Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Twenty Years in the Making - A Perfect Mother's Day


I haven't really enjoyed Mother's Day for well... my whole mothering life, although it has slowly improved in the past few years.  The best Mother's Day I had when the kids were small was the one two days after Mr Busy was born, because I was in hospital, being lavished with chocolate and being spoilt by nurses who get it.

Recently in our house we had a conversation around how much I don't enjoy Mother's Day.  My husband maintains that I am not his mother, and I pointed out that he had not taught his children to honour theirs.  To add insult to injury he has been overseas since late last week so he wasn't even here for Mother's Day.  At all!  As it turns out, that was the motivation the kids needed.  That, and the girls now have their own means and opportunity (money and transport) to make things happen without relying on anyone else.

On Sunday I woke up to gifts, purchased by children who thought about what would bless me.  After taking Mr Busy to church early I returned to ham and cheese croissants for breakfast.  Lunch was a cheese platter and dinner was a chicken and dauphine potatoes, a la Jamie Oliver, with apple pie for dessert.  We watched "The Dressmaker" together, and I got have a little nap.  It was perfect.


The day before I spent the day doing a flower arranging class, taught by a friend.  Mum drive down to Melbourne and joined me, and then I took her out to a local nursery/cafe for lunch and we wandered about the nursery afterwards.  In amongst writing reports and marking student work it was simply an amazing day.

So I think the Mother's Day curse has finally passed.

How was your Mother's Day?  Difficult?  Delightful?  Improving?  No hope in sight?

However it turned out, we can encourage one another and the other mothers know.  We can tell one another what an amazing job they are doing and honour the sacrifice, love and commitment they pour into the lives of their children.  Who do you need to encourage today?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Grasping at Health...A Delicious Quinoa Salad


I've learned something about myself over the past two years.  I am not a raging carnivore.  Don't get me wrong, I would miss it if I never got to eat meat, but I'm really happy not to eat it too.  The trouble with that is that the alternative - legumes - are not my friends.  I don't mind eating them, but then I don't want to be near me.  Which is pretty much inescapable!

We have had a bit of back-and-forward tussle in our house over things like couscous and quinoa.  I enjoy them; my family does not.  Until last night.  Inspired by a recipe from "Jamie's 15 Minute Meals" and a lunch I was served on a PD (Independent Schools Victoria completely spoil their seminar attendees!) I decided to try a quinoa salad.  My goal?  An ecstatic moan-inducing salad.  No pressure, right?

This salad?  Life-changing!

I cooked a cup of raw quinoa and half a cup pearl couscous using the absorption method in chicken stock, and then mixed that with:

  • toasted pinenuts
  • diced oranges
  • finely sliced spring onions
  • fried and diced haloumi (the haloumi I got from Costco - amazing!)
  • finely chopped parsley

After mixing it together I dressed it with the juice of a lemon and a good drizzle of olive oil.
I would have added avocado but mine weren't ripe yet, and if you preferred you could use feta.

All of my non-quinoa people enjoyed this salad.  Guess what's for lunch this week?!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Frog My House Killed


The last thing I expected to find on my lounge room floor, the other morning, was a frog.  In fact, it wasn't immediately obvious that the little brown blob was a frog.  The kids and I looked at it.  We discussed what it could be.  We looked at it some more.  And then I prodded it (because mothers are the bravest ones in the house), and the little blob kind of stretch a limb-looking thing.  Slowly.  Just a little.

It took a little bit to convince ourselves that we did, indeed, have a froggy little visitor.  After many questions about how it got inside (I just don't know, asking again won't get you an answer, people!) we decided that all the fluff and hair and dust had clogged up its ability to move, if it was alive enough to survive.

I got a tissue to pick it up, and tried to rinse it off a little with some water.  It stretch a little more.  Then I took it back outside into a protected, but wet, spot outside in the rain.  I suspect a kookaburra decided to eat it, because this poor little froggy friend really wasn't moving much.  It was certainly gone by the time I got home from work.

Miss Mischief was so excited that our house was healthy enough to have a frog in it.  I pointed out that the frog wasn't healthy anymore because our house had killed it.

Just in time, my very precious friend is coming to clean my house on Thursday.  Maybe then the house will be healthy enough not to kill a frog with dust bunnies and hair!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

She's Ours

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"Ooohhhh.  She's ours!"  My aunt made this proclamation as she hugged me tight.  "Us" who have little mercy and struggle to show sympathy.  "Us" straight-shooters who don't mince words, and tell it like it is.  "Us" who know these are not always strengths in a world of broken, messy people with expectations about how they should be treated.  I'm one of "us".

Changing churches four years ago ripped away so much of the belonging and being known that I had so treasured.  It happened under difficult circumstances as these things often do.  Rebuilding community and establishing new friendships has been slow.  Uncomfortable.  Difficult.  It has torn at the edges of my identity layers.  Not that who I am has changed, but who I am in the context of community just didn't exist for so very long.  In the first year or two at our current church I did a spiritual gifts survey.  Mostly it affirmed and confirmed things like me becoming a teacher.  I understood that my love of history and geography comes from my apostle/mission gift.  Apparently I am wise (a new career path kind of puts a bump in that road).  I have a spiritual knowledge that is supposedly heightened.  I don't know - these things just seem normal to me.  Then I looked at the bottom of the gifts.  Mercy was ... well ... almost missing.  I have just enough to know I need to work on it.

What I discovered, over Easter, as I spent time with my Mum's siblings is that my lack of mercy is a family trait.  I come from a long line of people who are not inclined to be overly sympathetic.  My mother described a time when my brothers and I had a week of injuring our feet.  A by-product of never wearing shoes that didn't seem to change our bare-footed ways!  I'd had a wort surgically removed from one foot, and then sliced the other open on some glass.  My youngest brother came in, just days later, having sliced his foot open in a similar way.  When my middle brother did the same thing later that week my mother's response was "sit down and be quiet," and she went to gather the foot dressing stuff that had not yet been put away.

I cannot explain what a relief it was to know that my lack of mercy is not unusual.  Each of us in my non-merciful family have other gifts the world needs us to use.  I among a beautiful group of people who are perfectly OK with their kids leaving home - celebrate it, even.  They are great at figuring out how to unlock passworded spreadsheets and fixing computer glitches and finding geocaches.  They are creative and funny and cheeky and they laugh a lot.

The precious gift I received this Easter was a repair in my identity.  Not just because the weekend was about remembering that Jesus made me part of God's family.  But because I truly belong to an amazing group of people.  And mercy isn't required to be valuable, loved, accepted.

Friday, 1 April 2016

School Holiday Lunch


I got the idea for this meal while we were in Ballarat over the Easter weekend.  We stopped at a little cafe for morning tea on our last morning, on our way to Mum & Dad's place.  I'd had breakfast so it was just a chai latte and some banana bread for me, but something on the breakfast menu piqued my fancy.  Breakfast bruschetta with with roasted cherry tomatoes and lemon ricotta and basil leaves.

My version has tomatoes, basil pesto, sauted mushrooms and some lemon infused ricotta.  Once the tomatoes are roasted it literally takes me as long as the bread takes to toast to pull it all together.  Pane di casa bread takes a little longer to toast so I throw the mushy's into a pan when I put the bread in to toast.  Two minutes later it's all on the plate.

After a breakfast of cooked fruit with some butter and maple syrup, topped with the same lemon ricotta, this has been the perfect thing to hit the holiday spot.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Mr Busy - The Spoilt One

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I think it is actually official in our house:  Mr Busy is the spoilt, youngest child.  The girls have been talking about being the favourite and the perfect ones.  Mr Busy was always left out of that loop, but today I figured it out.  I succumbed to his innocent-eyed ways when I had to take him back to the orthodontist to get a wire put back on.   He is just spoilt, and I pretty much stopped caring too much about that around him being 13yo. Aside:  Seriously - an hour of driving for a 2 minute job.  Two minutes.  What are we doing??!

Anyway, after two minutes he was back out and we were loose in a shopping centre.  You all know I've said how much I hate shopping, and I do.  But that's where we were.  So I took the opportunity to organise Gold Class tickets for Dh and I to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 next week and then Mr Busy decided we should "get coffee".  What this really means is that he should get coffee.  And cake.  And be royally spoiled just because he happens to exist.  Because he's the only boy.  Because he's out with a parent without any siblings.

He is also the child in our home at whom I have thrown utter garbage and called it school lunch.  White fluff, masquerading as bread, with cheese and bacon on top?  Sure that's a perfect lunch for a growing boy.   Every day.  For four weeks.  Can't eat bread too easily?  Of course tinned spaghetti is the perfect, nutritious alternative.

Clearly this child has sucked me into some youngest child vortex in which even the person with the least amount of niceness in them is just undone.

Well Done, Mr Busy.  Don't expect it to happen again - I'm on to you.  Except the spaghetti because braces are a whole thing.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

For the Love of Good Friends

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Ever since the beginning of the year I have been wrestling with how to find myself someone who would be willing to clean my house -- someone trustworthy and effective.  We're at the end of March and this has been something I haven't been able to get off my beam.  I haven't known where to look nor who to ask.

Yesterday I had lunch with a very precious friend.  We talked about a whole bunch of stuff -- faith challenges, kid challenges, life challenges.  In amongst our conversation I was talking about how tired I am in particular areas related to being a mother.  In amongst our conversation I mentioned that I need to outsource my cleaning.  A few minutes later we circled back to that idea and my very already-precious friend asked how I would feel if she did it?  How would I feel?  I nearly cried in relief.  I have had this friend on my mind for a long time for this task.  She is an awesome house cleaner!  Hers is spotless!  She needs a little extra income -- I have a job I'm willing to pay someone else to do.  She has the time -- I do not.

We decided the first week of term will be a good time to begin, and my balance beam just got a whole lot less tricky!

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A whole school term seems to have whirled by in a flurry since I last posted.  Working full time is not conducive to blogging!  My new little class of 18 Year 3's and 4's is gorgeous.  Apart from two new-to-the-school students I have known the rest since they were in Prep, respectively.  They are delightful.  I've worked very hard this term without some of the practical support structures of my previous school.  Over the past two weeks I've worked to put those structures into place for myself, so I'm expecting the coming term to be less overwhelming.

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Miss Mischief has begun her internship at church.  She is thriving and growing there, as I knew she would.  I somehow can't see a secular University for her.  Bible College seems a better fit.  One of her goals for the year was to determine what she should do next year.  She has deferred a degree in Criminology so will need to decide soon.  It's so hard when you really have no idea what you want to do with yourself.  Miss Sunshine always knew she wanted to be a teacher.  Me?  I figured I was good at typing fast so I went and did a secretarial course, a way back in the day.  I did not get out of bed with a zing in my step so I could go to work and type, I can tell you that!

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Mr Busy's teeth finally caught up with him.  Or maybe my full-time income did.  Either way my poor baby has just joined the ranks of fellow teens with braces.  By the end of Day 1 I wanted to take him back to the orthodontist and insist on their removal.  The moment a 15yo boy realises he can't eat is heartbreaking.  Especially when it comes with tears in his eyes.  The following day I had him alternating between panadol and neurofen.  Being at the same school was never more precious than that day!  Two weeks later he is getting used to things crashing about in his mouth and is eating more like usual.  Minus pizza crusts, bread, chocolate and lollies.  And his toothbrush follows him everywhere.