I promise these blog posts won’t all be about food and beer but it is one of the things I am passionate about at home. So experiencing new food and wine and a whole range of outdoor eating options in in the North East of the US is exciting. My man brews his own beer, so being able to sample other local beers made her in Minneapolis is a treat.
Adventures are hard. I am out of practice. So a 24 hour journey has been demanding. But it is always demanding isn’t? People waiting, tired, anxious. People leaving, saying goodbyes, anticipating change or a new life event. I watch people as I travel and wonder about their lives. Why does the young woman sitting next to me travel alone? How can the guy in front watch movies back to back for the entire flight? There is the married man with ear plugs, eye mask and blanket, the very large couple that really need an extra seat to accommodate their combined girth. And the young families with the baby. I hear the cries but can mostly ignore them. But I feel for the Mama pacing the aisle. I have been there! Breastfed a baby for what felt like an entire flight to the UK, just to get her to sleep. So it is physically demanding travelling when you are child free, healthy and in good mind. Imagine flying overseas because you have news of the death of a loved one?
|Image from Oh, Joy|
My life is very ordinary. Really. We are a busy family, juggling school runs, sport and music activities, work and study. I am sure you know what I mean. Making dinner in between taxi runs, making sure everyone is organised and prepared. This week has been a mammoth effort in preparation. My man and I are about to travel overseas to somewhere warmer. This autumn girl will farewell leaves and cool winds and welcome springtime in Northern America.
So while a big part of me is excited. I am also a little overwhelmed. Both sets of grandparents are working as CEOs of our family home. I have prepared a manifesto of our life and you know what – on paper it looks busy, really busy. I realise that all of these little notes and forms and to do lists I keep in my head, day to day. No wonder sometimes I feel foggy and a little s.t.r.e.s.s.e.d!
I am really hoping to be inspired while travelling with my man. I will miss all five of my children so much, but I know we need to do this trip. To be inspired, excited, taken outside of our comfort zone and experience new things together. All of our family in fact. So if you pray – ask God for protection on us all, a real blessing for the grandparents and kids as they do life together. And new joy for a new season. Why not travel with me? Read the blog or follow me on Instagram: 7mouths2feed
My boy snapped a shot of me the other week making nori/sushi rolls for school lunches. We like variety in our lunch and endeavour to try new things with the kids. If I have rice on hand I find making these little rolls no more trouble than making a sandwich. Plus these Japanese lunch treats fulfil the no bread lunch dream. Do you find your lunches burdened by bread? My top five no bread lunches for school:
1. Japanese Nori/Sushi Rolls
2. Egg and Bacon pies – pastry free
3. Salad in a bag – a zip lock bag full of salad love
4. Thermos of home made soup
5. Oven baked Chicken Drumsticks with dipping sauce
Would you care to share your school lunch ideas for our 7mouths2feed?
I got you didn’t I? Colin Firth aka Mr Darcy had you wondering what this blog post was all about. Well it is quite simply how the British communicate. Are you a Brit? Have you ever lived in the UK and wondered about the language, tone and speak of your British companions. We lived in London many years ago, and in fact my eldest started school there. He acquired quite a nice British accent and we had our everyday conversation marked with words like ‘brilliant’, ‘tea’ and ‘you right’. Words that Australians find difficult to accommodate. I made the mistake once of taking my kids to visit a neighbour for tea, thinking it would be coffee for me and chocolate cake for the children. But the kids were served early tea or dinner really. The children sat at table for a meal of fish fingers and chips. Well, who would have thought?
Our time in London was amazing and we found great friends in a very short time. This was quite unusual I am told as the Brits have a reputation for being a bit standoffish.
I know Australians have their own peculiar relationship to language. Our words are at times strained and strange. What have your experiences of British language been?
Apparently the sex talk that many parents fret about needs to start early. Way early.
I have been reading it in the media, on blogs I visit and I hear it from my kids. The sex talk should not be all mystery, magic and fairy tales.
If you want your kids to know the facts about sex, puberty and relationships tell them in detail yourself.
Bust the myths that online porn is how you learn about sex. Bust the myth that teen magazines are the most reliable source for body and relationship advice. Bust the myth that your kid’s friends know the facts.
As parents we need to step up. We need to talk sex. Make it normal, real. Celebrate it as a part of life that is a real blessing. Be real about the hard bits and messy bits. But be real about the commitment to love our kids as they journey the changes, to be there by their side.
Epiphany. Chaotic mornings and frantic evenings. Family feuds. Change of mind.
What if I went about my morning routines imagining that I was the nanny to these five energetic, gorgeous children? How would the mornings be different? Would I change my tone when I speak to the kids, asking them again to pack their bag? Would I comment on the thick, beautiful hair they have as I smooth it into a ponytail rather than impatiently brush and pull their hair into a quick school updo? Would I ask each child what they would like in their lunch instead of choosing a one size fits all option and telling them that is what is packed, no choice? As the nanny would I offer hugs and kisses, an encouraging pat on the bag and words of encouragement?
I think the morning might be so radically different that the kids may not recognise me. Are you like me and turn into superwoman on a mission, goal oriented and focused on the to do list? Are you so consumed by getting all the tasks done that your forget about the human element and how each child is feeling? Do you even ask what they have on for the day and how you can help them?
Perhaps I have the wrong mindset, I ask the wrong questions or give the wrong instructions, I assume they don’t hear me, won’t follow instructions the first time or are helpless and will only respond to words at full volume!
The bottom line is that they will all get to school, wearing their uniform, fed, watered and ready with books and lunch. I may not have the kitchen bench tidied or the dishwasher packed, I may not have had time to put on lippy and find the shoes I wanted to wear, but it really shouldn’t matter. Happy kids may well start with a happy Mummy who has time for them. And maybe rethinking the way I see the morning will facilitate positive change. So tomorrow, I become the nanny.
I think I had almost given up on people. Recently I have been struck by the general busyness of my life and those around me. One of the things that seem to suffer when we are busy is conversation. We talk about the rain, the football (well, I don’t but others do) or our kid. But we rarely share our lives, tell our stories to each other, reveal what is really on our hearts.
As I look at a friend or acquaintance I could wonder where their sad eyes come from, or I could ask them. And dare I say it, share my own sadness. Imagine us all in a room together, holding our sadness, tears, hopes, dreams, joys in bags – our emotional baggage that we don’t talk about. I wonder what bag would be weighing you down right now?
So if I told you that I recently had dinner with a group of people and we talked philosophy and ideas; we told each other about our life when we were 21 years old; we lamented change; we laughed and we shared extreme parenting moments would you be surprised? We started talking, conversing….it was the start of something. And it has given me hope that conversation is alive. But I have to work at it. Are you with me?
I had hoped that we might have made to mid year before the season of sniffles, coughs and colds arrived. But apparently not….there has been someone sick at home every week for the last month or so. I am a little bewildered as to how I should respond. I struggle being the patient, gentle spirited mother mopping the brow. I interrogate each child ten times over if they suddenly take ill in the morning before school, so at times I may not be as sympathetic as I should be. But it is perhaps a reality when you have a large family. There are just more mouths to pick up the odd virus or ingest the latest germs.
We get through each strain of illness using a bit of panadol, a lot of rest, fluids, some favourite books, a movie and more recently the iPad. Sleep is encouraged, but at times that too can be elusive. If I am feeling particularly generous I may make soup, squeeze lemons for a hot honey and lemon drink or make cups of ice to suck on. But honestly I struggle during these times.
And what I struggle with is the opportunity I have been given to serve my family. I am overwhelmed by all the things that I now cannot do because I am confined to home duties. The tape that plays in my head is characterised by self pity, resentment and discouragement. There is no joy, just disappointment. I confess this because I suspect that I am not the only one that has to take three long, deep breaths when the kidlets fall sick. To change plans, adjust the to do list and simply go with the flow can be h.a.r.d.
But if I am honest, I know He is sovereign so this is all as it is meant to be. I am meant to be home. I am here to serve and I should trust that the unexpected blessing of being with my family will bring me joy. Somewhere in this season of illness and weariness there is healing for us all.
This week I have been walking more. Walking with mindful intent. It is after all Mindful in May.
Have you been caught up in the new wave of mindfulness? Being present, mindful of our body and surrounds as we quieten our mind, meditate and breathe. Mindfulness, gratitude, positive thinking are all meant to prepare us for the real world. But when real life takes hold it is sometimes hard to practice gratitude and being positive. We are prone to anxiety, fear, regret, resentfulness and sorrow.
The Mindful in May project encourages people to be accountable to family and friends as they pledge a small some of money and take a one month e course in mindfulness and meditation. Ten minutes a day. And in doing so funds are being raised for Charity water. If you need a push and some encouragement I think this could be a good starting point. But I am content with my own purposeful mindful practice – ‘food’ to nourish the soul, movement for the body and time to think, clearly.
So begins my experiment to walk more, to clear my head, to breathe in the fresh air, to notice my surroundings and allow my mind to drift and meander as my feet take me along familiar paths. On my walks I am avoiding built up urban areas and trying to engage with open spaces, nature. I am noticing the changing colours of autumn, the bird life on the river, the crunch of my shoes on the gravel path, the cold air on my face.
Look out for more tips on how to mindful this month.