The unexpected freedom in getting older

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I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about getting older.  Wondering how I feel about it. I’m really not that old but I feel it when I compare myself to the lithe high school girls pouring chattily out the school gate as I pick up my own preppy from the school next door.  How do I suddenly have 3 children of my own?!  One thing I am sure of is that as I get older, I am loving a new sense of being at peace with who I am.  I have realised I no longer compare myself to others.  I don’t compare myself, my kids and not my husband or our relationship.  I just feel content with being our own little unit doing our thing, whether that is the same of different to everyone else’s thing.  And it is incredibly freeing.

There is so much self-doubt and insecurity when we are younger.  We compare ourselves relentlessly and we never live up to our views of what we should be like.   But now, in my thirties, when there is so much freedom in just being okay with who we are.  Of course I still have doubts about my life, but they are just not about me any more.  I am finally accepting I’ve got good qualities and less good qualities and that’s okay.  I have written here before how I have recently accepted two things about myself: that I need to set lower standards for myself in the house and cooking departments to maintain calm, and that I am truly a non-glam mum despite my occasional attempts to brush my hair or even put mascara on.  Now, I am quite suddenly accepting my own body.  Not because it is improving, (which it most definitely isn’t), but because it’s me, and I may as well learn to get along with it because it is here to stay.  (And also because, to be honest, who has the energy to fret over it any more?!!?)  Don’t get me wrong, I still care about having a fit and healthy body, but I am blessed that it works and it gives me the energy to do what I want to do.  It’s so very ironic that all those beautiful, young, vital 20 year old girls whose bodies we envy, probably can’t enjoy their beauty because so many of them must be crippled with insecurity.  Conversely, I finally have confidence in my own body at the very time no one is actually looking any more!  The very time that confidence is probably not justified because 3 different kids have each left their mark on me. Oh well.  I have always heard of women embracing their confidence at this age but I didn’t know what it would feel like, and I tell you, it feels like liberation!

I have done my time, having my teenage angst and insecurity dominate me for years leaving me so incredibly unsure about my place on this earth.  But now, I am on the other side.  I don’t know what changed things for me.  Part of it I think was that I just got too busy to have the time to worry.  Having three kids under five that needed every second of my attention, has had me so inward-looking that I haven’t had the headspace to worry about how others think I am doing.  I’ve been in survival mode and it’s taken all my energy just keeping three kids alive and kicking, let alone feeling nurtured and loved.  I don’t have the capacity (or desire) to care what other mums who I barely know think of me or my parenting. I know I love my kids and I do the best I can and I accept that if I have a crappy parenting day when I shout and yell, it doesn’t make me a crappy mum. It just means I need some space to re-charge to be able to give more graciously again.   And of course I have the people in my life who I hope will pull me up when I need it, those beautiful friends and family who also know my faults but choose to embrace the good bits more.

But more specifically, I wonder if the new acceptance and confidence in my myself and my body first started with that incredibly primal physicality of giving birth which makes you at once, awed at what your body can do and at the same time, shocked that we have that animal nature within.  The rawness of birth ripped away any last shred of anxiety I had about my body.  This was then followed by several years of being willingly enslaved to newborns when my body existed purely to sustain their life. Children have taken me to the dark side of despair and desperation, but more overwhelmingly, they have made my heart soar will a fullness of love which feels like the only truth you know when you experience it.  I don’t think having kids in itself has helped me find my peace, but they have certainly accelerated the process of truly knowing myself.  They shine a very bright light into our deep dark places and then hold a mirror up for us to see all that lies within.  And in finally accepting myself, I no longer look to others to gauge their opinion on me. For now, I am who I am and I’m alright with that. I have finally, after 33 years, found the beat of the drum that I want to march to and it is the beat I find within these walls that house me and my little family.  I am strengthening myself so I won’t be thrown off beat my own insecurities or lack of belief.  It is incredibly freeing and refreshing.  (I suggest you try it on for size if you haven’t already.)

I am sure others must be going through the same transformation?  A shedding of their younger more insecure selves?  I know women in their thirties and forties seem to reach a new point of contentment on some levels… have you? Or not?  No experience is universal but I am intrigued to know the experiences of other women as they “age”.

Posted in Living Big, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just a little FYI

Hello lovely people. I just felt I should point out that I have changed my blog name and look.  For those observant among you, you may have noticed I have been through a few unannounced name changes in the last few weeks.  I kept trying new things on for size but nothing was quite right.  Until now. This blog is now called “one missing button”.  If you want to know why, feel free to read more on my About page.

Otherwise, thanks for following me and hopefully this blog spring cleaning will be over soon!

Amy x

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Weekend by pictures

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Ahhh the lovely Christmas spirit! A weekend of Christmas tree hunting, gathering and decorating, and a spontaneous get together with family at our house to mark the first day of December.  The kids are loving the activities from the Advent Calendar so far and I don’t think it will be hard to sustain their interest and excitement for another 23 days!!  Only downer is they have lost interest in making cards for the family in Argentina so it seems some cousins will get cards and others not….I might have to do a bit of the old, “I’ll do it, you just write your name” so at least I can get it in the post.  Luckily none of them read this blog.Image

Painting decorations together in the garden and below, on the hunt for the best tree at the farm! A serious business.

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I hope you all had a beautiful Christmassy weekend too. It seemed to be the weekend for decorating, every one was out in our street making their houses festive and beautiful. It is great to be part of something that everyone seems to be getting excited about!

 

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An amazing advent calendar for the children in your life.

Annie’s first advent calendar

Annie’s second calendar (yes she made one as a present too!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have an amazing friend named Annie who is so creative and clever, especially when it comes to creative things to do with or for her children.  This week she told me about the Advent Calendar she had just made her kids and it was so creative and wonderful and totally the inspiration I was looking for for my own Advent Calendar this year.  I really didn’t want another year of just shoving awful lollies and cheap plastic $1 toys in their calendars.  Annie has managed to make a calendar that gives all the usual Christmas treats and experiences, but also adds in an element of community awareness and brings in the Christian Christmas story  (which is after all the origin of Christmas).  She has generously allowed me to share her ideas here, thank you Annie.  I have called it…Annie’s Amazing Advent Calendar!

You can just use any advent calendar you may already have or make a simple one.  A friend bought a cheap multi-pack of Christmas socks and strung 25 of them up on string which looked very cute.  I have just bought a cheap packet of small envelopes which I plan to stamp and decorate and peg up on twine across the wall.  (I shall post photos when I’ve actually done it!)

Annie’s calendar comes with 3 cards in each pocket per day.  The first card she gives in the morning is an activity for them or the family to do that day.  The second card (for the afternoon) is a clue to where a treat (removable tattoos, stickers, erasers, a lolly) is hidden for the day.  The third card reveals which part of the Christmas story they will read that night (Annie uses the Jesus Story Book Bible and there is an advent reading plan that goes with it). I love this combination but my favourite part is the first card – the activity for the day.  Obviously you can come up with your own 25 activities but here are Annie’s for inspiration (also available as a downloadable PDF for printing or saving at bottom of post). There is also a template to use for the activities if you wish to download.

Ideas for the Advent Calendar Daily Activities

  • Day 1: Make an awesome carols playlist and sing Christmas carols and dance together.
  • Day 2: Read a Christmas book
  • Day 3: Make an “Elf Your Self” – Download Ipad app.
  • DAY 4: Make and decorate Christmas cookies whilst listening to the Christmas playlist
  • DAY 5: Wrap and deliver Christmas cookies to the neighbours
  • DAY 6: Go to the library and read Christmas books together
  • DAY 7: Catch a train into the city to see the Myer windows and have an ice cream
  • DAY 8: Put up the Christmas tree (of course whilst listening to the playlist and eating Christmas cookies!)
  • DAY 9: Write and decorate a letter or picture to God thanking him for everything special you have
  • DAY 10: Decorate the front door to make it Christmassy
  • DAY 11: Set up nativity set and act it out or watch a nativity story on you tube and act it out with your toys.
  • DAY 12: Make Christmas paper chain decorations
  • DAY 13: Make Christmas cards for friends and kinder teachers
  • DAY 14: Wrap presents for friends and family and put under the tree (check out cute eco-friendly wrapping ideas at sites like www.cityhippyfarmgirl.com/2013/11/27/top-ten-eco-friendly-gift-wrap-ideas/
  • DAY 15: Go to Kmart and let each child buy a toy for an underprivileged kid & put it under the Kmart wishing tree.  Use it as an opportunity to talk about this with the kids.
  • DAY 16: Take an evening walk down a street with impressive Christmas lights (there are many!)
  • DAY 17: Make a birthday cake  / buy a Safeway mud cake for Jesus and sing him happy birthday
  • DAY 18: Make and decorate a gingerbread house (available in Ikea for $4.95 each, or most supermarkets including Aldi). A good recipe for the icing is icing sugar, lemon juice and egg whites.  Allow time to help kids with this one!
  • DAY 19: Have a Treasure Hunt dinner – each course is eaten in a different area / room. Give clues to help them find each one.
  • DAY 20: Have family, cousins or friends over after dinner to sing carols and eat Christmas treats
  • DAY 21: Do some jobs for pocket money & then go to shops to buy a present for each of their siblings (or parents) with their own money
  • DAY 22: Go for an evening nature walk in pyjamas (nature walk involves each child taking a bucket and collecting interesting leaves, seed pods etc.)
  • DAY 23: Have a movie night: watch a Christmas film, have popcorn, hot chocolate and marsh-mellows.
  • DAY 24: Family pizza night, each person makes their own pizza and eat together by candlelight.
  • DAY 25: Open presents & sing Happy Birthday to Jesus

The options are endless but other possibilities:

  • Make a Christmas wreath together (Kikki K have cute ones or I love this stunning Aussie one on Hugo and Elsa)
  • Make a picnic dinner and go and hear the carols in the local park
  • Make Christmas decorations (check out Pinterest which has some amazing ideas or shops like Riot and Spotlight have simple, cheap kits to make basic decorations, around $4 each)
  • Let kids browse a Christmas cookbook (or Pinterest) and choose something they would like to bake
  • Partake in your child’s school or kinder charity drive (for example my daughter’s school wants food donations for Wesley Mission and my son’s kinder wants crayons or puzzles for a Sri Lankan orphanage we have a connection with)

Advent Calendar Activity Suggestions

(click on link above to download above suggestions in PDF format)

www.oddsocksandaponytail.com

Use this template to make your own activity cards for your advent calendar

Posted in Christmas fun, Craft & DIY | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Pomegranate and Berry Crush deliciousness

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I bought a pomegranate on a whim yesterday.  It just looked so nice and colourful that I thought I better have it.  Unsure what to do with it today (I often find them slightly anti-climatic) I ended up making a drink out of it.  It was so refreshing and delicious I decided to share it here.  The seeds were also delicious on their own!

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Pomegranate and Berry Crush (your antioxidant power drink!)

  • Seeds from half a pomegranate (reserve a few to sprinkle on top at the end)
  • Handful of strawberries
  • A spoonful of Goji berries soaked in water for an hour or so
  • 2-3 mint leaves or 3-4 basil leaves or both
  • 4-6 ice cubes

Blend everything together! This amount makes one drink.

I tried the mint version first, then the basil. Both were absolutely delicious and refreshing and I ended up just mixing both in together which worked well.  You don’t have to add Goji berries but I had them on hand so included then for an extra anti-oxidant hit.  The drink is pretty “textured” and could be thinned out with water, but I love it thick and cocktaily.  Was also delicious to get the odd whole pomegranate seed (used as decoration on top) to pop in my mouth.  I also think this would be delicious with gin. Or vodka. Just saying!

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Amy Auge from Oddsocksandaponytail.com

Pomegranate and Berry Crush Recipe Card (click link below to download)

Pomegranate and Berry Crush

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Weekend by photos

This weekend was a very family-centric one as my five “weekend moments by photo” show.Image

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1. The joy when my son discovers he isn’t actually scared of animals as thought (that’s a chicken in his grasp!)

2. Father and son jamming session

3. Passing on the skills to little sister

4. Discovering the kids on a “bus” outside

5. Paella cooked by husband and shared with friends

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Christmas is a’coming!! 10 reasons I LOVE Christmas

10 reasons to love xmas blogDing a ling ling!!!!  (Cue Christmas bells).  Christmas is coming!!  I LOVE it!  Please don’t be one of those many people who give that knowing look and shake their heads with exaggerated despair as they say “here we are again, such a crazy time of year!”.  Everyone seems to think it is awful, hectic, chaotic. All just too much bother and stress.  But it’s NOT people!! It can be busy I know but it is also FUNNNNN!!  I love it.  So much to enjoy.  Here are my top 10 reasons to embrace, nay LOVE Christmas this year:

  1. It’s fun to be festive and be part of something bigger that so many people are celebrating.  The majority of people in Australia celebrate Christmas and it’s fun that we are all in it together, unified for one giant celebration.
  2. People open their hearts more at Christmas I think.  There is need all around us all day every day but at Christmas time people seem more inclined to think of those less fortunate and how they can help bring a little cheer to others.  If only we could keep that momentum going throughout the year…
  3. You get to buy presents for people!  I know this is overwhelming sometimes but I LOVE finding that perfect gift for someone.  So many good places to buy something original, especially in Melbourne (The Big Design Market for a start). And it doesn’t have to be excessive.  There’s also lots of great places to go to for inspiration like this list for eco friendly Christmas gifts.
  4. It’s a really fun time to get in the kitchen. One of my besties and I started having a Christmas cooking day a few years back as we both wanted to tackle making a Christmas fruit cake for the first time (we felt it was a crucial rite of passage into womanhood).  So much fun to set aside a day and cook Christmassy recipes like panforte, almond bread, shortbread together.  We made Stephanie Alexander’s Christmas Cake which is still my favourite.  Added bonus is we then get to eat all that Christmas baking!
  5. Christmas is the perfect time to get creative.  Even if you don’t fancy making your own presents, I love taking time finding the perfect paper and ribbons and making beautiful packages that people will be excited to receive.  We all love getting something beautifully wrapped that you can see the love and effort has gone into. I saw this stunning Robin wrapping paper in Kikki K today.
  6. You get to answer curly questions from kids, like my son today who asked me whether Jesus and Santa are good friends.   Nothing like a good “Ummm….well what do YOU think?” reply!
  7. People go overboard on tacky lights and decorations. AND I LOVE IT.  Walking around lit up streets, past houses that have one billion giant Christmas figurines across their lawn and rooftops, complete with Santa’s inflatable legs sticking out the top of the chimney.  It makes me smile every time. Last time I asked a particularly enthusiastic neighbour why they had such an epic Christmas lights display and they said they remembered loving Christmas lights as kids so they just wanted to do something amazing for kids in the neighbourhood to enjoy.  That’s the Christmas spirit people!
  8. We get to have an enormous pine tree in our living room for a month!  We have a family ritual of heading down to Santa’s Place on the Mornington Peninsula where we all pile into a tractor that drops us in the middle of the pine plantation.  We spend forever finding the perfect tree (it is my husband who is pedantic about this, not the kids!) which they then chop down for us.  The kids get to choose one new decoration each for the year from the shop there, then we get to be all Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation and drive back to Melbourne with a giant tree strapped to the roof of our car. What’s not to love!?
  9. It is so beautiful seeing kids light up with the excitement of Christmas.  They get to make fun Christmas decorations, be part of Christmas baking, sing carols, write to Santa, put out snacks for Santa and the reindeer and of course, wake up at the crack of dawn Christmas morning to race to the tree with a pounding heart and see if Santa’s been.  And if you are a parent/godparent/aunt/uncle or grandparent you probably get to sit through a kid’s Christmas concert.  Often long, awkward, a little under prepared, but so damn cute and be honest, I bet you burst with pride when you see your little reindeer shuffle out and sing, even when they mess up all the words.
  10. It’s a time to connect and reconnect: with family around the tree on Christmas morning, with aunts and uncles and cousins you never get to see over Christmas lunch, with friends and colleagues at all the festive parties leading up to the big day.  And for many, to also perhaps pause and reflect on the original meaning of Christmas.

So let’s not complain and whinge too much about what can really be a very fun time.  It can so easily be busy and stressful but let’s keep it in perspective a bit.  We are busy and stressed because we are trying to fit in lots of social occasions and buy lots of presents for people we love.  First world problem perhaps? Maybe we can save our anxiety for those who really feel the absence of friendship and family and gifts and love this Christmas, and work out how we can best contribute to easing their suffering.

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