December 25, 2012

merry happy twinkle day

It's the end of a hot, sunny, long and marvellous Gold Coast Christmas Day.  Our children are asleep, after a 5.10am wake up (thank you garbage men).  My early morning crankiness soon passed and we enjoyed a tremendous day, playing with side-loading garbage trucks and cement trucks, splashing in a pool, riding scooters on a golf course.  We made a tiramisu to end all tiramisu.  We ate Christmas pudding.  I cried when I spoke to my parents and sisters on Christmas morning.  My children had a genuinely fantastic time with their many cousins.  Tuckered out, happy babies, it is a relief Christmas came when it did because we were all ready for it.

One last mince pie, a dollop of cream a little tipple of vin santo, and then time for a very, very welcome sleep.

Merry Christmas to those that celebrate it, and Happy Mince Pie Day to those that don't.

December 23, 2012

fudgy spiced gingerbread chocolate brownies

It's hard to improve on a good basic brownie recipe, and Nigella's recipe from Domestic Goddess is my favourite, but here is something we tried last night because we had the ingredients and it felt like a nice, festive thing to do.  We weren't disappointed.  These were VERY rich, VERY chocolatey, VERY fudgy and maybe just a bit too grown up for the kids, although it didn't stop them from scoffing them at breakfast this morning.  We used Leslie Keating's recipe and I added more fresh ginger than the recipe called for, which left a pleasant hum of warm ginger after each bite.  I also reduced the amount of sugar, just slightly, because the mound I'd poured out seemed like a lot.  We didn't miss it but I added a few white choc chunks so maybe that was why.  Next time, I'm going to add a teaspoon of orange zest.

We ate them warm with cheap vanilla ice cream, which balanced out the intensity just nicely.


important yuletide message

December 21, 2012

festive AND summery

This recipe (from this book) takes fresh but slightly under ripe peaches and steeps them in pinot noir and a little sugar.  They are left in the fridge overnight and then brought back to room temperature before serving.  We adapted the recipe slightly in that we used vanilla sugar (inspired), added a cinnamon stick (inspired) and drank/ate the peaches chilled (inspired) and we were not disappointed with the festive but summery outcome.  And by not disappointed, I mean completely delighted.

It's not really a mulled wine as we know it because the very definition of mulled means whatever you are mulling should be warmed, but it's an alternative I suppose, for those of us that love mulled wine and the festive feelings it invokes, but can't bear to drink it in the middle of an Australian summer, which is French for not-Christmassy-not-at-all.

December 19, 2012


It's my husband's 33rd birthday today, which means a legitimate excuse to splurge on takeaway and drink good wine mid week.  Happy birthday, my dear.

December 18, 2012

another epic straddie weekend

Sometimes, I don't do stuff because it's too much work.  This means I end up not doing stuff that could be good fun, but the idea of doing it with three kids that mightn't appreciate it means I would much rather just put my feet up and watch some imported English tv show.  I'm probably not being all that fair because actually we do a lot, a LOT of stuff, but mostly it's things like endless chores trips to the park, walks to the bakery, gardening and playing at the local water park.  Nothing too fancy.

But Straddie, it's different.  It's very hard work to pack and organise all five of us for a weekend, a military operation in fact, so much so that I insist Will takes a day off so we can go over for at least three nights otherwise it hardly feels worth it.  The list making, the food organising, the Tetris style packing of the car that takes place (secretly I think Will likes that bit), it's all exhausting before we've even buckled up and hit the road, but for Straddie, it's worth it.  Especially when the weather is as blissful as it was a couple of weeks ago.  I mean it's fine if it rains, quite beautiful in fact (I am English after all), but the days of Will and I whiling away rainy afternoons with dvds and chips and wine aren't really an option with three babies.  

So yes, good weather makes it and thankfully, the weather for our last trip was fantastic, and the weekend was made all the more special because it was Hugo's first.  It was by no means perfect but gelato every day made up for the time-outs at the beach, the occasional tantrums, the packing and sun protection that needs to happen every time we want to go to the beach... and oh yes, we even had our first triple-all-boys-at-once meltdown, in the car too, so it was in proper Dolby surround sound - no escape.  And then there was watching the kids play on the beach, chuckling to ourselves that they were only a few metres away but the sound of the surf made them so quiet; even if they were arguing over their buckets and spades, we didn't hear it.  And did I mention it was all bloody hard work?  Then I must have mentioned too, it was totally worth it.

Ah Straddie, you are a beauty.  I'm going to miss you when I finally convince myself to move back to Europe for the snowy winters.  I might even regret it because of you.

December 17, 2012

opting out

This is Max, sitting with the gifts of unused and brand new books, clothes and toys that we donated to the kindy wishing tree.  Doesn't he look pleased with himself?  He should be.  Whether he realised it or not, he spent an hour very patiently wrapping them with me, while I tried to explain that they weren't for him, or his brothers, but for children that don't have a lot of toys and books.  I think he got it eventually.

This Christmas, we have decided (like last year) to opt out of the wider gift giving.  We have been quite generous with the children and included Ollie and Max in Will's family's Secret Santa, but Hugo, Will and I have decided that we need or want for little, and that we would rather not spend money that might be better utilised elsewhere and would rather not create stress where it needn't be.  So we've opted out of Secret Santa, and further decided that there'll be no presents for anyone other than the kids and a modest gift for each other.

It's been rather nice to again not have to worry about who we are buying for and what they should receive and I felt very smug when we made the somewhat crazy decision to go to our local shopping centre two Saturdays before Christmas to return library books, to see the somewhat miserable looking shoppers, hauling around bags of stuff you know nobody wants and knowing we didn't have to do any of that.  The two cousins that the boys are playing Santa to will receive (what we think) well thought out presents, our boys will be very happy with their little collection of gifts (there will be wheels and books, enough said) and in lieu of gifts for my own family, we are making a donation that we can afford to Unicef.  

I love the gift giving, the receiving, the wrapping, the piles of gifts under the tree and I want to spoil our children, especially when they are being as sweet as they are today, but this year, and from hereon the only tradition I want for me, my husband and my children is that the festive season should be about being with each other, having chocolate for breakfast and our goodwill to those that need it.


November 25, 2012

poo poo

Poo poo, poo poo head, mr poo poos, poo poo bum bum, poo bums, bumpoos, thank you poo poo, mummy poo poo.
And so on.

November 23, 2012

operation nappy repair

A month or so before Hugo was born, I ordered 24 BumGenius nappy refresher kits for $1 each from Nurture Nappies.  After 7 weeks of finding time here and there to remove velcro tabs, replace elastic (most tedious task, ever) and sew on new velcro tabs the other bits whatever they are called (really need a more exciting reason to get have the sewing machine out, but hey at least it's out), I have finally, finally, finally finished the not very enjoyable task of refreshing and repairing the nappies I bought when I was pregnant with Ollie over four years ago.  Finally, finally, finally, they now adorn my dear little Hugo.  And that, my friends, is a true story.

November 8, 2012

a new kind of reading

A week ago arrived the long awaited collection of Roald Dahl stories I've had my eye on for some time now.  In that time we've already ready Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and we're onto Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

Since they were very little, my boys (including Hugo it would seem) have loved being read to and flicking through picture books before they even knew what the words meant.  When they were babies and we could see how much they enjoyed story time, I looked forward to the day I would read (or they would read) my favourites, Roald Dahl, Rudyard Kipling, Barbara Kingsolver (alright, maybe not Babs just yet) and I almost never hesitate to buy or borrow books for them, though it is difficult to get to the library as often as we used to.

I was a little concerned that the Roald Dahl books with their lack of pictures and many many words would be too much for the kids, but in truth, they love them and there's no doubt that they (especially Oliver) are ready for this new kind of reading.

In this current stage of their obsession with machines, trucks, guns, robots etc, it's marvellous to see how keen they are to sit and read and I can feel Ollie's itch to get reading all on his own.  If he's anything like his parents, he will love reading and because of that I want to do everything I can to encourage it and not because I'm feeling a little out of my depth with all the testosterone fuelled energy about the place.

I hope, really really hope their enthusiasm for books never ever wanes. Ever.

November 7, 2012

little stitches

This morning we went as a family to visit Dr Triggs.  Ollie had his 4 year check up and Max... he had to have the stitches taken out of his head that were put in there last week when he was pushed over and donked his head on a concrete paver at kindy.  

It's not exactly something you want to write about but since this is a diary of all things I want to remember, it seemed appropriate to include it here.  For the record, Max didn't flinch when he was having either the stitches put in or taken out.  And Ollie was even braver than I could have hoped for getting his shots this morning.

Oh, and who did the pushing?  Ollie.  But by all accounts, including Max's, Max is the one who started it all.

October 31, 2012

a robot party

A weekend of celebrating Ollie's 4th birthday.  The party on Saturday was absolute chaos but good fun.  The kids all had a fantastic time in the robot boxes we made, the robot cake* went down an absolute storm and for our first attempt at a cake that was meant to be something, it was not too shabby. The robot party favours (made from mini noodle boxes ($6 for 24) with mini torches (which every parent has told me so far were a hit), balloons, mini horns, sultana boxes with googly eyes and chewy candy feet) got the kids pretty excited and the storm that hit at 5pm meant everyone left pretty quicksmart, which in turn meant the kids were fast asleep (after refusing their lunch time naps) by 7pm.

And then, after an hour of mad tidying, Will and I cracked open a nice bottle of pinot to celebrate that other little milestone... 4 years of broken sleep muddling through parenthood.

Happy birthday kiddo.  You have no idea how much we adore you.

*Note to self re cake:  We made the vanilla cake I've written about before, sans sprinkles and with about 20% less sugar.  1.5 x the quantities of this recipe worked just fine for the 12" x 8" brownie pan but it took about 50 mins to cook and I had to cover it with foil to stop it browning too much.  The frosting quantity was just about right too for a decent crumb coat and frost.  The grey was achieved using a few pin pricks of AmeriColor Super Black and a touch of blue and it was decorated with chocolate wafer squares, coconut, smarties and oreo cookie wheels.  Those are Chupa Chups antennae.  There wasn't a scrap of cake leftover, which is a shame because it was delicious.

October 26, 2012

knight grey

When we moved into our house, almost exactly 6 years ago, it was almost perfect.  We didn't need to do much, apart from replace the counter top in the kitchen, add a few shrubs to the garden and replace the window dressings.  We'd hoped for a fixer-upper and while it would have been sensible for us to add value to our first home for an extra hike up the property ladder, with hindsight, we did the right thing by buying something we were able to walk into without any fuss.

In the six years that have passed, we have added another dog, two three children (I keep forgetting) and the once perfect walls and floors are now marked with paw/toddler prints from the ground up.  Little dints scatter our hoop pine floors and the walls... well, for about a year now we've been talking about painting them.  What better time to do it than after the arrival of a newborn baby?  We couldn't think of one.  So we embarked on Project Paint The Entire House (The Inside) when Hugo was about 4 weeks old with the aim of painting a room each weekend.

And ta DA! We're DONE!  Exclamation POINT! Will took a couple of days off last week when the boys were at kindy to paint their room.  We put their mattresses in Hugo's room while he continued to bunk in with us after we painted his room over the weekend (keeping us awake from close range), and now it's all done and crisp and new and fresh and white, except for this one wall in Hugo's room which we painted this fantastic Knight Grey colour, which I gotsta say looks very smart.

It actually feels like an age since we finished because we've been in the throes of organising Ollie's birthday party and doing you know, the usual (including continuing the instagram obsession).  But in 9 weeks we managed to do it all, including sanding and finishing our decks, and given our situation and that we've been squeezing it all into the weekends... it wasn't a bad effort in the end.  Not bad at all.  Exclamation POINT!

October 18, 2012

coconuts and strawberries

The last two weekends have been pretty good.  Hard work, but good.  We've made more progress on painting the house (only one room to go!) and the weather is really quite deluxe at the moment, so we've been spending time in the garden before it gets too hot and mosquito-ey.

A particular highlight has been the barbecuing we've been doing on our makeshift coal barbecue, fashioned from some breeze blocks, 'borrowed' bricks, some disposable foil trays and the grills from our gas barbecue (pfft, who needs one of those) and actual coal.  Every since moving to Brisbane, it's been a bit disappointing that barbecuing here is about gas fired barbecues.  They're fine and all but you don't get that smokey taste of barbecue/summer on your food with a gas barbecue and frankly, I don't see the point.  You may as well stick your food in the oven and not have to clean a barbecue up afterwards.  For ages I've been going on about building our own little coal pit, one on which we can cooked spicy skewered meat, potatoes in foil straight on the coal and sweetcorn on the cob over the flames.  And then when all that's done, you take the grill off the coal, throw a few little logs on and have yourself a summer camp fire on which to toast marshmallows and get a bit tipsy next too.

We did it a lot as kids.  My parents, especially my dad and his brothers were very keen on the art of the slow, sit-around-it barbecue and most summers we'd be together with our cousins every weekend, cooking outside.  Spicy chicken, lamb kofta kebabs, potatoes in foil, big bowls of rice... the dads would drink cold beers and then whisky and the warm days seem to go on and on and on (they do in the English summer) and the vibe was great.

So a couple of weekends ago, I suggested to Will that we build a little coal pit.  We did.  Sure it took a bit of work to keep the dogs from the skewers of tandoori chicken that were at dachshund nose-height and the kids needed to understand they weren't to go anywhere near it, but it was worth it.  My waning enthusiasm for all things new in the kitchen was alight again, enough that I then made this exceptional coconut cake with strawberries and cream cheese frosting.  After searching and searching for a recipe for the aforementioned that didn't involve strawberry flavoured jelly or boxed cake mix, I found and adapted this one, though I didn't do much to the recipe as just work out the right proportions for a smaller cake than the recipe suggests, mainly because if you're going to renew your gym membership to get fit for the summer, you shouldn't eat a lot of cake.  (This is contrary to my husband's view on exercise, btw.)  So yes, this is a keeper.  We all loved it, including my children, but that's not saying much.

Try it.  You'll spend all day making it but you'll be glad you did.

270g cream cheese, at room temperature
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g icing sugar
500g strawberries

310g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
200ml unsweetened coconut milk
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
240g granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup desiccated or shredded coconut (I used desiccated because it's what I had)

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until whipped and fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar and mix until fluffy again.  I would suggest that a drop of Malibu might work here instead of the vanilla.

Preheat oven to 180°c. Lightly grease and line two 8-inch round cake pans.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, with mixer on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and coconut milk in several additions before stirring in the coconut.
Spread batter into cake pans and bake for 35 minutes or until golden and cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. Cool completely.

Place one cake layer on a cake plate or stand. If cakes have rounded tops, gently trim with a serrated knife and present the off cuts to your children.  Spread a thin layer of frosting on cake layer and top with chopped strawberries. Place other cake layer on strawberries, with flat side up and press down gently to secure. Frost top of cake with remaining frosting and decorate with remaining strawberries.  Eat a slice immediately, and then every time you open the fridge, which is where it's intended to be kept.

October 4, 2012

four balloons

We were a little hasty with this year's invitation to Ollie's birthday party and I am now finding myself thinking of other ways we could have done it.  But, I love this Wall•E inspired card just the same, and yet again it's all thanks to the husband in my life  (it's no surprise that yet another year has gone by and my lllustrator skills are still non-existent).  Later this month, our Ollie will be four years old.  It'll be four years since we started this wild ride that is parenthood.  It'll be four years since we had no idea he'd be into robots, that he'd be such a chatterbox and that he'd be so good at Lego.  Not to mention his puzzle prowess and strange obsession with crushing things and smashing things up.

I'm not entirely sure what the robot themed party is going to be like, and I'm a little concerned that my usual formula of the outdoors and food isn't going to be enough to entertain the children and parents that will be in our tiny garden, but not so worried that I'm stressing about it.  Well, not just yet anyway.

October 2, 2012

middle child

Max is now my 'middle child'.  I don't know much about middle child syndrome, nor am I sure it's real, but it's got something to do with being forgotten because you aren't the overachieving first born and you're not the baby that gets away with everything (we have one and possibly both of those by the way).

More than being our middle child, Max has now taken on the mantel of big brother to his darling kid brother Hugo.  He's not the baby of the family anymore, and he's relishing his role as mentor to Hugo.  I catch him stroking Hugo's hair, giving him a gentle rock in the bouncy chair and he always wishes Hugo a 'bless you Hugo' when he sneezes.  He asks to hold his little brother and tries to calm him when he's crying.  It makes me well up with pride and love and contentment and that feeling I get when I eat cake with my coffee.

Max has an enthusiasm that I never saw in Ollie, whose focus on the detail amazes me.  Ollie's methodical, thoughtful and logical way of building and creating is the opposite of Max's wild, imaginative and adventurous approach to play.  I compare them, yes, I do, but it's natural that I should and I like that it makes me wonder what makes them tick so I can be a better mum.  What works with Ollie doesn't necessarily work with Max.  They are so different and yet they are so great together.  Max adores Ollie, his first question when he wakes is 'where's Ollie?' and his face lights up to see his big brother.  He won't do anything unless Ollie is doing it first.  When I went to collect them from kindy last week, they were sitting together, reading a book while the rest of the kids were having story time.  I stopped and watched them be oblivious to their mum's presence, talking so sweetly to each other before Max jumped up, ran around at top speed, laughing hysterically.  Only he'll know what was so funny.

Lately, I've been losing my temper with them both more frequently than I would like, resorting to yelling sooner than I should.  Max's reaction is often one of tears, and he even says 'no mummy, be happy, be happy!' with such conviction, it's hard not to immediately feel rotten for raising my voice in the first place.  It's such an apt reaction though.  He is such a happy fellow, it's all he wants to see and feel in return.

Sure, he can be tempestuous, stroppy and demanding and the whinging is beyond bearable at times, but Max is very passionate, adventurous and loving too.  He wants to laugh and to make others laugh.  I imagine it's probably way to early to predict anything, but I know this kid is going to follow his big, brave, loyal heart and break some along the way too.  I adore this guy.  He's no middle child.  He's our nutty little sweetheart.

September 26, 2012

clear the decks

Redecoration update:  We're on track, if slightly ahead of our schedule to get the house refreshed before summer.  Last weekend we sanded the decks and oiled them, something we haven't done at all since moving in 6 years ago.  I think you're meant to do them every year?

It was a mammoth job, one that I wouldn't have suggested had I remembered the importance of the weekend.  There was dust and sticky oil everywhere, and pressure to get everything done so we could get the equipment back to the hire shop, but boy do they look good.  I put the second coat on earlier this week (and then it promptly rained - dang it) and the merbau colour is luscious, dark, just glossy enough with a few cute little puppy paw prints thrown in for added character.

Feeling rather proud that we've done this massive task and quite well at that, and with only the hallway and kids' rooms to paint (doable in one weekend I think), this weekend (a long weekend) we have planned nothing.  Nothing at all.  We are going to take each day as it comes.  Maybe pitch the tent in the garden, do a bit of pruning here and there, have a little family barbecue, sit around and put that frozen breast milk to good use while we drink a little gin and tonic here, a glass of chilled white wine there and really enjoy being with the kids and this weather before it gets too hot.

In the mean time, however, there is work to be done, parties to create and babies to feed.  Life... is good.

September 25, 2012


Time. It's flying by.  It's now over 10 weeks since Hugo was born (he has become the marker of time in our lives) and we are in a rhythm of sorts, where most things seem manageable, although that could be because I've stopped trying to do the hard stuff.  Hugo is now sleeping through the night (sort of).  We wake him for a feed at 10pm, and he's making it through till any time between 5-7am, though if he wakes at 5am he's asleep after a quick feed.  The other night, I couldn't be bothered expressing for his 10pm feed, and just fell asleep.  At the risk of jinxing our luck, I'm going to share that he slept for nearly 13 hours straight.

That was last Saturday, in fact.  The day I did something unmentionable, something I'm not proud of.  I forgot our anniversary.  Not our wedding anniversary, but the anniversary of when we first went out for that date in Covent Garden 11 years ago, the anniversary that we both feel is almost more important than our wedding anniversary.  After all, there would have been no wedding without that first day.  His first words to me were 'happy anniversary'.  His second: 'Did you really forget?!'.  Er, yes.  Which is hard to believe because (a) I've never ever forgotten anything like this before, and (b) all I think about is him, especially when he's not here.  I do things and think 'I must tell Will about that', I see things and I think 'Will would like that', I hear things and think 'he's going to find that so funny' and every now and again, I think about him and get annoyed because he didn't put something away where it belongs/threw his daks at the laundry basket and they ended up on the floor/forgot to mention he'd be working when I thought we'd be spending the evening together.

Truth is, with the boys, a baby, the redecorating, planning Ollie's 4th (FOURTH!) birthday party, and trying not to look in the mirror at this tired, withered old face, I just forgot.  And these aren't excuses, because I don't think you can blame anything on the busy-ness of life, especially not busy-ness that you've created yourself, but the anniversary just fell off the list of things on my mind.  Which is ironic really, because the first thing I think about in the mornings is him, and the last thing I look forward to at night is how he puts his arms snug around me before we fall asleep.

Anyway, he didn't forget.  He was his usual, sweet, thoughtful self, making me this beautiful card and giving me a well chosen and fitting gift, and writing to me a note that reminds me why I chose this man to be my husband.  He didn't once bat an eyelid that I forgot, which shamed me somewhat because I can only imagine what I would have done if it had been the other way round, right?  So all was good. Love was in the air.  And then I found his daks on the bathroom floor.

Happy anniversary.

September 13, 2012

lentil samosas

Last week saw my first full day at home with all three of my little boys. Will has taken a few days off so that when the boys aren't in kindy, he's been home with me, providing an essential extra pair of hands.  He went back to his normal working week last week, and I guess it marked the start of my normal working week too, because this is how things are going to be for a little while.

Anyway, I survived. We actually had a pretty good day.  Somehow, I managed to get all three boys to sleep at the same time, so I had two hours to myself.  I didn't do anything exciting with the time but I did finish painting our ensuite, which looks crisp and fresh and new.  Starting next week, I'm reducing the amount of time the boys are at kindy.  It's a decision driven by economics more than anything but also by my realisation that this is most likely my last ever period of maternity leave (I am not ruling anything out), and so making the most of spending time with the children while they are still preschoolers is pretty important.  We thought about taking them out of kindy altogether but we don't want to lose our places and it's nice for me to spend one-on-one time with Hugo.  It's also nice for the kids to have variety in their week and for me to not lose my mind trying to look after three kids on my own without any break.

In other news, we've been cooking new things.  I found this recipe for lentil samosas via Pinterest a few months ago and I've been keen to try it.  A couple of weeks ago, we did and it was good.  We modified the recipe slightly (details below) and they also fried well from frozen, making them a good, quick nutritious supper with greek yogurt.  The only changes I might make would be to add some chopped, cooked mushrooms, maybe.

Ingredients for about 40 little two-bite size samosas:
A couple of cups of dried lentils.  I used those round brown ones (not split) which kept their shape whilst still being tender.  I expect puy lentils would be great in these, as they too would keep their shape/texture and next time, that's what I'll try.
A couple of big handfuls of finely chopped baby spinach leaves
A big handful of chopped coriander
A big handful of chopped mint
A handful of chopped spring onions
A couple of teaspoons of garam masala
A teaspoon of cumin
Sea salt (to taste)
Spring roll pastry (found in the freezer section), unless you are a real hero with hours to spare and you have made your pastry from scratch*
Flour and water paste (for sticking the pastry together)

Cook the lentils.  To my mother's horror, I boiled mine rather than cooking them using the absorption method.  She believes you should only use as much water as is necessary so you don't need to drain them and all the nutrients are kept in the pot.  She has a point, but I didn't do it that way.
Drain the lentils and combine with the other ingredients.
Fill the spring roll or home made pastry with the mixture, using these instructions or however you want to fill them.  Triangular samosas are traditional and cutest. You use a paste made from flour and water to stick the pastry together.
Fry in hot canola or sunflower oil for a few minutes until golden and eat them straight away.  You can eat them with ketchup, or do as we did, and combine thick, full fat Greek yoghurt, chopped cucumber, chopped avocado, lime/lemon juice and seasoning. Spritz them with lemon juice just before eating.

This weekend, I'm going to make paneer samosas.  After I've consulted my mother of course.  I wouldn't want to get it wrong, you see.

*I have watched and helped my mother make the actual pastry for samosas.  It's delicious but it's also incredibly time consuming, and unless you have an abundance of aunties and cousins around to watch your kids for a couple of hours, it's probably not worth doing, as the frozen spring roll wrappers, which consist of the same ingredients and no additives work just as well.  I'm a convert.

September 3, 2012


Hugo.  Little Hugo.  Not so little Hugo.  He's growing by the second but he's still my baby boy.  It won't be long before he's huge-o.  Hah!

August 27, 2012


As if looking after a newborn and two rambunctious toddlers wasn't enough, we've suddenly decided to act on our decision to redecorate the house.  Not renovate, just redecorate.  Painting mainly, with a bit of serious spring cleaning and sprucing thrown in.  We figured a room a weekend is achievable and so far, we've managed to stick to that ambition.  We have a freshly painted bedroom and dining room, including all the trim, doors, nooks and crannies.  The difference is spectacular, and only in actually undertaking the task have we realised how much the house really does need a freshen up.  We've been here almost six years and it must be at least ten since it was renovated.

It always seems simpler than it really is, and I am writing this while trying not to stress about the piles of crap lying in our bedroom/living area and focussing instead on the fact that we got it done.  We moved our mattress into the lounge and lived like the bedridden grandparents of Charlie Bucket for the weekend, which I have to admit was good fun.  Who doesn't like eating ice-cream while sitting in bed in front of the tv?

So this week, I'm going to restore our bedroom to sanctuary status, sort through piles of clothes, get stuff dry cleaned and thoughtfully place nice things here and there so it feels good to walk in there after a day of chaos.  And then, even though it wasn't the easiest thing to do with the kids wanting to get involved and a 6 week old baby stuck to me like a (very cute) limpet, we'll do the next room, and the next, until it's all done and dusted.  Just in time for summer.

August 14, 2012

one month

He's got big, brown eyes, a mesmerising gaze, a voice that means business, the softest of skin and hair, and he loves to be snug.  He's started offering smiles, though they are still few and far between; I'll do anything to see that little face light up.  It already feels like I'm spoiling him, though of course he's only a little baby, so it's not really possible, but if Ollie's my pride and Max is my joy, surely Hugo, with his hairy little back and fuzzy ears is the apple of my eye.

Last night, Will said something to Hugo that made my heart cry a little.  "You're looking big, Hugo, not like a newborn baby anymore."  He's right, of course and I agreed with him straight away before realising how time is escaping us.  While I've been dwelling on the tiredness, the boys' behaviour and Hugo's insistence on being carried around all day, life goes on, and Hugo is one whole month old.  Today.  At this rate, the Christmas I'm so excited about will be here before we know it.

August 12, 2012

move over salvador

Lately, I haven't felt like saying or doing much.  The lack of sleep and resultant difficulty finding the energy to connect with the boys (husband included) has meant I feel a little withdrawn and I'm back at that place where I'm doubting my ability to do this parenting thing.  It's that same place fraught with uncertainty over the future, the homesickness and the feeling that I am bearing the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I know I'm not, it just feels that way.

Still.  I managed to sit down and do some silly collaging with Ollie and Max the other day, and it was something we all enjoyed.  Max especially loved getting sticky and messy, and it was so sweet to connect with him in the fug that has been concentrating on bonding with Hugo.  The boys' creations now take pride of place in the frame of this Dali print that let's face it, pales in comparison to what they made.

Our house continues to become their house, with their belongings taking over what was once a grown up space, their noise permeating every inch of this little wooden home we live in and their artwork taking centre stage over the paintings and prints that used to adorn our walls.  Our house.  Really, it's their house and we are but lucky to live in it.

August 1, 2012

and that was the week that was...

not good.

Will picked up hand, foot and mouth.  He couldn't cuddle or help at all with Hugo, and while he's been helping as much as possible with the boys, there were a couple of days there where it all felt way too much.  I was left feeling rather lonely after a week of no physical contact with Will, not so easy when you are still sleeping next to each other, and definitely not easy when you are feeling very hormonally challenged and just want a cuddle.

Max had diarrhoea, and still has somewhat, and the doc thinks it's probably his way of dealing with the hand, foot and mouth.  Either way, middle of the night wake ups to sloppy poops from your two year old are not fun.

Despite the lack of contact, it was inevitable that I'd be ill too, and I had a fever and sore throat over the weekend, making night feeding extremely difficult, and day feeding for that matter.  Again, it's probably how I've dealt with the family lurgy, Ollie and Max too had fevers about a week ago and the theory is they had the bug then and just didn't show any more symptoms.  Doesn't make it easy to manage.

This winter, it feels as though we have been battling colds, sinusitis,  coughs and other bugs almost all the time.  It's a given when your kids are in day care that they will bring home germs, and it is winter after all.  But it's such a worry when you have a teeny tiny little baby in the house, and yes, I know, worrying won't help anyone or anything (something I have learned from my ever positive sister who's mantra is to relax, everything will be ok!), but it's my way.

Winter is different here.  The houses in Queensland aren't easily heated the way they are in England.  There's no central heating, the mornings are very cold, and while the winter sun is lush, the nights are cold and dry.  In England, it's cosy inside.  It's nice to go out knowing when you get back indoors it will be toasty warm as you put the kettle on for that welcoming cup of coffee.  The days are short there, but we have Christmas and the holiday season to look forward to.  Here, winter seems so... dull.  And it makes me yearn for the holiday season and we all know what I think about Christmas in the heat of the summer.

So the upshot of it all is that I am looking forward to spring (not necessarily summer) when there'll be a little more life around, a little more heat in the mornings and we won't be telling the boys they can't enjoy water play because it's too chilly to be running around in wet clothes.  The doors and windows will be open again and surely there will be less illness in our lives?  And maybe with spring might come the promise of a trip back home, because I don't know that I can make it through a fourth year without seeing the faces I love, being in the countryside I so adore and experiencing that unmistakeable atmosphere of home.  Home.

July 23, 2012

settling down

We are now in week 2 of being five, and things are settling down considerably.

Hugo is lovely.  We've had an exhausting first week and some days when he's been quite the cranky pants, but he is still lovely.  In fact, the word I'd really use to describe it would be magic.  It's been such hard work getting to grips with breastfeeding and lack of sleep, but every time I look at him, I melt a little, and when his eyes lock with mine... I can't begin to tell you how that makes me feel.  He likes to sleep and is a pretty ferocious feeder, but he gives me a bit of time between feeds.  He likes to be snug, held and cuddled but is getting better at spending a few moments in his moses basket while I prepare meals or get things organised for bath time.  That said, even when he's happy to be lying on his own, I choose to hold him, because there's nothing like that feeling of holding your own baby, barely a week old.  He locks his gaze with mine so that I can only assume he's trying to tell me something with those big, big eyes that might be blue like his brothers' or brown like his mum's, either way, he's a fuzzy little peach.

It's hard though.  I wish I could make everyone happy all the time, the boys are so good but I can't do as much with them as I would like, and the tiredness, it's a fog that makes it all that much tougher.  And if you are a mother, you might remember what it's like when you are just dozing off and then you hear the static of the baby monitor and you know you have to get up for an hour long breastfeed.  Having Will home these first couple of weeks is wonderful and in many ways it's him that's bearing the brunt of the hard work - looking after Max and Ollie.  We were saying only this morning that we don't feel much busier than we were a couple of weeks ago, and in fact Hugo makes me sit down for a little while each day, either when I'm feeding him or just stealing a cuddle.  But we are feeling like we need to be that much more organised.  What helps is that the boys are already learning to be a little more independent and they don't seem to object when the reason we can't do something is because we need to help Hugo.  At least, not yet.

But the good feelings have taken me by surprise somewhat.  It's as though we are that much more relaxed with it being our third time venturing into baby raising and so we are enjoying it more and savouring as much as we can.  The first was stressful for me because I had no idea whatsoever, the second was good because Max was such a chilled out baby but we really struggled with Ollie being a challenging toddler, but this time... even though Max is now that toddler, and I'm still not entirely sure what I'm doing (I've never had three kids before), I know Max will get over his tantrums, I know I will turn a corner with the breastfeeding and soon enough these new days will be over.  I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that we need to enjoy every moment we can.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...