Monday, 7 February 2011

Letting go......

School has gone back after one of the most lovely breaks ever.

My emotions are ALL over the place-  as this year begins a new episode for me as a parent.

My eldest has begun the path into adulthood.  He has started high school.

As a parent up to this point I have always felt pretty confident of what was in front of me.  I studied early childhood education & felt I had a good grasp on development and the stages of early childhood.

Mind you none of that knowledge really helps you deal with how your emotional attachment to your children affects your decision making.  Or for that extra bit of guilt you felt when you know you were doing or saying TOTALLY the wrong things but couldn't help yourself through utter exhaustion!

I remember a very close friend and old teaching colleague stepping into this unknown a few years back (the teens that is)..... with a kind of panic at how little she 'knew'.  Now I can totally empathise with her!  Her son has grown into a beautiful, kind, sensitive, clever & talented young man- really the same qualities I saw her nurture in him as a young child.  He has always been a gorgeous human being & has been brought up by gorgeous parents.

So here I am........ preparing myself to let go.

I have never felt my children belonged to me as such - but that I was a kind of caretaker.  A person whose job it is to nurture and encourage.  A person to cover (not smother) them in love.  To allow them to make mistakes and learn how to use them as a positive.  Essentially to make them feel as though they were totally fantastic as themselves- unique to everybody else. To be proud of who they are.

My hubby & I are both pretty "in tune with our emotions" (read CRY BABIES!).  So when our son asked for help to tie his new school tie for his very serious school uniform- nobody warned us we would need to pack the tissue box as well!  JEEPERS- get a grip I keep saying to myself.....!!!!

As I prepare myself to start letting go.....I can say that I am so so so proud of the young man I see stepping out into the big wide world.  He has always been proudly 'different' from the crowd.  This has not been an easy path for him to take but he had the guts to do it & I could not be more happy with where he stands now.

Still not so cool he can't show off how much he loves his little brother.

It fills me with an emotion I cannot quite put a handle on.......I feel teary but not sad. It just all feels so momentous.......I wasn't prepared to feel like I did on his first day of high school.  It was way worse for me than when any of them started primary.

I keep looking at the L plate on my fridge....and reminding myself that as parents we rooly trooly are beginners for the entire journey- never experts.  Parenting is a lesson in humility.

Some people make the assumption that as a mumma to 5 of them that I must be some kind of expert.  Truth be told- I just have the opportunity to make more mistakes than most!

Wish me luck as I head forward & remind me to call my cleaner- it's a DISASTER here after the holidays!

Last week I cooked up Banh Xeo.  I am lucky enough to have the worlds most gorgeous cleaner. A gorgeous Vietnamese woman.

After cleaning my house- if she has time- we sit and eat lunch together......really how DIVINE is that!!!!!

She shared one of her fave Vietnamese meals with me BANH XEO.  I LOVE IT SO MUCH!  somehow I haven't made it for the family before (obviously I have had a need to keep it a secret!)

It is basically a Vietnamese soft taco- but way yummier!  It can be Vegan, Vegetarian or it can be served with meat and seafood.  I cook the Southern version which is traditionally served with pork & prawn but you could also easily substitute chicken (as I did with the one in the following pics).

This recipes ingredients list may put some people off- but really it is VERY easy to cook- the thing is just to have a lot of things chopped up ready to put inside, much like tacos. I hope you do give it a go sometime! I promise..... if u can cook a pancake you can cook Banh Xeo!

It is a dish perfect for Australian summer- and great for kids as they can add/omit what they don't like.


Banh Xeo translates literally as sound pancake- after the noise made when cooking up these treasures.

  • 1/2 cup cornflour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  •  1 cup rice flour
  •  1 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped finely
  • 300g chicken sliced finely( or a mix of pork & prawn) for veg options- firm tofu, green beans, finely julienned carrots, red capsicum- or whatever u like (these are added raw so you will need to cut them finely so as to eat easily)!
  • 2 tspns fish sauce
  • 2 sping onions - sliced finely
  • 1 medium onion- sliced finely
  • 1 packet of bean sprouts (we use more as we LOVE the crunch and freshness of them with this dish.
  • 3 eggs beaten (these can be omitted for vegans)
  • 1 tblspn oil per pancake
  • lots & lots of fresh green herbs- a mix of mint, coriander, thai basil & vietnamese mint- the more the better I say. This is what gives the dish its tasty, crunchy magic so don't be shy!
  • chopped lettuce

Make a batter by combining all the flour, water, coconut milk & turmeric . Mix well and eliminate any lumps.  Let sit for 30 mins.

Combine the meat with fish sauce & panfry with garlic till cooked. Set aside.

Arrange the meat, veg, herbs and bean sprouts into mounds on a large platter.

Have the batter (and eggs- if using) ready.

Heat oil in a fry pan and fry onion till soft. Add cooked meat & a little spring onion. 

Reduce the heat and add about 4  tblspoons batter OVER THE TOP of the onion & meat.

Add about a tblspn of bean sprouts.  
Cover and cook for 2 more minutes.

Uncover and and add 2 tblspn of egg (if using)& a sprinkle of herbs.  Cover again and cook for 2 more minutes.
Uncover and fold the pancake in half like an omelette.

Serve topped with mountains of fresh herbs & lettuce and a VERY generous serve of NUOC CHAM- see below for recipe.


NUOC CHAM is a sauce ALWAYS served with Vietnamese meals- just as we would serve S & P.  It is addictive I's flavours are intense, fresh, zingy and super dooper delicious.

You will need:
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 red chilli (add more or less to taste)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 fresh lime- juiced
  • 2 tblsps fish sauce
  • 2 /12 tblspns water- or more if needed.
Combine garlic and sugar in mortar & pestle and grind to paste.  Add to bowl with remaining ingredients. Adjust to taste. 

I sometimes add finely julienned carrot and lots of finely chopped coriander to mine too.

And my listening pleasure......


    1. Hi Ruth, I was about to join you with the tears... What a lovely post and I could not agree with you more. I have another two years of primary school with my oldest one, but I can see how hard it will be to send them to secondary! I think it is wonderful to watch them on their first day and be proud of it .. that means you must have done something right! Eva x

    2. well done Ruth and Guy---- Jazz is already the person you will always be proud of====lovely sentiments,and no shame in wearing your heart on your sleeve!---

    3. It's true, Ruth. You do a superb job with all your boys. Each one of them is a delight - each so individual and beautiful - not to mention handsome! Especially in ties!! I do so sincerely wish you luck in your 'letting go' but I have absolutely no doubt you will do it with flying colours. And yeah - did you call that cleaner?? What a great idea.Have a great lunch together too. your Joma xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    4. You are a treasure xxxxxxx (one for each of you)

    5. just discovered and love your blog will come back and read some more when I have the time but just wanted to say a) well done with your gorgeous brood of boys and b) could so relate to this paragraph "Mind you none of that knowledge really helps you deal with how your emotional attachment to your children affects your decision making. Or for that extra bit of guilt you felt when you know you were doing or saying TOTALLY the wrong things but couldn't help yourself through utter exhaustion!". As a psychologist pre kids and now walking the talk (and with an nearly 4yo with ASD - OH BOY I HEAR YOU. Love the recipes too. Determined to give this beetroot one a go. Only recently realised i actually lke (love) beetroot. Think all those years of mum dishing up the gross tinned stuff put me off but hmmmm the fresh is the best. Roasted, in salads with haloumi, beetroot dip, grated on burgers. DELICIOUS Blog (occassionally...rarely....never these days sadly) over at The Hills Are Alive

    6. This post made me cry. The eldest forging their way in the world. Little soldiers. :-)

      Yes I am catching up with all the posts I have missed! And I ask myself why I've been away so long. You are an inspiration. Thank you for blogging. Really. C x

    7. Just gorgeous. So many things resonated with me.


    8. These look amazing x


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