Dear Olive, Anyone who reads this blog would know that natural health and nutrition are particular passions of mine. After being a Mum, it's probably the thing that defines me the most as a person. So you can imagine how honoured I felt to be asked to take part in Nikki's Wholefood Mama Series. You can read my interview here, where I talk about my philosophy on food and how we eat it, and that moment in time when my parents started giving us sugar free carob instead of chocolate (worst Easter ever!). Although isn't it funny how life comes in circles ... sugar free carob is now something I give to you as a treat. I really believe that even though there'll be times when you you deviate from the path, you'll always come back to the way you were raised. Which is why it's been so important to me to start you on the healthy eating way of life from birth, I'm hoping to make it second nature for you. My Mum taught me to never stop learning about natural health and nutrition, and I hope that's something you'll learn from me, too. Thanks for letting me take part, Nikki.
Dear Olive, During our Winter months, the magnificent, awe-inspiring humpback whale makes its annual migration from Antarctica up to warmer waters in North Queensland. We are incredibly fortunate because not only do we live around the corner from the route the Whales take, but living with us, is Sydneys Premier Whale Spotter*, Shane. On Monday, in that time between afternoon and preparing dinner, we took a walk to see if we could spot any Whales. We didn't. But we did see some pretty amazing post-rain, dusk-time light.
* This is a self-appointed title, and one I must admit to having reservations about after the 'is it a seal, no its a piece of seaweed' affair.
Dear Olive, Yeah, but is your response to many things at the moment. Often followed by an irritating and irrelevant argument. Often followed by an irritating yet convincing argument. Sometimes followed by simply trailing off, leaving that irritating-on-its-own phrase just hanging by itself. And sometimes, even, by saying Oops, I said yeah but again.
Dear Olive, On Thursday of last week, I cooked my first mid week meal in five weeks. I've been very disciplined in devoting a chunk of my weekends to making chicken stock, plus two dishes (soup, curry, cacciatore, bolognaise), that see us simply reheating food each night, or, at most, cooking rice. (On one night every week, absolutely guaranteed, it's thai take away.) But on Thursday night, there was nothing pre-made left. We tend to eat very simply in our house, and thanks to our weekly farmers markets trip, there are always fresh veggies in the house. So, in the bottom of a large saucepan, I heated water with salt and bay leaves and poached some chicken thigh. In the steamer on the top of the same pot (one pot cooking ... bonus), I cooked broccoli, cauliflower and kale. It may sound pretty boring, but with the addition of a quick sauce made with tahini, olive oil, ground cumin, ground coriander, and salt & pepper, it was a really satisfying meal. And most importantly, it was ready to eat in 10 minutes flat. But wait, there's more ... by throwing in cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds and pepitas, the leftovers made for a very tasty wintery salad type thing for lunch the next day.
Dear Olive, Morning shadows and a frown. You've had a great frown since you were born, even though you're really not serious too much of the time. But the only way I could get you to sit still for a photo was to ask you if you could see the tiny moth that had landed on my head. (Which, of course, was a complete porky pie.) I look at this weeks number, and I can barely breathe. The year is half over and the things I wanted to accomplish, I've barely even begun.
Dear Olive, Tip-toe, tip-toe, tip-toe ... Boo! It's Mothers Day! Was how I was awoken on Sunday. We had a great day (and weekend), hanging out in the sunshine with friends, wandering around markets and eating yummy food. There is a lot of pressure on our weekends, now. Even when there are no plans, in two little days there's a weeks worth of washing and cooking and cleaning to be done, on top of the expectation of some fabulously bonding family time to make up for being apart all week. I know sometimes it won't work, but this weekend, it was lovely.
Dear Olive, We survived the first week of our (rather punishing) new schedule. Just. With help from a ton of weekend cooking, generous friends (thanks Mel!) and family (thanks Sarah!), and the most amazing neighbour ever (that'd be you, Jette!), we survived. I've missed you so much I could cry, but I'm happy in this job too. It's a big adjustment for all of us, but especially for you - having had two parents around for so many months, to now having us both working, and you're coping amazingly well. It can be difficult to explain the intricate workings of life to a three year old, but, for the most part, I don't feel guilty about leaving you. (I'm trying not to, anyway.) I want you to know that it's important to be fulfilled as a mother, but also as a woman - and that there are many ways for you to do this. One of them takes you away from your family. But that's just the way it is. 16 weeks and two days to go.
Dear Olive, This week, you and I took the last opportunity we'd have for a while, to get away for a few days with my family. Dewy mornings on the swing, ridiculously sunny days spent outdoors, lots of time with cousins - there was a ton of fun to be had and of course it went by in a flash. You desperately didn't want to come home. In a way, neither did I. I start my full-time-for-four-months job on Monday, and I'm not sure how much I'll be around this space for the next little while. I still can't yet get my head around how we're going to do it - run a household, and organise you, with Shane and I both working what will presumably be mega hours. But mostly, I'm just worried about how much I'm going to miss you! I've been embarrassingly teary today, and I kept you home from kindy to have just one last lovely day together. And yet, at the same time, I'm rather looking forward to this job. I think it's going to be a good one for me. Ah, the never ending push pull of motherhood. Will I ever get used to it?
Dear Olive, It's a funny old business, the film industry. One day you're on the verge of bankruptcy, the next, gainfully employed five days a week, with childcare for only two. I'm trying not to panic, but that's impossible. There's so much to organise in the next week and I'm feeling paralysed by it. I've suffered a lot of anxiety lately - for the first time in years, although through recognising it, and making a few small changes, I feel like I'm getting on top of it. Giving up coffee *again* has helped. And so has taking time out to just breathe deeply and repeat a self-affirmation. It sounds such an inconsequential activity, but in practice, it's had quite a powerful impact on me. I love this Patti Smith interview that I listened to this morning - her advice for young people. While I may not entirely qualify as young, I still think it's a lovely (and timely) reminder about life. "Life is really difficult, you're going to lose people you love, you'll suffer heartbreak ... but on the other end, you'll have the most beautiful experiences. Sometimes just the sky ... or you find somebody to love, or your children ... We're born, and we also have to die. We know that ... We're going to be really happy, and things are going to be really fucked up, too .... Life is like a roller coaster ride, it is never going to be perfect. It is going to have perfect moments, and rough spots. But it's all worth it. Believe me." PS If you haven't read Just Kids, you're crazy.
Dear Olive, Shane and I picked you up from preschool one day last week, and you asked us how was work today? We didn't go to work, I answered. But what did you do? You asked. Well, we hung out, we went to the art gallery, we had lunch, and a swim. It was great. Oh. We're both starting full time jobs in two weeks (holy crap!) which means it's going to get entirely hectic around here real soon, so we're making the most of these date days while we can.