Family Photos

So I know it has been a number of weeks since I last wrote.. I went back through the site and yikes.. it’s been forever..

Life has gotten a little busier with two kids but to be honest I haven’t really felt the inspiration to pull out the laptop and blog. I’ve spoken to a few people who think that blogging is dying or has died but if it’s dying (or is dead) where else am I going to be able to post something longer than a caption? I refuse to be one of those people who put a “continued in the comments” statement at the end of their essay caption on instagram.. ha!

In the last few months since I’ve blogged we’ve gotten into more of a routine with Raegan, Ava’s started preschool one day a week, I’ve gone back to work 4 days a week and we’ve gotten family photos! Today I’m sharing some of the highlights from our family photos that we absolutely loved. If you’re in Sydney and you need a photographer you should look up Hayley Rafton! We had photos taken with her 2 years ago when Ava was just over 1 so we knew we had to use her again to document our growing family!

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Are we done…?

IMG_2553.JPGLast night as my husband and I divided and conquered showers, bottles and bed times for our two girls he looked at me (as I passed our 3 month old out of the shower) and said “no more..” I knew exactly what he was saying and feeling and wholeheartedly agreed!

I doubt I’ll look back at this post and laugh with a growing belly.. but I guess who knows.. never say never people keep telling me..

My reasoning was- if I didn’t shed tears when I packed away the three zero clothing of Raegan’s or when I packed away the bassinet and baby bath for the last time that that meant I was done.. I’m not someone who has emotional attachment to things- you can ask any of my family members.. new car- cool.. new house- cool.. things can come and go and I really wouldn’t be phased.. what am I attached to? I don’t know.. I’m still trying to figure that out.. but I digress.. no tears were shed, no heart strings were pulled.. I didn’t feel sentimental or overcome by a feeling of loss. It wasn’t a hard or long road like many others I know and for that I will forever be grateful. But all that being said I think we’re done. I never felt “done” after Ava.. I always knew we would have number 2 but this time it seems pretty final.

Only after watching Maria Kondo’s organisation show did I get together little boxes of sentimental things for our family- never assuming that they would value that stuff (if the word stuff doesn’t show you how non-sentimental I am I don’t know what will..haha) later in life.

Deciding not to have more children is monumental- I know. It’s something that I’ve been praying about it and asking for the Lord’s direction on. I’ve seen people mourn over the decision, talk about a sense of loss or sadness but not me and I guess that’s what makes us all unique.  How about you? Do you feel like you’re done or is there a niggling feeling in your heart for another baby?

Everything for Him..

A couple of years ago if you were to hear Christian Mum in a sentence I think most would picture a homely looking woman, perhaps home-schooling her children with a swear jar on the counter.. okay maybe not.. thank you Instagram and FB- the modern Christian mum is young and hip looking, juggles multiple jobs while volunteering at her local church and pre-school. Perhaps she makes grain free banana muffins on the weekends and she posts pictures of cool looking food oh and her kids wear lots and lots of linen and never poxy pink tutus (guilty as charged..) Hats off to you if you are hip and with it.. I find myself striving to be this “modern Christian mum” swayed by Instagram and Facebook. I was listening to a podcast (crazy right.. 2 kids at home and a podcast playing.. it actually only lasted 15 minutes but more on that later..) this morning of a sermon titled “Everything for Him.” It was like a slap in the face if I’m being honest.. The sermon was based on the scripture: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:3

I am the first to admit that I am struggling with embracing this season of my life. I’ve been on maternity leave for just over 12 weeks now and I can’t say the going has got any easier. It’s not that the girls are “hard”- by no means are they “hard”- we have been blessed with great eaters and sleepers. Having worked outside of the home since I was 16 (minus one year that was spent overseas) it has been hard to put the working Steph aside and take on mum Steph full time. Yes, I still volunteer at Church and have heaps of work there that I love doing, but you know that I mean. I almost resent my husband each morning as he gets his clothes on and leaves the house. I feel a twinge every time I hear the garage open knowing that I’ll see him in 8 or 9 hours.

Today I was really feeling it- that utter spiral of “is this what my life has been reduced to..”, “will I ever get to go back to work..”, “I wonder if I can end my maternity leave early..”, “I don’t want any more children”.. couple all of that with a massive blow out that actually saw me throw out a singlet (it wasn’t worth trying to save), a cold (that I’ve had since Saturday night) and an untidy pantry and spare room. This may seem ridiculous to you but for someone who thrives in organisation and ‘everything in its place’ I was beside myself.. and then I turned on the podcast. To be honest I’m only about 15 minutes in- the kids woke up so I had to pause it until maybe Friday (haha.. just kidding..but really) but just the idea of “all for the Glory of God” made me really stop and look at my life.

If you find yourself in the trenches of motherhood not knowing when the fog will clear or when you may have even a sliver of independence back let me remind you “all for the Glory of God.” From the minute your child makes a noise in the morning it’s go-go-go (today my day started at 6:15am..so I know exactly how you feel).. It’s hard to remember that everything I’m doing is for the Glory of God. As I washed another load of dishes, waiting for the familiar ding of the washing machine to finish the second load…

…hang on…time out…Raegan has woken up…I’ll be back…

Okay back…

..this is life at the moment..full of interruptions..but all for the Glory of God! My prayer is that my kids and husband see the love of God in everything I say and do.. as I cook another meal my prayer is that my family feel the provision of God and know that we are blessed to have what we have. Every dish in the sink means we had food to eat, every load of laundry means we had clothes to wear, every vacuum of the house means we had walls and a roof over our head to live in, every day of maternity leave means we had the finances for me to raise our children full time- when you look at it through the glory of God you really do see it differently..

I challenge you mumma- this week, start looking at things with “All for the glory of God” in mind!

Here’s an iPhone wallpaper I’ve designed to remind you!

Just click on the image and save to your camera roll.

National Diabetes Week

IMG_1972.JPGWith bated breath I sit in a waiting room listening for my name to be called. I’m trying to pass the time by watching the silent morning news and scrolling through Instagram but really I only have one thing on my mind. My name gets called.. as I follow the nurse down the corridor I hear my stomach growl, a constant reminder that I have a child in my womb. One, two, three viles later I am escorted back to the waiting room. Waiting for this process to happen again, twice more actually, over the course of the next 2 hours. Like clockwork I feel the effects of the sugary drink I forced down an hour earlier, these symptoms are so familiar..I feel tears start to prick my eyes and spill down my cheeks. Not again I whisper..
4 days later I see a call come through from a number I don’t recognise- I already know what the nurse is going to say. “Hello, is this Stephanie?.. you are positive for GD.”

So, now, here I sit.

I see this referral almost every morning- I can’t lose it so I don’t put it away where I am bound to forget it exists.. in a month I will sit in the same waiting room and repeat this process. Having given birth to two healthy babies I can’t find fault in my body and yet here I am praying that it performs as it should.

I’m the 1 in 9, predisposed by my Middle Eastern heritage. There’s a stigma attached to it- we take pin pricks 4 times a day, nurses check our results every few weeks, doctor’s run through what we’re eating and treat us like toddlers. We pay for test strips and miniature needles, we set alarms on our phones multiple times a day. Our appointments are 3 times longer than usual, 2 hours in a waiting room is considered normal..
If you’ve had it once you will more than likely have it again they tell you..

Diabetes doesn’t always look the same person to person but it’s something that can drastically change a persons life.

Za’atar Man’ouche Recipe

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Za’atar Man’ouche is traditionally a food the Lebanese claim as their own however many believe it can be traced back to Biblical days. I have always loved Za’atar Man’ouche (a combination of herbs- Za’atar, toasted sesame seeds, dried sumac and often salt on a type of dough or مناقيش‎  in Arabic). My Assyrian Nan was over a few weeks ago so we decided to make some.

Za’atar Man’ouche

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups plain flour

75ml Olive Oil + 5 Tbsp more

150ml warm water

2 tsp yeast powder

1 tsp salt

6 Tbsp Za’atar Mixture

How To

  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast powder and salt
  2. Make a well in the centre and pour in the Olive Oil and warm water
  3. Mix well until it all comes together and then start kneading until you have a smooth non sticky dough
  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in a warm area of your home for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface
  6. Divide the dough into 4 sections, lightly knead one section of the dough and roll out to desired thickness with a rolling pin. We used a pot lid to measure them out in round shapes.
  7. Using a brush, brush olive oil onto the dough and sprinkle with Za’atar
  8. Bake in a 200 degree Celsius oven for approx 7-10 minutes. I like to sprinkle mine with sea salt when they come out.

It was new but familiar..

IMG_2335.JPGFor my daughter Ava it was love at first sight. From the very first moment she met Baby Raegan she was in love. She has patted her and tickled her and loved on her non stop since the minute she met her. Raegan is the first person she asks for after her nap and the first person she invites to come along when we’re going anywhere. People told us horror stories of siblings trying to suffocate their siblings or completely rejecting them- we are so blessed that Ava hasn’t shown any of those signs.

When they placed Raegan on me for the first time I felt somewhat of a connection to her (considering we had had 9 months of bonding) however it was a different feeling to when they placed Ava on me. With Ava everything was new and profound- it was that first sunrise in a new place, the prospect of a life that we were blessed to have a front row seat to, onesies, so many nappies and bottles- everything was brand new to us- this time, with Raegan, we were comfortable with the new adventure ahead of us. It was new but familiar- we had walked this road before.

People told me that I would love my second baby the same as my first but I haven’t found that to be the case. Your first baby will always have a place in your heart reserved for that first child that made you a mum or dad, and while you don’t love them less the love feels different. If you’re a second or third time mum or dad I can almost see you nodding your head in agreement.. unless you’ve been there before you can’t really understand it. I don’t think it’s the baby blues or something other than learning to have room in my heart for this new little person that prior to the 6th of May didn’t exist outside of my womb.

I love both my girls.. just saying the plural still shocks me a little! If you’re a second or third time mum and you’re not feeling the same butterflies in the tummy, google eyed feeling with baby number 2 or 3- it’s okay.. you’re not alone!

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On a side note, if you are having difficult bonding with your baby, feeling irritable, are having thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or your baby reach out to family around you and get help!

If these hands could speak..Assyrian Biryani

IMG_1945.JPGIf these hands could speak what would they say..

..my Nan grew up in Baghdad, Iraq as a Christian. Fleeing persecution by Saddam, her family made their way to Australia. The older I get the more I cherish my heritage and want to preserve as many things from my grandparents as possible.. Last week I stood in my kitchen and documented my grandma making Assyrian Biryani.

As kids (and maybe adults) we made jokes about how, for our entire lives, we always ate the same 5 dishes when Nan cooked but you know what.. I am desperately trying to learn how to make those dishes so that when she passes on I can tell my girls that their grandma stood in a kitchen in Iraq and made this.. it’s something that will be with the women of this family for future generations.

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Assyrian Biryani

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

4 thigh fillets

1/2 kg of gravy beef or beef fillet

120g Slivered Almonds

2 cups of basmati rice

2 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

2 white onions, chopped finely

2 cubes of powder chicken stock

2 tsp Turmeric

2 tsp Biryani Spice

2 tsp curry powder

Vegetable oil

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

How To

..cook the Rice

  1. Soak the rice in cold water for 20 minutes. Wash the rice and drain.
  2. Heat a pot with olive oil (enough to fill the bottom) on medium heat, add chicken stock, turmeric, biryani spice and curry powder to the pot, stir to combine.
  3. Add 3 cups of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling add the rice, cover and cook until water is absorbed. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally until rice is cooked.

..cook the Chicken

  1. Place the thigh fillets in a pot on medium heat. When the juices of the chicken are gone place ½ cup of water into the pot, when the water is gone add another ½ cup of water etc until the chicken is cooked.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into small pieces and place in a bowl.

..cook the Beef

  1. Place the beef in a pot on medium heat with a sprinkle of salt. When the juices of the beef are gone place ½ cup of water into the pot, when the water is gone add another ½ cup of water etc until the beef is cooked.
  2. Cut the beef into small pieces and place into a bowl.

..cook the Potatoes

  1. Wash the potatoes in cold water and drain well. Place on a paper towel and pat dry.
  2. Place enough vegetable oil in a pan to reach halfway up the potatoes and fry the potatoes on high heat until golden. Drain on absorbent paper. Once golden place the potatoes on top of the chicken pieces.
  3. Divide the oil from the potatoes into two seperate bowls.

..cook the Almonds

  1. Place the almonds into a pan with half the oil from the potatoes on medium heat and cook till golden.

..finish the Beef

  1. Place the other half of the potato oil into a deep pan- add the cooked beef and chopped onions. Fry on medium heat until the onions are softened. Set aside

Assembly

  1. Combine everything except the almonds in a pot and stir to combine. Once heated serve warm sprinkled with almonds

A fed baby is a happy baby..

IMG_1814.JPGI’ve been debating whether to post this or not for the fear of being seen so controversial but to be honest I felt that everything that’s to follow needed to be said.. for all women out there who will one day face the exact same situation I’ve experienced.

Breast feeding vs bottle feeding..

I read an Instagram post while I was pregnant which said something to the extent of ‘we support you women who can produce milk but choose to formula feed’. Choosing to bottlefeed formula as opposed to breastfeeding isn’t an easy decision, for some they don’t make enough milk, for others it’s a matter of mental health or perhaps for medical reasons you actually cannot breastfeed- whatever the reason you do not need to justify yourself.

Yes, midwives and hospital posters- we know, breastfed is best. Yes, random stranger who sees you pour formula into a sterilised bottled- we know it would be so much “easier” to just use what God has designed our bodies to produce but we’re not going for what is “best” by the standards of research or what is “easier” by the standards of convenience- we’re going for what works for me and my family.

So if you choose to formula feed and not even try breast feeding I cheer for you. I had a moment a few weeks ago where Raegan was struggling to poo (I know TMI..)- we were going on a few days. She would cry and only pass wind so I knew it was hurting her- I thought it may be the formula.. with tears in my eyes I felt to see if I had any milk (I had worked on suppressing my milk straight after she was born)- I barely had anything.. I felt so guilty for a split second and then snapped myself out of it and started working through exercises to help her poo. I was feeling guilty because of what other people had shamed me into thinking and feeling which was not okay.

So here we are 4 weeks later, she is actually a month old tomorrow and we are growing and thriving! We’re working out new routines for the girls and I and we are loving life (most days)! If you are where I was a few weeks ago, mumma, you have chosen to do what is best- don’t let anyone make you question your decision or shame you into thinking you’re not a great mum!

Family Photos!

Last week we were gifted with a newborn session by one of our very talented photographer friends- Rosalie Sweeney! Here’s a few of my favourite pictures.. most of them were absolutely beautiful (new mums can be really hard on themselves regarding how they look.. like, hello.. we just birthed a child and spent 9 months putting on weight).. but to be honest she captured our family so beautiful it almost doesn’t seem real! I’m a mum to two girls- what the?!

Introducing Raegan!

It all began on Monday morning, the 6th of May- we woke up and decided to go into work with Greg. We had been home for a week earlier with no sign of baby so I had resided myself to the fact that the baby wasn’t going to come till I was over 42 weeks and needing to be induced..
Once we got into work Ava and I walked to the local cafe to get a coffee then headed to the park to try and waste some time. We spent the day plodding or more like waddling around the office and ended up leaving around 3pm.
I dropped Greg and Ava home and went grocery shopping considering the baby wasn’t coming for a week I actually meal planned and needed to buy groceries. I remember also stopping into Kmart to finish off a baby shower gift for a friend and browse through the aisles a little. Once I got home I noticed that I was bleeding a little- something similar had happened with Ava so I called the birthing unit who recommended I come in to be checked.
We loaded up my bags, called a friend that lives close by because of course my sister decided to work a double shift at her hospital that day and headed into Liverpool hospital. We got to the hospital at 5:42pm- the street parking in front of the hospital is free from 6pm (with 15 minutes free), so we parked and stood outside the car for 3 minutes waiting for the timer to tick over to 5:45pm so we wouldn’t have to pay for parking (that was how non urgent the situation felt!). At this point I had only had one contraction in the car.
We went up to the birthing unit- after about 20 minutes a midwife came in to put me on one of those machines that monitor contractions and heart rate. At this point I was starting to get contractions somewhat consistently but still nothing significant. After about 20 minutes of monitoring they took me off the machine and decided to do an internal examination. After two different midwives checking they confirmed that I was 5cm already! Greg and I were both shocked- I barely had felt any pain and I was already halfway there! Thank you Jesus!
I knew I wanted an epidural but the contractions were manageable at this stage so I didn’t want it yet as the midwife assured me that if I was coping I should keep going because the epidural is known to slow down labour.
Greg and I started walking the hallways as contractions started coming every minute. I could feel them starting to build so I’d stop and lean against the railing until they passed- Greg and I have an understanding that when I’m in pain I don’t want to be touched or rubbed or spoken to so he would literally just stand there until the contraction passed. I can’t remember what we talked about but the contractions were still manageable. I tried counting through them.. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 but after a few contractions It wasn’t helping me to cope- I just breathed through them which seemed to work a lot better.
Mum arrived around 7:30pm with dinner (McDonald’s)! I ate in between contractions. She suggested I get in the shower to see if that would help with the contraction pain.. so I jumped in the shower for about 20minutes.. at this time it was around 8:30pm. The midwife came in to see if I wanted to get an epidural- apparently the anaesthetist was next door doing another ladies one. She said he would be about 20min so I put my order in..

The two original midwives came in again and needed to examine me before the epidural- I had a contraction laying on the bed while the midwife confirmed that I was 10cm and needed to push. We were all in shock.. his words were- do you want the good news or bad news? I said good news first (obviously)- he said- you’re 10cm.. the bad news.. I finished his sentence- it’s too late for an epidural.. I distinctly remember saying “this can’t be happening…” I looked at Greg and started crying and he said to me “Steph.. you can do this.. regroup.. you can do this…”

The head midwife quickly started ordering the student midwife around asking for warm blankets etc. She started ripping the plastic off the tubing for the gas (pain relief) but the head midwife told her it was pointless- I was literally pushing..

I asked him whether I could sit on my knees and hold the top of the bed- with Ava I had had an epidural (which didn’t work) but I had to give birth on my back.. I quickly flipped over and hung off the top of bed- I felt a contraction build and started to push.. I think I pushed twice and suddenly heard Greg say “her head is out..” Followed by a frantic “stop pushing.. stop pushing… ” To be honest the pain was completely bearable.. I think because I knew what has to be done and I knew I was so close.. When I say bearable I mean it was a weird dull ache painful rather than oh my goodness I’m being stabbed or dying pain..

Two or three more pushes later and her body was out..

It was the quickest and easiest labour, especially compared to my first delivery! I have felt amazing since giving birth- barely any pain- I’ve already been out a few times and today we even went for a walk (without Greg)- though it took us a bit longer to get out the door we did it and loved it!

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