On Motherhood & Sanity


Friday, January 28, 2011

Twelve months- January


I got this idea from one of my favourite photographers and blogs, Tara Whitney. I am not sure what her exact rules where, but she took one photo of her family -her included- every month during 2010.

As I am always the one holding the camera I'm never in any of the photos, and we rarely get a picture of the whole family. So this year I've decided that I will do this too. I've never really done self portraits before, so it's going to be a challenge.

Here's January:




Admittedly, I'm not entirely in the picture, but I love this photo. It was taken while we were having breakfast on a lazy Sunday morning. No one got prepared, nothing got moved, I just set the tripod and we all got together. Other shots did have my whole head, but this one is it for me, I think it really captures the moment, and I love that.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Detox ruined my life


Ok, I admit the title to be a bit dramatic, but a three week detox has certainly affected me a lot more than I thought it would.

My first shock was when after nearly two weeks, and having dinner guests over, hubs & I decided we would break the detox for one night –you know, in order not to be rude (ahem), we would have wine and dessert, and in exchange, extend the detox from 2 weeks to nearly 3.

And so we counted down the days to our first proper Saturday night dinner.

oh the shock and disappointment!

After the first glass of red wine we both got a massive headache. Try as we did to fight it by drinking more, the headache just continued through the night. After having a nice healthy dinner and (3 pieces of) sacher cake (which happens to be my favourite), we both went to bed disappointed, and grossed out.

Another five more days of detox to go, I was running out of ideas of what to eat. We all have habits and recipes we are used to eating, and unlike my husband, I was not putting too much effort into thinking new creative ways of eating nice with my new rules. While he came up with creative and tasty ways to eat healthy, when he wasn't around I was having rye toast with hummous and day dreaming about coffee and chocolate. I even bought myself a box of Ferrero Rocher to celebrate as soon as it was over.

And then the much awaited Friday night arrived, and we celebrated (the detox amongst many other exciting things that happened last week) by going out to a nice fancy Asian restaurant. We ordered the tasting menu: three courses and dessert, and I ordered my favorite celebratory aperitif: a kir royal (champagne and kassis, totally recommend it). The champagne tasted unusually bitter and not as nice as I remembered it. I barely drunk the wine (which meant my hubs got another headache the morning after,) and only ate about half of the meal, (the fact that I didn’t force myself to try to finish was already a significant change in my usual behavior.) This time we went home with no headache, but both felt heavy, our stomachs’ reacted aggressively to this change in diet (lets leave it at that shall we). Alas, even my Ferrero did not taste as sweet as I remembered them…

The next morning my first coffee awaited. I was so excited I even photographed it. It was bitter, and the milk heavy on my stomach, it did not feel nice, so much so that half way through I binned it and asked the hubs to make me another, smaller version, with less milk, to see if I’d dome something wrong and he might get it right. After three weeks of day dreaming about it, all I could say was

“it’s ok”

Then we had some pan tumaca, a typical Spanish breakfast that consists of wholewheat toast impregnated with a clove of garlic, olive oil, and tomato, covered with a thin slice of great quality Serrano ham that had been awaiting consumption since before the detox started. It was delicious, but again, a few minutes later we started feeling heavy and grossed out, our first piece of red meat did not go down too well. We came back home for lunch craving our diet, we wanted something that felt familiar to our stomachs: beans and tuna salad tasted like bliss.

That night we went out to a Vietnamese, and I found myself ordering a soup and some vegetables, I just didn’t want to go home feeling sick again. Some fruit for dessert. Who is this person?

Sunday we had our traditional home made pizza with the kids, it was delicious and we received no complains from our spoilt body. For dinner G cooked up our also traditional Sunday roast: tasty red meat with six different types of roasted vegetables, which I ate, but nowhere near as much as I used to. The bottle of fine red wine remained unfinished, a first, and we both went to bed looking forward to Monday, when we could stop celebrating and go back to our new healthy diet.

So we have decided to try to continue it during the week, breaking it for weekends (or date night). I don’t know how that will go down as I’ve never been good at middle grounds, but here’s to hoping.

By the way, the detox limited what we could eat, not how much, so apart from eating as much as I wanted, I also located the sweetest natural thing on this planet to replace chocolate: dates, and ate as many of them as I could, and still I lost 2 kgs (4.4 ounds). Thought this was worth mentioning.

I hope that I have somehow been able to convey the owe and shock this transformation has caused me.

PS we will continue the diet but having morning coffee, that was a deal breaker.

Post Data: I've received a few critical emails, so for those too lazy to go look at the original post with the details of the diet let me just clarify it is basically a NO CRAP ONLY HEALTHY STUFF DIET. so all you can eat vegetables, fruit, complex carbs, fish and olive oil.... I don't think there is a dr in the world that would disagree with cutting coke and donuts out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

tell me please, no really


I’m writing a book about my own experience of becoming a mother. It took me a long time to be able to say that out loud because… I hate memoirs. I hate the perception that I have of them: self important people that think that their lives are so interesting they are worth writing (and reading) about.

I’m writing not because I think I am that interesting or special, but because there was just so much I wish someone had told before I went into that journey.

So tell me, please, just so that I know that I am not crazy, also, so that I might remember some stuff that with time I may have completely forgotten and so I can include it, tell me what surprised you most about becoming a mother, what was your biggest shock or disappointment, how was it different from what you had imagined.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My name is onSanity, and I'm an aid junkie

I finished last year just before it finished me off.

Too much work coupled with too much stress and too many parasites that European doctors could not locate left me absolutely shattered. I was happy to cancel my last job, even though it was interesting, even though it meant a loss of money, I honestly could not have done it.

The new year came and with it new resolutions. As always, I promised to do better, try harder, be smarter. My “word” for 2011 is “Balance”.

Yet, it is January 17 and I can’t help it, I am starting to get the jitters, the shakes and having a hard time focusing. I am working hard on finishing my book, but I need my fix. You aid workers know what I am talking about, I don’t care if you refuse to recognize it publicly: we get addicted, and it’s hard to let go of the drug.

I have a job that is coming, I know it’s just around the corner, and I know that once it arrives it’s going to slap me in the face. They will want everything for yesterday, and I will have to start the marathon: setting the dates, getting the flights, hotels, arrangements for the kids, (pant, pant, pant)….. I should just be enjoying this time to write, to take the kids to school, to meet for a lazy coffee…. but I can’t help it, my body is asking for it. I need my adrenalin fix. I need to be handed something unknown, in a place I may or may not have been to before. I need to start deciphering the piles of documents handed to me, putting the puzzle together, trying to guess what is not being said, what I might be missing, and how I’m going to get it (pant, pant, pant). I need to go somewhere exotic where I can take photos of strangers and tell their story, (shake, shake, sweat coming down my forehead), preferably somewhere warm, away from this unbearably grey weather. Even if that means that I will end up pouring water over my face halfway through an interview because I am about to faint from the heat, even though it means exposing myself to parasites yet again, being away from the kids, even though it means working through jet lag.

I need to be out there, I need to go into the airport bathroom with my mommy suit, and come out like superman from his phone booth, transformed into an aid worker: switch my boots for muddied flip flops, the grocery store for the four wheel drive, my cotton sheets for mosquito netting.

I can’t help it.

My name is onSanity, and I’m and aid junkie

Saturday, January 15, 2011

my version of JR's work in Palestine



This is the photo I took of photographer JR's work on one of the division walls erected by the Israeli government to divide what they consider Israeli land from what they consider to be the future state of Palestine, (often not in line with the internationally agreed division line, and never to Palestine's benefit).

TED announced this week that JR will be the recipient of their seventh annual TED Prize. A somewhat anonymous 27-year-old Parisian street artist who's made a name by pasting larger than life photographs in some of the poorest areas of the world, JR's selection is a bit of a departure from some previous, high-profile winners such asJamie Oliver, Bono, and Bill Clinton.

I first had the opportunity to see JR's work when I was living in Cambodia. The French Cultural Center kicked off the first ever Phnom Penh Photo (PPP) Festival, in which I also took part.

JR's photographs were posted throughout the walls of the French embassy, making it impossible for passer by's to ignore.




There were some pretty cool exhibitions around town. Important artists from all over the world, some less renown but just as exciting, especially for a city that had never seen anything like this.




There were, of course, also some local artists.



The festival was closed off with the night of 1000 lights, where photographs were shown in one of the large town squares in larges screens surrounded by lights. the families did what they traditionally had done in that square: brought their pic nics and took a spot in the square, except that night they were surrounded by somethingn completely new and differnt.





Tuesday, January 11, 2011

on the old new years resolution "I'll never eat again"

You know how during the holidays you always eat and drink too much and you swear that right after they finish you are going to go on a diet, a detox, or never eat again?

Well, this year the hubs and I actually stuck to it, and we are currently undertaking a two week detox program.

We are just trying to clean out our bodies, so it’s pretty simple really: no crap.

Which means no red meat, no dairies (except lean natural yogurt, which is meant to be really good for your stomach), no fizzy drinks or sweets, fish only two times a week and, more importantly, no coffee, no wine (alcohol) and no chocolate.

Which means yes vegetables, pulses, fruits, wholewheat cereals, nuts and dried fruits. It also means no frying, and a max of two spoons of olive oil a day.

Oh, and yes green tea. Not sure how that got in there, but apparently that was a deal breaker with the hubs, who normally drinks about 8 espressos a day.

The detox includes a 24 hour fast (only liquids), followed by a salt water cleanse in the middle of it.

The second week starts today, and this is the report so far:

Day one:

Wake up with an overwhelming desire to have my morning latte. It is not the caffeine that I crave. I know that because I gave it up for a while for my homeopathic treatment and couldn’t have cared less. It’s a psychological addiction to that large, warm cup that takes me from breakfast, to sending the monkeys off to school, to reading my incoming mail. (it is a very large cup).

Apart from the desire to eat chocolate, sweets, coke, fried eggs and other things, I feel normal, which is a disappointment as I expected to feel more energetic.

Day two:

Wake up with an overwhelming desire to have my morning latte.

Dress the kids, send No. 1 off to school, and fall asleep while No. 2 is drinking his bottle on my lap. Send No. 2 off to school, do some work, pick No. 2 up, eat (boiled potato with salmon), then put No.2 down for his nap and fall asleep with him.

After picking up No1. from school in the afternoon I fall asleep, and wake up to what I can only assume is a delayed coffee withdrawal headache.

Off to bed early because I can’t eat anything fun and life is just not worth living this way.

Day three:

Wake up with an overwhelming desire to have my morning latte.

Dress the kids, send No. 1 off to school, and fall asleep while No. 2 is drinking his bottle on my lap. Send No. 2 off to school, and then actually crawl back into bed and fall asleep for the next two hours. Barely work, pick up No. 2, eat and put him down for his nap, I proceed to fall asleep as he wonders off to play. Pick No. 1 up from school and complain to other mom’s about how this damn detox diet is making me even more of a wuss.

Day Four:

Wake up thinking about my morning latte, but it’s like an old boyfriend I’m almost over.

Finally I feel normal again. I have energy and can get a normal day through. Except the fast starts today. I have a last minute herring (which according to the book on nutrition I am currently reading to motivate me is one of the best fish on the planet), and the fasting begins.

The most surprising thing for me is that at no point during those 24 hrs did I feel hunger. Which you have to admit is kind of bizarre. I lived on vegetable stock, orange juice and the water from boiling 3 apples (in order to up the sugar intake).

We went to bed particularly early, and both struggled to fall sleep. I was aiming to sleep into late afternoon, but all too early I had to go for my cup a green tee with no hope of anything to follow it afterwards. Both me and the hubs were edgy and snapped easily at the children. Unaware that you do not take vitamins on an entirely empty stomach, I then proceeded to vomit all the stock and tea that I had consumed.

Day four was a lost day. We spent most of it in the car trying to avoid the kids, (for their sake) and life in general. In the afternoon I had to cycle 20 minutes (there, and another 20 back) to take No.1 to a birthday party, and struggled to get back through the cold and windy streets.

The salt water flush, where you take one quart of luke warm water with two spoons of sea salt on an empty stomach, is meant to be a safe way to clean the pipes from top to bottom. So I proceeded to do that, which was probably the highlight of the day, at least activity wise as I could not get to the WC fast enough.

I thought that when the 24 hrs. were over I would jump on anything that moved and was edible (or not moved…, so just edible), but the 24 hours came and went and we were both hanging around, like waiting for something to happen.

We had planned to have a nice fish meal that evening to celebrate, but then we found out that to break a fast you should do one only fruit meal for every 24hrs, so Saturday night (yes, it was a Saturday night), 27 hrs later, we feasted on three boiled apples (left over from my water) and some yogurt.

After the fast the diet no longer feels like a diet. I don’t feel particularly energetic or healthy, but it is true that the zits on my face are disappearing, and the hubs claims I have a glow.

My stomach is still a little edgy, and I seem to get full a lot faster than before.

I’ve also re-started yoga sessions, (aaaaaauuuuuummmmmmm) and am seriously considering another retreat before getting back on the wheel of life, (there has to be an upside to all this healthy living crazy fad)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It won't stop raining here_ new photo blog


I've decided I am going to start making more entries that are pure photos. Normally on Saturdays. Here is the first

Monday, January 3, 2011

on fairies, monsters and other beasts that have invaded my livingroom

I'm woken up by screams and yelps. There is a fight: someone wants somebody else to do something; Someone has been unfair; Someone's turn has been skipped. High pitched voices fight to be on top.

And this has been my wake up call for a week.

I drag my (always) tired body down the stairs towards the coffee machine, and stumble into princesses and magic fairies on my way. My three year old –boy- is wearing a Snowhite outfit and high-heeled princess shoes. It’s his first sign of defiance, the more people criticize him for it, the more he seems to enjoy flaunting it.

Fighting continues. I am called upon as a reliable member of society to determine a fair outcome to the affront. I try to dig my way out of it mumbling some solution that appeases no one.

I quietly slip into a chair with my coffee and watch the world go by.

The living room has been under attack during the night. All the bombs have unexplainably exploded inside the toy chests, and the toys now lay scattered throughout the house. A giant monster has come into the kitchen, opened every drawer, half-eaten every (sweet or colorful) snack available, and then proceeded to vomit back half of it across the kitchen table.

There’s singing in the background. The kind that makes you believe that a cartoon character has escaped the TV set and is running around rampant. The floor has come alive. It moves and shakes and rattles as unidentified shadows run, skip or squirm back and forth.

Every now and then an angel passes and silence wraps the room. The children –all seven of them- magically agree to remain quiet for a minute, but before our ears get accustomed, before we can actually hear the silence, the moment passes and chaos reigns again.

It’s Christmas, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


I thought about starting the year with reflections (more reverb10), or promises for the year ahead. But instead I decided to revel in the moment. The simple things. The important things.

My best wishes to you all for the year to come. May it be filled with simple moments full of love