Dinner… done :) Slow Cooker Beef Braised in Red Wine

I love using my slow cooker, as you might have guessed, it is much easier to have dinner done at 10am, then it is trying to deal with kids and dinner at 5pm.  A great friend of mine gave me this awesome cookbook for my birthday, and I got it out this morning when I was trying to decide what to do for dinner.

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I only had a BBQ pack that my husband had bought a few nights before in the fridge, and I didn’t really want to go out and get something else, so I thought I would try a recipe I saw in the cookbook.

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I used the steak for the recipe and the kids ate the sausage, score ūüôā The recipe actually is called Beef Ribs Braised in Red Wine, since I didn’t have beef ribs I used the steak and cut it up into cubes.

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The recipe calls for the meat to browned, which I have to say I don’t usually do, I am a “throw it in the slow cooker and hope it turns out ok” person, but I thought I would give it a go. ¬†I have to say that browning the meat in olive oil with just salt a pepper gave it a really rich taste, so I will most likely do that again. ¬†This is what cooking looks like at my house, there is usually a doll or a monster truck on the counter keeping my company.

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After browning the meat, you then add onion, celery and carrot to the hot fry pan and cook it for about 15 mins, until the veggies are soft. ¬†I also added a bag of pre chopped green and red peppers (capsicum) I got marked down for $1.22 (bam), I like lots of veggies in stuff, you totally don’t have to do that, I just thought it would taste nice.

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After that you then add tomato puree (which I didn’t have any of, so I used Ketchup (Heinz Tomato Sauce) ¬†and the recipe also called for thyme (which I also didn’t have any of, so I used fresh rosemary that I had growing on my kitchen counter) garlic (I used pre crushed from Costco, but the recipe calls for fresh), and flour, you stir it together and then…. wait for it… you add 450ml of red wine!! ¬†Eeek! ¬†I did think that I would have to pick my daughter up from school, so I didn’t taste any…. but I wanted too. ¬†You bring the wine and veggies to a boil and then reduce it down, on simmer for about 6-8 mins.

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After that you stir in beef stock and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt (which I think I forgot to do… whoops) ¬†and a bay leaf. ¬†You cook it on high for 7 hours or on low for 10 hours ( I cooked mine on high). ¬†I served it with potato and some more veggies, I actually had mine over a tossed salad, cause I am trying to eat better. ¬†And I have to say, it was delicious, it takes a little bit longer in prep time that normal slow cooker meals, but it is so worth it!

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These are the ingredients:

1.3kg/3lb bone in beef short ribs

2 tbsp olive oil (more in needed)

1 onion diced

i carrot diced

1 tbsp of tomato puree

3 fresh thyme sprigs

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tbsp plain flour

450ml/16 fl oz red wine

225ml/8 fl oz beef stock

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper

mashed potatoes to serve

Happy slow cooking

S x

Happy Slow Cooking…

Beef Roast in Mushroom Soup :)

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Ok, so… this post is slightly different… it is a FOOD post. ¬†I am having my awesome parents in law over for dinner tonight, and I though a quick roast would be the best way to feed the masses. ¬†I love, love my slow cooker, it is super easy and it stops me from becoming homicidal at 4pm when I realise that my family…. yet again, wants dinner. ¬†I find throwing dinner in the slow cooker in the morning is the best way for me to “deal” with meal times.

So usually I just do a pulled beef recipe that is my Mom’s, which I might add it awesome. ¬†But today I thought I would do something different, and I decided to cook my roast in Cream of Mushroom soup. ¬†I LOVE soup, it is awesome, but I find Australian’s aren’t big into soup. ¬†Hubby hates tomato soup, really… who hates to tomato soup, ¬†maybe it is because I come from a cold climate, where soup was as normal as sandwiches. ¬†So I thought I would share… ¬†I have used a blade roast, and have cooked it in a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, along with onions, celery, garlic and worschestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.¬†I will let you know how it turns out ūüôā

Yesterday I was broken….

When I was a kid I suffered from terrible night terrors, I mean terrible… I would imagine spiders, people, animals coming after me, I would “wake” up screaming and try to climb the walls. ¬†I think my parents thought I was crazy, as I got older the nightmares stopped, well… I got better at dealing with them. ¬†I would have a radio playing and a light on, and a fan, anything I could do to distract myself from the fast that I was still scared of the dark. ¬†I now realise that as I have gotten older, my nightmares have turned from something that happened night time to something that happens when I am awake… Anxiety and panic attacks are my new best friends. ¬†Yesterday I was broken, but its ok cause I won’t be forever…

Yesterday I had my first full blown panic attack in months, set off by, who knows what….. there I was, in a camping store, chatting about camp chair options, and pop up shade tents, and then it happened. ¬†It was just a little niggle at first, my husband’s voice got father away, my heart started racing, my ears starting raining, and everyone seemed really far away and then I could feel myself getting really, really warm. ¬†Hubby noticed the change right away, and in the middle of the camping store, when I came over to him, he did what he always does, he just held me. ¬†I managed to get through the camping store experience, we looked at a few other items and we bought a camping table for our “new” caravan. ¬†Master C, started screaming as we were paying and I lost it again, and took him outside.¬†I stood by the Jeep and felt myself getting really faint. ¬†Thankfully, once again, Hubby to the rescue, he took over the situation and put the kids in the car and told me to sit down, offered me water and held my hand as we drove home. ¬†Yesterday I was broken….

I know that I SHOULD be happy, I have an amazing husband, and three awesome, lively and fun kids. ¬†We live in a great house, granted we don’t own it, but that is ok. ¬†My husband has a stable and flexible job, it allows me to stay at home and raise our kids, we just bought a second hand caravan, and I am looking forward to family holidays. ¬†I know I SHOULD be happy, but sometimes I’m not, sometimes I miss my old life in Canada, I miss the old me, I miss doing the things that I like, and I miss being “useful” in more than just a Mom sense of the word. ¬†Society tells me I should be happy, but, between you and I… sometimes I’m not. ¬†I used to think being married would solve the loneliness I felt when I was single, it was the missing piece of my happy life, truth is, I happen to be the same person I was before I was married, and being married just hard as being single, but in a different way. ¬†Hubby and I now 5 years later have a great relationship, he is kind, caring and loving and a great Dad. ¬†Doesn’t mean I don’t feel like I am letting the “team Green” down by being sad and anxious. ¬†Doesn’t mean that I feel worthy of his love. ¬†Yesterday I was broken….

My anxiety peaked again after having kids, I found I had a a much of different things I could “worry” about… Was Miss M1 ever going to walk? ¬†I only breastfed her for 3 months, did that mean she wouldn’t be that smart? ¬†She wasn’t walking by the time she was 12 months, what did I do? ¬†Not only did I have a baby, but I had a new husband, I had moved to a different country, I was trying to fit into a new family, it was a recipe for a breakdown! ¬†I kept up a happy face, I smiled in public and played happy family at home. ¬†After Miss M2 was born, I did have a meltdown, again it was Hubby that suggested I go see someone, to help. ¬†So I took his advice and I did, and she helped, she helped me regains the triggers, she gave me a plan on how to deal, and for a few years I was good. ¬†I would have the odd niggling panic attack, small, and usually I suffered in silence. ¬†Going from 2 kids to 3 has been the biggest learning curve of my life, literally it is like have a blender on without the top. ¬†It is crazy, for those people with the three kids you can most likely relate. ¬†Master C has been a dream child, he is sweet, and I have to say that I am enjoying him as a baby more than I did my girls. ¬†But Miss M1 is now in school and I find the school run completely and totally overwhelming, this past school year has been a much of a learning process for me as it has been for her. ¬†Shopping with three is a special kind of hell too, the asking for things, the trying to keep them all together, the wondering where they are every second while we are out in public, I find it exhausting, to the point where the thought of taking the three of them out by myself inducing a mild panic attack. Yesterday I was broken….

I write my feelings down cause it helps calm me, writing always has, my grade 12 language teacher told me I had an overactive imagination and that to help I should write things down. ¬†Turns out not much gets past a teacher, as 13 years laters my therapist told me the same thing. ¬†My panic attacks happen when I am overwhelmed and stressed, when there is a mountain of laundry, and Master C is crying, when there is food spilled over the floor, and toys all over the living room floor. ¬†When Miss M1 asks me what Daddy is doing while she is sitting next to him, and Miss MS has a meltdown over the colour of her plate. ¬†My panic attacks happen when I am driving, and someone cuts me off and I start t think of all the horrible things that could have just happened. ¬†My panic attacks happen when I think of all the horrible things that could happen if I step out of my house. ¬†To be honest, I push myself to leave my house somedays, the idea of facing the world is sometimes enough to send me into a tailspin. ¬†Yesterday I was broken….

Today is a good day so far, and I have to say that my good days out weigh my bad ones, I still have super low self esteem and I still have my anxious thoughts, but today I can push them to the corner of my mind and get on with life. What helps is the love and support of my husband and my family, my awesome friends, and my faith that there is something better than this life. ¬†My faith in God remains unbroken, and it is the one thing that I know I can go back to over and over again, I might be broken, but He is not. ¬†Truth is we are all broken, in one way or another, we all have our battles to fight. ¬†In the end love is what gets us through, it might seem really hard at this moment in my life, and I might be sad, and broken… but I won’t always be. ¬†Yesterday I was broken…. today… well… I choose to not be!

Five Years!

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Five years, that is how long my Husband and I have been married, on July 25th of this year we celebrated our 5th anniversary. I had planned a weekend away for us, we were going to go “glamping” on Moreton Island, an island that hold many memories for my husband as he worked on the island for 5 year prior to meeting me. Turns out life had other plans, so wanna know how we spent our 5th wedding anniversary? Well, Hubby ended up in the hospital, hooked up to a few different machines, giving him medication to fight off pneumonia that he had been suffering with for over a week. Yup, that is how we spent our anniversary, I can tell you it wasn’t Instagram or Pinterest worthy. There wasn’t a pathway of roses, and candles, and a lovely dinner under the stars. It was us, in the emergency room of our local hospital, trying to stay awake as our wait dragged into the wee hours of the morning. And sometime between 7pm and 4am it stuck me, this was the perfect way to spend an anniversary. Before you think I am completely mental (which I have to say in my defence, I would consider myself, slightly mental), spending any anniversary or any day really getting to live out your wedding vows is a good day.

It had been a horrible week preceding the hospital visit, Hubby was weak and sick, with a persistent cough and a fever, not only that, but I had a cold, and Miss M2 and Master C were both sick. I was trying to run a house, do school run and pickup with sick kids, I was trying to be excited for Miss M1 when she came home from school, telling me what she had learned that day, and what her friends had said and done. I had trekked to the Doctors twice that week, both times to be told that both Hubby and Miss M2, had viral infections. The month before had been one filled of Master C having pneumonia, and a specialist appointment to check the growth of his enlarged kidney. The news hadn’t been good, and with the very real chance of another invasive scan looming, everyone had gotten sick again. I didn’t have time to get better or to rest, I was tired cranky and really mad that I was single parenting. My disappointment in having to cancel my anniversary plans was very overwhelming, I needed that break I kept telling myself. But my thought process changed while I was sitting in the emergency department of the hospital. Hubby was labouring to breathe, and he was soaking from sweat, his cough nearly made him throw up, and you could tell he was in pain. It was then that I realised that this was what I had signed up for. I had said the words “in sickness and in health…” in front of my family and friends, and if you are religious like me, in front of God. I had thought that I knew what that meant, but it wasn’t until my husband couldn’t sit himself up that I realised what it looked like and what it felt like.

Weddings are big business, the average Australian wedding costing… wait for it… between $25,000.00 and $45,000.00. One day… just one day, that is the amount of money we spend. The perfect dress, the right colour bridesmaid dresses, what the flowers will look like. Centre pieces, party favours, and that all important professional photographer to make the day look perfect. But the vows, which I have come to see, that are the centre piece of the wedding, I wonder if we really understand what we are saying to our partner. Vowing to support and love one person for the rest of your life, come what may is a big ask. It takes a huge leap of faith, cause we don’t know what is ahead of us. Our lives at our weddings seem sure, we were both healthy, we were “young”, we didn’t have to worry about illness or sickness for at least 30 year. Well, besides the odd “man cold” ūüėČ Saying that you will love someone no matter what happens in your life or theirs is the most perfect act of love, but as we know words are easy to say, living out our marriage vows are much more difficult. I have to admit there have been times over the 5 years where I have been cranky and upset, let down, and have let down my husband. The feeling of overwhelming sadness is hard to deal with, but…. I said I would, and therefore, for me, I must. I am blessed with a supportive husband, who over this last weekend has been able to take care of me as I have been sick, he cooks, and cleans, and is great with our kids. Does that make our marriage perfect? No, but maybe our wedding vows are the best of us, what we hope to live up to, the ideal. Sometimes we live them, and other times we don’t, I have come to see that to make a marriage work, you have to be willing to forgive, you have to be able to communicate, speak your mind, and have freedom of expression. You have to be willing to see the best in your partner, love them for who they are, and who they can become. Trust that with love and forgiveness, your marriage will flourish and grow.

Falling in love is easy, the sudden rush of happiness, that anticipation to see the person, and be around them. It is the staying in love, that is the hard part. Cause in the end, at some point, the butterflies will end, and for the past months, we have been elbows deep in kids, and bills and homework, running from school parades, to church, to work commitments, sometimes the only time we have together is the few minutes before we both fall asleep exhausted at the end of a day. But even in the chaos of everyday life, if I look up and notice, I see the man I married, who is kind and lovely, who works hard, and is always willing to help me. Who takes our daughter to the shops dressed in her princess outfit, and who has spent countless hours looking for Master C’s dummy and stuffed Monkey, who fixed Miss M1’s training wheels on her bike, in the middle of doing dinner last night. Who comes home and pushes his kids on the swings, and who is both working and going to night school so our family can have a brighter future, and he is the reason that I can stay at home with my kids. So our fifth wedding anniversary wasn’t what I had expected or planned, but to be honest, sitting with him and holding his hand was the best gift I could have been given.

Everyday courage.

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I read this quote and thought… you know, the same could be said for places, same could be said for the house you grew up in and thought was so big. ¬†Or the school you attended, that seemed to be the edge of the world for you. ¬†I moved away from “home” when I was 22, almost clear across Canada, from Newfoundland to Calgary, and it was tough, for the first little while it seemed like a holiday. ¬†I remember going back “home” for a visit and seeing my old elementary school and high school and thinking… “Surely they were bigger?” ¬†and the house I had spent a lot of my childhood in, that seemed so HUGE, it was actually tiny. ¬†Maybe places don’t change, but our perception of them change. ¬†The world looks a lot bigger when you are so much smaller. ¬†Reason I have been thinking about this, is tomorrow, my best friend takes the biggest step in her life, she is moving countries. ¬†Not to a different town, or province/state, but to a completely different country. ¬†Her choice has come with many emotions, and I know cause 5 years ago I did the same thing. ¬†I left Calgary, and my family, friends and my life there and moved to Brisbane. ¬†Being a part of an international marriage sounds exciting and romantic, and it is. ¬†But the practical side of things aren’t so fun, if you marrying someone you have know or you meet that lives in the same city, town, area as you, the question of where to live isn’t as hard. ¬†You find a suburb that is maybe close to parents, or friends, or cousins and family. ¬†But in an international marriage one partner is happy where they live and the other is supportive. ¬†You see, most of us wouldn’t choose to leave our entire lives behind, we wouldn’t choose to have our kids have a completely different upbringing than we did, because deep down most of us romanticise our childhoods, and we want our kids to have the same happy memories. ¬†

PR, you join a long line of women that have followed their husbands to new and different places. ¬†Rebecca went to Isaac, Rachel and Leah followed Jacob, and there are many other examples in the Bible. ¬†Women down through the ages have followed their husbands, moved countries and travelled the world in “support” of them. ¬†The 70th anniversary of D-Day was last week, it got me thinking, how brave you had to be to marry a solider, who not only could have been killed in battle, but if he did survive you would be expected to follow him “home”. ¬†It takes courage to do what you are doing, it takes bravery, not the kind that will get you any glory, but it takes courage to leave family, friends, a job, your favourite grocery store, and coffee shop. ¬†It takes courage to make a decision that is based on not what would be best for you, but for your husband and your child. ¬†

I don’t want this post to be a list of advice on how to get through or how you are going to make yourself happy where you are. ¬†I don’t want to sound patronising either, but after 5 years of living here, it does get easier. ¬†Your family in-law is going to be super happy to have their son, sibling, uncle, home and they are going to be supportive and loving of both you and baby L. ¬†But it is ok to miss your family, and your friends, it is ok to be sad that baby L won’t know those people in your life like you do. ¬†It is ok to get cranky when you think you are doing more and giving up more than your husband, that is a normal feeling, believe me, I have felt it on a few occasions. ¬†It is ok to be sad that baby L won’t really experience the shear frustration of trying to get a snowsuit off after playing in the snow, or the sadness when the Leafs either don’t make the playoffs or get kicked out. ¬†It is ok to be sad, full stop, it is ok to be sad. But…

It is ok to be happy too…. ¬†Wow,¬†is it ok to be happy that you are moving, somewhere that doesn’t have crappy, cold, 8 months filled with snow winters. ¬†It is ok to be happy that baby L will be apart of a family unit that consists of cousins and friends, that you will have a big support system at Church, and that you will be able to watch baby L grown up in a Sunday School. ¬†It is ok to be happy that you get to experience things that your Mom would have only been able to dream about, it is ok to enjoy the beach and holidays, and enjoy being able to stay at home with baby L, without the pressure of having to go back to work, for now! ¬†I have to say, I am so very happy that our kids will grow up together, that we finally after 25 years of friendship actually get to live in the same town. ¬†How exciting is that? ¬†I am so, so happy! ¬†But I also have the same tinge of sadness for you, I know how hard this move has been on you, and I know how hard it is to leave all that you have known.

¬†If I have learned anything in the last 5 years, it is mostly you that change in these situations, going back is never the same, and that is ok. ¬†People get on with their life without you there, you miss out on chunks of peoples lives that you can’t relate too, cause you weren’t there. My top advice is; stay in touch with those you love, you will most likely have to the person doing the calling, but use the technology that we are blessed to be able to use, FaceTime, Skype, emails, texts. ¬†Don’t be sad to show people your life, and you being happy.¬†

As you spend your last 24hrs in Canada, I hope you reflect on a life that has been full and happy, and I hope you look forward to this chapter in your life, I hope you realise the impact that you have had on people, on the great friendship you have shared in a physical sense and the ones that you will continue from afar.  I hope you realise how much you are truly loved, on both sides of the world! And, most importantly, i hope you realise how brave, and how much courage you truly have, stepping off the ledge is never easy, and moving is always hard, but you are doing it will grace and poise, like you always do.  

Safe travels my friend, and God speed xx

2013 in Review… what I have learnt, no realised!

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2014 is already here! ¬†Can you believe it? ¬†It seems like just yesterday I was ushering 2000, wondering if Y2K was about to happen! ¬†Life seems so much different that it did back then, it some ways better, and in many ways worse. ¬†We are busier but have more leisure time, we are more connect, with things like social media, but have never been more alone. ¬†And here in the western world, we have a seemingly easier and far richer life than most of the undeveloped world, but we aren’t happier, in fact, I would hazard a guess that says our generation is the unhappiest generation to live on plant earth. ¬† So as I look back at my life for the last 12 months, what have I learnt? ¬†Actually… what have I realised would be a better title. ¬†So here is my list:

1. ¬†Being a Mom isn’t the hardest job in the world!

Shock and horror, and a huge intake of air from the ladies in my life. ¬† Yup, there it is… I said… it isn’t a hard job, it is a selfless job (which is hard I suppose), but it isn’t the hardest job in the world. ¬†Now I am in no way demeaning the “job” we do, I hesitate to call it a “job”, being a Mom isn’t a job, it is a lifestyle choice, we (well, most of us) ¬†decide to have kids. ¬†We aren’t forced into it, we don’t have to do it for survival, we don’t have to be a Mom to live. ¬†We choose to be a parents. ¬†I read an article that said if we say that being a Mom is the most important job, then we demean the role of fathers, grandparents and even aunts and uncles. ¬†Dad’s get a bad rap sometimes I think, ¬†they leave to go to their jobs, have adult conversation and then come home to a cooked meal (if their wife is blessed enough to be able to stay at home), have their laundry done, and basically their children raised for them. ¬†Which on the surface is true, we talk a lot about the guilt associated with working Mom’s, who don’t get to see their kids all the time. ¬†Think about how hard it would be to be called in the middle of working and be told that your child just took their first steps, or that they fell down and hurt themselves. ¬†Think about how you would feel having to leave you child and miss out on those moments? ¬†It would be awful right, well… Dads (most of them) do that every day, five days a week, sometimes come home to find their child is rolling over, crawling, walking or even worse, they come home to find that they can’t settle their child down. ¬†How horrible would that be? ¬†They do it cause that is the way it is done, that is how things work. ¬†I know for a fact, that my husband would love to stay at home with his kids and hang out with them, but instead he goes to work every day and provides a roof over their heads and food to eat. ¬†So, there is my reason for saying being a Mom isn’t the hardest job in the world. ¬†Parenting is hard enough without making it a competition between Mom and Dads.

2.  Too many choices mean no choices made.

I am figuring out that I do better when offered limited choices, for basically everything. ¬†I do better at restaurants that only have a limited menu, stores that don’t have 1000 of different duvet covers to pick out, or 15 different cups of coffee I could possibly order. ¬†Just someone hand me a coffee with milk in it, not a latte, or a mocha, or a flat white, I just want a coffee! ¬†Gah!!! ¬†But really, I do better with limited choices, and I think that we all might benefit from that. ¬†When I am faced with too many choices I sorta shut down, my brain goes into overload, I start the dreaded “researching” for the best thing, best deal, best view, you name it, I research it. ¬†Point in case, this year we welcomed a baby into our family, and the naming process could not have been more painful. ¬†Firstly, I didn’t really like many boy names, I was sure that we were going to have a third daughter, and I was ready to use the two names that were left from the last Miss M, and when I did decide on a name, I would go back and forth, “Is that the best name?” ¬†“Does it go with our last name?” ¬†“Will kids tease him on the playground?”. ¬†After a lot of indecision, my husband and I came up with a short list and I let my husband choose the name. ¬†It was so nice to focus on something other than a name. ¬†I think we get caught up in thinking that if there are limitless choices then the choice we make will clearly be the wrong one. ¬†We think “What happens if something better does come up?” ¬†and we then end waiting and never making a choice in fear of making of the wrong one.

 

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3. ¬†You can’t actually have it all.

Contrary to popular belief, we as women can’t have it all, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. ¬†As, an aside, what does that saying even mean? ¬†If I bake a cake, then clearly I have it, and I can eat, so that doesn’t make much sense. ¬†But I digress, we as women are told that we can have the perfect relationship, the perfect house, have perfect children, and all while we work school hours, and never feel any guilt. ¬†But I have come to realise that is something that companies tell us to sell us things, we can’t have it all. ¬†We have heard the old saying “You can’t serve two masters”, well it is true, I don’t think there is a balance of perfect that we can attain too. ¬†And why do we try? ¬†We aren’t perfect, the men we have married aren’t perfect, our kids we gave birth too aren’t perfect, nothing in this world is perfect, so why do we as women try and have a perfect life? ¬†Life is messy and emotional, it is hard and it can be a beautiful struggle. ¬†All of which is fine with me! ¬†My kids aren’t going to remember my super clean house, but they will remember that I took them to park to hang out, they aren’t going to remember the super, awesome 2nd birthday party I threw for them, but they will remember me playing Barbie’s, or playing on the beach. ¬†A night in can be as awesome as a weekend away and there is joy, value and peace in living a simple life, one where you aren’t focused on what you don’t have, or what you have given up, but you think of all the ways you have been blessed! ¬†If you want to see perfection, look at a sunset, perfection isn’t something we can create, it is something that is created by someone much greater than us.

4. ¬†Expensive, exclusive stuff is… well… stuff!

Don’t you love my new handbag? ¬†It is a Louenhide! ¬†Sweet, great… I actually have two of those, both are second hang and both are green (of course). ¬†Do they make me cooler? ¬†Happier? ¬†Fit in better? ¬†Well, the answer to all of those questions is no! ¬†Stuff no matter how little, or how much, how much or how expensive it is, is after all just stuff. ¬†I love teapots, and I love to collect them, but this year, the thrill and high of shopping has lost its appeal for me. ¬†You see, I have daughters, and I can see that even at 2 (almost 3) and 4 (almost 5) that they are starting to combine their self worth with the stuff they have. ¬†Shopping has become a constant battle of asking for things and never really being satisfied. ¬†“I want” has become something I hear all the time, we teach our kids by what we do and say, and if I value my Louenhide, or my Jeep or the latest trend more than I value good character, or kindness or compassion then I have failed as a parent. ¬†I think the best thing you can give your kids is an imagination and a realisation that experiences are what matters, moments helping other people. ¬†Moments sitting by he ocean and watching the waves, a walk through a rainforest, or seeing a new place. ¬†While you can’t take your experiences with you, your experiences shape you, they help you leave an impression on those around you. ¬†Seeing the world is the best way to realise how much God has blessed us. ¬†Learning that you aren’t the centre of the world is a good lesson and it is one that I am thankful my parents taught me.

5.  It is nearly impossible to not be a hypocritical Christian!

I think Christians get a bad rap too, believing in something means you have given up, you have decided to let someone or something else tell you how to live. ¬†And wait a sec, I know heaps of so called “christians” that don’t practice what they preach, what is the point of believing something if you aren’t going to be good at it. ¬†Well, see being a follower of Christ is one of the only things you can be really bad at, and still have some sort of hope. ¬†I have learned that it is nearly impossible to be a non hypocritical Christian, there is going to be something that someone will always be able to say “Yeah, but you do this….” or “But you do that…” ¬† I have learned that love not judgement is the way of a true Christian. ¬†We are called to be followers of Christ, not “good” Christians, our walk will be as different as there are people on this earth. ¬†Our own lives shape how we view God, how we approach Him, what we think as being important. ¬†But never think that something that is important to you, MUST be important to everyone. ¬†Just because someone sins different to you, doesn’t mean they are less of a Christian than you. ¬†I have learned that we are all walking our own struggle, and sometimes people see it and sometimes people don’t. ¬†We are called to “bear each burdens” not judge them. ¬†Clearly there are things that God and Jesus have told us not to do, not to constrict us, but to set us free from our mortal minds. ¬†Judgement isn’t for us to deal out, we should leave eternal judgement to God. ¬†We never really know other people, most of us don’t really know ourselves, for me, making myself feel better about my walk, by tearing someone else’s down isn’t helping my walk towards the Kingdom of God. ¬†“But… wait…. Sarah, does that mean you support or agree with everything that goes on in the world?” ¬†Course not, I am just saying that I don’t need to judge other people, God will do that. My level of compassion on my fellow travellers is going to more important that the people I am going to judge. ¬†I am going to fail more time that I can count in my life, I am going to do the wrong thing and I am going to say the wrong. ¬†I am going to do things that make other people question my integrity and my so called Christian life. ¬†But at the end of the day, my life will be judged on its merits, on how much love I showed, and how much forgiveness I gave and how my light shone for other people.

 

6. ¬†I DON’T need to know everything!

Remember when you were in school and your teacher got you to play that game where they give the first person a line something to say and then it gets passed to the end and then you have to repeat it back? ¬†Remember how something benign like “I like cookies” ended with being “Sarah like purple elephants”. ¬†Gossip is like that…. I bet there won’t be one person who hasn’t said the phrase “So, did you hear?” ¬†at least once in their lives. ¬†I have learned that I don’t need to know everything about everyone. ¬†That if the information isn’t relevant to my life, it is best not in my life. ¬†You see, knowledge is power, I agree with that, but what we do with that “power” can end up defining someone else’s life. ¬†When you want to know information, when you have opinions about things that have nothing to do with you, or you trade information like currency you have the ability to hurt other people. ¬†The school yard whisper game becomes a tidal wave of half truths and assumptions that can’t be stopped. ¬†Life is hard enough without inflicting that kind of pain on other people. ¬†There is a certain bliss about not knowing things, because once something is known, real or imagined, it can’t be unknown. ¬†It forevers changes the person in your eyes, makes you think things you shouldn’t and you end up judging instead of loving. ¬†Instead “Did you hear?” maybe we could ask the question “Is it kind?” “Is it going to help me?” or most important “Is it true?”

 

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5.  Weakness is Strength.

I suffered from PND. ¬†After my second daughter, Miss M2 was born was particularly horrible. ¬†There were heaps of factors for it, but it wasn’t until I asked for help that I felt like I was able to breathe again. ¬†You see, I felt that I had been holding my breath for almost two years, moving to a different country and getting married was a huge deal. ¬†But I had convinced myself that it wasn’t, I had convinced myself that being homesick was silly, that I didn’t miss my friends or family. ¬†Well, turns out I did, and it wasn’t until I said those things out loud that things got better. ¬†My husband parents are awesome, they are kind and caring, and have made me feel like a part of their family. ¬†But they weren’t my parents, I missed a close connection with my siblings, I missed my friends. ¬†The process of asking for help, was as important as realising there was a problem. ¬†You see, sometimes we are strong and sometimes we aren’t, sometimes we can handle things and sometimes we can’t. ¬†Needing help isn’t being weak, it is being strong, strong enough to realise we can’t do everything ourselves, strong enough to know that we need to ask for help. ¬†If we are truly blessed, we have people in our lives that God has put there to encourage and uplift us, we have family members we can turn too, and we have friends that just let us rant and cry. ¬†I have to say, this part year has been a turning point, I now feel like Brisbane is my home, and I am happy here, I no longer have a burning homesickness that makes me sad. ¬†I have made lovely friends, and I am truly thankful for my family here.

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So those are a few things I have learned this year, things that hopefully will shape my life moving forward. ¬†Living your life in the service of others is a good way to be happy, not to completely worried about self. ¬†I have faith that God will take care of me and my family, in the way that He knows is best for my family. ¬†At the end of the day, we are all travellers, passing through, like tourists on a temporary visit, we get a finite amount of time on this earth, and in the end, it won’t matter the type of house I owned (or didn’t), the type of car I drove (although the Jeep is cool), the clothes I worn or the stuff I had. ¬†Everything will be gone and all will be left is the love I had, for God and for my fellow travellers.

 

Blessings x

The Curse of the Sleeping Baby!

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“Oh yes, but you have always had babies that slept well, that really isn’t how it is Sarah.” I seem to hear that a lot from other mothers or friends when I give my opinion on babies and sleeping. It seems that because of my “good sleeping babies” my opinion isn’t welcome, not only isn’t it welcome, it is basically invalid, “cause you have always had babies that sleep well”. I’m ok being in the minority of mothers with successive babies that have been good sleepers. But I get annoyed when my opinion or advice is brushed off. Now, don’t get me wrong, it frustrates me and makes me crazy when, after having a child, society in general treats you like an idiot. All of a sudden you go from a capable women, to someone that needs constant advice on how to do things, oh an by the way, you won’t just get advice when you ask for it, oh no, it will be when you didn’t ask for it, and mostly when you are doing something that someone else “thinks” is wrong.

So for everyone out there under the impression that my kids just magically started putting themselves to sleep at 8 weeks, here is a little of the back story.

M1 was born under… lets just say different circumstances, my husband and I weren’t living in the same country, he was still in Australia, and I was in Canada, without going into the private, and sometimes traumatic events, lets say her arrival was shocking. After the shock of having a baby via a c-section (by the way before you feel bad that I HAD to have a c-section, let me assure you, that wasn’t the shocking part, that was the normal part). M1 was a happy, healthy baby, who like most babies slept, ate, and pooped for about a week, 10 days, and it was like clock work. “Everything is great” “Isn’t this easy?” “Gosh, those women that whine and complain about hard it is… pffft what do they know?” I though to myself, on more than one occasion, and then it happened, M1, my sweet little sleeping baby decided this being alive thing wasn’t too bad, look at that there is a whole world I have decided I must see. At about 2 weeks she “woke” up, night was no longer night, day was sometimes day, and sometimes it was night. There was cluster feeding, and not sleeping, and tears (both from her and from me), and about that time I went back to work. I know, I can hear the audible gasp from here, “Work, when your baby was two weeks, you went back to work?”. Now to be fair, I would have loved nothing more than to stay at home with M1, and rock her to sleep, and hold when she cried, and soothe every tear. But like I said, she as a shock, I was not prepared to have a baby, there was no “pile” of money to sustain us till hubby arrived from Australia, I had no choice but to go back to work and earn what I could to support us. And that was the choice, it was then that I realized that I had to “train” her to sleep, my parents took us in, and my Mom, bless her helped in anyway that she could. But Dad wasn’t well, and she was working full time, there wasn’t time to sit and “hang out” with M1, there was work, and laundry, and cleaning, and feeding to do. If she slept I got to “do” the things that needed to be done, now I am not saying it was easy, and I will tell you that for the first 3 months of her life M1 slept in my bed, it was easier than getting up to feed her. We moved to Australia when she was 3 months, and the transition to her own bed was hard and horrible, there were again tears (hers and mine) while she worked out this sleeping thing again. This time the issue was, I now had a husband that I had to have some energy for, if M1 slept at least we would have the evenings. Once M2 came, I was thankful I had stuck to MAKING M1 a good sleeper, it was so much easier to not have to fight with two kids to go to sleep. M2 was by far the worse of my kids at sleeping, I remember being exhausted and standing over her cot crying, and hubby coming into the room, and just giving me a hug. The bringing M2 into my bed was never going work, we only had a 3 bedroom house, there was no where for hubby to go, and I couldn’t expect him to be up with me and M2, when he would have to go to work in the morning. After 8 exhausting weeks of fighting with M2 to sleep, I got really, really sick, I think it was the worst cold/flu/chest infection I have ever had. And that put an end to breast feeding, and that put an end to my non sleeping child. Once M2 went unto formula she almost instantly started sleeping through the night. But the damage of her not sleeping had been done, hubby had a very hard time dealing with an infant, M1 had been 3 months and well established by the time we moved to Australia, I was constantly trying to keep M2 from crying, which she did a lot, cause she was so tired, and that is what cause my post natal depression, which in turn hurt my entire family. I was cranky and tired, and “snapped” at the drop of a hat, took everything personally, and was basically horrible to be around. 10 months after I had M2, hubby finally plucked up enough courage to sit me down and say “Sarah, I think you have a problem, you need to go see someone.” Thankfully, I was referred to an awesome therapist that helped me deal with my depression.

When Master C came along I was ready for the sleeping fight, I was ready to be tough and make sure that I didn’t have a repeat of what I went through with M2, I know it was only 8 weeks, but it was horrible. But thankfully, Master C is a chilled out baby, he does sleep and really well, at almost 7 months, he sleeps through the night, 11-12 hrs at a stretch, usually. I have nights where I get up with him, and M1 and M2 also. As soon I noticed myself getting depressed this time with lack of sleep, and not keeping up to his feeding demands I made the switch, he has been on formula since he was 6 weeks old, and that might be the reason he sleeps so well. But it was more important for me, to be able to function for my other two kids, and my husband than it was to feed into the hysteria that is “breast feeding is best” and “you must be a second rate mother if you don’t try”. Don’t get me wrong, I admire women that can breast feed for longer than I did, those women that breast feed for 12 + are amazing to me. I wasn’t mentally strong enough to do that.

I have to also say that I envy those of you that got to enjoy having just one baby, those of you that didn’t have to leave your two week old at home and go to work. Those of you that were able to soothe and rock without a care in the world. I did miss out on that.

Someone close to me gave me this advice when I got married, “Don’t make your kids the centre of your world, your priorities should be this ; God. Husband. Children”

I know, I can hear another gasp, husband, before kids. I take this advice very seriously, cause I have found out, if I am exhausted from dealing with kids all day, and then I have to do battle to get my kids to bed at night, the person that suffers is hubby, he has no one to talk to at night, or vent too, no one to talk about his day too. And if I am not that person for my husband, soon he would find someone else to talk too. I am not saying that ignore my kids, they have me all day every day, but my evenings aren’t mine, they are my husbands, I need to be able to give him as much time as I give my kids. ¬†Having babies that sleep well didn’t just happen for me, I had to fight with both my girls to be good sleepers and I am happy that I did. ¬†Even now there are some nights that I lay down with my girls, I don’t rush them off to sleep if they are sick, or upset. ¬†I have learned along the way that I am only one person, asking for help is the best way to combat all of life’s problems and thankfully my hubby is amazing, that being said, after 4.5 years of marriage we are still finding our way around each other, learning that marriage takes a lot of work, and that if we don’t spend time together it is our “family” that suffers. ¬†Our kids need us to be a strong unit, in order for our family to be a strong unit.

So I haven’t always had good night sleeps, and I still have nights when I am up three or four times. ¬†I do understand the feeling of being tired and exhausted, and I am ok if people think that I put my own needs above the needs of my child by making them a good sleepers. ¬†It works for me, and I understand that it might not work for everyone. And at the end of the day that is the point, no one method works for everyone, everyone has their own set of circumstances. ¬†My parting advice, that I notice you didn’t ask for is this, it has been my experience that nothing lasts forever, a baby that you rock to sleep every night ( for me it was M1) eventually says “No Mommy, I want to go to sleep myself tonight”, or the child you fight with to sleep, (M2) eventually walks herself into her bed and falls asleep before you notice what has happened. ¬†If you are blessed ¬†to have the time to spend with you baby, interruption free, take it. ¬†If you are blessed enough to have a child that wants to be in their own bed and sleeping, enjoy it. ¬†Our kids grow up too fast and soon we will be waving them off on their own adventure.

God Bless and Good Sleep xx

Friends.. Near and Far!

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I haven’t posted much this month, seems it has been a shocker of a month for our house. We started out the month in good health, and then things too a turn for the worse…. Miss M2, who I have to admit, is the sickest of our children, she is always sick. She is two, and you might think that in itself explains her sub par immune system. But the funny thing, of our two girls, she eats the best, she loves veggies, and fruit but she is the one that is always sick. It is very annoying, as she doesn’t “do” sick well, there are lots of tears, and more whining the usual. We thought we were free and clear for our annual church camp (which I might add my husband and I organise, 2nr year running and everyone had a great time, another blog post to come about that), but sadly our three days away turned into a bit of nightmare when we got home, all the kids in the house, including Master C got sick. So for the last two weeks we have been fighting colds, tears and on top of that we are moving in less than a week. So enough of excuses…. and here it is…

Friends… we all have them, we love them, we get annoyed with them, sometimes our friends are closer than family, sometimes they are family. I have been blessed with both family and friends in my life, what I mean by that is, some of my best friends are actually “blood” family. And thankfully for me here in Brisbane, the friends that I have made have filled the void left from leaving my family. This past week I have been reminded of the blessing of friends in different ways, in gratitude, in joy and in home sickness. On Sunday of this past week, family friends who had been in Hawaii for the wedding of their daughter brought me back a package from my best friend. Who just so happens to be married to my husband first cousin (so that makes us family) , she was a bridesmaid at aforementioned wedding. It is a great postal service, I “sent” her stuff for and she in turn sent me stuff. This is my blessing of gratitude: PR (as we will call her) sent me coffee mugs and coffee (Hawaiian Kona Coffee-so good), the coffee mugs were green and white polka dot ones, now anyone who knows me, knows my love of all things green, and my love of polka dots ( Princess Diana wore polka dots to Fergie’s wedding, sigh… I loved that dress as an 8 yr old), PR and I have been best friends for 25 years this month. There isn’t much she doesn’t know about me, so the green spotty mugs weren’t that much of a stretch. But the point is, PR puts time and effort into all of her friendships. She made my girls pillow cases, didn’t buy them, she made them, specific to their duvet covers, and in their favourite colours. But what brought a tear to my eye was the quilt that she surprised me with this awesome quilt for Master C.

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The quilt to the untrained eye looks like well a quilt… But for me it was my best friends way to giving my son something he won’t experience. See my kids aren’t Canadian, they aren’t going to know the joy of a “real” spring, where snow gives away to warm breezes and flowers, or to a short window of fun we call summer, they won’t experience autumn leaves or white Christmases. Their lives will be so different from mine in so many ways. So the puffins (the sea birds on the quilt) are meaningful, PR knows of my love for my home, Newfoundland, and that the puffin is our provincial bird. The hockey players represent our national past time and passion, the fish, a hint of what Master C’s life in tropical Queensland will be. On the back of the quilt are the provinces of Canada and the Canadian flag, my beloved Canada, everything I love about it made for my son by my best friend.
The quilt reminded me of the few but amazing friends I have… Both near and far. If you are blessed enough to have great girlfriends then tell how much they mean to you, time passes and life gets busy and sometimes we take the people we love for granted. It isn’t until the opportunity to see them on a daily basis is gone, that we realise what we have.
PR will have a baby in a few weeks, and I have no doubt she will be an amazing Mom, not cause she has read the books or googled parenting tips online. Which I an sure she has, but because she understands like no one else I know, that life is a collection of moments, to be celebrated and cherished, and sometimes just sometimes, everything that needs to be said can be sown into a baby’s quilt with love!
To PR, Christine, Leslie, still in Canada, I wish I was around to see and talk to you! To Sally, Andrea, Ali and Angie, thanks for making me feel welcome ad loved! I’m blessed to have all of you in my life!

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