Today we sold the crib. It had been the final bit of babyhood paraphernalia that was hanging out in the online garage sale. This was the crib that we carefully and lovingly picked out for Gemma when she was just about the size of a peach pit and safely tucking in my belly. Actually, more like an avocado…I make big babies. The same crib that was chosen over all the rest because of the solid wood, non-dropdown sides and simple design that we dreamed would safely nest all of our babies that came after the first. This is the crib that had to be ordered from Italy. The crib that still wasn’t ready when I went into labor a month before my due date. The same one that was suddenly located in the shop warehouse when I screamed “Where is the baby going to sleep? A DRAWER?” at the horribly rude sales assistant on the phone. The crib that was strapped to our car and driven miles over back roads avoiding the LA freeways to get from the valley to our place. Well, actually, it wasn’t that crib because that crib was the ugliest thing I had ever seen when Alec got it out of the box and following one more phone call from me was replaced with the one we ordered. The crib that Gemma actually did not sleep in for months (as my early labor stopped anyway) yet looked beautiful in her nursery.
The crib we sold today.
This crib traveled the seas to fulfill its destiny with our family in Australia and was the sweetest place where Clover dreamed beautiful things until we got the twin’s bunk beds a few months ago.
I know we are done with the baby stage of our lives. This little family is growing older, not expanding. Still, it was very hard to say goodbye to all those years of memories. Time and time again it is said, the years speed by. Some days I feel like I am going to bend down to pick a Hot Wheels off the floor and stand up to find teenagers asking for car keys. I took a moment to long for holding the baby versions of my kids and then back to being grateful for life as it is now.
Do you have moments like that? The ones where you miss the tiny people they used to be?
Yesterday I ran in the 4K Mother’s Day Classic to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness. It was a beautiful day. Up before the sun, dragging my entire family (including the dog) down to Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens to join roughly 44,000 of our closest friends and mostly strangers.
Wandering in alone as my family parked the car, I was struck by the magnitude of the event. The loss, the hope and the overwhelming feeling that we can make a difference someday. There were just so many people willing to put up a fight for this. I did a few stretches and then headed off to find the starting line for my wave.
Standing in the middle of the mass of people from grannies to children who were about to run, I was overwhelmed. There were so many love letters masquerading as tribute cards pinned to the back of the shirts. Some people were running in memory of loved ones already lost, some were there to honor their survivors who had kicked cancer to the curb. Yet another was running the race for herself. At that moment, I cried for my dad, my friend and for the woman’s mother whose face I was looking at in a computer print laminated and safety pinned lovingly for all to see.
The airhorn sounded and off we all went. Some children sprinting on their tiny long legs out in front and others just trudging behind their moms. We rounded the first corner and there was a hill no one warned me about. Halfway up that hill, my asthma kicked in and I had to walk…just to the top. I was way over my limit of rescue inhaler puffs and still not completely free to breathe, but as soon as it was downhill I ran. And I kept running through having to pee and cough and adjust the stupid running bra I have yet to replace because there are kids and people with cancer running this thing. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!
As I hit the last stretch, I saw my family and gave them a small wave and pained facial expression because this was HARD for me. When I crossed the finish line a few seconds later, I gave myself a pat on the back and limped off to get my free water, complimentary banana, pink show bag, “I did it!” sash and medal!
I came in 2,320th overall in the 4K (1,401st out of the girls only. Narrowing it down to JUST the old birds, I came in 313th!), so why on earth do I get a medal? Well, we all did and you know what, for once in my life I am eating my words. See, as a parent, I have criticized the handing out of participation ribbons to all the kids taking part in school athletic events. My theory is that they are required to be there anyway, so why get a reward for doing something they need to do anyway. They will not grow up to get jobs that hand out ribbons for showing up each day. But this made me humbly rethink things. Yes, not one of us HAD to be there yesterday, but we were and it was freaking hard. It was difficult for all sorts of reasons…me with the stupid hill and my asthma, the kids with their tiny legs, all the participants with their broken hearts. It was hard and each person there deserved the medal.
Hugging my friend and his daughter knowing we were all there because his beautiful wife was not…that is hard. They deserve to have their loved one back.
There is no medal for that.
But there was a medal for the race and today I am cherishing my participation medal. I am proud of doing something hard and you know what, the next time one of my kids does something hard, I am going to make sure they know how important their hard work was even if they come in 2,320th.
Photo of me by Gemma. We are STILL getting thelittleSIDEKLICKsite built and online for you. A few days late, but very much deserving of the wait! Thank you for understanding how hard the race can be at times.
Happy 10th everyone. This time it snuck up on me so I actually shot all of these today. Nothing like the last minute to drop the veil of preparation and show life like it is. Autumn finds us this month, but has given us one last unexpected week of summer. School is in full swing and Chilli has completely settled into our family. My new project,littleSIDEKLICKstarts on Sunday and I am so excited for this new focus. Life in Melbourne is good.
Always late with the forms. Signing while making lunches.
One for them and one for me. Morning contraband.
Morning walk after school drop offs. Classy couch.
Saying another goodbye at the kinder fence.
Beautiful brokenness. Windshield crack from our road trip.
Autumn is taking over.
I admired them, but refused to pay that much. Now everyone knows what to get me for my birthday.
Splurge. My kids’ first Tootsie Pops. Who knew they made banana flavor…I have been gone so long.
Last week I took part in a “Good Stuff Challenge” by Cenovis® Kids. In an effort to get my kids to eat more nutritionally balanced over the course of the day, I was asked to prepare all three meals a day for them for a week with the sole purpose of trying to get the right mix of vitamins and minerals into their systems. Instead of just making the meals and hoping they would eat them, I decided to make an effort to discuss nutrition with them and explain why we are trying to eat better as a family. I was surprised at how little we all knew about what we need and where it comes from. I interviewed the kids to show you just what I mean. Did you know that more than 1 in 10 kids will pick carrots over oranges when asked where Vitamin C comes from?* Kieran was one of those kids…
It also became very clear that I was falling into a lot of bad habits that were actually working against me all this time.
Here are the two biggest of my parenting faux pas when it came to meals:
1) I put a lot of pressure on the kids to finish everything on their plates.
2) I put pressure on myself to be creative and have lots of variety.
The first faux pas is one I worry about a lot as a parent. I want to make sure that my kids (especially my girls) grow up with healthy body awareness and that means honoring their ability to tell when they are full. I want them to eat when they are hungry and not for the other reasons that lead to bad habits later in life. Learning about all the good things their bodies need to fuel their active play and vivid minds should be the strongest REASON, not because we forced them.
My second goof was probably the worst. My kids don’t love surprises. Especially at meal time. As long as the food offered covers the nutritional bases, it is OK to be on repeat with the meals. I have balanced out my remaining guilt that they are not trying new things by adding one thing each dinner (like a slice of roasted beetroot) that I know they declare as inedible and requesting that they at least try it in front of me. I take that time to ask them about it. What does it feel like, look like, smell like and taste like. That way, they can’t just look at me and say “I don’t like it.” It is fine if they don’t, but I am helping them to tell me why.
They like the same thing for breakfast each day and they like to know what is in their lunchboxes before they even open them up. As long as I keep filling those meals with fresh fruit and simple whole foods, they will be eating well…even if it means a banana or kiwi fruit with their cereal or toast each morning until they go to university.
I am not a natural cook…I mean, I can’t just look in the pantry and whip something up, so I have forgiven myself and realised that the kids are happy with my “Mom Mess” as I call the things I come up with. Their favorite this week (even eating the sweet potatoes they swore they did not like) went something like this:
Chop one large sweet potato into slices
Steam a fillet of white fish and a handful of broccoli florets
Pop soba noodles into a pan of boiling water and cook until just tender
Mix soy sauce and sesame oil (about 2 to 1) in a dish**
Pan fry sweet potato slices in a small bit of oil and one clove of garlic until they soften
Add steamed broccoli pieces and fish to the cooking potatoes
Mix in the soy/sesame mix
Finally add in the drained soba noodles and fry until a few of the noodles get crispy.
Tada, a beautiful and tasty mess that my kids loved. I served it with a bit of avocado on the side!
**add some wasabi to the mix for the grown ups!
The kids love to be involved in the kitchen. They get that from their dad. They will happily pull up a step stool and measure out ingredients or cut things up with their kid-safe knives. I credit Alec completely for this enthusiasm of theirs! When it came to testing the Cenovis® VitaFizzies Multivitamin, Gemma could not have been more excited for the process. It was like cooking to her. She measured out the water and popped the tablets in like a mad scientist. The bubbles were a bit much for Kieran’s sensory issues, but Clover and Gemma loved theirs. Gemma kept making it for Kieran anyway and each day he tried a bit more until he actually finished the whole glass. He said he liked the taste more than he disliked the bubbles. The Cenovis® Kids range is free from artificial flavours and colours too! (Anyone notice that I just spelled like an Australian????)
I know that vitamins and supplements are not to replace well balanced eating, but it does make me feel a bit more secure knowing that if my cooking fails them, they are getting some good stuff.
This year is dedicated to setting up new healthy habits that work for our family and this challenge was such a welcome surprise for me. Finding my bad habits as they related to the kids… We already went to the market today and had a look at the range of different fruits and vegetables. It is time for them (and me) to learn a whole lot more!
I have one Good Stuff in the Garden pack giveaway for my Aussie readers!
The pack is valued at $100 and contains:
- My First Garden kit
- $20 Bunnings voucher
- 2 x Yates seed pack.
Tell me the funniest or most clever thing you have done to get your kids to eat something they would not try!
* Research was conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of Cenovis® Kids between 20-25 February, 2013 and surveyed 1000 Australians nationwide.
We tell our children not to talk to strangers, but sometimes I wonder if that has created quite an insular world where we all go about our business in life and never look up to even acknowledge the people around us. Yesterday the kids and I went to a lovely Pop Up craft event put on by Kiddie Create, Little Melbourne and the Cowderoy Dairy cafe. They had craft tables set up in the park and the cost of entry included a kit for each child. I noticed that there was a table with three spare chairs, so my kids went and sat across from two children they did not know. The father said to his son “Say hello to the kids” and the little boy did. I said hello to the father, but he did not reciprocate. I tried to smile at the wife, but she was not going to meet my gaze. Our kids sat crafting at that table and had no reason to say another word to each other.
Just a few minutes after that, the kids all took place in some races. I clapped for all the little kids doing their best. As the spoon and egg race came to a close, my twins were trailing the others. I clapped and snapped a few shots on the phone. I had noticed that while everyone else was done with the race, there were two women walking past the event with their dog and what happened was so simple, yet unexpected and frankly rare…they smiled and cheered for my kids. Look, even the dog seems surprised, but me, my heart was so happy.
As an expat adult, it has been quite hard to establish new friendships in Melbourne. My first few years were spent in a haze of newborn twin taming and if not for the built in community that came with a husband who grew up in this city, I would not have had too many coffee dates. I even remember one awkward moment where a mom at Gemma’s first school smiled and waved and when I returned the gesture she actually said “Oh, I wasn’t waving at you” as she walked past to greet the person behind me. Five years in and I now have friends that I have made on my own, but my eyes were opened yesterday. I’d rather be that person who cheers for a stranger’s child than the shy/sourpuss who avoids eye contact or looks through someone to the person behind them.
I have always been a bit in awe of people who are so outgoing that they just can’t help themselves but say hello with a smile that means business. There is a strength in their confidence that is a bit scary to me. There is such beauty in their manner that sometimes I think it isn’t actually confidence, but a different realm of being. One where it doesn’t occur to them that there is any other way to be. My mother is like that. She will stop a fireman in Australia to tell them about my brother who is a fireman in Virginia. I bet she stops people with cameras in Virginia to tell them about me in Australia. My favorite people are those kinds of people. I want to be one of my own favorite people. So please, if you see me smiling and waving, please come over and say hello. If you see me first, call my name. And go out today and smile at a stranger and if you can manage it, say hello. It will make you feel good and could actually mean so much more to them.
Now, I have been open on the blog about all of the changes that I am trying to make this year and also embarrassingly clear (read, stubborn) that I still have one big vice…cola. Something that had been in the back of my mind suddenly started to become clear this week. If I could satiate my cravings for a tasty drink during the day with tea, maybe I could kick the bad habit to the curb and really be over the last hurdle to better health. As an American, I was always a coffee drinker when it came to picking a hot beverage. Tea seemed so quaint and honestly, I had pretty much no idea that it came in anything more than “tea” flavored, green or Chamomile. I know, the SHAME! My Canadian and British friends always had tea, but unless it was a hot day and the tea on offer was iced and sweet, I passed.
I had no idea what I was missing.
I have been trying a whole variety of flavors from Twinings lately. One is coming out as the clear favorite… Assam Bold, with a strong, yet smooth flavor, it could very well be the cola killer I was looking for. I have been pulling out all of my favorite mugs and making it a real daily treat for myself. Twinings message is “Enjoy every day” and that certainly resonates with me right now. That is exactly why I am committed to making all of these little changes in my life.
When we got here, one of the first appliances that I was told to buy was an electric kettle. A what? Why?
Five years in and “Shall I put the kettle on?” is actually something I will ask if you come for a visit.
While I agree that every day is special, there is one just for moms coming up very soon. Twinings have created limited edition products just for Mother’s Day and they make a beautiful gift. For those who don’t know mom’s favorite flavor, there is a Selections pack featuring 8 different blends or grab a beautiful collectors tin of 100 tea bags in either English Breakfast, Earl Grey or my favorite *hint hint* Assam Bold. They are all easy to find as well as they are available online in Twining’s gift shop or in your local Coles and Woolworths stores!
Now for my favorite part! I have 3 gift packs to give away! * (Each pack contains a collectors tin of 100 tea bags & the limited edition Selections box of 10 bags each of 8 different blends.) *contest terms and conditions
Just let me know with a comment what your ideal Mother’s Day would be and which flavor of Twinings will you be enjoying?
One of Clover’s nicknames (of which there are many) is Smalls. We often say that our family is nowpescetarian except for Clover. She is and has always been a breatharian. She exists on air. Except for those weeks when she eats noodles only. One week air, one week carb loading. She is the only kid I have met who can completely strip the sauce off spiral pasta making sure none of the vegetables make it into her body. It is a talent. But she is a delicate thing because of it. Since she has a metabolic disorder that is triggered by not eating enough or the dreaded stomach flu, we need to make sure she stays as healthy as possible coming up to “germ season” as I like to call winter.
Here is a cute video* of Clover and just a few of her nicknames.
In addition to her metabolic disorder, I have been doing a lot of research on other family health issues and have come to the conclusion that the kids and I could eat a lot better. Alec is an amazing cook, but when he is at work during the week, I am left to my own devices. Which I don’t know how to use. I have been pretty good about getting more fresh food into them since we became fish-eating vegetarians (sorry, I was not giving up my sushi) at the start of the year. The problem is, I am often out of ideas. Scratch that…always out of ideas.
This coming week I am participating in The Good Stuff challenge. If you are anything like me, the thought of getting the right balance of nutrition into your kids week after week is daunting. What do you mean they can’t just live on pasta alone? What do you mean quesadillas aren’t a well balanced meal? Luckily the challenge website is full of information, cheat sheets and meal ideas. Please join us so we can compare notes and recipes.
I am doing this as much for the kids as for me. I just had a physical and am waiting for the blood results, so instead of sitting around and fretting, I thought I would do something about it.
*It is cute because Clover is cute, not because of my video skills… Those are non-existent. In an effort to have more than just photos of my kids, I am learning how to use the video capabilities of my DSLR…slowly.
But as I trudge around the house on my daily rounds of putting the same sh*t away again, I struggle. I have passed my hoarding on to my kids and their inability to just put stuff away is frightening. I’d love a Pinterest worthy house, but I don’t have one. I have big plans and [...]
This is very much a blog about my family as it is about photographing life. And I aim to be honest in all those areas. The thing is, as the kids grow older, I wonder where the line is of their story to tell and my story with them as featured characters. I love sharing [...]