carpe de pizza

I think I’ve figured it out. It’s difficult to plan “extras” into your day, like baking muffins or making your own pickles. Looking at our hopelessly overloaded schedules, we never seem able to afford the time.


It’s all about stealing the moment. This afternoon as I put my second little boy down for his nap, I called Hubby to check in and discuss dinner plans. “Pizza?” He suggested. I looked at the clock. I had a good 20 minutes before one of the boys would stir. “Sure,” I said, and opened the cupboard for the flour.


It would have been easy and quick to order in pizza or pull out a frozen back-up, but what better way to spend 20 minutes than making my own pizza dough? And I mean that question seriously. Twenty minutes isn’t really enough time to do anything substantial (including a proper relax), so really, my choices were to return a few emails, attend to the dishes in the sink, or mix some dough for dinner.


I did the dough.


Less than fifteen minutes later, my soon-to-be-home-made-pizza was proving cheerfully on the kitchen counter, and I was puffing with pride.


Come dinner time, all it will need is a can of chopped tomatoes, some oregano out the garden, a dash of S&P, and a sprinkling of cheese. Maybe some mushrooms if I send Hubby past the shops on his way home. Delish!


Not only will this tickle our taste-buds, but homemade pizza is guaranteed preservative- and additive-free, it’s cheaper than store-bought, and its carbon footprint is lower because it’s less well-traveled and comes with no superfluous packaging. A perfect Veggietots meal!


But today’s lesson isn’t just about the pizza. It’s about an attitude. Call it a Veggiet-attitude. It’s about seizing the moment to do things that add meaning, value, and pleasure to your life. I couldn’t have planned to make pizza for dinner tonight; my day was just too hectic. But when I found myself with an unexpected moment I decided to seize it by the proverbials. So, I say, Carpe de Pizza!


If you, too, want to know How To Be A Domestic Goddess, follow the recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Pizza Casareccia: page 315 of the book by the same name, or follow the link


All toppings are optional and can be substituted with whatever you fancy (or whatever’s in the fridge). A pretty apron is non-essential but it does help you to feel the part!

doctor, go spock yourself

Feeling a bit like a Zombie today. Seven-month-old Shai and I were up last night with a bit of teething. It reinforced for me that even when things are going well – no-one is ill, teething is a normal and necessary part of baby’s development – motherhood is intensely tiring and hard work.


I think that part of the problem is that people don’t talk enough about the physical and emotional exertion of being a mom, so that when we experience it we are surprised, and concerned. Old parenting manuals pathologize negative experiences as unnatural, or fob them off as ”the baby blues”. Dr Spock and his ilk from the ‘70s believed that if you’re not floating around in a haze of maternal bliss, there’s something wrong with you. Much of society today retains this belief, either because they don’t have children (and the first-hand experience which contradicts this myth), or because it was ingrained in them at the time when they themselves were young parents (Mom, I know you’ll be reading this – Hi!J).



Outdated approach, to say the least!


Everyone knows that Post Natal Depression is a very real and serious thing. But PND is only an extreme example of the effects that becoming a mother can have on a woman’s psyche and her ability to cope with life. People are now beginning to realize that many of the symptoms of depression are a NORMAL part of the experience of motherhood.


Of course that’s not to say that we should just accept being depressed all the time as our “lot” for having popped out the tots. We need to pay attention to our situations and put support systems in place wherever we can. We need to break free from the oppressive and impossible expectations of motherhood with which society shackles us. We’ve got to make motherhood work for us. That’s no small feat, so let’s not lump guilt onto the already overwhelming burdens we’re carrying.


Yup, I’m exhausted today. I’m a bit frazzled, and if my gorgeous boys don’t go down for their naps this afternoon I know I will want to throttle them (but I won’t actually do it). The thing is, I accept my situation as part of the ups and downs of the stage of life that I’m at. I’m not abnormal. It’s okay to be perpetually tired. It’s okay to feel stressed and down sometimes. It’s okay to wish for a break from the little devils, I mean darlings. And that realization, my friends, is the biggest illumination.


Who of you can relate to this?



Some of the historical background and ideas in this post were inspired by: Kell, G. J. (2005). Our Educated Discontent: An exploratory study of the lived experiences of mothers in a post-modern world. (Unpublished Honour’s thesis). University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban.”

all i want for xmas is my two tonsils

For what felt like the millionth night in a row, last night Hubby and I found ourselves slouching on the couch way past our bedtime, with our sniveling, post-operative two-year-old, watching Lala and Po ride their scooters around the Tellie-Tubby garden.

Little Ariel had his tonsils removed last week after they’d been linked to six illnesses over the course of the year. Between the fevers and doctors and specialists and days off school (and work), last-minute babysitters and finally the op and all the post-operative fun that comes with it, we’ve had quite a rough few weeks. (So please forgive the lack of time spent on the blog!)

Thank God the operation was a success and, medically, he’s well on the mend. But he’s been a sad little sausage, not least because he refuses to take his painkillers so I’m sure his throat hurts like hell. He also refuses to eat (probably because it hurts), so he’s been hungry and grumpy and unsettled.

On Doctor’s advice, we’ve thrown out every rule for a week and are indulging him with extra love and attention, tons of pacifying TV, and junk food (the medical establishment these days frowns upon the jelly-and-custard approach, and encourages hard foods to scrape off the scabs and help the throat to heal quicker).

Yes, for one week we’ve turned into those parents that we judge – our kitchen cupboards are filled with MSG-loaded, sugar-coated, poly-unsaturated, artificially coloured, nutritionally empty calories. Like those biscuits with the jam-flavoured cement centres, and the little ones covered in white chocolate and hundreds and thousands. And of course there are the clouds of refined maize and tartrazine masquerading as chips. But at least he’s eating SOMETHING.

We’ve tried everything to get the medicines down. We’ve marketed them as grape and banana juice (they really don’t taste so horrible); we’ve slipped them in with his chocolate milk; we’ve tried to bribe him with a whole array of the above-mentioned junk food; we’ve spent ages trying to reason with him and begging him to take “just a teeny-weeny little sip for mommy” off the spoon; but – unfortunately – the most effective method is to hold him down, block his nose, and force them in with a syringe. The thrashing and wailing and high-pitched shrieks of “no! no! no!” gargled through the offending medicine just break my heart.

So we’re all feeling a bit low at the moment, and the situation isn’t helped when the nights are broken by bouts of crying and hours of Tellie Tubbies (I’m not sure which is worse).

But this is all towards the greater good. Even a Veggietot Mom needs to know when to put principles aside and just get on with it. Time heals all wounds – even tonsillectomies – and hopefully soon our moods, eating and sleeping habits will be back to normal.

In the meantime, any advice to get us through???

getting hung up on tiny clothes

Image courtesy

This afternoon while both boys were napping (a rare and precious concurrence of events!) I thought I’d take the time to try to be productive and organize Yishai’s wardrobe, which has been looking more and more like the result of a drunken evening with a charity bin and a dress-up box.


Since he’s now 5 months old and a strapping 7.7 kgs, it’s not surprising that the outfits for 0-3 month-olds are getting more than a little snug. I decided that anything smaller than the 3-6 months category would go straight onto the donate pile. Simple enough, right?




I found myself fifteen minutes later, sitting on the floor in his room, trying not to blub over all the cute little outfits that no longer fit him. I was suddenly overcome with nostalgia. He’s growing so fast. He’s not my tiny baby anymore.


I just want to squeeze him into those clothes a little longer.


It reminds me of a story from when Ariel was about this age. We were at my mom’s house and she was convinced he had colic. “Look at him, he’s cramping. He’s pulling his little legs up to his chest!”


With a bashful smile, my husband had to admit to her that he wasn’t cramping – Ari couldn’t straighten his legs because Daddy had dressed him in our favourite babygrow, which was now too small for his fast-growing limbs!


Kids grow. And as they get bigger, our hearts expand to accommodate them. I suppose that’s what hurts – our hearts stretching.


So I put the tiny clothes in a box and put them back in the cupboard. Who knows – perhaps they’ll come in useful again one day. If not, I have plenty of pregnant friends who can use them in the meantime. And when I’m ready to let them go, I will.


But today I’m holding on to the sweet memories of my baby in his tiny Pooh-bear body vests and fluffy babygrows. Their softness somehow seems to ease the aching of my heart.

grimey happy people

I’m trying not to cry with laughter as I type this. It’s probably going to be one of those things where “you had to be there”, but it’s given me such a good dose of the best medicine that I just had to share :-)

It was the end of a long day but everything was fine. Ariel was in a great mood. Until bathtime. Well, actually until about two minutes before bath time, when Warren started trying to undress him for the bath. He didn’t want to take his clothes off.
Since the kid seriously needed a scrub, Wa obviously took off the clothes. Ari went beserk and almost threw himself into the laundry basket after the dirty garments.
Wa then carried Ari to the bathroom, kicking and screaming all the way (Ari, not Wa). He wailed through the entire bath, moaning and pointing out the door, crying “No! No!”
Then Wa tried to put him in clean PJ’s and he almost had a fit. Eventually we asked him if he would be happy if we gave him the old clothes. He stopped crying immediately and replied with a very affirmative ”yeth!”
So out of desperation we went and got the dirty clothes. He perked up a little but still seemed a bit distressed. Wa took a flyer: “Do you want to put them on?”
“Yeth!” Suddenly the eyes lit up. So amidst our giggles Wa dressed him in his dirty clothes and suddenly he was all smiles. We put him in his cot and he even smiled for the camera!
I guess parenting is about learning something every day and today’s lesson was about choosing your battles. Some things, like principles and the last biscuit in the tin, are worth fighting for. Other things are not. So the kid’s happily gone off to dreamland in filthy shorts and T-shirt but the bottom line is he is HAPPY. My little boy is decisive, assertive, and a little grubby, but HAPPY. And that makes me HAPPY :-)
(yes, that is his “smiling for the camera” face!)

Doing it all

I received the following sms after last night’s post: “Where do you find the time – baking and blogging! Definitely Super-Mom!”

This from a lady who is a partner at a law firm and balances her demanding career with a delightfully exuberant two-year-old, schlepping her to play school, extra murals, appointments, etc in between court appearances and consults with clients. This from the woman who found the time during her newborn’s naps to compile a fully illustrated and personalized “How to hold/bath/feed/burp/change your baby” guide for a very anxious, pregnant me. This from the woman who took a few days off from work and her own family obligations to help me with my new baby so I could bath and sleep – and she did this with BOTH my children, the second time just a couple of weeks before hosting a rootin’ tootin’ birthday hoe-down for her daughter and dozens of her closest friends. And just for the record, this is one of the most impeccably turned out ladies I have ever met – nails always done, hair and clothes perfect, and somehow she finds the time every day to put on make-up.

And I’M Super-Mom???

I think sometimes women – and mothers in particular – don’t give ourselves enough credit. Sure, no-one can do everything. And the insane pressure to try is enough to break even strongest of us into pieces.

I think the Elizabeth Gilbert quote I keep on my fridge sums up the situation beautifully: “Drop the crazy-making expectation that we must all be perfect friends and perfect mothers and perfect workers and perfect lovers with perfect bodies who dedicates ourselves to charity and grow our own organic vegetables, at the same time that we run corporations and stand on our heads while playing the guitar with our feet.”

But I think it’s the premise that needs modifying: no-one can do everything – at the same time. So yes, I baked cookies and wrote my blog. But I didn’t eat dinner, and went to bed without a shower. Oh, and I had to get up at the crack of dawn to do laundry. It’s all about priorities. But sometimes the cookies are worth it.

There are days for baking, and days for bathing. There are laundry days, and there are lounging days. A time for takeaways, and a time for making a three course meal from scratch. Some days we’re growing organic vegetables, and others we’re running corporations. And some days we might even stand on our heads and play the guitar with our feet. We really can do anything if we want to.

It takes more than a cape and red knickers to be Super-Mom. I know a few. In fact every woman I know – and you know who you are – is absolutely incredible in her own way and capable of achieving so much that she forgets how resourceful she actually is. I love and admire you all.

party countdown: 21 days to go!

Grin and bear It!

Yes, I’m feeling a little like Superwoman in an apron this evening. Despite having been up since 04:30 with my favourite little alarm clock and having had a harrowing day at work, I came home and baked the cookies for Ari’s party so that I can pop them in the freezer and tick them off the to-do list.

I went back to the Party Shop yesterday to get the brown paper bags, Pooh stickers and napkins, and the cookie cutters. They didn’t have a Pooh cookie cutter, so I had to settle for a common or garden teddy bear, but I’m sure that once I pipe on red icing T-shirts they’ll be pretty convincing. I’m particularly impressed with the faces as I was worried they were going to turn out like Winnie the Picassos!

My mother thinks I am mad to bake things myself when “there are perfectly good bakeries in town!” Sure, she has a point, and that’s why I’m outsourcing some of the catering, but I don’t know – I still feel that there’s something wonderful about making something special for my child’s birthday. These are not just biscuits. They are a gift for my son, from my heart to his. Made with Mother’s Love, they are a commitment to his sensory and spiritual well-being.

And besides, baking can be very therapeutic… kneading away all the pressures of the day as I roll out the dough… cutting out all the little bears like so many tiny friends to keep me company of an evening (Hubby is at a meeting)… lovingly pressing in all those currant eyes and cherry lips… And as for the feeling of accomplishment as I take the steaming, smiling, spice-scented biscuits from the oven? Well, stick me in a cupcake case and call me Martha!

Perhaps I’m still star-struck with the magic of being a new mom. Maybe a few years down the line I’ll be so jaded by kiddies parties and school projects and lunch boxes and lift schemes that I won’t have the energy to bake cookies for my boys.

But maybe I can hang onto this delicious feeling of passion. Because I think that this is what being a Veggie-Tot Mom is all about: nurturing the creative force within us that brings us to a higher level of consciousness. After all, you can’t raise planet-conscious kids if you don’t cultivate consciousness yourself.

How we live our lives is in the choices we make. Sometimes it’s in the supermarket. Sometimes it’s in rush-hour traffic. And sometimes it’s in the kitchen. We use our physical, mental and emotional resources as best we can at the time, and if the world is a slightly better, happier, or tastier place when we’re done, then we’ve achieved our task as mothers.

betwixt and bet-wean

04:34am: Wanna Play?

It’s amazing how different two kids from the same genetic pool can be. My eldest slept through the night from 3.5 months and was happy to chat to his toes until we were ready to come get him at 8am (yes, I know, I was very, VERY lucky!).

My second boy, now 4.5 months, still wakes for some midnight munchies around 1 or 2 am, and then wakes up for the day about 4:30 or 5:30 – AND WANTS TO PLAY!

Especially since I’ve gone back to work, I’ve been taking a bit of strain with this arrangement. I’ve been unfairly comparing him to his older brother and resenting being woken up at all hours of (what I still rightly feel is) the night. But this morning I had a bit of an epiphany. You know, with our second child I’ve been very, VERY lucky!

When I went back to work we started the weaning process, getting Yishai onto bottles during the day and starting him on baby porridge. So I’m seeing much less of him now, and the breastfeeding is slowing down too. So it’s actually a blessing that I still get to have those little midnight cuddles, and drift back to sleep with the soft scent of babyhead by my face. And I get a couple of hours in the morning – before the phone starts ringing, the computer starts dinging, and my eldest, husband and the house need a share of my attention – just to bond with my little boy.

I’m not saying I’m not looking forward to sleeping through the night again(!)

But it’s not all bad.

And the more I think about it, life’s like that. We’re always betwixt and betwean – weaning ourselves from one state or process to the next – especially once you have children. We’re never stagnant, and the challenge is to get as much joy out of each stage as we can. I suppose it’s a wean-wean situation.

A Man A-Party

I can barely believe it but my eldest will be turning two next month! So I’ve started the process of planning The Party.

I still think he’s too young to know the difference, but his paternal grampsters are coming up from Cape Town for the occasion and – together with my grandma – they will lynch me if we don’t throw their darling boy a birthday party. Last year we got off lightly with having the family round for tea and birthday cake, but I don’t think that’s going to cut the proverbial mustard this time round.

Ariel loves Winnie the Pooh, so I went down to the local party shop to see what’s available. They had Pooh Bear disposable cups, plates, cutlery, serviettes. They also had throw-away banners and other decorations. And, of course, plastic “goodie bags” and plenty of junk with which to fill them.

But I didn’t buy them. Something didn’t feel right. Too many questions kept popping into my head: Do I really have to buy into cavalier consumerism to throw my son a nice party? Does a birthday necessitate buying – and then discarding into landfills – piles of paper and plastic, Pooh Bear embellished or otherwise?

It just doesn’t seem to gel with the values I’m trying to teach my kids. What message will this send? That when we celebrate, it’s okay to waste? That profligate behaviour is acceptable, just so long as you have a great party? I want Ari to grow up to be an earth child, not a prodigal son! What of planetary responsibility?

That said, I have two babies, a house to run, a job, and now a blog to write – so the convenience of the Party Shop route is definitely appealing. I’m also not particularly keen to martyr myself. I know that parties don’t happen every day, and that a few plastic plates won’t make a huge ecological difference in the grand scheme of things.

But it’s the principle. Each little bit does count. Furthermore, these are the occasions on which memories are made. And more importantly, for me at least, I think it’s appropriate that a celebration of my son’s life espouses the values by which he lives.

What’s a VeggietotMom to do? :-(