Friday, 7 December 2012

Oh the emotion....

I'm not a perfect mum. In fact there are many days when I wonder whether I was cut out for it at all. I certainly don't think I'm a 'natural'. One of the biggest surprises for me about motherhood has been the range and intensity of emotions I feel. A cliche perhaps. Or maybe even glaringly obvious (I never claimed to be the sharpest of...whatever the saying is), yet it took me by surprise all the same.

I took my son to see the wiggles last Sunday. I think I experienced every possible emotion in that time. I decided to catch the train - it meant a 10 minute walk at the end to where the concert was being held, but I figured it would be easier than trying to drive in and find somewhere to park. We waved goodbye to my partner and baby at 8.20am. Not early by parenting standards but it felt like an achievement all the same. Still on his bestest behaviour, my almost 3.5 year old held my hand from the car to the station. He listened when I said to stay behind the yellow line and generally made my heart swell with pride on our 45 minute train journey. He stayed in his seat, attempted to converse with the little boy that sat opposite him and kept his voice to a perfect level.

Finally sitting down in our seats at the concert my pride waned and the bottom dropped out of my stomach as he looked at the big screens playing wiggles videos and commented that 'I don't want to watch the wiggles'. Was he serious? My little man who had loved the wiggles for 2 years now didn't want to stay and watch? I did my best to placate him (read: offered every type of food in my bag), hoping that when they actually came on stage (15 long minutes late argh) he would be mesmerised. And he was. His little face said it all - totally transfixed on the stage as is unable to quite believe that he was seeing them in person.

Then the trip home started. He tried to assert his independence getting on the train and when I dragged him into the carriage as the doors beeped, indicating they were about to close, his tiredness started to win and the whinging started. "I want to do it mineself". Over and over he said it. Not too loudly and the train was quiet but I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise ever so slightly as I allowed myself to become frustrated. I explained that it was too dangerous for me to let him take his time and the train was about to leave. Who was I trying to kid - this information meant nothing to him. All that mattered was that he hadn't been able to do it himself. I told him that he could get off by himself and left it at that. An old woman got on the train and took exception to his whinging. She told him to Shhh and then followed it up with a "shut up" in her nastiest voice. I was surprised - he wasn't crying or yelling, just voicing his disagreement and it had been tailing off. He dived for cover behind me, petrified. Anger at this person who saw fit to address my child took over and I told her to stop being nasty, he was only 3! She ignored me and my little guy stayed hiding behind me. I reminded myself that I am an example to my children and to leave it at that (despite an overwhelming desire to tell her to...choose another seat on the train).

She got off and I convinced him to stop hiding behind me. His fiesty nature and desire for independence completely quashed, I asked him if he'd prefer to sit on my knee. He crawled over and snuggled in. All my frustrations were forgotten as I sought to comfort him and make him feel protected. He fell asleep soon after and I hugged him tight the rest of the way.

It's a rollercoaster ride some days. I allow myself to get frustrated sometimes with his battle for independence or his desire to do everything in his own time. But seeing him so defeated by the words of a complete stranger shook me. How dare she try to censor him. He's learning and so very young still. Now this post will serve as my reminder to let him find his feet, to offer guidance and boundaries where needed but never to try and kill his spirit.

Pride, frustration, nerves, sadness, anger, joy but most of

Linking up today to With Some Grace  for FYBF

Friday, 30 November 2012

Gingerbread Men {Weekend Cookbook}

I love to cook and I especially love to bake. I've tried to cut back on it recently as it wasn't doing anyone's waistlines a favour but every so often I can't help myself. Gingerbread men are a favourite of my son. I figure that it's better that I make them rather than buying them because at least I know exactly what has gone into them. And if you use a good, air tight container (which is where my tupperware obsession comes into its own!) then they last really well. 

I've been using this recipe for so long I can't remember where it originally came from - it's handwritten in my recipe book. My guess is that it came from the Taste website though - they have lots of gingerbread men recipes.

Gingerbread Men (or Gingerbread People ;))

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 egg white
2 cups icing sugar

Optional: smarties or m&ms to decorate

Place butter, sugar and golden syrup in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.

Add the egg yolk and mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl combine flour, ginger, cinnamon and cloves and mix.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mix and stir until almost combined. Use your hands to knead the dough until smooth.

Divide the dough into two portions (this is to make it more workable - it's not the easiest dough to work with & is usually quite crumbly).

Roll out one portion to approximately 0.5cm thick.

Cut out shapes and place on a tray lined with baking paper. 

Repeat with second portion of dough

Bake for 10-12 minutes 


Place egg white in a small bowl and whisk. Gradually add icing sugar, stirring between each addition until a smooth paste forms. Add food colouring if desired. Use a piping bag to decorate cooled gingerbread men.

Enjoy! (there's no photos of the finished product because...well, we ate them before I remembered!)

Linking up with Mummy's Undeserved Blessings - Weekend Cookbook

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A new healthy habit

A week or so ago I posted that I was planning to introduce a healthy habit each week. Ambitiously, I started week one with 3 different healthy habits. I am prepared to give myself a C+ for my first week - okay but could do far better. My water consumption is now right where it should be. I am hit and miss with the hot water and lemon (somehow I just forget some days!) and my 2 & 5 needs more consistency. 

This week I need to continue to focus on those 2 habits but I am also on a mission of sorts to rid my life of diet coke. I have been trying to write this post for days now. It seems harder and harder to find the time - something to do with an almost 3.5 year old (who is soooo ready for kinder, but that's another story!) and an  8 month old who is going through a catnap phase. But this afternoon I have hit the jackpot (sort of). Tuesday afternoon is when my son has his swimming lesson. Normally we go as a family and whilst it is a bit of a rush to get us all there and then back home (right at dinner time), it is fun. But today I have been given a leave pass and it's just myself and my (currently) napping baby. There are lots of other things I should be doing, you understand but right now, finally getting to do this post seemed far more important than the 'shoulds'.

I had read various things about the pure evil that is diet coke (and most diet soft drinks) but it was when I decided that I needed a break that I started to read more about it in terms of it being an 'addiction' of sorts (check out this article if you're interested. Now I haven't been a huge drinker of the stuff - a glass or can (sometimes 2 cans) a day. But the fact that it was daily seemed a bit excessive to me. I found numerous blogs of people who had or were trying to kick the addiction. Article after article threw around words like addictive, brain cancer, aspartame. I decided when my last can ran out, I would have a break. I knew (from diet drink breaks in the past) that there would be headaches - I thought I'd got lucky this time when I got to the 24 hour mark and there was no headache. Unfortunately it kicked in at around 25 hours! What I wasn't prepared for was my grumpiness and lack of tolerance for pretty much anyone or anything. And if I was shocked by my snappiness, I certainly wasn't prepared for the persistent cravings. All of a sudden I would think of diet coke and I kid you not, it was like I could almost taste it and the overwhelming urge to drink some would have been almost impossible to resist if there had been any in the house.

It's been 12 days now and I'm pleased to say I haven't caved in yet. In the last 12 days I've lost 1kg but have done less exercise than usual and haven't changed my eating. There is evidence that suggests diet softdrinks can actually hamper weight loss and while I don't know if this is 100% true, the chance that it may be true is enough for me at this stage! 

While I'm on the topic of weight loss and getting healthy, I'd like to give a big shout out to my pal Tamar from triumphovertastebuds. She's on the road to health, fitness and some serious weight loss. 

Till next time xx

Friday, 16 November 2012

healthy habits...

I need more of them. My aim is to replace some of my existing bad habits and rather than focus on the negative I'm working on the basis that if I introduce some healthier habits they may just boot out the bad one!  I have decided that each Friday I will choose a healthy habit to implement for the next week, starting on Saturdays. 

To give me a kick up the bum  get started I am going to start with 3 for the first week. I have no idea how long this will last but it can't hurt to give it a shot! 

Week 1:

1. I will drink a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon when I get up each morning. 
While I know not everyone subscribes to this, I don't think it can hurt and it seems to get enough positive feedback from people who are well-versed in these matters so I'm going to jump on the bandwagon.

2. 1.5-2 litres of water daily
I used to be a huge drinker of water - it was especially easy when I was working full time and I was able to refill a water bottle periodically throughout the day without any interruption. Most days I had drunk 1.8 litres by the time I got home from work. I've found it much harder to stay on top of my water consumption since I've been at home - you'd think it would be easier but it's not. I get distracted, pour myself a glass of water at 8am, go off to change a nappy or get someone breakfast and sure enough the glass is still sitting there, practically full, at midday. 

3. Eat my 2 & 5
I'm not bad at getting my serves of vegetables each day. I actually love vegetables. But I am shocking at eating fruit. It's not that I don't like it, I will usually choose something else to eat first. I feel terrible that my 3 year old makes better food choices than I do. Tsk tsk. This must change! I should be providing the healthy role model, not a child! 

So that's my first 3. Now, I'm off to get myself a glass of water.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

the meaning of....

Something I've noticed since having children is how certain events and holidays throughout the year either take on new meaning or you discover a renewed enthusiasm for them.

Take Christmas for example - the obvious one I guess. I moved through the excitement of childhood with santa and presents, then to the joys of partying on Christmas eve, to more sedate but still enjoyable Christmas lunches/dinners with the family. Nowadays I love Christmas for the joy it brings my children. Well, it brings it to one child and I am sure will bring joys and excitement to the other once she understands what it's all about! Suddenly, spending the day with family and sharing a meal seems even more important.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Halloween at my son's playgroup. The kids came in fancy dress and we had some spooky party food. The costumes didn't last too long on our group of energetic and excited 3 year old's and the food was probably more fun for the adults than the children but it was good fun nonetheless.

I love to bake so I made some 'Halloween' cupcakes (any excuse!). I've been wanting to make some rainbow cupcakes for ages so I decided to make these ones with some fun, Halloween colours.

(I know, I know - I only just thought to take a photo before the last mouthful!).

I love that children have brought the pleasure and enjoyment back into things that had perhaps lost meaning and you see them through new eyes.

blogging etiquette

It occurred to me that in my rush to get started that I know absolutely nothing about blogging etiquette. I understand that some things are learnt on the job, so to speak, but now I am realising there is lots for me to learn.

For example, when people comment on my posts (oh my goodness - the excitement when it happens, it is just like Christmas as far as I am concerned!), should I comment back? Thank them for their comment, hope to continue the interaction? Do I then go to their blog and make sure I comment on theirs? Is it okay to start following a blog and make comments without any previous interaction with the writer of said blog? Do you comment first and then progress to following? Or vice versa?

I don't want to be in anyone's face pushing my blog - especially as it is just about me. Not anything that may help them as such. But is it okay to gently steer people in the direction of the blog or the facebook page?

What is the potential fall out for not observing correct blog etiquette?!

I think perhaps some research is in order. And taking any advice thrown my way too!

Friday, 9 November 2012

curbing the impatience

I suffer from a rather common affliction of being my own harshest critic. I'm also very impatient. Neither of these are my friend now that I'm trying to get healthier and lose weight. I've lost weight before - which makes me a rather typical female. Once I even lost about 17kg and was well on my way to a far healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately a Christmas binge-fest that lasted for about 2 weeks did irreparable damage and the kilos piled back on. Two children and 6 years on and my body really needs some serious TLC. But all I see are faults. And let's be honest - fat. I see lots of fat. That serves to drain the motivation and coupled with the impatience to see results NOW, it does hinder me in really getting on track. Despite this, I think I may be getting somewhere.

I'm slowly trying to change my mindset. For possibly the first time since school I am attempting to exercise for at least the recommended 30 minutes per day - although have been having one rest day per week. I am trying to fake some positivity until I make it and am telling myself that I'm doing well. 

It's an emotional process and I'm definitely an emotional eater. I allowed myself to fall off the exercise wagon a couple of weeks ago and I found myself sinking into despair and self-criticism. It's a tough practice to unlearn. 

I've read many people talk of wanting to be able to run around and play with their children as being a motivator for losing weight. Yet I've never found myself really struggling to do that. Since having my daughter I do feel more conscious of providing a healthy role model for her. Not to be constantly worrying about my weight but to be leading a healthy and active life - to show her that it is normal to exercise most days and to eat well but also okay to have some foods in moderation. But to be honest one of the biggest motivators for this superficial blogger is the desire to walk into any shop and know that I will be able to try something on. For more years than I care to admit I have been returning time after time to the same shops for clothes just because I know I will be able to find something that fits. I want my own style but when you shop at only a handful of shops it's very limiting. There was a time when I was a goth. Purple hair, white face, black eyes and lips. Long velvet skirts with rips held together with safety pins. Then there was the skate-punk phase - cut off army pants over fishnet stockings, band t-shirts and lots of eyeliner. Then it slowly became a corporate look (what a sell out!!) but at least for a while it was my style. Now I wear simply whatever will fit and I'm not happy. The time has come for me to reclaim some style. I have no idea what it will be but I'm excited to find out. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

making peace

I don’t do new year’s resolutions. I have always maintained that if there is something i don’t like or something i need to change, i shouldn’t be waiting for the start of a new year. That said, about 9 years ago I found myself feeling a little melancholy one NYE. I had returned from four years in the UK a month or two earlier – a spectacular failure of a relationship had left me feeling vulnerable, doubting my self-worth and a little fragile. I’d had a number of months in the UK after it’s predictable and mundane end to try and find my way but returning home to Melbourne had put me a little off kilter again as I tried to find my feet and where I ‘fit’ back in my old life.

I had a discussion with a friend about happiness and it suddenly hit me (an epiphany if you will) that happiness needed to come from within me. I made a resolution that I would no longer rely on other people to make me happy, rather I would look within myself to find it. Not to say that other people don’t or can’t make me happy, of course. Hindsight tells me it was a good resolution and after a time I no longer needed to fake it until I made it.

Fast forward to now and it occurred to me that perhaps the next step is to make peace with myself. While my 30’s have brought me confidence in being me and have also delivered a wonderful partner and children, I still feel that I am on the cusp of change but there is some intangible thing holding me back and clouding my vision from seeing what it may be. Add to that there are things I don’t like about me (stay tuned for my next blog on weight loss and exercise!). 

Making peace with who I am and embracing more change is surely the first step to a more peaceful life.

the balancing act

I love a good epiphany. That feeling when an idea or realisation, one that has all too often been staring you in the face, seems to leap up, give you a good figurative slap and set you straight on something.

I have to admit that I've never been a fan of the idea of the so-called ‘mummy guilt’. I think it’s become an overused term and one that I don’t fully understand or agree with. I believe that most mums (and certainly all the ones I know personally) all want to do the absolute best by their children. Sometimes you make decisions that may be tough or don’t seem to be the popular one. You may read articles from ‘experts’ that suggest you’re doing it all wrong. But the way I look at it is that you are trying to do your best. You do what is best for your family. So why waste your time and energy feeling guilty? Be proud that you have made decisions that put your family unit first. Maybe it’s a decision that you know, in hindsight, wasn't the right one. So we live and learn – this is all about on the job training, there’s no manual that accompanies a baby or child.

It’s a term that comes up often in relation to child care or doing something that might be deemed as treating yourself – maybe getting a manicure, pedicure or going to the gym. My epiphany was that we should focus on mummy balance rather than these nonconstructive feelings of guilt. So much of life relies on a good balance – I bet nearly every mum that worked prior to becoming a mum (and many who have worked since) have come to a point where they have desired a better work-life balance. And being a parent is no different – you need to balance being a mum (or dad) and being you. Just because you are a parent, you do not need to lose your own identity. 

It took me a long time to get to this point – I actually did get there about 18 months after my son was born. All of a sudden,  I realised there was no lasting damage going to be done if I went to get my hair done or spent an hour at the gym. In fact, when I returned I was arguably a better mum because I had that opportunity to be me and to nourish my own identity. This time I have reached the point more quickly – it’s only taken me 6 months since the birth of my daughter to get here. Last weekend I went to get my hair cut and coloured. It was nice for a change to be able to say to someone ‘just fix it’ rather than being the one always doing the fixing.  So I say embrace your decisions and feel proud that you can make the tough decisions. Remember that you are important and being mum is only part of the puzzle. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

peace & gratitude

Clunk, clunk, you hear that? It’s the sound of my brain churning & working. Not such a well-oiled machine these days – children will do that to you. Baby brain they call it while you’re pregnant. People smiling politely as you return tea bags to the fridge & milk to the pantry. “Ahhhh”, they say “baby brain”, happy to be able to pinpoint an explanation for this vague and slightly troubling behaviour. What they often don’t tell you is that it never seems to return to its former glory (well, perhaps glory is something of an exaggeration but bear with me) and the months (often years) of sleep deprivation that follows the arrival of your precious bundle does nothing, absolutely nada, to help matters.

So, as I was brain has been clunking (slowly) away. A blog is something I have been thinking of for some time. Self doubt has always won to this point – why would anyone want to read about me? I am not particularly interesting and don’t feel I have anything groundbreaking to share. I love reading other people’s blogs – especially the food blogs with their glorious pictures. But then I slowly came to the conclusion that perhaps a blog doesn’t need to be about whether other people want to read it. Instead this is for me. For me to try and empty my brain of random thoughts and ideas and perhaps even work itself into better shape. 

I don’t imagine I am the first or the last to make that statement. And I guess part of me (hello ego) does hope that someone may be out there reading what I happen to write. They may even nod their head or smile – but I won’t get my hopes up just yet! 

The name of my blog is Peace & Gratitude. Because that is how I would like to live my life and this is my journey. I don’t feel that I am a particularly ‘at peace’ kinda person. I am quickly annoyed and frustrated. And too often I fail to feel thankful for my little life that really does deserve to be thought of more fondly. In an attempt to take back some ‘me’ time I started doing yoga again. It lasted two weeks (although I do have extremely good intentions to return in the very near future!) but in those two weeks I sought out some prayer flags to assist my transformation. I chose some that had wonderful affirmations. Words that made my partner roll his eyes heavenward and mutter something about hippies. But I love them and my favourite was ‘I live in peace and gratitude’. I can't say that I do as yet but I plan to enjoy my journey towards it.