Monday, 30 April 2012

Grateful: A true partner

Photo from here

I met a woman this week; a mum to a baby and a toddler. She was confident, friendly, down-to-earth and lives in my neighbourhood. More than the trifecta. A possible new friend!

So I was unprepared for the surprise and the pause-for-thought she was about to give me.

She was talking about her husband, his work, her work and then she suddenly told me about his expectations of her and her role when she is a stay-at-home mum. Continuing on she explained her husband wants all housework done, kids bathed and bedded and dinner ready by the time he gets home. And all house-hold work was to be completed during the week so that their weekends are clear & easy. She explained it all very matter-of-factly. No ounce of complaint in her voice.

Now, that clear & easy weekend sounds pretty, damned attractive to me. If not heavenly. And if I were more organised I'd aim for that too.

No, it was the word expectations that made me double-take.

I've heard of these husbands. A past neighbour had one. I overheard him yelling at her one night that if she did her job (at home with two kids) like he did his, he'd be fired. But I guess I just thought that as women were becoming more independent, more likely to work outside the home themselves, that this was a rarer thing. Perhaps not.

What I do know is that it renewed my gratefulness for the hubby I do have. One that is disappointed if the kids are in bed before he gets home, one who helps me tidy up at night if the chaos has reigned supreme that day. A man who would never dictate his expectations, but would discuss anything needing to be done with me as his equal, as partners in raising our family. A man who tells me weekly what a good job I do keeping the kids healthy and happy.

Who respects that I am an adult who does the best job I can any given day, simply because I love and care about my children and our home. Not because I am told what is expected.

Lucky me. Phew. Wow.

Yes, lucky me.

I'm linking up with Maxabella's 52 weeks of grateful. And I'm grateful for that too!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Grateful: Little rituals

Photo from here

Tonight. Every night.

We sit together in your quiet, dimmed room. Snuggle in tight and share a smile. Happily you drink your warm milk. I breathe in your babyness.

Your hand reaches high and twirls around your bushfire blonde hair. That hand. Open, calm, trusting, new.  Reaching only to the top of your head, underlining your littleness. I want to burn the memory of your palm into my brain so I never forget THIS moment. And for when you are grown and want to borrow the car.

Little fingers intertwine with mine as you suckle. Enough. Time for cuddles. You find your spot on my bosom and rest your head, looking up with delight as I sing for you. Reaching for my lips, you giggle softly as I blow raspberries on the tips of your fingers. Your head falls heavily against my chest once more. I stand and cuddle you, hold you tight. Tell you how much I love you, as I do every night. Now, my heart sings.

You curl to your side as I place you in your cot. Bunny is here; soft ears. 'Goodnight, sweet dreams', I say. You smile and hold your hand up to wave.

That hand. My hope. My Gem. My love.

I'm linking up with Maxabella's 52 weeks of grateful. And I'm grateful for that too!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Out damn spot!


There's been a green spot in my heart lately. The spot has been rearing its head more often than I want to admit and definitely more often than I like.

Jealousy. It's an ugly word and an ugly feeling and I need it zapped. Stat!

Why I feel it, I am at a loss. I am where I am because of choices I've made and those choices have gifted me a loving husband, a beautiful family I celebrate each day and the memories of endless months discovering foreign lands. I would never give those up.

So what is the source of my envy? Bi-fold doors, flat green-grassed lawns where barefooted children run carefree, a children's playroom so we can shut the door on the 'mess', an oven that works and a stove-top burner where all the burners burn. I long for a front door that caresses each visitor with welcoming beauty and flowers in my drought-stricken garden that are ripe for picking and placing in beautiful vases throughout the home. Home Beautiful you have a lot to answer for!

It seems all my peers have reached the stage of building their dream homes. And it is all gorgeousness and clean lines. We are far from it with our burdensome mortgage and temporary one wage. And I want it, but can't have it.

I must listen to the advice I sing to my Firstborn with his endless I wants...

'You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometime you well you just might find

You get what you need .'
(Word!, Rolling Stones).

And I must set him a better example about what really matters. Out damn spot!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mystical Kookaburras

G'day Jack!
An old friend dropped in for a visit the other day. He didn't call ahead, but I made an exception for him as we hadn't seen him for quite a while. I did however wonder why he chose now to fly by.

Kookaburras are all affectionately called Jack in my family. I've always loved them. Ever since the age of six or so when one of these cheeky friends landed on a picnic table smack bang in front of me, ate my sausage in bread and stayed for a bit of a chat.

I appreciated his manners.

Some of my friends think I laugh like a Kookaburra. I take it as a compliment, better than the witch description I got as a kid sometimes.

When we moved into our bush-set home, we noticed the local resident Kookaburras straight away. Perhaps the past owners fed them, but we never have. Instead I hope they eat the Scary Unknowns that slither through our back garden, as nature intended. They don't often come close, usually preferring to perch in the nearby gum trees and gurgle a song at us in the afternoon. But when they do stop in, I always say hello and ask them what they've been up to.

On the very first day that Firstborn came home from the hospital the Kookaburras set up a welcoming party on our clothesline. They sat there for an hour checking him out while new parents and grandparents sat on the back desk taking it in turns to hold our new prince.

They turned up again a few days after my baby daughter first arrived home. It's like they want to welcome new life to the house.

I'm not sure what the significance is. New life, curiosity, a Dreamtime totem?

That, or they think there is tasty new grub around.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Get your Smash On

Smashing things is so therapeutic, don't you think? Of course, in this day and age there are few places that smashing is acceptable.

One place it is OK is the kitchen and so sometimes I retreat to my happy place and create things of yummy goodness that also help me smash out any of my frustrations. It's a win-win for me and the whole family.

My recent victims were new-season cherries. Gentleman loves a good cherry, so around Christmas time each year I buy some for him to enjoy. I like them to, but I am not a fan of the pip. And I am hesitant to give them to my three-year old Firstborn for that reason.

So when I found this dead simple recipe for Cherry Clafoutis I decided to forgo the jarred Morello cherries in favour of fresh and get my Smash On! You just whack the bejezzus out of those things with a knife blade (just like garlic) and out pops the pip. Unlike me, you could remember to put on an apron prior to smashing.

Those red juices are sooo satisfying!

Sharing is caring, so here is my recipe. Added bonus - it's gluten free!

Cherry Clafoutis

4 eggs
3/4 cup of milk
3/4 cup of pure cream (I just used good ole Coles thickened)
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used 1 generous tsp of vanilla bean paste)
1 1/3 cups almond meal
2/3 cup caster sugar
670g jar of drained Morrello cherries (or use smashed, depitted and FRESH cherries)

Grease your flan dish (or a pie dish if you are not fancy). Arrange your cherries over the base. Whisk together the eggs, cream, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl until combined. Process the sugar, almond meal, salt and cream mixture until smooth. Pour over cherries and bake at 180 (degrees Celsius) for about 30 minutes or until the mix has set and is golden on top.

Yummy served warm with vanilla icecream or cold with double cream.

I served it to my parents after they had Firstborn over for a sleep-over.

Sweet all round!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Tales from the F*#king Beach

We went to the beach for a weekend getaway. It followed a week of agonising behaviour from Firstborn son. 3.5 year old behaviour swings from delightful to dastardly.

My little fella surprises me everyday with his gorgeous ideas and spontaneous cuddles, but Oh Boy, can he whinge! My brain was so spun in knots from the constant muuuuuuuuuummmmmmmying and screaming that it made me fall over last Tuesday with babe in arms. Not kidding.

So the decision was made to escape for some fresh sea air. Gentleman took Friday off, we packed the car and went to stay in a friend's vacant beach side home for 3 relaxing, care-free and fun days.

Relaxing it was not. I can't even remember what care-free is, but some fun was had.

All I wanted to do that first morning was get to the beach before it got too hot and baby needed a sleep. So a whirlwind of baby feeding, breakfasting, cleaning, finding, packing and sun screening (seemingly all done by moi) ensued with Firstborn whinging his way through it all. When it came time to leave he refused to put on his shoes and started screaming, I finally cracked. I got down on my knees and sobbed. For five minutes I was Martyr Mum with my complaints that nothing I ever did was good enough, crying that nothing I do will ever keep you happy. Gentleman tried to coax me out of the black with a 'Come on Babe, it'll be OK once we get there'. With graciousness-not, I replied, 'OK, let's go the the f*#king beach then and get it over with'. I'm classy like that in anger.

Walking out the door, Firstborn turns to look at me and ask 'Mummy, are you happy? Are we going to the f*#king beach now?'. Yup, I know. First class parenting exemplified.

And yes, it was fun once we got there.

Does any parent ever relax on a holiday with young kids? If you do, spill because I really need some hints!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Hellllooooo China!

Cookie pic by Arvind Balaraman
 When I was recently pregnant with my daughter, my Firstborn son was two turning three. So we'd well and truly entered the realm of toilet training, learning about our body's 'bits and pieces' and baby growing in mummy's tummy.

Now, I am doing my best to be one of those truthful Mums that use the real names of things and answer the questions as best and as simply as I can. Even so, I think it just sounds SO weird to hear Penis and Vagina being said by a little un. My own baggage, I know. So instead I opted for Peepee and Gina, thinking that they sound pretty close to the proper words and won't be such a hurdle to jump when we later switch.

Man, I was so proud of myself. I'd stepped over the awkwardness, been upfront and I wasn't passing on my hang-ups to my boy. I felt I had helped changed the world somehow: the next generation is going to be unhindered - no sexism, no racism, respectful of others. And all because of me, PowerMum!

Can you see the fall coming?

Seven months preggers and I couldn't face cooking after another long day at work. So we decided to call on 1800 SPRINGROLLS. Loaded son and father off to hunt and gather (and enjoy 15 minutes of peace while they were gone). Boys return laden with rice and other Asian goodies to tuck into but my Gentleman looks unusually flustered. He recounts the trip to the restaurant.

Apparently Firstborn enjoyed the male bonding time en route and decided to check in with Dad about Man- Things. "Dad, you are a boy an you have a Peepee". Hearing agreement, Firstborn continues, "An I am a boy an I have a Peepee".

"But girls don't have Peepees, they have Chinese".

It could've been worse. My Gentleman is relieved Firstborn didn't talk to the lovely, elderly restaurant lady who gives this golden-haired cherub prawn crackers every visit about eating Ginas.

Quick smart we set about clarifying and reinforcing that girls have Ginas (g-g-g) NOT Chinas. I even remembered to mention the innocent misunderstanding to his sweet and proper Asian carer at daycare so she wouldn't get a shock (and wonder what we were telling our son at home).

So two months later, believing the issue to have been dealt with and having written the story down as one for the 21st birthday, I really shouldn't have been surprised when Firstborn looked lovingly at his fair, red-headed and blue-eyed little sister and asks me,

"Mama, did Baby come from your China?".

This parenting gig keeps me on my toes! How have you explained the 'bits and pieces' and 'birds and bees' questions your monkeys have come up with?