Archives for the month of: November, 2010

Yes I would consider going away with your hubbie (or yourself although this blog isn’t about that) for a weekend (or  a week) as a right. And not just for the obvious reasons of needing a well deserved break. (Although obviously that is an important reason.)

I remember being warned by a psychologist that going away is not good for relationships because high expectations are built and then shattered, which can be damaging.

This weekend David and I hightailed to Cape Town for the weekend with great expectations. He had work there on Monday and Tuesday so it was a perfect opportunity for our weekend away. The first of this year together. Alone and away from our three little, sweet Princes. We stayed at the lovely Vineyard hotel in Claremont. (Very recommended – if you’re going to be in Cape Town this Summer on holiday you need to go see it, even if it’s just for a cup of tea.) We were all set for a lovely, romantic weekend away.

And then we had a fight. But don’t worry it wasn’t a hands and fist fight. It wasn’t a yelling/shouting match. It was an argument. (I told my cousin we had a fight and I think she was a bit shocked. Don’t be shocked. Even if it was a big fight. Fighting with your spouse is normal as long as it’s not abusive. Well at least I think so.) What our argument was about was trivial. Something to do with Blackberrys. I always forget the reason. I only remember the feeling. It never feels good. It feels like a cold hand has snatched away my heart and replaced it with a hard, grey stone.

And stuff came out. Like the stuff in a shower that gathers until it blocks and you need to buy that acid drain removal stuff to clear it all away. That stuff isn’t noticed until you sit still together for a prolonged period like on date night (please tell me you’re all having regular date nights) or a weekend away. And then it’s there, triggered by the smallest thing like a husband looking up the sports results on the phone.

In Imago therapy it’s called toothpaste issues. When you look at a small issue such as it bothering the hell out of you that your other half doesn’t put the toothpaste cap on the toothpaste (yes it’s a classic). These small issues when you begin digging is about a lot more than just toothpaste. They’re linked to core issues such as ‘I’m always the one who has to put the phone away not him’ that makes me ‘less important’ etc. etc. etc. and you can see where that led me that evening.

Don’t worry. We kissed and made up the next morning. We after 9 years of marriage had a good, hard look at some of the issues (personal and relationship wise) that were coming up. They weren’t pretty. It never is. And there’s a lot of unknown. In ourselves, each other, the future. That’s why marriage is a commitment I imagine. It keeps us there to work on it as long as both partners are willing, loving and able.

And that dear blog readers is the reason why you need to go away for a weekend and have a break. Even if you fight. Even if your expectations of a romantic, loving getaway are shattered. Because it gives a chance for all the stuff to come out. Away from the kids you suddenly need to face your relationship and see where it is.

Marriage is a dance. It can be a messy, fast dance (especially in this century of Blackberrys) and when you slow down you notice your bruises. That’s when it’s important to give each other a massage. I mean this literally, emotionally, spiritually by. Try it, get away and see.

The rest of our weekend although marred was wonderful!

I have a dilemma when I write these blogs. There are so many topics to write about. It’s hard to choose and as I go about my day I begin writing blogs in my head. About husbands and meeting them for business lunches, about scheduling in structured times with kids, about the artist in all of us (yes even those who can’t draw) etc. etc. etc. It’s so hard to focus. But focus I will, and the biggest lesson of all I’m learning is it’s okay not to be perfect.

This message has been coming at me all year and today my very good, wise friend confirmed it verbally for me over our breakfast. (All of you who don’t have a sisterhood yet – set it up – because hopefully your sisterhood is wise and will know you and say those wise things that really need to be said because they love you.)

So it’s okay if these blogs aren’t perfect. It’s okay if I’m not loving being with my kids 24 hours a day and want to go out for a coffee, it’s okay that my skin breaks out a bit and it’s okay that sometimes I feel things aren’t okay. It takes a lot of pressure off doesn’t it. A sigh of relief. For after all what is perfect?

Is perfection what we see in magazines? Is it on TV? Is it in the books we read? Does it exist in large corporates? Hollywood perhaps?

I hope you’re shaking your head, because I certainly am. Perfection of what should be is a fantasy. Look at your child – especially when sleeping – and that is perfection. Now I dare you to look in the mirror with all your stretch marks and all. (Those of you lucky enough not to have stretch marks please rejoice again at your blessing. I do consider mine silver medals of birth.) Look at yourself. Look and look and look. And yes I’m talking about doing it without clothes on. Look and look and look. Are you thinking, ‘I’m not a size 8 or 10’ or measuring the flab, the sagging, the out of proportion tummy flab? It’s natural especially because are minds are looking back at models that we see in mags and TV. We see them as beautiful, perfect. But us?

Look again, and see perfection. Look again and see limbs that walk, feet that can run after your toddler. Lovely breasts and arms that enfold your babies, hug your child. The beauty is more than within, the beauty is. The perfection is. Just in being we are all perfect.

Okay stop shaking your heads at my airy fairyness. It’s not airy fairy it’s true and I’m learning it myself. As soon as that critical voice comes in. That nasty critical voice that says I’m not good enough, am too fat, too flabby, too spotty…I now retort back with my nurturing voice (whoever has not looked into transactional analysis should – it’s very powerful) ‘I’m made in the image of God’ and as I smile it’s true. And the more I say it the truer it feels. Because we are not talking about something intellectual here, we’re talking about the way we see ourselves in every cell of our body.

And there is perfection there. As we see it in our children so are we. And it follows that in our being and doing. In our striving we are perfect. So yes I don’t spend every minute with my kids, but when I do I’m trying to breathe, be my whole self there, and in that lies a perfect moment.

And just to add the scary thing about striving for fantastical ‘perfection’ is that because it’s virtually impossible we simply shrug our shoulders and give up. But that really is another blog.

Below is a Humus Recipe that I learnt from Talya Goldgraber’s cooking course which I did go to and thoroughly enjoyed. It was yummy, very informative and I’ll be honest a bit freaky how unhealthy some of our foods are. So below I’m putting a health tip and the Humus recipe that I’m proud to say I made last night. (Proud because I haven’t been cooking much at all since we’ve moved into my mother in law’s house whilst we renovating. Yes another blog.) It’s an example of what perfect is – it takes attention and presence to get the taste and consistency right. You don’t just throw in the ingredients according to the instructions because there are no clear measurements. Now don’t run away try it. The kids will love it and it’s really healthy for the whole family. A ‘perfect’ dish I think.

Yes!!! Finally put a photo of a Recipe! Healthy HUMUS!

Healthy HUMUS!

Hummus

Ingredients

(Please note there are no exact measurements. It’s add as you taste and according to the quantity of chickpeas.)

Chickpeas

Coriander seeds

All Spice

4 Bay Leaves

Peppercorns

2-4 Cardamom pods(Good digestive aid)

1-2 Onion

1-3 cloves Garlic (or as strong as you want it. Gives the Hummus real taste.)

1/4 cup of Lemon Juice (Freshly squeezed lemons is healthier)

1/4 cup of Tehina or Water

Water

Method

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight.
  2. Simmer (don’t boil) chickpeas on stove in water with All Spice, Bay Leaves, Cardamom pods and Onion for 2 hours. (When I made this I didn’t have All Spice, Coriander seeds or Bayleaves and my Hummus tasted fine. They do add nutrition so it’s worth adding.)
  3. Skim the scum (or whatever you call the white fluff on top) off like you would with soup.
  4. Drain Chickpeas and take out Onion and all the seeds.
  5. Crush Garlic with a teaspoon of salt in a Magimix (food processor)
  6. Add Chickpeas, Lemon Juice, Tehina or Water and mix until right consistency. You may have to add more water to make it smoother. Play with it.
  7. TASTE – add lemon juice, garlic or salt if needed.

Enjoy with cut veggies, crackers (Finncrisps and Ryvita are the healthy variety) and with whatever you fancy. Lasts up to a week in the fridge.

 

Ooohh even writing ‘The Right to be Decadent’ makes me feel light-headed and anxious. But that’s what I’ve been today. Decadent. I’ve gone for an eye test to check if my eyes are okay for laser surgery (they are) it took most of the morning and meant that I couldn’t drive the whole afternoon. So no lift scheme, and my dear, sweet mother in law (yes such a mother in law does exist) had to drive me to pick up Prince No. 1 and do errands. (A mother who doesn’t drive is like an octopus without limbs. I think you’re disqualified actually. Just kidding.)

But driving is another topic. We’re talking decadence, we’re talking self-indulgence, we’re talking having your husband pick you up from Northcliff and take you out for lunch, as mine did today, as totally, obscenely decadent. And how does it feel?

On one hand it feels wonderful – like having blurry eyes for a day (just half a day no more than that am I willing to put up with) is  a blessing in disguise.

On the other hand and this is an important point. When I am decadent – you know, having a pedicure, getting my hair done, reading a book in the middle of the day. Going for coffee and not writing etc, etc. I feel guilty. GUILTY like a black masked ghost that overcomes me, takes me over no matter how much I say to myself, ‘But I deserve it.’

The saddest thing of all is that when I feel guilty and I’m sure it’s this way with everyone – the pleasure is discounted. It’s a drag to go for a coffee with a friend. The guilt makes what is wonderful, heavy. It tells us off with a ‘should of’ and all sorts of mind talk that destroys us. Like,

‘So you’re leaving your children to go to yoga. What kind of mother are you? They’re neglected.’

‘But I want to go,’ you whine back.

‘Go then,’ our inner critic says. ‘But you’re not a good mother.’

‘Fine I’m not a good mother, but I’m burnt out and need to go.’

And so you go. Stomping off instead of floating.

How much better would it feel without that conversation. How much more would we enjoy our ‘time off’. I would. And the saddest thing is that I think we want those guilty conversations to take place, we like the shadow.

Why? Because in a funny way we feel better. Yes we’re taking time out but look I’m not going to enjoy it to my fullest so I’m not so bad. I feel guilty, so I’m a good mother.

This all can happen quite subconsciously. And I know it happens with me. Like when I’ve had a whole morning to myself. A morning of having my nails done, coffeeing and having a lovely time. Why then when I come back to my kids within the first hour I feel like I’m going mad. I feel stuck and exhausted. Why, why, why? I’ve just had a beautiful morning to myself?

I think it’s because of that black shadow of guilt that hangs around my neck like a noose. I’ve done lovely things but haven’t really allowed myself to be fully present.

Yes it’s subtle, yes it’s not normal. (But oh for that major philosophical question – are any of us normal?)  But it happens.

So what to do? Well firstly we mothers need to let go of the guilt. We need to tell ourselves, ‘Go and enjoy yourself darling’. Just like the idealic, fantasy mother that most of us don’t have would say. (Because heavens no one else will say it to us. Sad but true.)

So here’s what I’m going to do. When I’m doing something lovely for myself – do it and savour it for the blessed time it is. When I’m doing something for my kids and being the usual, giving, loving (well I try) mother – do it fully. Like now I’m meant to be giving the 2 Princes a bath (the 2 year old vandaliser is sleeping because he’s a bit sick. It does make my job a bit easier with bathing. The fact is 2 is easier than 3.) So I’m going to go and leave this lovely white page of possibility and go bath them, be with them and not dream of my next quiet moment to myself. (Although they’ve already bathed themselves and are out of the bath. Oops! As I said the advantage of having a sleeping 2-year-old at bath time.)

I’m sitting here at speech therapy again – it’s like groundhogs day I know. The difference is I’ve just scoffed down some sushi that I picked up from the downstairs bakery. It actually wasn’t half bad. And it was food and relatively healthy. No it wasn’t the omelette with 1 egg yolk and 2 egg whites, with peppers, onions and all sorts of yummy vegetables (I do like my veggies – grown up at last), that I had planned. With muesli and yoghurt as the article on, ‘How to make your metabolism fast’ suggested.

Apparently as you hit 30 – the big 3 0 (I am sorry if yours is the big 4 0 or 5 0- whatever it is the same applies, if not more) your metabolism begins the inevitable descent down, down, down, into the need for Movical and the like. So one way they suggested to keep your metabolism up and running is a healthy, solid breakfast. Like the one I described above.

How do you have a round breakfast as a mum? Eggs? I ask you. Eggs?

There are options. I know there are. My positive, solution orientated, go do it side tells me that I could wake up at 6 am. Do yoga until 630 and then get everyone dressed by 7 and have a lovely Mediterranean breakfast until 730 – at which point me and the Princes calmly, royally make our way into the car and are on the way to school. Yes my positive side is also a bit fantastical.

It’s exhausting waking up at 6 to begin with – especially after a late night. And with all the nagging (Where’s your shoes, hat, library bag, socks?) by 7 am I’ve lost my appetite.

Another viable alternative is after I drop the kids at school to go home and eat. I’ve done this a couple of times. It’s pure heaven. I get out a magazine and read and eat and feel human. (I know I’m not meant to read when I eat – everyone has to have an addiction. And yes I do wish mine was exercise, but it’s not.) But what do I do when I have therapies to shlep my kids to in the morning? Well sushi is a good solution.

***

It’s now Saturday night – I should have, could have, if only I would have posted this on Friday. (My procrastination, time, organisation issues are definitely for another blog.) Oh well. I’ll end here with 2 comments.

Mommy on the run had sushi for lunch as well.

A plus side for coffee addicts everywhere – according to the article I read, caffeine helps to increase metabolism as well. One more wonderful reason to have a coffee break. (If you need a medical one – for me personally, the fact someone is serving me something that I don’t have to make is good enough a reason to sit and have a coffee.

 

I’m sitting here, whilst my middle Prince is having Speech therapy. Thank God for laptops is all I can say. The amount of time I save. And I would say a blessing every time I turned on my blackberry I love it so much. Technology I used to believe was not for moms. I mean who do I need to email that urgently? But I’ve learnt differently. It opens worlds. And that’s exactly what mothers need.

Sometimes I felt like my pre-blackberry life just consisted of nappies, (almost out of those) school runs, opening the fridge at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, trying to figure out what to make for supper, and coffees of course.

Now I get to Facebook (who’s watched social network – I loved it – although apparently it’s not very accurate), I get my emails (I  don’t like the bill emails but what can we do, and access to the world-wide web so that whenever I have a question all I have to do is whip out my lovely albino berry (that’s the white one).

The only problem is that I do overdo it – I’m a crackberry addict. It takes precedence over my kids, my friends and even my husband. It’s me and my berry, beautiful phone. (couldn’t help the corny pun – sorry) So now my husband refuses to talk to me if I have it out. My friends still talk to me, but I’m learning to put it away because I don’t want to lose them (especially if I do, who will I email, Facebook and message?). The Princes have learnt how to pull me (almost my skirt off to be honest) and if that doesn’t work they just destroy the place (hammers on walls, glue everywhere, throwing pool table balls, again, everywhere). So off the Blackberry goes.

Last night my hubby and I went to a parenting talk by family psychologist, Dr Ronel Duchan at Great Park. (Ronel specialises in family mediation and counseling, especially relationships on the verge of divorce.) Ronel had a lovely combination of practical work sheeting and lecturing on the topic of parental attachment to kids. One of the big points that came up was about being PRESENT for our kids.

PRESENT – as in no cell phone – as in being ‘open and receptive’ to your child.

Am I that? Sometimmeesss. Definitely not always. I wish always. Unfortunately with these things we also carry through how our parents were with us. But the good news is we can change. And being mindful of ‘presentness’ is a great place to start. (I think I once spoke about how breathing is a good way of being present.)

Ronel had a practical exercise which really highlights where we are present and where we’re not.

Practical Exercise

Write down the best times that you’re present for your child. And the ‘worst times’.

My Best Times:

  • The car (no one can escape and no phones when driving).
  • Baking with them. (Yes I don’t mind flour in my hair. Although I do mind when they decide to chuck in the yolks into my meringue mixture – not a good mommy moment.)
  • After I write – do yoga – do something fulfilling for me.
  • Shopping 1 on 1 (No more shopping with all 3 at Pick n’Pay. I’m  a slow learner but at least I’ve finally learnt).
  • Holidays (no school pressure helps a lot).

My Worst Times

  • School Mornings (abnormally bad time)
  • When I’m tired/burnt out (this must be universal)
  • When I’m emotionally stressed (life shocks in More To Life words)
  • Shopping with all 3 of them (I have sworn never again – at least not to Pick n’Pay)

Then she asked us to strategise how we can be more present for our kids and write those times down.

I wrote ‘Put Crackberry away when am with kids.’ I did it today – it worked.

It was such a practical, hands on, proactive way of planning how we were going to be present for our children. I learnt that it’s not enough to say, I wish I was more present – it doesn’t lead to action. Only action leads to action.

And my attachment with my children depends on my actions! As it is with every mother and father (father involvement is such a topic I need to do it!). So if you want to see how present you actually are – do this exercise, compare notes with your spouse and make a plan! Your parent – child attachment depends on it.

 

I have a sinusitis headache. Is that enough of an excuse not to have posted my blog this week? Is it enough of an excuse to just look at my kids and ask for a hot pack for my head. Those lovely beanie ones that you microwave. Is it enough of an excuse to have an argument with my husband about what is and what isn’t ‘fair’. And how those words ‘It’s not fair’ should not be part of my vocabulary in the first place – according to him. (I do see his reasoning.)

You see when push comes to shove. My search as a mother for meaning and wholeness becomes sorely tested when I’m under stress – physical/emotional etc. The look for wholeness, owning my dark and light sides have been under strain this week. When I look at myself it’s with an amused smile. Despite my very sore eyes that feel as if an aquarium is in my head and the sharks and dolphins are bursting to get out, I can smile.

The fact of the matter is I’m dealing with all these challenges a lot better. I am better equipped to ride the waves of imperfect mothering. What I’m really saying is that reflection, therapy and reading is worth it. Yes it’s a long journey but it helps when the going gets tough (Does sinusitis count as the going getting tough?) and I highly recommend it. (Although it can be overdone, and that leads to a bit of a self obsessive self involvement. Also not healthy.)

This blog is part of my journey and I’m learning a lot from it myself. As I hope you guys out there are too. I wrote this week about Grade 1.  I wanted to tell all future Grade One moms what to do – i.e. learn from my mistakes. (Anyone skipping the Grade 1 bit – scroll down to see Health update.)

Since I wrote the blog I have paid closer attention to how I am with my Grade One Prince. I took my own advice and it has made a difference. (Although he’s still calling me a ‘horrible mother’ every time I put my foot down.) And just so you all know that I do try practice what I preach (although it’s so, so easy to have the knowledge – doing it is another story.)

So the things I’ve done this week are:

– I’ve written a note and put it in his lunch (he read it very proudly – the beauty of the end of the year – they can read!).

– We made a snack list and stuck it on the fridge – and yes I went and bought the peanuts he wanted, and no I am as yet to send him to school with the hotdog and burger he ordered. (But I will do it.)

– I chatted with him after school and found a whole other way to do it. (Guessing! He guesses what I did that day – and I guess what he did – lots of giggly fun.)

Grade One Prep Ideas

So your child is going to grade 1. Congratulations you are now adding another 12 years to your school career which I’m sure you thought was long over. Those Matric nightmares will be returning soon. But lets not think about that there’s still Grade 1 to get through.

The truth about Grade 1 is that it’s a lovely year. Your child learns to read, do math and they grow into that little person who you can’t have an adult conversation with around without them joining in. They become serious about sport, have a team, play in tournaments (and if you have a princess I’m sure they become a little prima ballerina).It’s great. But there are some things a mum needs to know.

Here’s what I wish I knew:

  • Uniform – Get it ready the night before. It doesn’t always happen, the tie, the hat, the shoes.
  • Buy two of everything. Or be ready to replace. My Prince No. 1 has managed to lose his school shoes (found a week later, after I bought him a new pair – if you do buy a new pair, buy a bigger size so that they can wear in the next year. And no I don’t care if they walk around like ducks with too big shoes. They grow so fast – it’s a waste of money otherwise.)
  • Try and teach them responsibility. Give them their own shelf or hook to hang their clothes on. I still am not quite managing that – but I’m blaming the fact that we’re not at home because of renovations.
  • If you really struggle get the teacher to do a star chart for neatness. And praise, praise, praise when you get it right. (That’s where we are at the moment. Prince No. 1 now makes sure he’s neat in the morning as he aims for a 10/10 neatness mark.)
  • Become best friends with you diary. Library, tuck shop, tuck shop duty, different days finishing at different times, arrangements etc. etc. etc. and it can change at any moment. So you need to keep up to date at all times. Yes you are your child’s secretary. School is not about the kid being organised it’s about the mum, and if this isn’t your best quality – as with me – well, this is school there’s no choice.
  • Enjoy this year – what’s left of it – and take your nursery school kids to school when it suits you. In Grade 1 – it’s not about you any more and it won’t be for another 12 years. If you take a bit of time waking up as I do, you’ll be up at least at 6 in order to start your day off on the right foot. There’s nothing like a morning (which I had yesterday) of waking up at 7 and spending a frantic, blurry eyed half hour trying to get 3 sleepy Princes dressed, grazed and tooth brushed by 730am. It’s enough to ruin the whole day. Or okay to be honest it takes me at least an hour afterwards to recover from the shockingness of it.
  • Get organised with your afternoons. A new 30-40 minutes has to be slotted in to accommodate Homework. If your’re extremely lucky your school won’t give much or your kid will just spit up the answers so fast that you’re done in 10 minutes flat. If you aren’t so fortunate make space, make way for another mummy duty. Get Dad’s involved if possible.
  • Buy your uniform and stationary before you go away on holiday. And get the sticky tape and scissors out to cover all the books before you go away. (cover with your child. So that they appreciate what a wonderful mum they have.) Make next year that much easier for yourself.
  • Sit down with your child and write down the different lunches and snacks they would like. Stick the list in the kitchen. At the very least they won’t be able to accuse you of being a ‘horrible Mommy’ as my Prince No. 1 did yesterday (he is a vocal little chap) because he wanted pickles, and chips, and chips, and chips for snack. (We compromised he’ll get chips on a Friday. ‘All my friends get chips every day,’ he whined (no other way to put it). ‘Tough,’ I replied.)
  • Prepare snacks the night before. A no brainer I know – but you won’t believe how often I’m too tired so I don’t, only to bitterly regret it in the morning. (It is admittedly easier with live in help though.)
  • Do put smiley faces and notes in lunch boxes. Prince No. 1 loved it when I did that (haven’t done it in a while come to think about it.)
  • Make sure your child has free time to just play. Primary school can be so many hours. They may look all grown up in uniform but they’re still very small, little kids who NEED to have free, unstructured play to grow and develop. All psychologists are agreed on that point.
  • Get to know the teachers. They will be with your kids more in the day than you will. You want to know what’s happening with your child in class. Touch base so you can sort out any issues that may come up.
  • Communicate – Keep those talking zones open between you and your child. You want to know how they’re feeling. Asking ‘How was school today?’ doesn’t do it for a lot of kids, mine included. What I do is say, ‘I’m going to tell you about my morning and then you’ll tell me about yours.’ This works most days and if that doesn’t, I ask, ‘Can you tell me three things about your day today.’ Touching base takes effort but is well worth it.
  • Don’t bring your kid school to late on the first day. I did that. I was just too freaked out what can I say. He was fine. But it did mean he didn’t get the best seat in class. Naive me I though they’d have little name places on the little wooden tables. But no, it was first come first served like a restaurant. And all the parents stood outside the class room as their little, uniformed babies marched into class with fresh new back packs and wheelies. Fathers go along to. I think all the moral support possible is good, plus why should dad’s miss out this important milestone?

Which brings me to my next most important point – Get Help! Especially if you have other kids it can be overwhelming. Lift schemes, family help, Dad’s doing homework. Self preservation comes first. I wish the school system thought so too.

And whilst your children are in school – do your work, and all the things you need to but also take that time out for ‘you’. After all with all the hard Mummy work you do you deserve it!

Health Note Talia will be doing a cooking demonstration this Wednesday the 17th of November. She’ll be teaching how to make broth (soup) that can be used for other foods,  pickles and (why these fermented foods are so important – I’m curious). Cream cheese and Labne, hummus, chocolate mousse and date balls. So I’m going and can’t wait to eat – I mean learn. If you’re interested call or sms Talia for more details: 0716029780

Have I been a bit heavy with my topics lately? Not that any of you lovely, sweet readers who send me such nice, encouraging comments have said so. (I’ve duly noted the comments about shorter sentences and perpetuating little miss comma more.) The truth is I like heavy. It’s somehow meaningful and real. Whilst I’ve been accused in the past of being too heavy, there’s definitly a lighter part of myself. And that light part today would like to put forward the premise that every woman has a right to good recipes.

What is it with women who don’t share recipes, or worse who share but leave that vital ingredient out? I think it’s because they identify with what they cook too much. It becomes who they are. ‘I am my cheesecake I am not going to share it. If you want it you will have to come to me, me, meee.’ The scary thing is I have to admit that I’ve been tempted down that ‘I am my cake’ route. I have a lovely hungarian cake recipe from my mum that’s fail proof, easy and wheat free – even good for Pesach, and I’ve felt at a time an ache when I shared it. But I never succumbed to my darker side. I moved beyond ‘I am my cake’ and now ‘I am my blog’. Just kidding. (I will post the delicious hungarian cake recipe soon.)
Does anyone else feel like that – not sharing.

I do understand if you cater or own a restaurant – you’re not going to give away your super special Lemon Meringue recipe. But for us average, stove cookers how many of us battle to share their signature recipes? I have a feeling that it’s only the older generation that battles. I do say that smugly, in that ‘aren’t we better than them’ way. But are we?

This recipe business reminds me of being in school and all of us pretending that we hadn’t studied when we really had. (I wasn’t one of them – I really never studied except in Grade 12 when it counted.) I hear in other schools it was the other way around. It all boils down to  competition.

What is it with women and competition? Am I getting on to a heavier topic here? I think I am. Oh OH! I’ll end it here. But just to say that women and competition does exist and it can come out in food and recipes, and yes clothes and what we own, and husbands and houses and all sorts of things. And it gets nasty even if it’s subtle. Who remembers sitting in Kindermusic or Moms and Miracles and stealing glances at the other babies. ‘Well my baby has four teeth already. And huh that baby has none.’ or ‘That little one is crawling. Why isn’t mine?’ or ‘That bratty baby won’t stop crying. Just look at my little angel – already the best behaved in class’. Worse still is post pregnant women comparing weight loss without saying a word. Just that good old look up and down. We’re all guilty of it in one way or another.

We women end up looking over our shoulder at what everyone else is doing whilst walking through our daily diary, wishing we were different, better than X, or, smirking when we are different or better than X.

So what to do? Well some people drop out of the competition and don’t bother with it at all. Sounds good except then they don’t do or aren’t anything. This ends up being just as bad as being in the competition.

I don’t have all the answers to this complex topic except to say what I would say if I had a daughter battling with competition, ‘Be the best you can be and don’t worry about anyone else. You are your own benchmark.’ And if that’s good enough to tell my ‘daughter’ well it’s good enough for me.

Focusing on oneself is not selfish, it’s doing womankind a favour. Your fabulousness (and all of us are just so fabulous in all our own special ways) will be determined by you and not those around you. True fabulousness! I love women who live their lives that way. You see it with them, you see it with their food – and they always share recipes.

Well what brought me to this innocent topic of recipes that has turned into a sinister discussion about competition? It all came from asking my mother-in-law for this spinach bake recipe which she made over Sukkot and was DELICIOUS. She said I can’t put it on my blog. I said, ‘Why ever not?’ Then she said, ‘Not everyone likes to share their recipes and the person who gave it to me may not like it.’ Well as it happens that person was my sister-in-law’s, sister-in-law’s, sister-in-law. I know it sounds funny, but it’s true. I called her up and asked her, and she, lovely, sharing woman that she is, said, ‘Sure share it.’

And so I’ve put the Spinach Bake below. Easy, healthy (especially if you substitute a healthy base instead of puff pastry) yummy way to get kids to have cheese and spinach.

SPINACH BAKE

Line a Greased Corningware dish with 1 Puff Pastry

Prick Holes

Bake 180 for 15 mins

Filling

Mix :      400g Spinach, chopped and microwaved until just limp

                1 Block grated Tussers cheese (I think you can substitute Tussers (which is not the healthiest cheese) with a more natural mozzarella. (I buy my cheese from Barrios in Norwood – Love It!)

                1 Small Simonsberg Feta, chopped – or you can get Woolies Organic Feta (Healthier – love the Woolies hormone free dairy range.)

                3 ½ eggs (keep ½ for basting later)

                Pepper (don’t need salt because the feta is salty)

Put spinach mixture on top of baked pastry

Put another Puff Pastry on top

Cut slits, brush with egg, top with sesame seeds

Bake 180 till Golden (about 1 hour)

(Originally this Recipe was cooked in the microwave. I don’t recommend it because I don’t like microwaves – but just so you know.)

I know a lot of people are sighing. Sick of Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey of self discovery. Sick of Julia Robert’s ever present smile. Sick of the book and the movie, which is oh so self-indulgent. The thing is though I didn’t think the book was self-indulgent I loved it. I savoured every word (okay I skipped a few of the descriptive passages, but I do that with all books) The book spoke to me. I would love to travel to three different countries, especially Italy and India (Indonesia doesn’t do it for me I must be honest) and write about it. So of course I love reading about it. And I love self questioning and self discovery. So combined what’s not to love?

A lot of people criticise Elizabeth Gilbert for leaving her first husband. After all there was nothing wrong with him. He loved her. I got it though. She felt stuck! And I applauded her for leaving. Very uncomfortable ground for a lot of people. How about the moral fibre of society, family values, loyalty and making it work? And I do think these are valid points. I don’t know if I would recommend any one taking drastic steps in order to truly live their life. But I do know that being true to yourself is a very difficult thing, and I don’t think there’s place for anyone to judge. And when we do judge I think it’s important to look within and ask ourselves, ‘Why does this trigger me? What am I maybe denying in myself? Why am I judging this/feeling this way?’ You never know what you may uncover.

If the book affected me I buried it. The movie however was another story. It was so in your face a journey about a woman who felt stuck in her life. Who molded herself to those around her for the sake of ‘love’. Who didn’t know who she was, and then journeyed to find that self. She fed her body, delighted it so that it felt alive in the beauty and deliciousness of Italy. She created a silence in herself so her voice could emerge in India. She then journeyed to Indonesia to combine her voice and body into a balance of love. A self-love that opened up to true love.

Sounds so simple doesn’t it.

I wish it were. We can’t all travel to Italy, India and Indonesia for a year. Especially if you’re a mum with small children. The children have to have left the house and which mother wants to wait until they’re forty before they find themselves and enjoy life?

So what’s a mum to do? We all have dreams, we all have hidden voices (okay maybe not all of us, but a lot of us). A lot of the time we’ve put ourselves last. Our desires go on the stove and poof up in smoke as we cook supper for our brood. I know I’ve done this for years.

I believe that in an ideal world this looking for self should happen in our teen years. But what if you were given too much freedom and too little guidance or not enough freedom and your journey was stifled and you never found yourself? Rather you followed Grimm’s fairy tales of finding your prince and living happily ever after. Naively forgetting to ask what is the after? Bills in the post and school lifts (no I will not shut up about those mornings I am officially traumatised!!!)
Do I sound too cynical, maybe…. there is a lot of good after all. Wonderful, romantic, candlelit evenings, fulfilling hours of creativity, holding hands on a sunset walk, dancing in a jazz bar cheek to cheek. Okay I’m mocking you now I know. We do get those magical moments but the rest is work my girl ‘WORK’. And not just the lift schemes, the work I’m talking about is bringing the dreams into the every day. Moving out of shut down, walking dead denial and waking up to our true feelings. Even if they hurt, even if it feels that if we go there we may not survive, that we may destroy our lives. Because truth be told we won’t. And if you’re really that scared maybe you need a good therapist to hold your hand. (I think everyone needs a good therapist really – we all have holes – who here had a perfect child hood? Therapy is for filling those holes, giving you those wings so you can fly into independence and the freedom of being a happy, responsible adult.)

By the time you’re married with kids. It’s not about you anymore it’s about your husband, your children, and the ‘you’ goes swimming in the deep, blue sea of the ‘other’. When the ‘you’ wakes up it can be a difficult swim back. It doesn’t have to be drastic it can be as small as that visit to the art gallery, or venturing into Newtown, applying for a dream job, or listening to different types of music. For me it’s all of the above, plus waking up earlier to do yoga and then wake up the sleeping Princes for the morning run. With my ‘self’ fed, those mornings are more doable even sometimes enjoyable. (I did institute a star chart – they work!)

We don’t all have to travel the world to find ourselves (as much as I’d personally love to). We don’t all have to leave our husbands, they can join us on our journey (Imago therapy is an excellent weekend to go on and reconnect with your husband on that real, soul, what you both need, awaken that first love, level.) We do however all need to be our authentic selves. What’s that? Well begin the journey and go and find out…

Tip – Write down what you dreamed of doing/or who you wanted to be as a little girl. See where that leads you, what it evokes.

And as I promised – Health Tips

I did go hear Talya Goldgraber and she is lovely and passionate and so lives what she teaches. From drinking raw milk (I know not for everyone) to making her own baby formula (I kid you not). She will be doing a cooking demonstration next week. Watch this space I’ll put the details up. (I so need to learn how to do those sidebar thingys)

Health Tip from Talya – Kids need fat and protein more than vegies. When they have enough fat and protein they are fuller and won’t crave sugar that much.

So what to feed the little birdy mouths? Lamb and beef fats are great for them. So make soups with marrow bones. Start breakfast with eggs (fried in butter) and buttered toast (healthy rye toast or health bread rather than government bread (more on that later). Avocado, salmon, smoked salmon are all full of healthy fats. Plus cook with coconut oil – instead of that awful hydrogenated oil – full of good fat to fry in. (I could do one whole blog on what she said about bad oils and suggested for healthy oils.)

I’ll add more with every blog. You can’t go to health crazy because hey that’s not healthy either! So bit by bit I’m going to add new healthy habits to my lifestyle and I’ll keep you updated blog by blog on what we can all do.

I woke up this morning with a frown on my face. Seriously. Don’t ask me what I was dreaming. I don’t remember. I’m frowning still as I write this. My heart is clenched and I am seriously not in that relaxed joyful place I’m meant to be. I’ve tried laughing at myself, laughing at the unconscious state that’s choosing this. Nothing works. I’m wired up in a ring of DNA drizzling depression.

Drizzling depression. Yes you heard me right. It’s not a deep, debilitating, I can’t sleep depression. It’s more like a haze of unhappiness, sadness or dissatisfaction lurking behind somewhere waiting to rain down as things don’t go well. It’s hard to define but it’s there at times just like the rain that’s falling outside my window as I write this.

It goes away easily. Like today as I looked up at the rainbow rings around the sun. I smiled in childish delight. It was like magic and it made me feel that Johannesburg is part of this naturally, beautiful world. (I loved the reason for the rainbow being – venus was circling between the sun and the moon, but alas it isn’t true. It was just ice crystals! Which is amazing enough I suppose.) My dark shadow makes way for the sunlight as I sit at my computer and happily type away on my writing projects. So it’s not an endless black hole at all.

Maybe drizzling depression is survival mode. Like surviving the morning ‘get up and go to school’ ordeal where the Princes decided not to listen as usual whilst Mummy split her lungs open (I didn’t really but I wanted to. I did threaten to leave without them and began driving down the driveway.) It’s one of those days where by 7.42 pm I’m ready to throw in the towel. I feel like I’m failing as a mother on so many levels. And I’m sooooo tired of the incessant nagging (me) and whining (Prince – I won’t tell you which one). Where everything from getting dressed to not bashing up their brother is a FIGHT.

I should probably take up boxing so that at least I can punch somebody. I just don’t have the energy and therein lies the depression. Louise Hay says that the healing thought for depression is ‘I create my own life’. I love that sentence. Even as I type it, it lifts me. Offers me that loving hand of hope. That next breath which breathes life into my body that’s fraught with tension and frustration. (A massage is way in order – how about a mother’s right to massage discounts!)

As a mother (and I won’t say mothers – because I’m not sure how mothers out there feel – for those of you who are always happy you can go to the ‘perfect mother’s blog’. Oh it doesn’t exist – I wonder why?) I sometimes feel that I’m STUCK. Who else is going to do my job if I decide to get a 9-5 job, and at the end of the day I’ll still have to organise the au pair, and deal with being a mum when I come home. It’s hard and it’s 24 hours. Saying any different is being in denial. (And mothers and denial is a whole very important other topic.)

However ‘I create my own life’. This means I take responsibility and once I accept reality rather than wishing it away (which I indulge way to much time in) I can be present, proactive and create my own life. So for example as it stands at the moment my Prince is not listening at home. That’s very, very real.  So I need to put some structures into place to contain my little, disorderly Prince in a positive, building way (who is at this very moment wailing at my sweet, dear husband who is putting him to bed). It’s possible I’ve done it before (believe it or not) And I will outline it in another blog just in case other mothers are knocking their heads against the wall with their child raising. (I went to a play therapist last year for parental guidance and it worked a bomb – I had an angel on my hands.)

Drizzling depression is a real thing. Being in denial of it is not healthy because you can’t fine tune your life to lift yourself into the life you really want to live, be the person you really want to be. I’ve become more aware of this as I’ve aged, and sought to learn about myself. I stumbled today. And that’s okay. It’s when I fall that the nurturing parent kicks in and says ‘You’re having a rough time. It’s time to take off your mummy hat and take care of yourself for a bit.’ Reenergise, regroup and refocus. In other words take a hot, steaming bath and let your better half put the kids to bed. And that’s precisely what I did this evening. Tomorrow we’ll start afresh with a morning star chart!

 

(NB on better halves. If your better half is away or you’re a single mum it’s that much harder. So take extra good care of yourself, and get as much help as you can from family or friends like your sisterhood.)