I remember the first time I saw you…
Standing next to a NICU bed, looking down at your tiny little body… I felt in that moment, that I was such a minute part of the incredible, magnificently infinite perfection of the Universe.
You came from pure love. Things were not perfect, far from it, but the Plan for you and I was laid out long before. If I’m being honest, things weren’t perfect even on the day I walked down the isle four years before that and I knew it, but chose to have faith.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing because every step I took, led me to where I am.
I was 13 weeks pregnant when I started having terrible pain all around my hips and down my legs. Within a week it became unbearable and the doctor sent me for an MRI. We were admitted directly from the MRI to the maternity ward as they discovered that I had a couple of slipped discs in my lower back.
We spent a good week in the hospital, in “light” traction and on whatever medication they could give to help the pain. During that time I got to focus intently on this little ball that would push up against the traction belt and I was privileged to hear your heartbeat every day when most mommies at this stage would hardly notice the little flutters in their bellies.
The doctor advised that it would become more difficult and that bed rest would probably be the best option. I had to resign from my job eventually as I was in debilitating pain that was only going to worsen with the growing pressure on my body.
Over the next few months there was a lot of reading, music, loneliness and that never ending big giant pain. I mostly shuffled to the bathroom and back to bed. Whilst there were some days when I could be up and about a little, I would suffer that activity for weeks afterwards. I was fortunate though, to notice nearly all the movements you made and truly appreciate the time that you spent growing inside my body.
You were constantly moving! Even when you were asleep, a hand or a foot would be moving and watching you sleep as a little person I could recognise the same movements.
It’s going to be okay
I remember the day when the marriage came crashing down. As if it was yesterday. We were 6 months along and it was December. The pain and the heat were excruciating and relentless.
As the events unfolded in the middle of the night I instinctively placed my arms around my belly as if to shield you. Then there was a calm that came to me. A sense of peace. No matter what happened, we would be okay. We were together. You were my strength and I was your protector.
Many things transpired over the next couple of months but there was really only one important thing. I remember shuffling along the passages to the doctor’s rooms for checkups in tears, hoping to manage a few more weeks to keep you safe. Stubbornly refused to sit in a wheelchair, but anyway…
Eventually the C-section was scheduled for 36 weeks. It was becoming risky for both of us to keep you on the inside they said… but we know that the outside was a different story altogether.
On the morning of the 6th of March 2009, you must have known that the day had come because it felt like you were trying to climb in under my ribs. We arrived at the hospital and went through the motions, got prepared. Your grandparents were all there, waiting excitedly as they pushed us to the operating room.
I knew that there was no way I could have a natural birth but what I didn’t know was that I couldn’t have a spinal block at that time either. It was only once inside the theatre that the Gynaecologist told me that I would actually be knocked out completely and miss the whole birth! I remember being extremely nervous. I told you it was all going to be okay and I would see you in a little while. There’s a video of your dad filming himself in the theatre mirror, lol! Oi… anyway…
I remember waking up in the recovery room feeling this awful emptiness… the only person there was the nurse telling me to rest and that everything was okay. The little wiggle in my tummy was no longer there and the feeling of absence was overwhelming. So much confusion… funnily enough I remember everything, even many years later.
They rolled the bed back to the room. You had gone to NICU and I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t see you…
Other new mommies in my room either had their baby with them or had a spinal block and were all chatty. I was in pain, I was groggy from anaesthetic and I couldn’t see my baby. Your dad was up and down between NICU and my room. He only showed me the first photo of you once there weren’t so many wires and tubes hooked up. I felt like I should have been able to be with you through that. I didn’t see your first breath. I missed your first day and your first battle.
You were a superstar even then and by the evening of your first day, they had taken off the oxygen.
The second the nurse walked in the next morning I told her to pull out and take off whatever needed to be taken off me, I wanted to get up and go!
Then there I was, tiny little speck in an infinite universe, looking at this little miracle that came from my body… Wow…
11 Days in NICU and finally we got to take you home! Up to that point the nurses had done pretty much everything except feed and I felt a small panic at being fully responsible for this little person now. It was certainly an adventure but you were always the best sleeper, sleeping through at 10 weeks old already and never looked back.
Wheels of change in motion
You were four months old when I packed a suitcase for you and I and we came to Joburg to visit a friend. From that moment on, the same big Universe was set in motion to create a life I had never imagined and things started to fall into place one by one.
My friend said to me at the time, “Just come and stay whether it’s for a week or a month or a year, doesn’t matter.”, nobody knew. I hadn’t been working, in fact I didn’t even have my own bank account but hey, eight months later we moved into our own little place.
It was an interesting time. I grew, I learned, I watched things happen almost as if it was a movie… and you grew and learned and you were this amazing light in my life. We were going to be okay.
We built our new home on rock
Throughout every moment of this new life, we had such incredible support from friends and family. People who were there for us, come what may, new people who came into our lives and have added to our adventure in the best ways. We have been blessed with love beyond measure and my heart runs over with gratitude every day.
You weren’t even walking yet when we met SuperDad and Caroline and for the two of you it was love at first sight! For us grownups it took a while longer and it was three years later when we took the big step to moving into one home together.
At four years young when your little world was shaken to its core again. Blake was born and you had a new sibling in your home, which is hard enough to deal with for most children. Two months to the day after that, your grandfather passed away after years of suffering. The two of you were like soulmates, as close as I had ever seen and for the last four years of his life, you were the light in his life too.
Living through that grief, that heart shattering period with you was possibly the most intense emotional experience I have ever had. Having lost my grandfather at six years old, I knew that you would need as much love and support as you could get but I couldn’t even begin to imagine that a four year old child had the capacity to grieve a person’s loss so intensely. To this day he’s often on your mind and always in your heart. We talk about it and we think it through and it is okay.
Nine years later we are much, much more than just okay.
You are the most beautiful soul. An endless well of energy, a constantly enquiring mind always looking to understand more, a gentle and kind spirit with a laugh that comes straight from the core of your being. You’re sensitive, without taking life too seriously. Intelligent, with a sharp sense of humour.
The best, most patient and understanding big brother.
Practically born with a ball in hand, you could easily keep yourself occupied all day with a ball and a patch of grass. Outside as much as possible whether hiking, animal spotting, playing, running, swimming or just lying on the grass making up cloud shapes. Your favourite place on earth is the beach and my favourite place on earth is watching you play and laugh in the waves.
Music lover, day dreamer, loser of things and capturer of hearts… you never give up and you shine so brightly. Whatever comes, we’ll never give up and it will always be okay.
Thank you for choosing me, for teaching me, for being my light. I love you.
For Wade, 9 years young on 06 March 2018.
These are the big questions in life…
1. What’s for dinner; and
2. What to do with the kids?
I can happily say that I now have the answers to both of those!
The Adventure Clubs app is honestly one of the best entertainment ideas for kids (and parents) that I have seen in a long time. It would take me days to research and come up with half as many fun, educational and interesting things to do with the kids.
Even if I could manage to make a list of fantastic activities, there would be heaps of admin involved in making the arrangements. It would probably be far more expensive and I wouldn’t have any idea what the quality of the experience would be, whether it’s safe or not and trying to figure out friends’ schedules to go in a group is a nightmare on it’s own…
Adventure Clubs has a huge selection of super adventures for all kids between ages 6 months and 10 years of age. From hip hop dancing and baking classes to helicopter flips, there’s something for everyone and when you’re watching your kids make wonderful memories, you will definitely enjoy sharing those moments with them too!
Every experience is designed by parents, for parents. Well planned and coordinated, the experiences are attended in groups with other parents and children as well as a group coordinator/leader.
Our first experience was at La Cremosa in the Dainfern Square shopping centre, where we got to go behind the scenes inside the gelato “factory”. We were taken through the entire process of making delicious, creamy gelato from pouring the milk all the way through to eating!
My boys really enjoyed every minute of it and got chatting with the friendly staff as well as the other children. Of course their favourite part was the eating!
I could go on and on about the benefits of this concept but it’s really something you just have to go and experience with your family as soon as possible! To give you a push in the right direction, I have one adventure to give away to a lucky reader!
It will be one of your choice, available in Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town, to the value of R300. All you need to do to enter is to download the Adventure Clubs app easily on either App Store or Google Play, browse the range of experiences and then comment here with your favourite one. Easy as gelato!
Winner will be announced on 5 January 2018. In the meantime, make sure you are following Adventure Clubs on Facebook to see all their great news and of course, follow MammaChef Jozi so that you don’t miss the announcement!
I am so glad that I discovered this before leaving on holiday and we’re definitely making use of it while we are at the coast. When you don’t know the area all that well, it’s not easy to find new and interesting things to do… Adventure Clubs saves the day!
Download and have a look through the Adventure Clubs app and comment on this post (or on the same post on MammaChef Jozi Facebook, Instagram or Twitter). Names will be placed into an online hat and a random winner will be drawn.
The Democratic Meal Planner – One kid, one vote!
In light of all the political goings on around us recently, I decided to give democracy a chance to rule the meal planner. I feel like I’m making myself sound very much like a food dictator… She who holds the wooden spoon, rules the plates! It’s for their own good though, trust me!
The boys are very modern in their political views and combined their votes to effect community rule over the first two days. This worked out very well for them as they got to have both their favourites. SuperDad is always happy with pasta and basil pesto is also a favourite. Of course they go so well together as a combo! Somebody had to be the carb police and that happened to be me (can’t quite get rid of the dictatorship). My favourite treat as a meal must be salmon. It has become so expensive, even in frozen steaks, that we really only have it on the odd occasion.
Fish shopping tip!
I did discover something quite interesting though… Our local Food Lover’s Market has a fantastic fish section and if you can hold your breath long enough, you might just find a very good deal!
As an example, the prepared, fresh salmon portions on the day were R299.00 per kilogram. In comparison, Woolworths’ fresh Norwegian salmon portions are R500.00 per kilogram, but that’s not the point. If you select a whole salmon, they will fillet it for you, package the quantity that you want and the price on the day was R179.99 per kilogram. That is a major difference!
As usual, just going that little bit further to be aware of where our food comes from, I looked into the sourcing of the salmon and found this on Food Lover’s Market website:
Although Food Lovers market currently procures farmed Norwegian Salmon which is on the WWF-SASSI orange-list we are implementing a procurement strategy that aligns with SASSI procurement guideline for Salmon. This means that all Norwegian on Food Lover’s shelves will come from farms that are affiliated to the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI – http://globalsalmoninitiative.org/) by January 2019. These farms have committed to work towards meeting the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard for responsible aquaculture by 2020. Food Lover’s has full traceability back to all source farms and is annually tracking progress of these farms towards their 2020 ASC target.
Sustainable is good and I like the accountability and action plan.
This post really is becoming quite political! I have a soapbox and everything! I think it’s about time for the good stuff!
The Recipe Cards
Remember you can sign up to the newsletter to get your meal planner and recipe cards all together in advance, in your inbox! Alternatively you are two weeks behind… and have to come all the way here to MammaChef Jozi to download them… Then again, I love your visits and the more the better! So I tell you what, do both!
Needless to say, we all thoroughly enjoyed this week’s dinners. Blake, who is four, has recently taken to proclaiming every meal as the best food he has ever eaten! The people have spoken!
Alright, I think that is more than enough of my political commentary. I will leave you with this thought. Whatever your mood, whatever is going on in life, try to get yourself just one level up on the emotional scale! If you’re feeling dejected, try to find something that makes you feel content. Anxiety looks for something that brings peace and so on. The point is to raise your vibration! I’ll expand on this a little more later on. If you can (and it’s always possible)… Smile!
Start counting sleeps
Nevermind cooking for this week… it’s just about time to start looking forward to Christmas! I’m not really ready to start looking back on the year just yet, save to say that it has been a rollercoaster, eventful, surprising, stressful but wonderful one!
We have just come back from a lovely, week long family holiday in Mpumalanga. I had time to relax, catch a few rays of sun on my nearly translucent winter skin and think up lots of ideas for the blog (and of course for business). The mind never actually stops working on something or other!
See what’s cooking this week
Those early birds who have subscribed over the past few weeks would have received the brand spanking new and gorgeously colourful Meal Planner in a new email format today! Yay for you!
In case you haven’t signed up just yet, you can do so *right now* on the home page in the “sign up” bar… and of course, you can get this week’s planner right here!
It’s all free because I want to help everyone eat better, cook better and feel better! The only thing I ask is for you to keep giving me all your feedback, photos and ideas to make this little idea be the best that it possibly can!
Last week’s meal planner was introduced with fanfare as we were featured on one of my absolute favourite blogs, Mom of Two Little Girls! It’s such an honour to be featured in this brilliant series by someone I completely admire and adore! Link to her post here.
You can also download last week’s printable meal planner on my post here!
The fun thing is that this week, we will be cooking together (if you choose to start on Monday) and you will see my photos pop up as we go along! Hopefully I can stick to my own recipes! Please don’t be shy to post your photos in the comments on Facebook and also share any tasty changes or additions you have made. I love, love, love all your yummy ideas too.
Our recipe cards are all ready to go too! Subscribers can download and print them now, stick up on your fridge or whatever works!
If you are not subscribed I am sad to say you will have to wait until the week’s roundup to get the recipe cards. On the menu this week is:
Seafood Rice & Chorizo (the easy version)
Speaking of imminent holidays, I have decided that my little layer of winter blubber also needs to disappear before beach time. Yes, my guys love me just the way I am but I like to be comfortable in my own skin. I don’t have a whole lot to lose, but I don’t have much time either! First step is lots of water.
More on that later though, for now I need to go shopping! Wishing you a beautiful week!
Heritage Day – 24 September
The incredible thing about this country and it’s beautiful people, is the huge variety of heritage that we can learn about from eachother. One step further than that, our melting pot has formed such a unique culture that we share as South Africans that I don’t believe exists anywhere else in the world!
This special public holiday is therefore aimed at everyone sharing and celebrating their unique heritage. In the MammaChef household, we truly are not only a modern family, but a multi-heritage family as well!
My father was born in Germany and my grandparents came to South Africa shortly after WW2, when he was a young boy. My mother was born in South Africa, but descended from a mixture of Irish and French backgrounds.
SuperDad’s parents are both from Madeira. Our children therefore have a wonderful, rich mixture of different languages, cultures and food to incorporate into their South African context and share with their friends!
National Museum of Military History
After much discussion, we decided to take a “sho’t left” to the National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg, which is next to the Joburg Zoo. I hadn’t been there since I was very young, in fact I had no memory of what it was like – it was that long ago!
I knew that the boys would enjoy seeing the vehicles etc, but I actually had no idea how much they would love it!
Blake (4) has such a fantastic imagination and can completely immerse himself in little toys and pretend play. He absolutely loved being able to climb on the cannons, see the huge planes, the uniforms and the vehicles. He especially loved playing ship captain on the “deck” of the SAS Tafelberg with it’s huge wooden wheel. For days after this visit, everyone was called “Matey”!
My son Wade, who is 8, really enjoyed the different weapons on display. He asked me to read the descriptions and stories behind certain displays. We noted the distances that the various cannons could shoot at. One item that we found particularly interesting was a small side window from an aeroplane. A bullet hole had gone right through the middle of the glass. It’s displayed in a frame with a black and white photo showing the pilot looking through the little window. He had a huge smile on his face.
We learned that this was a look of pure joy to be alive! The story went that during a battle, a shot went through the window next to his head. His goggles were shot right off his face! He didn’t sustain even a tiny scratch! I’m quite convinced however that he had a new outlook on life from that day onwards!
Not Just Exhibits
After we had taken a walk through all the exhibits, we spent quite a bit of time with the boys on the playground which has an old Jeep and the shell of a helicopter to play on. The adventures took on a life of their own! Mamma and Daddy got to sit peacefully on a bench in the garden and watch the fascinated faces of all the children who were running around having just as much fun.
There is a small coffee shop serving light meals and refreshments. I found that overall, it was very well maintained, clean and safe. All in all a great day out for all of us and something we are definitely planning on taking cousins and friends to in the near future.
Perfect Banana Muffins
Sundays at MammaChef’s house in Jozi are very often for golf, for half the family and baking for the other half. Then of course, lunch and eating of the bakes comes after that! My baking definitely needs all the practice it can get but I must say that Blake absolutely loves baking. These banana muffins are just so easy and perfectly moist, even I can’t mess them up!
It’s such a fun thing for us to do together and we both enjoy every second of it. We always have to bake a few extra because the boys always want to take some to school for their teachers and their friends.
Baking has therefore become all about sharing the love!
Keeping it healthy(ish)
The original recipe comes from somewhere on Pinterest but I changed it quite a bit, as I usually do. I used Stoneground Wholemeal flour from Champagne Valley which is GMO free, full of it’s natural vitamins and minerals and unbleached.
They also have loads of delicious recipes on their website, by the way!
I received the flour as an extra surprise in my Munching Mongoose organic produce box for the week and I ended up using it for quite a few different things. Awesome products just give a different taste!
- 4 ripe bananas
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- pinch salt
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/3 cup butter
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Spray muffin tins well with baking spray. Peel bananas, break into smaller pieces and mash in a bowl together with the butter, using a fork. Blend until the mixture is creamy and smooth, not too lumpy.
Add the egg, sugar and vanilla and combine. Stir in salt and baking soda. Next, add the flour and chocolate chips, mixing until just combined (not too much mixing).
Divide into muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when pierced into the muffin.
Moist, delicious and perfect for a snack or even for a sweet breakfast. You could also substitute the chocolate chips with berries or whatever else your heart desires!
Remember to #mammachefjozi when you try these! I love seeing your recipes and additions too!
The last few weeks have really been a bit rough, exhilarating and amazing, but rough. So much so that I have neglected my beloved blog (although I have been able to keep our Facebook page and Instagram going full steam with all our dinner ideas – so please check in there whenever you want to!)
I will post a piece soon with all the news, save to say that it has been challenging, exciting, painful and there may be steam coming out of my ears at this very moment, as my brain is working at the speed of light!
Snapshot of this week’s dinner ideas
1 Butternut, cut into pieces, with skin (or without)
Pack of Broccoli,
A pack of thin sweet carrots
1 Red onion, sliced
Crushed garlic to taste (I used garlic flakes)
Salt & Pepper
A few tablespoons of double thick Cream
I cheat a little bit by steaming my veggies in the mic, before I put it in the oven. Put the Butternut, Broccoli and Carrots in a microwave safe bowl and add a little bit of water. Cover tightly with cling film or a roasting bag. Make sure there’s a little hole in the film or bag to release some of the steam – you don’t want the veggies to go ‘BOOM’!! Microwave on high for about 3 – 4 minutes.
Drain the excess water. Add all the veggies into an oven dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven on 180° for about 30 – 45 minutes. After the first 20 minutes or so, add a few tablespoons of double thick cream and mix about. Crumble Feta cheese over and put back in the oven.
You can use your own discretion when it comes to when you want to take it out of the oven.
Tuesday – SuperDad cooks Lamb Chops
Succulent, grilled lamb chops with mashed potato, mixed corn and peas and a side of butter beans dressed with vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Wednesday – Spicy Beef & Vegetable Curry
Brown 800g beef cubes in a large pot with some olive oil over high heat, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
Sauté 2 chopped onions until soft, then add 1/4 cup of korma curry paste and mix. Add 6 diced potatoes, 2 cups cauliflower, 2 tins chopped tomatoes and a cup of beef stock.
Add the beef and juices into the mix. Season with salt and pepper. I also added about 2tsp each of turmeric and paprika, just because. Add in a cup of frozen peas.
Cook in normal pot for at least an hour, in low cooker for 8hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
Serve with Basmati rice and some plain yoghurt.
Gluten free, high in protein!
Thursday – Caldo Verde (Green soup with Kale)
We have made this one before! Link here
That was the week’s roundup! Followed by a busy and beautiful weekend with family!
Good grief, it’s Wednesday and I haven’t posted a summary of last week yet! Where does the time go?! Or should I say… time flies when you’re having fun! This is definitely the truth!
Monday: (Meat Free) Zucchini & Mushrooms
Tuesday: Flop Proof Cottage Pie
Wednesday: Chicken, Chickpea & Spinach Curry
Thursday: Pan Seared Fish with Tomato, Basil & White Wine Sauce
Friday: Easy Peasy Gluten Free Chorizo Pasta
Please have a look at my gallery of Sunday’s incredible buffet lunch at Aurelia’s, The D’Oreale Grande Hotel at Emperor’s Palace
The family came together to celebrate my Sister- and Brother-in-Law’s 30th wedding anniversary! A very special occasion celebrating two extremely special people, their exemplary marriage and the beautiful family and memories that they have created. So much love (and so much food)!
Last week was my own birthday (of course I turned 21 again) and my little Blake turned 4 the day after. On Sunday we had a lovely lunch with family at home and everything conspired perfectly, including the weather, to make for an absolutely beautiful day!
My dearest dear husband, aka SuperDad, makes the world’s best espetada and this has become our “signature” dish when we have the family over.
In summary: good food, good wine, lots of laughter, sunshine and the most amazing people!
The weekend is nearly here! To make it last a little longer, take a moment to enjoy all the little things that make you feel that chilled out vibe… A slow cup of coffee with your partner, the sound of children playing outside, birds gathering on the roof waiting to eat the dog’s breakfast… Sunshine and smiles!
Wishing you a beautiful weekend wherever you are!