Saturday, 24 August 2013

Steamed eggs

Gordon Ramsey takes all the credit for this one. I really enjoy fried eggs, but not the taste of all that oil. So here's how to steam eggs - I think it gives a better result that is a lot healthier. I think it'll only work on a non-stick pan, and does make for a dirtier pan at the end however.

Step 1: Crack egg into a bowl and then pour into a NON-heated pan, then turn hob on

Step 2: Add a shot-glass worth of water (app. 25ml)

Step 3: Cover frying pan, checking frequently

Step 4: Remove when white is cooked through (and yolk is as you like it)

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Humility in Pregnancy

That's right... we're expecting frog #2 (don't worry, the new baby will have a nickname of their very own)! This is right where we'd hoped the second one would make an appearance, so we're very blessed that our plan and God's plan lined up. I'm due in February.

So, I think that my posts are going to go from keeping the house and recipes to survival mode again. During the pregnancy I've had plenty of days that I'm in survival mode with the frog - I lie on the couch while he plays, trying not to move or else I'll be sick. I've fallen far behind with the house, and Mr. K has had to take on the challenge of the frog at night so I can get some much-needed sleep. And mostly, what do I feel (apart from sick and tired)? Guilty of course. As mothers and wives, our resting state seems to be one of guilt. They say a woman's work is never done, and despite the cliche it couldn't be more true. There's always something else I could have cleaned, I could have cooked a better meal, I could have played with the frog more. Never mind comparing ourselves with other mothers, we are our own very worst critics. Add pregnancy insecurity and you've got full-blown meltdown time.

So how do we deal with this guilt? The truth is, I don't know. No matter how much my husband tells me it's okay, I still feel guilty about how much he has to do after a long day at work. Even if the frog seems happy, I still think he must resent that I don't play with him as much anymore. But - no matter how much our mothers managed on their own - we still need the help. I know I do. So I think it's time I asked for a little more patience and a lot more humility. I'm a firm believer that God is preparing me for what's to come. And I know that with 2 kids under two, I won't always be in control. I'll need to let some things go, be able to laugh at myself, say yes instead of always no. Most importantly, I'll need to trust that my husband can do the things I do, even if he doesn't do them exactly MY way. And I think that's the lesson God is teaching me with this pregnancy. I just hope I have the sense to listen.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Why I'm not on parenting forums

The Internet is a wonderful thing - I'm a huge fan. I spend a good portion of my day online; I wouldn't have completed university without Wikipedia and I maintain many relationships purely on Facebook and through email. However there is one thing online that I've decided not to be a part of: parenting forums. These can come in several different forms - online support groups, facebook groups, common interest groups. I'm sure we've all done it - find a group whose mission statement you completely agree with. You start to get excited - 'finally, I've found a group of like-minded women that I can get advice from and talk to!'. You read some posts and some comments and everything seems positive.

So, you start posting and commenting. Maybe you make friends and develop a support network. Maybe discussions all stay civil and you find a wonderful outlet for your needs. If this is the case (and I know in some cases it can be), that's great and I'm happy for you. We all know of situations where this doesn't happen though - things turn nasty, people's feelings are hurt and you end up feeling all together abandoned. I've seen both these things happen. Here are the reasons I've made the decision not to use forums:

I don't know these people
People can be or say anything online. I would hope I can tell who is genuine, just from the way they speak on certain topics. However, I don't know these people - they have their own lives, stories and - sometimes - agendas. I'm very easily manipulated by a sob-story and know I get drawn into other people's lives. I struggle with this enough in everyday life, never mind opening myself up to a whole world of people.

So-called 'expert' advice
Like I said, I don't know these people. And therefore I can't trust their sources, especially if it's about a medical issue. They might have read it off another blog, who did the same, who read a unpublished paper that's 10 years out of date. I worry that we're starting to trust these strangers more than our friends, family, health professionals, and most importantly ourselves. Other people's experiences are helpful and shouldn't be belittled; if they're giving the support and advice you need that's fine, as long as you're being careful with it. Read up for yourself, ask a friend, ask a doctor. There's no substitute for actual expertise.

Neglecting those around you
I get so drawn into forum that when my husband gets home I will relay a whole days worth of posts and comments. Or worse, I'll barely say two words to him so I can finish reading this post that's heating up. Now my husband does his very best to listen to me when I speak, but sometimes he has a hard enough time listening to me talk about my friends I met for coffee that day, never mind complete strangers whose real name I don't know. I also neglect my son during the day so I can read and respond. Strangers should never come before your family, and I've previously made this mistake.

When things turn nasty
There is no topic more controversial than parenting. I can understand why - these are our children we're talking about, and people want to raise them in exactly the right way. But there are plenty of people out there who believe only their way is the right way. These people get defensive and very angry when people disagree with them. And yes - I've been one of them. I've argued with people online about topics like breast-feeding, co-sleeping and going back to work. I get drawn into these debates and think 'well I'll add my tuppence-worth'. Why do I feel the need to do this? Maybe it's in an effort to defend my lifestyle, maybe I just want to be right. No matter what my reasoning, it's not a healthy one. I get addicted to the arguments that are going on (even when they have nothing to do with me) and I watch it like a soap opera. And that is no way to spend my day.

I know that the type of person I am - whose weaknesses include gossip, getting defensive and judging too quickly - doesn't make for a healthy relationship with online forums. So I've made the decision to stay away from them.

What are your experiences with forums (parenting and other)?

Monday, 12 August 2013

Helpful toddlers

An odd thing has been happening in my house over the past few weeks... I've been enjoying doing chores. This change of heart has come about because of the wonderful helpful stage my wee frog is going through at the moment. He loves nothing more than putting the laundry in the washing machine or putting his nappies in the bin. I even had a mean-mama moment earlier today when he got into trouble for going into a cupboard he shouldn't, only to find later that he was trying to put something away that I left out. I'm fully expecting this to be a stage, but I plan on taking full advantage of it while it's happening. So here are my tips for having a toddler help you around the house:

#1. Stop complaining about chores!
I grew up in a house where housework was a frequent cause of conflict and a constant source of complaining. It certainly gave me a bad attitude about doing chores, and it's not an attitude I wish to pass on to my children. Yes, I know some chores are horrible (ironing and bin-emptying come to mind), but for me they're not as horrible as the sinking, muddled mind I have when my house is in complete disarray. So try not to complain about the housework, at least around the kids - of course they won't want to help when they hear from you how bad it is.

#2. Patience
Yes, it takes at least twice as long to do any chore with a toddler. I don't make the frog help, but I enthusiastically suggest he does, and do a lot of cheer-leading when he gets it right. (Let's take a moment here, fellow mamas. Being constantly upbeat and praising, all day, is exhausting. More so than I'd ever have imagined. So when I say cheer-leading, please know I realise the energy it takes, and applaud those of you who don't get tired of it - I know I do). My tip is if it's something you really need to get done, thank them for their help and direct their attention elsewhere so you can finish. Otherwise your helpful toddler will quickly become a hindrance in your mind.

#3. Make it their choice
If my toddler is getting distracted or doesn't want to help, I don't make him. I know there's a thin line here of encouraging helping and insisting upon it, but I know right now he's too young to understand. I want him to WANT to help, not to feel like he has to when all he wants to do is play cars. I can't think of a quicker way to begin the dread of chores.

#4. Make it a game
I have songs for most of the chores, and if we beat the song, we've won. My son loves it when he knows the end of the song is coming and rushes to finish.

#5. Ability appropriate, not age appropriate
I know there are lists of chores by age, but when they're so young and have such different abilities, I don't think this is appropriate. My son is 14 months and quite a confident walker, and here's the chores he actively helps me with:
  • Putting the laundry in/out of the washing machine/tumble dryer
  • Wiping down his highchair tray after eating
  • Making his bed (putting his soft toy in the corner)
  • Picking up rubbish from the floor
  • Putting the shopping away (saves my back!)
  • Tidy up of toys. This is the only one I insist upon (of course with my help).
I hope something in that list helps. What chores do your kids help with?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Organising your House Series - Linen Cupboard

Ahh... boxes. I know it says something about me when I was more excited about the boxes my husband brought home for me than the chocolates, but I do love a good box. Doesn't it just make life so much neater?

Case in point, my linen closest. Here's the before:

And here's after:

Linen in boxes, toilet and kitchen roll nicely stacked in cut cardboard boxes. I do like to label my boxes, but I know some people hate the idea of labels all over their home. It's just about whatever works for you (and course of whoever else lives with you!). It may sound like an over-exaggeration, but I really do feel like my mind is clearer when I've completed things like this. If I can keep it functioning efficiently, it'll save me so much time day-to-day. And it only took my 45 minutes!
For more Organising your House Series, see:
Organising your House Series - Kitchen: Tip #1. Be Brutal!
Organising your House Series - Kitchen: Tip # 2. Categorise to Organise
Organising your House Series - Kitchen: Tip # 3. Pantry Time


Friday, 9 August 2013


Alternative treatments are something I’ve always approached with some scepticism. I believe in medicine and doctors, tending to trust both perhaps a little too much. However my view has started to change as I've studied about childbirth* and since the birth of my son. I’ve looked into natural cleaning methods, and have decided to have a look at some more natural healing methods. Let’s be clear here – if there’s something wrong with myself or especially my wee frog, I go straight to the doctors. However for something like a cold, I really would like to know of alternative methods for aiding healing.

To this end, I’ve enrolled in a short aromatherapy correspondence course. I plan on learning about each oil in turn, and then trying them out where suggested (in cleaning, cooking or for healing). Then I'll blog about it, letting you know my findings. Am I still sceptical? Yup, I most certainly am. But I’m approaching it with an open mind, and ask you to do the same.

 *I think it’s appropriate to mention here that my profession lies within the childbirth ‘industry’. For this reason, I have no intention of speaking on matters such as pregnancy, childbirth or the postnatal period in a professional capacity. If I do mention such things, they will be from a personal point of view, with clear understanding that I do not have the medical training to give out advice or suggestion of a medical nature.*

Sunday, 4 August 2013

5 Ways to Introduce God to your Baby

I want God to be a natural part of my son's day. What I mean by that is that I don't want to introduce the idea of God only on Sundays, and I don't want my son to associate God solely with the church. That he should follow his commandments at all times - yes of course that's a big part of it. But much more than that, I want him to know that God is always there for him, wherever he is. That way no matter what is happening in church that week, or if we don't make church, he can always know that God is close by.

I've thought a lot about the ways I can incorporate God into my frog's life, and these are some of the things I've been doing so far. Of course I don't do all of these every day, and some take more effort than others. But I hope that by the time my son is talking and interacting with other children, his speech will reflect what I hope his beliefs will be.

#1. Not lucky: blessed
Our day-to-day use of language is the easiest way we can show our baby God. So instead of saying that my son is lucky, I'll tell him he's blessed. When I show him a flower, I'll tell him that God made that flower. I try to speak about God in the same way I speak about the frog's friends and relatives, to help him understand that God is approachable and available to him at all times. I want him surrounded in positive language - frustrated rather than annoyed, dislike instead of hate. I want him to know that it's okay to speak of God out-loud and with conviction - our association with God doesn't need to be whispered.

#2. Pray
Before meal times is a good time, and at bedtime. This is a good time to name all the special people in your child's life, and say thank you for all the blessings you received that day. I hope to expand this when he's older, asking him about his favourite part of the day and ways in which God has blessed him. I feel it ends the day on a really positive note.

#3. Music
Sometimes in the car I'll find myself singing along to songs on the radio that are not appropriate for the frog. Now rest assured; I'm not about to tell you to quit the radio, because I won't tell you to do something that I'm not willing to do. Instead I'll suggest this - listen to the words of songs, and if you don't feel it's appropriate change the channel. Have a CD of Christian music in the car and put that on for the length of a song. At home, try to sing Sunday School songs instead of nursery rhymes. Nothing wrong with most nursery rhymes! This is just a way to have the words of Christ constantly surrounding your baby.

#4. Changing my Attitude
How many times have you been cut off by someone when driving, and called that driver an unpleasant name? For me it's sarcastic comments I'm most guilty of, and directing those comments at the frog ("well I guess he just couldn't wait, could he baby?"). I'm trying my best to change my perception of people who do rude or inconsiderate things. So I'll tell the frog that maybe that person is running really late for something important, or they have just had bad news. I don't want him to think people who do horrible things are horrible people (or we would all fall under that label from time to time).

#5. Gentle Parenting
I believe in gentle parenting. I'm certainly not going to get into a debate over spanking and time-outs - that's another post for another day. But my feeling is that I want to help my son feel right about himself. I don't want to humiliate him or belittle his feelings. I feel we have a wonderful example in Jesus, who above all things was gentle. Did he know when to reprimand? He certainly did, and did so forcefully. But he spoke quietly to people - he let the little children come to him and took time for people. I want my son to know at all times that I have time for him, and that I will try to handle a situation gently.
               This is the one I find most difficult. I'm not naturally gentle or subtle - I like to yell and often react out of frustration instead of love. But I'm working on it. One way I'm doing that is to apologise to the frog when I react badly. I feel as parents we need to show our children that there's nothing shaming about apologising - that it's an act of courage. And to do that we need to show them that courage, swallow our pride, and say "I'm sorry for yelling earlier - Mama shouldn't have gotten so upset". And here's the hardest part: stop there. Don't go on and say "but you shouldn't have been doing that". We immediately put the blame back on them when we do that. The frog may not be old enough to understand that yet, but he soon will be.

I'm sure this list will change as my son gets older. I just want him to be surrounded by Christ-like language and attitude. I can't lock him in a bubble, and I'm not willing to forgo TV and radio. Even if I was, I want him to be able to deal with inappropriate situations with the courage of his convictions, so feel he needs some exposure to them. Above all these things, I want to be a daily example to him of how much more pleasant and rewarding life can be with God at it's centre.

What are ways you show your babies/toddlers God?