Sleep trackers – good or bad?…

The other morning I was watching Sunrise, one of the very few times I get to because in our house, Blippi is life… Long story, hopefully you NEVER have to find out! They were talking about the different sleep trackers out there and when I first started my fitness journey I thought the Fitbit Charge and Charge 2 were the bee’s knees… how wrong I was. This segment caught my attention because sleep has become very important to me! And I will do everything in my power to protect it!

High tech wrist watches and smartphone apps have been developed to help monitor our sleep patterns. These trackers promise a lot, with some saying they measure the time you spend in each stage of sleep. Although, it might be fun to pore over data you have collected about yourself, it is important to keep the pros and cons in mind when using these new sleep tracker technologies.

Most sleep tracker apps and watches use a device built into most smartphones that senses movement. This device measures how much movement you make during your sleep and this data is then used in an ‘algorithm’ to estimate sleep time and quality. How sensitive each device is to movement and the algorithm used varies between products. This can greatly affect their accuracy.

Popular trackers, such as the Fitbit Charge, include a sleep mode that aims to provide sleep time and restlessness.

Some wrist sleep trackers claim to also estimate sleep stages – the Jawbone UP breaks down sleep time into deep and light stages. The new Jawbone UP3 has added sensors for measuring skin and room temperature to help indicate deep and REM sleep. The Basis B1 estimates REM sleep in addition to deep and light sleep stages by measuring heart rate.

Sleep trackers that only use an accelerometer (such as smartphone apps) cannot accurately measure sleep stages. That’s because an accelerometer only monitors movement, and there is little difference in movement between the sleep stages. You move a similar amount in deep sleep and lighter stages of sleep.

While most trackers can estimate fairly well when a person is awake -v- asleep, they are not very accurate and most likely, something will go wrong. For example, you could be lying still but be awake. In the case of the phone apps Sleep Cycle or Sleep As AnDroid, your partner, child or even your dog could impact the amount of movement and noise detected by the device, changing the sleep data.
Research on some of these sleep trackers suggests that they provide a general estimate of sleep but that they can give misleading information.


A 2012 study data with adults who wore an older version of the Fitbit tracker found that it overestimated sleep time by an average of 67 minutes. Another study in 2014 found the opposite effect in children. The Fitbit One underestimated the children’s sleep by 105 minutes.

Users should not expect these devices to recognise change between sleep stages. This is because they rely on movements, whereas sleep stages are defined by brain wave activity and other body indicators (eye movements etc.) measured in a laboratory sleep test.

The Basis B1 is one of the few trackers on the market that says it can track REM sleep in addition to light and deep sleep. The device claims it can do this because it includes a heart rate monitor in addition to an accelerometer. However the research on what this claim is based has not been published yet and so cannot be properly assessed.

For most people, using a monitor to track sleep isn’t going to be a problem. In fact, it might help some people understand and review their sleep and wake patterns, and this may ultimately improve their sleep. For example, noticing a pattern of repeatedly going to bed late and sleeping less than required may help the user adjust their sleep habits to allow for longer sleep.

In general the sleep tracker apps and devices will give you a good overview of how long you sleep but they can only tell you so much. You have to use the data to figure out what’s working for you and what isn’t. If you think there is a problem, regardless of what the sleep tracker data is telling you, talk to your GP.

These devices raise awareness of sleep health and sleep issues. Over time they could show if you are getting less or more disturbed sleep that you might expect. This might lead you to seek treatment or change lifestyle habits. See Understanding and Helping Poor Sleep as a good starting point.

Ok, so summing up, always remember the following… These are consumer products, and most have not undergone scientific evaluation. Don’t put too much trust in these devices to accurately monitor sleep. A single night is not always a very accurate reflection of your general sleep; one night’s “data” shouldn’t be cause for alarm. If you tend to worry about your sleep then it might be best for you to avoid sleep trackers, or only look at the data occasionally. Have fun! Collecting data about yourself can be very interesting. But just remember sleep trackers tend to point to general trends in your sleep as a whole.

Aquo Xx

A stay-at-home mum’s guide to stretching every $$$

It’s no secret how money just doesn’t seem to go as far these days. We are all having to learn how to shop smarter and try and get every bang for buck we possibly can. Being a stay at home mum, we may have a spare second or two to do our research to find any deal we possibly can so as to save that little extra. Below I have listed out ways you too can do this:-

There are so many household products where somebody has formulated a way you can make them yourself, costing you much less. I have just started making my own baby wipes, they don’t have anything in them that can irritate your child’s skin. There is also ways to make laundry detergent, baby wipes, granola, lunchbox fillers, kitchen extras, personal care products, different home & garden products, cleaning products- the list is endless!

Research best deal I research almost every product I’m looking at buying by reading reviews and searching where I can get the best value for money. If It’s cheaper to buy larger quantities I tend to do that.

Shop online – For things you can get at the bigger stores – Woolies/Coles, Bunnings etc I like to shop online as It’s much quicker for me with my limitations. When it comes to things like clothes etc. where sizes can be tricky, I like to buy local, it may cost a few extra dollars, but you can physically assess the items before you buy them – than It’s done! No wasting your time, No sending back and forth taking weeks, no dealing with all the frustration… So at the end of the day is it really saving you money?

Check your pantry before deciding on a meal plan – While I plan the following week’s meal plan and writing the grocery list I go through the pantry so I don’t double up on things, and will possibly save a few $$$ for the week. Sometimes I start in the pantry and choose meals where I only need a few more ingredients, some weeks I spend less than $50.00 on groceries.

Cut down on the extras – I think there has only been a few times in my life where I have only bought the items I need, not want. Click and collect is a great tool to start becoming the master of if you need to stick to a tight budget. Click and collect can save a significant amount of time when a customer is purchasing a lot of items. The model is becoming increasingly available, and popular – in supermarkets. Typically, the shopper selects the items online and specifies a convenient pick-up time slot. A personal shopper selects the items at an appropriate time and the customer picks them up curbside.

Buy in bulk if It’s a smart buy – read tags to work out. add video & pics

Meats, ready-to-eat meals, canned items, and any non-perishable, shelf-stable items are a good bulk buy. Paper products like toilet paper, paper towels, and paper plates are also smart purchases.

If you’re a parent, buying diapers and wipes online are seen to be the cheapest option for the quality nappies. The Nappy Shop, House Of Nappies, Go Toddler, or other bulk stores will also save you big. When we had our son, we did the calculations on diapers and worked out on average, we save a few hundred dollars every year.

Other items to buy in bulk include: candy, laundry, and dish detergent, garbage bags, coffee (if you drink a lot), even dog food or treats. Toothbrushes, cereal, and even jewelry can also be great buys.

Unless you have a massive wog family (like my family) and cook for a dozen people everyday, if you buy things like fresh food or anything you won’t use before the expiration date in bulk you are actually LOOSING money!

Buy generic brands – Most times you will find that brands like Coles, Woolies, homebrand etc. have certain products that are just as good (if not better) than the big brand names. For example, I have found that the Coles Ultra Brand are just as good as the big brands but is only $4 a pack. Also Coles Brand Laundry Soak is better than Vanish and is only $2.

Reuse left overs – With left overs, I like to change it up so it’s not the same boring thing. If we have pasta for dinner and there’s heaps of left overs, the next night I’ll make pasta toasties or pasta bake & salad etc. I use the internet heaps to find new things to make out of what we already have, walah! a whole new meal.

Know how to Use your rewards cards – These days there are rewards cards for every single store in the universe, or so it seems. Visit Point Hacks – they have heaps of different guides on how to use each of your rewards cards effectively. They will tell you how to buy and use your points for cheaper flights, how to use specific rewards programs more effectively and guides on how to earn more rewards points.

Stick to a meal plan – There is one sure-fire way to save money on the groceries week after week and that is meal planning. All the other grocery savings tips fall second to planning meals in advance. In fact, without the foundation of a good meal plan, you won’t get the full benefit of other tips like eating in season or shopping at Woolies/Coles.

These days, I get all excited when I save money, especially if it’s unexpected. If you put any of the tips I have given here, in place, I guarantee you will cut your current spendings. You can’t half ass it though, and if you do there’s not really any point. Be like me – go in full bull and don’t look back!

Aquo Xx

Bamboo nappies are life!

When our first son was born, we started using huggies nappies – because you know… So many people rave about how good they are…. WRONG! I could seriously sue them for what wearing their nappies did to my poor little boys bum! For ages we couldn’t figure out what was wrong (It took like a year!) Until I started buying different brand of nappies for during the day and slowly slowly his bum started to clear up. I’m only guessing – but that’s the only reason that could be.

Now I know some of you are probably thinking “but how often were you changing him?!” With a whole heap of attitude attached… Now, I can’t stress enough that wherever he went, whoever he was with, they were always very vigilant with changing him. I mean my mother and mother-in-law have always been that bit more proactive that me!

So before bub #2 arrived I started to research things like most eco friendly nappies, world’s best disposable nappies, healthiest nappies and started to educate myself on all things nappies.

Research

Choice Australia – https://www.choice.com.au/babies-and-kids/baby-clothes-and-nappies/nappies/buying-guides/disposable-and-cloth-nappies

Healthy Mummy – https://www.healthymummy.com/choice-best-disposable-nappies/

Good baby diapers – https://goodbabydiapers.com/bambo-nature-diaper-revie

These are just some of the sites that helped make up my mind on the direction I was going to take in regards to nappies. When my second bub was a new born I used pampers premi nappies but now I use bambo nature, they are so absorbent its not funny! I forgot to change my toddler before he was put to bed, he was in the same nappy for 13 hours and his nappy was full like it was going to explode! There’s full – then there’s omg so full! I am so in love with bamboo nappies now, there is no way I will ever go back to using any other disposable nappies!

I eventually found sites like House of Nappies and The Nappy Shop and I started ordering my nappies in bulk and worked out the cost of buying bamboo nappies in bulk compared to buying Huggies from woolies. Now, I wish I could say that they cost relatively the same cost – yeah, no… Bamboo nappies DO NOT COME CHEAP! However – they are the best thing on earth!

So it turns out… Bambo nature nappies (the head honcho of bambo nappies), are $201.85 for a month of nappies, I can’t just run down to the shops and buy them, but the nappy shop has AFTERPAY! –

BrandBambo NatureHuggies
Pants size 50.77c ea0.40c ea
Nappies size 5$1.09 ea0.46c ea
Newborn size 1$2.02 ea0.31c ea

So before you all have a fit, like my husband did – think of it like this – it has solved a problem that has been present on and off for over a year, I have tried EVERY. SINGLE. BRAND. OF. NAPPIES. OUT. THERE! My poor little boy says as he holds his bits “Sore, change, cream, goo.” – Translation: “Mummy, I’m sore af! I need to be changed, I need cream, and I think nappy goo will suffice.” It is the cutest thing ever.

I also decided to make my own wipes because nappies are expensive af! And because then we know what’s in them. So I buy Viva paper towels (don’t buy cheap, I did, they aren’t strong enough) and a jar of coconut oil (whatever is on special). I fold the paper towel in half (I fold two rolls at a time), boil the jug, mix 1 heaped tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 cup of boiling water and let the coconut oil dissolve. I use the huggies containers to put them in because I had them already, but while writing this article I decided to see what’s out there – and I didn’t find anything of interest, the huggies containers seem to be the most convenient.

EDIT:- So as I was writing this I discovered another – much more time saving – way to use the wipes. All those hours wasted folding the paper towel! What I found was if you run one end of the roll under the tap for a second and then turn the roll up the other way and set aside – the water will transfer throughout the roll making it easy to slide the cardboard cylinder out of the middle. Then squash the roll into the container, add the mixture, then just roll the sheets out and break off as needed – OMG SO MUCH EASIER!

It was now been an entire week where the only nappy that is used on both my boys is bambo nature and I have noticed a significant change. I no longer hear “mummy sore sore!” There is a massive cost difference to those brands you can but at Woolies or Coles, but you do what you have to do for your kids. The element of afterpay makes it a bit easier as well and I have become quite frugal with all my other expenses. Follow some of my other blogs to see how you can also reduce your spendings.

Aquo Xx

The day your walk turns into a run…

So today, 06/08/2019 – After telling myself this morning I was going to have a lazy day after my night last night… and the few before that. I’ve had to share my bed with not one, but two little germ infested poo poo platters that are my sons. The big one has been running scary temperatures and has a cold and the baby is so congested! Poor thing – I’ll say that because he’s currently asleep, haha!

OK SQUIRREL

So today, my walk, turned into a run! OMG! Even if it was just three 100mish bursts on my 3kmish walk around town pushing a pram. People are still unsure about my dedication to my healthy lifestyle, even though I’m now a size 14 from a size 18/20. After my first child i weighed 102kg. 102kg! I will never forget that number as it’s the same weight as the biggest barramundi I caught. I slip up every so often and have something naughty.

I vow to never, ever, ever return to looking like this again!

Me in the 80kg category. (don’t have any pics of me at 102kg)

I was once told “It is ok for you to stray from the path of a healthy lifestyle, but you can’t loose site of your goals and you have to be able to return to a healthy lifestyle.” For me – I WANT IT SO BAD! I want to transform into a sexy, tight assed, fitness model to prove to the world that it is possible to look like that, it just takes a magnitude of self-motivation and dedication. You have to be extremely disciplined! And more – you have to want to do it for yourself rather than your husband, boyfriend etc. My husband constantly tells me that I don’t have to do it for him, he loves me the way I am. I reply – “Pfft I’m not doing it for you, i’m doing it for myself, to better me.

And with that – people will be waiting for you to fail, so they can say I told you so in a snide way. You need to lose that want for acceptance of others, you don’t need it. I’m on my way there and it feels great!

I would like to aim to create something like the following. These are just a few ideas that come to mind.

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 21: Model Bridget Malcolm attends call backs for the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Midtown on August 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
Kayla Itsines – top Australian fitness model
An advocate for something i’m passionate about = I just haven’t put my finger on it yet.

Anywho – Just a quick little blurb about my exciting experience today, I’m off to start baking lunch snacks.

Aquo Xx

None of us have it together mama – so stop comparing yourself!

This is another write up that hits pretty close to home… for all of us. Every mum these days is trying to be a super mum, trying to make sure your kids are getting enough stimulation – but not too much, making sure they’re eating healthy and are always well, and are well behaved when we go out. But come on, lets face it, all of our beautiful little munchkins are at times are all little assholes that have been sent to test us, to show every other person out there what we’re made of.

That perfect mum, yeah… she’s a myth! I had my first son in 2017 and did everything from making all of his baby food, didn’t allow him to eat anything processed, bathed him everyday from a new born, would clean my floors everyday, took him to playgroup every week, stuck our routine like glue – you name it. I honestly thought “what is everyone winging about? This is easy!” Fuck I was naive!

But seriously, none of us really know what we’re made of until we have two, and I mean go through two separate pregnancies, none of this “oh I have twins, this is so hard, I’m not going back and having anymore” BULLSHIT. You realise it’s going to be so much harder when you have to chase after a toddler, you have to get up every… single… day… because you don’t have a choice. It’s not your child’s fault you can’t keep your legs shut. Haha – You don’t get a chance to rest when you want or need to for that matter.

So… my second bub is 11 weeks old now, I still have a clean house – put bub in baby carrier and off I go – but I don’t look after myself as well. My nails are currently an embarrassment and my hair is so oily we could deep fry chips in it. Yes I do get help because of my disability, but no where as much as I used to so now I’ve adapted to push through and get shit done. Even on my worst days, I make myself get at least one chore and make sure the boy’s bottles are made up.

When it comes to looking after myself, I will always put my health and fitness before anything else. Getting fat again is my ultimate fear! Exercising makes me function so much more efficiently. I don’t get much time to go to the gym at the moment, so I force myself to go walking – even if I have both boys with me. My plan at the moment is get down to a size 10-12 then tone the shit out of my body! #mommystrong

I was searching the net one night – aimlessly and found a site for Mumcations… I thought that would be so awesome! I can see me and my friend now (she has ffff five kids!) It could get rather messy! I would so much rather that than going with my husband. A kidless vacation means no kids… Even the big ones – “Babe I can’t find this” – ummm it’s right in front of you (hits myself in the head).

I have always tried to portray myself as strong, emotionally and physically. I guess that comes with a brain injury – at times you feel people think your “different”. Even though I come across as a cold hard bitch at times, I still have feelings but.

Now, after my second kid I don’t give two shits about any criticism that comes my way, I’ll be over here… doing my own thing. If you don’t like it… well, anyone who knows me well enough knows what comes next. 🙂

Aquo Xx

Organised Mumma…

So today is Saturday and today I have a mega velcro baby. I was planning on having a pretty laxed day, because I woke up feeling like crap! WRONG! I saw things needed to be done so I pulled up my big girl pants, had my banoffee smoothie (recipe will follow), a berocca and started smashing out jobs. The baby is 10 + 1 days old and last night slept from 7pmish to just after 3am this morning so I woke up feeling like a new person (until now, he’s has slept 4hrs max). Edit:- Now he sleeps from 8pm till 5am! yay!

I decided that today was going to be the day I start working out again… IT WAS POSSIBLY THE BEST DECISION I HAVE MADE IN MY LIFE…. EVERRR! I am feeling so energised, dealing with two screaming kids is so much easier, dealing with people in general is so much easier! I decided to do a bit of cardio and some weights for 20 minutes and I did it with the baby in the carrier and a toddler jumping on me. It was awesome. I’m going to start turning back to the Fitmom program that Sharny & Julius Keiser started in 2012 and has since become a very successful platform for those wanting to get healthy.

Mums – How good would it be if we could have the same set routine everyday! But I’m a realist and I know that that will never happen! it would be good right?? NO, it would be amazing! I find that getting up even half an hour before the boys get up and have my breaky smoothie and my morning coffee in peace watching the sunrise and process my day, check the calendar and both my electronic diary (phone) and my paper based diary.

If a load of washing has to be put on I will go do that, make sure dinner has been taken out of the freezer, make sure there are enough baby wipes – if not,make more, make sure my toddler has a lunchbox packed for the day (even if we’re at home, Mr independence likes to go to the fridge and get what he wants… AT 2!), put a loaf of bread on (I love my bread maker), and make sure both boy’s bottles are ready in the fridge. It doesn’t happen like that everyday, but I like my Mondays to start of like that, it helps the rest of the week to go a little smoother.

For a snack I like to make my own nut mix:

  • A block of 95% coco Lindt chocolate (you can use any)
  • A handful of dried fruit (Today, I used apples)
  • A handful of Goji berries
  • A handful of peanuts
  • A handful of cashews
  • A handful of walnuts
  • A handful of pumpkin seeds
  • A handful of pine nuts

I don’t measure ANYTHING! I use any nuts, seeds & fruit I have around the house so it works with anything… BE CREATIVE!

For lunchbox fillers I buy a block of cheese that I cut in little squares and put in snack bags (I wash and reuse them as I go through so many). I also buy 2 or 3 boxes of crackers and divide them up into snack bags, and I make sure there are yoghurts (kid ones & adult ones).

This recipe is out of “The healthy mix” by Nikalene Riddle formulated for use with a thermomix

I have learnt the art of speed cleaning – which is all about getting the essentials done without taking up too much of your precious time. During the week, I make sure the essentials get done and on Fridays I get in and do everything I can’t do myself with the help of a support worker. The following blog is all about speed cleaning:-

Speed cleaning – https://www.kidspot.com.au/lifestyle/home/home-solutions/how-to-speed-clean-your-entire-house-in-under-an-hour/news-story/233482497e6b5b63aca995365314e592

Since I have lost over 20kg since the operation to have a plate put in to hold my shoulder in place (as I had a severe brachial plexus injury from my accident), the plate is now sticking out of my arm and causing so much pain – it’s epic! With two kids it is a massive hinderance! Most days, I just have to push through and get shit done – mums out there, can you relate?

I never want to be seen as a failure as a mother first then a friend. My friends mean the world to me – as after my accident I lost many of my so called friends. However, my kids come before anything! my husband, and even my dad – my dad and I are so close. I weanted to see what other mums out there have to say, I found the following blog and much of what is written hits home – BIG TIME.

10 Truths you need to hear when you feel like a failure as a mum – https://keeperofthehome.org/10-truths-you-need-to-hear-when-you-feel-like-a-failure-as-a-mom/

It is so true that you believe the lies you tell yourself when your tired, stressed, run down. Our failures, weaknesses and sins are NOT who we are! The fact that you even care means that there is always room for improvement, growth and adversity. You have to take life in, make the best decisions for yourself (even though we all struggle with that at times) and your kids. When I became a parent I realised that I was in charge of keeping a small human alive and I needed to have more structure in my life.

So yeah – when I became a parent I realised that I was in charge of keeping a small human alive and I needed to have more structure in my life to make sure things ran as smoothly as humanly possible to make living with my disabilities and two little boys as easy as it can be. I still struggle, don’t get me wrong…. I have my blowouts to blow off some steam but then I return to be the best mum I can be for my boys – that means being organised.

Aquo Xx

Raise your kids on a healthy diet…

I believe that the best thing you can do for your babies is to introduce a healthy diet from when they begin to eat solids as recommended by the healthy eating pyramid. Statistics show that if parents maintain a healthy diet, their children are 75% more likely to follow same.

But… I’ve gone all next level healthy mummy. I try my hardest to check the nutritional labels on everything and stick to the one serving size – it would be awesome if I was able to do this with everything in the kitchen…. But – I’m a realist…. Andddd I know with 2 boys under 2 that ain’t gonna happen!

My eldest son was 2 before he ate anything that was even a little bit processed, and I’m not even sorry – not even a little bit! I have a well behaved toddler. Well – As much as possible for a toddler. Once we started to introduce processed foods, we noticed his behavior receded and took a week or so to readjust.

Benefits of raising your children to be healthy include:

  • strong bones and muscles
  • healthy heart, lungs and arteries
  • improved coordination, balance, posture and flexibility
  • reduced risk of becoming overweight or obese
  • reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes later in life

All vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, some stand out for their exceptional health benefits. Some individuals benefit more from certain vegetables than others, depending on their diet, overall health, and nutritional needs.

Healthy eating can help children maintain a healthy weight, avoid certain health problems, stabilize their energy, and sharpen their minds. A healthy diet can also have a positive effect on a child’s mental and emotional health, helping to prevent conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD.

Eating well can support a child’s healthy growth and development into adulthood and may even play a role in lowering the risk of suicide in young people. If your child/children has already been diagnosed with a mental health problem, a healthy diet can help your child to manage the symptoms and help control their health.

It’s important to remember that your kids aren’t born with a craving for French fries and pizza and an aversion to broccoli and carrots. This conditioning happens over time as kids are exposed to more and more unhealthy food choices. However, it is possible to reprogram your children’s food cravings so that they crave healthier foods instead. My two year old son loves fresh fruit & vegetables. His lunchbox for daycare includes:- Carrot & Hummus, A Vegemite sandwich on homemade bread, Sultanas, Strawberries or a piece of fruit & a sometimes snack (weetbix slice or any kids snacks down the health-food isle at Woolies. Most days, he comes home with an empty lunchbox.

We have started toilet training and the other day I hear “Mum I want hummus!” while he was sitting on the toilet – to get him to stay there he got it!

The sooner you introduce wholesome, nutritious foods into your kids’ diets, the easier they’ll be able to develop a healthy relationship with food that can last them a lifetime.

Since having my first child in 2017 I have developed a much healthier relationship with food. What motivated me to become healthy in the first place was how fat I became! I reached the larger size of 18 and not quite size 20. I completely lost my sex drive and was so unhappy in my overall self. I worked away at it everyday, I learnt so much about nutrition, fitness, mental & physical health and all the information that comes with it.

Whether your children are toddlers or in their teens, children develop a natural want for the foods they enjoy the most. To encourage healthy eating habits, the challenge is to make healthy choices appealing and fun. Using fun names for fruit and veg is an awesome trick! Broccoli in our house is called baby trees, mix different colours together to make a rainbow, incorporate their current favourite thing into it by using the same colours, etc. Be creative!

Here’s a list of helpful links to get you started:

Make healthy options available by keeping plenty of fruit, vegetables, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) on hand – I don’t actually keep unhealthy snacks in my house unless it’s a special occasion. Don’t force your kids to clean their plates, and never use food as a reward or bribe.

Aquo Xx

Wedding Snaps….

So… we were married on 2/06/2018, yes… 2018!!! It’s now over a year since we were married and I/We haven’t gotten even one printed! How long was it before you had your wedding photos printed/hanging around your house?

Drop me a comment!

Unlike selecting your other wedding vendors (music, flower arrangements, cake), photographs aren’t things you can hear, smell, taste or even see at first—it’s a big decision, possibly the biggest, because this will be one of the ways you remember your big day…. FOREVER! You don’t really know what you’re getting until months after when you finally receive your photos/videos. That means careful research and selectiveness regarding professional skills, artistic style and personal demeanour are extra important when choosing your photographer.

How did you choose your photographer?

If I had the chance to do it again, I would have done A LOT more homework before settling for my photographer. However, my circumstances sucked and I hope not many others out there cop what I did. So… It was months before my wedding BUT I was absolutely devastated when my photographer told me she couldn’t do it as she was moving down south (I so would have flown her up to Cairns), so I got to searching for photographers from the Tablelands & surrounds. It sucked because on top of that, I also had everything else to organise. I pretty much just went off reviews and had a few stalks of her Facebook page and made a decision.

FYI – my first choice was Sarah Jay, who did my maternity shoot for my first bubba. Check out her photos, her page is A-MAZING!!! CLICK HERE!

Image by Sarah Jay Images

In choosing your photographer, don’t base your decision solely on what you see in their highlights gallery or Facebook like I did. For good reason, photographers show prospective clients a portfolio of their best pictures, all from different weddings, so you’re seeing the best of the best. The problem with that is you won’t get a well-rounded idea of their work. Ask to see two or three full galleries from real weddings they’ve shot (not someone else at their company) so you can get a better idea of what your complete collection of photos might look like after the wedding.

If you see that the full gallery photos are just about as good as the ones chosen in the highlight gallery (that is, they’re all so good it’s impossible to choose!), you’re on the right track. And ask to see at least one or two complete albums of weddings that are in similar settings to yours. For example, if you’re planning an indoor affair with dark lighting, don’t just look at weddings shot outdoors in natural sunlight. And if you’re planning to say “I do” on a beach at sunset, you’ll want to see examples of that.

When reviewing a photographer’s album, look for the key moments you want captured: Did they get photos of both the bride and the groom when they locked eyes for the first time? Also look for crispness of images, thoughtful compositions (does a shot look good the way it was framed, or is there too much clutter in the frame?) and good lighting (beware of washed-out pictures where small details are blurred—unless that’s the style you’re after). It’s also very important that you detect sensitivity in capturing people’s emotions; make sure the photographer’s subjects look relaxed, not like deer caught in headlights. While you two are important, of course, you want to see smiling shots of your friends too.

Don’t underestimate the importance of liking and bonding with your photographer. This is why I initially chose Sarah Jay! Our personalities just meshed, she even made my husband ridiculously comfortable (and that doesn’t happen)! You need to look at the following: Are their mannerisms off-putting? In order to get the best photos, go with a pro who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images and who, above all, puts you at ease and doesn’t irritate you in any way.

Remember: They’ll be shadowing your every move, and the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. Likewise, you don’t want the photographer to offend or annoy any guests, but to shoot them in their best light in an unobtrusive way. To get the best photos, your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, cajoling enough to coax relaxed smiles and natural stances from guests, and calm enough to be a positive force. They should ask lots of questions and be a good listener. 

I got lucky… VERY LUCKY, as my second choice, Rachelle Angela Photography wasn’t too shabby. She made us feel comfortable in every way which was a massive plus!

Image by Rachelle Angela Photography

All jokes aside – I had a list for everything! Songs I want played to photos I want taken – I had a whole file of lists that were for the vendors of our big day and then more for every other little thing that was involved on the day! Having a checklist ensures that you don’t miss something you want and wish later you would have gotten. Always bring that to their attention, like if someone is coming from out of state, have that list ready so they don’t get overlooked on the day of because it’s chaos. Seriously! your big day will be one of the most chaotic days of your entire life!

Two cane farmers, amazing light and so much love – Image by Rachelle Angela Photography

Aquo Xx

Oh Anxiety- Thou art a heartless bitch!

Anxiety is becoming so much more prevalent in the world each year – is it because life in the 21st century is lived at a speed so fast, not even the cheetahs can keep up? – you know… because cheetahs are really fast!

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people, being one in three women and one in five men, will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. In a 12 month period, over two million Australians experience anxiety.

Anxiety is a common factor in life these days, but the sooner people with anxiety get support and learn to deal with the disorder, the more likely they are to leave it in the past.

If you suffer from anxiety disorder, it’s important to remember you are not alone. There are services, health care professionals and online support tools available to help those that suffer from a anxiety disorder. The first step is to get a proper diagnosis. Discussing these issues with a doctor can help you in taking this first step.

The treatments for anxiety that work for you depend both on you and the type and severity of anxiety disorder you have. Mild anxiety may be helped by making lifestyle changes (diet, people/situations that occur in your life), whereas more severe cases may require medication – On that note, I will tell you that twice in my life I have required antidepressants to help me deal with my own life at that particular time. Once was from a break-up that ruined my life for years and the second time was when I was pregnant with my second child and had a lot of family issues happening.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) involves working towards changing any problematic thinking patterns that are causing anxiety. Behaviour therapy is a component of CBT and includes ‘desensitisation’, a method of slowly and safely exposing you to feared situations to reduce the anxiety that comes with them.

Breathing and relaxation techniques are especially important for physical symptoms, and deep breathing exercises can stop panic attacks effectively. Mindfulness and other types of meditation are also helpful for anxiety management.

Exercising – even a 10-minute short walk – can help to improve how you feel and may make you feel less tired. Exercise helps boost your levels of serotonin – these are ‘feel good’ hormones. Try a brisk walk every day if you do not feel ready to undertake a rigorous exercise regime. Try to get involved in activities and pastimes you previously enjoyed – even if you don’t feel like it.

There may be small tasks in the house or garden that you can do. Tackling small tasks that you have been avoiding for years may help you to feel better about yourself.

Caffeine can increase anxiety in some people. It can alter your sleep patterns so you are not fully rested. It also speeds up your heartbeat, which can make anxiety worse. Try to reduce the amount of caffeine in your diet. Cutting back on tea and coffee and replacing them with water or fruit juices can help. Avoiding caffeine products, like chocolate, cola or energy drinks after 4pm may help you feel more relaxed when you want to go to sleep.

Treatment for anxiety can take time, and a good support network makes the process easier. But letting go of and recovering from anxiety is achievable.

Online tools may be suitable if you have mild to moderate anxiety. There is a range of different programs, most of which are backed up by phone, email, text or web chat support from a mental health specialist. These online therapies can be particularly helpful if you are living in a rural and remote area where access to health professionals may be more difficult.

It’s a frustrating routine: Your mind starts racing as soon as your head hits the pillow. You’re thinking about your to-do list, that thing you should (or shouldn’t) have said to your boss, or how expensive your child’s braces are going to be. Then you catch a glimpse of the clock, and realize how late it already is.

At some point it’s hard to tell whether you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re anxious, or you’re anxious because you can’t sleep. The answer may be both. It’s a two-way street: Stress and anxiety can cause sleeping problems, or worsen existing ones. But lack of sleep can also cause an anxiety disorder.

Still not sleeping? If you think that you might have more serious sleep problems, clinical anxiety, or clinical depression, talk to your doctor. A specialist can help you find a treatment plan, so you can manage your symptoms and get the sleep you need.

Julia Christina is from Vancouver, Canada. You can follow Julia Christina on YouTube or her blog at https://juliakristina.com/blog/ or on any social media platform – @juliacounsellor

Julia Holds an MA in Counselling Psychology and is a Registered Clinical Counsellor.

At any time, if you feel that you may harm yourself or have thoughts of suicide, talk to family or friends and inform your doctor as a matter of urgency. You can ring a phone service such as Lifeline 13 11 14, available 24 hours a day. If you are the loved one or carer, dial triple zero (000).

Aquo Xx

Hiho hiho It’s off to work he goes…

As many of you know – The cane harvest season starts this Tuesday 15/06/2019 and as such, I have decided to drop back to posting only every Friday. In doing so, the quality of my content will not lessen. I’m doing this so I can devote a lot more time to my boys & because for the next 5 odd months, I become a single parent. Meaning, if I want things done at home, I do it, and I’m OK with that!