Monday, January 27, 2014

Ode to the Imperfect Mum

Right. This post is going to be very revealing. Be warned. You may not like it. But I want to be honest. And open. That's why I started blogging. So here goes...

Do you believe in the perfect Mum? Do you believe she's out there and she out bests you in just about everything? Can you see her clearly in your mind or is she kinda vague?

"My Perfect Mum", in no particular order,

  • always wears the latest fashion with grace,
  • has perfectly cut and styled hair,
  • always has clean shaven legs, underarms and bikini,
  • does heaps of crafts with her kids,
  • wears high heals and still manages to run after her kids with style,
  • is an amazing cook and baker,
  • always wears sexy underwear,
  • is always willing to have sex because she's never dead tired at the end of the day,
  • is super organized, but also manages to be super laid-back and spontaneous,
  • her house is always tidy and clean,
  • exercises 4 times a week,
  • lets her kids paint at home,
  • wears makeup every day,
  • loves being a full time Stay At Home Mum, 
  • her kids never have public melt downs,
  • never yells at her kids.
  • (feel free to add to this list)

Enter Ann, the Imperfect Mum. She

  • cannot afford the latest fashion or many clothes at all, but does her best with what she has,
  • occasionally gets a haircut,
  • usually has clean shaven legs and underarms but you can never be sure, 
  • sometimes does very average crafts with her kids,
  • now hates wearing high heals, even on date nights (oh the nightmare walking from the car to the restaurant or the movies and back!),
  • is an amazing cook and baker (well I got that the same as her),
  • occasionally wears sexy underwear if she can locate them,
  • often has to dig very deep to find the energy to have sex at the end of the day,
  • is kinda organized (but probably appears super organized to some), and rather tense,
  • her house is mostly tidy and clean,
  • hardly ever exercises,
  • hardly ever lets the kids paint at home (oh my goodness imagine the mess!!)
  • wears makeup on date nights or to go to work, but usually ends up rubbing her eyes and smudging it all up,
  • can't stand being a full time Stay At Home Mum,
  • her kids sometimes have embarrassing public melt downs,
  • regularly loses the plot and yells at the kids (especially between 4pm and 7pm).
Dear male readers who've read this far (I bow to thee!), do you think maybe some of you have the same or a similar image of the perfect Mum as me? Please do prove me wrong - I would love to be wrong tonight!

As I sit here at a cafe table, looking chilled and busy, no one can see the toy police car in my handbag. Or the chewing gum I use to bribe my daughter into obeying me when I'm desperate. I don't have kids with me, so I don't feel observed and defined as a "perfect" or "imperfect" Mum. I just am. It's very liberating. And yet, shouldn't I be able to just be when my kids are with me?

I guess I want to believe that the perfect Mum exists as I see her (I'd love to be her - who wouldn't?). But if I'm perfectly honest, I hate the idea of her.

I hate that some Mums make me believe she exists and that I'm such a failure.

I hate that some Mums I see or meet don't talk openly about their struggles and failures. I hate that a lot of Mums compete with and compare each other.

Why can't we just be? Why can't we show our weaknesses and encourage each other on this extremely hard yet beautiful road that is motherhood?

Today I encourage you, the "imperfect Mum", to lift up your chin and be proud of who you are and what you are doing as a parent. Because despite your possibly visible "imperfections",

I know that you love your child(ren) perfectly. 
Even if sometimes you don't particularly like them.

And at the end of the day, what you did or didn't feed them, what you did or didn't do, whether you have sex or not and whatever your shape or size is, it doesn't matter.

What does matter is that you are doing your best and love your children. What matters is that God says to you, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Kia Kaha- Be Strong!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

One dough - Two ways!

Ohhh my dear readers, I luuuuv food and I have some real heart warming yummyness for you today! I make both these savoury and sweet scrolls at the same time, and serve them for lunch. We can all pick and choose what or in what order we eat them. They are at their best when still warm from the oven. Gosh, it's hard to stop then! They are so easy to make, so do give it a go, and let the kids help :-).

Bread Dough:

Choose one large mugs from your cupboard.

In your bread machine, put, in this order:

- 1 mug water
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp brown sugar or glucose powder (for more on why I use glucose, see this great blog)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 mug wholemeal flour
- 1.5 mug high grade white flour
- 2.5 generous tsp yeast

Set your machine to the dough making setting and let it do its thing (I am SO addicted to my bread machine!).

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto your workbench and divide into two.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.

For Savoury Scrolls:

Roll out into an oval shape.

Spread onto it whatever tickles your fancy. It could be (one or a combination of):
- aioli
- tomato sauce
- mustard
- mayonnaise
- tomato paste
- tapenade (olive paste)
- pesto
- etc.

Then add (one or a combination of):
- grated cheese
- finely chopped fried onions
- finely chopped ham or bacon
- etc.

Roll the dough on itself lengthwise and tightly:

To cut evenly and without squashing your "sausage", here's a trick a dear friend once gave me and it changed my life! (that's only a slight exaggeration) Cut a long piece of sewing thread, and fold it onto itself three times. Slide it under the "sausage" to the desired scroll thickness, cross both ends over, and squeeze. Ta daaaa!

Place scrolls onto a greased baking tray or dish, side by side. Melt 1 tbsp of butter, and brush over scrolls.

For Sweet and Sticky Scrolls:

Roll out into an oval shape.

In a pan, melt together:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp golden syrup (or liquide glucose - for more on why, see this great blog)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence

Spread 3 or 4 tbsp of mixture onto your oval dough. Pour the rest into a greased round baking dish.

On the dough, add some brown sugar and cinnamon, to taste.

Roll the dough on itself lengthwise and tightly, then cut as above for the savoury scrolls. Place scrolls in baking dish on top of the sweet mix.

Put both baking dishes into the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Lower temperature to 180 degrees Celsius and cook another 10 minutes.

Turn over the sweet scrolls rapidly onto a serving place, before the caramel hardens.

Enjoy warm or cold...And beware! These disappear very fast.

Bon appétit!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

You are enough!

Oh yummmm. I've just had the yummiest spoonful of peanut butter with a glass of milk. Heaven!

Anyway, today, as I sit in front of my computer and think about all of you, male or female, I want to tell you this:

You Are Enough!

Say it after me.

I am enough.

When you get up in the middle of the night for a crying baby, a wet bed, a sick child, a kid's nightmare, a drunk teenager, a violent partner.

You are enough.

When you get up in the morning and you look at yourself in the mirror and you lift those shoulders and keep your chin up and bravely face the day.

When you wipe one more bottom. Play one more game of cars. Make one more batch of playdough. Clean one more nose. Wipe up yet another spill. Sweep the floor the upteenth time. Fold another heap of laundry. Empty the dishwasher yet again. Bake one more cake. Prepare one more meal. Change another sticky yucky nappy. Brush teeth. Calm a tantrum. Mediate between fighting kids. Tidy gazillions of toys. No need to keep going - you get the idea.

You are enough.

When you look at yourself in the mirror and see the shadows under your eyes, the developing crease between your eyebrows (yep, you know the one), the signs of laughter around your mouth, the beautiful stretch marks on your tummy, the growing bump you love or dislike.

You are beautiful. You are enough.

When you catch your partner watching porn.


When you run around the supermarket with your kids driving you insane with incessant "I want this", "can we buy that?", "look Mummy, how about this?".

When your kids look at the meal you've dug deep to make for them and say "Yuck, I don't like this Mum", and all you feel like doing is bursting into tears. Or when your partner unknowingly says "Pesto pasta again?" (ha ha there goes the sexe tonight!)

When you work several jobs, and look after the household, and spend time with your kids, and do your best to nurture your relationship with your partner, and give yourself physically when all you want is to hide under the covers and SLEEP!

You are enough.

When you are trying your best, but you think it's not enough. When you are striving to be the best Mum, but you end up yelling at your kids. When you are doing everything in your power to be the best wife you can be, but the daily grind is killing romance.

There will always be a when.

But let me say this to you today. You are amazing. You are beautiful. You are a hero. You are enough.

Kia kaha! Be strong!

And do drop me a line in the comment box below. Bloggers live for comments and interaction with their readers. I'd love to hear from you :-).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A few of my favourite things

That could be the name of my café one day... My favourite things. Or Ann's favourite things. Do you know the famous Sound of Music film with Julie Andrews? Well, that's one of my favourite things. It's beautiful and makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Not many films do that. In the movie, one stormy, scary night, all seven children come running into their nanny's bed, terrified. And she starts singing These are a few of my favourite things:

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

There are tough times in life. Storms come and go. A woman I know wrote a blog post about her favourite things and how thinking about these things lifted her mood and helped her focus on the good things. What a great idea! I've been meaning to do it ever since I read her post. So here goes, in no particular order, things that will make me smile when I feel like crying or screaming:
- time spent with my husband
- my children's soft sweet wet kisses
- flowers in general, but sunflowers in particular
- a good cappuccino
- gorgeous food
- baking
- putting a smile on people's faces
- bed and breakfasts
- sea shells
- the feel of sand under my feet
- walking on the edge of the sea
- the feel of the sun on my face
- sunsets

- the sea breeze on my face

- clean sheets
- pretty tea cups
- cheese, the smellier the better
- fluffy towels

- boxes, boxes, boxes
- vintage decorations
- laughing until I cry
- sleeping
- gorgeous underwear
- sitting by the fire in winter and listening to the crackling of the wood
- hot chocolates
- lovely folders
- letting dark chocolate slowly melt under my tongue
- a tidy home
- the smell of fresh bread
- time to read a chick flick novel

... and the list goes on and on!

What are your favourite things?? I'd love to find out, even if I don't know you. That's what makes blogging fun!
Now it has dawned on me that I've been applying a similar principle in my marriage. "My favourite things" also applies to love. If you focus on your partner's good points rather than his faults, your love will grow and not wane or become bitter. After 8 years of marriage I have found truth and strength in that knowledge.

Finding love is a miracle. Keeping love alive over the years and into old age, now that's a feat I intend to see in my life. I encourage you to make a list of everything you like or love about your partner, and to keep it handy for those difficult moments in your relationship. Then go back to them and focus on them. Praise your partner and encourage him. I can promise you will see the difference.

Kia kaha! Be strong!