baking and being

Today is my birthday. I’m thirty six and just realised just how quickly the last 6 years have gone! Six years ago I celebrated my birthday expecting my first child. I was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the changes this child would enforce on me. And yet, I cannot imagine my life had these changes not occurred.

It’s been an extremely busy couple of weeks. Still getting into the swing of doing the whole school thing, I now feel a little more relaxed about it all and not so frightened of forgetting to pack lunch or return notes on time. Scarlett has settled in to OOSH a little better, and Xavier has stopped crying when I leave him at preschool, instead adopting an awkward little sad wave goodbye. Lots of cuddles resolve any ill feelings at night.

I have been insanely busy at work lately, which I have come to realise has made me a little on edge at home, but I am trying to be conscious of it and keep things in perspective. Even though at times I feel that I am not achieving anything much, I am lucky enough to have a boss who reassures me that I am, and appreciates my efforts.

After an extremely long week (having attending a music festival and two gigs), I am just grateful to stay home today (in my pyjamas) and do the things that make me happy. Presents in bed, breakfast made by someone else, lounging around and baking. Today I have made good use of some bananas that were going bad…

banana bread with coconut

And have also made some delicious Crunchy Lola Cookies

delightful crunchy Lola cookies

But what I am enjoying right now, is listening two my delightful children playing ‘schools’ downstairs. Scarlett, being so excited about learning new things at school, has decided to start her own letter lessons for toddlers such as her brother. I wonder if she will become a teacher one day?

excited to be writing her own words, each family member was asked what they like doings this evening

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apple and date chews

So the second snack item I made this weekend was something that sounded delicious to me. I should have known it would not be to Scarlett’s taste. Oh well, more for me and hubby!

apple and date chews

Apple and date chews

  • 400g apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Grease and line a slice tin.

Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Spread into tin.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool in tin, then cut into fingers before turning out.

I got 24 small bite sized pieces from this batch. Scarlett had one nibble and placed the remained of her piece back on the chopping board. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

one week down

We have survived the first week of school. I was a little bit cocky in my last post – Scarlett had attended a total of two days of school and I was not working on either of those days – but the week ended up being far more taxing than I had expected.

one week down

Four days a week, I rise at the crack of dawn. On three of those days I have to leave the house an hour before my train is due to manage drop offs at OOSH and preschool. Early evenings are spent washing lunch boxes and preparing dinner, feeding and bathing the children, convincing them to go to bed, then re-packing lunch boxes for the next day. And that is only the logistics.

Scarlett not only needs to find her way at school, she also has OOSH three days a week – another new environment with older children to contend with. As a child whose parents work most days, she also has quite a lot of responsibility for a 5 year old:

  • remember to bring home your hat and jumper each day
  • take this note to your teacher and bring home any other notes in the note folder
  • take this slip with my credit card details on it and don’t drop it on the playground for other kids to find
  • Ditto to all for OOSH

This isn’t so easy when you also have to focus on learning all day. So far, she has left the hat and jumper left at school one day, the hat at OOSH another day, and the note folder at school every day. The payment slip never made it out of the pocket of her backpack.

For me, it has been hard to let go and trust her to take on this responsibility. Not being able to control as much as I could at preschool and having to keep calm about it all.

Xavier and I spent our first day alone together on Monday. We had a great day going to kindergym, a lunch date and to the park before picking Scarlett up from school.

lunch date with my boy

I thought this one on one time would make him feel more secure and make leaving on  preschool days a little easier, but it only seemed to make it worse. He spent half out day together telling me how much he loved me and how much he missed me when I was gone. Consequently, there were tears and heartbreak each day I left him at preschool each day. We are working on it, but it’s hard.

With all the emotional upheaval going on, I didn’t want all the logistics weighing me down even more. So I’ve tackled it the only way I know how – planning. I have been religiously menu planning for some time, but I’ve now added to this the school lunches and snacks.

menu planning

While my mornings are insane, hubby is picking the kids up of an afternoon and bathing them while I prepare dinner, and bedtime is a dual effort. I know it is only early days, but I know we will all get into the swing of things before too long. Heck, we only have another five hundred and thirty two weeks of school to go!*

*for Scarlett that is – add on another eighty two weeks if we’re including Xavier!

birthday party & a new leaf

Another party over and thanks goodness for that! I enjoyed creating the cakes, but the stress of pulling off a party of 17 kids + adults was almost too much.

Scarlett had invited some friends from preschool and was so excited by the spectacle of it all and being the birthday girl that I’m sure I’ll do it again next year. Xavier insisted he didn’t want to invite any friends from preschool because according to him, he plays by himself all day! Im sure that will change next year.

To top off a hectic weekend, my uni semester started on Monday. Even though I had already done the first two weeks readings ahead of time, I felt a tinge of anxiety at the work that lies ahead. After listening to the first lecture though, I know this semester is going to be a positive learning experience.

Work has also become a completely different place. The new manager has brought back some dignity to a team that has long suffered under mismanagement. After only three weeks, there is a sense of purpose and direction. While everything is under review, it’s not a negative experience when you are being taken on a journey instead of being out down.

There is still plenty to worry about, but at the moment the outlook is positive…

party prep

It’s that time of year again. My two little monkeys have turned another year older and we are having a gathering to celebrate. I know some people loathe the idea of hosting a kids party and will go to any length to avoid it – be that vetoing it or outsourcing it – but I actually enjoy it.

I enjoy the planning. Searching for and collecting ideas for food (particularly baking) is a pastime of mine, and that’s half the job done of planning a party. I’m keen to give things a go and experiment with creating, so when Scarlett asked me to make her a ‘forest cake’ and Xavier requested Batman, I thought of it as a challenge.

Tonight I’m up ever so late baking mud cakes which will form the foundation of the two cakes. I’ve been at work all day, cooking all evening and am quite frankly buggered. I’m looking forward to getting the cakes together in case I have to make last minute alternative arrangements!

I’m looking forward to seeing the kids enjoy their special day with their family and friends and would then like to have a rest…. But then uni starts up again!

new things

 There has been lots going on this week. 

  1. I’m learning new things through my study
  2. My mum gave me an old sewing machine of hers 
  3. The incompetent fool I work for is leaving!

Yes you read correctly. After the turmoil he has caused in my life over the past nine months, he will soon be gone for good. Often in government jobs when someone is leaving, there are not really leaving but temporarily working in another area of the office or even the state. But this is the real deal. He’s moving to an entirely different body so there should be no worry of him coming back.

It’s safe to say that I am over the moon. No matter what happens in the office now, it will be an improvement of the current situation. Full stop. 

Now for the sewing machine. I’m the only female in my family who can’t see. My mum has been an amazing seamstress since she was a young girl. Growing up quite poor, she quickly realised she could sew whatever she wanted for a fraction of the cost of buying it. She’s made many things for me, it most notably, my wedding dress. I cherish it. She also made my older sister’s wedding dress and was an assistant for my younger sister who is also gifted when it comes to sewing and knitting. 

I’m a bit scared. The first thing Scarlett said when I told her we were being given a machine was “great mum, now you can make me a wonder woman cape and a superman cape for Xav”. I don’t even know how to use the thing!

Mum gave me a quick crash course when she brought it over and today I had a great idea. After being disappointed that the stall that sells doll clothes at the market wasn’t there, I thought maybe I should give it a go. I used the off-cuts of the delightful Merimekko fabric from my (oversized) bedspread. I took the time to cut out a little baking paper pattern and pinned it to the fabric. I cut I tout and attempted to sew it together. It didn’t turn out well. 

I got quite frustrated at not being able to do it. I put quite a lot of thought into so I thought it would work how I envisaged. Then I thought for a minute. How am I supposed to just know how to do these things? I’ve never really spend the time watching mum, and if I had, I’d know that she always has a pattern to guide her. 

So I’ve decided to stay positive. I’ve downloaded the sewing machine manual and some free easy patterns, and once I get myself some fabric, I’ll give it another shot. Scarlett (and Betty the doll) were still quite happy with the outcome. I guess it beats the last dress I made her. It was made out of paper and sticky tape…

 

the end is nigh

 Would you consider this scratch to be the end of the world?

 Well according to Scarlett it is.

Today as we left the shopping centre – we were on the home straight, groceries bought, tantrums averted and sanity intact – Scarlett tripped over and fell on her knee. On concrete. 

The screams she let out had fellow shoppers worried there was some sort of emergency. By the sounds of things she may have been in dire need of an ambulance, or at least some stitches. No. Nothing quite so dramatic. A scrape on the knee. Hardly any blood at all. 

The screeching continued to the car – which I only made it to thanks to a helpful stranger. I was carrying Scarlett while pushing a heavy trolley. After she was safely in the car and I began packing the groceries into the car, her screaming continued. More strange looks from near by drivers and pedestrians wondering what terrible thing I had done to her. 

The sobbing and whimpering continued all the way home and for an hour longer once inside. It seems she copes VERY badly with pain.

This has happened a few times now. I was asked about it by a preschool teacher after her gross over-reaction to a scratch after tripping over. Each time, all I can think of is “imagine the trauma if she broke her arm” or “how will she cope during child birth one day”? 

It seems like such a minor thing to worry about, but these situations have such an impact on me. There is nothing I can do to calm her down. Talking, cuddles, bribery. Absolutely nothing helps her get over it. Today she told me she was never going to go outside again, as this would apparently solve all her problems.

I wonder if other children are like this. Are some people just so super sensitive to even the tinies amount of pain? It must be awful.