22 ways I’m becoming more crunchy, the older I get (and four ways I’m not)

My brother-and-sister-in-law think I’m a bit of a hippie: in a style sense anyway. They always have. I lean towards the bohemian, I don’t keep up with fashion trends, I’m more likely to sport a number 2 shave than a $300 hair cut and I prefer birkenstocks to ballet flats. I’ve never had a problem with the title; at least I know I’ve never had to impress.

By the contrary, however, I have a fairly solid history of non-hippie like behaviours. I used to dream of driving a sports car and living in a million dollar mansion (back when a million dollars actually got you a mansion, as opposed to these days where you’d be lucky to get a recently renovated, 3 bedroom home on a decent sized, flat block within 40 minutes of the city). I spent my money on expensive underwear, jewellery, clothes and shoes. So many pairs of shoes.

I’m pretty sure that said in-laws think I corrupted T and turned him a bit feral, because since we’ve been together he’s said goodbye to the over-groomed, $75 t-shirt-wearing metrosexual and welcomed his scruffier, less concerned with appearance – and other people’s opinions – cardigan wearing self. This is hilarious because he thinks spending money on jewellery is ridiculous, he hates earrings, make up and nail polish, he prefers me with either a shaved head or natural looking hair, to highlights/lowlights and layers, and his influence on me has washed away any previous love I had for high gloss and brightly coloured feature walls, in favour of rustic, natural materials and authentic wear and tear.

My dear friend Sara visited the other day and within a three hour window made 3 or 4 references to my being a hippie. It got me thinking about the ways that I have become more free-spirited as I get older. So, a little listicle for your Tuesday.

22 ways I’m becoming more crunchy

1. We’ve predominantly used cloth nappies for both munchkins.

cloth bum

2. When we don’t, we use eco-friendly disposables.

3. I do No Poo. Have only recently started this, but I love it! My hair felt incredible the first time I did the bicarb vinegar wash and apple cider vinegar rinse and each time I go a day longer between ‘washes’. I’m up to 9 days now.

4. I wear my babies. To date I’ve owned six different types of baby carriers, though I only use two these days.

This was the first and last time I tandem wore my babies! Clearly needed more practice...

This was the first and last time I tandem wore my babies! Clearly needed more practice…

5. We’re sorta kinda co-sleep. As in, the kids start in their beds, but more often than not, one of both of them end up in our bed by morning.

6. We believe in gentle parenting.

7. We grown our own herbs – and attempt to grow our own veg.

garden loving

8. I eat paleo. Most of the time.

9. I’m not very good at body-hair removal.

10. I had a ‘pet’ spider. Sadly after about 6 months in her web on our deck, she vanished a few days ago. Suspect a bird. Circle of Life and all that, but I’m pretty sad about it, if I’m honest.

11. We’re going to send our kids to Steiner School even though it means moving house to do so.

12. We make our own cards and wrapping paper.

13. Nearly everything we own comes from op-shops, antique stores, hand-me-downs or from the side of the road.

14. We store our food in – and at times eat from – glass jars. Mostly Pics Peanut Butter jars actually. T really REALLY likes Pics.

15. Our kids are free range, bare footed, crazy haired, rosy-cheeked little cherubs.

16. I make and use bees wax coated fabric food covers.

17. I just bought my first oracle deck. It arrived yesterday… I’m can’t wait to get to know it – and myself – a little better!

Connected & Free Inner Hue Oracle Cards

18. I believe in the universe.

19. Our kids wear Amber necklaces

20. My idea of the perfect house is old, well built, character-filled, sunlit, warm, open, filled with love and memories, with chickens and dogs, veggie gardens and fruit trees and delicious smells. It’s on a big, flat block, in a safe and close-knit community where the kids can run free… and it’s probably on Dangar Island.

21. My ‘beauty routine’ = both cleanse and moisturise with a castor oil/olive oil blend and slap on some naturally tinted lip balm. If my skin is really dry, I add sukin night moisturiser. If I’m feeling adventurous, or heading out I’ll add eyebrow pencil, mascara and a little shlook of red lippie. Also, I find people’s social media posts highlighting their thirty-seven product ‘natural look’ to be simultaneously hilarious and utterly boring.

22. I’m embracing my greys. I last had my hair dyed back in April when I asked the colourist to match my dye to my natural colour, thus minimising regrowth. And now I try and own those pesky little silverfish that have been populating my head for over a decade.

And 4 ways I’m not crunchy at all…

1. I’d totally get laser hair removal if I could justify the cost.

2. We’ve owned eight prams in the three and a half years that we’ve had little people.

3. We drive a shitty commodore wagon on our 60km and 120km round trips to work – often both in one day, averaging around 500km per week for work alone…

4. I’m addicted to my iPhone. And I hate it. I need a brick, stat.

Jenn xx

ps, I’m linking up with Jess for IBOT. Head over for some more great reads x

today I chose awesome

I work on the casual nursing pool within my local health district. Although I originally applied for the job because it was the first in 6 months or so of looking that came up, it is actually perfect for us at this stage of our lives. My shifts are usually only 7 hours, which means that T can work the same evenings that I work days (saving us from working 7 days a week). I can work at any of four hospitals in the district, meaning that there’s no shortage of work. I can be explicit about only working early shifts while MasterL is still breastfeeding in the evenings. I get casual loading on my hourly rate. And I can cancel shifts whenever I need to. Like last week when T got a late-notice acting gig that required him to work massive days for a week or so, in return for a generous sum of money. Or when he had several hundred auditions to get said part. Or when we really just need to get away for a few days. You can’t do that when you’re employed in a permanent position.

Image via Les Vregens

Image via Les Vregens

On my first day on the casual pool I wandered down the corridors of the hospital and calculated that I had not worked as a ward nurse since late 2008. My days in between had been spent in clinical facilitation, project management, GP practice nursing and the emergency department. I was sent to a geriatric medical ward and, along with an AIN, had nine patients under my care. Most of the patients had dementia and incontinence. They all had very complex medical conditions. I was TOTALLY out of my depth. I ran from start to finish, I had super short meal breaks, and I honestly had no idea who I was looking after. I couldn’t tell you what was wrong with them, why they were there, what the plans were for their ongoing care. Between meds, showers, toileting, redirecting, re-washing, redirecting, toileting, obs and meds, the first time I had a chance to look at their medical records was when I was writing progress notes 15 minutes after my shift was supposed to finish. I spent the day working my butt off, yet felt as though I’d accomplished very little. It was awful. I did not provide good nursing care, and I was extremely unsatisfied professionally.

I haven’t been back to that ward. Maybe they begged management to keep me away (I honestly felt like such a crap nurse that day). Maybe I’ve just been lucky. Since then I’ve worked in both medical and surgical wards, in pre-admission clinics, in day therapy areas, in endoscopy and in emergency departments and thankfully have not had such a sense of professional shittiness since.

Walking in to work this morning I knew that I was going to have a heavy shift. Although working on the casual pool means being sent here there and everywhere, lately I’ve been lucky enough to be spending my days in familiar places like ED, which has been a bit lovely. This morning I had a sense. The sense that niggles away at you and says ‘it’s been ages since you’ve been in a heavy geriatric medical ward… today is it’. And it was.

I had a pang of anxiety. And then I thought bugger that…


And I did!

The ward was a shambles. Honestly, my first thought was ‘you guys couldn’t organise a shag in a brothel’… but I chose awesome. I was working with a scattered-and-extremely-whingey nurse… and I chose awesome. I had a really busy day. I accepted offered help and returned the favour when I could. I smiled and laughed my way through the shift. I nursed with compassion and whole-heartedness. I did what I could and didn’t stress when I couldn’t. In the end I got everything done, and then some… and it was awesome.

When did you last choose awesome?

Jenn xx

Six reasons I’m giving up coffee in 2015

 ‘You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy coffee. Which is close.’

‘If you can’t say anything nice, you obviously haven’t had your coffee yet’

‘I am not addicted to coffee, we are in a committed relationship’

‘If someone tells you you drink too much coffee, ignore them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life’

addicted to coffee

Coffee has become SUCH a socially acceptable crutch. Many of us can’t get through the day without at least one cup, often in a takeaway vessel, which is usually single-use only and ends up in landfill. We start the day with coffee. We are nicer to be around after a cup of coffee. We make flippant sorry, very serious jokes statements about how coffee helps us to be better people.

Major presentation at work this morning? Scull a quick coffee before you go in.
Doing a long run this weekend? The caffeine will aid your performance.
Got a business meeting planned? Schedule it for the coffee shop down stairs.
3pm slump? No worries, grab another cuppa joe.

These days we are such coffee snobs! I don’t remember my first cafe cappuccino, but I do remember that back in the day it was most certainly a special treat and it’s froth was so thick it was akin to stiffly beaten egg whites. We moved away from Nescafe Blend 43 in the home, to Moccona or some other fancy brand, then plungers, stove top espresso machines and – if you were a real connoisseur- a nice Breville or Sunbeam bench top coffee maker in your home. Yee-ha.

These days there are domestic machines that will make a perfect cup with the touch of a button (or the puncture of a pod, don’t get me started on those). We walk around with paper cups (or stainless steel, BPA-free plastic or tempered glass reusable cups for us greenies) permanently attached to our hands. We buy 250gram packets of beans and grind them ourselves to ensure maximum freshness and flavour of our favourite brew. A quick yellow pages search revealed 993 cafes in Surry Hills. We know which do great coffee and which ones are rubbish, then plan our days and our routes around such venues. If we don’t know where to get ‘great’ coffee, there are apps to help us decide. Alternatively if you don’t have an iphone, just keep an eye out for a bunch of cyclists. They’re a pretty good indicator.

I’ve given it up so many times now; sometimes for a week, sometimes a month or two. Each time I do so well and then somehow I just get sucked back in to the warm and toasty coffee-haze.

Coffee is entwined in our social culture and it binds us together.
It makes us happier and less stressed.
It makes us feel human. Connected. Accepted. Normal.
Coffee is addictive.

It occurred to me recently (actually, a couple of years ago… this quitting business is a work in progress), if you need a substance to make you feel normal… It’s probably not that good for you.

Let’s for a moment consider the quotes I listed above, and then change them up a bit.

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ecstasy. Which is close.

If you can’t say anything nice, you obviously haven’t had your valium yet.

I’m not addicted to pot, we’re in a committed relationship.

If someone tells you you drink too much alcohol, ignore them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Coffee is a drug, man!

It produces feel-good hormones that tell your brain you are happy, and life is wonderful… Until you don’t drink it, then you suffer headaches, anxiety, stress, have difficulty concentrating and feel as though you are walking around in a fog…

Which is where I was a week or so ago (after 2 days with no caffeine), until MasterL woke up at 10pm and didn’t go back to sleep until 2am and then I was just. so. tired. that I couldn’t possibly get through that next morning without cawfeee. Oh, dear cawfee…

So here’s why I’m giving it up. Again.

1. It costs us a stack of money we don’t really have. I don’t even drink that much (1-3 cups a day) but at $35+/kg for a bag of beans for home use, and an average of $4 per takeaway, 3 days a week, we spend about a thousand bucks a year on coffee in our household. For those of you playing along at home that have a daily takeaway habit, it’s $1000 just on takeaways, plus the contribution to landfill and ingesting questionable chemicals as you go.

2. I don’t like the idea of being dependant on addictive substances. If I neeeeed coffee, I really don’t need coffee.

3. I need to sleep better. When I did the Whole30 (and gave up coffee) I felt clear in the head and slept so much better. I had more patience with MissC and was generally nicer to be around. I had no energy slumps and actually woke up feeling energised.

4. It’s full of crap. I’m actively taking steps to nurture my body and rid our environment of toxins, and coffee adds an unnecessary (and enormous) load pesticide load.

5. It isn’t a mindful habit. Often I don’t even enjoy the ritual, I simply buy, walk, scull, forget.

6. I’m a bit flighty at the moment. I’ve always been a bit of a scanner, but I am having so much trouble just stopping and being. Given that caffeine increases stress hormones, maybe removing it will help settle me.

I’m just about ready to let it go… It’s been a few days since I had one and whilst the headaches seem to have passed, I’m still rather foggy and (according to T) quite moody (read: not nice to be around). I’m planning a variation on A Year of Living Without and my first month will definitely be coffee, so that I can try and break this habit for good.

Have you ditched your coffee habit? Was it hard? Will you ever go back?

it’s not brain surgery, and i like it.

Do you hear that?

Listen carefully.

That, my friends, is the sound of two kids sleeping.

It was a bit of a mission, and one that I nearly lost, but I got there in the end. MissC was easy for once. She fell asleep at the table while she was eating lunch. I transferred her to her bed, grubby hands and face and all, and there she remains. MasterL on the other hand… Just because his big sister was asleep didn’t mean he fancied the same. I gave him another half an hour and then lay down beside him til he fell asleep. No sooner had his eyes closed I jumped up and grabbed the lap top, drafted words pinging around my head just itching to get out. Turns out I got up just a little prematurely. As I walked past him he opened both eyes and grinned at me.

Nice try, mum.

Michael Darling

{image from pinterest}

But I won in the end.

And now I sit. I’ve had a crazy urge to write for the last week or so and now that I have ten, maybe twenty minutes up my sleeve I’m not sure I can do this. Not sure that I want to do it. Not sure that I know why, all of a sudden, I’ve been nearly obsessed with blogging again. I say “nearly” obsessed because of course I had to make the blog look pretty first, which took, what? Eleven million hours? But here I am. Sitting. Writing.

Waffling. Let’s call it what it is.

I returned to work a few weeks ago. Not nursing, which is strange. I’m doing editorial research and coordination, social media management and advertising stuff for an Australian blogger. It’s a three-day a week gig and I enjoy it. One day a week in the city, two days a week spread out at home. Great work-life balance, nice to get out of the house, nice to be with like-minded individuals. Like I said though, strange not to be nursing.

Yesterday I got myself into a tizz. I miss-timed a deadline and felt as though I was going to make a mess of things. I’ve recently taken over the electronic newsletter at work and I’m still pretty slow with it, so it took way longer than I thought it would. I had emails from my boss wondering where it was, was it ready, and I got myself into a bit of a funk, certain that I had stuffed up.

Although I hadn’t ‘gotten in trouble’ I felt like a little girl who had been scalded and I was just waiting to be subjected to a talking-to when I walked into the office. What am I? Five years old?

It occurred to me, as I walked along, that I was worrying about AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER.

I hadn’t mis-timed a treatment that would have detrimental effects on someone’s health. I hadn’t forgotten to press ‘approve’ on an order that would distribute food to thousands of starving kids in Africa. I hadn’t lost track of time and left a kid in a hot car. I hadn’t even missed an antibiotic dose for my pooch. Whilst there was a potential risk of my boss looking un-professional on some level, there was still time before it was to be sent out and at the end of the day it was still *just* a newsletter.

So I dusted myself off, high-tailed it to the office, put my head down and finished the job. In time. With no detrimental effects. No starving kids. No worries.

My new job is different to my old. I have much to learn and am enjoying the change. It’s not brain surgery, but I like it.

Jenn x

PS, I got 30 minutes before the kiddies woke, in unison, and climbed all over me, demanding attention while I finished. Back to my other, most important job xxx

munchy, giggly face eating… and why i hate facebook

I hate Facebook.

I gave it up about six months ago and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I know that ‘best ever’ sounds like I’m over-exaggerating a little, but I’m not. Facebook is a life sucker. It warps your sense of what’s important, it feeds the Fear of Missing Out, it plucks minutes hours from your life with the blink of an eye. It wasn’t just impacting my productivity, it was affecting my mental health.

Facebook makes successful people feel inadequate, active people feel lazy, and loving, committed stay at home parents feel as though they’ll never be as productive as the next guy. You’ll never be as fit, as clever, as connected, as much of a domestic goddess or as wealthy as your Facebook friends. Nor could you possibly be as sad, as hard done by or as busy as them either.

Of course, it is a great way to connect and reconnect… The thing is, you never know exactly how your friends *really are* by staking their timeline. You just don’t.

It’s not all bad though. Facebook pages are a great way to build a community, sell a product or promote a blog. Facebook groups unite individuals with common interests and causes, they allow the sharing of resources, they connect and inspire and motivate.

Pages and groups are the reason I got sucked back into Facebook land.

Before I deleted my account last year (have you ever tried? That’s a mission in itself!!) I set up a new account purely so that I could continue to run my blog page. I made a point of not uploading a photo, not using my real name, not personalising my profile at all.

For a while there Facebook was just servicing my blog page. My online habits were much more healthy and I removed all other social media from my phone. Then I needed to sell some cloth nappies so looked up a friend to re-add me to the group. I bought a woven wrap and joined the local baby wearing group for support. I missed my exercise buddies and reunited with my fitness communities. We moved to a new area and I joined the local buy sell swap groups. I really missed the girls from my old mums group so rejoined our private group. I added a few more friends as Facebook suggested them to me and told myself that it was great because now I could be really picky with who I connected with and what I shared.

Logging in once a week (on the computer only) lead to using iphone safari to access Facebook once a day (it doesn’t count if you don’t have the app), lead to all social media apps being reloaded on to my phone, lead to joining several buy sell swap groups, joining several baby wearing groups, sending and accepting many friend requests and checking in checking out several times a day hour…

All of a sudden Crackbook is ruling my life again and I DON’T EVEN LIKE IT. It bores me and it angers me that I am such a slave to the blue and white, life-sucking vortex. It worries me that I can come up with a million reasons why I can’t quit it just yet and once more I feel paralysed by the Fear of Missing Out. I’m downgrading to a dumbphone next month when my mobile contract runs out and I can’t help but think that on some level I’m having a bit of a final fling with my sexy smartphone before I do. It’s pathetic.

So. I’ve just removed myself from 12 (TWELVE!) groups and unliked a bunch of pages.

I’d like to quit it all together again, but I’m still not quite ready to let go of my mountain mummas and the Central Coast Babywearing Group is the closest thing that I have to a mums group here so I’m hesitant to remove myself from there too. Then there’s the Vitalogy Health & Fitness Facebook page (I’m well aware of the hypocrisy, but feel free to check it out and ‘like’ for updates)… do I keep it? Will I regret not having a Facebook presence sometime down the track? Can I have a blog and no FB page? And what about my friends? Will I actually keep in contact with them if we’re not friends online? Will they keep in contact with me? Will giving up Facebook lead to giving up twitter and giving up instagram and ERMAHGAWD IF I HAVE NO SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE DO I HAVE ANY PRESENCE AT ALL? Am I even real????

The thing is, I know that as long as I am a slave to Facebook, I watch my kids but don’t really see them. I hear them but don’t really listen. I’m physically present, but my presence is negligible. And what I am actually missing out on is a far greater tragedy than any bargain or meme or event or amusing anecdote from the interwebs.

As I finish this up I’m being mauled by my baby boy, who i’m sure was only born yesterday but is somehow already seven months old. He is mauling my face; coming at me with a big open mouth and suctioning onto my cheekbones while he pulls my fringe and tickles my neck. I love it. I giggle and he giggles and together we make munchy, giggly, face eating noises.

There’s no facebook group for that.


thirty four

A few days ago I turned 34.

I used to love birthdays; no matter now old I got, I never felt as though I was getting old – just older – which was good.

Since having kids I’m constantly being reminded of my age. My daughter’s first birthday was probably the first time I actually realised I was ageing; less supple skin, darker eyes, a few more greys – no doubt the effects of a years worth of broken sleep… It dawned on me that despite my best efforts SHE was growing up, which meant that alas, so was I.

And now that my baby is six months old, he’s starting to move (!!) and grabbing at food… sure signs that he’s no longer a wee squish and half way towards one himself. Most days I still feel 30. Not quite as young and fresh as I was in my mid 20s, waltzing around with my new love with the world at our feet, but that easy, comfortable stage of adulthood where you know who you are and with whom you want to be. Where waking up next to your love is is a comfort and a joy, familiar and sweet. Where you feel old enough to have it together and young enough to take each day for granted.

And other days I look in the mirror and see that I’m no longer the spring chicken that I think I am, that I am indeed approaching middle age and that if ever there was a time for me to focus on health, this is it. Now, while I’m old enough to understand and appreciate *wellness* and to not get caught up in looking hot/being skinny/getting my abs ready for summer, and young enough to have a body that will still respond well to change.

Here in my thirty fifth year I have a few goals, which are different to past superficial objectives, and better reflect my gently gently approach to life.

words to live by

I’ve learnt that for me, committing to big, hairy audacious goals online doesn’t actually work. That biting the bullet and registering for a half marathon 6 months out won’t make me get off my bum and run. That diarising three cardio and three resistant training sessions a week won’t translate to me being the very best version of me. That keeping a food diary won’t actually keep me accountable… To the contrary, I slide into the comfort of familiar failure and grand plans that float around only in cyberspace.

For me it’s just about being mindful. About paying attention to my body and how it feels. About making small adjustments that I can stick to, rather than sweeping change. So far it seems to be working out alright. I salute the sun 3-4 times every morning. I do an online yoga class once a week. I read every day, I limit my social media time (i’ve found it has by far the most draining effect on my mental health and productivity), I choose good food and don’t beat myself up when I consume the opposite. I’ve cut down my caffeine.

And I feel good. I stand next to my husband and look in the mirror and instead of lamenting the time that’s gone by I’m excited that I am growing older with the man I love. Instead of wishing my sun salutations were stronger or a little more graceful I celebrate that my daughter wants to stretch beside me. I marvel at my little one’s joyous face and smiling eyes and feel honoured when I’m told he looks just like me, because it encourages me to smile more.

self portrait

Life is good.

because sometimes you have to stop, so that you can start

Do you ever feel as though you need more hours in the day? Like if you had *more time* you would be able to achieve so much? Do you have an ever-growing list of things that you’ll start, just as soon as you get this sorted and that organised, those things finished and a reprieve long enough to not only catch up, but move forward?

Me too.

The thing is, sometimes you just have to stop waiting and start doing.

Stop doing and start being.

Stop planning for a time when you have more time, and start using the time you have.

Stop wishing that you could have child-free time to exercise, and start incorporating them into your routine. And when you say ‘routine’, accept that this season of your life is not for running and enjoy the walk.

Stop designing and redesigning your new blog and start publishing some content.

Stop wasting time on social media and start finishing your studies.

Stop trying to figure out how to please everyone else and start pleasing yourself.

Stop rushing and start living.


once she stopped rushing through life she was amazed how much life she had time for

Two Beautiful Bunnies

I'm a mama to two beautiful babies. I have started this blog to gather my thoughts and try to improve who I am as a person but particularly as a mother, wife, daughter and sister.