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).


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

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.


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).


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


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.