Thursday, June 28, 2012

Not the Terrible Two's

It's almost inevitable. You have just taken out your little baby for his first trip. He's sleeping peacefully and you cannot help but stare and smile at him. You are rightfully basking in the delight and awe that has overtaken your life. You may be at church or at the supermarket when another mother or older woman, comes along and says 'Oh just look at him sleeping so soundly, what a cute little baby' but before you can say thank you and agree with her she adds on what she really wanted you to know. 'But you just wait, you still have the terrible two's to come!' You are just digesting her comment when she adds in one more piece of encouraging news 'And then they become teenagers!'

Talk about popping your bubble. If this is your first baby you are now thinking ahead to that significant birthday and wondering just what the second year will hold for you. I can remember wondering just when the first tantrum would happen and why so many people called it the terrible two's and insisted on letting new mothers know just what they had to look forward to. Was it really that bad? I shuddered at the thought.

 I have a two year old. This is my seventh experience of having a two year old. We have another six months of having a two year old and I don't want it to be over. I want to let you know that it is not the terrible two's and I refuse to use that description or to sow seeds of fear, dread and negativity into the mind of another mother or mother to be. I want to tell you that it can be terrific and one of the most rewarding times of a mother's life.

It is not without its challenges of course and let's be realistic your patience will be tested, sorely at times, but knowing how quickly this tender and beautiful age passes by I have determined more than ever to enjoy every moment.

Here are just a few of the reasons why I believe that two is terrific and not terrible.

It's an age when you can observe the delight and wonder at new experiences. To see his face light up when he strokes the feathers of a bird for the first time or holds a frog in the palm of his hand. The joy of jumping on a bouncy castle and realizing it's fun to fall over. Going down the big slide for the first time by yourself. I want to be there and not miss out of any of these times in his life.
 I spend much more time these days watching and listening. Even when driving I hear his chattering, I turn down the radio and tune in to my two year old. I realize he is making up a story - complete with dialogue! Imagination is blossoming and I am there to experience it all unfold.

Language and learning happens at a rapid rate. New words every day! My boy is a parrot and will attempt to repeat any word no matter how long that you ask him to say. He is speaking in sentences and his favorite question is 'What are you doing?' If I tell him I am about to bake a cake he races over to the table and drags over a chair.

They are eager to help and eager to please. One of the memories I am going to cherish is my son's determination at two to help carry groceries. On one particular occasion he insisted on carrying a long loaf of french bread. It was taller than him but he hugged it close to his chest as we walked (slowly) out of the supermarket to our car which was parked quite a distance away. It took us forever to reach the car that day. We kept having to stop as the bread kept slipping out of his grasp. Onlookers smiled at the sight and pointed out my little helper to their companions. He never gave up, he had an important job to do and I had to let him complete it no matter how long it took. Eventually, we reached the car. The door was slid open and he tossed in the bread with a contented gasp. He felt so proud of his accomplishment and I thanked him for helping to carry the bread for me and marveled at his determination to finish a task. Of course now he has decided that carrying French bread is his job and we have to allow extra time for that. It's a sacrifice that is so worth it and when you are carrying French bread you don't tend to notice the lollies at the checkout!

I hardly use the stroller these days. My little boy loves to walk alongside me and most of the time he wants to hold my hand. This means my phone needs to stay in my bag and I don't care if I miss a call. I would rather hold his hand than a mobile. A day will come when he will not need to hold my hand so I am treasuring the hand holding days.

Love is given unconditionally and I am trusted implicitly. He believes everything I tell him though I'm not sure if he really believed me when I told him that his sister had been chased by monkeys. (She really had during her recent trip to Malaysia!) He is always delighted to see me, especially in the morning and if I leave him for a time in the care of his dad or older sister he races out the door to greet me on my return.

He wants to spend time with me - right now. He brings over a book and asks me to read it. I have a cloth in my hand and a counter that needs to be wiped down but not right now. I down tools and head for the sofa. He has quite an attention span for a two year old and an appetite for books. We finish one book and he fetches another. The crumbs on the counter will just have to wait!

He looks down at me from his dad's shoulders. It's a great vantage point for watching the Anzac parade. He is excited to see the soldiers on horseback but even more excited to see the vintage cars. I realize that one day soon he will look down at me again but this time he will be standing tall. And two will seem like yesterday. I will tell him what he was like at two, the things he did and how he loved to help me carry the French bread sticks.

So if you dare mention 'the terrible two's' to me please do not be too upset if I tell you that they are not terrible. Even if it was a trying time for you as a parent can I humbly request that you don't use that description especially when you are in the presence of a new mother. Terrible is a horrible word to use and that just happens to be one of its synonyms. Its dictionary definitions include 'distressing', 'severe' and 'extremely bad'. It comes from the Latin word 'terribilis' which means 'to frighten' which is what we might just do when we 'warn' a new mother about the trials of the different ages and stages that she has yet to face. Other synonyms for terrible are 'fearful', 'frightful' and 'dire' - is that how you really want to describe a time in a mother's life which may just be for her one of the most delightful of all?

And if you are the mother of a two year old here are some words of wisdom I came across on pinterest that inspired me to write this post. I hope that this little poem acts as a loving and gentle reminder of what to do when you have a two year old!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Enjoy Every Day

My home has been filling up with cake stands and I have to say I am gaining so much pleasure from seeing something lovely that I created gracing my home. To think that many of these plates were stored away in cupboards or on the back shelves of op shops until I discovered them and now they have been repurposed to be used again. The pretty mismatched floral tier on the left was purchased at at our market stall this weekend by a gentleman as a Christmas gift for his wife (how organized is he!) I hope she likes her cake stand and enjoys it every day and not just on special occasions.

 But they do make lovely gifts for special occasions. This stand was filled with sweet treats, heart shaped chocolate brownies, truffles, marshmallows and strawberries. It was our gift for the bride and groom at a wedding that we attended recently. I thought it would go onto the dessert table and included a little card to let them know that the stand was a gift and didn't need to be returned. It actually ended up on the bridal table! What a delight that was. I'm hoping that this stand will be used on lots of occasions as they are a very hospitable young couple and that it will always remind them of their wedding day!

I'm loving the sentiments of one television ad showing on Australian television at the moment and I just had to share it with you. It's very clever and creative marketing but it is rather lovely and just happens to be for a certain brand of quality English tea. Girls if you love beautiful things and are inclined to use one of your pretty teacups for your daily cuppa you are going to love this ad! My husband is not allowed to change the channel if this ad comes on! My favourite part is so reflective of my new little business when it asks 'Why do we keep beautiful things hidden in cupboards gathering dust and save the best stuff for our guests?'

Hope you enjoy watching this and that you take some time this week to 'enjoy every day' - wear that dress, use that special teacup and do something for you. Even better invite over a friend and make her day special too!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Cook's Shelf

Sharing with you today some photographs of the latest addition to my country kitchen. I have termed it my 'cook's shelf' and it was made for me by my clever and creative husband with assistance from my sons who drilled into the wall and sanded the recycled timber beam. It's a rather substantial shelf and I just love it!

It is supported by these beautiful and ornate wrought iron brackets. I found these on ebay but I first fell in love with this style of bracket when I saw a spice rack on pinterest that another clever chap had created for his wife. That was Ellie's spice rack. I showed my husband (don't you just love pinterest for this!) and asked him if he would be able to build me a kitchen shelf if we could find similar brackets at a reasonable price. Not only did I find them here in Australia but they are pretty much identical to the ones that first caught my eye!

My cook's shelf is above my Ilve stove. This is where I cook and all the ingredients I need are now within reach. As are my pots and pans and other utensils which hang from the vintage wooden ladder that we turned into a pot rack. A bunch of bay leaves means I always have a leaf ready to pop into the stock pot.

This shelf is strong! It holds all my large glass jars and I can see at a glance when they need to be restocked or when a new batch of muesli needs to be made up. These jars were gifted to me by my neighbour when she moved away. What a blessing they have been, especially as when she asked me if I would like them I was in the process of getting rid of all the plastic containers in my pantry and replacing them with glass which is a much better way to store food for the sake of our health.

I now have a home for my favourite cookbooks. Most of them are by New Zealanders. I know I'm biased but wow that country produces some great cooks. Annabel Langbein's volumes would be my most used (she is now on pinterest and is pinning her recipes! Check them out!) and Jo Seager's recipes never let me down. Harvest by Meredith Kirton is a gardening book I refer to often and because it is Australian it has advice on growing the trees, native bushfoods and vegetable crops we have planted.

The jam in this picture is Davidson plum, made from the very first Davidson plums that we harvested recently. They are so sour but make the most incredible jam. Probably the best jam I have ever made, no need for pectin, it sets easily and my children love it. Which is a good thing because we planted about five trees. So far we have only harvested about a kilo of fruit from the one tree. They hang down like ruby jewels on a necklace and because they are so sour the possums leave them alone. We found one on the ground with a bite mark and my children dared to try one too. Oh yes, they could understand why the possum didn't like them! I also dehydrated some slices and added them to our muesli. Very tangy but quite delicious!

It's times like these when you wish you had a better camera and a wide angle lens. My cook's shelf runs right along the stone feature wall in our kitchen. I was rather tempted to decorate it with china but then it wouldn't be a cook's shelf! I do place one of my soy teacup candles here though and it casts out a lovely glow as I prepare dinner. I love having somewhere to place a jug of fresh mint and in summertime I'm looking forward to having more herbs to harvest to place in jugs. At Christmas I will take much delight in festooning my cooks shelf with greenery and lighting more candles to cook by. It's those little details and textures in the kitchen that make it a wonderful place to be. They make cooking so much more pleasurable.

The crocheted trim on a tea towel

The colourful spines of cookbooks next to a tin of Australian olive oil (most economic way to buy it) and one tall colourful biscuit tin that now holds packets of spaghetti. I used to have a lot more vintagey tins but tired of dusting them and they were not the most practical for storage purposes. I cleared them out and now every container is functional and only one jar is there for decorative purposes, only because I loved the writing on the green ceramic jar of Stone's Ginger Wine. Maybe someone can suggest what I could store in it. Vinegar perhaps?

 Fresh and fragrant herbs in terracotta jugs. Bright colanders, yellow polenta, red lentils, ruby red jam. The colours of cooking. I don't want to hide them away which is why I love my cook's shelf so much! I think I would tire of an all white kitchen with all white accessories. I need colour in my life especially in the place which is the very heart of my home where I don't just prepare food for consumption. This is where I nourish my family! And it has also become the place where my soul is nourished as I stand and stir the soup or knead the dough for another loaf I look up at my cook's shelf and see provision and I give thanks to the Lord. Not just for the produce but for the people who will sit down around our table and partake of it - their bodies will be nourished and so will their souls as we fellowship together. That makes my kitchen a very important place which is why I want to make it a pleasant and happy place to be.

And something to ponder from my 'words of wisdom' board on pinterest, one of my favourite quotations I have come across thus far.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my cook's shelf. How do you decorate your kitchen? Do you hide everything away or do you display? And how do you turn the ordinary act of cooking into something far more special and significant?

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