Monday, September 22, 2014

fast forward


Days are crazy. 
I found myself wishing them away last week. 
In my defence, I had a weekend away planned for our anniversary so I was hurrying time along impatiently.
But I know I've been hurrying it along for the last couple of months. 
Because I'm in a season that is difficult. 
I am head first, sinking deep into a unit this semester that I am drowning in dislike for. 
I feel like I am unqualified and uninterested and I just want it to be over.
Finding time to study during the day with an energetic four year old is like digging for coffee beans in the front garden... the chances of finding any are slim to none. And I need them desperately.
And in the evening? I am exhausted
And my brain doesn't function the way that I need it to, and I am imagination-less. 

I have learned this week that although its tough, I need to allow myself to be right here. 
In the exhausting craziness of these three kiddos, and all that life brings. 
Today the sun shone, and the bitter wind blew, and I allowed myself to feel it, instead of hurrying inside to the warmth. 

This season is a tough one, and I'm almost at the end of this semester and I can feel it, but I'm stuck and it's hard and I want to run out of the freezing wind and hide where it's warm.
But today I choose to turn around. 
To turn my face to the bitter wind, let my cheeks get rosy and keep walking, even if it feels like quicksand. 

Meanwhile, I am procrastinating by dreaming of a new birthday camera, writing birthday invitations for my 30th, ignoring corners of accumulating mess and making strawberry jam with a ridiculous bounty of strawberries. 

This too shall pass. 

xx

Thursday, September 11, 2014

spring, and sunflower seeds, and seeing change


Today I sat at the kitchen bench picking at a little pile of sunflower kernels I'd placed there to eat. Along came an eight year old who promptly sat beside me, exclaimed "I love these!" and he and I polished them off.
I actually did an internal leap for joy.
Remember my journey to clean eating post? 
I was actually feeling discouraged that week.
So often I regret the beginnings of motherhood where I was ill-informed, and introduced foods to my kiddos that I thought were good (ie. thinking that something was somewhat 'healthy' simply because I'd baked it at home, despite the sugar and white flour content) and sometimes I feel like I've 'ruined' them, and their taste buds, and their ability to make healthy choices. 
Today I was reminded that the slow, conscious effort I have been making for months on end are actually paying off. That these three fuss-pots are becoming more adventurous with foods, and we are eating cleaner than ever. 
Our diets are far from perfect. Hello McDonalds. But their lunch boxes, and the foods I keep at home now are free from additives, and full of nutrient rich simple real food. We are learning and we are still on a journey.
It's not how you start, it's the way you finish that counts. 

And it made me think about everything that is worth something. 
Health, and fitness. My marriage. Investing into my kids.
Sometimes it is just hard.
It's hard to get off the couch and get moving. 
It's hard to prioritise my marriage and put my husband before myself. 
It's hard to give selflessly, what feels like constantly.
But when you take those tiny slow steps towards that thing that you're wanting, or that thing that needs to change it actually starts to change

It's not going to without you doing something.
And continuing to do those little somethings along the way.

Repetition is key.
Keep going. 
Keep getting off the couch. 
Keep providing nutritious meals, packing lunch, cutting salads.*
Keep kissing your husband hello when he walks in the door.
Keep walking your kids to their classroom instead of leaving them at the gate. 

There is blessing in the faithful walk through the mundane. 
Spring is a new season of growth - what is sown in the hard, dark days will spring forth.
Keep going.
It will make a difference. I promise.

xx

*talking to myself here, so glad it's Friday tomorrow, if I had to pack one more lunchbox this week I think I'd fall in a heap!

Monday, September 1, 2014

I think I can, I think I can - diary of an amateur runner


I started running in November last year. I needed a form of exercise that fit my life. 
That I could squeeze in around school runs and crazy times, and a husband who often works very long days. 
One that didn't have set times, and didn't cost a fortune. 
Running was the perfect fit. 
The only problem was I was unfit and I had never been good at it. Ever. 
I was the one who feigned sickness to get out of school sports carnivals, I came last in running races, I did not like running.
But the goal I set at 29 to be fit for thirty meant I had to do something, and with the help of a 'couch to 5k' running app I set out.

I started enjoying my runs. Not so much the out-of-breath-dying-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other state, but the tranquility; the boat ramp, the fresh air, the breather - the high five from the husband as I ran out the door as he got home. The thirty minute escape. 
And the fitness.
I could see my fitness improving.
My goal was 5 kilometres. 
I kept at it, slowly. 
I actually felt like I would never get there. 
Some days were terrible and I would get a stitch or I hated every second and gave up. 
But I just kept going
Whenever I could. Sometimes only once a week. 
It took me 9 months - two weeks ago, I did it. I reached my 5km goal. I ran non stop for 32 minutes.

It didn't cost me anything - I wore sneakers that are seven years old, a daggy tshirt - except half an hour: one, two occasionally three times a week. 
I earned myself a new pair of runners. 

Yesterday I ran our 12k City to Surf and gave myself a time to beat for next year.

So. From this amateur runner to you who would like to start, some tips. 

1. Begin. Just go. Even if it's a walk today, and a faster walk tomorrow, you have to start somewhere. 

2. Set yourself tiny goals. I used the help of a Couch to 5k app to get started, and it increased my running times for me. I then ditched it and started setting myself goals.
"This run I will run non stop for 10 minutes" and then increase it. 

3. Set yourself a bigger goal to work towards. A fun run, or a marathon, or a certain level of fitness, or a weight loss goal. You need tiny goals because they are achievable. And when you reach them it's all the motivation you need to reach the next one because it feels so good to get there. But you need a bigger one too. Keep your eye on that one, but...

4. Don't feel negative pressure. It's hard, and you're trying! Be kind to yourself. How important are the words we speak not only to others, but to ourselves, too!

5. Involve others. Other people who want to join you on your journey, or who can encourage you, or who are further along than you. My friends have turned into fitness freaks, and it keeps me motivated to keep running!

6. Just like The Little Engine that Could, as I run I am affirming that I can run. 
If I quit in my mind my legs quit, too.
How true is that for almost everything in life?
My mind is so much stronger now. I can push past the extremely difficult and keep going because I tell myself that I can.
I think I can, I think I can. 

I am super proud of myself. 
I'm thirty next month and I'm fitter than I've been in a long time. 

xx

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

best scone recipes


Every now and then, especially during winter, my mum would whip up a batch of scones and we would devour them with strawberry jam and generous globs of cream. 
I remember when I was old enough to be allowed to rub the flour and the butter together with the tips of my fingers, and how proud I was when it became crumbly, and ready for the milk.
Following mum's tradition, scones are a fairly regular occurrence at our place, and are still yet to lose their appeal. There is not much that beats a homemade scone. 

The first, my never-fail lemonade quick scone recipe. I have been baking these for years. So quick and easy.
The second, a thermomix recipe I found today that makes super fluffy, light scones as quick as a wink. It's the first time I've used my thermie for scones and I was super happy with how they turned out!
Take your pick, and enjoy an afternoon tea in the last few days of winter sunshine like we did!

Quick Scones

3 cups self-raising flour
1 cup cream
1 cup lemonade
milk for brushing

1. Preheat oven to 220C. Grease or line your scone tray. Sift flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the cream and lemonade.
2. Using a bread and butter knife, mix quickly to a soft, sticky dough. Don't over-mix.
Knead lightly on a floured surface. Press it out to about 2cm thick.
3. Cut into rounds using a floured cutter. Place them close together on your tray. Brush the tops with milk, bake for 10-12 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped. 

Thermomix Scones

450-500g(ish) self-raising flour
2 tbsp sugar
200g cream
250g milk

Preheat oven to 200.
Put all ingredients in the thermomix and mix for 2 sec speed 5. Knead on interval speed until it comes together to form a (fairly sticky) dough (not long, 10 seconds-ish). As above, press out on a floured surface and cut rounds. Place them close together on your tray, brush tops with milk and bake 10-12 minutes or until risen and golden. 

My scone tips:

Handle the dough as little as possible. They'll loose their fluffiness if they're overhanded. 
Dip your cutter in flour. If you don't have a scone cutter, use a butter knife and make small squares instead, I did this for years before I finally got around to buying a round scone cutter. 
The oven has to be HOT, make sure it's preheated thoroughly or your scones will be a little bit undercooked on the inside. 
Jam, then cream. Or lashings of butter when they're straight from the oven.
Thermomix recipe found (and slightly adapted) from here

xx

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

bookish.


I am, and have always been bookish.
In my last post for August over at Capture 30 Days today, I wrote about my love of reading.
The importance of good books.

To feel paper, to turn pages, to curl up and enter in. 

I included a handful of books I could remember (mostly recently read ones) from the top of my head that have impacted me, or that I have simply been swept away by.
I so encourage you to go and have a read of this post.

And pretty please, could you give this bookworm some recommendations? Comment on this post, or my link on Facebook or even on Instagram - let me know what you've immersed yourself in lately? I would love to hear what you've been reading, and why!
I am feeling bookish, after all this talk of reading, and after an unsuccessful library trip today (mainly due to a four year old who demanded I read her everything) I am determined to get myself something completely whimsical and set a date with it for the weekend.
I need distraction from studying. And I want to go on an adventure.

xx

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

approval, validation : I am enough


Plaguing my mind these last few weeks is the word validation.
What we feel validates us as humans.
What makes us feel invalidated, rejected.
The more I thought about it, the more things I realised I've used to feel validated in my life.
And I say feel validated with weight because it's just that - a feeling.

You are not any better or worse than anyone else. 
Your social status does not validate you, nor does the school your children attend, or the grades they receive. Nor do the grades you receive validate you, or your popularity on Instagram, or your marital status.
The clothes you wear don't constitute a stamp of approval, and neither does the car you drive, or the place you live, or the amount of nice things you surround yourself with. 

You are you. You are good enough, loved enough, purposed and planned.
You don't have to have enough, you are enough. 
Our insecurities tell us we need to be more, have more, share more, be recognised and awarded to be validated enough as humans. 

Today I pulled from the letterbox my first graded assignment of the semester.
A creative writing assignment I poured my heart into, and handed in along with all the tiny pieces of myself I had typed on to that page. 
The papers were scribbled over; words are crossed out, commas added, question marks scrawled messily,  morphed to statements like stop writing, you aren't good enough, you will never be enough through tear-blurred eyes. The grade was fine. But I expected better than fine. 

I cried. I will always cry. I will cry over spilt milk, and death and everything in between.
And then I wiped my eyes and realised that this does not validate me.
I will not feel invalid, rejected, disapproved of. 
I know who I am. I know what I love. I know I am learning, and I know that progress is all that is needed - I don't expect perfection from myself. 
I am enough.

You are enough, too.

xx

Sunday, August 10, 2014

agenda. or losing it.


Agenda. Defined as a plan or list of matters to be attended to.
I have lost my patience twice three times this week.
I scolded crossly, impatiently, and probably not very kindly.
Today, in church, I was thinking about these three times, and countless others during my motherhood journey. I was reciting the fruits of the spirit in my mind, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.
What makes me react? What robs me of my patience, and kindness in those moments?

Always, always, always it's because my agenda; my plan, my list, my to-do's have been messed with.
I've lost control over it because someone has forgotten something, needed help with something, taken too long to do something, is impossible to please because her hair is crazy, been disobedient or accidentally spilled or broken something... and I loose my patience*.
I lose it because control is lost.
I lose it because we're rushing, or I don't want to help put those leggings on because I know she has done it before by herself and she can do it now. I lose it because things are not going to plan.
I lose it with a groan or an eye roll.
I sigh hard, and frown and scold in exasperation, which helps nothing but to bring down little spirits of those I care so much for
And my heart breaks thinking about my impatience and my unkindness and my prioritising my own agenda.
When I'm being called to lay down my life, to be a servant, to put others before myself.
Especially those I have been gifted with the role of mothering.

And impatience doesn't work. My heavy sigh of annoyance don't help the heart of an already-sorry-he-made-a-mess child. It doesn't make things move more quickly or more smoothly.
It just makes us all feel rotten.

So. I am vowing to put my agenda aside.
Maybe we'll be late a few times. Maybe I'll have to be a little more organised.
But I'll be more patient with my tiny humans. I'll speak more kindly.
And I'll put less pressure on myself to perform to my own impossibly high standards - ie. not everything has to be done or perfect.

The Bible says soft speech breaks down the most bonelike resistance.**
That it is better to be patient than powerful.***
There is the quiet, calm patience, the enduring patience, the bearing-a-load patience, the persevering and steadfast and remaining patience.
So, I'll stay. Remain.
That patience that the Spirit produces in us (Galatians 5:22) literally means to be able to hold one's temper.
I guess we have a choice. Lose the agenda or lose the patience*.
Not by my own strength but His as I lay down my own schedule and slow down to be better at this life thing.

xx
*I was going to write the word shit instead here. But, backlash.
** Proverbs 25:15
*** Proverbs 16:32