Banana, Date and Walnut Loaf - VEGAN RECIPE


Banana, Date and Walnut Loaf 

Ingredients:

2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup chopped, pitted dates
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon bicarb soda


Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Grease a loaf pan
  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, dates and water and stir over a low heat until sugar dissolves.Bring to the boil and then remove from stove to cool slightly.
  • Add flour, banana, walnuts and bicarb to the saucepan and stir everything together until it is all combined.
  • Spoon mixture into your loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Best served warm.

Lately


Winter is here and we have been fighting coughs, sniffles and even Scarlet Fever over the last month or so. Feet and kidneys are kept warm and the diffuser is running 24/7 with On Guard at the ready. By 4pm I am calling the children inside for warm bubble baths and inside play by the heater.

Miss Two is no longer in nappies during the daytime which is exciting for us (no more nappies!!) and is also now in a bed which is taking some getting used to. She stays in her bed all night long, but expects us to lay with her most of the night.

I have landed my dream job, teaching two days a week at a beautiful, small primary school. It will challenge me but I am already loving it and feel re-energised to teach and to continue learning.

The boys have both had a great 1st Semester at school and came home with wonderful reports that they should be very proud of. Regardless of their overall grade we loved seeing them putting in a 5/5 for effort and reading the teachers comments at the end gave us great pride and contentment.

I am clearing out the wardrobes as I pull size 4's from Master Six's shelves. He has grown and clothes that I presumed would fit just don't. Decluttering is so satisfying.

We now have carpet in the bedrooms and it is so luxurious! I said to The Husband I feel so grown up having carpet and our room feels like a hotel. Already I have noticed the children play in their rooms more and I happily join them on the floor to play because it is so nice to sit on...warm too!

I have always said I like Winter... but mostly I find myself longing for Spring. Those in-between seasons really are hard to beat. But I will focus on the here and now and try and enjoy the hot showers and cups of tea, the scarves and coats, the cuddles under blankets. Soon enough time will pass all too quickly (as it does) and Spring will arrive in all its glory.

Just Being a Parent


My husband doesn't think he is exceptional. He cleans and takes care of our three children, but he doesn't think he is amazing, or special, or wonderful.
He doesn't think it is incredible that he reads to the boys each night before bed or changes Miss Two's nappies or washes dishes or vacuums the house. He doesn't see jobs around the house as his or mine, he sees them as 'ours' and basically just things that need doing.

My husband loves being a dad and loves parenting along side me as a team. Not once in our fourteen years of marriage has he returned home from work and just sat down on the couch and put his feet up.
Sure he gets tired just as I do and the kids sometimes drive him crazy as they do me, but the point here is that he is just doing what parents do....parenting. Being a dad to him means parenting his children and loving them and enjoying them and helping to keep a house a home.

Quite often my husband will take Miss Two grocery shopping and he occasionally gets stopped by elderly women who make a comment on what an incredible father he is being. My husband just feels awkward and baffled that taking his daughter to the shops or for a walk in the pram classifies him as an 'incredible father.'

If a mother sits up at night soothing her sick child or takes three children grocery shopping she doesn't get a pat on the back or a 'mother of the year' award. So why do people view men/fathers differently? My husband wonders why doing either of these things would make him 'incredible' or 'one of a kind.'

I have three kids. Not four. My husband is not a child and I have never seen him this way. At all.
Together we parent and together we take care of our home. We both work hard doing what we do and we respect each other for doing so. My husband is an incredible life partner.

This month marks seventeen years of knowing and loving this man and so I just want to say thank you to the one who has my back, co-parents with me and is a dedicated and loving man. We love and appreciate you. 

Remembering


Today we probably all took a moment to remember the men and women who served in the war. Maybe we baked ANZAC cookies or attended a Dawn Service. Perhaps we posted a red poppy photo on our Facebook profiles or went to see a service or a marching parade.

But did we really stop to think about it all? Really allowing ourselves to remember them?

When I stopped to think about it for a moment, I realised that I wasn't remembering the soldiers for their bravery (although brave they indeed were). Instead I found myself thinking about how scared they must have been. And how very real it all was and still is. 

I started to think of my husband being told he had to leave the safety and comfort of home to go and fight (and kill) in a war he may know very little about. I thought about how that would affect me, the wife at home with little children to tend to and the worry and anxiety that would surely come from having a loved one away for an unknown amount of time. 

It got me thinking about my sons. My boys. The hopes I already hold for their future and the hopes they already have for themselves. I wondered how i'd ever smile again to see them leave home for war. 

I tried to imagine them having to kill another person.

I wondered just how many men (and possibly women) had to hold up a heavy gun and use it to not only protect themselves and their fellow soldiers, but who also knew they were defending their country as well.

I thought about my grandfathers, and then my grandmothers - what they saw, what they heard, the things that must be scarred into their memories. 

Millions (around 90 million) military and civilians were killed in WW1 and WW2 combined. Millions. 

Today I took the opportunity to explain war to my children. To educate them on what happens when there is too much greed, hatred and unbalanced power in the world. I told them that teenagers had to leave their homes and they didn't know when they would return. I told them that many, many people died. I told them how lucky and blessed we are to live where we live and have one another. 

Today I feel grateful that I live in a country that isn't being ripped apart by war and mass death and destruction. I feel grateful that all of my family are together and no one is missing or injured. 

Today I remembered... and I took a moment to say thank you and to be grateful. 




The hard years that we never want to end


Why are these years of raising young children so trying and hard but the thought of them growing into young adults leaving home is so sad?

My children are still young. At ages seven, five and 2.5 they run rings around me. I have days where if I hear 'Maaaa-uuum' one more time I feel like my head will explode from rage. I am needed, I am wanted, I am in high demand. It is absolutely exhausting to the bone.

But the day will come where they won't need me anymore, not like they do now. One day this nest we've built will suddenly seem enormous and the rooms will be empty and the quietness will be deafening. And I'll think back to this time in my life where chaos reigns and dinner feels more like feeding time at the zoo, and I'll miss it.
I know I will because I already do. I mourn for days that haven't even ended.

I want to bottle up the feeling of pride I get when I see my boy hit a tennis ball and the smile on his face that he did it! I want to remember the way my five year old squeezes my head against his each evening in bed as I hug him goodnight and how I don't leave until he says 'you can go now'.
I never want to forget the way Miss Two struts around the house like a queen, making demands and mess wherever she goes, all the while being the cutest thing I've ever laid eyes on.

Some times I want days to end quickly. I count down the hours until bed time and crash into my pillow at night with relief that a hard day is done. Other times I want to freeze time and hold onto a moment forever, terrified of it ever ending.

Knowing that our baby-making days are behind us I feel a sense of a new era beginning. Miss 2.5 is almost no longer a baby. She is tall and independent and strong and wise beyond her years. I already mourn the years just passed... the baby-wearing, nursing, tiring but amazing years.
I feel like I am stepping into Phase Two of motherhood and I know it will be just as good, just as special and just as missed, when it too passes me by. 

Just Say No


This evening at the kids swimming lessons I was chatting to a friend about the week ahead. It's a busy one with OT and dentist appointments, soccer training, more swimming lessons and the school disco. My friend was expressing her concern with not wanting her child to attend the disco but didn't know what to say to him or how to handle the situation.

After a moments pause I turned to her and said 'Just say no.'

She laughed and her reply to my statement was 'Yeah, why didn't I think of that?'

And I think I know why. It is because we rarely tell our children 'no.'


Is it just my kids that act spoilt and entitled or do others feel their children live an entitled life too?
I swear my three children think money and time are never-ending commodities.

Growing up I never just assumed I would go to every birthday party I was invited to, or play every sport after school. I never expected that I'd always have new clothes or shoes (I often wore hand-me-downs) and although I'd whinge at being told 'no', it was a word and notion that I was very familiar with. And I don't feel deprived. I don't ever look back on my childhood and feel as though I missed out on anything at all. My childhood was simple in such a wonderful way. I didn't get everything I wanted, when I wanted it, and life was still good.

Why are we as parents so afraid of telling our kids 'no' or 'not this time'? So often it seems easier at the time to just say yes and not have to deal with tears, tantrums, whinging and all the yelling.
I've had all sorts thrown at me as they stomp around the house...
'You're the worst Mum ever!'
'I hate you!'
and my favourite one yet...
'Why don't you love me?'

These meltdowns only reinforce to me that I need to pull back the reins. I need to stop giving them so many things and simplify their lives a little. Focus on what is right here in our home, all the good, all the quality, all the love. All the extra places to be and things to buy and demands to be met can be reduced and hopefully one day, one day, my kids might realise that I don't give them everything, not because I don't love them and not because I want to be mean, but because I hope to raise children who have gratitude and appreciation for special things in life. For all these things that so many others don't ever get to experience. I hope they gain some balance and perspective and understanding as they grow up under my care. And eventually, hopefully as adults and as parents they might look back and even be thankful that sometimes they were just told 'no'.





The Best of Intentions


Remember when you were childless and a little bit er... cocky? 
You might have made statements similar to the kind I used to make, things like...

'When I'm a parent;
I will never use the TV as a babysitter,
I will never let my child eat lollies,
I will never shout at my children,
I will never pat my child to sleep,
I will never let my children jump on the couch,
I will never let my children eat on the couch,
I won't give my child my phone or iPad until they are 10,
I will never let my child wee on the grass (or anywhere in public),
My child will never hit another kid,
My child will never tantrum in public,
My children will never talk to me like that!
My child won't pick their nose in public,
I will never let my child fall off the bed and lastly,
I will never feed my child McDonalds.'

Any of those ring a bell?


I confess. I am guilty of all of the above. As a parent of three children, I will eat my hat and swallow the pride because...well...survival people. Survival. 




Ordinary Days


It's hard not to always want for more. Or to think things like 'When I have this or that I will be happy.'
The very act of always seeking happiness can rob us of contentment.
It's a luxury in itself is it not? The notion that happiness is something we can strive for? Oh such first-world problems.

The fact of the matter is that life throws us good and bad. Sometimes we are happy, and sometimes we are sad. And that's just how it is. Can we not be content with that?

Motherhood is no different. Some days are good and some days are bad and when I strive to have wonderful days, every day, then I burn out. It is surely an unrealistic expectation that your children will have good days every day. That they will eat well and behave seven days a week for fifty-two weeks of the year. Let us not get ourselves down in the dumps because every day isn't extraordinary.

What sort of expectations are we as mothers placing on ourselves (and our children) if we think every day can be perfect?

Let us relish in the lunch making, bag packing, book reading, bathroom cleaning, dinner cooking, bubble bath supervising, goodnight stories. Let us try and see the beauty in the mundane.
Because soon enough these Groundhog days will be behind us and we just might miss them.

If you look closely enough, amidst the tantrums and tiredness and mess, there will be something to be grateful for. I am grateful for these ordinary days. 

Soccer Mum

It's official. I am a soccer mum. I not only have the seven-seater car to prove it, but today Master Five donned the numbered shirt and long socks (that reached his thighs) and played his little heart out for 30 minutes on the field.

It's strange how proud I felt watching four little kids run after a ball. The excitement over one of them actually kicking the ball seemed almost comical. Us adults cheered and we shouted from the sidelines and they ran up and down, forwards and back until we were all red in the face. It really was such a fun half hour.

I think I'm going to like being Soccer Mum. (Ask me what I think of it mid-winter).

Seven Cleaning Tips


This post isn't a 'how to' guide, as most people know how to clean. This is a post that will hopefully provide a few tips and tricks to make life easier when it comes to keeping your family home clean.

Here are my seven tips;

1) Schedule it in
It doesn't have to be the same day every week but scheduling in a house clean will not only ensure it actually gets done, but you can pick a couple of hours that you might be child free and most productive.

2) Clean the shower while you're in it
I scrub the bath and toilet and clean the vanity as part of the weekly clean, but I clean the shower while I'm showering! I spray the shower tiles and glass at some point in the day and then leave it til that evening when I am showering. I find being in the shower with the water running is the most effect way to scrub and clean inside the shower. We keep a scrubber and a window squeegee hanging in the shower...not pretty, but oh so practical.

3) Pick up once
I don't spend all day picking up toys. Okay, that's a lie. I pick up things all.the.time. But mostly, I try to wait til the children are in bed and I pick up anything still left laying around (usually belonging to Miss Two). Doing it once at night instead of over and over in the day makes far more sense and wastes less time.

4) Delegate (and marry well!)
Reward your children with verbal praise when they clean up after themselves. Encourage plates to be taken to the sink after a meal and toys to be picked up after play. Give them tasks to lighten your load. My boys are only 7 and 5 yet they are more than capable of feeding the dog morning and night as well as setting the table and dusting the shelves. They also know it's expected that they clear their own plates after breakfast and dinner time. And I have to give my husband a shout out here too. He is awesome and never sees any job around the house as 'mine or his' but simply things that need doing. He washes dishes, hangs wet washing, vacuums, folds, irons etc. anything. He is a keeper.

5) Don't get carried away
Weekly house cleans are not deep scrubbing Spring cleans. Weekly cleans are the essentials - stripping beds, dusting, mopping and vacuuming, disinfecting the bathroom and any toilets and probably giving the kitchen a once over. Leave the oven and windows for another time. Stay on track with each room and don't get distracted with de-cluttering tasks or other projects mid clean. If you see something else that needs doing, write it down and come back to it another time. A weekly clean, in my opinion should take no longer than two hours.

6) Make them wait
Young children can often mean morning chaos and you can find yourself walking out of the house and returning home to mess left from breakfast. There is nothing wrong with leaving your children sitting in their highchair or seat while you do a five minute clean up. Wipe down surfaces and give the floor underneath them a once over before they leave their seats. With the kids seated it will take 5 minutes. With them not seated it just won't get done and bits of cereal will be trodden through the house. If they are little, have a book or toy at the ready to give them while you do your quick clean up or sing songs with them if they find waiting difficult. Older children can help you clear dishes and sweep under chairs.

7) Get organised
School aged children or working mothers can mean very busy mornings. Do the ironing (personally I never iron!) and lunches the night before and have bags ready and 90% packed. I lend to lay the children's clothes out at the end of their beds so they wake up and get dressed without fuss. Doing a bit the night before can mean smooth, calm mornings.



I'd love to hear your cleaning tips! Please feel free to share one in the comment section below.



Tired Evenings, Simple Recipe

We are all feeling the reality of being eight weeks into the school term. The slower morning pace, rubbing eyes until we've dragged ourselves around for too long and have to race around in the final ten minutes before it's time to walk out the door.

The afternoons come and we are cranky and impatient. All of us. Especially when the rain is persistent and heavy.

Today school pick up was done in the rain, which meant it was straight into a warm shower followed by pj's once home. Now the boys are drawing and Miss Two is watching an episode of Play School while I whip up this simple, hearty meal for our dinner.

I originally saw Nigella Lawson create this on one of her TV shows many moons ago. I will give the recipe idea/credit to her but I am sure I don't use quite the same measurements.



Tomato Rice Soup


  • 1 cup rice (I use half long grain, half basmati...any will do)
  • 1/2 jar of a good quality tomato pasta sauce
  • 3 cups of water (or chicken stock for a deeper richness)
  • Grated tasty cheese or parmesan to sprinkle on top
Put rice, water and tomato sauce in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Serve in bowls with plenty of cheese on top.

My children love this simple dinner and I must say, so do I.

What are you cooking tonight?