Tales from a member of the Sandwich Generation – Observations

Being a member of the sandwich generation I’ve been able to observe some similarities in behaviour between one slice of my olive ciabatta and the other (I like to imagine I’m not an ordinary white bread sandwich).

  1. Both can be really fussy when it comes to eating.  Just as Bruce doesn’t really like his food mixed together and served with gravy or sauce, the same goes for one of my parents
  2. Bruce has about 2 vegetables that he will eat with any regularity and enthusiasm, so does one of my parents
  3. Neither of them function in the working world and so have unrealistic expectations – from the capacity of a bureaucracy like a hospital or school to be flexible and accommodating to how much services and products really cost and how difficult they can be to access when on a strict budget
  4. There’s a lot of washing involved as they can spill food REALLY easily
  5. At a point in time both may need the assistance of a walker to get around
  6. They walk really, really, really slowly
  7. Their enthusiasm and desire to drive a car is completely outstripped by their capacity to do so
  8. They can both have trouble remembering how to get home




Taking Control

Recently I celebrated my 38th birthday.  The countdown is now on until I turn 40.  Getting older hasn’t really ever bothered me.  Getting older while being overweight does.

I’ve been overweight for most of my life.  Except in my late teens/early twenties when I only ate one meal a day (assisted by an evening shift job after uni and sleeping lots – I couldn’t sustain treating my body that way now); and before we had Squidge when I lost quite a bit of weight via Weight Watchers  by correspondence (it seems sooo long ago!).

I’ve set goals and seen them sail past.  I’ve tried motivating myself by not setting long term goals but rather short term ones like, I’ll eat very well today.  Day by day.

Makes me sound like an addict doesn’t it?  Taking one day at a time. In a way perhaps I am.  Instead of dealing with anxiety and stress by drinking or drugs I reach for food.  On days when I feel anxious I can eat and eat and never fill a void that I truly feel in the pit of my stomach.  And over time it’s become a habit and one that I need to break.

One thing I remember about the period when I didn’t eat or when I was achieving success via Weight Watchers was how good it felt to be in control.  I controlled what I ate and when, rather than blindly giving in to the urge to eat.

Why now?  There’s more and more evidence linking being overweight to disease such as breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and the list goes on.  I carry a lot of my weight above my belly button – close to my heart.  And the simple fact is I don’t feel good.  I don’t feel attractive, or sexy, or confident.  I feel lumpy and awkward.

I know what I should do – eat fewer calories and expend more via exercise.  Sounds simple yet I don’t seem to achieve it.  But I’ve decided to take back control.  It is as simple as saying No.  To others when they offer me sweets or biscuits.  But most importantly to myself when I reach for food I don’t need.

What tools will I use to help me in gaining control?  Well outing myself on the interweb is one – I hope it makes me accountable.

What I really enjoyed about Weight Watchers was the thinking was done for me – I had meal plans which told me what to eat each and every day for 3 months.  It’s harder now that I have kids and have to take into account their likes and dislikes come meal times because I just cannot make multiple meals for the family.  The other thing it did was encourage me to keep track of the food I was eating.

I can achieve the same thing for free via Calorie King.  You set how much weight you want to lose and it sets a target calorie intake for a day.  You record your meals against for that day and see how you are progressing.  There are recipes, articles and forums.  The database of food is pretty good.

There’s also Weigh It Up – the group that was behind Channel 10’s Million Kilo Challenge earlier this year.  I’m sure they are connected to a health brand (Swisse from memory) but it sets out meal plans and exercise for 8 weeks of weight loss.  I’ve taken ideas from here but found it hard trying to juggle the various dietary requirements in the house.  And just recently I subscribed to Healthy Eating Planner on Facebook – they have weekly menu plans and regular motivational posts.

So how did I go today?  My calorie budget was 1460.  I snacked on a banana and mixed nuts but had lunch at a local cafe of a chicken burger with a few chips.  I came in at 1419 calories.  So far, so good.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Things I Know About Boys – Illnesses

This post should really be called Things I Know now that I’m a Parent as I’m sure that these equally apply to girls as to boys.

I have been surprised in lots of ways since becoming a parent.  Who knew that little baby boys could wee so much, so often and with such force as you change their nappy?

However, it would have to be ‘conditions’ that kids end up with that have been most surprising.  I remember as a child having mumps (should have listened when my Mum told me not to go and talk to my friend waiting in the car who had them), measles and chicken pox (that was a bad one – I went in to hospital with chicken pox).

Sure, my boys have had colds, flu, gastro (where DB has shown his true colours – didn’t ever have him pegged as a vomit catcher but he’s very good at it – doesn’t dry reach at all).  But it’s the other stuff that people don’t tell you about.

Squidge has been on the receiving end of a general anaesthetic 3 times, Bruce once. I’ve sat with them as they went under, struggling, jerking as if in a bad dream, and coming out of it crying or just hungry and grumpy.

It wasn’t until Bruce was born that I understood why when a baby, even only slightly premmie, has trouble breathing it’s not so much that they could die from a lack of oxygen. Instead the chances are greater that they’ll die of exhaustion as their little bodies work so hard to get sufficient oxygen.

Via Squidge I’ve come to learn not to trust asthma.  Sleeping in a chair next to his bed in the observation ward at our children’s hospital, he was ok and then suddenly he wasn’t and was being rushed to a resuscitation bay as a precaution.  I’ve learnt that a cocktail of ventolin, adrenaline, oxygen and steroids can pick them right up again and just about have them climbing the walls when all you want to do is cry and sleep.

I didn’t know about croup.  The first time Squidge barked when he coughed scared us to death and we rushed him to hospital.  We were taught croup first aid (sitting in a bathroom made steamy by the shower on hot and full) and as he kept getting it we were prescribed a steroid to give him at home.  I didn’t hesitate when I had to call 000 because he was just so much worse one time even after the steroid and I didn’t hesitate two more times after that.

I didn’t know about hand, foot and mouth.  When DB rang to tell me daycare had sent Squidge home with it I was speechless.  He’s not a sheep I thought.  And by then I was at the end of my tether having taken more sick leave in a few months back at work than I ever had in a few years of employment (and I only worked part-time).

Then there were school sores (impetigo) and streptococcal infections in places I didn’t even know you could get them (until I’d watched Everybody Loves Raymond I’d never heard of strep throat let alone strep other bits).

Throw in constant ear infections for Bruce in his first 18 months of life, debates with a GP about how many doses of antibiotics is too many for a baby not yet 12 months old (I still say 8 is too many) and the feeling that we alone are subsidising our pharmacist’s end of year Christmas function and this parenting lark has been a steep learning curve.

I’m sure there’s more to come.

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Week in Hong Kong and Never Ending Flights

The hodgeheg household (minus the chooks & dog) has just returned from a week in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was wonderful.  The flights were exhausting.

The last time we went anywhere that required jet fuel was when Bruce was 18 months old.  We flew to Cairns via the longest route possible because it was cheaper.  You think we would have learned.  I think it’s like having a new baby.  You forget how much you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, how exhausting and frustrating it can all be.  You only remember the good bits.  Perhaps it’s  the same hormones that are involved in child-birth and travelling long distances and it is these that wipe the bad memories from your brain.

Squidge and Bruce the last time we flew in 2008

We’ve resolved – from here on in only direct flights where possible.  However, travelling via Kuala Lumpur did save us nearly $1000.

I discovered a real downside to flying Air Asia was not automatically being allocated ear phones.  I’d paid for mini entertainment units for the kids from Perth to KL so they were okay.  I was not.  Because we were being cheap, I’d only paid for me, Bruce and Squidge to sit together, leaving DB to the mercy of the airline’s allocation system meaning he was 10 rows away from us.  I began to wish that the family sitting in front of me had done something similar.  Sadly they hadn’t.

Instead the mother and her three late teen/early 20’s daughters sat together.  On behalf of most Australians, I’d like to apologise for their behaviour.  I was thankful that my boys had their earphones in and therefore couldn’t hear the delightful game of “I Spy” that went something like:

“I spy with my little eye something beginning with F and W”

<squeal> “I know – F*&k Wit!”

Pure genius.

Nor did my boys get to hear the mother and one daughter observe that the toilet light had been on for ages and the mother make a bet that the occupant of the toilet was an Asian woman.  They seemed completely oblivious that they were flying with a company called Air Asia and that they were in the company of a lot of Asian people who would find just about everything they said highly offensive.

Sadly because they had the attention span of a Labrador puppy they didn’t see out their bet – emerging from the loo was in fact a caucasian male.

They fairly quickly exhausted the $50 worth of gossip magazines that they had purchased before take off.  This lead to a lot of complaints of being bored.  So they started a game I’ll call “Where’s Your Titty?”  because that’s what they’d say as they lunged at each other grabbing and poking (including the mother).  Eventually, they found each other’s titties (which took longer than I would have thought) and settled in to do a crossword.

“Who is the entertainment reporter for Channel 9’s Today Show? Richard someone”

“What other letters do you have?”

“w, i, l, k and n”

“That’s crap – how are you meant to know that?”

<internally I’m screaming Wilkins – Richard bloody Wilkins, I don’t even watch the Today Show and I know that!>

On the one hand I was relieved that Air Asia don’t serve alcohol.  On the other I could really have used a stiff drink about 15 minutes after take off.

The flight from KL to Hong Kong was unremarkable except the food was quite good but the plane didn’t look like it’d seen the business side of a cleaning cloth for quite some time.

Arriving at Hong Kong airport several days before we had a clue that the airport was big but not just how big.  We arrived with plenty of time before departure and I read a notice that it could take some time to walk to our departure gate and to leave enough time.  What it really should say is something like “THIS AIRPORT IS SO LARGE IT HAS A TRAIN TO TAKE YOU TO SOME BOARDING GATES”.  That, to me, drives home the enormity of the airport.  Guess who needed to take the train to gates 32 – 80?

We made it to our departure gate (gate 71) with 10 minutes to spare before the flight closed for boarding.

The plane wasn’t there.  In the hour since we’d last checked the board, our plane had been moved to gate 48.  We’d passed that gate on our way to gate 71.  We were encouraged by the Air Asia employee to hurry to gate 48.  We ran.  It felt like kilometres.  Bruce and Squidge were amazing.  DB sprinted ahead to make sure they knew we were coming.  We were by no means the last people on that plane and I wondered just how many people missed the flight.

That flight wasn’t a lot of fun either.  Unfortunately the family sitting in front of us did make it on with their 4 bags of pastries each from one of Hong Kong’s most famous pastry shops that they stored in the overhead locker and which they protected with ferocity when I stood up to put something in there too.  The person sitting in front of Bruce also took exception to his little feet pushing on her seat – quite frankly that’s as far as they could reach – he couldn’t really help it, and let me know that.  I spent the rest of the flight reminding him, and setting up alternate structures for him to rest his feet on.  And Squidge came down with a cold approximately 2 minutes after take off and we filled a vomit bag with tissues and drove neighbouring passengers crazy with his sniffing.

So, next time, direct flights with more frills.  I’ve started saving already….

Disneyland Hong Kong

Let’s be honest

I should clarify a couple of things.

I don’t often look like my Gravatar image on wordpress.  I looked like that on the 5th of November in 2011 when I went to  a wedding and spent 50 bucks to get someone to do my make-up  so I’d look okay in the family photos.

Most days I look like this:

The real me






And not like this:

The made up me - November 2011







I know.  50 bucks can really buy back 10 years.

The other thing I should make clear is that these are my memories, my thoughts, as I remember them.  For instance, DB remembers that we called Squidge Squidge because his face was all squashed up when he was born.  Sometimes I’ll be right, others wrong, and mostly somewhere in-between.

Oh and the post about swimming.  I should clarify – we’re swimming in a 25 metre pool.  It might make our 20 laps in less than 20 minutes seem less significant but I still feel pretty happy to be doing them 🙂

What does God eat?

This was the question Bruce the 5 year old asked at breakfast.  Just as he was tucking in to his own concoction of rice bubbles with blueberries.

Often he doesn’t wait for an answer.  He didn’t this time either.

“Maybe he eats dogs that die and….”  <look of absolute horror> “You don’t think he ate OUR dog do you?”.

Me:  “No, I don’t think God eats all the creatures that die.  I don’t know what he eats”.

Bruce is fairly happy with that answer.  He moves on.  That conversation ends.  It could go on but I let it go.  I don’t say “But Puddy’s ashes are under our frangipani tree…” because I’ve learnt from having my older boy Squidge and having had such conversations, that I’d just be opening up a world of pain in the form of never ending questions.  Never ending questions are okay, in the car, when we’re driving to my parents which is 40+ minutes away.  Not on a weekday when you’re trying to get ready to go to school and work.

Sometimes it pays to just let it go….

Puddy (RIP lovely dog) resting in the shade with the boys