Thursday, December 29, 2011

Celebrations, celebrations everywhere and way too much to drink

We have been in a whirl of festivities over here, starting with Evie's 2nd birthday party!

 The much-anticipated George and dine-saw cake!  It took forever and was the reason our guests arrived while we were still tidying the family room.  Luckily our guests were all family of one sort or another, so all very relaxed.

 Let the present opening commence.

And let it continue...

 Especially if they contain fairy dresses.

Happy birthday for me?

 Evie's bike!

A quiet moment.

Then it was Evie's actual birthday on the 22nd.

 "I want that" on spying below..

"My playhouse!"

"I make dinner.  Pasta?"

"Hello, le' me know if need some help, 'kay?"

"Baby cupcake cute!"

Pancake breakfast for the birthday girl.

Then Christmas at my parents (on Christmas Eve)

 Doing craft with Mama, my beautiful grandmother

Finally!  The first presents are given.  The traditional babies from Mama and Papa. The girls were so patient, they waited beautifully until about 10.30!

 And to go with them, from Nanny and Grandpa..

 Bunk beds!  Babies were put to bed immediately.

 My suitcase?

Please take note of my Christmas earrings.  Abi picked them out for me all by herself.  And the necklace was part of a very special present from my grandmother; a necklace, bracelet and earring set that was originally her aunt's sometime in the early 40s.  I adore it and am going to get the earrings remodled to pierced-ear compatible.

And last but not least, Christmas day with my own beautiful little family.  I am so blessed.

 It was all fun, but sadly the fun is written all over my face.  The exhaustion, it resides in the bags beneath my eyes.
   Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oh my baby!

Darling Evie Flora,

Mummy is so slack, I missed your 21 month letter and I am only just sneaking the 23 month one in three days before your birthday!  We had a little party for you yesterday, but I think I'll let Daddy tell you about that in his 24 month letter.

It's hard to know where to begin.  You fill my life with such joy, how can I describe all the funny and wonderful things about you?

One thing I always love is putting you to bed at night.  We used to have our last breastfeed sitting at the computer desk, but you have put a stop to that.  "Go bed!  Evie have mi' in bed!'  So now we lie down, ("Fan on?  Mummy iPad? Evie have mi' in bed RIGHT NOW.') 

You have gone through lots of funny little games during our go-to-bed ritual.  For a while you liked to look up at me and say 'Evie happy.  Evie cuddle mi'.  Evie kiss mi'.  Evie happy'.  That was my cue to say, 'Mummy happy too, because Mummy has Evie!  Mummy is very happy.'  We would go back and forth like that a few times and then you'd go back to drinking your mi'.

Then it changed and you decided that what Mummy needed while wating for you to go to sleep was a hair cut.  So you would sit up and pull my hair over my face while saying, 'Haircut?  Hair on your face, Mummy.  Evie cut it.  Cream?  Evie put cream on your face.'  I don't know why you decided to open up your own little salon, but I loved it.  You would also often sit up and lie down with your cheek on my cheek and say, "I love you so much.  Evie love Mummy so much." and I would say, "I love you so so so so much." and we would have a big cuddle.  Right now we mostly have cuddles and mi' with the occasional request to look at a picture of your birthday cake, which was/is in the shape of George from Peppa Pig and his dinosaur, who you love.

You talk and talk and talk all the time now.  You and Abi chat away in the back of the car and I adore listening in on your conversations.  Abi says, "Evie?" and you say, "Yes Abi?" so politely.  You are often very polite with your 'yes please', 'thank you' and 'sorry'.  You even say ''scuse me Mummy' when you are squeezing past me in the doorway.

Knock, knock jokes are very funny to you right now, even though you haven't got the script quite right yet.  You say, "knock, knock, who's there, Mrs Cow Poo Head!" all at once, and then laugh and laugh.  You and Abi also like to do your version of Mary, Mary which goes something like this; "Mary, mary, qui' contrary, how your garden grow? With a plop of wee and toilets all in a row.  Your turn Abi!"  Do you see the theme emerging?  Daddy and I don't help matters by laughing hysterically at all the toilet humour that surrounds us.

I am so so grateful I get to be your Mummy and spend time with you every day.  I am torn between wanting you to stay the same forever and being so excited to see what you do next.  Next year you might start kinder in third or fourth term, and I'm not looking forward to the time away from you.  You're my chatting little companion and you make everything we do together so much more entertaining. 

I love you.  I love you!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sweets to the sweet, sugar to...not me

I'm not quite sure how it's happened, but I somehow appear to be going - sugar free. Also moving to the raw end of the scale. Now, I am in no way obsessive or particularly concerned with what I eat or don't eat. I have a reasonably good metabolism (thanks Dad!) which means I can eat most of what I want without getting ridiculous and growing out of all my pants. I seem to hover around 60 kilos with very little effort, and that on my 172cm frame is a 10 up top and a 12 down the bottom (thanks Mum!).

I have of course been in much better shape. Honeymoon shape, to be precise. 57 kilos, could-run-12km, visible abs kind of shape. See below for illustration.

 That's me in my wedding dress.  I was going to put this one from our honeymoon of me in a bikini jumping backwards into the water, but it doesn't seem to be in iPhoto.

Things have not changed hugely everything has just softened a bit lot around the edges. Not so many edges as once there were in fact. And there is just all around more. I can't run 12 km either, or do 60 sit-ups, or stretch out over my leg until my boobs hit my thigh. So although things are not dire, they are not optimum either.

But what to do?  I have been trying to run regularly again, but what with children, family, sick/hayfevery  husband one thing and another I am just not getting out there enough.  Well, even if exercise is difficult, you can always improve the eating side of things right?  But how?

I'm sure it works this way for everyone, in fact there is probably a word for it, but I've been having that thing where you keep hearing about something over and over from different sources, so even if you started by ignoring and dismissing, you find yourself taking it on board almost as though undergoing some kind of hypnosis. I am talking in this case about green smoothies.

I first heard about them a year or so ago on a podcast I love - Babies and Moms; Birth and Beyond. "Smoothies? And they're green? Yuck. Disgusting." And there I left it. But then a friend of mine started to make them and was talking about them recently. And then I was listening to Life Matters on ABC radio and they had a segment on them. Getting the picture? Green smoothies were everywhere.

The key ingredient seemed to be kale. Kale is not easy to find, and although I could have substituted spinach or something I decided I didn't want to mess around with inferior greens. Then I found some kale (also known as Tuscan Cabbage, thanks Wikipedia) and collected the other ingredients, namely mangoes, strawberries, freshly squeezed orange juice and tried my hand at whipping one up.

I didn't have a proper blender, just a bamix, so the resulting smoothie, while quite tasty, was a bit chunky. More chewy than is really ideal in something you're supposed to drink. I made DH drink it anyway, and he wasn't a big fan. I informed him he had been sick too often recently so until that stopped he'd be chewing bits of kale in a drink for the duration. He looked stoic, as he picked bits of  stem out of his teeth.

Suddenly I was obsessed with finding the perfect blender.  Reading reviews, checking the links, seeing blenders in my sleep...DH refused to listen to  my exhaustive rehashing of blender pros and cons after a while.

I never really considered spending $800 on a smoothie maker, and I ended up going to Harris Scarfe and buying a $40 blender which was marked down from $80.  And it works!  Still slightly chunky, but much better than the bamix and even better since I worked out it was better to remove the kale stem.

So each day I have been whipping up green smoothies for DH and I.  So far I've used kale, mango, banana, strawberries and blueberries in varying combinations and they are all yummy.  They also give me a definite energy boost and are nice and filling.  I'm sure they're making it easy to give up the refined sugar too, as I'm not having any cravings really. Today though, we've used up all the mangoes, and I'm not sure how a mango-free one will taste.  I'll give it a try though.

And the no-sugar thing?  That's kind of crept up on me too.  At some point last week I just decided, that's it, no more refined sugar for a while.  And it has been really easy so far.  I had a bit of a headache on Friday, but that's the only physical thing I've noticed.  Today I even had a coffee without my usual teaspoon of sugar and it was fine!  Well, the first sip was a bit bitter, but after that it was yummy. 

The good thing about no refined sugar is that you don't fuss around with working out how much of something you can have, you just don't have it at all.  So no biscuits, cakes, chocolate, hot chocolate, sugar in coffee, ice cream or slices.  I'm not going too nuts with worrying about things like sugar added to soy milk (although I did just buy a soy-milk maker on Ebay, so soon I'll be making my own from organic beans and nothing else), but the obvious sugar-containers are gone for now.  I am giving myself permission to have the occasional hot chocolate made with Jaspers chocolate powder, but that's all.

We'll see how I go.  I don't own scales, but I might take a photo of myself in my new bathers and post it here and then do a comparison shot in a couple of months.  That will be a good incentive to stick to my plan.

Also, inspired by Averil, I made some of these.  I couldn't get cacao powder so I used cacao nibs and cocoa powder.  They are pretty nice, although next time I think I'll use some dates and a bit of extra stevia powder as they are still a bit too bitter.  They are filling and more-ish though, and I like having something so healthy that I can grab as a quick snack.  I think it's the coconut butter that makes them so yummy.

I'd love to hear about anyone else's experiences with this kind of thing.  Any good links?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What is occupying my brain right now...

is homeschooling.  Well, unschooling/natural learning to be precise.  Even radical unschooling, which challenges all kinds of assumptions and my dearly-held beliefs.

Firstly,  homeschooling.  Why?  Well, Abi still has two more years at her Montessori kindergarten and Evie will start at some stage next year, probably in fourth term (sob, myyyy bbaaaayybeeeee).  The issue arises when Abi finishes and Evie still has two years to go.  What do we do?  I had always planned that they would go on to a Montessori primary environment; we have two semi-nearby, one private and one as part of a state primary school.  We live pretty much right in the middle of both so a 20/25 minute drive either way.

The state one is near the kindergarten so we could have Evie at kinder and Abi at the primary school.  Or, we could swap both to the private school, which has an attached kindergarten.  However, the private school's kindergarten is not as good as the one Abi attends now, and the state primary school stream is not as good as the private one.  Confused?  Yes, me too.

A couple of months ago it occurred to me that another option would be to leave Evie at the kinder we love and homeschool Abi for those two years.  Then we would have the option for them both to go to the private Montessori school or if it was going well, we could just continue to homeschool.  It was like the sun came out when I thought of this.  Homeschooling has always hovered at the back of my mind as an option for lots of reasons, and it seems right for us.  I love the school holidays and I have no doubts about Abi and my ability to learn together in a very natural and spontaneous way all the things she needs and wants to.  I love being with my girls and the thought of being with them for all those hours, days, weeks, months and years that I would otherwise lose is intoxicating.

This is hard to talk about sometimes because I worry people who are making different choices will feel attacked or judged by me.  But I have so many reservations about school as an institution, even though I personally had a mostly positive time there.  But the more I think about it, the more it seems insane that children have to go somewhere 6 hours a day, five days a week, forty weeks a year for 13 years.  13 years!

I remember in year 10 saying to a friend that I thought we could have learned everything we had learned at high school so far in one and a half years.  I was being generous.  I have since read that it takes around 1 and a half hours per day to cover the actual curriculum.  The rest of the school day is about behaviour management, assemblies, waiting around for everyone to catch up and just waiting.   When I look back at school, I remember lunchtime and the seemingly endless hours of sitting in class, waiting for it to be over.   Sometimes I was interested in the class, but that was pretty rare.

School suits parents and society because it gives children somewhere to go, a place that will keep them safe and occupied (although I could put quotation marks around those words) and out of the real life lived by adults.

School is not real life.  It is a fake, manufactured social world that all too often seems to bring out the worst in people.  I don't want my girls bullied, periodically ostracised, ridiculed for learning, dumbing themselves down, learning to victimise others, putting up with years of boredom or being forced to memorise and learn things they aren't interested in and won't need to use.  

There are other things too, but I'm out of time.  It's a big subject and a big decision.    I'm becoming more and more sure that it's the right one for us though.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New arrivals

I don't think I've told my lovely readers (for you are all lovely, small and select group that you are) about the new residents at our house.  Here is one:

That's Billy.  His mate, Cuddles (not pictured) is bigger and a kind of rumply tortoiseshell.  I am very fond of him because he looks just like the guinea pig that used to be on Playschool on Wednesday when I was little.  Jack, of Jack and Jill.  We got them a couple of months ago from a shelter and they have been great.  Really tame and pretty and fun to watch.  As they are from a shelter they have been both desexed and microchipped, which is somehow comical.  DH says surely if you lose a guinea pig you just - in the nicest possible way - move on, so the microchipping seems a bit over the top.

Here's my other new baby.  Isn't she beautiful?  Her name's Cora, in case you were wondering.

And also in case you were wondering, no I am not usually the kind of person who names her appliances.  But the KitchenAid is so much more than an appliance!  She's a friend, really.  A friend that makes my kitchen look crap, and causes me to mutter with even more discontent than usual as I try to find things in my hopelessly overstuffed cupboards.  (A pantry!  A pantry!  My kingdom for a pantry!)

I chose Almond Cream over the flashier, more obvious colours.  Although I am almost swayed by that aquamarine one on your blog, Melissa.  I can't tell you how disgusted Abi was with my muted choice though.  She sat there looking at the brochure, swooning over the metallic purple and pastel pink and was totally underwhelmed when I pointed out my favourite.  

I looooooove Cora.  I use her at least four times a week and only have one attachment so far - the grater/slicer one.  I don't have a food processor/blender anymore as it broke, but with Cora and her unnamed friend the cream bamix lurking behind her there, I don't need it.  

I decided Cora needed some new friends, so as our old four-slice toaster was only half-working, and as our ancient blue plastic kettle was, well, really ugly, I got these:

Couldn't get cream, sadly.  But maybe that would have been too matchy, anyway.

Here is something else that happened in our house last week.  We went from this:

to this:

Can you see the little bob?  Abi has been agitating for months to get her hair cut and we finally succumbed.  And she looks adorable.  It really suits her and is so much easier.  I am a bit shamefaced that we held out for so long.  It's her hair after all.

Well, tv time is over, so off I go.  To make salad.  Not in Cora, sadly.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I am experimenting with saying yes more often. I read in someone else's blog that she was doing the same and it definitely resonated with me. I say no to my girls too often. And for no good reason. Because I'm distracted. Because I'm thinking about all the stuff I have to do. Because I, shamefully, sometimes just can't be bothered and want to DO IT MYSELF without the loving 'assistance' of my little girls.

 Well, it won't be so long before they have a thousand things they'd rather do than hang out with me in the kitchen, sitting in front of the cupboard doors, cracking every egg, washing every tomato, peeling every carrot. It won't be too long before they don't want to hold my hand all the time, or snuggle on the couch, or have me dress their babies and pretend to be a little girl. And it will end faster if they come to assume that my answer will probably be 'no' to whatever it is they want.

 So today I said yes when Abi wanted me to be the little girl while she was the mummy. I said yes when she wanted to make some muffins in character. I said yes to using the hitherto banned glitter to make butterflies. And to Evie, my firestorm girl, I said yes to 8 extra serves of chocolate powder in her psyllium-laced milk.

 What do you think? Is saying yes something you have to think about?

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I have been thinking about sisters. Sisters in literature to be precise. They always seem to be used to illustrate opposing characteristics, two sides of the same coin. Elizabeth and Jane, Elinor and Maryanne, Antigone and Ismene, Regan/Goneril and Cordelia. The pretty and the interesting, the sensible and the passionate, the resolute and the gentle, the selfish and the loving.

If one is one thing, does that mean the other can't be? Elizabeth was pretty, but not as beautiful as Jane. Elinor was sensible and practical, but full of concealed passion, nonetheless. Maryanne was not without sense. Jane was too subtle and intelligent a writer to fall totally into either/or, but the last groups I mentioned are more black and white.

Other examples are coming to mind. I Dream of Jeannie and her bad, brunette sister. Cinderella and her step-sisters. Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield (hello SVH!).

I am the mother of sisters. I also have a sister, whom I adore. But she is much younger than I, and the comparisons are not really there to be made when one is a toddler and one a teenager. I can feel in myself the temptation to think of my girls as 'the ___ one', at different times. You know, Abi is sensitive, Evie is confident. Abi is cautious, Evie is bold. Of course, Evie is also sensitive and Abi can be bold, so I feel this maternal labelling, no matter how loving, could limit them in my eyes and in their own.

Do mothers of boy/girl pairs do this? Or mothers of more than two girls?

Abigail Pearl, my heart song, my tender place, my Snow White
Evangeline Flora, my little peach, my joyous girl, my Rose Red

See how addictive? And another pair of diametrically opposed sisters.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

19 months of Evie Flora

Happy 19 months my darling littlest girl,

This letter is late, I confess. It's hard to find the two-hand-typing time needed to write down all the wonderful things you do and are, but I think about them all the time. Soon Daddy will be writing your 20 month letter, in fact you are 20 months tomorrow, so I am only just in time.

I continue to be enchanted by you, Evangeline. Your name means, 'good news', you know, and from the day I knew you were on your way you have always been the best of news. You are a shining star, a joy-bringer and a soul full of such beauty. I am blessed to be your mother and so lucky spend every day with you.

So what are you doing at the moment? You continue to leap and bound along with your speech. You put two and three words together often, sadly, one of your first three word sentences was "No tiss Mummy', but you have since come out with "Baby bump here. Baby bump Wiwi [Evie]", "Do 'way Abi", "Abi si' here", "My Daddy too" and many others. I love hearing your little voice, or watching you sit with the little Baa Baa Black Sheep book, singing to yourself "Baa baa sheep, baa baa sheep, yeshir yeshir, baa baa sheep".

You love to play with Abi, of course, and she often sits with you and reads you a book. You listen very attentively and often ask her to read it again. You both love playing with the babies and we recently bought a smaller pram which is just the right size for you to push around the house. You like to put a baby in the pram and get a bag too. Then you say, "Bye bye. Shop!" and we have to ask you about your shopping plans for the day. Your favourite baby at the moment is probably Baby Ro Ro (Rosie), but you also love Baby With Teeth and a new baby we got from the Op Shop, which I have lovingly christened Manky Baby. Daddy scrubbed her with the grout cleaning brush though, so I think she is okay now.

Right now you are in the playroom with your beloved daddy and Abi. You don't really like sharing Daddy with your sister and usually insist on him carrying you around whenever he is home, but it sounds like you are having fun in there at the moment. We got some new dress ups which you like very much, and a puppet theatre from thetoy library.

We all love you so much, precious one.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Happy {belated} birthday to me!

One week ago I turned 39. Eeek! I guess. Can't say I'm too fazed by it right now. I like my life, I like where I am and although looking back I'd do some things differently, mostly I am pretty content. I am disgustingly lucky generally with my husband, daughters, family, friends and work. Character flaws are a work in progress. If I had to list them I'd say my worst traits are laziness, disorganisation and a tendency to take the easy way out. I also over-commit to avoid disappointing people and/or having them think less of me. I'm poor at receiving criticism without getting defensive.

I try to see all these things clearly and aim to improve whenever I notice them. Sometimes feels a bit Sissyphean (sp?) though. Right now I am trying to root out passive-aggression and sarcasm, especially when I post in online forums. I don't do the facebook status thing anyway, and I am aiming to say exactly what I mean whenever I can.

Anyway, my birthday was lovely. My marvellous husband made me delicious garlic prawns and chocolate mousse for dinner and gave me silk pyjamas patterned with pearl necklaces and 2 months worth of yoga classes. He had some other things in mind also, but was stymied by my body giving me the birthday present of my period starting. That means I had an exactly 35 day cycle with a good clear ovulation, which bodes well for later, providing my plans come to fruition...

Don't know on that score yet. I am keeping my promise not to bring it up, and D hasn't either. He's probably hoping I've forgotten about it.

My mum gave me a real pearl necklace which I love. It has a flower and pearl clasp, which I was wanting to symbolise my girls - Abigail Pearl and Evangeline Flora. It's a bit fancier than I was envisaging, but I adore it anyway.

Anyway, going now. We lost our camera, but have just bought another one, so I'm going to post some pics soon.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Funny girl

Abi; on watching me pick cradle cap out of Evie's hair; "What's Evie got in her hair?"

Me: "Cradle cap."

Abi; next day; same situation; "Has Evie got some crap in her hair?"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bit dangerous this one...

My darling husband foolishly kindly sent me this link recently. Be wary, my friends, before you follow that link. Cassie and Averil, I am looking in your direction. Okay, don't say I didn't warn you...

It has the most divine discounted designer clothes for children. I haven't even skimmed the surface yet and have already found so many things I MUST HAVE. And if your order comes to over $250 then shipping is free! Free! It would practically be a waste not to order a whole lot of stuff immediately.

We were away this weekend for more family birthday fun, but are heading off to playgroup tomorrow. I have lots of stuff to do (how is it th
at one night away creates so. much. washing?) and dinner is just about ready, so must go. But before I do...

Monday, May 23, 2011

I know!

Yes, yes, only three days in and already failing. But it's not my fault! Our big computer keeps freezing due to video-card-drivers-something-incompatible-something-something-nod-and-smile. So I am using DH's laptop tonight. When I get my iPad, all these problems will be a thing of the past. I expect you can get an Ap to write witty, touching blog posts for you. Excellent.

I am not much of a one for gadgets usually, but the iPad had me at demo. I can't wait. I adore my iPod and this will be even better. I am not getting one of those smart covers though as I don't trust them to protect my preshus from the vicissitudes of life in my handbag. I am getting something much sturdier, and sadly less pretty. Brown, black, charcoal or grey were my choices. Sigh. Am getting charcoal.

Yesterday we had cake, vegan and non vegan, for my dad and sister's (non vegan and vegan) birthday. We were at my brother's place and it was so good to see my little 2 month old nephew. He is a little blonde baldy, just like my brother was and is packing on the weight. 250g in a week! I was grateful for anything over 100 with Miss Evie Boo.

My girls were adorable. As a joke my brother suggested to Abi she might like to collect some of the leaves that had fallen down and were messing up the tidy inner-suburban courtyard. She then spent about 45 minutes carefully collecting them and putting them in a bucket which she then placed on the loungeroom floor. She clearly wondered why he would want them, but was happy to assist. Evie spent the same amount of time picking up little stones, putting them in a flower pot and then taking them out again. I wish our back yard was a bit less precipitous and they could play out there without me worrying about them falling down all the stairs. A little courtyard is definitely better than a hilly half an acre when you have pre-schoolers.

I know

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Post in Pics

Ever since I broke out the face paints at Abi's fourth birthday party, she has been begging me to paint her face. At one stage it was almost daily. It's faded away a bit now, I think maybe because we got these special paraben-free face paints and they're, um, not as good. Better living through chemistry and all of that.

Also, I got a bit sick of the time it took and the related mess which she probably picked up on. She hasn't asked for a couple of weeks and now I feel sad about it. I'll offer to do it tomorrow and I hope she takes me up on it; I hate that I get impatient with my darling girl sometimes. She has grown up so much this last year, I need to treasure every minute with her and really appreciate it when she wants to spend time with me.

Here are some photos anyway. My little painted lady.