Drinking…

I jokingly hashtagged a social occasion a few weeks back as #mumsgonewild. It was a little bit tongue-in-cheek; we weren’t all mums, we were all in a 20 km radius of our homes and for various reasons we were all home by midnight. Certainly not the material of a reality TV episode or tabloid magazine cover but it was the first time in god knows how long that I’d actually found myself out at not just one, but two bars in a night. And I drank… not so much that I don’t remember the evening, but enough to know that I was definitely buzzed.

And I loved it.

The only other time I can remember being buzzed in the last couple of years was at a friends’ wedding in Perth earlier this year. The whole trip was so fleeting and surreally amazing (you mean, we’re at a brewery in the middle of the day, drinking beer like we have no responsibilities…oh, we don’t) that I couldn’t work out where the buzz of travel and adventure and weddings and love ended and the drinking buzz began. This recent night, short though it may have been, reminded me how much I loved it.

Apart from that holiday, I’d not had more than one or two drinks in what seemed like forever. Not while breastfeeding, not while pregnant, not while trying to conceive and even before that. I stopped drinking as part of my plan to lose weight for the wedding so I hadn’t had any sort of significant drinking session since 2011. It’s a long time. And while I’m definitely able to socialise sober and do so on a regular basis, there’s always my inner control freak who likes holding the reins.

I fully support people who choose not to drink. There are people in my own life for whom I think that it is an incredibly valid  personal decision. I’m not out at bars every weekend, I never drink so much that I black out and I’d certainly never put CJ at risk with any drinking behaviours. But out in that Irish pub, knocking back the Jameson & Lemonade (far too drinkable), I felt a part of me return, a fun part, that has been dormant for a while. There’s a joke amongst my friends that “everyone likes drunk M-daddy”… yet it gets to me that mums aren’t allowed that same release. That there’s something inherently irresponsible or unusual about a mum who wants to go out and get her drink on. That we should be solely defined by our relationship to our children, to the detriment of everything else we used to be. I love being a mum, but it’s not the only part of me, and having a few drinks does not make me “wild”, it makes me human.

Now who wants to raise a glass to that?

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Two little words…

I love writing and words and meaning. I blog as much as me as I do for anyone else who reads because above all, my heart needs to write. I love crafting things that mean exactly what I want to say and that make people feel exactly how I want them to feel. As a result, I probably put far too much meaning into the words that other people say – hello lying in bed at 2 a.m. – but it’s got me to thinking about what words mean the most to me right now.

And it’s not those three little words that everybody raves about. It’s only two.

Thank you.

Thank you means that my son is learning manners. It means that he’s beginning to understand to be grateful for the things he receives. It means he respects the help that he is getting. It means that I’m doing something right as a mum and that I’m hopefully raising a boy into a man that will be respectful, gracious and kind.

Thank you means that my husband sees what I am doing to create the best life I can for my family. It means that he can see that I am tired and weary and he appreciates the effort that I have put in before he even walks in through the door. Thank you means that I’m respected for the talents I bring that make up half of our marriage. And sometimes that thank you means even more than the “I love you” that is so easy to throw out there.

Thank you means that my colleagues value my input. It means that they see the time that I’ve spent with a student to help them grasp a concept. It means that they are grateful for me helping them out of a sticky spot. Thank you means that I’m appreciated for my merits and that I’m considered part of the team.

Feeling unappreciated is so incredibly disheartening and it takes so little to extend a thank you. Two seconds, two words. Why wouldn’t you?

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I Read A Lot: Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford

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Okay, not so dirty secret but I bought the entire series of Gossip Girl books before they were even a TV show. I loved Plum Sykes’ Bergdorf Blondes and  The Debutante Divorceé. Something about that Upper East Side, old money, luxury lifestyle is just so intriguing even though it’s a type of life that I’ll never have… and don’t really want, if I’m being honest. So when I saw Everybody Rise, with a stunning hot pink cover, I was intrigued. Someone lying to fit into the scene? Tell me more. I eagerly sat down with it as soon as it arrived…and it was OK.

Yup, just OK. I hate feeling lukewarm about a book but this was that feeling for me. The premise is fantastic. Evelyn comes from an upper-class but not upper crust family and suddenly finds herself mixing with the highest echelons of society where little things like a job are just a hindrance. And haven’t we all, at one time or another, slightly muddied the facts to fit in? One of my points of confusion, however, stems from the fact that Evelyn’s family seem to be relatively wealthy but very much “new money” and yet Evelyn seems completely unaware of how finances actually work. As one of the plot lines in the story shows, her father is very financially aware and I find it hard to believe that at some point when setting her up with her life in the city he wouldn’t have sat down with her and explained how things work. Maybe that’s just me in my financial saving mindset, but I find it hard to believe that a woman who is clearly so conniving and savvy in other areas could be that silly.

My other little bug bear was that it took far too long to get into the meaty action. I found the end of the book far more interesting than the beginning – I feel like the author spent more than enough time setting up the world in which Evelyn, our protagonist, exists. There just wasn’t the action in the early scenes to keep me hooked and had I not been reviewing this text I don’t know that I would have stuck with it – a pity as I actually found the ending really lovely.

Recommendation? If you see this at your library, pick it up as a summer beach read but don’t expect too much of it. And if you do, stick with it til the end because the resolution is totally worth it.

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Toddler Tantrums

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Toddler tantrums – the bane of every parents’ existence. Tolerable (just) in the privacy of your own home, cringe-worthy at the very least when out in public. Screaming, crying, rolling around on the floor… it’s enough to put even the most clucky of women off wanting to start a family of their own. I’m a firm believer that sex ed would be much more effective in schools if students were exposed to newborn poo-namis and toddler tantrums – they’d never take the risk again!

Everyone talks about the terrible twos but I think that eighteen months is where it’s at. CJ currently has all the feelings but he just isn’t quite verbal enough to express what he’s upset about. That, and we’re still working on patience – he wants things and he wants them now. All of this combines in one pint-sized powder keg… and you don’t want to be around when it explodes. Or you might want a flak jacket!

There are three things we find works for us:

Food – our wee dude takes after M-Daddy when it comes to food and boy, can he get HANGRY. At the Baby Show last weekend we thought we’d be safe for about an hour after arriving but made the mistake of stopping at the Get Real For Kids stand and sampling the Smuggler Nuggets. Big mistake. CJ does not understand the idea of sampling. He did not understand why we were leaving and he couldn’t eat the rest of the nuggets on the plate… cue MASSIVE meltdown. The ladies at Rafferty’s Garden rushed over with a entire box of their new snack bars and once we managed to get one in his mouth (amidst the thrashing and carrying on), all was right with the world again. We did go back and buy some of those nuggets too :)

Singing – when CJ was little, the song that would calm him down was Home on The Range. Sometimes when he’s throwing a fit we can calm him down by cradling him and rocking him as we sing the song. This is getting harder as he grows though –  he’s getting close to a metre tall and is insanely strong, so it’s hard to hold him if he doesn’t want to be held.

Removal – getting the heck out of dodge. Sometimes the tantrum is because he’s finding a situation overwhelming or he just doesn’t want to be there. While we don’t want to bow down and make him a toddler “king”, sometimes it is just easier to get him out of the situation, calm him down and then explain what we are going to do. Quite often if we say something like “I know the music in that shop is a bit loud, but mummy just needs to get X, Y & Z and then we’ll go for a walk” it solves the situation – but there’s no way that he would hear that mid-tantrum. Talking him out, letting him calm down and then returning is often our go-to move.

I certainly don’t think that we have our head around all the possible solutions and if you have something you use I would love to hear it. Solidarity, toddler mums!

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Care & what that looks like

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Recent actual message!

Recently I’ve been hashtagging some of my pics and messages to my friends with the tongue-in-cheek #selfcare. It might be a glass of wine, a face mask or a square of chocolate. I might be talking about a café coffee, a haircut or time spent immersed in my latest book. I say it all very sarcastically (default function unfortunately!) but there’s definitely a hint of truth there.

I used to think that I would stay at home until my kid(s) were five years old. After staying at home for a year and then returning on a casual basis I realise now that initial thought was totally unrealistic for me personally, even excluding the financial advantages that working brings for our family. Part of caring for myself AND for CJ is knowing that I need more in my life than just being his mum. With any future kids, I’ll be looking to return to work after that first year with zero guilt.

That care will look different for everyone – it’s whatever you need to do to be a little selfish. Whether it’s that one weekend a month you dump your kids at their grandparents, the nails you get done every week or the bottle of wine you crack open after the kids go to bed, no one has the right to criticize your self care practices. Life is too short to drudge through it all, and what works for one may not work for another.

That’s not to say you should be completely selfish. Finding things that your partner is keen on and participating (or at least showing an interest in) is a worthwhile investment and will make them feel valued too. Just on the down low, I couldn’t care less about the NBA but I know that M-Daddy does so I try and keep up with the play! I spent Mothers’ Day at a car show because I knew it would make my two dudes happy. Trying to scoop out time for the two of you (when you are not being mum, dad, boss or employee; just when you are being two humans just existing in the same place at the same time) can be useful too.

When we get into the cycle of not caring for ourselves it can be incredibly difficult to get out of that rut but it is so necessary to do so. If you are feeling down and weary, not connecting with others in the meaningful way that you would like, maybe it’s time to look a little closer at what you do for yourself and for those you love.

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Loving It 17.8.15

I’m not a perpetually perky person but there are things in life that just make me glow and the Loving It series is a way for me to share these things with you.

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The beach at night… beautiful

Talk about missing the bandwagon completely (story of my life) but I’m totally addicted to podcasts right now. It’s going to sound super stupid but I didn’t realise that you can actually download them to your device and I didn’t want to waste my data! Now that I’m slightly less stupid, I have a few of my favourite bloggers’ podcasts downloaded to my phone and it makes housework so much easier.

West Coast Cocoa Merchants Peppermint Hot Chocolate – we got this at the Food Show and it has been amazing. I’m having a mug as I write this and it’s making my day about a million times better.

The Marmite Fingers Metaphor by fellow Kiwi Mummy Blogger Melissa – I’m totally guilty of this too.

The fact that as he’s started walking, CJ has started having these epic day sleeps. I know it won’t last forever but I can get SO much done in the 2.5/3 hours that he’s down.

Life is not a meritocracy – so true!

I love my hairdresser. It totally gets up my nose when people offering me a service try and get me to tee up another appointment as I’m leaving. If you’ve just clicked my back in, I’m probably going to wait until it’s sore before coming back. If you’ve waxed my brows, it’s going to be that delicate balance of time without child and not letting them stray into bush pig territory – and I have no idea when that intersection is going to happen. My hairdresser never pressures me to make the next appointment, laughing when it’s been seven months since I last went, and we have the best chats. She’s just about to go on maternity leave and we joked that the next time I get my hair cut she’ll probably be back!

Becoming closer with friends who are just beautiful people that make me feel so good about being myself… more of this please!

On that note, this gorgeous wee piece on BFFs by the infinitely awesome Smaggle

Hope you have an amazing week, readers!

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I Read A Lot: “Circling The Sun” by Paula McLain

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I loved Paula McLain’s previous book The Paris Wife so that when the opportunity came up to review her new novel Circling the Sun I seized the opportunity with both hands. In the same vein as her previous novel, Circling the Sun is a fictionalised account of the life of a historical person – in this case, Beryl Markham. Beryl is raised in Kenya by a father a little out of his depth after his wife heads back to Edwardian England. Rejected from boarding school, running wild on the land, she’s thrown into a marriage at a young age and while this is ultimately unsuccessful, it sets her on a crazy path to determine a future breaking down a lot of barriers set up for women at the time.

The narrative voice in this novel is amazing – the story covers a decent span of Beryl’s life and yet McLain manages to “age” Beryl’s point of view almost seamlessly as she ages from the little girl who plays with the Kipsigis tribe to the jaded woman ready to take on what is quite literally the adventure of a lifetime. It makes for a very cohesive read, one in which your knowledge of Kenya and its’ culture expands through the years with the chief protagonist.

One of the things that I loved most about this text, and I can say this without fair of giving too much away, is that the relationship McLain has you root the most for doesn’t end in a happily ever after. It takes a ballsy author to do this, to “not give the people what they want”, but it makes the story ring true to life. The saying goes that “all it takes is chemistry and timing – but that timing is a bitch”. This was true for Beryl in life and McLain remains faithful to this in the text, something I love her for.

This book is a great read if you are into historical fiction or biographies, but that is by no means its only appeal. This novel also gives an interesting perspective of colonial Africa and examines the role of women in the Edwardian era and what it means to live outside of feminine stereotypes of this time. And then of course there is love: love for family, love and marriage and in the end love for the life you created. As such, I think it will have broad appeal and would be a great novel to curl up with in this bitter winter weather. Grab a copy and try it for yourself!

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Now we are thirty…

Or more specifically, now I am thirty.

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Me not caring that I look like a “crack fiend” according to my husband 😂Crazy Eyes!

This isn’t a new thing, almost half a year has flown by since I turned the big 3-0. But I feel like some time in the last six months this massive switch has been flicked in my brain and I feel so much clarity about things that I used to feel so conflicted about in my twenties. I really can’t explain it. I used to be so caught up in all of my baggage and past mistakes and suddenly I feel immensely free.

I have so much less time for bullshit. I confronted someone that I thought was treating me unfairly. Twenties Me would have been terrified of the outcome, but Thirties Me was more pragmatic. If someone has an unreasonable view of you and isn’t willing to change, isn’t it better to know that? So you can plan accordingly? It’s really given me the confidence to get out there and seek the situations that I really want for both me and my family.

I couldn’t care less about being cool. This was such a hangover from my high school days where, I’m sorry to break it to you, I definitely wasn’t cool. At first a little nerdy, later on hanging out with the smokers but never one of the A-Team. I spent too much of my Twenties thinking about being cool. Buying on-trend clothing that didn’t suit, or that I’d never have the occasion to wear. Buying nail polishes that I can’t even apply to my own nails, buying bold shades of eyeshadows I’d never use. Thirties Me knows her style. Timeless dresses and top/pant combos for the office, more often than not a hoodie and yoga pants outside of that. Thank god I’m not a fashion blogger right? I may not look completely flawless but I can put my “going out” make up on in ten minutes or less and I’m okay with that. I’d much rather eat at the latest restaurant then buy the latest model in shoes.

I’m more confident about my body. Is it where I would want it to be? Of course not. I blog about that on here. But I’m okay with my body the way it is. Do I wish I couldn’t already see the fine lines developing in the corner of my eyes? Sure. Do I wish that my stomach skin wasn’t a little stretched (and I can’t just blame CJ for that)? Yup, that too. But I can love myself in the skin I’m in and that, I think, makes me all around a more loveable person. I liken myself to a project car – sure there’s some work to be done on the body, but the engine is amazing and the flaws don’t stop me being a pretty good machine.

I’m more confident about my love. This is hard for me to admit but a couple of my exes really did a number on me. In respect for them, because they can’t consent to what I write, I won’t go into specifics. But I brought into my marriage a whole bunch of hang ups… first and foremost that eventually he would leave me for someone else. And anything that fed into that ridiculous point of view – arguments, appreciative comments about other women, even the thought that he might fantasise about someone else – would freak me out. Fun for him, right? Couldn’t even say one of my friends was wearing a nice dress without me giving him the side eye. But you know what? I believe in amazing connections with people of all genders. Some people become close friends. Some become lovers. And I’m lucky enough to have one become my husband. I don’t believe in soul mates, I believe that we choose to nurture that connection and that’s what keeps us together. Not him having blinkers on. If he can consider another woman beautiful but still choose solely to be with me, isn’t that beautiful in its own right?

It feels great yet weird that I have all this awareness within such a short space of time. It literally feels like I’m walking out of a cloud. It does make me feel like whatever crazy insane stuff life throws at me – because we all know that life is what happens when you are making other plans – I’ll know how to deal with it, sort it or fix it. I’m not under the illusion that this next decade will be easy, but with this clarity and self-confidence it’s got to be easier on my poor beleaguered brain.

Anyone else having these revelations? Just me?

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Things I want to remember #1

To use the old cliche, time is flying and I know that I won’t always be able to call to mind all the adorable things that CJ does that make me smile right now. So here’s one of this soppy posts that you can skip over if you aren’t in the mood for a sugar rush.

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  1. Every time we leave daycare he has to give everyone a high five and say “See Ya!”
  2. “Shall we go home?” “Gome” “Go home?” “Ya. Gome”
  3. Any time Paw Patrol comes on the TV he grabs one of his stuffed dogs and sits down to watch “PiuPeeyool”
  4. He gives kisses like the mafia kiss of death in The Godfather II – two hands each side of the head and a big whopper right on the middle of your face.
  5. He is totally the best right now at giving cuddles, although sometimes it’s to his pair of bunny slippers
  6. He does a mean Lil’ Jon impression… “Yeayah” “Okay” 😂
  7. He totally psyches himself up to walk (which he is getting better at every day) – “Okay. Walkie walkie walkie walkie. Uh oh. Up. Walkie walkie walkie walkie”
  8. He loves to count, which usually awesome, apart from when you give him to the count of three. I start by saying “One…” and he chimes in “Two…” – so darn proud of himself!
  9. His favourite things right now to play with are his cars and trucks, his ride-on toys, mega blocks and the cat… the last one is less than amused about being a favourite.
  10. Since his carer has become pregnant, he is so much better with babies but still a little jealous if I am cuddling babies or kids other than him. Pretty rich seeing he borrows someone else’s mummy all day on the days that I’m at work!

This is such a fun age! I’m really looking forward to what the months ahead bring.

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Where We Ate: June/July Edition

We make no bones about it, we are definite foodies in this household. We love to dine out, both as a couple and as a family – for us life is more about experiences than stuff. So each month or two, we bring you “Where We Ate”, a post that outlines the new places we’ve tried and hopefully encouraging you to try a few new places too!

OKO Dessert Kitchen

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After an extremely noisy dining experience at Elliot Stables we decided to escape to the relative quiet of Aotea Square for dessert. It was our first visit to OKO and we were glad to have friends to advise us of the pros and cons of the menu (try the Volcano, rather than the Balloon) as there was the possibility of some missteps, such as the lime milkshake that M-Daddy ordered. The desserts were good, but in a city in which Giapo and Milse are the King and Queen of dessert restaurants, you need to bring more than your A-Game. There was a group of small children who had just been to the cinema as part of a birthday celebration and came here for dessert – that, I thought, would be the ideal target audience.

You can read my full review of OKO here.

Passito Italian Restaurant

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I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Zomato meet up at Passito – I must admit that I don’t often venture down this end of Ti Rakau Drive but I’m really glad I did. The food was good and service amazing for large parties (I’ll definitely be bearing this in mind for future extended-family dinners) but the real star of the evening was the stellar plating and taste that came with the desserts. It was totally beyond what I was expecting and I was very impressed.

You can read my full review of Passito Italian Restaurant here.

Bach’n

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Had to break it up with a non-dessert pic… I have a sweet-tooth problem 😂

When you happen to have a sunny midweek day off work in the middle of winter, what do you do? Head to the beach, of course! When thinking of kid-friendly beaches, Maraetai immediately springs to mind so we headed out to the East Coast. We’ve been past Bach’n on weekends before and always found it full to the gills so I was pleased to have the opportunity to finally eat there. The food was innovative and delicious but the beverages left something to be desired – I’d definitely be keen to try again on the weekend (hopefully with a different barista).

You can read my full review of Bach’n here.

Sugar Town

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When down in  Mount Maunganui recently, we followed a sign from the main street into one of the cutest cupcake parlours I’ve seen in quite a while. The decor is to die for, creating a lovely serene atmosphere – at least while my toddler was eating! While their menu range is limited, what they do, they do well. The ratio of cupcake to icing is amazing and the mocha I had was delicious. Well worth supporting if you are in the area and they also do special occasion cakes!

You can read my full review of Sugar Town here.

Canopius

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I found Canopius, a whole-food based cafe, in the main street of Papakura township. Despite being mid afternoon they still had a broad range of cabinet food available and I selected a delightful slice of carrot cake with a dairy-free coconut and maple whipped topping. This hit the spot perfectly, perking me up without giving me a ridiculous sugar high. I also tried their CoCoMo coconut mocha beverage and while the taste took a bit of getting used to (I usually take my mocha with lactose-free or soy milk), it was definitely one that I would try again.

You can read my full review of Canopius here.

Firm favourites revisited: Pepperjacks, Nick’s Cafe, Ginger Indian Restaurant.

If you’ve got any favorites to share, from the wider Auckland area, I’d love to hear them!

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