Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's cooking Mum hacks

When Levi started eating real food at almost 5 months old, I was almost giddy with excitement. I had a couple of baby cook books that I had been itching to try out and I spent ages at the store picking out produce and hours in the kitchen whipping up batches of various concoctions, freezing them in ice cube trays and then storing it all away in labelled zip lock bags. Each night I would take food out of the freezer for the next day, storing it in breakfast, lunch and dinner bowls and giving it time to defrost properly before I warmed it to perfect baby temperature the next day.

Levi loved purees and gladly ate whatever I fed him with little exception. By the time he was into finger foods, I had moved onto the later chapters of my cook books and was once again chomping at the bit to try out new recipes and new mixtures of flavours. And again, he devoured what he was given and I felt like a good Mum for giving him such a healthy start in life.

I love, love, love to cook and this part of motherhood was something I had been looking forward to for ages. I loved preparing meals for my family, baby and all. Levi's schedule meant that I would prepare his evening meal and feed him separately, at around 5pm so he was ready for bath and bed when Daddy got home. Sometimes he ate what we were having and sometimes I prepared something just for him. It wasn't until right before Nora was born that he started to eat meals with us and go to bed later so it gave me a year of being his personal chef, a role I just thrived in.

And then we welcomed Nora into our lives. Bless her feisty little heart. We never tried to get her fed and to bed as early as we had done with Levi because it just didn't seem to fit with the schedule of our family. Her sleeping was never as consistent and neither were her meal times. She is a typical second child in that respect. Food-wise I had high hopes and aspirations that she would have the same healthy, semi-gormet baby food experience that her brother had experienced...ha ha ha (That's me now, laughing at me then)

All of a sudden she was five months old and I realised that she was very interested in what we were eating. I needed to get it together. I will also add we were in the middle of a significant home remodel project with a goal to get the house on the market asap once it was finished so it wasn't exactly the most convenient timing (not her fault in any way, just life, but worthy of a mention).

I got a couple of sweet potatoes, pears, some carrots, squash and parsnips and made a batch of purees. Froze and stored them just like Levi and felt very accomplished. I didn't have the same sense of delight as I had done preparing his food but still it was done and checked off the list. Only, Nora didn't take to them with the same gusto as her brother. If only I could remember to get them out to defrost them in time she would eat a few bites but it felt like a lot of effort for this lukewarm reception! Still, she was into eating. Her fine motor skills surpassed Levi and she was very quickly not interested in being spoon fed but instead wanted to pick up food and feed herself. I am not anti baby-led weaning on principle but honestly it requires a level of supervision that I wasn't always in a place to provide while chasing a toddler too. Not to mention she didn't get her first tooth until almost 9 months old so that limited our options too. She had lots of store bought (organic) puffs [Yes, I mention they are organic just to lessen my Mum guilt, bear with me] She had small bites of toast in the morning, scrambled egg when Levi had that, maybe some banana? But seriously, her people food menu for the first few months was limited to say the least and at best inconsistent.

By this time we had sold our house and were here, living with my in-laws. No one was sleeping well and life just had extra stress which put making my own baby food much lower on the list. Every meal time I would feel guilty and every time when she would nurse desperately after a meal time I felt terrible. The store bought snacks and bars became a staple and even though the emergence of her two teeth made slices of pear or cucumber a non life threatening addition to her menu I still felt she needed more.

Then it happened, one day when I was in the baby aisle at Safeway getting some bars and I saw the pouches of purees. I picked up a couple of veggie blends and promised myself I would only use them in an emergency - which meant of course they were eaten over the next two days and I returned for more. Apparently, it wasn't the puree itself she was anti, just her lack of independence in eating it. If she could hold and suck the pouch she gladly did. For a month or so she ate one almost every day and almost every day I would find myself wishing she wasn't and justifying it but never really feeling ok about the decision, more just feeling like it was the only option to feed my baby.

Then one day, I bought a pouch that was something like, 'Kale, spinach and quinoa' and when I got home I realised I had all those ingredients at home. That was it. I needed to try and make her food again. I had reusable pouches that I had bought for Levi but he'd never really taken to and for some reason had them with us and hadn't stored them away in the move so I dug them out and got to work.

I was so stuck on fresh produce which this time of the year is hard to find a huge variety of anyway and we were now miles from our beloved market which stocked all kinds of organic bounty and were making do with Safeways offerings so that made things even less available. I had an epiphany. Frozen food.

While many fruits and veggies are not in season to buy fresh there are lots of frozen, organic options that are good year round and honestly, in this season of life are easier and quicker to prepare anyway. That's the Mum hack part :)

I tried cooking peach slices, strawberries, blueberries spinach and quinoa together, blended it and put it in a pouch which was supped down in record time by my littlest lovely. Score!

I also picked up a frozen root vegetable blend frozen mix that I have cooked and blended with brown rice, again to rave reviews.

She is still very into feeding herself so the  pouches are only part of her meals, but honestly this has been a real journey of heart for me. Recognizing my own limits and values and finding my way to a balance. Making a way to find peace with both those pieces of my heart and finding joy in feeding my family again!

It might seem silly, but its been heavy on my heart. We all have our Mum things, right?

For some it's screen time and what their kids can or cannot watch, for others it is what kind of diapers they wear, for me it's food. It's my creative outlet, and I want to raise kids who are not afraid of new flavours or who are unwilling to try new foods. It is a work in progress. As they grow up, they do and will have seasons where pickiness or times when preference will become an issue but so far these have been short lived. So if food is your thing, and you are a mama struggling with something similar I urge you to find your way to balance. If cost is an issue then frozen is also a great option. And honestly, its been such fun to mix up the different fruits and veggies and see my baby girl experience new tastes and textures.

Levi is old enough now to want to help in the kitchen and I love that he shows interest and then takes pride in the things we cook together. I hope that soon Nora will be eager to join the team too :)

[Now, if we could just find a house so we can have these experiences in our own kitchen, that would be even more fabulous!]

*Just in case it's not clear, this is in no way a judgement (I know I can get defensive really quickly if I feel like someone is telling me I'm not doing the best by my kids) Many kids I know have been raised on store bought foods and they are just as happy and healthy as mine. It also doesn't mean I will never feed Nora store bought baby foods, this was just a slice of the journey to finding peace with how I am feeding my kids; the choices that I made and how I let life make those choices for a while before I decided that I had to make a change and find a way to make her food.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dear Nora - Eleven months old

Dear Nora Bug,

Each month seems to pass by faster and faster, but this month especially you seem to be exploring the world with more intensity, and at a faster pace than ever before you are picking up new skills every day and its tough to keep up with you.

You have discovered books and especially love to see pictures of animals; dogs and cows especially. You try to bark and moo which is so funny to hear, but we love the way you get so excited to try.

You have decided that what is good enough for Levi is good enough for you. When Daddy leaves for work in the morning, you make it known you want a hug and kiss and then to wave at the window just like him. When he has a snack, you have to have one. You want to take turns on his scooter just like he does and are quite prepared to stand up and push it yourself if there is no-one to help you!

You love your Daddy so much and when you wake up in the morning, you crawl over to snuggle with him (yes, you are still sleeping in our bed!) and when he gets up to get ready for work you crawl to the edge of the bed, sit up on your knees and bounce arms lifted high, grunting for him to pick you up and play. It's so sweet!!

You are constantly on the move crawling everywhere, cruising around the furniture and even takingyour first steps! You build up quite the appetite and eat all day long!! There is not much you won't eat, and you keep us on our tows by deciding that one day you love something and the next day you don't but still you are  not hard to feed - it's just keeping you full that's tough! You have started to have smoothies with breakfast which you just love - I'm sure something about that is that you like to be the same as Levi and Mummy.

You understand so much more than I realise half the time. I asked you the other day to take the block that was in your hand and put it in the box. You instantly turned away, crawled over, and dropped it in!

You love to play peekaboo around corners of furniture or doorways. And you love to play chase with Levi or anyone else. You seem to find great joy in crawling away mid diaper change and squealing as you look back to see who is coming to get you as you disappear under the dining room table or somewhere equally awkward to retrieve you and try to replace the diaper before an accident. You are such a wiggle worm and get so mad when you have your diaper changed. We try to distract you but its usually a battle!

You love to make fish faces when we ask what the fish does, or pat your head when we ask where your hat goes. I love that you are starting to interact more and more.

You still love to have matching things in each hand. Your favourite are socks and you will often find both of your brothers dis-guarded socks and carry them around in your fists as you crawl all over.

You are so busy and have such an opinion about pretty much everything, we love getting to know you more and more. You celebrated your first Christmas this month and you loved the lights and even opening presents held some excitement for you, you really like the paper as all good babies do!

We love you more and more - Happy eleven months Buggaboo

Mama x


 How big is Nora? SO BIG!

 
                                           The sticker didn't last too long this month!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

That kind of day...

Yesterday was one of "those" days. Thankfully they are not ever so common or I might hand in my at-home-mummy P45 and get a real job (!)

Levi has apparently been lulling us into a false sense of security in our parenting of a 2 year old and decided in the last week to become more and more defiant; running away squealing with delight when you ask him to come, or looking you in the eye and doing exactly what you are asking him not to do. The list could go on but I might cry so I am stopping there. Jeremy and I have talked discipline strategy, we have read books, but for the most part its been a lot of theory until now. Our little guy has been pretty compliant over all and this is a new and exciting adventure for our family.

I am finding this all especially overwhelming as Nora is not sleeping. Even her semi-consistent naps have become epic battles of Russel-Crow-starring-movie proportions and I have ended up pleading with her to go to sleep at night because I am ready for bed. She is cutting a bunch of teeth, her red swollen gums are clearly painful and if that wasn't enough, she's starting to take steps - I remember from Levi that wreaked havoc with sleeping but this is insane. And of course, the less she sleeps the less she sleeps and the cycle is wicked. I am running on fumes.

So after a busy day of tantrums and disobedience, sleep deprivation & teething, I was pleading with the night to take me into a deep sleep - and those ten minutes before Nora woke up again were blissful...

I was defeated and deflated. Finding it hard to find joy and pushing myself to give as I lived into my word for 2015, Effort. The word itself should have given me some clue I would be more tired than normal :) but it seems as I prayed for opportunities to step more fully into the roles God has given me, He answered. In every way possible, all at once. I have been faithful to set out everyone's clothes the night before and to get up and ready before Jeremy leaves for work so my day can begin on the right foot. It takes thought and time but the effort has been rewarding even in the few days I have done it but those little actions through the day do add up to being more tired at the end.

However, the effort to consistently discipline my toddler, and begin to discipline my firecracker of a 10 month old who knows full well what "no" means but chooses not to obey. It my turn all day. I am with them all day, so I have to be firm and consistent. Nora is often at the business end of Levi's disobedience and comforting her at the same time I need to be disciplining him is a quandary - any Mama's with 2 little ones (or more!) want to weigh in with some practical tips? 

It's going to take work but I read a really encouraging-to-me blog yesterday which took my mush of jumbled and slightly intimidating thoughts about behaviour goals and simplified it. I am prayerful that God can continue to sustain me in this time pf physical tiredness and give me what I need to be a good mum to both these kiddos, putting in the full effort, loving them and raising them to the best of my ability.

I am so very grateful for the gift of motherhood, and I don't want to lose sight of that in the midst of the less than fun moments. Thankful for loving, grace giving, wise mama friends who are journeying with me. Thankful to be on your team :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Word of the year 2015

Each year, I have been trying to have a theme word that is over the goals I have for the year ahead. This year has been harder than most to think of the word, mostly because it's been hard to make time to sit and think. I have been running it over in my mind for the past few days, thinking of some of the personal goals as well as challenges I will face in the year ahead and trying to find word to cover them, or at least the arching theme.

Finally, earlier this afternoon as I was lost in my thoughts, rocking my tired baby girl to sleep it came to me. Effort.

 Effort is my word for 2015.

Life is busy and crazy with 2 little ones. It's been easy to let my eating habits turn into snacking on chocolate or chips that are available while I am making healthy meals for my kids or at night when I am exhausted and stressed and needing a pick me up. It's not healthy; physically or emotionally. But it takes effort to make a change and to literally stop picking up the junk.

The effort trickles down. It takes effort to plan ours days to leave time for making and eating good food. It takes effort to plan meals and grocery shopping trips to have a pantry and fridge filled with healthy foods to make and graze. It takes effort to remember why I am choosing to make diffreent choices in the moment.

In relationship, firstly with God I have been very lazy and it shows in the way I have been living life and treating other people. I have not been making the effort to have quiet times. I have settled for mediocre and I have hated myself for it.

My marriage has lost it's luster.  We have stopped putting in the level of effort needed to sustain anything more than basic, not unpleasant, survival but that's not enough. I want so much more and so does Jeremy. It just requires conscious effort to make it happen; scheduled date nights, intentional conversation, turning off the TV.

As a mother I want to shine. I am thankfully not swayed much by the popular vote in this area. I enjoy Pinterest on a certain level but certainly do not compare myself to the standard it could set. I want to work out more but I don't feel shamed by mum friends who are at the gym every day. I pretty much set my own rules and standards but even in that way, I see a lack of effort in recent months. Much of parenting a baby and a toddler is survival and I am giving myself a big chunk of grace, but even within that parameter I see room for growth what comes from taking time to plan ahead and making the effort when it could be easier for me to stay home.

Friendships have been harder to maintain at the level of closeness I would really like and I have blamed the distance we are away from most of our community as we look for a new house, but honestly, it's more about making time to call people and being faithful to reply to emails or messages that include making plans. Yes, with two little ones and naps and distance it is tricky but not impossible and just needs some effort.

Throughout 2014 I felt lots of things start to slip. And the more slack you give yourself the easier it is the next time you choose to let the laundry sit in the washer over night instead of getting out of bed to put it in the dryer or hang it up if you had forgotten. Or to drive thru somewhere to get lunch because you didn't make lunch to take with you when you left the house. Or to wear the exact same kid snot stained clothes for a second day (not underwear, that would be gross and like I said, I do have some standards) instead of making the effort to find something new, or going the extra day without a shower because its too much work and who cares, right? Except, I do. I care. I want a marriage and relationships that cause me to become a better, stronger person. I want to be healthy and fit, I want to be clean and look nice. I want to make the effort to reflect to the world that life is good, because it is. I want to feel as though I am putting effort into the things that are important and not into things that are not.

So 2015 is the year of no more excuses. I will get off the couch and play with my kids, I will set up that playdate I have been thinking about for months, I will say yes more than I have been and I will make time for the things that are important to me and hoepfully reflect to my kids how important it is to take time for yourself.

I hope that this year, my effort will be rewarded by ending 2015 looking a bit more like the person God designed and a bit less like the version that has become complacent and ineffective.

Let's do it!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking back

It's been a year.

2014.

The most beautiful chapter was the arrival of sweet Nora Grace who charmed us all from her Valentines day entrance. Getting to know her has been a delight. She is funny and sweet and snuggly and just the most precious little thing. Seeing her melt my husband's heart with every "dada" and watching his love for her grow over time has been amazing. Seeing the way Levi has adapted to being a big brother and how they love each other has made my heart just explode, over and over. It has certainly not been smooth sailing every moment, some sibling over-loving and continued sleep troubles have made her arrival a stretch for our family too, but we wouldn't change her or her presence in our family for anything.

We sold our home in August, very quickly, and have been looking without fruit since then for a new house. We are staying with Jeremy's parents about a half hours drive from our friends and community. It has been a really taxing time on us as a couple, a family and beyond. We have felt, and still do that we are disconnected from our life in so many ways. We are hopeful and prayerful that the new year will indeed hold the new house of our dreams!! We look forward to settling back to normal life but we will miss the company of Grandma and Grandpa so very, very much. I think we will all have withdrawls!

Our marriage has been on a roller coaster this year too with extreme highs and then very low, lows too. The arrival of a new baby, the stress of the pre-moving remodel, the move, the adjusting to living away from our life and community, the weekends spent house searching instead of connecting as a family has taken it's toll. We are committed to one another and to making repairs where needed but as we look ahead to the new year we are thankful for the gift of marriage and the companionship we have in one another in all the adventures, enjoyable and not so much.

Levi has entered toddlerhood in all it's opinionated glory. He is a delight to us and keeps us laughing but he knows how to throw an epic tantrum and has developed very selective hearing too. I know it's par for the course but he can be exhausting some days, and then he says something funny and parenting seems doable again. He is growing up so fast; mastering Duplo blocks and immersing himself in a world of imaginative play that is so much fun! He adjusted well to the temporary housing at the Grandparents and we hope that our new house when we find it will quickly become a safe place for him too.

My school journey went on hiatus as life with two kiddos proved too much with the addition of addition (and subtraction). I am still grieving the loss a little but I am certain that in the future when I can devote more time to studying the classes will be almost enjoyable and I won't regret this decision in the slightest.

As I said, its been a year. It's with thankful hearts we look back on the last twelve months and with hopeful anticipation we look forward. We do not know what the new year will bring with it, but we know that God will be there for all the ups and downs and we are thankful in advance for the blessing of relationship with Him and the way he jouneys this life at our side.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmastime 2014

This has been such a fun Christmas. Levi was way more into what was happening than I anticipated. He was very into making cookies for Santa and setting them out with carrots for the reindeer and juice - the juice was at his request and when I only poured him a little bit of juice in the glass he said, "Mummy, Santa is big he needs more juice." I obliged. It was so cute.

This morning, the kids were up around 6.30am nothing out of the ordinary but today we had to keep Levi from running upstairs and seeing all the presents without us!

We had set things up so Levi's eyes just lit up when he saw everything. It took almost all day to open presents. Not because there were so many - we did have quite a pile but it was mainly because it took the kids so long and then Levi wanted to play with everything along the way. His little mouth was open wide with wonder as each package revealed its contents. He was so happy with everything we got him, mummy points for sure!

It was an especially sweet day because it was Miss Nora's first Christmas. I can't believe it is, feels like she's always been here. She was so sweet; walking around with her little stroller walker and hugging her baby doll. Not to mention the way she inhaled her Christmas dinner...she's such a great little eater.

I hope that however you celebrated today, you will know the peace, hope, and love that arrived with the birth of Christ.

Here are a few snaps from today...









Friday, December 19, 2014

When you sleep dear babies...

I feel very grateful to have had more time to blog in the past few days than in the past month or two. It's good for me. It helps me process and gain perspective. This is Jeremy's last day of work before the Christmas break and I am so looking forward to family time as well as the opportunity to sneak off for some me time and finally getting to finish some projects that have been simmering on the back burner for way too long, not to mention getting my hair cut so I can stop this Rapunzel impression!

I have to be careful that I don't over schedule the time we have and end up more tired and flustered than usual but I also don't want to have it pass by without having done anything. Tonight, while we begin wrapping presents, we are going to work on a list of things we want to do as a family as well as a few things each of us wants to do individually so we have at least something to aim for and a way to manage expectations during this Christmas break.

I am starting to see the light in regards to the kids taking longer naps. It is just so amazing what I can get done if they sleep well.

During Nora's morning nap (she woke after 30 mins but quickly went back after a few mins of rocking and slept almost another hour) I felt as though I accomplished SO much!

I sorted and put on laundry, I made mince pies, I wrote the final Christmas cards, I finished putting together some Christmas presents from the kids that we'd been working on, I caught up on email and I even had something to eat and got dressed and put on makeup...seriously, what did I do with all my time before I had kids?! I certainly was never this efficient. It feels so good!!

I mentioned wrapping presents. This is slightly daunting to me. I do most of our shopping for the holidays and I do a good job of shopping for friends and family in the UK and getting things packed up and sent out to arrive before Christmas but that kind of feels like it steals my momentum for the rest of the season! I have boxes of packages, numerous bags all full of lovely gifts which need to be wrapped and given out or put under the tree. I'm even helping Santa wrap his presents this year so I have a lot still to do. I am going to enlist Jeremy's help but I don't want him digging around int here and discovering his presents so it will have to be closely monitored helping!

In the good old days, we would make mulled wine, put on Christmas music and wrap presents in front of the fire. This year we will do it as quietly as humanly possible so as not to wake the kids and just aim to finish as fast as we can! We will save the drinking for once we are done :)

Not being in our own space this year has been tough on this Christmas loving gal. I have tried to keep some traditions and of course, with the children being so young we are still figuring out what those are anyway, but it's still not the same. I am eager to make Christmas a magical day for the children, and for us as we celebrate this wonderful holiday with Nora for the first time!

Having some quiet time during that day while they nap has more simply meant time for me to think. To plan, to dream, to pray, to read. Not lots of each, but some and more than I have managed in a long time. It makes me a better person, and in turn a better mummy and a better wife. 

I just hope they nap well on Christmas day so we can all accomplish a good nap too :)

Only 6 more sleeps...eeek!!!!!!!!!




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