Work in progress

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Image by Kelli Trontel

I like to think I’m good at change. And in the main I am, so long as I know what that change is going to result in. What I’m not good at as patience and finding my way through the forest so to speak. It’s the uncertainty thing I’m not good at. I never have been and though I have learned to trust that the outcome will be ok I still struggle with the process. The limbo space.

That’s why this year has been hard for me. I haven’t been able to see what the outcome will be. I think, though, that I have a plan for what I will do going forward in taking on some study towards being a primary school teacher. I need some help in finalising the decision, to have the support of my loved ones in moving on this. I will need to continue paid work whilst studying. It’s going to be hard and it will take a long time. And in making this decision I know that it’s something I would love to do for paid work BUT a not-so-niggly part of me knows that what I really want to do is write. And I need a way to create a life that encompasses all of the things that I want it to have as part of it.

I’m ready though to move in to the next phase of my life. My boys are growing but they still need me. They will likely be the central focus of my life for a long time to come. Sometimes the weight of that is a lot to bear.

I can’t do everything all at once. The inner voice telling me I haven’t reached my potential won’t shush. I don’t want to let go of the dream but I need to stop judging myself against an invisible checklist of achievements. I don’t do it to anyone else so why do I do that to myself? I have some years ahead of me that are the probably the best to come and that all the small things will equal a life well lived. An interesting life that I’ve learned so much from in navigating….and maybe that has been the learning for me over the last six months. To accept I am a work in progress.

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Why I read

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I’ve read some beautiful posts about why people write. And like many, I write because I feel the words and need to get them out in order to make sense of my inner workings.

For me, it’s the words. The sound of them as they appear, typewriter like, in my mind. And that process is just as powerful for me as a reader.

Words are thoughts. And thoughts help me make sense of things. They help me learn. Grow. Change.

Mum tells me I taught myself to read when I was around 3 so in my living memory I have never been without a book in my journey. I have no frame of reference for life without books by my side. They have been my friend and teacher always.

We were talking at dinner the other night about how every room in our home has books in it. Mr 5, rather seriously said, “We are really very lucky.” And we are.

I read as I see my thoughts reflected back. Thoughts I had no words around before those very words appeared before me.

I just read this quote from one of my favourite books, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami:

The storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in and walk right through it, step by step.

I read to still my mind, enter another world. It’s not always a comfortable place.

I read an article a few weeks ago that said reader of fiction as a group are more empathic. (As an aside, the article makes the distinction that it’s literary fiction that does that and though I tend towards the literary I can’t help that that’s a bit of a snobbish distinction). I have no doubt that seeing the world through the eyes of characters whose lives are far removed from my own experience have made me a better person.

I read because it’s part of me.

“I like your dress”

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He runs in, hair flopping and I can see him backlit from the sun’s rays that are only just peaking above the horizon.

I’ve counted his little steps before. Thump, pat, pat, pat, pat, pat. Twenty little patters as he slides out of bed and runs towards me.

Every time I hear that first thump I smile. Even if I’ve been woken by him so many times overnight that I lost count.

His hair always flops. Silky and golden.

He stops next to me, smiles and hoists himself up next to me on the bed.

“Hey buddy! How you doing?”

“I good!” he says as he flings his arms around my neck. I hug him back of course and kiss the top of his head as I do a hundred times a day and pretend to nibble his totally delicious cheeks. Something that always makes him squeal with delight.

He snuggles in next to me. He slowly smiles and says, “ooh Mama, I like your dress!” He means my flannel pyjamas. Pink with the Eiffel Tower and camellias all over them. I like them too. He thinks of everything I wear as a dress. Because when you’re two you get mixed up by stuff like that. And at that moment I see myself as he does. And I feel beautiful.

“Now, Mama, please may I have my breakfast?”

Stasis induced cake

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Image source

I’m in a holding pattern. I have been for most of the year. I’ve talked to people I know and trust. I have some options but none of them are singing to me as “the one”. I get on and do, I’m busy. Always busy. I am mindful in my busy so I like it in it’s own way.

I’ve begun focusing on health and energy as that feels like the right thing to do.  Making the odd day for myself here to do things I love – visit the Art Gallery, catch a movie and even read a book for half an hour.

And of course I’ve been focusing on my family and food.  The two things that I always come back to.

The question of what to “do” professionally is still bothering me.  I read this great article yesterday and I know it’s part of who I am.  I am a better person now than I was 10 years ago in every way.

I know that “a” decision is what is needed but I’m paralysed by the options ahead of me. Further study is a certainty but so much depends on the type of paid work I am able to find. History tells me that it’ll be ok, I’ll make it work whatever happens but I’m still waiting for the right path to make itself known.  And patience has never been my strong point.

I have a dream I want to pursue but am not ready to name….one that I will kick myself for not attempting if in fact I don’t.  How I can get this to work with the realities of the rest of my life I do not yet know.

In the meantime, loved ones, you can count on a lot of cake!

When you’re unsure of a way forward what do you “do”?

Loverly food: Family meals & the “Festival of Meatballs”

Sponsored post thanks to Origin Energy

20140717-081700-29820046.jpg Family meals are one of those romantic ideas I had before having children. All of “us” (whoever the us was!) gathered at the table at the end of our respective days taking it in turns sharing what interesting, unusual and funny things happened that day. Heartily enjoying the healthy, home prepared meal presented. I’m not ruling that out as a possible scenario in the future, especially the older our children are, but it’s rare for this scenario to present itself at the moment.  The reality though is that Mr 2 is at Grandma’s 3 days a week, the other week days Mr and I eat together after the boys are in bed as the boys eat dinner early – a hangry kid is in no one’s best interest!  That said, we do try to have a family dinner once a week, usually on a Sunday evening. It’s not the chilled out experience I perhaps envisaged but it is still an important time for us to connect. Increasingly, the boys pitch in – they help select our meals and Mr 2 helps with table setting and clearing up and Mr 5 “supervises” Mr 2 and helps with putting away dishes.

Food is a big deal in our house. And by big deal I mean we talk about food a lot, we prepare from scratch, get everyone involved, chat about healthy eating, good food choices and shop for seasonal food. I spend a lot of time thinking about what to cook, cooking and cleaning up. It’s important to us that the boys know that good food takes time and thought.

The setting you can see above was for our family dinner on Sunday. At the outset let me say that Mr 5 is a great eater. He eats widely and is willing to try new things. He went through a fussy period and there are foods he doesn’t like much (soup) but we just avoid those. Mr 2 on the other hand would snack all day and never sit down to a proper meal if allowed to do so. He will generally not try new things, especially if cajoled. I’ve learned that leaving him to decide from several options on the table is the best approach. Always putting something on the table that I know he likes helps too – fresh cucumber or corn on the cob – and he may just take a nibble of something new. Mr 5 is the best salesperson when it comes to getting him to try his food even if it’s something he’s eaten and liked before.  It absolutely does get me down sometimes when I have spent so much time thinking and preparing a meal only to have it rejected for a banana or piece of bread.

When asked by the folks at Origin if I could try one of their Winter Warmers recipes I knew I had to try these Stove-top Greek Meatballs. I paired them with a second set of turkey meatballs as I had an opportunity to batch cook, what I call “quick chips” (thinly sliced potato that is oven roasted with a bit of oil and salt) and a bunch of fresh salad veggies. Mr 5 dubbed our meal, the “Festival of Meatballs” and pleasingly, Mr 2 tried everything you can see pictured before you.  The recipe is a really easy one and as I doubled up we have two more meals in the freezer awaiting a busier time. It’s also a really diverse meal to prepare and though I served them plain this time I will do them with some creamy semolina or polenta next time. I have had requests for this meal again from all the boys so it’s a winner in my books. You can find the recipe for the Stove-top Greek Meatballs here but the process goes a little something like this:

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In preparing family meals I look for healthy, cost-effective, something I know is likely to appeal to Mr 2’s fussy pants nature and is big enough on flavour to please the rest of us too. These meatballs tick all the boxes and I heartily recommend them.

How are family meal times at your place?  Do you have a fussy eater too? How do you cope with it all?

White picket fences

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Image by Amelia O’Connor

When we were looking at houses all those years ago we missed out on many lovely ones….everything seemed just that little bit out of our reach financially.  When we spied our now home we felt a sense of urgency with it.  One we’d never felt before.  We stalked every open inspection and willed the people going through not to see it’s potential.  It needed love, lots of it….and we spent every weekend for months tending to it before we moved in.  It’s still half renovated and we have plans for an extension in some years when the boys are bigger.  I can’t stomach the idea of another project at this point but we will run out of space soon enough as the boys limbs grow more gangly and their minds grow bigger.

Our house is not perfect.  Just like the people who live within it are not perfect.  It’s lived in and battered but it stands (very) tall and strong.  And surrounding our home we have a white picket fence.  A boundary between us and the rest of the world.  The white picket fence of family life.

You never really know what goes on inside the four walls of a home, no more than you ever really know what someone’s internal world is like.  That we come together, form friendships and family, love and like one another in spite of that is a wonderful thing.  The white picket fence of internal life.

When I leave home I feel like I’m weaving a thread from an infinite ball of wool.  As I return home I spy our battered white picket fence and it all just feels right.

 

Loverly food: Parmesan, sesame & chia seed crackers

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I spied this cute cracker recipe on Facebook yesterday and thought they’d be a hit here but as usual I couldn’t leave well enough alone so I mixed it up a bit.

As much as possible I do home made. Yes, it is work. Yes, it means I spend time organising and cooking and cleaning up but I think it’s important to know what’s going in my kids mouths.

I posted the pic on Instagram and received requests for the recipe so here tis, due to popular demand.

Mr 5 helped me make these and chose the cookie cutters we would use.

1 cup wholemeal flour
3 tablespoons cold butter, chopped
A good handful of Parmesan cheese – maybe two thirds of a cup but hey, whatever!
1 good shake from the packet of sesame seeds – maybe a tablespoon and a bit
1 good shake from the packet of chia seeds – about same as sesame seeds
2 tablespoons cold water

Blitz flour and butter in food processor until it becomes bread-crumb like. Add Parmesan and seeds and give a quick blitz. Add water and process until it becomes a ball, add more water little by little if needed.

Flatten by hand between two pieces of baking paper and refrigerate for 10 mins or so.

Roll out between paper until a few millimetres thick and cut with cookie cutters of your choice. The thinner they are the crunchier but don’t go too thin or they’ll burn.

Bake in a 170 degree oven for around 12 – 15 minutes and try not to eat the whole lot at once! Half have already been consumed here!