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Today, I Got To Be Me

Here I am, at 10pm, sitting with a warm feeling in my heart. I have an overwhelming urge to acknowledge all of the wonderful people in my life. I want to thank each and every friend who has made an impact on my life. I want to hug and kiss my husband and kids. I feel like crying, I’m so overwhelmed.

No, I’m not drunk. Even Mr T asked me if I’d snuck a sneaky cider.

No. I’m just really, really happy.

Today, I got to be me.

I got a rare chance to be Mrs T. Not Princess’s Mum. Not BoyChild’s Mum. Not BabyGirl’s Mum. I got to be me.

And it was amazing.

This morning I got up after a rotten sleep (thanks to Princess thinking 4am was a good time to get up and listen to YouTube videos on full volume. Plot twist. It’s not.) and got dressed, and showered. Then my good friend came over and we went out together. Just her and I. No kids. We went to the mall and met up with two other friends and had a kid free coffee. One friend actually brought her son along, but that was 100% ok, because he wasn’t my kid. I even happily carried him around. Because I’m not his mum.

After our coffee we had a look in some shops. And then, still only mid morning, we went home.

After doing some housework at home and playing with the younger kids, I got dressed up to go to work. Due to the nature of my job, work doesn’t come along much in the Autumn/Winter seasons, so today was a rare change. I put on my nice dress, did my hair and makeup, kissed my kids and husband goodbye, and went out.

I had an hour to kill once I’d finished work, so I went shopping. By myself. I took my time. I walked slowly. Granted, I was buying a gift for a birthday party we are going to on Sunday, but still.

At 5pm, I was in the city, waiting for a good friend to finish work. We went to a bar together, to have a drink and catch up, as it has been months since we last met up. We drank (her – bourbon, me – lemonade), we talked, we laughed and we just enjoyed each others company.

Becoming aware of the time, I reluctantly excused myself, hugged my friend goodbye and made my way home. During the 45 minute drive home, I thought a lot about my life. And I sung loudly to songs from the 90s.

When I got home, I came inside to a warm house, fire crackling. The kids had been bathed and were ready for bed. They were playing and reading stories with their dad. I walked in and they yelled, “yay! Mum’s home!”.

Now, all three kids are long asleep and I can’t shake this funny feeling in my tummy.

The feeling that, despite my complaining and whining and “you think my kids are cute? would you like them?” – I am very, very lucky to be in the life that I am. I have an amazing husband and my kids are pretty darn neat too. I have wonderful friends who are worth more than their weight in gold.

Isn’t it funny? It took one day of being me for me to realise how much I love being Mum as well. And it’s not a bad gig, all things considered.

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I’m a Sometimes Mum

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I’m a Sometimes Mum.

Sometimes I’m a Happy Mum. I play with my kids, I laugh when they fart, I tickle them and giggle when they giggle.

Sometimes I’m a Fed Up Mum. I try not to be, but some days it just happens. I try not to be a Snappy Mum, or a Yelling Mum, but when I’ve been a No-one-listens-to-Mum Mum for a while, Snappy Mum tends to appear.

Sometimes I’m an Attentive Mum. I bake with the kids, we play Lego on the floor. We talk about their days. We sit together and cuddle. Sometimes I’m a Here’s-the-iPad Mum. Because sometimes I need to sit and not be spoken to for a minute or three.

Sometimes I’m a Good Mum. A Magazine Mum – the type you read about, see on TV. The type of Mum we all think we should be. I adore my kids, I tolerate their quirks. I keep a pleasant smile on my face as they fight and yell, squabble and cry. I deal with it with calm reassurance and a nice hug.

Sometimes I’m a Bad Mum. The kind of Mum we don’t aspire to be. I leave my kids in the car when I pop into the dairy. Because taking three kids out in the rain outweighs the risk of the car being stolen with all three kids inside. Sometimes I take my time in the dairy in the slim hope that the car will be stolen with all three kids inside. And then I’m Relief Mum and Feeling Guilty Mum all at once when I emerge from the shop to see the car still there with all three kids inside. Because I don’t actually want my kids stolen.

Sometimes I’m a Silly Mum. Running around the house like a crazy woman with the kids. Sometimes I’m a Housework Mum. A come-near-my-washing-piles-and-I-will-send-you-to-boarding-school Mum. Sometimes I’m a Toast-for-dinner Mum. Sometimes I’m an Eat-your-veges Mum.

Sometimes I’m an Honest Mum. Sometimes I’m a Wouldn’t-pass-a-polygraph Mum.

Sometimes I’m a Hands On Mum. Sometimes I’m a I’m-going-to-the-toilet-and-I-swear-to-god-if-anyone-follows-me-I-will-flush-you-down-the-loo Mum. Sometimes I kiss my kids so much they push me away. Sometimes I want them to not touch me.

People tell me they think I’m a great Mum. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.

But, I guess I’m a Trying Mum. A Doing-my-best Mum. I’m never going to be a Perfect Mum. But sometimes that’s ok. I’ll always be my kids’ Mum. And hopefully I’m the best Mum they’ll have.

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Black Box

What is a Black Box?

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Ah, the big question. What is a Black Box? A company called Sample Co. started up this awesome company – they send out boxes of full size samples to registered ‘customers’, based on personal profiles. That is, you register (for free) and complete a profile. They get a series of product samples, and send boxes out to a limited number of people whose profiles suit. Most boxes are sent out in lots of 5000, though this most recent lot was 30,000 people!

As I mentioned, it is free to register (though there is a waitlist now) although you do have the option of paying a small amount for “silver” membership, guaranteeing you at least one box per year, as well as other benefits.

You can find out more information at www.sampleco.co.nz.

Posting pictures to the Black Box facebook page, to their instagram, and entering competitions that they run, all give you more chance of receiving subsequent boxes, as does purchasing products you see in Black Boxes.

Product sampling at it’s best.

When the box arrives, the kids go mental. Literally, they ripped into the box. It was actually sent to the wrong address this time (the fault entirely of the courier!) so we had to walk and collect it. The walk alone clearly starved the kids beyond comprehension *eye roll*

I should mention here, I normally prefer to open the box when I am home alone. It’s more magical that way! Plus I can instantly hide the things that I want for me, that are mine-all-mine. None of this sharing business!

Product Review

And so, here is my review of this product.

In my Black Box, I received the following items.

Tasti Oaty Bake Bars – Almond, Lemon and Poppyseed

These were a nice change from normal muesli bars. Very oaty, as the name suggests. And lovely flavour. I ate far too many in the packet, that’s for sure. So, I’ll call it a winner. Would I buy it again? I think so.

Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion

I actually have some of this left over from a previous Black Box and the reason I haven’t finished the bottle is because I only use it on special occasions! I feel a bit fancy when I use it, to be honest. It’s a lovely way to soften my skin after body wash. However, that being said, this product claims to save time by allowing you to moisturise in the shower so you don’t have to when you get out. I still do it when I get out of the shower, that habit is too hard to break! Will I buy it again? I’m not sure! I’ll see how I go when I use up both bottles 🙂

Chop-Chop Chicken – Tandoori flavour

We are massive fans of this product in this house! I’m not a big tuna eater, so I make a lot of tuna-based recipes using these cans of chicken instead. Mr T will often take a can to work with him, using it to make a sandwich for his lunch. And a great, easy meal for us is a pasta bake, with a tin of this stirred through cooked pasta, then sprinkled with cheese and baked for 10-15 minutes. Yum. Will absolutely be buying this many, many times again.

Up & Go Light – Vanilla flavour, Choc Ice Flavour

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My kids are always asking me for Up & Go so the appeal of this particular product was the low sugar claim. It was nice enough, I guess. Pretty standard for what it is. I am not interested in buying these as a breakfast substitute (mostly because I don’t eat or drink breakfast) but I have a voucher for it now, so may well buy it again, if only to try it further.

Shapes Xtreme – BBQ Ribs Blast

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These were great! The certainly lived up to their claim that they are crisp, crunchy and flavourful! After the kids literally ripped the box open and tore into it, it lasted about ten minutes. Great flavour, I think I’d like to try the other flavours.

DB Export Citrus Beers

I’m not a beer drinker, haven’t been able to stomach it since a very *ahem* adventurous night when I was 18. So, for this I gave the task to husband. The verdict? “They are alright”. Ok! That, folks, is why I do the reviewing and not him! That being said, I did have a sip of both flavours (the lemon and the grapefruit), thinking that maybe the citrus would overpower the (bleurgh) taste of beer. It did not.

Charlies Honest Fizz – Raspberry

I freakin LOVED this. So tasty, not overly sweet like you would expect a raspberry drink to be. Oh, even writing this is making me want some. Might have to pop into the supermarket tomorrow, methinks.

I should confess – I told the kids we wouldn’t be having this drink. I went and put it in the fridge, and then hid in the fridge and gulped it back. Worth it? You betcha.

Charlies Straight Up Cola

This was pretty good, albiet very different to other cola drinks. This one tasted quite a lot like a cola lolly, or a cola flavoured ice block or something. Did I like it? Not sure. The lemon was a nice touch, and it certainly paired well with the Oaty Bake bars. Would I buy it again? Not sure, to be honest. Jury’s out on this one.

Watties Tomato Paste

This is a pretty standard product, made appealing because it comes in a pouch containing exactly 2 tablespoons of paste. This is great because so often we buy large quantities of something, only to use a smidgen and have the rest sit n the fridge until it grows a colony of it’s own. I was able to use the entire tube of tomato paste and then throw the packaging away with no waste.

I chose to use the paste in a different way so I made this Coca-Cola Beef. Very, very delicious!

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And so, there you have it. One Black Box, done and dusted. I received my online survey and completed that today – it’s really important that you do this, as it effects your eligibility for future boxes!

Can’t wait till I get my next email, saying another Black Box is on the way 🙂

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Coca Cola Beef

I found a really neat recipe on the website of The Stay At Home Mum for slow cooker Coca-cola beef.

I was like, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yes. I am a big fan of Coca Cola Chocolate Cake, and also using coke to make chicken as well. So I was very keen to give this a whirl.

It was so easy and really tasty.

Ingredients

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Gravy beef

1 can of Coke

French Onion soup sachet

2 tablespoons Tomato Paste

Method

Place the soup sachet into the slow cooker and add the diced beef. Stir until the soup mixture coats the beef. Add the coke and cook on high for 6 hours. At the 6 hour mark, stir in the tomato paste. The recipe now calls for another 2 hours on high, but I found that my meat was starting to dry out by this stage, so I would recommended either on low, or cook for less time. If you are using a bigger slow cooker, you may want to add more liquid too.

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I wish I’d had potatoes because this would have been amazing served on creamy mashed potatoes. We served it on rice and it was really, really good. Princess and Babygirl wolfed it back, as did Mr T.

Win.

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Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers, Mums, Moms, Mummies, Grandmas, Nanas, Step-mothers, Dads who are mothers too, people who have lost their mothers, and mothers who have lost their babies.

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I cherish my mother, my stepmother and my mother-in-law, as well as all of my friends and family who are mothers as well.

I wish for all of you a day where you are made to feel ridiculously special, needed, appreciated and loved.

My day started with a (somewhat forced) sleep in, ending with the kids giggling and barging into the room to present me with a wonderful gift and card, and a hand-written note from Princess that said we should go out for lunch, breakfast and dinner, and that Mum could have a sleep in.

I’ve enjoyed taking a day “off” from Mothering today, it’s been fab xx and, I got what I really wanted today – to be made to feel like I really matter in this family. And that’s what I really needed this week.

Love my kids, love my husband, love my Mum, love my crazy family xx

I felt you. You were a pea. Then a lemon. Then an eggplant. I followed advice. I read twelve books. I quit coffee. Could you tell I was scared?

I talked to you, sang to you .. I wasn’t ready.

But then you were here. Ten toes. Eight pounds. Love. Big fat love.

I held you. I fed you. I realised that I would spend my life doing things to make you happy – and that that would make me happy.

And then there are the times I want to give up. You’ve made me rethink my sanity. You’ve made me want to fall on my mother’s feet and tell her that I get it.

But then you made me smile and you say my name – and you grab my hand with those little fingers.

We’re growing together. We are seeing the world like it is new. I will open my heart and love with rain down all over you. You’ll giggle, and I’ll do it all over again. And we will walk hand in hand. Until you let go.

I made you, but you made me a mother.

-author unknown

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BabyGirl Enters the Terrific Twos

That’s right. My BabyGirl is quickly becoming less and less of a baby, and more like a little person. Sigh.

I mean, let’s be honest – she will always be my baby (poor kid) but there is no doubt that she certainly is growing up. Sigh.

She turned two yesterday and we threw her a little party. We decided to have an afternoon party once Princess got home from school, and then have it lead into a fish-and-chip dinner for those who couldn’t make it at 4pm. That is, those who actually have, you know, day jobs!

On Wednesday, BabyGirl had a pediatrician appointment to discuss her Dairy allergy. We were “discharged” from his care back in July last year, under the plan that we would slowly introduce dairy products into her diet. However, she was not reacting well to this so we went back for a review. And, not surprisingly, he suggested that we go back to square one for at least another six months, with no dairy at all.

And so, we had our second Dairy Free Birthday Party!

Food

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Because it was an “afternoon tea” I wasn’t too worried about the amount of food. I served up fairy bread (sprinkles on bread with dairy-free spread), dairy free cupcakes with sprinkles, Arnotts Animal Biscuits, Oreos, popcorn, marshmallows, rice crackers and hummous.

My recipe for the dairy free cupcakes is very comprehensive and advanced, so I hope you are sitting down for this one. I’m lying, it’s not complicated at all! Our local supermarket sells a cake packet mix for $1.99. This packet mix contains no dairy products at all, and calls for 3/4 C of milk (I use rice milk) and one egg. So, for less that $3.00 I can whip up a batch of cupcakes, or a cake, or any combination of them. I always have at least one packet of this in my pantry at all times, for those just-in-case moments 🙂

Cake

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Which brings us to the cake. I wanted to do something different this year, rather than the usual dairy free cake. So i had the brainwave to make a cake by using a marshmallow/rice bubble slice recipe, but forming it into a cake shape. I mixed together rice bubbles with marshmallow creme (this product isn’t common here in New Zealand but our supermarket sells it in the International Foods aisle and I love it!) and some melted coconut oil. Once it was mixed I put it into a round silicon cake pan and let it set in the fridge. I did this twice so I had two layers, then I sandwiched them together with buttercream icing (made with margarine rather than butter). For the “decorations” I had some pre-made animal figures left over from another cake, and used some more buttercream on top, with a stencil of the number two done with sprinkles.

The cake was SUCH a hit, especially with the adults! There was NONE left at the end, which is a first with birthday cake!

Party Games

For party games we literally just did pass the parcel. BabyGirl is considerably younger than most of the kids at the party, and couldn’t grasp why a present was being passed around the circle that she wasn’t allowed to open! It was a crazy, chaotic game due to their being so many kids, of so many varying ages. But nevertheless, all the kids seemed relatively happy with their lollipops.

Once the food was eaten and the game was played, the kids went outside (in less-than-tropical weather) and played on the trampoline and in the sandpit until it was too dark to stay outside any more.

And when that happened, they all piled back inside for a MASSIVE amount of fish and chips!

It was a lovely party, and I know BabyGirl had a blast.

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And, just to remind us that she is now TWO, this morning she ended up in time out twice, once for pinching her brother until he cried, and once for pulling her sister’s hair until she cried.

Ah, the twos.