Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Who am I?

I ask because I'm really not sure anymore. I haven't blogged in a few months. At first it was because I was busy - it was December, Christmas was fast approaching and with it the typical celebrations and obligatory pre-Christmas catch ups with friends and family. Then it was the new year and all I could think about was our family holiday to New Zealand. We were only going for 6 days but I was taken aback by just how much planning is required when travelling, albeit for a short time, with 2 young children. Since we returned from holiday in mid-January I told myself I was just too busy to blog. My son started 3 year old kindergarten and that has meant adjusting to a new schedule. But the truth of the matter is that my heart and soul have just been too empty to write. 

It's something that has been brewing for a long time but has really come to the fore in the last few weeks. Finances mean that I need to find some work. Which isn't really such a bad thing - I would only work doing something that fits round our existing schedule/commitments so my partner would be the one looking after our kids. But preparing to look for work saw me updating my resume and 'linked in' profile and that got me thinking about me and who I am. A couple of people have written recommendations for my work skills on linked in and I just can't see any of myself in their posts. One asked me what I'd like her to cover and I was lost for words. That working Sarah seems so far in the past now. Which would be fine, only I feel like I'm not really kicking goals in my current role as Mum. In the last few weeks I can't push those negative thoughts out of my head - what happens if I am totally stuffing up here? I get so easily frustrated, annoyed - particularly with my son who has been in tantrum central for the past month. He's always been prone to them but they have kicked up a gear recently (something I didn't think possible!) and I try so hard to maintain a calm exterior but inside I'm screaming - why are you doing this? what have I done wrong? That they're accompanied with some hitting and kicking doesn't help. I'm trying to eliminate any nasty preservatives and colours from our diets and I find a wealth of information and techniques to try from the wonderful Janet Lansbury (seriously, if you have young children her blog is so worth a read - I want to print out poster-sized excerpts to put around the house as constant reminders). But despite this the doubts remain. 

My mum told me a while ago that my dad had asked her how she thought parenting had changed since I was a child. Mum replied that she thought the biggest difference was that they had 'broken my spirit' rather than working with it. I understand that was common in the 70's and I barely remember a time when I was in trouble or had done the wrong thing. I was extremely compliant. However it left me wondering - am I still without spirit? I do seem to have trouble ever saying no and I crave approval or recognition - which is a bit of a problem when your main job is within the confines of your home. No one ever really tells you that you're doing a good job or that you're on the right track. Sure, the children are fed and clothed but that's not enough for me. I have this overwhelming need to know that I am actually getting it right. A confidence crisis about my parenting skills and feeling so far from the 'working' version of me has left me feeling more than a little lost and very vulnerable. 

In the interests of health and weight loss, I've just paid for a 3 month membership at the gym I used to go to. I have an appointment this afternoon to get a program sorted out and I have told my partner I will go at least 3 times a week. I'm hoping that it is some sort of panacea for my emotional troubles too - it's about time I took some more steps towards my life of peace and gratitude and was a better, happier role model for my children.

Linking up today with Essentially Jess 

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 all....love.

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!