Wednesday, 31 January 2007


Today we went to GPs for the first round of Cat’s immunisations. We ended up waiting for almost an hour past our appointment time. Hence Cat woke up for her midday meal just as we got into the doctors office and started howling even before the ejection. So I’m not sure how upsetting the actual shots (two of them) were for her. I fed her afterwards and she seems to be her usual happy self so far.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

New addiction

I wanted to try to cook something new using filo pastry, so I went to for ideas and found tons of wonderful recipes. One recipe lead to another and another and another. And now I have so many recipes bookmarked that I’m struggling to choose which one to try to cook next.

I made Salmon Stuffed in Puff Pastry today. Delicious! It was a bit too rich for me with the mushroom soup for source, so next time I’m going to try to serve it with green salad and tzatziki type source instead.

Apricot Baklava recipe sounds extremely appealing; I just need to find some time to make it.

Laura, thanks for pointing me to this website.

Monday, 29 January 2007

Big decision time

Lindsey & Dave finally set the date for moving back home. When I mentioned it to Clive, he said that we should also set the date for going to Australia. This statement left me in a bit of the shock and lots of confusion as I didn’t think he was keen to move there. He says he was prompted by my homesickness and unhappiness about Cat growing up away from the rest of my family. I don’t really know my grandparents as we lived on the other side of Russia from them and I really don’t want my mum, dad and sister to be total strangers to Cat.

So last few days instead of trying to weight up pros and cons of staying in UK and going back to Oz , I was dumbly playing the images of the possible Australian life in my head. I’m usually very good at making decisions, but this one scares me as it will affect so many other people. And I’m also terrified of having to examine my feelings as deep-down I know how much I miss my family and how comfortable & relaxed I feel in Australia.

While Clive says that he’ll be happy with any decision I make, if we move to Oz he’ll be even further away from his Cape Town family and will have to start his life again in the new place. On the other hand there will be plenty of people happy to see me (and my new family) back in Melbourne, who will warmly welcome him.

It will be sad to leave Julia (I long ago started thinking of her as part of my family, as another sister) behind in UK and there are plenty of other old & new friends currently living in London, who I’ll miss. But for many of them London is a temporary location and eventually they’ll move away. With Polina and Jack moving back to Melbourne at the beginning of 2008 and my mum saying that they’ll consider coming back as well there is a strong possibility that the main members of my family will be in one location again (I miss our huge family dinners and BBQs).

The other main considerations are jobs and accommodation. I like my job here – I got bored with the everyday tasks, but there are plenty of new possibilities and the people are great. I have no idea about the current state of IT job market in Oz/Melbourne. And as Jack pointed out the real estate prices went up even higher, but using my flat as guarantee and any money saved in UK we probably still can buy a much nicer place than we would be able to afford in London. And at first we can always be very comfortable in my flat (Who wants to relive the old times and have a New Year Celebration there again? ;-) Though I have to inform you that Ross (the neighbour who always complained and once called police) sold his flat and moved away).

I’ll miss London museums, theatres, Barbican (my favourite place in London!), the history on every street corner, the proximity to Europe. But I doubt I’ll be able to do much travelling/socializing with a small child and Melbourne has enough cultural activities to keep me entertained. I’m also under impression that Australia is baby friendlier. And while London has all the benefits of big city living, I love Australian outdoors and miss bushwalking, the fresh air, the open spaces.

My mum & Clive mentioned few times that Cat will need a sibling soon. I always wanted to have a large family, but don’t want to go through pregnancy and childbirth in London again. While both were easy and almost perfect, I felt very lonely without close everyday support of my family. I think it would be so much nicer to experience pregnancy in Australia where I can share my thoughts and feelings with my mum and friends, who have kids.

These are just some of my thoughts and (as you can probably see) it looks like I want to be back. I’ll have to talk to Clive a bit more before making the final decision. If I decide that it is time to move to Australia we’ll have to wait until the end of Clive’s 2-year mortgage period (May 2008) and will probably come back at the end of my current visa (10 August 2008).

Anyone has any opinions? Anything to say? Please comment or send me email.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

mmm.. beer & food

Catherine turned 2 months yesterday, so to celebrate I bought myself a bottle of Boags beer from the Australian-South African-New Zealand shop to have with tonight’s dinner of South African sausage boerwors (very yummy) and salad. Clive went a bit insane buying SA food goodies. I managed to avoid temptation to get some Kellogs Nutri-Grain cereal (Isn’t it sad that I was totally uninterested in tim tams, shapes and other Oz snacks, but was tempted by CEREAL).

Anyway, back to Cat. She is getting really good at holding her head & smiling and with a lot of encouragement and demonstrations from me she is starting to bat at hanging toys.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Finally! The first snow

It snowed at night and in the morning our garden looked beautifully white. Sadly it was so warm for last few weeks that a lot of trees sprouted new shoots, leaves & flowers, which may get damaged by the frost.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

My favourite pastime

During this week I finished reading my first book since giving birth to Cat – A Wreath of Stars by Bob Shaw Very nice simple sci-fi story. I love Gollancz SF series and always keep an eye out for their bright yellow book covers in second-hand bookshops and libraries. Sadly their newer books have normal “picture” covers and therefore are more difficult to spot.

I’m finally starting to get into Three Comrades by Erich Maria remarque after 60 pages. Really struggled to get interested in it, find characters interesting – could be reading it at the wrong time in my life. It also doesn’t help that I usually only manage to read 2-3 pages a day. This week I done more reading than average while holding half-asleep Catherine, but housework suffered as the result.

But the main news is that today Cat looked in fascination as I read/showed her two Russian baby books. Her first book reading! And she was interested enough for me to read them to her and talk about pictures in them twice! Until now she just screamed every time I tried to show her a book. I feel so happy, because I love reading books and any additional entertainment for her is highly welcomed, even if it only occupies her for 5-15 minutes.

Friday, 19 January 2007


Yesterday was very windy, so after feeling like I or the pram will fly away while walking around the block I cut down the morning walk from 1 – 1.5 hrs to 20-30 minutes and avoided going to the park. I wonder how much stronger the wind was in the open space. And as we got home Catherine woke up and the rest of the day was spent trying to entertain her and trying to get her back to sleep. She woke up every time I put her down in her cot, so eventually in the late afternoon I gave up and just carried her around in the sling. Comforted by my warmth Cat slept really well and I managed to get some things done.

Today is wonderfully blue-skied and sunny day, so we went for a long walk in the park. The sidewalks are covered with small branches and I saw 2 fallen trees (pretty big ones) in the park. Catherine woke up during the walk, looked around for 5-10 minutes and went back to sleep. I felt so relieved! Hopefully she’ll sleep until her usual 12:30 – 13:00. Entertaining someone, who has attention span of the gold fish, is extremely difficult, though seeing her smile and learn to do new things, makes it worthwhile. Still I’m really looking forward to Clive taking over on the weekend. Last weekend he spent doing thing for his renovation/investment property, so I think I’m due for a break and he for some quality time with Cat :-D

Thursday, 18 January 2007


Went to Baby Clinic on Tuesday. Catherine passed 5 kg mark and is now 5,040 grams. She is also about to outgrow most of her 0-3 months clothes, her body is just too long for them. I wonder if there actually many babies that are still wearing 0-3 months clothes on their 3-month bday.

Yesterday I took her for her 6-week check up. Since appointment was at the end of her morning feed we were about 10 minutes late, but still had to wait for another 10 minutes before the doctor was finished with earlier patient. Nothing exciting to report – Catherine is boringly (thank goodness!) healthy baby.

Looks like all our problems were due to her not getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. I managed to get my milk supply under control and she is doing much better, sometimes going as long as 6 hours between feeds and smiling much more. I still haven’t managed to get a good picture of her wonderful smile.

I can’t believe that UK’s Big Brother is BBC’s main news for today and made international news. Depressing! I’m sure there are more interesting and important things going on in the world today.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Breastfeeding woes

In the last few years of wanting to have children I read enough horror breastfeeding stories to spend a lot of time during my pregnancy worrying about not getting it right. I started having breastfeeding dreams (usually pleasant ones) in the early months of pregnancy and they continued to hunt me for the rest of it.

My breastfeeding frustrations started straight away in the hospital. Catherine kept on falling asleep at the breast after few minutes and hospital staff kept on telling me that she should be feeding for at least 5, 10, 15 minutes (depending on the advising person). I tried tickling her feet, taking her clothes off, rubbing her body, etc to keep her awake; but she was much more interested in sleeping. Once I was at home community midwife advised that I should be feeding her for at least 30 minutes, which nearly made me laugh hysterically.

My breasts got horribly engorged when the milk came in on the fourth day, so I quickly had to learn how to express milk to relieve the pain. Catherine still spent lots of time sleeping and not much time eating and I was worried about her not getting enough milk, but the 10 day weight check showed that she actually gained 250 grams. There were plenty of other signs of having enough milk. I kept on leaking milk between and during feeds and had to change my bra pads, bras and tops few times a day. During feeds the milk was coming out so fast that Catherine sometimes couldn’t cope and would starts chocking. Then she would pull away and milk would spray out in an impressive fountain.

My everything-is-well-with-breastfeeding happiness didn’t last as Cat got thrush (yeast infection in her mouth) during her second week and became very difficult to feed. Luckily anti-thrush medication worked wonders in about 2 days.

But are there any first time mothers who don’t worry about something during first weeks? Being very typical first time mother I started worrying about how much she sleeps and her frequent greenish bowel movements. Health visitor explained the green poo as overfeeding and sleepiness as “You should be happy to have content baby”. But my baby was slowly changing from content one to windy fussy one, her poo was getting greener, she was spitting up a lots of milk and even threw up few times. The symptoms sounded a lot like food allergy, so I tried cutting out some foods and keeping food journal. Her fussiness didn’t seem to have any correlation to the foods I was eating. So I debated about seeing a doctor and kept on searching the web until I stumbled on wonderful Australian Breastfeeding Association article on Lactose intolerance that mentioned lactose overload. The symptoms described in this and Too Much Milk articles seemed to be spot on. So now I’m trying out few things to make sure she gets enough hind milk and Cat seems to be getting better *knocks on wood*. Wish me luck! Hopefully the cause of the problem is too much milk and not food allergy as it is much easier to fix.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Little hands

Catherine discovered her hands and actually helped herself to get to sleep by sucking on one of them. However often her hands miss her mouth and she just ends up whacking herself on the head.

Travelled places

Since PJs and Eugene posted the maps of places they visited, here is mine for comparison:

you can create your own map here

The great news is that from 1 January 2007 the citizens of Australia no longer need to obtain short stay visas (visas for stays not longer than 90 days within 6 months, from the date of the first entry) for Romania. So I'm adding visiting Denya in Romania to potential travel plans for this year.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Six weeks mark

Well we reached the magic six weeks mark last Sunday, though due to the business of our clinic the six weeks check up will happen next week on Wednesday. We are definitely much better at taking care of Catherine now, she is interacting more and more with us and now that the guests have left there are signs of developing some type of routine.

She usually (ok, usually means for the last week – week and a half) wakes up at around 6am to say good morning to the new day and her parents. It’s one of the best times to get her to smile, but she falls asleep again pretty fast to wake up again at 9am for the feed and nappy change before the morning walk. I usually manage to get us out of the house by about 10am and we go for a nice long walk in the nearest park. She sleeps really well and doesn’t wake up until 12-1pm. The afternoons are still very chaotic, but I try to do baby massage and get out of the house again for a shorter walk. She sleeps well again after 6pm, but sadly Clive and I have to gently rouse her for 8pm bath. She loves bathing, but hates the drying up and putting on of clothes. Clive often gets her in the good mood again by signing silly songs and pulling funny faces. This is another good time to get few huge smiles out of her. I try to get her to sleep by 9, but she rarely falls asleep before 10. At night she wakes up for 2 feeds at around midnight-1am and anytime after 3am. Today she woke up at 5 for the second feed, which meant that she was awake again to great the new day less than half an hour after falling asleep after the feed.

Current favourite pastimes while awake are:

  • Looking at the word from parents shoulders
  • Staring at the mobile
  • Chewing on the bear. She usually knocks it away from herself and tries really hard to get it back before getting frustrated.

Best locations for sleep are:

  • In the pram during the morning walk
  • On parents shoulders

Friday, 5 January 2007

New Year Resolutions

Last year I wrote a very long personal growth plan for 2006 instead of the usual short list of the New Year resolutions. Today I re-read it. It’s interesting to see how things changed and became clearer thanks to pregnancy and the birth of my wonderful daughter; but how many thoughts, feelings and decision from last year are still very valid. So here is the updated version for 2007:

This blog hopefully helps my far-away Australian friends to know what is happening in my life, but the flow of information is very one-sided and I need to get better at keeping in touch via email and phone to be up-to-date on their lives. And I should send out real paper Christmas cards this year!

I need to work on expanding my circle to include people with children, as it will get very lonely being on my own with a small child during work hours.

I also should try to organise more group events/parties, because I love seeing people having fun and integrating together/interacting with each other. It would be lovely to manage to mix my Australian circle with Clive’s South African one.

My new family
I will treasure my closest people, Clive and Catherine, and remember to show my love for them even when I’m busy or feeling tired. I will try to be honest and open about my feelings, wants and beliefs (especially when I’m annoyed and want to sulk instead of resolving any issues we may have).

Personal improvements
I will strive to cultivate positive attitude about myself and notice the magic of every day. I’ll practice listening to what people saying without trying to project my own personal experiences and beliefs on their stories. I’ll judge myself based on my own goals and values, instead of other people's values or by comparing myself to others.

Volunteer work
Last year Clive wanted to raise some money to buy pencils, exercise books, etc for underprivileged South African schools. Due to my pregnancy and his house renovations our enthusiasm fizzled out, but I think we should revive this project. Anyone has any funky fundraising ideas?

I should finish reading through OpenLearn’s Play, Learning and the Brain course and maybe do some courses from The Open University.

I’ll do at least one Ramblers’ Families Group walks

I’ll try to use any free time I have efficiently by having a list of things to do and avoiding procrastination (otherwise I won’t be able to get anything done beyond taking care of Catherine and housework).


Cat developed a white spot on her bottom lip, which from my limited baby experience looks like thrush. So I took her to the doctors. It is almost impossible to get appointment with our GP (last time I had to book one week in advance), but the great thing about mentioning any problems with tiny babies is that the receptionist tells you to come as soon as possible for the emergency appointment. And therefore I saw a different doctor and not our wonderful, super-helpful and sweet Spanish lady, who I totally adore. Liking a doctor is very rare for me as after few crap experiences of Russian hospitals and doctors during my childhood; I have subconscious dislike and distrust of all things medical – doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc (the fact that London hospital had to take my blood THREE times after Catherine birth, because they lost first 2 samples, also didn’t help to improve my opinion of public health system). Anyway the doctor wasn’t 100% sure that it is thrush, because according to him it is very rare to get thrush spots only on the lip and have none on the tongue. But he prescribed anti-thrush medicine anyway just in case. I also used this chance to mention horribly dry skin on my hands and he was sweet enough to prescribe some hand cream.

The pharmacist suggested that I should get maternity exemption certificate so I don’t have to pay for prescription medicine and promptly gave me everything (medicine & cream) for free even though I don’t have the certificate. I always seem to have good experiences with pharmacists unlike doctors.

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Getting heavier

Cat's weight is now 4720 grams and she is onto Pampas size 3 nappies. It took few damp spots on her clothes due to the leaks for us to realise that size 2 were getting too small.

Monday, 1 January 2007

New Year

Happy New Year! Hope it started well for you and will progressively get better.

For my two last years in Australia I had New Year parties. My New Year Eve started with grocery shopping, continued into cooking, greeting people, encouraging everyone to eat more and spending the night happily in the circle of my friends. My first new year in London was totally different. It was a work day, but there wasn’t much work to be done and I was able to leave early, but didn’t know what to do as there was no need to cook and prepare. I felt depressed and homesick for most of the day. The actual night worked out ok - I went to someone else’s party in Docklands and they had fantastic view of fireworks in Greenwich and other places along Thames. Next year was better as few of my Australian friends moved to London or came to visit and we met it at the pub together.

This new year was approaching really fast and my friends and visitors couldn’t decide what to do and where to go. And since Clive and I couldn’t join them at funky nightclub parties, I decided to host a small lunch/dinner gathering. As usual the invitation list grew at alarming rate and at the end I invited everyone I knew in London, who wasn’t away (luckily for my and Clive’s sanity some people already had other plans).

Early in the morning, while Catherine was asleep, Polina and I made Russian potato salad (Oliv’e), Clive marinated chicken, extra groceries were bought and we could relax until later. More food was prepared in the afternoon and guests started to arrive slowly at around 6pm. Soon the living room was full of people. There was plenty of food & drink and Anna (wife of Julia’s cousin Simon) & Polina started a dare game, which provided lots of amusement for everyone. Few people were delighted to meet Catherine for the first time. Her defensive reaction to all the noise and attention was to hibernate, so everyone commented on what a wonderful quiet baby she is. Since I didn’t want to overtire us the invitation stated the end time of 10pm and I started wondering how politely to send people off to the next location, when Jack efficiently organized everyone and took them all away. (Jack, thank you!)

Once everyone left Catherine opened her eyes, had a feed and got her nappy changed and went back to sleep. Clive and I were very tempted to follow her lead, but we cuddled all together on the couch untill midnight to great New Year and watch London Eye fireworks. For me this was perfect way to welcome New Year.