Tuesday, 18 November 2014

5 Reasons Why I'm Seeing An Exercise Physiologist

So I'm seeing an exercise physiologist through Body to Balance. It's my first time, but I'm liking their approach. It's very different to when I've seen physiotherapists, chiropractors, or osteopaths. Voila - my top five reasons to see an exercise physiologist!

#5. Hands Off! Exercise physiologists do not perform manipulations. In my case, manipulations are a really bad idea - even gentle massage post-surgery has been a big no-no. A hands-off approach is ideal for people in the same situation as me, or people who do not require manipulation for what they wish to achieve, or who really don't like getting touchy-feely with someone they don't know.

#4. Diversity! They cater for lots of different things. In my case, I have three aims - build core post-surgery, regain a little of my flexibility, and build muscle out of fat. These are pretty wide-reaching aims, but my exercise physiologist took it in her stride and did me up a plan to cover all three without aggravating things that shouldn't be aggravated.

#3. Variety! An exercise physiologist uses lots of different equipment, as well as no equipment at all! My current routine uses a Thera Band for resistance training, a towel, and that's about it. However, they also use other fun things like fitballs, foam rollers, and yoga mats. Activities can include aerobic and anaerobic exercises, and my current plan has two different routines on it to switch things up from day to day so I don't get bored.

#2. Convenience! You're doing most of this at home or at the gym, so aside from your consultation appointments (usually one to assess, one to set up, and after that, as many as you need to check in for updates when your goals change), you don't have to worry about attending the clinic. You can do the exercises when it suits you, whether that be 6pm when you get home from work, 11pm before bed, or 5am when you wake up. Squeeze it in at home, or add it to your gym routine. Flexibility counts.

#1. Empowerment! Yup, it's all you, baby! It is up to YOU to make the exercises happen in your schedule. It is up to YOU to self-monitor to make sure you are challenging yourself without pushing it ridiculously hard. It is up to YOU whether you increase your reps and sets, and up to YOU whether you increase your resistance or weights - all of this after the exercise physiologist gives you the parameters to aim between, of course! The great thing about this is that as you see yourself achieving your goals, you can also be empowered by the knowledge that YOU did this! You were given the plan, yes, but YOU did the hard work. Well done, you!

So those are my five reasons why I'm seeing an exercise physiologist rather than an osteo, chiro, or physio. I should note I'm not a healthcare professional so please do accept this as my personal opinion - consult an awesome surgeon or GP for a referral if you decide this sounds like it might fit your needs!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

I Got Swag!

Hello everyone! Bit of a break behind me.

Today, I went and picked up my eBay winning - a rocker to replace the one I brought with me from my childhood home and was broken at our old house. Check it out!


Pretty, huh?

At the moment, it's sitting in the lounge room where we knit on Thursdays (yes, I have my own stitch and bitch group! How cool is that =D). It's lightweight, quiet when I rock it and COMFORTABLE - it really supports my back. I'm thinking that in the future I'll probably reupholster it or cover it to match whatever colour we decide to repaint in, and put it in there.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Review #1 - What To Expect When You're Expecting

In my semi-incapacitated state, I've turned to Khocolateman's suggestion of using our new TV - and this afternoon curled up with a new blanket and my pillow to watch 'What To Expect When You're Expecting'.

See a proper review, and this picture, here.

Disclaimer - I've never written a movie review before so cut me some slack for that - but also cut me some slack over the fact that I refuse to give away the entire storyline whenever I re-tell any story. This one, however - well, there's only so much deviation they can fit in. Five couples = five (mostly) broody women, five (mostly) supportive men, and a whole lot of pregnancy, labour, drama, and baby stuff. One adoption. One really sad part. The rest is pretty much self-explanatory, but there were a few highs and lows for me.

I'm not going to lie. My favourite bits were not the mum bits, but the dad bits. Chris Rock is hysterical. That whole 'dudes group' thing had me in fits of laughter ('Trust me, after seeing a baby come out of there, it's a...'). I am a MASSIVE Rebel Wilson fan, too, so seeing her as Wendy's assistant, Janice, was great ('She's like a pregnancy unicorn!'). I liked Rosie (Anna Kendrick), and almost cried over her story - I was so pleased to see 'The Cheesy Pig' feature in the final scenes! And the piece de la resistance - seeing Cooper's 'mum' and overbearing dad deal with babies who just won't sleep (my biggest fear of what might happen in the early years) after having such a perfect nine month wait (and 'coming first' in life in general!) - that was karma, baby (pun intended).

I was not a big fan of Cameron Diaz. I really liked her in her the 'Charlie's Angels' movies, and in 'Something About Mary' - but I didn't like her Michelle Bridges-esque personality in this movie. I think she suits 'sweeter' roles, somehow. And while Jennifer Lopez's character's storyline was really touching I felt like there was just way too much going on at the same time. Job - house - husband freaking out - adoption - a bit too much. Maybe three of those would have been better. It sort of seemed to detract from the importance/significance of the adoption.

Gotta say though, it was fun, and not a difficult one to sit through. I got so into it that I forgot to knit, so I'll have to find something else to watch after dinner I guess (gee, what a travesty).

Off to be domestic,

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Green Smoothies

Sorry for not keeping up as promised. I've had two days more or less in bed after pulling something in my back again - all while putting powder in the dishwasher. Seriously. Not even a good story this year - the last time it was falling on my butt during roller derby practise, and the first time was doing karate (though that was the cause - picking up a piece of paper put me over the edge).

ANYWAY.

I wanted to share my breakfasts with you. I love breakfast food, but not at breakfast time (mmm Wolfhound breakfast for dinner...). Even when I was little, not so much a fan. I can remember my grandmother being horrified when she came to look after us once because all I had for breakfast was a glass of milk and two arrowroot biscuits - I just didn't like eating when I first woke up. I had a love/hate relationship with it all through uni - my second last year I went nuts over porridge, and my last year I was really good at eating eggs on toast. Overseas, I used to eat a sandwich and drink a coffee on the way to work. I was probably at my healthiest there - mainly cos I ate them while walking four ks there, and often walked the four ks home as well!

It took me until 2011 to discover green smoothies, but I got on them, and then gave it a rest for a while. Now I've discovered my perfect recipe - with a few variations now and then to stop me getting bored of them.

Green smoothie Green smoothie
Smoothies!

Base is always 5 chopped strawberries, 3 big scoops (or equivalent) of watermelon, a packed cup of baby spinach leaves, all topped off with Nudie Juice orange juice (with the bits still in). The two above are variations - one has mango instead of watermelon, the other has cherries and chia seeds on top. Today I was out of spinach, so I diced half a cucumber and whacked it in instead. Fresh, filling and yummy.

I make a point of preparing enough berries and melon to last me five days out of the week. I've never wasted fruit doing that - once diced and refrigerated it's good for nearly two weeks if you keep it in good Tupperware. Saturday and Sunday are usually my days off, as we often have brunch or lunch as our social meal of the day. Otherwise, I might be naughty and get a brekky wrap from McDonalds on an occasional Friday, and have my smoothie on a weekend day to make up for it.

Other things I like in my green smoothies include blueberries, raspberries (are you seeing a theme here?), pineapple, really ripe rockmelon, flaxseed meal, almond meal and a little bit of ginger. I generally avoid bananas and dairy-based smoothies in the morning; they don't leave me feeling as refreshed.

Ciao for now,

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Great Water Debate

There are a lot of people out there who tell me I should drink more water. My husband. My mother. Most of my friends (who do not work in classrooms). But I'm here to alert you to a little-thought-of truth for all us teachers out there.

YOU CAN'T LEAVE A CLASSROOM TO USE THE BATHROOM.

Yup. When the kids aren't in the room, sure, that's fine. But let's think about a typical day. Arrive at school 7:30am (having had a green smoothie around 6:15am). Bathroom break. Work through til 8:45am when students arrive - BLACKOUT. Unless you have APT/release time, you're not leaving that room til 10:45am. So recess rocks up, and what do you know, you have duty. That leaves you with ten minutes to go to the bathroom, have something to eat, check your pigeon hole for messages, talk to other adults, etc. And in our staff bathroom, there are two toilet cubicles and 34 female staff members. You can imagine how that turns out. Then another two hour block - again BLACKOUT. Not no way not no how are you going to the bathroom. The next break you have is almost an hour long. In that time, you might have a student staying in to complete work, you might have a half hour duty, you might have first aid duty, you might have an urgent phonecall from a parent of an at-risk child to attend to, or you might be supervising a club group. Yup. Chances are, half an hour to get your personal business done. Then one last hour of class... and then freedom...? Not quite. Chances are you have a parent-teacher meeting. Or a level meeting. Or a unit meeting. Or a leadership debrief and PD. Or a staff meeting. It's hard to get up and walk out of those without looking rude. I guess they're the equivalent of a board meeting or a meeting with a client for those of you who work in the normal world.

I did do the three litres of water per day thing for a while in 2008 (the last time I lost a bunch of weight in one hit). I drank about two litres before I started teaching at 8:45, then the last litre before lunch (this took some trial and error to work out). The bonus was, I had ten minutes' break every hour so I had the luxury (!) of being able to go to the bathroom. And even then, there were a few times where I was out the door before my students when the bell went!

Just to get this straight, this isn't a 'poor little me' post about how hard teachers have it. I know there are plenty of professions where this is an issue (I can't think of too many where it's quite as pronounced. Except maybe in medicine. Those nurses are freakin' legends. This is just to get you thinking. This is why I don't drink a lot of water - at least during term time. Drink it too early, you're likely to rupture something waiting to go to the bathroom. Drink it after school, and you're up half the night. There is no winning in this situation!

I'm trying to drink more while I'm off. I drank lots in hospital because I wasn't very hungry but I knew painkillers on an empty stomach - in the quantity they had me on - was a baaaad idea. But again, not a lot of water - milk, tomato juice (mmmmyum), apricot juice and more milk.

Which brings me to point number two.

In this great country of ours, fluoride is added to the water. Overseas, namely in Korea, I was always told not to drink the water, and to get a filter or buy bottled water. Same goes in lots of places I've travelled to. But y'know, I've never had a problem. I grew up in Sydney, and I remember the Warragamba Dam issue in the 90s when the giardia and crypto-sporidium (SP??) levels were supposedly so high they were toxic. Meh, we still drank it at home, figured if it hadn't killed us by then it probably wasn't going to. The thing is - and I know this is a big 'first world problem' - I don't like the taste of water here. On the farm, with filtered tank water, I didn't mind it. But there's something about tap water that I'm just not fond of.

Better than still...!
Enter: the sparkling miracle

I love mineral water and soda water. Plain, flavoured (especially the berry one, yum), I don't care. It tastes good, and I can easily go through a bottle a day. On really hot days at school, my class are amazed to see me drink a whole bottle (I sweat a lot of it out so the bathroom issue isn't SUCH a big deal then...we're talking 40+ and no air-con in my classroom here!). The Khocolateman likes it too, so quite often we buy in bulk and stash it in the fridge upstairs until we need it. So refreshing, and no more calories, sugar, sodium, etc. than regular water. I'm not a big fan of soft drinks, either, so this is a good 'socially acceptable' substitute.

So there you have it. My side of the great water debate. I would if I could, but I can't, so I don't. I should try to make more of an effort - maybe a goal for the school holidays.

Adios, amigos,

Sunday, 15 June 2014

No Fail To Plan

The last three weeks - away from the stress of school, and the having no time to do anything other than draw breath between things - have been interesting fridge-wise. It was pretty empty when I got home from hospital, so Mum taught me how to do the groceries online, and because you have to pay for each delivery and I was banned from driving, I had to plan a bit more than I usually would so we would have enough to get through the week. No ducking out for bits and pieces that we missed (until we ran out of milk, which constituted a full-blown emergency, and Mum braved my car and the potential hobo living in the junk on the back seat to go get us some).

SO.

Today the Khocolateman and I went shopping for real (ZOMG how exciting, second non-medical outing post-operation). He was amazed at how much the shop cost (nearly $150) and asked if that was normal. I explained that because we buy fruit and vegetables and good quality meat each week as our staples, that's the expected cost. And that if we ate two minute noodles and mi goreng, we could probably make it for about a third of that - but that our health would suffer. A look at our plan for the week, in pictures.

Our fridge - ready for the week!

Some yummy things I plan to use this week: strawberries are still reasonable! Making the most of them for smoothies. Tonight I made wholemeal pasta with veggies and chorizo - there are some containers of leftovers for us both tomorrow. I have some leftover rice paper rolls for snacks as well. I bought lots of butternut pumpkin to make spicy pumpkin and coconut soup - both of us looooove it. Made banana bread for the Khocolateman to take into the office. Oh and here is my weird concession - we buy full cream milk. Apparently when they skim the light stuff, a lot of the nutritional benefits get leeched. Plus, it tastes better =P

Our cupboard/pantry - ready for the week!

Highlights include the popcorn packets my friend brought over on Friday night as our healthy snack while watching Secret Princes! Pear juice was recommended by my neurosurgeon to settle my stomach while still on the painkillers. Instant oats - the Khocolateman is on a bit of a health kick at the moment too (currently at the gym while I sulk at home that I'm not allowed to go) and this is his breakfast of choice. And UHT milk - no way am I running out again!

Our freezer - ready for the week!

And our freezer - on the left, all the meals Mum cooked while she was here! beef and veggies, chicken and vegetable soup, and from me, leftover pulled pork and potato and leek soup. Looking forward to using the chicken fillets later in the week - pan fried and then served with mushrooms and brussell sprouts. No excuses for take away when you have so much yummy, healthy stuff in the freezer, ready to go!

We are planning to succeed this week; they say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail - so hopefully having this plan will mean we can celebrate health success next Sunday! I'm using Slimkicker to log everything as I cook it, so hopefully we can track where our calories are going and make sure we are sticking to using what we've got before we hit the junk! All our basics are well stocked up, so no excuses!

Wish us luck!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Mini Mission - Level 11 (SlimKicker)

A day behind already! I don't know where yesterday went, but it must have been good. Last night a friend from work came over and we watched 'Secret Princes' on Netflix - really good fun trash-talking reality TV 'stars' and chatting about all sorts of fun stuff. I caught up on the gossip from school, and she gave me THE CUTEST PANDA EVER (she knows about this blog =) instead of chocolate. Which we then undid by eating pizza and mini Mars bars - but I was really good. No junk food hangover for me!

My happy pillow panda
Isn't he cute? =D

ANYWAY. THE POINT OF THIS POST IS SLIMKICKER.Ahem.

I like anything gamified, or badged - in other words, I like anything that makes boring stuff into a game of achievement. Why should weight loss and fitness be any different? Enter the ass-kicking app that makes me want to record everything I eat, and everything I do, cos it gives me points and levels me up as I make better food, exercise and general lifestyle choices.

My slimkicker profile today
My profile today. I'm getting my ass kicked on the leaderboard.

I think the Khocolateman initially introduced me to this when he read about it on LifeHacker. Either that or I found it by clicking on links after he showed me the treadmill desk post. I like the game enough that I've come back to it online a couple of times since 2012, when I initially signed up, and that I've downloaded the app onto my iPad (which goes pretty much everywhere with me). Free download is a definite perk when you look at other calorie counters that don't do so much, but you have to pay for.

It's easy to navigate, and has an aesthetically pleasing layout, gives you ideas for fun challenges along the way (I'm currently doing 'Eat 3 Veg A Day', 'Pamper Yourself', 'Beauty Sleep' and 'Daily Dose of Touch') which also give you a nice little earner of extra points when you complete them. You can link up with other users if you want a more interpersonal competitive experience by using the 'Leader Board' and 'Friend' components. There's also an inspiration board where you can post little things going on that you're proud of, or frustrations you want to overcome, and other users can comment to encourage you or to offer advice.

I'm not very into the logging exercise thing at the moment (being as it is I'm not even allowed to walk up stairs for another four weeks) but I'm getting pretty good at logging my food. There are two ways to do it - search for the food you ate, and add it straight from a compiled list, or going to the 'Recipe' function and building a food of your own from its ingredients, which it will then convert into an artifact complete with nutritional stats. It is a bit Americanised in that respect; not a lot of common Australian foods are listed and while Weight Watchers food features in abundance, Lite n Easy doesn't yet rate a mention. I will need to build recipes for those meals when I go back to meal plan.

I'll check back in with you in a few weeks and let you know how I'm going with it. Wish me luck this time round - maybe I'll make it to the top of the leader board next week! =)


or click here to use online.

Off to kick some butt,

Thursday, 12 June 2014

*crickets chirruping*

Hello there. Long time no see. Well, three and a bit weeks, anyway.

Anyone want to guess where I've been?

I'll save you the trouble - I was in and out of hospital. Yup. That pesky, painful, twingy thing that had me crying on my way to work cos driving hurt so much? Turns out that was a prolapsed disc between my L5 and S1. The bulge was so big that physio and cortisone injections were ruled out by the surgeon and after a five minute consultation (wherein I leaned forward on his desk because I couldn't sit or stand comfortably) it was decided they'd operate.


This is what a prolapsed disc looks like.
This is not mine. This is from wikipedia.
When you looked at a different angle of the MRI, it
looked like I had a mushroom growing out of my spine. Gross.

All this was post-emergency-room-dash at 4:30 on a Monday morning because I was getting uncontrollable 9.5-out-of-10 spasms down my left leg, all the way to my toes... so I ended up staying at our nearest public hospital for 36 hours while they tried to work out what to do with me (that in itself was an eye opener) and then being beautifully looked after at The Valley Private Hospital for five days, pre-op and post-op to a micro-discectomy (which is where they shaved a bit of bone off, cut the bulge of the disc out and released my sciatic nerve).

Mum came from Sydney to look after me. To quote my brother, "She's a good old mumola." Sure enough, she arrived just in time for me to be discharged, then stayed for five days while I got used to being at home again, got used to the medicine and recovered from the anaesthetic. She played with Dalek, helped organise delivery of groceries, talked me around when I was getting cranky, made endless cups of tea for us and cleaned the house while a guy came to bath Dalek. I cried when she left. She is the best of the best. One day, I'm going to work out how you thank a mum like that properly.

Since then I've pottered around the house, gradually learning to safely bend far enough that I can now stack and unstack the dishwasher unaided - hooray - and have worked on what I can of my school work from my laptop. I got my staples out on Monday, and will be going back to work for a day next week on trial, and then if everything is okay, back to work for the last week of term. I'm looking forward to seeing my class again - very very much - and most of my coworkers.

Care Package from Sydney Pretty Flowers Flowers from my class and teachers in my grade level =)
Flowers and care packages - way to make me feel loved =)

You're probably wondering WTF this has to do with the Panda, and where this leaves me with all that.

The biggest thing that came out of this for me is - this is a wake up call. I have to lose this weight. Every day that I am putting it on, or not taking it off, I am endangering my back further. Every day I am one step closer to ending up having spinal fusion because the disc has prolapsed again, or the one above it (showing signs of disintegration already). Every day that I don't do something about is one step further from one day (in the slightly more distant future) being able to a safe and comfortable pregnancy and a natural delivery. Every. Single. Day. Every day until I go back to school full time - so at least ten days - I'm going to post something I'm doing for my health.

This is a determined hopefully-one-day-mumola-to-be, signing out.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Operation: Get The Kid A Crib - Update on Part One

It's been a few weeks since I last posted. School went back, weekend work started up again... and we were frantically packing to move cos we BOUGHT A HOUSE, BITCHEZ!

Got the kid a crib: they key on settlement day (9th May 2014).
Yeah that's right. LJ Hooker, you're the best.

We've been moved in for nearly a week now. We went from a small brick veneer three bed, 2 bath, kitchen/lounge/dining with a courtyard, built last year, to a FREAKING HUGE weatherboard three bed (two of which have walk-ins) plus study plus loft, 2 bath (ONE INCLUDING A SPA, HELL YEAH), kitchen/dining with separate lounge, a back deck and a HUGE backyard, built sometime in the 1970s or 80s. It is the most gorgeous, run down, fantastic, unique place ever.

Buying a house in Victoria is not easy but nor is it the bureaucratic nightmare I had envisaged. It did go quickly for us, as the vendor wanted a quick settlement (42 days by my count, from the day we signed the papers). Once we found what we knew would be our new home through LJ Hooker, we went through a mortgage broker (JCB Accounting) who guided us through everything financial. We looked at different options for our loan with our consultant, and ended up going through one of the big four as they had decent rates for our situation. After we were approved for finance, the accountant handed over our paperwork to an amazing lawyer who completed all the conveyancing work that had to be done and voila, just two weeks later we moved into our new home! There is a lot to be said for outsourcing the paperwork where it can be outsourced - it meant I could enjoy saying goodbye to our old house (with great relish) and anticipate moving (which is stressful enough!) with greater ease. I took a day of unpaid leave from work to finish packing and cleaning, and a week later the important stuff is functioning - bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and study. We have a lot more to finish unpacking, but it is getting there.

Some interesting things I have learned since moving:
- My car insurance was halved by moving five minutes' away from our old house. Go figure. Apparently sometimes it depends which end of a street you live on. Either way, I lucked out as what I am saving on my comprehensive policy will now cover the cost of the repayments on pretty new furniture we bought.
- It is possible to remember to change everything over within a week of moving - bank details, car insurance, health insurance, electoral roll details, license and registration, payroll for work.
- Never thought I'd say this, but there is a lot to be said for tradition. It looks cool, for one. I don't remember doing all of this with our other moves but this time we followed what the Khocolateman's parents asked us to do, and waited until after 2:53pm to enter the house. When we did enter, we carried a tray laid out with particular things, and lit a lamp to burn on the counter, and boiled a small terracotta pot of milk until it overflowed onto the stovetop before we moved anything into the house. It was fun.

The tray we carried through the door with us as we entered the house for the first time. Tea, a small lamp, salt, spices and coins. The tray we carried through the door with us as we entered the house for the first time. Tea, a small lamp, salt, spices and coins. The milk boiling over on the stove.
The tray, the lamp, and the terracotta pot.

So.

The kid has a crib, whenever it rocks up. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a room picked out to be a nursery already. Both house and nursery need a bit of work done on them, but we've made a big step towards being ready for this panda-making business to begin. Operation: Get The Kid A Crib Part One - success.

Whew.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Operation: Yummy Mummy - A Dual Pronged Approach

So Operation Yummy Mummy was going really well over the holidays. Lots of time - time to make green smoothies for us in the morning, time to make a proper lunch for the KhocolateMan (most mornings), and time for preparing on a plate and eating only what was in the Lite n Easy bags. I was on 1200 calories a day with the breakfast and lunch foods (I do a green smoothie in the morning, breakfast foods for lunch and the lunch foods for dinner) and things were going very well. The meals are easy to prepare, generally varied, and come with instructions when assemblage is ambiguous (who knew putting a microwave omelette together could be so complex!).

I thought I'd have a look at how the meals stacked up against a system my Dad showed me a while back - Portion Perfection. Dad bought me the book, the melamine plate, the melamine bowl and the snack bible (which has gone walking - hopefully it will surface after the move). The idea is that you should recognise that standard servings given to you in restaurants and in packets and boxes are actually not what is healthy for you. That the serves that ARE healthy for you are actually much much smaller than what you think, and when you have the plates you can see the size you should be having of different foods by using them in conjunction with the book. I already know the calorie content of what I'm eating with Lite n Easy, but I wanted to see if the meals worked with the visual approach as well.

Eggs Benedict on a Portion Perfection Plate. Thai Chicken Cakes and Leafy Salad on a Portion Perfection Plate. Moroccan Cous Cous and Chicken with Salad and Bruschetta on a Portion Perfection Plate
Three of my favourites. For more, click here.

Verdict: mostly it stacked up pretty well against each other. As a female I'm not meant to be going up onto the lip of the plate for most things. Occasionally the carb portion was on the high side, but that's okay once in a while I think. The fact that two systems using different approaches (to train your body to accept different sized servings) ultimately come up with the same results as to the 'value' of the food is reassuring.

That's Operation Yummy Mummy at the moment. I did totally blow it with Easter, and then again today with High Tea at The Spot Caffeteria with Auntie Spanx, but that was a birthday present (thanks Tilly and Bhatti!) so I figure that doesn't count. Back to it this week!

A Productive Weekend

So the Easter long weekend has been and is almost gone, and we have spent four days away with four of our closest friends - all of us with no internet and no phone reception. A lot of good food, good wine and good fun occurred.

Heaven.

I got two new Panda Got Swag pieces finished - one is a little peaked cap made from The Ocean Blue handspun yarn (merino, alpaca, bamboo and silver sparkle) from The Good Sheep, the owner of whom I met when I lived in Lightning Ridge. I have enough left that I am thinking of making the next two sizes up, too - or possibly one for me, because the yarn is BEAUTIFUL.

Pixie Elf Hat
When you put it on a kid the rib softly squishes their little face (gently) and makes a little peak at the back. Adorable!

The second one is Presto Chango by Valerie Wallis, a pattern which has kicked my ass twice before, but has fortunately come together very nicely this time. I knitted it with black Cascade 220. It still needs buttons (I'm thinking pearly white ones), and I did cheat a bit with the front panel (I did a chessboard pattern rather than the cascading leaves), but I got the 3 month size right, seamed it neatly and had literally JUST enough wool with me to finish it.

Presto Chango - a better photo
This is what victory and triumph look like.

In case you can't tell (cos it's black and hard to see), Presto Chango is a baby cardigan - but rather than buttoning down the middle of baby's body, it has a rip-off panel that buttons across the middle of baby's body instead. That way, if (when) baby spits up, drools, snots or otherwise creates a mess, you can unbutton the panel and put another one on without having to get squirmy arms back through holes and into a totally new jumper. My friend Camo introduced me to them, and I have thought they were just about the neatest thing out ever since. Cool, huh?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Soapbox #1 - Vaccination

I pride myself on being a well-educated woman, married to a well-educated man, both from well-educated families. Both our mothers, in particular, are highly qualified professionals in their chosen fields, both of which have connections to children and their well-being.

In their own ways, our families also taught us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us - though not so much in a strictly biblical sense as our families are pretty moderate in their (very different) beliefs. More in a 'If you wouldn't want this person to put you in danger, don't put them in danger.' Broadly speaking, they wanted us to keep ourselves and those around us safe.

These two thoughts occurred to me this morning in two separate contexts. The first was while on the phone to my former employer - and now friend - who happens to be a nurse, qualified midwife and mother to two awesome girls (our flowergirls at our wedding!). We were talking about vaccination, and she said despite the experience not being ideal, she would go back and do it again in a heartbeat if she were given the choice a second time. Safety first, comfort second.

The second was when a friend posted this article on Facebook, which has led to an interesting discussion of its own.

I am pro-vaccination for SO many reasons - but mostly being that by choosing not to vaccinate, it places others in danger. I work in a situation where we have children (and women of child bearing age) in attendance and in abundance. Not vaccinating in this situation - for us and our clientele - is dangerous. It places those too small to have been vaccinated in danger. It places those with compromised immune systems in danger. It places expectant mothers and their unborn babies in danger. It may not be possible to tell just from appearances that people are in these situations - it is not always obvious how old a child is, or that someone has a weakness in their immune system, or that a woman is pregnant.

I don't mean to offend anyone by saying this. It is my opinion, and that of my family and most of our connexion. There will be others with different opinions and that's cool too.

Just don't come near me when I'm pregnant, or before my child is old enough for their shots. Oh wait - how will you be able to tell? Hmm. Best just stay away full stop.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Operation: Panda Got Swag - My Little Chilli

I made this last week, but I made it look like a chilli.

Well, that's what I had in mind, anyway. You be the judge.


Pattern is Sheepy Sack by Mandie Harrington

For reference, it's meant to be kind of like a long nappy cover. It's pretty cute.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Operation: Panda Got Swag - The Berry Baby Hat

So I made another beanie for Operation Panda Got Swag.

Baby Berry Hat
Pattern is Berry Baby Hat by Michelle Sabatier

I am feeling much calmer having knitted for two hours today. Wish I had time to do it every day!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Operation: Panda Got Swag - Thundercloud

So I recently joined this amazing group of women on a discussion board attached to Baby and Bump (front page here) - you can find me on the WTT boards under Whitekhocol8. Recently, we got to talking about baby hope chests. For those of you who know me IRL, you know I love knitting. For those joining us now, you now know - I love knitting. It is my zen. Unfortunately I don't get to do nearly enough of it - but now I have a reason.

I've been off work yesterday and today with a throat infection. It's been pretty nasty. So with quiet mandated, I decided it would be a good time to get cracking on my first part of ongoing Operation Panda Got Swag. Behold, my first finished project in two years - I dub thee Thundercloud.

Thundercloud

Pattern from the now-defunct Creative magazine from Spotlight, 2010.

Hooray.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

A Missive About Missions

Hello, anyone in blog world who might be reading,

A little introduction to the world of the Khocolates.

I'm the polar bear in the picture (otherwise known as WhiteKhocolate) and my husband, Khocolateman, he's the brown bear.

While Khocolateman obviously features prominently in my life, this is mostly a blog about being the family, fun, and food-oriented person I am now, and then hopefully, one day, a blog about a little panda who might happen to come along for us. Being a proud geek, I have four operations/missions to complete before beginning on the ultimate quest to Panda-dom.

Operation: Get The Kid A Crib
We are househunting. We would like somewhere with a bit of space to spare, not to mention a backyard for our current furbaby to run around in, before we introduce anyone else into the family.

Operation: Yummy Mummy
This polar bear needs to get her health on. I want to be a good role model for my children - including of health - and that starts pre-conception.

Operation: Moolah for a Doula
I want to be able to take a year or two off work to look after the panda cub when it rocks up. That means putting plans in place to get my finances in order, and to keep the household going without becoming a total recluse while on leave.

Operation: Panda Got Swag
This is an ongoing thing. I'm slowly collecting bits and pieces that will come in handy. I knit prolifically, and sew a bit, so finished projects go here.

So, welcome. Hope you enjoy the ride.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Setting a date...

This blog is named for this meme:


Meet The Khocolates

A panda is a hazy dream at the moment... but the countdown has begun.