Well that was one big break! But in between an increasingly active toddler keeping me on my toes, a child coming to grips with the weirdness going on in the world, protests and the COVID-19 lockdown and the subsequent return to the world – and all the big emotions that brought up – this little corner of the world went forgotten. Plus, to be honest, recounting our days made me increasingly uncomfortable as my undeniable privilege reared its head. I’m so thankful we have a safe home, employment and the ability to work from home when we needed to, familial support we can turn to, food and warmth. We are so very lucky. But that hasn’t been the case for many people and it felt too indulgent to be recounting garden happenings and what I wanted to do while people around me were losing their livelihood. And so I was silent.
But at the end of the day, writing makes me happy and, because I can’t deny it’s really just family who reads this – hi Mum! – here we are.
I should also warn you, this may be a long one. So get comfy and settle in.
Doing: Finding a new flow to our days at home now we’re well and truly into the active toddler stage. Luckily neither child is a super early riser so we’re normally up at the same time as Steve in the morning. He and I have a cup of tea together before I make the kids and I porridge. T either perches on my hip and helps, gesturing to her mouth every few seconds just in case I’d forgotten she was hungry, or she tackles her brother. She adores him.
We’ll normally head out for a walk or to a park with friends in the morning before lunch at home and an afternoon in the garden or playing with our neighbours who have a boy a similar age. They’re so generous with their time and I’m grateful. Looking at this and we’ve pretty much reverted to our former rhythm.
It’s funny I’d already forgotten just how active young toddlers are. At four Jman is a delight and can amuse himself or watch some TV while I exercise or clean up around the house but T is literally banging on doors to get out of the house by the time 9am rolls around. It makes achieving anything a bit tricky.
Since lockdown restrictions have lifted a bit we’ve also been heading out more to cafes, markets and restaurants or just to friends houses, which is such a delight after long weeks at home. We also went to Lot 81 micro farm for a potter recently and I’ve filed it away under #gardengoals
Cooking: It’s cold – or as frosty as Brisbane gets, which isn’t very much at all. But seeing our trusty houses have been designed to withstand heat, it means inside our little blue house is often colder than out some days. With the cooler weather comes the desire for hearty meals, so we’ve been making lots of roasts, Steve’s been barbecuing away most weekends, and slow-cooked stews like this one or ragus have been making a regular appearance. If we’re feeling energetic we’ll also make our own pasta to go with them. Lately it seems we make one big meat-filled dinner each week and then roll those leftovers into other meals like frittatas or pastas, roll them in pastry or put them in the freezer for future dinners.
Weekly pizza nights are also pretty much a guarantee because Jman has become quite the skilled sous-chef. He’ll climb up into his learning tower – not that he really needs to any more, he’s that tall – and he’ll help knead and roll out the pizza dough before topping his with tomato paste, leftover roast chicken, tinned pineapple and cheese. Steve and I jazz ours up a bit more, adding anchovies, vegetables and red onion, pesto and at least 3 cheeses. It’s good. T, on the other hand, turns her nose up at pizza, preferring instead to eat the meat, cheese and pineapple straight from the cutting board.
True to form of keeping us on our toes, it’s only now after almost 16 months the afternoons have become tricky to navigate. T likes to sit on my hip and inspect what I’m doing, but that doesn’t lend itself to safe knife skills – just ask the top of my left thumb that I nearly sliced off recently. So the trusty learning tower is often adjusted to her height, but her ability to clear the counter with one sweep of her arm makes me a bit reluctant to use it too much. So one tray bakes that I can prep at lunchtime and have ready to go have also become a favourite. Chicken thighs, potatoes and cherry tomateos are good, and Steve recently decided to jazz one up with fennel, roasted garlic and some salmon and it was so good.
Drinking: I should probably delete this prompt because the answer is always a variation on a theme. Tea, coffee (probably too much), red wine, and herbal tisanes made with leaves or ginger plucked fresh from the garden have all been appealing. As has milk kefir and mugs of warm water. We also still make the odd smoothie because the kids love them and it’s an easy way to sneak more goodness into them without a battle – zucchini, avocado and cauliflower all disappear seamlessly into that milky goodness. I like to add in peanut butter, hemp or chia seeds or some Lovewell as well.
Reading: Not a lot, to be honest, and I’m noticing it in my creativity levels. Like many people I’ve been struggling mentally a bit with 2020. Not seeing my family and friends for long periods of time, combined with trying to navigate long solo days at home with energetic young ones has meant come 9pm I just want to lie in bed and watch a TV show on my phone. However, just like when I don’t move my body or meditate, I notice this negatively affects me so I’m making an effort to put away the tech and pick up my book. These past few weeks though I’ve finished this book, and this audiobook, have this one on the go and am loving it and will start The Constant Rabbit soon. I also need to diversify my reading list a bit more so there are fewer white men at the helm.
Wanting: To press reset on 2020. Seriously.
Deciding: Whether to go for a walk in the rain, or tackle an online class with my physio.
Wishing: We could go on a holiday somewhere just the four of us. Even though we spend a lot of time together, it feels like Steve and I are constantly juggling the kids so we can do something and we rarely get to sit back and relax.
Enjoying: Those days when Jman, T and I seem to flow seamlessly in sync. They’re pretty rare, but when it happens it so sweet.
Liking: Continuing on with my postnatal m-hiit and pilates classes on zoom. My physio was quick to adapt to the COVID-19 lockdown and moved online almost immediately, which I’m grateful for because movement is my medicine. I also really notice it in both my energy and strength levels when I don’t do enough exercise. A 3pm coffee to get me through the dinner/bath/bed chaos isn’t a great idea and my back was complaining about carrying 11kg on my hip constantly.
Wondering: Which books we should buy next. We rarely buy books, choosing instead to borrow them from the library, so it’s a big deal. Following the BLM protests Steve and I showed Jman the Playschool special about race and began to talk to him about Australia’s history. Needless to say he had a lot of questions, so now I’m on the hunt for books for him. I’ve heard Young Dark Emu is great, but would love some more suggestions.
Loving: My prenatal yoga training. I signed up earlier this year and am loving delving into supporting women through such a precious and vulnerable time in their lives.
Pondering: If I should make another tea or coffee. I really want to but I keep hearing my lovely yoga teacher, Lou, telling me I’m just borrowing the energy from my kidney when I do this (in traditional Chinese medicine the kidney is your battery, and supplies the body with reserve energy. When you deplete it through stress, excess stimulants, late nights, or too much work, it can’t be restored and can manifest in premature ageing etc) but I do love a warm cup of tea. Maybe I’ll make it a herbal tea instead, or a smoothie.
Considering: Booking in to see a dietitian to double check I’m meeting all my nutritional needs. The tiredness levels are rising – of course they are, I’ve got a toddler who breastfeeds all night to help with teething pain and to process the growing world around her and a non-napping child who needs to move his body a lot each day – but that combined with some family health news means it’s probably a good idea for me to double check.
Buying: Not a lot beyond food and some secondhand clothes on depop. But oh the food we have been buying! While working from home I signed us up to a vegetable box from Millen Farms and it was so good. All the produce was local (to us) and it was so lovely to get home and unpack all that deliciousness while planning our meals for the next week. More than once after pulling a number of limes, ginger and galangal and chillis out I’d joyfully tell Steve his beef rending or nasi goreng had to go on the menu.
Depop has also been a recent find. After resolving to minimise my fast fashion purchases earlier this year I would go into my local op shops to hunt for something when I needed it. But depop has made that search even easier. Also this list makes me laugh a bit. What plans I had in store for 2020. To be honest though, we have ticked a lot of these off.
Watching: Rosehaven is my happy place! The combination of a teething and subsequently clingy toddler and a return to part time work means it’s rare I spend more than half-an-hour on the couch at night with Steve before needing to sleep (or breastfeed aforementioned teething toddler). We have so many shows and movies bookmarked to watch, but for now Rosehaven it is – or rewatching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Hoping: Queensland doesn’t move back towards a lockdown. Watching what’s happening in other parts of Australia is scary and doesn’t bode well for us up here.
Marvelling: I’m sure I’ve said this before, but at how kids develop in leaps and bounds. Jman is suddenly a little boy, full of questions and jokes, so tall and getting so heavy I can’t really carry him anymore. T is also up and about running, dancing whenever there’s a beat and just generally loving on her family. They blow my mind at least once a day, and even though I moan a lot that I just want to sleeeep I wouldn’t change a thing.
Cringing: Continuing on from the above, cringing at some of my short-tempered reactions to the kids. There isn’t a lot of me to go around and after a particularly wakeful night I can be prone to joining in with their tantrums. I spend a lot of time explaining and apologising to Jman and talking it out with Steve. I’ve also been listening to a lot of podcasts with Maggie Dent and Janet Lansbury, audiobooks with Dr Justin Coulson and sending SOS messages to friends. Perhaps I should reignite my daily meditation practice too, seeing that stopped when I got tired of T tackling me for the entire 10 minutes or trying to steal my headphones.
Questioning: A return to university. I would love to retrain as a dietitian or nutritionist but I just don’t think I can do another four years of study.
Smelling: The peppermint oil in the diffuser. The coffee pot on the stove and the hand cream I just rubbed into my poor cracking hands. All that hand washing on top of gardening comes with a cost!
Wearing: Jeans, long sleeves and jumpers, or yoga pants and thick socks if I’m at home and needing comfort. I actually wore stiletto heels for the first time in years recently, when we broke out for Steve’s birthday dinner and within 10 minutes was questioning how I used to go clubbing in them.
Sorting: Baby clothes into bags ready to pass on to friends or drop at the op-shop.
Disliking: Any and all diet talk. Jman asked what “fat” meant recently after overhearing a conversation and I wanted to yell. Maybe I’m just noticing it now, but lockdown restrictions have sure seemed to lead to an increase in conversations about diets and needing to lose the “covid-19”. Boring! And as a parent trying to raise intuitive eaters all I can think is it’s so sad that the kids have to overhear and witness their parents hating on their bodies.
Opening: Wine leftover from our wedding! Steve made the surprise discovery in the bottom of our “wine cellar” recently and it’s been excellent. I should mention our “wine cellar” is a few Styrofoam boxes kept in the study, just in case we were in danger of being taken for adults.
Feeling: Out of sorts, to be honest. Like many other people I am feeling battered by 2020.
Snacking: On fruit; homemade bread (I’m getting there with sourdough) eaten warm from the oven with peanut butter, avocado or butter and jam; cheese and crackers or medjool dates stuffed with almond butter and a piece of 70% dark chocolate. I’m also digging Greek yoghurt with honey, walnuts, and sultanas.
Hearing: As above with reading. The BBC radio adaptation of Neverwhere. It’s so good! Of course it is, it’s Neil Gaiman. But after listening to the first episode I was excitedly telling Steve he had to listen to it and that I now understood why people got into radio plays.
Knowing: This period in time is a crazy one, but it hopefully won’t last. Until then, there’s good food to be cooked and shared, beautiful music to dance to, and belly laughs to be had. And, on off days, there’s dark chocolate and zoom to connect with friends.