New life, new dreams

This might sounds completely backwards but one of the things I have loved most about becoming a mum is discovering something that excites my soul that’s not got anything to do with parenting.

Stay with me here.

I may be only six months into this parenting thing, but when I compare my feelings now to those early days and weeks just about everything feels completely different.

I know at the start everything was just so overwhelming and all of my thoughts were such final statements like ‘I’m never going to have a good night’s sleep again’ or ‘I’ll never be able to leave home for more than an hour at a time because what if she gets hungry’. Of course those things sound silly now, but at the time they felt like very real possibilities.

Above them all one of the most depressing thoughts I had was ‘Parts of me feel missing’. I still felt like me but all the things that had made up my life before were suddenly gone. I didn’t need to go to work anymore, I couldn’t exercise until I had fully recovered and I felt too tired and was too in demand to pursue any of my other hobbies.

The good news and the bad news with parenting is time passes.

Our babies grow up and every stage is only a brief season. Within a few weeks I was able to bring back some light exercise and within a couple of months I could take some me time and escape to the pool for an hour or so. Consequently I felt rejuvenated. My cup had been filled and allowed me to better look after my family.

One of my biggest passions is acting, however the season of life I’m in at the moment makes that quite a difficult one to pursue. Theatre requires lots of late nights several times a week, something that’s not only not practical for my family but also would seriously reduce the already limited number of sleeping hours I have available.

It was a sad realisation understanding that I would need to let that go. However, instead somehow I feel like I have found something new that gives me those same feelings of excitement and drive that we all need, even mums!

I’ve always loved reading and have been picking up books again. Reading always tends to remind me about how much I’d love to write a book one day. It’s been a dream/goal of mine from a very young age (I’ve just never had much discipline!). It has been interesting discovering that spark is still there.

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The more I read the more I fanned the flame of this dream. So, I thought why not chase something a little bit different given my life now looks a little bit different? I decided to step out of my comfort zone and attend a few events I had never before thought to. I attended an author talk at the library to inspire me further and recently I joined a book club (that was filled with more fun and games than book talk but hey I had a blast at something brand new).

I completely surprised myself feeling comfortable in such foreign territory and it has given me considerable drive to keep reading and to keep writing (and hopefully one day that book makes an appearance).

Give yourself permission to do something you are passionate about.

Yes, pursuing anything is going to look a little different to what it did before baby but it’s going to be just as important to my overall mental wellbeing and enjoyment of life.

My writing gets interrupted when nap time finishes before I do and sometimes I might have to forfeit going for a swim if I’ve simply not had enough sleep, but that’s the reality of life. It gets in the way.

But then I can just remember it’s not getting in the way at all, not really. I’m also incredibly passionate about my family and those interruptions are actually just an opportunity to switch time to another passion for a little while.

Being a mum is one of the best titles I’ve ever been given, but like every mum I also have others that make up who I am. I’m still a wife, a writer, a swimmer, a baker, an avid reader, a photographer (however amateur) and any other new thing I want to pursue.

I’d like to encourage you to see what you can do within the limitations of your current lifestyle that could fill up your cup and spark that fire in your soul.

Family friendly chili con carne

I constructed this meal one night when I was feeling particularly lazy but still wanted a decent home cooked dinner. It is therefore nice and easy to prepare, easy on the wallet and, since it actually lacks any chili at all, perfect for kids.

It’s naturally gluten-free and you can also omit the yoghurt and cheese for a vegan friendly version.

Not to mention it is super yummy!

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Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of uncooked rice
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 tin mixed beans
  • 2 tins diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 tin corn
  • Handful of coriander (optional)
  • 1/3 cup red onion
  • Corn chips to serve
  • Greek yoghurt to serve (omit for vegan meal)
  • Grated cheese to serve (optional/omit for vegan meal)

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Method

  1. Cook 1 cup of rice. ( I use brown rice but any rice will do).
  2. Cook beef mince in a fry pan.
  3. Once meat is cooked add 2 tins of diced tomatoes and mixed beans. Season with cumin and paprika and mix well. Bring sauce to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the salsa by combining the corn, red onion (diced), fresh tomato (diced) and coriander in a bowl.
  5. To serve place a small portion of rice in a bowl, top with beef mixture then grated cheese if you desire, followed by salsa and a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt. Eat with corn chips.

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Galaxy Eyes; a poem for my daughter

Cobalt and teal, emerald and sage.

Cerulean, indigo, lapis and silver swirl

in a starry night sky close to home.

As the river mirrors the trees that reach across its waters

so do your eyes seem to reflect the wonder of the heavens.

No, it’s far more than just a reflection.

The entire soul of a galaxy has dived right in

and in your little human eyes swims a complete solar system.

I see a Milky Way,

I see a thousand constellations.

Sparkling, shining.

Floating near the surface and submerged down below.

I’m in awe of how someone so little

can hold a whole world.

With a galaxy in your eyes you house so many futures.

Which one will be yours?

Or does a part of each of them belong to you?

This galaxy is untouched, untainted.

There have been no regrets, no what ifs, no too lates.

Fear does not cloud them.

Instead they roar,

just a whirlpool of possibilities.

This galaxy is calm and clear,

but I can see a ferocity.

No one can hold the stars without strength.

Be brave my keeper of the galaxies,

for though you have might,

you are home to a wonder of delicate treasures.

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Perth birthday freebies

Everyone loves freebies, and who’s more deserving than the birthday boy or girl!

Here’s a round-up of all the things you can score when your birthday comes around (I hope you can eat a lot because there’s a lot of free food up for grabs).
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There’s also bound to be things I have missed so leave a comment if you have more to add to this list!

  • Nandos will give you a whole free birthday meal on any day during your birthday month. You must become a member before your birthday in order to receive your voucher via email.
  • Boost Juice Vibe Club members receive a free original size juice on their birthday. This offer can also be claimed on one of the two days either side of your birthday.
  • Grill’d Relish members get a free drink on their birthday with the purchase of a burger. (I’ll admit after the first two this one is a bit of a let down, at least throw some chips in there!).
  • But wait it gets good again… San Churros will delight you with a free churros for two on your birthday. You do need to be a member of their El Social club, but even if you sign up on your birthday you can still claim your free churros – now you’re talking!
  • Jamaica Blue gives members a free slice of cake to celebrate their birthday. You can sign up on your birthday in store and claim your cake right away. Plus, new members also get a free coffee – morning tea sorted!
  • Muffin Break members can score a free birthday muffin.
  • Join the Eat Fresh Club at Subway to receive a free lunch.
  • The Outback Jacks Birthday Club gives members a free main course meal up to the value of $35 during their birthday month. However, it’s only valid when two or more main meals are ordered. If you book a table for four or more there’s also an extra birthday surprise (I have no idea what this is but if anyone does let me know in the comments).
  • Cold Rock gives VIP members free ice cream and a cake voucher. You must have been a member eight days before your birthday in order to redeem your free ice cream and for 35 days to receive the voucher.
  • It’s time to get something good into you… Sumo Salad’s Sumo Society will give you a free salad on your birthday. You must collect a membership card from in store to sign up.
  • Gloria Jeans grants members a free drink on their birthday.
  • Panchos in Victoria Park and Mount Lawley will treat you to a free birthday meal and dessert if you join their VIP Gringos Club. You must present your birthday letter to receive your freebies, but you can do so any time during your birthday month.
  • Finally, if you still have some room head to the Spud Bar to claim your free birthday spud or salad, but only after joining The Secret Society of Spud. This freebie can be claimed on your birthday or the two days either side.

Happy birthday and I hope you enjoy your food coma! If you didn’t make it all the way then you’ve got something to aspire to next year.

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Hey Mumma, you won’t always know best

So many people will tell you to trust your gut as a parent. They say; don’t listen to the bombardment of advice and instead do what you think is best and everything will work out OK.

But sometimes it won’t. Sometimes you won’t chose what is best. And that’s OK. We’re all learning on this journey.

But can I encourage you, when you don’t know what is best to not throw out all the advice. Use your discretion to listen just to what could be helpful.

Yes, sometimes people will give you advice when you don’t need it and it won’t always be said in the best way, if you need to just let this go then do. But, there are so many people who have walked the path you’re walking and learnt more than a thing or two that could save you so much trouble.

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I know when I was pregnant the sheer amount of advice from well meaning people started to make me really anxious because I realised just how little I knew. Instead of ignoring it all and choosing to forge my own course, I shutdown the real source of my anxiety (namely a Facebook mother’s group) and mostly just listened to the women close to me.

However, from time to time it may be necessary to thank everyone for their input and still go with your gut and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I just hope that you see the value in the experiences of others.

I’ve seen many new mums quick to complain about how their own mum or mother-in-law “interferes” with their parenting of their new child. People tend to respond to this with so-called encouragement to the new mum to “trust themselves” and to “stand up for themselves” by doing their own thing.

But, I wonder how much easier we might find life if we made the most of someone else’s experience and wisdom, instead of viewing it as a threat to our own capabilities?

You are smart and able. So are others. Let them help you and make your road smoother.

Healthy cranberry oat biscuits

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I’ve been making these delicious chewy biscuits for a coupe of years now. They make the perfect morning or afternoon snack with a cup of tea. The best thing is I don’t feel guilty if I have more than one in a day as they only use a small amount of brown sugar to sweeten them up.

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Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (I generally use a reduced sugar variety)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla essence

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Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, bicarb soda and cornflour in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, coconut oil and vanilla extract or essence.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  5. Add the oats and cranberries and stir to combine. You may have to use your hands here to thoroughly mix the ingredients and mold into a dough.
  6. Take a portion of the mixture (whatever size you desire your biscuits to be, I usually make them about as big as my palm) and flatten on a baking tray. Continue with the rest of the mix.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Remove from oven and allow to cool or eat while still slightly warm.
  8. Store in an airtight container or freeze.

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The biscuits can easily be modified to include your favourite things. Try adding toasted coconut pieces or drizzling melted chocolate over the top for a less healthy, but extra tasty, treat.

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Reading Proverbs 31 as a mother

I’ve always felt the woman in Proverbs 31 to be a ridiculous overachiever who all women are encouraged to strive to be. I mean she makes clothes and sells them at the city gates for crying out loud.

It wasn’t until I read these verses as a new mum that I suddenly could see some similarities in our lives. Now, I don’t claim to be as accomplished as she by any means, but if you’re a mother perhaps you too will resonate with these verses in the same way, and if not maybe you can you see your own mother in them?

Verse 13. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.

How much of motherhood is hands on? Changing nappies, making dinner, cleaning floors, furniture and clothes. The only difference between 21st century mothers and the Proverbs 31 woman is are we doing it willingly?

Verse 15. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.

Hands up who’s had to get up at night to feed a little babe? Or rise in the early hours when it’s still dark to get on top of some of the household chaos? Sure the context is different, I mean I ain’t got no maidens, but the sentiment is still the same.

Verse 17. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

Many mothers like to keep physically fit in one way or another. From the gym to pram walks or joining family cricket games, somehow we find time to also look after our health.

Verse 18. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.

I know a lot of busy wives and mums who run their own little business to turn a profit on the side of their full-time family life. Often these women work at late hours after everyone else has gone to bed in order to get it done.

Verse 21. She is not afraid of snow for her household for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

Women have great foresight. We are always prepared and we always want the best for our family. Just like the Proverbs 31 woman, we organise new clothes before a change in season, no one is going to go without. How often do our husbands ask for something only for us to say, ‘I already bought you a new one weeks ago’? Mothers are great at anticipating needs.

Verse 26. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 

It might be hard to see yourself in this verse but you’re there. When you’re giving your teenager advice you’re speaking out of your learned wisdom. When your over enthusiastic toddler accidentally whacks you with a toy for the tenth time that day and you chose to show them what gentleness means, instead of yelling at them to calm down, you’ve put kindness on your tongue.

I’m not saying I achieve all of these things all the time, but when I think of the Proverbs 31 woman in context of motherhood I suddenly feel like she’s not so unattainable; and that maybe striving to be like her is a little more worthwhile and possible than I first thought.