care for myself? Good question. I had to somehow prove that I could do it. I had to clean up my life.

When I first laid eyes on the screen of the ultrasound equipment reality kicked in as the tiny little blob kicked around for us to see. It was just a little white foetus on a black background but it was moving its tiny little legs furiously and looked full of life. He came with me to that first exam. He showed some interest but he'd done this all before. Several times before.

Weeks turned into months and we were still living in that one room in a house full of misfits. I'd gotten one of those 24 month interest free loans from a furniture store and bought us a queen sized bed, chest of draws, HD TV and TV stand.

I spent day after day in bed vomiting into my red garbage bin. I was given that bin for my 14th birthday (yeah, go figure!).  It had somehow survived all my moves to and from Melbourne, been stored by my dad while I was living in London and made its way back to me when I moved to the boarding house. I love that bin.


My 24 year old red bin today. We've been through a lot together.


I would start every morning retching, head bowed over the rim of that fair dinkum Aussie made red plastic garbage bin, early before anyone else in the house was awake. He was always worried the other tenants would figure out what was going on and constantly told me to keep it down. He didn't want anyone to figure out I was pregnant, but they didn't clue on as far as I know. He told me he didn't want his ex to find out on the grapevine, or in retrospect, he didn't want her to find out at all.

During the day I would get him to clean out the bin of its watery contents. I was obsessed that it would make it back to our room. Anything left outside was fair game for anyone to take. I trusted no one in that house. Not even with my old red bin.


_________________


That is enough for now. Part 5 is written. I'll post it later in the week.


Thanks for reading.

V.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A very BB Christmas

I am so full.

End of story.

No, really. Tis the season to eat and eat and eat. And I've done just that.

Check this out. The evidence.



Click on me for a better look



My sister and I pre-ordered our meat back in mid November from the Urban Food Market online store which took the pressure out of food shopping on Christmas Eve. Neither of us has a large fridge so stockpiling is not possible. Considering we are all cooks in our family it defies belief that we have shit fridges, but there you go.

Delivered around midday on Christmas Eve, a 4.5kg leg ham, 4 day cured 2.2kg duck and a 2kg beef tenderloin were then prepared to feed seven of us. A quick trip to the local shopping centre to top up on fresh fruit and veggies and we were set.

On Christmas morning, after Noo discovered Santa had been, leaving presents under the tree and a piece of white fur trim from his coat in the balcony door, the wrapping came off each gift in record time. Not a single toy was of the superhero kind but if Noo was disappointed he didn't show it. That is the trouble with the mid year toy sale layby and store option: the kid can grow out of what mummy chose over the six months to Christmas.

While Pa was setting the table in his usual OCD style of perfection, Nanna and I set to getting lunch ready. First in the oven was the duck. Cooked for 50 minutes in the almost brand new oven it looked perfectly done until we chopped it up and found the meat around the thigh joints a little too pink. I can't blame the duck, or should I say the cooking instructions that came with it, because our new ovens have been a bit unreliable with their temps lately, despite the fact that they are top of the range and should be working perfectly.

Once rested, quartered, deboned and sliced the duck was tossed through an Asian style noodle salad. I pinched the salad recipe from here. It's a Jamie Oliver number that I had to heavily modify the dressing because it was just too oily. I added more lime juice, mirin and rice wine vinegar to give it some zest. Unfortunately I had to leave out the sesame oil because Mala is very allergic and we can't even risk the slightest contact with her. I love sesame oil but I love my niece more. Obviously.

Second animal part to be baked was the delicious tenderloin of grassfed beef. My mum can trim and tie a tenderloin as quick as you can say 'Jack Robinson who the hell is Jack Robinson' after a career in corporate catering where she would do dozens in a week. Once roasted and rested the beef was laid on a bed of watercress and topped with a herb and caper dressing, minus the capers (we ran out).

Last, and maybe least, was the leg of ham. Mum (or Nanna to Noo) carefully removed the skin off the ham only to find it didn't have a scrap of fat under it. A liposuctioned pig leg! Or maybe one that had been on a rigorous exercise regime running around that organic pasture it came from. We couldn't even score the leg because there was nothing to score. It was glazed and wrapped in foil and then baked in the oven and as suspected came out a little dry thanks to the lack of any lovely white fat to keep it moist.

Luckily Mum had made a delicious fresh plum sauce and with it that leg tasted a fine piece of bovine. It was also lovely today cold.

The trio of organic free range meats were accompanied by a potato and hazelnut salad and roast kumara and some weird little cranberry puffs that Mum made but I didn't try.

For dessert the Christmas classics were covered: Christmas cake, mince tarts and pudding served with ice cream, custard and brandy butter. Once again mum outdid herself, if the dried fruit farts we all are producing are anything to go by!

Just typing the details of this meal is making me feel full all over again.

Yolanda, Cal and Mala joined us, along with another couple who have been friends of my parents for decades. It was a great mix. Everyone ate, wore silly hats, played with toys and generally had a great time.

We also got a new addition to Noo's cat family thanks to our friends that joined us. Lulu. The perfect cat for Noo to practice his 'Ls' on. She walks, she purrs, she meows. Noo loves her.

I think The Cats are now complete.






Noo and I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. And that you don't feel as full as I do. Blurgh.

Day 1 of the BB sugar detox starts again on 1 January.


Here's to 2013!



V.


PS. This is not a sponsored post. I just like Urban Food Market. Service is awesome, produce fantastic (they just need fatter pigs).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

BB parenting fail: Internet safety (with giveaway!)

Sponsored post

Thank goodness Noo is only turning four on Saturday otherwise I'd be feeling really guilty right now. But I know I've got time to put things right before my little iGeneration baby is truly affected by Internet safety.

A couple of weeks ago I attended my very first blogger brand event. Organised by Digital Parents and hosted by Norton, I got to listen to the very informative Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate, speak about online safety for families. I've been online since 1997, and online safety is something that I've thought a lot about over years in relation to myself, but this is the first time I'd really thought about it regarding Noo.

Things have changed so much since I was a kid. Internet safety was not an issue my parents had to think about when I was Noo's age, let alone through my teenage years, when things can get pretty hairy online for the 'always connected' generation. Managing Internet safety for our families is something that my generation of parents, and those that follow, will have as a constant part of our lives as our children grow and become more involved with the online world.

Even though Noo is only turning four he still has access to the Internet every day. He has been able to unlock my iPhone since he was 10 months old. He uses 'our' (supposedly my) iPad everyday and has access to well over 250 apps that we have installed on it.


This kid loves our iPad! Check out the filthy look I get when I try to take it off him
(or that could be because I took his photo again!)


A few weeks ago I made some confectionery confessions about letting Noo eat too many sugar foods. And then I babbled in another post about how, as Noo reaches for his fourth birthday, I worry I am not doing enough as a parent to set adequate boundaries for my little boy, especially when it comes to discipline.

Now I will make a third and final confession: I let Noo use the iPad pretty much unmonitored and without limit.

At four years old he still cannot read but he understands a lot of what he sees and hears. His favourite app at the moment is Minecraft and he can play it for hours. He also loves watching Minecraft gameplay videos on YouTube. The biggest problem for me is that a lot of these videos are made and narrated by excited teenage boys who swear a lot. These videos aren't censored and they are certainly not given an age appropriate rating. Although Noo has never used the bad words it is still not great for him to be exposed to them.

The other thing about YouTube is the 'suggested' videos it provides on the right hand side of the page. Some of these can be quite salty or violent and downright inappropriate viewing for a four year old but are one 'touch' away from being watched by those innocent blue eyes.

Right now you are probably thinking, just don't let him use YouTube. And you are probably right.  Excuses I now, but he gets so much enjoyment from it and I guess I keep waiting for Noo to lose interest in the video app. After attending the Norton event I realised I really should be doing more.

The other way Noo has access to the Internet is through links on supposedly kid friendly apps. One touch in the corner of the screen and your iPad whizzes from the app you are playing to the app store asking if you want to make another "in app purchase". I think these are the biggest ripoffs of the app world. Especially in apps made for kids. Buying too many can seriously make an impact on the credit card you have attached to the store.

When it comes down to it, keeping our kids safe online is largely up to the parents. In our family's case that means me! What we need to do to help our kids stay safe online depends on their age too. Because Noo obviously isn't friending up strangers on Facebook or being bullied by a troll on Twitter, what I can do to keep Noo safe, and my bank balance manageable, is pretty easy.

According to the Norton Online Family Report which was conducted over 24 countries, 62% of kids (aged 8-17 years old) have experienced a negative situation online. That statistic however is dramatically decreased where the family has 'established house rules' regarding online activity.

Even though Noo is still young, and hearing bad words on YouTube is the worst 'negative experience' he has endured, I still have to start thinking about our Online Safety House Rules. For now these are:

BB Headquarters Online Safety House Rules

1. Limit iPad time to 1 hour per day.

2. Listen in to what Noo is watching on YouTube to ensure the language stays 'safe'
(this is something I already do most of the time).

3. If I am not in the same room as Noo while he is using the iPad, switch the device to 'Airplane Mode' so that he cannot access the Internet for YouTube. 

4. Ensure I keep iTunes password protected so that Noo can't accidentally download unwanted apps or make any in app purchases that could end up costing me a fortune.

These rules are clearly written for a parent of a four year old - me. As my Noo grows and his other skills develop, like reading and social interaction, the BBHQ Online Safety House Rules will need to change and be added to. And they will become his rules to follow, not only mine to enforce.

Wow! I've babbled on a lot again! But there's so much to think about and it's only going to get more involved as Noo gets older and technology changes.

I've talked about keeping Noo safe online, now what about my laptop and my our iPad? Keeping my personal files like photos, university assignments, and other important documents safe from viruses is really important to me, just as I imagine it is really important for you.

Also, I'd like to keep my identity private as well, thanks very much! The thought of someone hacking my computer and getting my personal information sends shivers down my spine.

As we all know Norton make virus protection software. As good timing would have it, with my own virus protection subscription about to expire, Norton kindly gave the bloggers who attended the event a free one year subscription to Norton 360 Multi-Device worth $149.99. Stoked!

I also have one more to give away to one lucky reader. Yay!

Yes, this is my first giveaway

Could I be any more excited?

Check out Norton's website here to see just how comprehensive this software is for the protection of up to five of your devices.

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is tell me what file, or collection of files, saved on your computer you would hate to lose and why. 

For me, my photos and music collection would be devastating to lose - all those travel memories, baby photos of Noo and nearly eight years of collecting MP3s amounting to 10,000 tracks - seriously, losing all that would make me cry!

This is a game of skill and will be judged on the creativity of the answer. Just post your response in the comments below. My lovely sister, Yolanda, who I have blogged about heaps, will judge which answer is the winner. She works in communications so I'm sure she is well qualified for the position!

The competition is only open to Australian residents and closes midday on Christmas Eve, Monday 24 December 2012 so get cracking like a Christmas cracker over the weekend to get your answers in.

I will notify the winner by email and Norton will send the winner their prize.

Good luck!

V.


Disclaimer: I attended the Norton family Internet safety lunch. I received a lovely meal and a one year subscription to Norton 360 Multi-Device but was under no obligation to blog about Norton or to run this giveaway. I was, however, paid $50 administration fee and also had my travel to and from the event reimbursed by Digital Parents. All opinions are my own in accordance with my disclosure policy.


Monday, December 10, 2012

All I want for Christmas is...

I've been writing some serious shit lately, like Friday's reflection on my experience as Noo's mum over these last four years, and then I confessed that Santa's Sugar Sleigh has been too hard for me to resist. I was so glad to find myself tagged by the ever-awesome Kylie from A Study In Contradictions in a Santa Wish List meme currently making the rounds on the interwebz. Now I can have a little fun!

Before I get stuck into this list I just wanted to do a little blog loving arse kissing, cos I think Kylez is a legend. Her blog is always such a lovely and positive place to visit. Her Instagram feed is full of joyous pictures of her family, and she leaves the loveliest comments, not just on this blog but all over the Aussie blogging community. And how gorgeous is her daughter, Mia! The photos Kylez takes of her are outstanding. My favourites are the numbered singlets Kylie has dressed Mia in once a month and taken pictures of her to track her physical changes. I am defo copying that if I ever have another bub.

So basically I have a massive girl/blogger crush! Check out her blog if you haven't already: www.kyliepurtell.com

Back to my Christmas wishlist. Here it is:


Santa, this is for you mate. Read it and make it happen. Thank you. 


1. Money, Money, Money


Kylie asked for "a billion dollars" (cue that guy with the pinky finger in the corner of his mouth) but I just want an unlimited supply of cash. I don't want to have to think about how much I need now, next week, month, next year or for my retirement. I am absolutely shit with money. I'm 38 and still I cannot manage my income. I get paid monthly and I live like a king for a week a pauper for the next three.

Shopping is another addiction of mine. I love looking through Pinterest for inspiration for new clothes purchases. I have so many clothes for a chick that doesn't get out much, and sometimes I go through phases where I just want to wear leggings and a t-shirt and gym shoes day after day, but I love my clothes collection. There's even a lot of stuff in my wardrobe that has either only been worn once or twice or still have the labels attached! Eeek.

I also love technology and gadgets which can get pretty expensive, so Santa, I need more cash to indulge in these kind of purchases. I can browse the Apple shop or JB Hi-Fi for hours looking at new headphones or stereos, etc. Wasting hours Googling reviews of gadgets like computer mouses, keyboards, styli, speakers, external hard drives is also a favourite past time. Geek I know!

Santa, I also need all this cash so I can buy more toys for Noo (and me) to play with. We love toys! We love collecting whatever is the latest thing. It started with Thomas trains and tracks, now superhero action figures and their respective vehicles and corresponding dress ups for Noo to wear. There will defo be more crazes we have to get into so I'll need unlimited funds to feed that habit as well.

2. A boyfriend and sex on tap


When I was a teenager (actually still to this day) we always had a notepad next to the phone where the shopping list is written up. Each member of the family could write what they needed on there. You know like tampons or milk, canned tomatoes, shampoo, whatever we'd run out of... I always wrote on mum's shopping list "a boyfriend". It was done in humour with a tinge of honesty. Not that I wanted my mum to choose my boyfriend, I just wanted one. Still do. I'm just so crap at finding the right one.

When I get that boyfriend, I want sex. Lots of it. (Are you listening Santa? It isn't too much to ask to find a man that wants lots of sex, surely? And I don't mean with you Santa, you dirty old man! Yuck, I can't do it with anyone over about five years older than me. That is just gross.)

I love sex. There I've said it. I want it regularly. With someone I trust and love. Someone I can give myself over to. Not one night stands with random strangers. I've had plenty of that type of sex and it sucks (no pun intended because I never went there on a drunken one-nighter).

When I hear of my married friends who "can't be bothered any more" or are "too tired" or "don't have the time" or are "happy just snuggling on the couch after the kids have gone to bed" it astounds me. Maybe that is because I've wasted a huge amount of my 30s celibate but sex with the right person, hopefully the person you're committed too, is awesome! Or at least it should be! And if it is not, get help. See a professional.

3. A successful blog that entertains as well as educates


I want my blog to be funny, touching, entertaining and a place where I can tell my stories and my posts be the kind of blog posts that people want to read (therefore converting into page hits) and come back to read the next one. A blog so good that everyone wants to subscribe to it (hint, hint reader - sign up now!) And Santa, I'm pretty sure you can deliver this to me, you are magic, right?

I hope that people who have experienced anything similar to what I write about might find my blog as a place to come to help them feel like they are not alone. Or that it could help someone, even just one person, realise that no matter what shitty dirty hole their Rock Bottom looks like there's always a way out, somehow. I also want what I write about to help remove some of the stigma against mental health and addiction.

Santa, I also want to get invited to heaps of cool blogger events and meet more cool people and get free stuff. Is that bad? Oh, actually, Santa if you come through with item number one the free stuff doesn't matter, but I still really want to keep meeting new people through blogging events.

4. The ability to not crave for anything


Santa, listen carefully to this one: I want to not feel the need for anything. I don't want to crave lollies, chocolate, cake, ice cream, cocaine, wine, beer, Valium, cigarettes, weed, new clothes, shoes, sex... I want that hole inside me that sometimes feels so empty and hollow that I stuff it with anything just to feel complete to disappear. Sometimes the wanting is so intense and I don't know what will make it go away. And anyway, anything I do stuff in there is only a temporary fix.

I would like a permanent solution please Santa. Please fill the hole.

A little healthy yearning or ambition is fine, but that dark emptiness I so often feel within me can go to be replaced with a constant sense of satisfaction.

Santa, I'd like inner peace. Please.

5. Good health and happiness for all


Santa, please, the other stuff really doesn't matter, what I'd really like is good health and happiness for me and all my family - fuck it - make it for all the good people I know and the ones who read my blog. I'd like no harm to ever come to anyone of us. I'd like Noo to go through school without ever being bullied. I'd please like my parents to live forever without aging. Fuck, now I am getting a bit fantastical here. I don't want anyone of my family to ever die.


Ok, so I've managed to get deep again! I really shouldn't write late at night.

Now to tag some bloggers to get the list moving on:

Mummy Ate Me

Bachelormum Style

Project Kathryn

The Camera Chronicles

Mum of Adult Kids

Get cracking chicks! There's only 15 sleeps to go!

Thanks to Jess from Essentially Jess for starting this year's wishlist meme.


V.













Friday, December 7, 2012

Noo and me: Almost four years together

I am in the process of writing the fourth and final chapter of "The dad question", the series of posts I have written over the last six months or so about how I met Noo's father and consequently how Noo came to be. As it is nearly Noo's 4th birthday I've been thinking a lot about it and although there is obviously a happy ending, the story is still very difficult to write. I was so unwell at that time. I was in a place that I know I will never go back to in real life, but to write about it authentically I must go there emotionally to drag out the memories.

As part of the process I went back and reread the first three parts. You can too, they're just here:

Part 1: The day we met
Part 2: A new addiction
Part 3: Walking into the abyss

I also just reread this piece I wrote in mid July about how much I love Noo. We had just come out of a difficult stage: I had been unwell and he had been acting out and behaving really badly. Since then we have been in a golden era where we have been very in sync with one another. Discipline hasn't been a problem. That is until now.

Now I know kids move through stages in their lives, but sometimes I wish they'd stay in the easy ones for longer! Or, like, forever!

Noo is still my gorgeous boy but there are definitely some changes going on: It is 14 days until Noo's fourth birthday and he is showing all the signs of kid with a new attitude. Four year old attitude.  He's talking back, refusing to do as he is told, asking the same questions over and over when he doesn't like the initial response given, demanding things, and pushing boundaries like never before.

Noo is evolving into the next stage of being a kid. Now it is my turn to step up and into the next stage of being a parent, his only parent.

When it comes to discipline I need to find that balance between being a friend and a mother: To set the appropriate rules and boundaries so Noo can learn and thrive as an individual. So he can grow up as a well mannered, respectful and courteous person.

I also need to continue to keep him safe while teaching him how to take measured risks so he can experience for himself how to make decisions when life presents him with choices. And I want to achieve all this while continuing to nurture that deep connection we have as mother and son.


2008-2012 My beautiful boy and me


Generally speaking I think I am a pretty good mum. I have showered Noo with love and affection and given him my time and attention. I have been (mostly) patient with him. Through the early years I followed most of the attachment parenting methods. I never let him cry to sleep. I rarely yelled at him and I never hit him. I've kept him safe and listened to him and made him feel heard and validated as a person, even though he is still a such a little boy. I've spent time, money, love and thought on giving him the best experiences in life a kid of his age could want.

Of course, I've made mistakes. Every mother makes mistakes. I mean, crikey, I got the poor innocent child addicted to condensed milk, but other than that I think I've mostly made good decisions for him, including the decision to not have any contact with his father. Especially the decision not have his father in our life. I wouldn't even know how to find him now anyway. And I doubt he'd want to know us either. Or even remember who I was.

I'm proud of how I've parented Noo so far, particularly as I have battled depression, anxiety and PTSD all at varying degrees over his short life, and I continue to do so. I also got myself sober when I found out I was pregnant and I've stayed that way ever since. I thank Noo for the strength he has given me to carry on the fight, even when he has challenged me. And I thank my family for their ongoing support.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Noo is my saviour and has always given me the will to push on through even the murkiest times.

As my beautiful Noo Noo hurtles towards his fourth birthday and heads into his last year at preschool before moving into the next big stage of his life, I will cherish every moment. I will continue to do the best I can to be the best mum I can. I will not wish a single moment away. I will strive to provide him with everything he needs to continue to grow and thrive as the wonderful, kind, gentle, loving, adventurous person that he is.

Noo, my darling, I love you with all my heart and soul, with every fibre of my being. I always will.

V.




Linking up with the wonderful Grace at With Some Grace for #FYBF.









Monday, December 3, 2012

The BB sugar experiment: Off the wagon and on to Santa's Christmas Sugar Sleigh

I need help! A chocoholics anonymous meeting quick! I'm back on it!

On the Santa's Christmas Sugar Sleigh that is.


Merry Christmas and hand me the chocolate!


It has been 19 days since my birthday when I broke my seven week abstinence from sugar with chocolate birthday cake and I haven't been able to get back on the wagon since.

I ranted and raved about how good I felt being sugar free. How refreshed and energetic and headache free I was. You guys congratulated me and it felt great. I lost 5.5 kg in six weeks and it felt great. My skin was clear, my mind alert, my clothes looked great, I was back in my jeans again...

What the fuck happened? The silly season happened, that's what. Let's point the finger! 

Not only are my headaches back but I'm Hungry. All. The. Time. And Santa, I blame you.

So why is it so easy to fall back into old habits even though the new ones make you feel so much better?

I weighed myself this morning and I've only gained 1kg in 18 days which isn't bad but it isn't great either. And I haven't been binging on sugar over the last couple of weeks but I have indulged in ice cream once and chocolate quite frequently, particularly over the last week.

Chocolate is only in the apartment because of Christmas. I bought some for Noo's Advent Calendar and for donating to our preschool's Christmas raffle prize pool. I refuse to accept responsibility - Christmas decorations and messages of Christmas merriment and cheer are EVERYWHERE and are entering my subconscious as a message to indulge.

It is lucky my mum has got on the quit sugar bandwagon because mum and I can be such bad enablers of each other's addiction at any time of the year. My mum has actually been amazing this time around on a diet. She's there where I was before my birthday: determined to resist all temptation despite Christmas. She has dropped several kilos and is feeling so much better in herself and in her clothes. I'm really proud of her.

But it is Christmas. 'Tis the season of let's get merry and eat. And eat. And eat.

My mum makes the best Christmas pudding, brandy butter and custard in the whole world. No really. Absolutely divine. And mince tarts? YUM! There's no way I can resist such deliciousness that only happens once a year.

Do I give in and enjoy Christmas for what it is and restart on 1 January with a whole stack of New Year's resolutions?

Or do I fight Christmas? Get back on the horse (reindeer?) and rejoin the battle to resist all sugary, chocolaty, festive scrumptiousness?

How do you handle Christmas? If you're on the quit sugar bandwagon are you going to stay there or join me on the Santa's Sugar Sleigh until New Year's Day?


V.






Friday, November 30, 2012

Fussy eaters: Confectionery confessions

I know I carry on about this a lot but it is the parenting issue that causes me the most distress: My almost four year old rascal Noo has no real interest in food. Fussy Eater should be his middle name!

Noo's tiny little 11 month old niece Mala, on the other hand, eats everything that is given to her and consumes twice the amount of food in a day than her older cousin does even though she does have real food issues.

Noo could, if he wanted to, eat anything. Mala on the other hand has serious food allergies to dairy, nuts, sesame seeds and eggs. Her current weight is also considered "off the chart" as far as what she should weigh for her age (according to those silly growth charts that cause a lot of parents mostly needless worry!).

My sister and her husband have always been careful about Mala's diet, not just in regards to the foods she is allergic too, but in limiting her sugar intake as well. Yo has always been vigilant with feeding times and patient, yet persistent when it come to the long, boring slog that feeding a little one can be.

Mala's parents have always fed their little girl the most delicious combos of mashed meat, veggies and grains, along with fresh fruit and soy and other non-dairy products suitable for kids her age. I am sure this why Mala has an awesome appetite!


YUM! I would eat this: Mala's lunch today.


When I picked Noo up from daycare last Thursday I noticed on the board outside the kitchen that the menu of the day included fish fingers, veggies and chips. I made a comment to the teacher standing by that he mustn't have eaten much that day. I made that assumption because I rarely see Noo eat vegetables. And fish fingers? Forget it.

The teacher went on to tell me that he ate everything off his plate, even the veggies with a little coaxing. I was gobsmacked, if a little sceptical... or maybe it was just defeat I felt.

Noo eats well at school but terribly with me.

I know I've discussed Noo's food issues in this blog several times over the years. I even admitted I felt responsible for his terrible eating habits when I wrote this post about my fussy eater and how I thought his consumption of sugar could possibly be to blame.

Confession time...


Noo has always been a terrible eater. From the moment he was born to this very day he has been a pain in the arse with food. As his mother, his only parent, I feel I am the one responsible for this and I have struggled with how to deal with it, especially considering my own sugar addiction.

Do you want to know my worst parenting secret?

On my mum's advice, I used condensed milk on Noo's dummy all his first year of life. There, I've said it. It was so effective in keeping him soothed and quiet I became addicted to it as much as Noo did. There was always a little pot of the sweet white syrup in the nappy bag along side the nappies and wipes.

My parents thought it was a completely normal practice to dip a dummy in condensed milk before popping it into an infant's mouth. They didn't do it to hurt their precious grandson and neither did I. We just wanted him to be happy... and soothed.

But think about that! (Actually, you probably don't have to think that hard to know that what we did was terrible.) Here was a baby that refused to attach to the breast, was bottle fed and also had a dummy dipped in condensed milk everyday, several times a day. Sugar was a dietary staple from the very beginning.

I know. Bad. Very bad. Go on. Judge me. I judge me! Call DOCS now. Actually, you better not, they have more serious cases of abuse to work on!

I knew in my heart it was wrong but it worked so well to keep him quiet and as I was living with my parents I went along with it. My parents are strong people and I can be heavily influenced by them. I cannot blame them though. I am the mother, I make the decisions and I should have put my foot down. That first year of Noo's life was so challenging. I just did what I thought worked. I couldn't look toward the future to see what the long term consequences might be. I was just surviving day to day.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mala is a mere 11 months old and eats twice as much as Noo does now at nearly four years old. Her mother never caved to the pressure from mum and dad to give her baby condensed milk (and yes, they did suggest she do it!). As I said earlier, Mala is allergic to dairy foods so it is so lucky Yolanda stayed strong!


YUM! Home made beef and vegetable stew then watermelon for lunch.
She also had half an avocado and some baby crackers.
Oh and some boob to top up.


Now I believe Noo's taste buds have been ruined by sugar in his first year but still I allow him to eat lollies and chocolate. Even when I gave it up. I am so weak at saying no to him. Over Halloween we had heaps of the crap laying around the house. Although I never let him sit there and binge he pretty much has a couple of chocolate or lollies everyday. Add that to the BBQ sauce on fish fingers (which he ate for me earlier in the week!), the Nutella on toast, the fruit flavoured yoghurt squeezies... The sugar load adds up!

Below is a little collage I did a little a couple of weeks ago for a confessional post like this. It has just taken a while to write it!


Check out the sugar hidden in nearly every corner of the kitchen!


The other vice I let Noo indulge in is what my skinny little redhead calls a "Warm Chocolate". It is a hangover from the days when he used to suck on a warm bottle of milk more than a few times a day. "Hot Bo!", "Hot Bo!", Noo would call after putting the sofa cushions in position for him to lay back and suck back the warm and comforting liquid that became a meal replacement for a fussy, lazy eater.

When I was certain Noo's milk addiction was keeping him from eating properly I threw out every bottle and teat in the house. Not long after "Mama", Noo's dummy, was disposed of too. But then came along Warm Chocolate in a sippy cup.


Transformer the cat, Noo and his warm chocolate, Peekaboo the bird
and Marco the dog in bed earlier this week.


"Please, Mummy, can I have a warm chocolate?" 


Do you know how many times a day I hear this request? Ah, probably between 4 and 100 times! He goes straight into position on the couch (or in bed), cushion in just the right spot behind him so he can balance his Warm Chocolate, Transformer and the iPad all at once.

I'll admit there have been plenty of times I've let him feast on chocolate milk because I haven't had the time or energy to fight him to eat proper food. This is where I take responsibility but we are finally making some changes.


2013: the year we finally give up milk as a meal substitute


Just like with Hot Bo and Mumma, we are giving up Warm Chocolate.

Here is my plan of attack:

  1. Throw out all but two sippy cups until Noo's 4th birthday on 22 December when remaining two sippy cups will be chucked (I can't make the kid go cold turkey!).
  2. Cut out night time Warm Chocolates immediately (started this on Monday this week). 
  3. Give Noo an awesome mug he can call his own for his 4th birthday so he can sit up at the dining table and have a warm drink in the morning like a grown up.

I'm hoping by taking away the comfort of laying down to suck back sweetened milk will reduce the attraction of the Warm Chocolate. 

By not letting him have any warm drinks at night means he will feel more hungry and therefore more compelled to eat the food I provide for him.

I will also stop buying chocolates and lollies... after his birthday and Christmas.

Fingers crossed this works with as few battles as possible. I've just got to take responsibility and get this little kid eating for me.

Do you have a fussy eater? Any tactics you'd like to share on how to get fussy eaters to, well, EAT?


V.

Linking up with the ever awesome Grace from With Some Grace
to do a bit of floggin'




Monday, November 26, 2012

My week according to Instagram - 25 November

A day behind! But better late then never. Here's this week's Instagram collage:

From top left to right: Sunday - our Christmas tree is up; Saturday - my new Diesel watch, lunch at Ikea; Friday - whacky photo at The Rocks Bizarre, Noo and his caricature, the hoola hoop jam down at The Rocks, Noo and the bunny that looks like Transformer, bunny hurdle racing, Noo standing in his convict ancestor's chains, the Queen Victoria Building tree, The Willy Lead (the WTF of the month!), Transformer gets around with C-P30, Noo and the David Jones Christmas windows, the view from the Hyde Park Barracks, Noo and Transformer having a swing in the hammocks; Thursday - The cat that got the cream, Transformer and Peekaboo enjoy breakfast together; Wednesday - corn chowder for dinner, Noo falls asleep in Nanny and Pa's bed with Transformer; Tuesday - piccolo Palomino Espresso style, Yo in front of the MCA, stray nut (who could have done that I wonder?), Yo's silhouette, Miss Mala and her mum.  


Linking up with Tina at Tina Gray Dot Me. Check her out! She's rad.








Sunday, November 18, 2012

My week according to Instagram

Another week passes through the lens of my iPhone:


From top left down each column: Visual Poetry word heart; Saturday people watching at our local markets; tourist who was obviously having a good time in Aus; highly filtered selfie; some entertaining police handing out directions and lollies to market goers in The Rocks; Spider-Man at yum cha; selfie on the way out of our building; Friday farewell party at preschool with Noo and his best friend; my superhero; rainy Friday morning having brekky in front of our screens, Thursday catching up with some old mates; Wednesday discovering my mum still uses her old adding machine; my gorgeous sister helping me celebrate my birthday on Tuesday; 38th birthday selfies breaking 7 week chocolate ban


Linking up with one of my favourite bloggers,
Tina Gray!






Friday, November 16, 2012

The BB sugar experiment: The emotional stages of addiction

It is three months since I first started thinking about dealing with my addiction to sugar. Yes, despite what some people say, my belief is that sugar is addictive. I have gone through the same emotional stages of addiction in my effort to get sober from sugar addiction as I did when I gave up my other vices.





Just thinking about quitting sugar was akin to me contemplating giving up cocaine and alcohol back in the mid 00s. At first it seemed like a ridiculous idea and likely impossible to achieve, but somewhere, deep in my heart, I knew I had to do something. Too many things in my life were not right and all the indicators pointed to that one substance: Sugar.

I started Googling "sugar", "quitting sugar", "is sugar bad"... Those types of search terms. I wanted to know the truth about sugar. I was looking for a way out. I was in denial about my addiction and I wanted someone somewhere to tell me it was ok to keep eating that delicious substance. Kind of like wanting to believe that a couple of glasses of red wine a day was good for me. Or a gram or two of cocaine on the weekend was just me being young and cool and having a good time when really it was destroying me, one line at a time.

My sister or my mum would make comments that maybe Noo's issues with food were because I allowed him to eat too much sugary crap. I got defensive and rebuked that I didn't give him that much crap food, and anyway, how could they know there would be a connection? Maybe Noo was just a fussy eater. Just born that way! The both of them pissed me off. Plus, I'd already had to give up so many of my coping methods (like drink, drugs and ciggies) and I was getting angry at the thought of having to give up chocolate too.

I bought Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar and David Gillespie's The Sweet Poison Quit Plan. I started thinking about just how much sugar Noo and I bought and ate. We weren't just eating the added sugar that is found in bottled pasta sauces and yoghurt, we were also eating a huge amount chocolate and lollies. My lapband had helped me lose nearly 20kg but I'd put 6kg back on which made me realise I needed to do more and I made the decision Noo and I would give up sugar together.

Three weeks into our sugar sobriety I relapsed. I just couldn't let go of my crutch. I started bargaining with myself that I didn't have to give up sugar, I could just get my lapband tightened up and start heavily restricting my portion sizes again, but still get chocolate though. Or I could just accept myself as a fat girl and learn to love myself the way I was. Both of these options, while plausible, still didn't address my feeling physically like shit and my failure yet again to start doing something about my health and my weight was making me feel depressed.

On Friday 21 September I received an email from a friend who had signed up to Droptober - Just lose 2kg. I looked into this program and thought this is something I could commit to. From that first day I found out about Droptober something clicked and I stopped eating chocolate and lollies. A couple of weeks went by and I was eating more fruit and vegetables and good healthy meat. Before I knew it I wasn't even craving the white stuff any more. I became more aware of my body's hunger signals which came around three times a day rather than having that constant need to put something in my gob which comes with sugar addiction.

By the end of Droptober, the penny dropped: Not only had I lost 3.5kgs, got my taste buds back for good food and my cooking mojo returning after a long absence, but the headaches I'd been suffering for years had disappeared too. I'd been to the doctor so many times about these headaches that the next step was going to be a referral for a CT scan.

Five weeks sober from sugar and my headaches were gone!

Then the final proof that my sugar addiction is toxic to me was the return of the dreaded headaches this week after I indulged in my birthday cake on Tuesday and Wednesday and last night. Seven weeks of feeling healthy, energetic, well slept, and craving free came to an end on my 38th birthday.

It is not all doom and gloom though. Oh no. In fact, I couldn't be happier! I have finally reached the acceptance phase of the emotional stages of addiction. I have accepted that sugar (that is all sugar, minus whole fruit) is toxic and the deliciousness of it does not outweigh the cost eating it has on my body. Just like alcohol, sugar does bad things to me, just like nuts might do to someone who is allergic to them. I am allergic to sugar: It makes me anxious, depressed, moody, affects my concentration, gives me dreadful headaches and makes me fat, lethargic and stops me from being the person I want to be.

So back on the wagon I go. Being in the acceptance phase doesn't mean that it is going to be easy from here on in, but it is better than when I was in the denial phase.

Sobriety, whether from booze or from sugar takes constant work and vigilance.

Are you on the quit sugar bandwagon too? How are you going with it? What consequences do you suffer from when you overdo it with the white stuff?


V.



Linking up with the fabulous Grace at With Some Grace for FYBF.









Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday morning, easy like

It is 7.27 Sunday morning. Sun is streaming through our east facing apartment. The toy car world Noo abandoned last night is casting long shadows across the expensive sisal I spend every day trying to protect from the hands, feet and mouth of the three year old who rules this place.


I heart Sunday mornings


As I look over my laptop and through the wide balcony doors I can see a trickle of traffic heading north and on to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. All is quiet, except for the sound of my overly long bright pink gelled nails tapping across the keyboard, thanks to some much needed and appreciated double glazed windows.

Noo is sound asleep in his little room he loves to call his own but of course we share. Tucked under his arm is his new best mate: Transformer. A black and white cat that has become the first plush toy to gain his love. It was a gift from a woman my mum has called friend since the 1960s. A woman who's generosity with little gifts I have known since I was a child.

As I sit here I contemplate what to tell you over my first cup of black Campos Superior Blend. The guilt I feel about the time between posts is incredible. But why am I feeling guilty? Who do I answer to? This is my blog. My project. My love. I have some wonderful readers that I know regularly check in but they are not turning on every morning only to be disappointed by the fact The Babbling Bandit hasn't babbled again.

The guilt lays with me. Each post that I write is done with love and pure enjoyment and when I don't blog I miss it. I admonish myself constantly for the time I spend staring at this screen; writing, creating, reading, absorbing, organising and collating. Or just staring. Dreaming. Ideas flowing in and out, around and about. So many ideas of subjects to write about. To explore. To personalise. But I don't produce enough output. That's where the admonishment comes in.

I want to learn and I want to connect. I become overwhelmed with excitement when I find an issue  that resonates with me and I want to explore it, dissect it, disseminate it with my fingerprints all over it. But then it slips out of my head and I'm lost again. Where was I? Why did I feel so good a minute ago? What was that flash of brilliance? Where's the rewind button?

The doctors say I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I got my second opinion last week that agreed with the first. The medication I take is helping but I could use a higher dose because my mind still wanders, my ideas still dart around, my vagueness still renders me mute for moments at a time.

I cannot tolerate the higher dose. If you've been reading here a while, you'll remember what happened when I attempted to take more of the methylphenidate or Concerta as is its brand name. The anxiety it causes is too much for me.

So I have had a week away from babblingbandit.me. I've not gone anywhere of course. My life rolls on whether I write about it or not. But despite my cocktail of medications I take every morning, despite my mood having benefited from me being almost completely sugar free, I've had an 'off' week. Off mood, off the computer. We all have them. And there's nothing wrong with that.

A new week begins. The sun is shining. We are heading to the Newtown Festival. Newtown: My spiritual home. Where I grew up. Where four generations of my family laid roots. Where so many memories of my past float around I can almost hear them speak to me. Near where my son was conceived and later born. More on Newtown another time.

Today life is good. Off and online.

What are you going to do on this beautiful Sunday? Even if the weather isn't good where you are?


V.

Disclaimer: Campos Coffee did not sponsor this post. Although, should they ever want to work with me, one of their most loyal and long standing customers, I'm available!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Recipe: Harissa roasted veggies with chicken and brown rice

Lately I've been babbling a lot about the return of my cooking mojo (see here and here).  Rather than teasing you with just food photos on my Instagram feed, I thought I'd share with you some of my recipes of late. Some are original babblingbandit.me creations but some have been adapted from other sources.

This one has been adapted from Taste.com.au which is probably my most used recipe source. I also love the Fairfax Cuisine website. On Taste.com.au they call it Brown rice and harissa roasted vegetable salad. I have jazzed it up a bit and have christened it...

Harissa roasted veggies with chicken and brown rice


Harissa roast veggies with chicken and brown rice

What you need:


1 cup brown rice
1 medium zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 small red capsicum 
1 medium red onion
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of harissa powder
500 grams organic minced chicken
1-2 tablespoon pine nuts
Juice of half a lemon
Store bought hummus 
Handful of chopped coriander and mint

What to do:


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

2. Add brown rice to a pot of boiling water (around 3-4 cups), return to boil then turn down to medium heat and boil gently for 30 minutes. Strain. 

3. Chop veggies into small pieces, keeping onion separate.

4. Mix 1 tbsp of the olive oil with the harissa in a large bowl.

5. Add chopped veggies excluding the onion to bowl of harissa paste. Stir ensuring all the vegetables are coated in paste. Spread veggie mix on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake for approximately 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

6. Meanwhile, add remaining olive oil to large frypan or wok and saute red onion on medium-low heat until onion has softened and gone translucent.

7. Add chicken mince to pan, stirring to break up chunks and mix together with onion.

8. While chicken is cooking, in a separate pan gently fry pine nuts to bring out the flavour. You can do this under the grill as long as you watch the nuts closely because they will burn easily. Also, probably not so easy if you've got your veggies still roasting away in the oven!

9. When chicken is cooked through stir cooked rice through the chicken and onion mix. Then combine roasted veggies to the mix, as well as the pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper.

10. Remove chicken, veggie and rice mix from the heat. Stir through freshly squeezed lemon juice.

11. Serve with a dollop of store bought hummus, chopped coriander and mint and with either lemon or fig wedges.

Serves 4

I made this for my dad and me during the week and dad loved it! It is seriously yum bowl food that is sugar free, low in fat and is packed with flavour.

And obviously you can make this without the chicken if you're having a meat free night.


V.



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

babblingbandit.me does Droptober: It was all about the food

One of the best things about registering for Droptober - Just lose 2kg has been the return of my cooking mojo (for pictures see here). When I came home from London five years ago I lost it. I wrote about it back in 2010 so this has clearly been a long term issue. My cooking mojo has come and gone since 2007 but mostly I have been a lazy eater. Especially this year.

Back when I was working the usual Monday to Friday I always spent half my afternoon (if not more) thinking about what I would cook in the evening for dinner. I looked for recipes online or in my many cookbooks and then I picked up anything I needed from the supermarket on the way home. Preparing and cooking food was a way to wind down after a big day at the office. I loved it.

Post my break down in 2007, as my interest in food waned my waistline expanded - weird, right? You'd think I should have lost weight if I didn't care about food any more. But I replaced my drug and alcohol addictions with chocolate, lollies and cake. I ate whatever was easiest: cheese and crackers for dinner, or pizza delivery or greesy Chinese takeaway or coffee and biscuits. Lots of high fat and sugar loaded, low nutrition food.

I tried Lite n Easy, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. None of them inspired me to feel any love for fresh fruit and veggies. I even discussed it with my old psychiatrist: Why don't I care about cooking and eating well when it used to be such a part of my daily routine? She thought I might have an association with the whole preparing/cooking/eating ritual with having a glass of wine or four. But I didn't think that was it. Before I lived in London, I never drank during the week and I was cooking most nights then. There had to be more to it.

Now most of my family are watching their weight in the lead up to summer. Even my parents have a plan to get back on the weight loss bandwagon starting from 1 November. Yolanda was trying to give our mum a pep talk the other day to get her psyched. Yo told mum all she had to do was the following, for just one month to see what happens:
  1. Quit all sugar
  2. Stop eating butter and cheese
  3. Eat red meat only once a week
  4. Walk every day
That shouldn't be too hard. Yo didn't say she had to count calories or write down what she ate and calculate points or go to the gym. But our mum, the retired chef, exclaimed: "I'll just have to lose interest in food!". Now that is a weird theory, for sure. It makes the assumption that if you want to lose weight you can only eat boring food not worth having an interest in. I know, and I bet you know, that is so not the truth!

Personally, I believe the opposite and participating in Droptober has helped me realise:

When I feel good and care about myself, when I 'heart my body' and want to treat it right, my love affair with cooking and eating good food is reignited. 
The colour and vibrancy, the smells, textures and tastes of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and nuts, seeds and legumes and grains... become alive again!


How good does this look? YUM!



So here I am, on the evening of the last day of Droptober. As of this morning I am DOWN 3.5kg since the beginning of the month, far exceeding the Droptober goal of losing just 2kg but 2.5kg short of personal goal of 6kg.

But I have achieved a HUGE amount:


I have gone 40 DAYS without a single bit of chocolate

I have been (almost) sugar free for 40 days

My mood has been stable for the whole month (minus 48 hours last weekend)

My energy levels have been high

The headaches I've been suffering from for YEARS have completely disappeared

And, last but by no means least, I have raised $330 (as of this evening)
for the Droptober charities Variety - The Children's Charity and Kid's for Life.


How good is all that!

Rather than singing yeehah and gorging on the nearest bit of chocolate I'm on to the next challenge: Sarah Wilson's "I quit sugar pre-Christmas program" and the BB sugar experiment continues. Plenty more on that to come.


V.






Sunday, October 28, 2012

babblingbandit.me does Droptober: The home stretch

Only three more days left of Droptober - Just lose 2kg. This month has gone so quickly, like I wrote earlier this week, it has flown. As the 31st rolls near I can feel my rock solid resolve to lose weight and get healthy start to waver ever so slightly. I felt the addiction centre of my brain, which has always had such control over me, try to bully the tiny, but growing willpower sector. If there was a chocoholics anonymous meeting nearby, I'd go. I need someone to place their hands on my shoulders, look me in the eyes and say: you can do this.

Maybe I should just look in the mirror and say it to myself: You can do this Vanessa!

I've been feeling a bit iffy these last few days. I can't quite put a name to it. Not physically off but mentally out of kilter. The morning I woke up and wrote about how I heart my body I felt great. More than great: hell, I posted a frigging picture of myself in my undies on the world wide web for all to see. There's no way I would have done that a few months ago. Probably not even last month!

Friday morning, I'd literally just woken up, my eyes still puffy from sleep and my hair boofy from rubbing against my pillow through the night. I had no makeup on, no product in my mane and I felt natural and healthy and happy and satisfied with myself and my body. So I took the snap, wrote the piece and clicked on that publish button with only a hint of doubt about what I was doing.

By Friday afternoon that awesome buzz of confidence and happiness started to fade and I don't know why. It might have been from spending the morning with Noo who started every sentence while we were out with "Mummy, I want". It might have been because I had made a commitment to help some people in the afternoon but cancelled at the last minute. It might have been because my parents were back in the city for a week. Or it might have been because I broke my sugar ban by finishing off Noo's Killer Python therefore adding pure candy sugar to my diet for the first time in weeks, making me feel guilty as well as kind of disgusting.


I blame you Killer Python!
Photo source


The morning before I saw Shrink for the first time in about six weeks. It had been great to have such a break from the never ending navel gazing that is self analysis. When I walked into his office I felt terrific and I kind of wondered to myself why I was there. I would only talk with him about what had been going on in between appointments - the superficial stuff. I didn't want my great mood brought down by dragging out and picking apart the past.

We talked about dating and dieting, about my medications and my upcoming appointment with another psychiatrist to get a second opinion on my ADHD diagnosis. I told him that although I'd been dating a few blokes, I didn't think I'd found the elusive Mr Right just yet.

The thing is, I'm not bothered that either of guys I have been dating are not The One. I've been enjoying their company and I've really loved getting to know some new people. Challenging myself to push out of my usual comfort zones (eg ProBlogger Event and the online dating experiences) have been very confidence boosting. My diet has been fantastic (except for aforementioned Killer Python) and my three day pseudo juice detox I mentioned the other day helped me drop another kilo.

So why has my mood shifted down a notch?

Time for some more analysing? Or wait til it passes?

I want to feel naturally high on life everyday. I want to feel contentment and satisfaction and love and patience and gratitude. Every. Single. Day.

But I want never gets, right? At least that is what I tell Noo.

Over these remaining 72 hours of Droptober I pledge to do the following:


  • Keep away from sugar and chocolate and keep to my healthy low carb, high protein diet.
  • Exercise at our gym every morning on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Stay positive.
  • Have fun.


Are you an over analyser like me? Is that even possible? Do you find you can feel so good one minute and then seemingly out of the blue feel down? Or at least a bit sideways?

I hope you have had a great weekend wherever you are and that you start the week tomorrow with a smile on your face.

And don't forget it is not too late to throw a couple of dollars in the direction of Variety - The Children's Charity through my Droptober page.


V.


Friday, October 26, 2012

I heart my body... but it's taken a long time to get here

I heart my body.

There! I've said it.

I heart my body.

Hmmm, feels strange to say. Like trying on a new pair of swimmers. Not sure if it fits right away.

I heart my body.

This wasn't true until recently, very recently. In fact, I've always actively hated my body. It has been the main source of a lifetime of feeling defectiveness and shame.

I heart my body.

It feels so good everytime I type out those letters.

I heart my body.

My knock knees, my gummy smile, my rough and bumpy skin, my tuckshop arms. Even my belly which has been an enemy of mine for so long. But now we're friends! Best friends.

I heart my body!

Despite all I've put it through. The thrashing with booze and drugs, the disrespect I showed it with my promiscuity. My body is still working. It still holds me up, moves me from place to place.

I heart my body!

Even when I was at rock bottom and my mind was broken my body made my son. It took in those tiny cells, accepted them, nurtured them and allowed them to grow and thrive. My body gave me life. My baby. My saviour.

I HEART MY BODY!

I'll shout it from the hilltops!

This body is mine. I will radically accept it for all its flaws. I will love it and treat it with respect and acknowledge it for all it gives me and will continue to give me until the day I die.

Here it is. My body. I heart you.

[photo removed]


V.





weheartlife.com






Tuesday, October 23, 2012

babblingbandit.me does Droptober: 8 days to go

I just cannot believe it is the 23rd of Droptober already! Where have the last 22 days gone?

There were four days in Melbourne for the ProBlogger Training Event 2012. We also had my mum's birthday lunch on the first Saturday of the month. Um... what else? Looking after Miss Mala Moo, my beautiful niece. Several dates. Playing with Noo. The odd spot of blogging...

It catches up alright! 

Now there are only eight days left until Droptober is over. I'm feeling the pressure to drop this weight in time. I started off really well and between when I registered on 24 September through to one week into the month, I was down 2.4kg. Awesome start! I've had two training sessions with the lovely Mike Jarosky and I've done as much incidental exercise as I possibly can. 

My eating has been better than it has been in a very long time: I'm 29 days chocolate free and, except for a few minor slips, I've been completely sugar free. I've continued to eat fruit but only around two pieces a day. I've pretty much stuck to three meals a day with either a piece of fruit or a handful of raw nuts for a snack.


Some of the yummy whole food I've eaten during Droptober - Just lose 2kg!


Despite all this exemplary behaviour I haven't lost any more since that first weigh in. Yo, my sister, keeps telling me I look good and should stop weighing myself. But when the numbers on the scale go down it gives me motivation! I thrive off watching those digits get smaller and smaller. But they're not helping me while they hover around the same place.

Why are they torturing me? Why aren't I losing this weight? 

You know, I don't think I'd feel bad about the numbers on the scale if it wasn't for the pressure of Droptober and the want to lose weight as promised to my sponsors (don't forget it isn't too late to sponsor me too! It is all for charity!). But on the other hand, if it wasn't for Droptober I wouldn't have this rock solid commitment to keep pushing past what I see on the scales to keep up the good eating and exercise.

So with just over a week left I am reinforcing my commitment to change by undertaking a three day juice detox. Yolanda and her husband are in it with me which helps enormously. We're living on mostly veggie juice for three days with only one light meal a day. Fingers crossed this is the kick start my body needs to start dropping the kegs again.

Wish me luck! 

How do you stay motivated when trying to lose weight?


V.

Linking up with Jess for #IBOT