HOT: I feel the need, the need for cheese

I always quite liked cheese, but I can’t say I love cheese. In fact, I think a cheese platter at the end of the meal is just a poor excuse for cheating me out of dessert.

So it’s quite strange that I’ve developed a strong penchant for cheese. I don’t think it counts as a bizarre pregnancy-related food craving, but my increased desire for cheese (and yoghurt) I think it just my body’s way of telling me that it needs calcium. I’ve never been much of a dairy fan and nothing makes me gag more than the thought of drinking a glass of milk, so it makes sense that my body is making up for its lack of calcium now.

Anyway, the reason for this post is actually to point towards a new discovery – artisanal cheeses delivered to your door (or picked up from Hawthorn) thanks to Melbourne-based business Farmgate Cheese.

I particularly like idea behind their hamper ‘The Nursery‘, a selection of cheeses that most women tend to avoid whilst pregnant (oh, brie!). Designed with the new mum in mind, each box contains blue mould cheeses, soft white moulds and washed rinds along with some crispbreads and dried fruits and nuts.

Friends and family, please take note :)

HOT: Retro Kids Books From Mum and Dad’s Childhood

Is it altruistic or egotistical to dig up things that you loved from your childhood for your own children?

It’s one thing to look back fondly on things that you treasured from your own childhood and want your kids to share the same feelings of delight, but can you really expect the things that made an impression on kids in the 1980s to still have an impact in the 2010s? Is it self-indulgent to want your kids to like the same kinds of books you liked as a child, or should you be satisfied if they can get the same experiences from their telegraphicly controlled Playstation 9 holograph edition? Is it unreasonable to want your kids to appreciate the same things that you do?

I don’t know, but I’m hoping there’s some cross-generational continuity. It would be nice to share some experiences across the generations.

An Imjim!

To this end, I recently went about tracking down children’s book that left a particularly vivid impression in my childhood imagination. I’m not sure what prompted it but when I was very young, I went through a phase when I devoured mythology from all around the world (Greek, Norse, Indian etc). I’d sit in the library reading them like comic books for hours. It was all very ComicCon/D&D in retrospect; what can I say? I was just a kid.

Out of all of those hours reading myths from around the world, the only one that I still remember clearly to this day was “The Quinkins” by Percy Trezise and Dick Roughsey. The Quinkins was a series of books that told the stories of an Aboriginal tribe in Cape York. The stories included mythological creatures;  evil ones called Imjim and good ones called Timara. The didn’t look like any of the creatures I’d seen in other countries’ myths. The Imjim looked like over-sized bipedal beavers with and fangs. Timara’s were giant, skinny creatures with large droopy ears. They were just so different to anything else I had seen in the other library books.

Timara and Imjim in Rock Painting

Partly because of how odd The Quinkins was, and despite the vividness of my memory, I’d almost convinced myself that the books didn’t exist until recently. I’d never come across the books, or the Quinkins myths again after leaving primary school.  I’d forgotten the names of the characters, which despite the emergence of Google meant that no matter how vivid the images were, finding the books was  impossible.

Thankfully, in one of the serendipitous moments that makes the current Information Age in which we live so wonderful, I recently stumbled on a post at the Meanjin blog, Spike, by someone who had had a very similar experience to me, but was lucky enough to come across the book at a second hand sale.

Newly inspired I set out to track down a copy of The Quinkins so that my children could experience this strange, uniquely Australian story. After a bit of fishing around Amazon Marketplace, I managed to track down a copy for a reasonable price (not the 40 quid that a number of people seem to be charging) and arrange for it to be shipped to Oz.

Now I’m just going to have to wait and see whether The New Kid On The Block is as impressed by it as I was…

NOT: I wish I’d done more abs

I’ve been a regular gym-goer for about 7 years, order switching sometimes to yoga and pilates and a briefly held enthusiasm for swimming when I was experiencing back pain.

Over the years I feel I like I’ve gained some measure of fitness and strength, but I am aware that one element of my workout which has always been weak has been my abs. I suck at sit-ups, crunches, the plank, and the boat pose. And now I think my laziness in working on that area is coming back to bite me.

I’m now at the stage in my pregnancy where there’s a noticeable bump. My waistline has pretty much disappeared and my skirts don’t quite zip up anymore (although I can hide that last 2cm with tops that cover the gap).

It’s entirely logical, but the most curious thing I’m feeling is that my stomach muscles are stretching wider to accommodate the baby.

But not in a strong, stable sort of way. It kind of feels like my stomach muscles are wet tissue paper that is slowly being….ripped…apart. It’s especially concerning as every time I sneeze I feel like another little gap is tearing!

It’s quite frightening to be honest and I’m not sure whether there is anything I can do about it now other than continue mild forms of exercise. Any ideas?

NOT: (Un) Natural gas

I love to eat. In fact, order I love it so much I often blog about my eating experiences on the other HOT OR NOT blogs.

So it’s been a bit disheartening to have to curtail my eating habits due to pregnancy. Setting aside the foods that I’m now avoiding (soft cheese, cured meats etc), for the first time in my life I’m experiencing heartburn, indigestion and a general constant uneasiness in my digestive system. I know, I know, it’s temporary and it’s all for a good cause, but golly it sure is uncomfortable (especially around bed time).

BURP.

Every time I drink water I feel like I’ve gulped down a litre of soft drink. I have to sit back and burp out all the gas slowly, sometimes getting Tim to wack me on the back like a baby.

Eating a mandarin, or too much of one thing, or being hungry, appears to tie up my stomach in knots.

It takes me 45 minutes to eat an omelette because I have to take super-small bites and have constant breaks.

I am incredibly flatulent.

PARP.

There is an upside to all of this. I’m becoming more mindful about the way I eat. I can’t gobble food  anymore, because eating large amounts of food quickly is a surefire route to a couple of hours of uncomfortable pressure on my stomach.

So I eat slowly. Have small portions. Put my cutlery down. Chew thoroughly. Appreciate the flavours, tastes and textures of the food.  Take the time to look at my surroundings, and watch or read without chewing at the same time. Sip water slowly. Know when to stop.

And you know what? It makes me feel good to eat this way, both physically and mentally.  I think it’s a habit I’m going to keep.

NOT: Over-enthusiastic Facebooking parents

Both Tim and I are avid users of social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter (and of course we blog a lot) and while I generally try not to pass judgment on other parents and how they want to run their lives, or their kids lives, I am going to pass judgment on a disturbing trend I’m noticing….setting up a Facebook account for your child.

Call me old-school but I think it’s kind of inappropriate to pretend to be your kid on Facebook, let alone post up photos of your ultrasound scans or to go into in depth detail about your pregnancy pains or labour pains (behaviour all of which I’ve seen from usually normal, sensible adults).

But setting up an account for your unborn child and updating your status as a fetus is verging on creepy. Case in point:

Via Lamebook

Rest assured that NKOTB will NOT be using Facebook or Twitter until he/she is capable of stringing a sentence together, spelling and using a computer keyboard – by which time social media probably will have moved on.

HOT or NOT? Cycling during pregnancy

via Copenhagen Cycle Chic

I really love cycling.

Not as a sport, sale more as a mode of transport. I don’t own a car, I live in the inner city and travel mostly to the CBD and other inner city suburbs, so cycling is often the fastest way for me to get from A to B.

I love the independence it gives me, to go at my own pace and not be beholden to cancelled trains, infrequent trams or traffic jams. I love that it gives me an opportunity to breathe fresh air, get my blood pumping, clear my head and enjoy my surroundings.

The conundrum I’m now facing though is whether I should cycle whilst pregnant. In my first trimester I had to reduce it to infrequent short trips because I was so bone-achingly tired all the time and a 30 minute ride would completely wind me. Now that I’m feeling a bit more energetic in my second trimester, I’m really keen to get back on the bike.

There are two opposing thoughts on whether it’s a good idea to cycle whilst pregnant.

On the one hand, many women around the world, in bike-friendly countries like Denmark and the Netherlands, wouldn’t even be asking this question. Of course they’d continue cycling, how else would they get around? There’s also an interesting articles from The Guardian bike blog and Bicycle Victoria about women who cycled throughout their pregnancy and the physical benefits they believe they’ve experienced as a result of continuing their usual riding regime.

On the other hand, in Australia I think the general thinking is that you stop cycling when you’re pregnant. My obstetrician said that he thought it was ok for me to cycle up till 20 weeks. But after 20 weeks, if I fell off my bike and onto my stomach then I could cause serious damage to my baby.

As with doing anything in pregnancy, it’s all about the amount of risk I’m willing to take. I ride reasonably upright, pretty slowly (and even more slowly now that I’m pregnant) and am definitely not a gung-ho rider. I don’t take stupid risks, I follow road rules and I feel entirely comfortable getting off and walking my bike if I feel in danger or unsafe.

On the other hand, whether we like it to admit it or not, Melbourne’s cycling infrastructure is not as safe as the cycling infrastructure in Denmark, Netherlands, or even the super-wide bus lanes of Central London, unless you’re going completely off-road, say along the Yarra trail. The majority of the time I ride city streets with narrow bike lanes or no bike lanes at all, and if I’m to switch to purely recreational riding for exercise I’d rather use a stationary bike at the gym so that I can read a book at the same time :)

Anyway, I’m yet to come to my own conclusions about what I feel comfortable doing, so I’d be interested to hear if you have any advice or experiences of cycling whilst pregnant.

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