Monday, March 31, 2014


As I mentioned yesterday in my 52 portrait post, a basket of quinces has made me aware of the change in the seasons.

The days are shorter. The evenings and mornings cooler. The light is golden. I have mentioned before our love of this season. In our family it is a time of birthdays, including Rob's. Our wedding anniversary is coming up; three years have flown by. It is also now the time of year we will remember bringing home two tiny wee babies to care for. Thursday marks the twins first year at the hut.

Half of the quinces are in the process of becoming quince jelly. The girls seem fascinated with the remaining fruit in the basket, their downy skin, their heady smell, their strange taste - yes they nibbled them raw. I love to watch their fascination with new foods.

I have a quiet day at the hut with the girls and then tomorrow I return to work after a break. Not sure I'm looking forward to it!

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Sunday, March 30, 2014


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Maggie: her pixie face. A baby of contrasts. Recently swinging between funny, laughing clown to growling rage-filled, frustrated baby in seconds. Her new teeth are proving useful for eating. Today she stood up from squatting without anything to hold onto. We all clapped her achievement, Elisabeth included, and her face broke into the proudest smile.
Elisabeth: nothing heralds the start of autumn to me as much as the sweet and distinctive perfume of ripe quinces. These are from a friend's tree, Rob is using them to make quince jelly, a favourite conserve at the hut. 

Her little hands here remind me of her father; this link between generations is particularly poignant to me this week as Rob's own father passed away last Sunday. We farewelled him on Thursday, with a celebration of his life with family and friends. I took this photo of him with Nigella in 2009 walking amongst the vineyard he planted 30 years earlier. Vale Graham.

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Joining in with Jodi's 52 portrait project at her blog Practising Simplicity. Can you believe we are a quarter of the way through the year?

Sunday, March 23, 2014


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Maggie: Sleepy face and bed hair, contemplating life and bananas at breakfast.
Elisabeth: I captured a whole range of emotions while Elisabeth nonchalantly hung off the play pen, this was my favourite. (I usually share a few more of the photos on my Instagram feed: hazelnigella).

Joining in every week with Jodi's 52 portrait project on her blog Practising Simplicity.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


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 photo DSC_8322-2_zps63bb3486.jpg Maggie: Not content with just reading, Maggie likes to practise her yoga at the same time.
Elisabeth: A slightly more conventional way to read books. In the last few weeks both girls have started to turn the pages of board books themselves and point at the pictures, rather than sit passively or try to eat the books.

Thanks to our blog friend, Ally, who gave us the Baby's catalogue, this week's new book to read. It even has a set of twins!

Joining in with Jodi's 52 portrait project at Practising Simplicity.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Firstly, thank you to all of you who have left comments on my previous post about whether to wean the girls. I have read them all (and the Instagram comments) and am trying to find the time to reply to each one. I really appreciated the time you took to share your stories, and found myself nodding along with many of you and your experiences. Sincerely, I value and admire each of you and think of you as my mother's group!

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Maggie: Yesterday we got up early, and headed into Hobart for breakfast at a favourite bakery (the girls enjoyed their fruit brioche and my breakfast panini immensely), and then had a wander around Salamanca market for the first time. We visited a stall that has beautiful second hand children's clothing, and found the girls a sweet pink rosebud dress each. Once home the girls got to try them on, and this led to helping their Papa unpack the dishwasher. Something about the sun coming through the window and the reflective dishwasher made me grab the camera. I love Maggie's expression above, she often gives you a measuring gaze, I wonder what she is thinking?
Elisabeth: She loves standing at the edge of the dishwasher. She is so sturdy in her standing. Her first steps can't be far away, surely.

Joining in with Jodi's 52 portrait project at Practising Simplicity.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The indecisive weaner

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I opened up the deep freeze in the shed this morning, and it is still full of carefully labelled plastic pouches. Reading the dates and times bring back with surprising clarity my daily routine at the time. That first express before breakfast. Day time expresses at the hospital in a tiny room. Pre-dinner express before a small pre-dinner drink. The final express before bed, and my least favourite the 2am special to keep the milk production going. Most are now more than a year old, which means technically I can no longer defrost and use them for feeding the girls. I should throw them away. But I can't quite bring myself to do it yet.  It is like a frozen time capsule. 200 hours of my life. Some of the most stressful moments I have ever experienced seem to be invisibly linked to those plastic packets.

Is it time to wean? A question that is swirling around in my mind at the moment. I have been producing milk for nearly 15 months, feeding the girls myself for 11 months. I always assumed the girls would self wean. That this decision would not be one I would have to contemplate or make.

I had not considered long term breast feeding before they were born. I assumed that feeding twins might not last that long. It would be too hard. I might not produce enough milk. I wasn't going to beat myself up if it didn't work out and we had to bottle feed or use formula.

My return to work hasn't brought on a sudden weaning. Much as I read that this could occur. Instead I am expressing twice a day and the girls drink, albeit reluctantly, from bottles when I am at work. Seems funny to have gone full circle and have the pump and bottles out again.

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If you ask me at 3am I will say yes, I have to wean. They are waking me up between 1-5am nearly every two hours, and feeding for comfort. Unfortunately now they have top teeth, it is of no comfort to me. Their latch slips in their sleepy state, and those razor sharp new teeth drag down causing me to yelp out loud in pain. Honestly, it makes me very grumpy and they are not very happy either. Rob takes them after I try to reattach them properly a few times and rocks them to sleep.

Now I know that part of this problem is the girls sleep settling needs to be separated from feeding. Yes that is easy to accept in theory. Trying to do it in practise when we are both tired and desperate for the cries of one girl not to wake the other is another matter entirely. We tend to go with the flow when it comes to parenting the girls. Although we loosely have a routine, we don't enforce it, although perhaps sometimes we pay for skipping a nap, or delaying their dinner!

But during my days at home (I am only working five days a fortnight), I happily feed them during the day. They latch on much better when they are not half asleep, and it is so much easier than trying a bottle, sippy cup or normal cup. Weaning doesn't even cross my mind. 

I think sometimes breast feeding the girls is my last connection to those early days in hospital. It was my job. The one chance to be their Mama, sustaining them and helping them grow. Amongst the artificial, busy and clinical environment of a neonatal intensive care unit those moments when we practised feeding I really felt like their mother. I could close my eyes and ignore the beeps and alarms and nurses, it was just us, doing what we were meant to be doing; bonding, forming a relationship that had been paused because of their early and scary arrival. Maybe I need to shed a few last tears and move on to the next stage with Maggie and Elisabeth.
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So where does that leave us? I suspect we'll muddle through for a bit longer until they are 12 months corrected (March 20), then wean the night feeds, I may keep up the day feeds a little longer before encouraging them to drink out of cups.

How did you wean?
How did it make you feel?


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Maggie: they are watching everything we and listening to everything we say. 
Elisabeth: Credit to Rob who took this photo of Elisabeth in her favourite place, the pantry. Appropriate given we named them both after our favourite cooks/chefs. She loves unpacking the dried goods and throwing unwanted items over her shoulder.

Joining in with Jodi at Practising Simplicity.
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