Listening to the silence at Relano Village, Rylstone

I am sorry all for diverting from the main subject of  this blog, but I had to add an account for my weekend experience somewhere, and I couldn't think of any better location!

This long weekend, I was pleasantly surprised by our weekend trip to Rylstone, a small country town couple of hours drive west from Sydney through the blue mountains. We did face a bit of a traffic on our way there, probably due to the Anzac Day parades, and took a few stops on the way, but that did not dampen our excitement as we waited in the hospital in Rylstone for our host, Jan, to pick us up.

RELANO village

Our accommodation, the Relano Village, turned out to be a series of small pretty cottages, built by the current owner, Jan, in his vast 200 acres or so of land. The main cottage had three good sized bedrooms with very comfortable double beds, a nice kitchen and lounge, and two decking areas. Other cottages included the bar complete with a pool table, the 'Wimbledon Hall' which had a Table Tennis table and some fold-able beds, a cute library with an tiny attic, a BBQ hut with wood-fire barbecue and a table setting enough for 10 or so people, and finally another hut with a bunk bed. There was free welcome drinks, and breakfast was provided, but we cooked our own lunch and dinner which we had brought ourselves. There was also plenty of wood for us to light up a campfire and enjoy it as early or as late as we wanted. 

Initially the plan was for 4 couples to make the trip, but finally, two of the couples decided to bring their kids, so there were 13 of us. But even while all the kids enjoying in their own way, and the parents (or those without kids!) were enjoying themselves, peace prevailed, and I immensely enjoying staying in front of the fire, doing nothing but looking at the millions of stars that appeared in the sky. Seriously, I had never seen so much stars in my life, and felt I was looking at one of the pictures taken by a powerful telescope. I was really impressed.  

Jan Burrie

Jan, our host, is by far the sweetest person I have ever met, and at nearly 80, he managed to surprise us all with his agility, good-humoredness, and his pride in the 'village' and the business that he had built. But more importantly, he was friendly and at ease with everyone, drinking and joking and telling about his life stories to the grownups, and telling interesting stories to the kids and even joining them for a comedy movie in the lounge, laughing along with them. But like a good host, he did not ask too much about our stories, unless of course we wanted to share. He even walked with us in our almost 2 hour walk (see below), and rowed for us!

I have never seen someone so lively and active at such an age, and I hope that I have half his spirit and energy when I am his age! I was truly inspired by him, and he is the main reason I wanted to write about this trip here. 


On Saturday, we went for a walk in the nearby reserve (Ferntree Gully Environmental Reserve). It was a nice walk with medium difficulty. We first went down a couple of steps and were surprisingly soon in the midst of tropical vegetation, with tall ferns and huge trees and roots between huge rocky mountains. Again, I was amazed by the silence and peace I could 'hear' here. I HAD to stop, stay back for a few minutes and listen to it. It was just too wonderful to put into words.

On our way back, we also went rowing in the lake in the Wollemi National Park, about 1 hour from our accommodation. Here are some snaps of the route and lake itself. Excuse the dark photos as the sun was playing hide and seek all day yesterday, and I unfortunately did not manage to take any sunny ones.

If you are planning to visit Rylstone, the town itself is a small neat row of few small shops including a Chinese restaurant, which I am told sells nice dumplings. Further shops, including a fair sized IGA with a bottleshop, are located in Kandos, less than 10 minutes drive from Rylstone town centre. But I do encourage you to visit Jan in his Relano Village (4263 Bylong Valley Way, Rylstone) if you do think of staying for a day or two. Jan will take reservations at 0428482650.

My TTC Update

Back to my main topic, I am at the start of a new cycle, and I have emailed my clinic to book me in. I am hoping that when I meet my FS on Thursday, she gives me a go ahead. Its going to be a long down cycle, so I still have few days before I start any jabs, but I am already eager to start, just so that I can move on.

During the trip, I did not mention to anyone that I had gone gluten free. So I am sure when I refused to eat this and that, they thought I was too fussy. Hopefully they were in a holiday mood, and so not in the mood to judge me. Even if they did, I am going to not care.


The Easter Saga

At the start of each weekend or long weekend, or any other holiday, I am surprised at how much the holidays mean to me, although I am staying at home practically doing nothing rest of the week these days. The search for work, trying to improve my skills, or simply obsessing about TTC must be more draining than the 5 days of work I used to do! Anyway, here is what my extra long Easter weekend held for me:

Kids, kids and more kids

It started off with visiting a very good friend of ours, who now has a 3-month old son. It was really nice to hold the small guy and just watch him watch you. Then we went to pick up my sister-in-law, and her 2 and half years old son to spend the Easter weekend with us. The little guy was hilarious, cute, exhausting and impossible at the same time. Through the tantrums and the nursery rhymes and his never ending stories which didn't make sense, we found ourselves laughing and cuddling him a lot. They went back on Monday morning, and I then went on Monday and Tuesday to volunteer at Sydney Royal Easter Show and saw children of all ages, sizes, and temperaments! I was helping children board on/off the Aero Medical Simulator provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Eastern Section), and was amazed by the excitement with which the kids wanted to get on the plane and inside the flight deck, pushing buttons, and trying the controls. Two or three kids persuaded their parents to come back 3 or 4 times, and among them was a small kid less than 2 years old! Its a pity I didn't take my own pictures at the event, but I took a few related pics off their website,  facebook page and twitter below.

The Royal Flying Doctors Service provides excellent service to the Australian community, providing 24-hour emergency support wherever required, but additionally, also provides primary health service and programs to the rural communities, providing medical assistance to over 290,000 people every year. It was an honour to help them out, and if you are interested too, you could support them here, or just visit them in one of their shows or their bases if you are nearby.

Continuing our TTC story

We also discussed this week that we are ready to be back in the IVF train. I am expecting my periods in a day or two, and I will book myself into the clinic when that happens. Its again going to be a long down cycle, so the transfer will probably happen in June. It however depends on my thyroid levels. I have an appointment with my FS, who is also an endocrinologist, on May 1, and I am hoping that by that time, my thyroid levels will have come back to normal as they were quite low last time.

Having so many kids around me this Easter scared me a bit at the beginning, as I felt myself so inexperienced dealing with them, but I got the hang of it soon, and I was even more sure that I wanted this for us sooner if possible.  

Infertility around me

On Saturday, we had the couple from next door and a mutual friend (through DH's work) over for dinner. The friend is pregnant and has gestational diabetes, and while talking about pregnancy in general, I found out that our neighbors were also struggling with infertility, and thinking of starting IVF. The lady had Endometriosis, and that was probably her main cause. We talked about the emotions we go through every month, and how it is so draining, and also talked about how people don't understand and keep asking about when we are planning to have a baby. I have made a mental note to help and support my neighbor out in the process whenever I can, as I really understand how lonely and frustrating the journey can become at times.

Gluten and dairy free living

It has just been about a month since I started this diet, and I am already wondering how people who follow this diet are doing it so gracefully? I am already struggling with what to eat, even though my main diet has always been rice. How do you people manage when travelling? For example, during the Easter show, although I had lunch before I left for my 1pm shift, I was hungry by the time I had my first break, but I couldn't find anything to eat. The gluten free sandwiches were gone, or had butter or cheese. The Gluten free muffin had no ingredients written, so I wasn't sure if it was dairy free (probably not). I was given a breakfast bar one day saying it was gluten free, but next day, they said it wasn't! I had quickly looked at the ingredients before eating it the day before, and it had looked fine to me, but when they said it wasn't gluten free, just flour free, I wasn't sure anymore. The worst part of it was that I asked if they had anything else gluten free, and the woman laughed and said water (I had a water bottle already in my hand!), as if I was following this diet to lose weight, and I was being paranoid, because I obviously didn't die eating the bar the day before! I was lucky to have a few small "samples" of gluten free sausages in the food section at the end of my shift, and bought some dairy free chocolates and a nice caffeine free herbal tree, so at least I wasn't still pissed off when I boarded the train for my 1-hour ride back home. 

My husband has planned a get away with three more couples for this long weekend the coming weekend, and I am already dreading it. I only know one of those couples, and I am not too comfortable restricting where or what they all can eat because of me. I don't even want to have to explain why I am doing this, cause obviously, the first thing a lot of people think about when they hear gluten free is that I am trying to lose weight, and I am the exact opposite. I can say I am not looking forward to it at this stage...


Officially old and going gluten free

10 years ago, on 04/04/04, I celebrated my birthday, and cut a cake for the first time in my life. At 25, I was at the top of the world. 10 years later, I wasn't looking forward to this day which would mean I am over the 35yo mark - the mark I was determined to not cross before having a family, because I had read of increased risks and difficulties faced by both the mom and the bub, and just didn't want to do it. How life changes your view on things! Now, I just admire the courage with which women (of any age) climb mountains just to be blessed by a child. 

Well, my update is that the results of my Coeliac screening came out negative. Although a biopsy is said to be the sure way to confirm the presence or absence of the disease, I decided against doing a biopsy since I do not have any definite symptoms that makes me think that I may have the disease. At least nothing that Hypothyroidism doesn't explain. So, since this Monday, I am now completely on Gluten free diet on top of the Dairy free diet that I was trying out before, in order to try to rule out any food insensitivity I may have. I didn't think it was going to be this hard though - my main meals almost always consists of rice due to my Asian background, so all I had to do was to healthily snack in between with fruits and nuts and stuff. But that was easier said than done. I have never been a fan of nuts, and fruits, there is a limit to how much I can eat a week. I can't change my fussy eating habits in a week. So what did my gluten free week look like? Besides protein, I ate lots of different varieties of rice based dishes - rice with curries, fried rice, pancakes made of rice flour, rice puffs, rice noodles, beaten rice (specialty of my country back home), risotto and the list goes on. Although that does not sound like fun, I didn't mind that part. However, I found that I am getting hungrier between meals each day. I really need to learn new gluten free dishes, and incorporate them to my daily meals soon.

I did try baking a gluten free cake today using gluten free flour I found in the supermarket. It wasn't the best looking cake, and I mistakenly put a bit more cinnamon than I intended, but otherwise I was pleasantly surprised with the taste. I had read a lot of people say it took them a lot of experimenting to get their gluten free cakes right, so I guess my expectation was pretty low, so maybe that helped! I hope I can improve the post the recipe online after trying to fix a few ingredients soon. I also tried some home made dumplings (my favourite food in the past) using the same gluten free flour, and although it looked great and tested fine, I could not eat a lot of them. And so my journey continues on....