Friday, 28 February 2014

Before I was a parent.

I first read this column in my monthly issue of My Child magazine. It resonated with me SO much that I contacted the author, Kylie Kaden and asked if she would mind if I featured it on my blog. She so generously agreed & I just had to share it with you all.


Guest post by Kylie Kaden

Before I was a parent, I knew it all. I frowned upon bribery, threats and letting sticky-faced kids run wild at
shops. I’d see a downtrodden mum at Woolies bellowing ‘No!’ to her brat, only to see her cave in an aisle later, and I’d think, My child won’t do that. I will rationalise with my child in a calm manner, free of threats and bribery, to allow intrinsic motivation to develop and drive behaviour. Blah, blah and, yes, blah. Three kids later, I’m happy to admit my tribe display all of those things I’d frowned upon and more in public, on a regular basis. (Although, on the plus side, I do find check-outs miraculously open up for me with a trolley full of screaming kids in tow.) I think back to the pre-kid life, the pre-kid me. I’d get up at a time that didn't require lights on. I’d buy shoes at lunch instead of bananas. I’d eat out at restaurants that didn't include playgrounds and I’d iron fresh clothes to go out in instead of trying to scratch yogurt stains off yesterday’s cargo pants. I’d blare Triple J instead of humming tunes from Giggle and Hoot. I even went to the toilet alone and drank hot tea (not appreciating any of it!).

So does parenting stack up to those precious nappy-ad moments we hoped for? Or are we constantly thinking, this wasn't in the brochure!? I’m the first to admit I find the challenges of parenting unrelenting – just when you get one routine down pat they grow out of it. I naively thought changing nappies was the thing I would struggle with. In fact, they’re one of the most straightforward elements (unless you find green poo, in which case blame the blue icing). What I didn't expect was how it changes you. I've seen the most confident women paralysed with self-doubt when they become mothers. I put it down to the constant decision-making in an emotionally charged, sleep-deprived environment. It does your head in: Is she cold? Is that a hunger cry or wind pain? Should I drop a feed? It’s constant. You grasp at any shred of advice from friends, family, the internet or that woman at mothers’ group. You’re perpetually comparing your child to others. And no matter how devoted you are, there always seems to be some way that you can be a “better” parent. Yet the fact often lost in the hazy uncertainty of the early days is that you spend 24/7 with your child, so you know them best. An adult’s temperament, appetite and sleep patterns are diverse, and so are a baby’s, so ignore the know- all who skites about how her baby slept through at three weeks. Trust in your instincts. Their confidence may be convincing, but they might just be trying to assure themselves.

Another aspect I hadn't anticipated was the loss of personal freedom. Putting yourself first for that yoga class or night out doesn't come easy or often once you’re a mum (and often with a side of self-imposed guilt). It’s easy to forget your old self when you feel like a sleep- chasing, cardigan-wearing, designated driver who tells herself that it’s perfectly OK to wear maternity pants (for years). From there, it can be a slippery slope to casting yourself in a support role for the main star in your life – your child. But we need to ask ourselves, Is always putting yourself last the lesson you want to teach them? Or do they deserve that person who you once were: engaged with life, and pursuing your own dreams and passions?

Parenting has changed me in ways more profound than I’d imagined, but it’s not all bad. I can think of a thousand ways it has changed life for the better… The way their eyes follow you as you cross a room, like a planet orbiting the sun. The way they hang their sausage arms around your neck and breathe Vegemite-toast breath in your ear. The way they fit on your hip like a phantom limb that you feel lost without. It can take a while to see meaning in the routines, in the scattering of Kodak moments within the groundhog days of sticky floors and folding clothes. But despite the challenges, kids enrich your life like nothing else. It is true that we learn more from them than they do from us. Tolerance. Selflessness. Self-control. Weaved in with their unrelenting need for love and attention, they bestow a gift. They teach us to cope with daily uncertainty, see wonder in the ordinary, and force us to view the world as having far wider horizons than the controlled, predictable space we inhabited beforehand. And in the days when the meaning eludes me and it may seem like hot tea, a guilt-free evening out or continuous sleep are extinct species, I try to remember that the days are long but the years short. So when the wheels fall off (as they so often do for me), recite to yourself, It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.


*Kylie Kaden is a frazzled mum of three boys with an honours degree in psychology, which she cites as
helping little with real-life kids.

If you loved what Kylie has written as much as I did, look out for her debut novel  Losing Kate  to be released by Random House April 2014.
You can find more about Kylie on her blog and facebook page.




Sunday, 23 February 2014

My baby can sign!

A few months ago I wrote a post on teaching my baby to use sign language to communicate before his verbal skills had developed.  And, I am here to tell you has been a huge success! My youngest, Charlie, is now 16 months old and he communicates with us using his signs everyday. I am not sure how we would be coping without them right now. He has been unwell over the last week and this is where his sign language has especially helped. He has been able to ask me for a drink when he is thirsty, and is even able to specify if he would like milk or water. He can tell me when he is hungry, if he would like more to eat or drink or if he is finished. Charlie actively uses 6 signs so far, milk, water, more, finished, Daddy and apple.  Our whole family uses them to speak with him, including our 3 year old. In fact, she is by far the best at it!

We use them so often I sometimes find myself using them in adult conversation. (  and that can be a little weird...) Charlie is beginning to speak now and he is just adding the word to the sign, so this has not slowed him down at all. It is so wonderful being able to communicate with a toddler. I am quite sure it does alleviate some of the tantrums but certainly not all of them! It is incredibly exciting being able to see him totally understand what I am saying to him and he loves communicating back to us.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A year ago I couldn't even buy fabric from Spotlight.

Twelve months on in this little business of mine and I am feeling reflective. I started on the craft path with no idea what I was doing. And I mean NO idea! I could barely sell something on eBay let alone open an Etsy store or god forbid a website of my very own.
I didn't have a clue about fabric, where it came from, who made it, who designed it and who sold it. 
I remember my very first trip to Spotlight distinctfully. I decided I needed some fabric to make some buttons ( which I also had no idea about). I strolled into the store expecting to find exactly what I wanted and get out in 5 mins. Hmmmmmm, I had clearly never had a Spotlight experience before. It was so incredibly busy. Everyone seemed to know exactly what they were doing. Rushing around, lining up, getting out. All the fabric I liked was on these huge rolls. I found the roll I wanted and stood next too it, like a drug dog after it has found a stash. I didn't want to leave the roll, what if I lost it? How did I get it out of the store? I waited for what seemed like forever. No one came by. The line up was absolutely massive I couldn't get hold of an assistant to ask how I purchased my fabric. I felt so ridiculous. I just left empty handed. Of course I now know you just take te roll to the counter and ask the staff member to cut it for you.  Whatever you do, don't just whip out your scissors and start cutting it yourself! Luckily I have learned a lot since that day. Like how to make a button! What to do with them. How to design a logo & design my own website. How to re-size an image to fit an Etsy banner. Start a blog, choose the correct platform and design the site. How to add the social media buttons (challenging)! How to even write said blog ( I read lots of books on this one). How to thread my sewing machine, cut fabric, what interfacing was & when I needed it (always). Which glue actually held things together. How to run a business facebook page. How to make a light box to photograph my products (thanks Pinterest) & how to use photo shop to make them web ready and paint to make them small enough to upload.  How to find beautiful fabric and choose great prints. Researching and choosing the best ways to sell my products. Having the balls to approach perspective stockists (terrifying). Designing and holding my first market stall (with lots of handholding, thank you Nic) Actually selling something you made yourself and handing it over to its new owner and being terrified it was not going to work or worse still, break. 

My poor daughter has been used as a hair model for all of my crazy ideas (she hates it). And my friends have been forced to wear every earring I make before I start selling them. 

I have asked a billion questions to anyone that would listen. And I have come across and met some beautiful and supportive people. One book that was recommended to me was ' The Handmade Market Place' by Kari Chapin. It felt like I had Kari in my pocket, holding my hand every step of the way and giving me the confidence to face the next challenge. Without her I would have never come this far. 

It's been a huge year & I feel like I have learned an incredible amount of new & useful skills.  

During this period I had a new born, an overactive toddler & went back to work (last March) to my day job as a Travel Agent. 

I am looking forward to 2014 & can't wait to see which direction {Lily & Charlie} will take me next. I am way more prepared this time,  I have even written a business plan! 

One of my goals this year is to find the perfect fabric, so I am in the process of designing and printing my own. Who would have ever thought, one short year ago that this is what I would be doing! 

Phew! Time for a cup of tea I think. 

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Warm Chickpea and Chorizo Salad


Welcome to one of my most favourite dishes in the WORLD. I first discovered this dish while living in Darwin, a vibrant city in the Top End of Australia (well worth a visit) . It is the creation of the chef from Moorish Cafe, a  fantastic restaurant favorited by locals and tourists alike. It is no longer on the menu so you will have to suffice with making it yourself.  However, if you are ever in Darwin, as any local would say,  a visit to Moorish is a must. Don't forget to order a Strawberry Caipriosca to get you started!

I just love the volume of fresh herbs used in this dish.  This recipe is super easy and oh so amazing. A winner at any dinner party or BBQ and you will look like a super fancy cook!


Warm Chickpea and Chorizo Salad




Ingredients



2 cans chickpeas or 300gm dried chickpeas(cooked)
200ml olive oil
3 red chilli's finely sliced
12 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 chorizo sausage sliced
150ml cider vinegar
1 cup each of chopped coriander, parsley, mint and spring onion
1 cup crumbled fetta
12 cherry tomatoes halved
seasoning


Method

Heat olive oil, add chilli, garlic, onion and cook over high heat for five minutes. 

Add chorizo and cherry tomatoes. 

Cook for a further 2 minutes stirring constantly. 

Add the vinegar and cook until evaporated (2 mins). 

Add feta and fresh herbs and cook for a minute. 

Season and toss into a large bowl and serve immediately.

Enjoy!