Archives for the month of: October, 2010

Before I begin on my whimsical journey into a mother’s right to eat healthy + feed her kids healthy food. I just want to note the passing of Haddasa Chalmers described to me by a friend as ‘a dynamic, incredible person’. She was a mother of three little girls and she died yesterday of a very rare stomach cancer.

I know it’s very, very sad, and I couldn’t write my blog today without noting her as a mother whom I didn’t know but a lot of people did as my friend also said, ‘I just figured that everyone must know her.’ What to do with sadness and tragedy? Hold your loved ones closer, and do more good, bring more light…we only have one life.

And talking about life I wanted to write about healthy food. Especially giving our kids healthy food. The other day I innocently asked my 2 1/2-year-old Prince, ‘What do you want for breakfast?’ He replied with a big shiny smile, ‘I want marshmallows, chocolate, lollipops and chips.’ Where am I going wrong???

He didn’t to his utter astonishment get that for breakfast. He got cereal and yoghurt.

The question is how do we feed our kids healthy food? How do we get them to ask for fruit and adore their vegetables? Okay how about this question – How many of us ‘Adults’ love our fruit and adore vegetables? Some yes, but I think a lot of us, moi included wouldn’t mind a chocolate bar for breakfast some time. We wouldn’t push away a serving of Haagen Daz (especially Belgian Chocolate) for lunch time and for supper why not have cheese cake??? YUM.

I’ve had to teach myself to eat properly and to ignore my unhealthy foody fiends. The truth is I did grow up in a home of salad and rice and soup and a square meal, which is very Baghdadi. I’m very grateful for it. I don’t shy away from my vegies. I don’t pucker my face in disgust at garlic, and to me there’s nothing better than a parsley, coriander salad. It’s the way I was brought up.

However I was also denied sweets and chocolate a lot of the time. So anything junky became my forbidden refuge. How we love what’s forbidden especially if it’s sweet.

Now with my kids. Guess what? I’m repeating the same pattern. I give them interesting veggies which they end up eating. (Last night I whipped up a meal of scrambled eggs, tomato/cucumber/pepper salad and cut carrots, celery and avocado, for which my innovative 7-year-old made salt water for. Yes he loved it so much at Pesach.) They eat baked fish in cornflake crumbs. Sushi (full of lovely omega 3 oils with all that salmon), soups and they love their broccoli. But if there’s roast potatoes, they eat that rather than the rest of their meal. If there’s a hint of a sweet anywhere they go gaga. They scoff down the chips at shul. Fill their pockets at parties. And each of them have developed their own stash of chocolates. I found one such soccer tin box filled with decadent Cadbury choccies just yesterday.

So what’s a mother to do?  As I write this I’m thinking aloud. Maybe the thing to do is eat healthy ourselves. Learn to relate to food as a feeding of self and spirit, rather than trying to fill up emptiness. (Get ‘Women, Food and God’ by Geneen Roth – she speaks about the emptiness, the critical voice and all that we have that makes us EAT. Very holistic and easy read.) If we love our greens it does pass down. I’m living proof. However don’t forbid the sweets so that they don’t become this mystical, seductive must have to kids. (And that applies to us moms as well, saying a complete ‘no’ to any food is a recipe for becoming a food addict or a very unhappy person.)

Should we give our children carte blanche into a well stocked sweets cupboard? Well there are people who say if you do this and the kids eat themselves silly they’ll soon get sick of junk and move into balanced eating. I like that thinking. It reminds me of when we were kids we had chips and homemade cake everyday for school. Guess who used to swap chips and cake for cookies and sweets (things we didn’t get at home)?

However I tried this open junk food cupboard theory out – and lets just say, as my kids eyes grew wide like saucers and their little mouths went to work, my panic levels rose to out of space proportions and I had to stop. Much to their disappointment and chagrin.

So now they have Saturday – eat what you like – day. And the rest of the time I’m a sergeant major (although a very lax one because there are parties and grannies and erev Shabbat treats etc etc.)

So even as it stands I am worried about my kids nutrition in this processed, sugared, chemical 21st Century world that we live in. To avoid it takes work, energy and consciousness. More often than not we mother’s are too tired. It’s so much easier to just serve pasta and cheese. I know. But it’s worth it and I’m going to give it another bash in my kitchen.

I’m going to try out a talk on Tuesday by One thing I am going to try out is to go hear Talya Goldgraber this Tuesday at 8pm, speak about healthy eating. She’s going to give some suggestions about healthy school lunches and meals that I hope will be easy and tasty. If you want to go you can contact Talya 0716029780. I’ll report back!

Meanwhile here’s a very easy recipe learnt from my dear mother in law for tasty chicken breasts. (Easy is definitely a theme for my recipes!) I use this when we want a healthy meal in minutes. The trick is not to over or under cook.

Paprika Chicken Breasts

To be prepared a few hours before cooking so it can soak in the baste.

Ingredients

Chicken Breasts

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Paprika

Method

1. Prepare breasts (as many as you need). If you like your breasts thinner, bang them out with those fun wooden hammers (well I find them fun).

2. Baste breasts in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Leave in fridge until ready to cook.

3. Heat up skillet until HOT – I love those skillets with those ridges which are so good for steaks (they’re available at Woolworths).

4. Put breasts on hot skillet. Turn over when one side done. It can cook very quickly so watch it. If red in the middle it’s not cooked yet. But don’t over cook!!!!

5. Serve right away. You can eat it with fresh salad, hummus (maybe it’s just me but I love it with hummus), for the kids do mayonnaise, rice, potatoes (although I’ve begun serving potatoes last a bit like dessert so that the kids don’t just guzzle potatoes and nothing else.)

Happy Healthy Eating – filled with love and light with your family!!!!

I would say that every girl, woman, mother needs a sister. One at least, preferably more. But we don’t all have sisters and even if we do we don’t always get on. So what do you do?

Firstly the importance of having a sister is that we women need a ‘sisterhood’. It’s more than just a passing friendship it’s a female support group. A safe place to go when you’re feeling down. A place to take comfort in and be cheered on as you take life’s unknown steps. A lovely garden of love where your best interests are at heart. Where you can share your dreams and fears, where you can get feedback for when you’re dancing up the wrong tree. (Don’t ever underestimate the importance of honest feedback. We all need a bit of a wake up call sometime. I had one today with an email from my cousin with the best advice ever!)

But that’s what husbands are for isn’t it? I used to think that too. Until someone very wise told me that I’m driving my husband nuts! He didn’t want to hear every detail about my tribulations in the school car park, he didn’t get my issues with certain people and situations. Not that he wasn’t interested or caring, but he thought differently. He gave solutions not empathy. And the fact of the matter is a husband is a best friend, (a best enemy too sometimes), a lover and so much more, but they’re not a woman and they don’t neccessrily understand and feed that girl inside all of us the way another woman can.

So onto the establishment of a sisterhood. Maybe you already have a bunch of friends who you cherish and who cherish you. Maybe you have a close sister who’s the bosom buddy of Anne of Green Gables days. And maybe you don’t. If you don’t well it’s time to aggressively begin. And I do mean aggressively (although not in that meat tearing tiger way) because more often than not there may be that empty hole that’s eating away at you without you even realising it.

Sisterhood’s nurture the nurturers. A concept that isn’t prevalent enough. In the old days (my grandmother’s time in Baghdad to be precise) I imagine women hanging out together in the kitchen spooning wisdom, jokes and tears as they whipped up their gastronomic creations/ sometimes experiments together. We don’t have that relaxed village lifestyle anymore (I know there were obviously olden day challenges too but do let me romantacise for now) There are some things that only our soul sisters can share with us.

Soul sisters are obviously something you have to choose wisely. I would surmise that it’s a joined frequency – where your energies collide into something fun and timeless when you’re together. For some people it may be their book club, for others, moms in their child’s class. Look and choose. And if you like them often they will like you. I would even discuss the concept with these ‘chosen ones’ and if they get it – well full steam ahead.

But we don’t have time for friends in our frenetic mommy lives. I also used to argue that and that’s why it’s important to pursue sisterhoods aggressively ie. MAKE TIME. Use Einsteins quantum physics, bend reality, prioritise and just do it. The coffee, the walk, the night out on the town. The spontaneous get together with a whole bunch of girls that you value. Let your friends meet – see what happens.

More often that not when women get together there’s  fun, sharing and learning. Something special happens. At the very least if there’s not magical being then there’s practical sharing. As Rabbi Twerski once said that when men talk it’s just fluffy, meaningless nonsense like sport, politics that they can’t solve etc. When women speak amongst themselves we share information. Much needed information, like recipes, where to shop for funky clothes, the latest research on if mother’s should stay at home.

Like the other day I was sitting with my good friend for a smoothie (had to have a caffeine break) and she was telling me about her  inspiring break through with her Tiger purring five-year-old. Needless to say I took on what she said and was a better mom that afternoon with my Princes. NO joke, not a happy, clappy see I can do it assertion. But it’s just the product of sisterhood getting together.

We women and mothers are a minefield of support and valuable gems in and of ourselves. All we have to do is get together. So go out there and choose wisely – a positive group of women who will ‘rah rah’ you on in this marathon journey we call life.

 

A mother’s sleep. What’s that? And it’s a good question, until your kids are considerably older or your babies are angels, sleep is one of the biggest mothering issues of all.

By now I should be passed sleep deprivation and if I’m totally honest I do get my seven hours straight these days. Except when there’s a scream or two in the night, or our two and a half-year old pads down the hallway to make our bed that much cosier. Last night however I didn’t and today I am walking around with burning eyes, a quarter of a brain (big danger on the road) and a very, very short fuse.

Okay it was kind of my fault. I had an insomniac night last night I just couldn’t sleep. So I wrote (okay played on my computer trying to figure out the world of a Mac), I read (Millenium Series by Steg Larsson- seriously a good read. I never thought I’d like a thriller but this is clever!) and I painted my  nails (promptly to remove the polish as soon as I woke up because quite frankly I’m a hideous nail painter). As I busied my self in the wee hours I knew what the next day had in store but I couldn’t sleep no matter how hard I tossed and turned.

My sleep hangover today buggers belief and it reminds me of my acute sleep deprived baby days that lasted about 6 years (My 2-year-old was the worst sleeper ever). Those never-ending nights when my head would touch the pillow and the baby would wake up wailing for a feed. It was so bad that I began to have a phobia about going to bed because as soon as that head hit the pillow – Waaahhhh. And that was the first night feed. (There needs to be a word for a mother’s phobia of not going to sleep – mosleepiobia maybe?) I also remember being NOT NORMAL. Like putting laundry in the freezer. Let alone those temper, crying, hysterical fits of exhaustion.

It’s not fun being not normal especially when you’re responsible for the emotional happiness and stability of your family. So what to do? If someone had the fail proof solution they would be zillionaires (so anyone who needs a buck start thinking!) Baby Sense does well, they have their courses and books out, they are helpful.  Some of us resort to controlled crying. Some manage to negotiate with their better halves to do some nights. (Bravo if you could I always felt too bad that I was at home and he needed to work the next day.) A lot of moms swear by night nurses. Whatever works for you. I have no judgement when it comes to mothering. I think the point of this blog is to highlight what I so easily forgot – a mother without sleep is a walking Mommy psychopath in the making. You can not be normal with so little sleep.

My solution for me is a very simple one. Day naps. That’s right I know a lot of us rebel against sleeping in the day. To me it used to feel so ‘lazy’, ‘unproductive’ and just plain ‘boring’. But the truth of the matter is it became a matter of survival. You can not function normally on an interrupted nights sleep unless you’re super human – which I’m not that’s for sure. So make your plan and make it work because the repercussions of too little sleep are huge. It’s one of the big causes of depression, over eating and down in the dumps misery.

On that sobering note I’m going to take a 4pm nap so that I won’t bite my children’s heads off this evening during ‘Happy Hour’. (Uh oh after all this blogging it’s more like 5pm nap. I blame my Word -Mac teething probs and having to give the kids a bath in between.)

The other day, Sunday (which by Wednesday already feels light years away) I had a lovely afternoon with my two younger Princes. It was lovely not because the air was full of Spring sunshine and fresh blossoms and because my boys were having the most marvelous time biking and running down the streets to the park (idyllic I know). It was a precious time because I opened my eyes and chose to focus on the moments of warmth and laughter breath by breath. Being if you will, rather than just doing.

If this is starting to sound like a poem I’m sorry, but it really is quite simply the ‘Power of Now’ as Eckhart Tolle wrote about in all his books. Most of the time we live unconsciously, unaware of our children’s smiles, our spouse’s otherness and yes our own needs. On Sunday I made an effort to be conscious. To ask myself what would bring me and my boys happiness (Prince No. 1 chose to watch soccer so he was happy all on his own) and so we adventured out. And we don’t often adventure out in Johannesburg, but when we do it’s a treat.

Movement often brings us to consciousness, that’s why a lot of us (myself very much included) love travelling it makes us feel more alive. But I’ve learnt that I don’t need an expensive airplane ticket somewhere special to feel alive. (Although I’m not going to say no to any flying opportunity.) It’s in the silence of conscious breathing that we feel our life’s vitality to the max. Meditation, yoga, prayer, art, writing, math (for those gifted individuals) anything that zones you – they all offer us that extra space to move beyond our ego and see our own consciousness, which is beyond the physical. Everything I’m reading points in this direction – BEINGNESS – there’s something to it. 

 The more I breathe as I mother the more I enjoy my Princes and the more I’m present for them and myself in a real way. Smiling is cheap, breathing is free, and we don’t realise how precious it all is until we’re awakened to the fact that that’s what it’s all about more often that not through pain. I suggest we skip the pain and adopt present breathing now.

I want to see every moment as an opportunity to make a blessing on the now. Even morning runs. Yes I know, I know I really complain about those school runs. I’ve discovered when I stop complaining and embrace the reality of school runs they become a special time to chat with the kids (don’t worry I’m realistic when I’m zombied out I just turn on some nice music for all of us to relax to. Check out Classic 102.7 my latest stress reducer.)

I’ll admit I’m with the majority of humankind. I’m often unconscious. But breath by breath I’m exploring what it is to be consciously present. So far it’s been a very precious light that leaves all the noise and mess behind.

In society we have old people’s rights, fetus rights, animal rights, hell there’s even tennents rights. But mother’s rights – what’s that? Mother’s don’t have any rights except what’s given by the World Health Organisation – a mother’s right to breastfeed. Don’t get me wrong this is an important right. Why am I not surprised that there aren’t more rights.

Sure there’s maternity leave – bravo! But on a broader social level I think there needs to be more of  a drive to recognise the value and worth of mothers. This is why I’ve called my blog ‘Mother’s Rights’ (the apostrophe is after mother because it’s for every individual mother). We have such an impact on our children and hence the world. If every mother brought up her children ‘properly’ – although this is obviously not measurable what is properly? So let’s say ‘consciously’. If every mother had enough energy to really grasp who her children are and what they need at every stage of their develpopment – wouldn’t that be creating a whole new, functional, happy generation?

Okay don’t hyperventilate – I’m not managing either to bring up whole individuals. But the concept is true and maybe if there was more awareness of the importance of mothers and their role we might begin to be better mothers. (A big NOTE here – there’s no such thing as a perfect mother. We all walk around with different pictures and fantasies of what kind of mother we should be rather than focusing on the reality of the mother we are. Another blog I know.)

So where to start with Mother’s Rights? Well I’d love to say with governments and the media but more realistically and effectively it’s OURSELVES who we need to begin with. We need to give ourselves permission to have rights. The right to excercise, the right to have a decent, sit down meal (I can see you rolling your eyes – if only, yeah right), the right to fill our souls as well as our children’s ones, at the very least the right to free parking so we don’t lose those ruddy tickets. Because who can focus on a 2 year old and a piece of paper at the same time?

It’s food for thought I hope. And if any of you have more ideas well comment, comment, comment. Only through commenting can we create a mother dialogue here. Do it anonymous in your pyjamas but please do begin commenting. Also if it’s easier subscribe. the blog comes right to your email which is especially great if you have your cellphone linked to email. I’d love to begin creating a mother’s forum. And this blog is just the beginning….

Speaking about food for thought – How about a Quinoa Salad Recipe – Healthy, healthy, healthy full of protein and easy to eat on the run.

Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

Quinoa (Pronounced Kinwa or if you’re like me and find that a tad bit too French – Kinowa – Up to you – what’s the right one? I don’t know.)

Italian Parsley – Chopped

Tomato – Chopped

Cucumber – Peeled and Chopped

Olive Oil

Lemon

Salt + Pepper

Method

1. Cook Quinoa – Follow package for how to cook or here’s a recipe I nabbed off the net. http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/vegetarian-recipes/basic-quinoa.php It’s like cooking rice.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp salt

Quinoa Cooking Directions:

  1. Soak the quinoa for 15 min in the cooking pot. Soaking helps quinoa to cook evenly, and loosens up the outer coating of saponin, which can give a bitter taste if not removed
  2. If you don’t have time for a longer soaking, use hot water and soak for five minutes
  3. To Rinse: Stir the quinoa with your hand, and carefully pour off the rinsing water, using a fine mesh strainer at the last
  4. Drain quinoa well in the strainer, transfer to the cooking pot, add 1 1/2 cups water & 1/2 tsp salt if desired
  5. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer
  6. Cook for 15 minutes
  7. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on
  8. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork and serve

2. Chop Veggies small and add to cooled down Quinoa

3. Dress with Olive Oil + Lemon + Salt and Pepper. I don’t have measurements. So make it according to your taste – old fashioned recipe I know. But do it have fun with figuring out how much veggies you like in it (I like alot my mom in law likes very little) and how you like it to taste.

Bon Appetite in a healthy way!!!!

There needs to be at least one day of the week where I have fun I’ve decided. My morning is Friday. I do whatever I want, when I want. Okay after the morning lift scheme and speech therapy and until I pick up my Princes unless it’s lift scheme Friday and then I have extra time until Prince no. 1 pickup. (Tip – DO lift schemes – I learnt a bit late but better late than never!)

In the past I didn’t see myself time as ‘allowed’. I was meant to take care of my babies and if I didn’t then I was guilty of not being with them, leaving them at home. All this year when my youngest finally went to play school and I had my mornings I spent a lot of time in the ‘should do’ room – ‘I should be writing, I should be achieving.’ It doesn’t help to be in the must, have to, should do mind frame. Even if I did work and write it wasn’t enough because more often than not I was burnt out. So now I’ve decided to work five days of the week (including Sunday) and have a fun morning off to myself.

Maybe some of you are thinking, ‘Geez that’s decadent!’ My critical voice is certainly thinking that. But if I let my nurturing parent voice kick in, well why not? What’s wrong with taking a morning off from the 24 hour job of being a mum, and if you work part or full-time how much more so do you need to feed your own inner child and have a bit of a fling in the direction of fun.

To begin with sometimes we forget what fun is. I used to think, ‘Fun? What’s that?’ So I wrote a ‘Happy List’. Things that make me feel alive and happy, small things like having coffee out (someone serving me for once), putting on a new lipstick or reading a new book to the big dreams like travelling to far-flung places like India. Then I began going out and doing them. So I go for lots of peace and quiet coffees even if they’re for 10 minutes. I even did a biggie and went to San Francisco with my dearest, darling, older sister, cousin. (That’s the advantage of being an immigrant – I have to go overseas to see my family – I consider it part of my prenuptial agreement.) And yes I browse book stores, insist on weekly date nights with my hubbies, started to see movies again, and take my Friday mornings OFF.

Ahhh Friday mornings – this is such a new thing for me which I’m still exploring. At the moment it’s where I meet friends for coffee in lovely places like Greenside and Parkhurst. One of my favourite spots that my dear, savvy, sister-in-law introduced me to and I can’t recall the name…. will get back to you on that one because it’s worth going. Its gourmet cappuccino is at reasonable prices and get this they serve complementary Bakers biscuits and if you so desire you can bring your own eats. On my Happy List I have visiting art galleries, roaming Melville, hanging out at Arts on Main and I hope to add many more new places to visit and go. If I were to think aloud I’d also like to explore different things to make like mosaic, pottery, beading… the list isn’t endless and if anyone has more ideas….

Those of you who are shaking their heads and thinking – this girl is on a high! When can I @#*”? go and have time off. She’s just got time which I don’t. This actually may be true. But the reality is that even if it’s an hour off a week and even if you have to book a babysitter it’s important, worth it and I would even argue essential. Especially if you have littlies and you’ve kinda put your life on hold until things settle down into some sort of kiddie normalcy (ie. When they’re all at school – preferably finishing at 330pm). Why wait to have time and be happy when your finally are middle-aged and your kids are out of the house?

My happy list definitely makes me a better mum. We all have different needs and maybe the point of this blog is for all of us to pinpoint honestly what our needs are. Because sometimes we forget that we have needs to beyond preparing healthy dinners (those of us who manage that) and taxiing our angels around. As the famous sage Hillel says, ‘If I’m not for myself, who am I? And if I’m only for myself, what am I? And if not now when?’

So write your happy list – NOW!

NB: I wrote this blog earlier when I was calm and as happy as a mum happily having a quiet coffee – now at 8 pm at night my nerves are raw and frazzled. After a night of negotiating (which I know I shouldn’t do and desperately try not to do) turning off the TV (which is so readily available at my in laws) on Prince No 1 sending him into a hysterical crouping fit (I kid you not) I feel like I’m developing an ulcer  and all I want to do is cry myself to sleep because David is MBAing away in San Francisco (yes his turn and yes I feel very sorry for single mums) – just another argument why it’s important to take time out. Because otherwise I’d be seriously out of my mind crazy! And no I’m not going to cry myself to sleep I’ll breathe in and out and know that whilst tomorrow morning may not be better thanks to mad school morning rush at least I have a coffee scheduled. I can almost smell it…

I have straight hair. Stttrraaiiiggghhhttt and it feels very, very different. You see, you can flick straight hair and it is so much neater. The catch is that I have it for the Brazilian treatment and I need to keep it for 3 days. So whether I like it or not I need to keep it straight, straight, not tie it back and just enjoy feeling like a kugel.

Kugelllll – Ahhh is my first initial reaction. I’ve tried all my life not to be that. But if I dig a bit deeper I’m amazed. As a straight-haired kugel I feel a lot more with it. I stand a bit straighter. I’m in high school terms, cooler – if that can be said. Amazing what image does. Image in the mind. Mental constructs on what we are and what it means to look a certain way. 

(Prince Number One is sitting on my lap and he wants me to write about Renaldo his hero. What we do for our children…) Okay now that I’ve gotten him off to bed we can stop with mommy interruptions.

It’s really weird how dependent we are on image…it’s something to think about and explore. Image is important to women especially and how we dress and look does say a lot about ourselves. Even the lines on our face tells us a lot about ourselves. The smile lines the frown lines, the anxious lines they don’t lie. They tell us how we’ve lived our lives consciously or unconsciously. Please don’t look at my face too closely.

As mothers I think it’s hard to put ourselves first, put our looks first. And even when we look good with a whole new hairdo – as I do for at least the next 3 days – well we don’t keep it. I for one kind of freak out. Not in a terrible way, just in a I’m so uncomfortable way. And I’m not the only one. My hairdresser told me that anyone she does a makeover for invariably goes back to the old look. Consciously or unconsciously we are stuck.

And where are we stuck? In the past – past perceptions – past images – past wounds. Which means we can’t really move forward into who we actually want to be. And who that is shouldn’t necessarily be a new image – but our whole selves. It doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t happen with a new haircut, and it doesn’t happen by reading a self-help book – although that may all be part of it.

One way of beginning is by accepting and loving the parts of us that do exist like a kugel self. Those parts we’ve put into the shadow. They can be good traits like being clever, or organised, or what we consider ‘bad’ traits like, selfishness,  meanness, arrogance. It can be any trait or character which you usually shy away from, or get this, criticise in others. There’s a lot to discuss on the shadow self. One way to begin if you’re interested is reading Debbie Ford’s book ‘The Dark Side of the Light Chasers’. You can look her up on the net and check it out. She says, ‘True love is embracing our dark impulses, our imperfections, our mistakes and our heartache. That is when one reconnects and experiences the love that is truly the answer.’

I’d definitely like to reach and love my whole self and as I blog I hope it happens. This in a way is my search for meaning. A mother’s search for meaning, as my good friend Lexi messaged me. And meaning can be found in anything – even looking like a kugel. After all there’s nothing wrong with looking good.

It’s come a full sunday from my ‘burnt out’ post and guess what I burnt out again. For very good reason BECAUSE I DIDN’T PUT MYSELF FIRST. As usual I put my little princely bambinos first. Why – because I felt sorry for the dear darlings. Not that I had neglected them at home for the whole lovely sunday morning. Oh no. I was up at the crack of dawn (640 am – it is the crack of dawn when you go to bed at 1230am) baking scones (a wonderful recipe which I’m including below) took the first prince to cricket. Came back and took all of them to a birthday party and when it was all over at 1230 I had errands to run at Rosebank and rather than following my initial ‘Selfish’ plan, which was to go do errands, take time out, have a coffee and write. But no I felt sorry for the poor darlings even though they had a fabulous party morning, and I took them.

BIG MISTAKE!

Lesson Number One – Do not take children shopping. Especially all three together, especially when one is a 2-year-old who runs everywhere helter skelter and disappears like a magic rabbit.

Lesson Number Two – If you do take children shopping KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid and only go to one destination.

Lesson Number Three – Your sanity comes first – so rather leave them with your domestic or family member. Or if you live overseas, go do late night shopping when your angels are snuggled up safe and tight in bed. (I miss late night shopping in Sydney there are stores open 24 hours a day. You can so time your shops when it’s so peaceful and quiet, probably because no kids are around.)

So the moral of the story is that I should have put my interests before theirs and we all would have won. It’s selfish in a good way. I and I suspect many, many of you need good selfishness. Where we put our pedicured toes down (if we are so selfish to take the time to do or go for one) and say I’m going to take my time now, reenergise so I can come back whole.

I today was not whole. I was a martyr, pulling my hair out when I didn’t have my nappy bag on me for my two-year olds doo doo (I know I’m disorganised although I prefer to think of myself as stupidly optimistic). I was ready to throw the towel in when my 5-year-old announced for the whole Woolworth’s queue to hear, ‘I need to make a wee.’ He held it in and I survived long enough to come home, lick my wounds and ignore them as much as possible for the rest of the afternoon. (How was this accomplished – by going out!) And they’re good kids, hell they’re great kids. I was at fault. Utterly at fault. I preach about being burnt out and I’m always burning out. One more example and one more lesson to be learnt.

Lesson Number Four – For Everyone’s sake BE SELFISH

NB: Selfishness taken to an extreme is obviously not recommended. There are many selfish mothers who are so self absorbed that they become absent. This is also not good. I would argue that if you’re a mommy martyr you also are absent because ‘you’ as in who you truly are as a whole person is also not there. The answer is my friends – the happy medium – BALANCE.

And on a happy note – a sit in the garden under a purple Jacaranda (or at least imagine that you could) with a cup of tea note.

Scones

This is an utterly delicious recipe of scones bestowed to me by my dear friend Tanya from her granny. It has no milk and is very easy (as if you’ve noticed most of my recipes are).

Makes 6-9 Scones (If you require more it’s very easy to double or even quadruple)

Ingredients

1 Egg

1 Cup Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder (or just use self-raising flour as I do so much easier)

2 Tablespoon Sugar (I put 3 big ones)

1/3 Cup Oil

Salt (like a pinch)

Water (as needed)

Method

1. Preheat oven 200 C

2. Mix all ingredients in mix master. Add Water until right consistency – which is – not too doughy and not too watery. BALANCED like selfishness.

3. Spoon into greased muffin tray. I like to use the silicon ones so I don’t have to worry about the greasing.

4. Baste with beaten egg.

5. Bake in oven at 200 C  for 10 minutes until golden.

Serve with freshly whipped cream (if you’re time challenged as I often am use the double thick cream from Woolies) and Jam (Woolies Jams are yum and come in yummy flavours such as fig and granadilla and pineapple. I know they should pay me for all the advertising I do for them.)

 And Bon Appetite 🙂

 TIPS

I thought to add a tip that has occured to me whilst doing the blog and I think I will include a tips box underneath when I do have such tips. For all mom’s out there preparing for school especially grade one moms – GET READY FOR 2011 early. I didn’t get ready early enough. I will have to do a whole going to school blog but for now you can order stationary and stickers and all sorts of things.

One source is Ronit 0825966088 ‘Order stationary stickers now for next year. Save time and money. R45 a sheet’

Make your life a little easier + the kids love their name stickers. One thing I did get right the beginning of this year (okay I admit I was even late with the stickers – but only by a few days.) I’m ordering mine right now.

I woke up this morning to my Crackberry and glanced through my Facebook newsfeed. Some like it on the dining room table, some like it everywhere, some like it on the car bonnet. If you don’t get it – don’t worry neither did I (my mind wandered a bit). It’s an initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness and it’s a game where you say where you put your handbag/purse when you get home. So the game has begun and it’s quite funny and I’m sure the men are already wondering what the… Last year was bra colours and it made it to the news. Hope this one does too so go on your facebook and tell us where you like it! Although notably this has offended people and I get why but I really enjoyed a good laugh!

What’s also appeared on my newsfeed is a friend saying, ‘I’ve lost the laundry war.’ Another one says, ‘it’s been a hard night.’ Sound like anyone out there? (Okay I know anyone who is lucky enough to live in South Africa doesn’t really worry about laundry. Unless you’re a maid. And my maid may very well be posting – ‘I’ve lost the laundry war, the cooking war and the kiddie war.’)

The advantage of Facebook social networking is that mom’s can share what they’re going through. Maybe I should use it more as well in that way. We all have hard nights and lose all sorts of battles. Some of us have ADD or ADHD battles to fight. Others have postnatal depression battles. Others work and home juggling acts. Even in-law battles, personal self fulfillment battles. Stuff that happens that we need to deal with, small and big.

When we see a friend, a fellow school mum, or just another woman we ask ‘How are you?’ and it’s the universal answer, ‘Fine thank you.’ It’s the generic, safe answer. What people want to hear. I’ve answered out of the box on some cold winter mornings with ‘Well actually I’m ready to quit my job as a mom, will you take my kids?’ Because that’s what I feel when the morning rush is particularly brutal with the Princes refusing to budge from their cocoons let alone get dressed by themselves and eat a healthy breakfast. In response I got weird looks and some surprise because where was the ‘fine thank you and how are you’ response, and yes I got some laughs. The best reply I got was from my friend Tanya who said, ‘I also find it hard.’

YYYYeeeessss, I’m not alone in that struggle of getting the kids to school by 745 am. (Advice for anyone with kids not in primary school yet. Take it easy in the mornings you have 12 years at least of getting up at the crack of dawn, nagging, scrambling for uniforms – I know you’re meant to get it ready the night before but I confess I sometimes don’t – racing through breakfast and shuttling off to school all with a loving, cheery smile for your sweet angels.) It was the validation I needed and I suspect what every other mum needs. So when I said to a friend over my decadent Cacao drink at Greenside Café in Greenside (great organic, veggie, healthy place to hang out with wonderful coffee), that I had a hard time with my second prince when he was born. (The short of it is that in his first week of life he was dripped in the foot (and they often missed) twice a day on antibiotics and a month later had a virus which had him dripped again and in hospital for 5 days) She said, ‘Wow I would have found that terrible. I nodded my head, yes it was hard and I had never really processed it as a trauma, which it definitely was as had been confirmed this week by a top child therapist and linked to the challenges that he faces now. (A whole other blog on how babies are really formed in that first year for life more than we realise – I will, will get back to these topics. I need to write a list.) The point is that validation is part of the processing, the healing, the being able to deal with what is. Because it means we’re not alone!!!

And that usually is the case. We’re not alone as mums. There’s nothing new under the sun and someone has gone through what we have and can if not teach us, share with us and at least validate us. For we are part of the greater whole and as I’m learning we’re not meant to be islands. We’re meant to reach out and support each other, and create that more connected kind of environment so that we and our children live in a better kind of world. A supportive world, not a secretive, closed, plastic world where everything looks like chocolate on the outside but when you break in its just air, like those big wonderful looking Easter bunnies. (Am I the only one who’s ever expected those big eggs and bunnies to be solid chocolate all the way through and experienced bitter disappointment as a child?) It’s okay to have a hard time and share it in a contained way. It’s not okay to be all alone as mothers, and somehow I have a feeling that there are many who feel that way. I know I’ve been through times where I have.

I’ve dealt with fat the other day and now I’m dealing with the secret loneliness of women and the need for validation. Touchy, touchy topics. I will talk about the weather next blog – Joburg magical afternoon storms like today.

We are so up for a recipe – food definitely lightens things up.  After a blog about fat I’ve decided to opt for a healthy meal kind of recipe. This is a full proof salmon recipe (as long as you don’t over salt). It’s one of my easy meals which can even be served at a dinner party if you buy a whole side of salmon. This recipe introduced Cajun spice to me and to be honest it’s the only recipe I even use it in. Don’t estimate the power of it – it really gives the fish a tasty kick.

Serve with yellow rice (what’s that? – another recipe… ask for it if you want it and I’ll post it.) or potatoes in their jackets and fresh veggie salad, as you wish.

EASY 5 minute to prepare Cajun Seared Salmon

Ingredients

Fillets of Salmon – as many portions as you need.

Lemon

Olive Oil

Cajun Spice or Louisiana Cajun Spice if you want it spicy

Salt + Pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven on High Grill
  2. Put Salmon on a tray skin down and squeeze lemon over it
  3. Baste Salmon with Olive Oil
  4. Sprinkle with Cajun Spice + Salt + Pepper (Don’t over salt)
  5. Turn Salmon over so skin is on top and repeat steps 2-4
  6. Place under Grill (skin up – The skin is nice and crispy when grilled but don’t worry if your salmon has no skin) for about 15 – 20 minutes depending on how well you liked it cooked. If it’s very fresh then you can lightly sear it which is delicious.

First my news – You can access my blog at www.sarahsassoon.com I have my own domain – very cool! Still have a lot to figure out – like posting birthday cake pics – need to carve out the time. But I will I will… I want to thank Ephraim Moss from Seamless Solutions you can look him up at www.goseamless.co.za for any software, web needs. Especially if you’re so tech challenged like me. It really was seamless…what can I say 🙂 And a thank you to everyone who’s sent me encouraging comments and have related to this blog. It’s definitely feeding me so THANKU!

 Let’s move onto something a bit light, or maybe it is on the heavier side of things, but its spring and babies are being born everywhere which has reminded me of a very important topic close to my heart. Fat Wardrobes.

‘Fat wardrobe,’ you may ask ‘What’s that?’

You see I believe that every mom, and any girl who battles with bulge needs two or three wardrobes. Normal size, Preggie and Fat.

Well I’m sure everyone in varying degrees has a fat wardrobe they just don’t think of it that way. What we girls don’t realise is that a fat wardrobe is a must for everyone especially after having a baby, and here’s why – It takes the fear away. No don’t quickly click on to another website in disgust as you read this carry on and I’m pretty certain I’m onto something.

We run away from fat screaming hysterically or if we are fat (which anyone who’s predisposed or has had a baby [okay unless you’re one of the lucky abnormal ones] has experienced) we cry elephant tears of despair inwards as we naively try slip into our pre preggie denims, all whilst recovering from our birth tears or caesarean sections. Then in despair we either declare war on our bodies, exercising, starving ourselves, beating our bodies into pre preggie submission. Or we shrug our shoulders and give up go back into our preggie clothes and hope for a miracle as we finish off the chocolates that come with those fancy baby gift displays. Both ways have their pros and cons. And there is no right or wrong – there is however what’s healthy.

And I think I’ve figured out what’s healthy for me and maybe for some of you…this is a conversation I suppose and we all have our perspectives.

I to be honest gain weight on two occasions. When I’m pregnant – and when I go on a diet – as contrary as that seems. My babies are more recent weight gains since I thankfully gave up yoyo dieting by 20. For my first I bore with my excess weight until I fit into my old clothes. I don’t remember feeling particularly happy or beautiful, in fact I remember just feeling plain old fat and gorging the chocolates as I survived the sleepless nights.

Thankfully the weight shed – that’s the advantage of a 22-year-old metabolism. By my second I grew a bit wiser and went and bought clothes, embracing my bigger size status and dressing in flattering clothes. And it was much less traumatic because I felt happy in my clothes, felt beautiful and fresh and that is what helps in shedding weight more than the diet whip. Because when I’m happy the focus is less on food, and more on me and what I want. I naturally eat less and move more. And by the time the baby is older you actually have more time to think about doing structured diets and exercises if you want but at least the first few months you spent loving yourself and your baby, instead of feeling torn.

So your fat wardrobe is your friend to tide you over and as you find yourself in a whole and real way then your natural figure will emerge again. There are books to support this. Martha Becks – The 4 Day Win – is one of them. It’s very against these diets which create the ‘famine brain’ effect which makes you eat more and hence gain more weight in the long run. Another book which I’m in the middle of is ‘Women Food And God’ by Geneen Roth it has a similar premise but definitely goes very deeply into the psyche behind food and how it reflects our relationship with life and ourselves. Both highly recommended especially Geneen’s. I’ll finish it though and give a full report.

Okay if this is sounding a bit superficial – I mean come on ‘clothes’ – well it can’t be helped it’s an important and can be a very fun part of life. I’ve moved into ‘Happy Clothes’ wearing things that mean something to me and make me happy. Forget fashion and what’s in at the moment.

How much more so when you don’t have your normal figure or aren’t happy with it. Just indulge yourself with soft cottons, lovely colourful fabrics, or if you do insist on all black accessorise in a wonderful way. (I have a cousin in LA who only wears black but to a function her black is fancy and her shoes out of this world, door stopping, gorgeous.) Shawls, scarves, belts, jewellery all that makes us girls lovely and life a bit more interesting – bring it on!

 And get out of your comfort zone imagining the way you’re meant to look and be – see what is and don’t just make the most of it – be beautiful. After all moving out of your comfort zone is another part of having children and of course life. It’s unexpected, out of our control and whether you like it or not, it is – so you may as well catch a wave and go along for the ride yahooing at least some of the way.

I must add quickly that my other cousin, Sharon, in America taught me the importance of making the most of oneself, seeing ones beauty and holding ones head high, no matter what. SO big, big thank you to my fashion muse – and of course she’s a lot, lot more – she’s a mummy muse too!

NB: I know this is actually in a way an anxiety provoking topic – no matter how fun it’s made to be and we all carry our baggage and stuff. But the truth is beautiful and whole so we kind of need to go beyond our media created images of what we’re meant to be. It’s the harder but more rewarding route – probably another blog, yes.