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

christmas baking

Today I spent the day baking with my mum. For as long as I can remember, my mum has made the most delicious biscuits each christmas. There is her famous almond bread, hazelnut logs, almond crescents and pistachio pears.

As my sisters an I got older, we started to pitch in and began helping out each year. For several years now though, both my sisters have been living in another state, so it’s just mum and I. This year it was I who approached mum to get the day organised.

There is something very special about baking with a mission. Not just baking one cake or a batch of cookies, but to tackle the sum of baked goods we plan each year requires organisation and hard work. For six straight hours we each moved from one task to the next. Grinding, beating, mixing, moulding, baking, dusting, drizzling. Today we barely stopped to eat lunch or have a cup of tea.

The results were worth it.

20121202-213221.jpg

Aside from the copious amounts of baked goods I returned home with today, I also left with a great feeling. Mum and I had spent the whole day working, but also chatting and just being together which has been a rare thing this year. We talked about kids, work, health, religion, education, discipline and being women. I’ve suggested we do it more often. We have a lot to talk about.

duplicity

My little girl went to big school for a classroom visit today. One hour in the classroom without mum or dad. She survived. I debriefed with other mums. The school uniform shop was open for orders and fittings and boy are they cute (and expensive).

At the end of the day, we went to preschool to pick up her brother. We went to see some of her friends on the way through, and we watched her as she flaunted her chocolate milk in front of them.

When it came time to leave, one of the boys said that Scarlett couldn’t go home yet. I told him that she would have to come home with him and sleep at his place the night. He seemed happy with that suggestion. The other boy sitting next to her was not. He said she was to come to his house instead. I suggested that they would need to share her around.

Taking it all in, Scarlett replied to the boys “you’ll need to photocopy me”. A simple solution.

 

spontaneous bush walking

Today in an attempt to avert other priorities, on the way home form an outing we decided to go for an impromptu bush walk. It’s been years since I went to Knapsack Bridge, and after a few hundred metres of walking Scarlett started complaining. Granted, we weren’t dress or stocked for the occasion, but we decided to push on anyway. More complaining ensued as we walked along the paved road that leads to the historic bridge.

After arriving at the bridge, we found ourselves descending the stairs down the side of the bridge.

Image

The magnificence of this historic structure kept us moving down the stairs marvelling at each new angle. The kids became excited by the rain forest atmosphere as we got closer to the bottom.

Once we had made several attempts to get back up the other side of the stream, we realised we would have to go back the way we came once again. To my surprise, there was barely a complaint from either child. They even ran the last few hundred metres back to the car. Well I guess that may have been due tot he promise of chocolate once there, but…

mandarin season

I love mandarins – they are one of the best things about winter. A friend of mine has an enormous mandarin tree in her backyard, so she tries to give as many of them as possible away when people visit. That way,  she won’t have to continually clean up rotten ones from the lawn!

I recently gratefully receive my second batch of mandarins but was a little less excited than the first time. The kids wouldn’t eat them. These ‘organic’ mandarins are not uniform in size or colour, and they have seeds! I knew I could not eat 4 bags of mandarins myself before they went bad, so I went in search of recipes.

I love cake, so this whole mandarin and pistachio cake really appealed to me, but 2 large mandarins wasn’t going to cut it. I’d would have to make ten cakes! So I went looking for marmalade. I found this mandarin marmalade recipe on a table for two (which I only just realised was the ex-masterchef guy Billy Law’s blog). The recipe was a little beyond the effort I usually put in, but I liked the idea that I could use only what I already had in the house – no need to go and buy special setting sugar or anything like that.

After many hours of peeling, seeding, chopping and cooking, I finally made my first ever marmalade (or any jam for that matter). I am so please with the result. I’m going to give some to my dad for Father’s Day tomorrow and keep the rest for myself.

I may just have to pay another visit to my friend’s house before mandarin season is over…

school

Today was the first official visit to big school for our first born child. I hadn’t thought much of it until today, only concerning myself with preparing her for what to come. As we walked in the gate to the school I felt a little anxious. For her, for me, for all of us.

As outspoken and crazy as she is at home, our girl is a tad shy in group situations. Never one to assert herself when big personalities are around, she quietly sits back taking everything in and then makes her judgement once she feels comfortable.

When we arrived and found the other preschool kids there were several she knew from preschool. I sighed with relief, but she was anything but relaxed. She was reluctant to interact with her friends preferring instead to stay by out side.

As the year 5 buddies started circling looking for their kindy kids I was sure there would be resistance or maybe even tears. There wasn’t. A lovely boy named Jem (who we had mistaken for a girl from the letter we received in the mail due to his long hair, feminine features and ambiguous name) came to find Scarlett. He was jovial and friendly but as he approached I was nervous. He introduced himself, asked her name and then took her hand. Off they went went without a second thought.

I was so proud and relieved that she went without a fuss. I was so worried about her being too fragile or shy to participate, but she certainly proved me wrong. Seeing her participate in the school parade, seeing her watch and listen intently to the band and choir gave me confidence.

I’m sure she will be fine starting school next year, but will I?

scarlett school