Monday, July 30, 2012

Baby Shows..? Yay or Nay?

You know how I said here and here that sometimes I regret starting things with my first, knowing I'll have to repeat them twice more with the other kids? Like the one-of-a-kind birthday cakes that represent what they're 'into' at the time... or the full-sized quilts for their beds (still got one to go there)... taping the entire Kindy Christmas concert for posterity...

I am just the kind of person who likes to be even-handed with my kids. I know there are times when they have to accept that life isn't fair, but I need them to know that I love them all the same. I like to think of the special things I do for them as evidence of my love. I admit, I get sentimental and a little bit hung-up on 'stuff'. I think losing a parent early makes you want to leave something behind for your kids. As I tuck them under the blankets that I've made, I tell them that each is a hug that mummy leaves with them when she can't be there. The cakes are to prove that I love them enough to sacrifice time for them in the kitchen (everyone knows how I hate to cook). Even though those things take time (eons of time, three times over) I take great pleasure in knowing that one day they'll look back and think 'my mum did that for me'.

My mum always made stuff for us. My dad was often busy with his own projects, but I remember he once entered me into a Agricultural Showgirl Contest. I felt so happy that he thought I was pretty enough and dignified enough to enter. It was one of the moments of my teenage years where I felt I had pleased my dad just by being me - and that I had earned his acceptance and his praise.

I hasten to add that despite this euphoria I also felt embarrassed and worried that everyone at school would find out... I was downright mortified when a boy in the year ahead of me asked me for some lined paper, "C'mon, it's the least you can do, Miss Mt Barker. Aren't you supposed to help the community?" haha. Sooo not funny at the time.

So the thing I struggled with the most is the whole Baby Show fiasco. I wanted to show my kids I thought they were special and unique and amazing too - but somehow it didn't feel right. Don't get me wrong, these aren't those OTT pageants you see on telly - just kids dressed up in their Sunday best, no make up or performing involved. Just a chat with the nice lady and off you go.

The first show I went to, I was just so excited to show off my gorgeous little guy - he was all chubby cheeked, blue-eyed smiles at the time (he's since grown into a gangly, green-eyed, lightsabre wielding jedi). And guess what. He won! My Z is one of those kids who will win you over with his enthusiasm and he came home with the BIG TROPHY. So exciting!

So the next time I went to one, I dressed my piggy-tailed, blue-eyed princess in my favourite little dress (black and white pinafore, I hadn't given into the monster that was pink at that stage) and took my chubby little two year old along to watch. At the door, the lady was charmed by my little man and convinced me to enter him as well - it WAS for charity after all. Despite the fact he was dressed fairly casually, I caved and handed over my ten bucks. Big mistake. Of course my wide-eyed, enthusiastic little boy came home again with the BIG TROPHY and my little princess came home empty handed. I was devastated but consoled myself with the fact that she couldn't possibly be old enough to understand that she hadn't been picked as the prettiest/best dressed/nicest eyes/blah blah blah...

However... kids are kids. Sigh. Mr Z *loved* playing with his trophies and soon enough Miss Piggy started to get upset that she didn't have one. So last year, we made a last-ditch effort to win her a trophy. I dressed her in a gorgeous red dress with a white crocheted cardi, combed her lovely wavy hair and put a skinny side-braid across the top of her head. She looked like a fairy princess - very far removed from the girl who usually gets told she looks like she's been pulled through a bush backwards at the end of each day!

And guess what? She got shy. She couldn't speak to the judges, she just stared at all the other pretty girls around her and looked scared. I felt sick. How could I do this to her at such a young age? Make her feel so inferior and worried and wonder if she was cute enough. It was absolutely awful. We went shopping and I bought her ice-cream to make up for the ordeal I had put her through. I told her that she was gorgeous and that she was the nicest girl I knew. I prayed that I hadn't hurt her fragile little ego.

And when we went back to hear the verdict they announced the boys first. This time her blue-eyed, blonde haired LITTLE brother had won the grand champion trophy. Along with three smaller ones.

I felt even sicker. Should I leave? Should I stay? I didn't know WHAT to do.

The girl's trophies were lined up to be announced. She squeezed my hand tight and I could feel her straining to hear her name. It broke my heart.

But... a miracle happened! Nicest eyes... my Miss Piggy! They loved her beautiful round eyes that had changed from a bright blue to a deep green the Summer before. She was so proud as she marched up to the stage to collect her trophy. I've never seen her hold ANYTHING so tight. I prayed a quick thanks before rushing to congratulate her.

And then I vowed never to go to a baby show again.

Don't get me wrong, they are a FANTASTIC fundraiser for all sorts of charities. They are a nice morning out with other mums (usually great cakes too). They are just not for me!

How do you feel about baby shows?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Handmade dolls

I finally caved and bought a great doll-making pattern. I usually enjoy the challenge of working out how to make things on my own - like my mermaid pattern or my babushka dolls but this time I just couldn't get the result that I wanted.

My dear friend Jo and I sat down a couple of afternoons in the holidays and cut and sewed some dolls for our daughters. It was really fun, and the pattern from Dolls and Daydreams was super easy to follow.

This doll was mad for a first birthday with a ladybird theme. I hope she likes it! You can definitely buy a doll a lot cheaper than making one, but I enjoy the process of creating and gifting a one-of-a-kind item to someone special (especially someone who has two older sisters and loads of toys at her disposal).

I can't recommend these patterns enough - even for the beginner sew-er. They are simple, have full colour instructions and they arrive via email very quickly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner... part 2

When 'daddy' works late, I often stick to simple cooking. I know it sounds awful, but if I have no adult audience I lower the bar a little bit. Is that awful?

Anyway, because I pride myself on serving my children nutritious (if sometimes unconventional) meals, this meal has become a favourite of mine - and Mr Z's!

Cheap, easy and nutritious, straight from the Lazy Mother's Handbook! (That's the term I use to refer to my shortcuts)

Special Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients: eggs, 1/2 cup of diced/grated vegetables per egg.

(this recipe is just an example of what you can use and serves 3, you can use whatever you have in your fridge)

6 eggs
1 large carrot, grated
1 medium onion, fine diced
2 mushrooms, fine diced
1/2 tomato, diced (or handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half)
handful of frozen corn
2 rashers of bacon diced
1/4 cup of grated cheese
olive oil

1. Fry onion and carrot until softened in a small amount of oil.
2. Remove from pan, fry bacon bits
3. Add onion and carrot back to pan, add other vegetables and stir until they are warmed through.
4. Crack eggs into the pan, keep stirring until eggs are cooked
5. Add cheese and remove from heat
6. Serve

If you need to bulk it up a bit, you can add precooked rice to the mix.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Simple summer dress

Miss Piggy said she wanted to sew a dress together over the holidays. Against my better judgement, I agreed...

What really happened was she occasionally pushed the pedal on the machine, played with the tape measure and whinged about how it wasn't long enough, puffy enough, flat enough, was taking too long... I could go on and on... All I can say is now I remember why I prefer to sew in the wee hours of the morning!!!

We took a piece of material that was 1.5 x her chest measurement, put some lines of shirring in, then sewed it up. A couple of pieces of ribbon and we were done.

The seams weren't all that straight, but she was happy with her pink maxi dress (like mummy's) and that's all that matters ;) It cost me just over a dollar to make and I will let her wear it for wrestling in the garden with her brothers, washing the car and any other crazy, dirty activity I usually veto the wearing of dresses for!!!

Grateful for endings... and beginnings

This week was my first week working part-time in over a year. I've dropped from a five day week to four.

A year ago, we sat down as a couple (and as parents to our three young children) and tried to work out what was best for our family. After an unexpected addition to our family, our best laid plans had come unstuck and we had to replan our future. We decided to try something different - fulltime work for me to help build my career and hopefully allow hubby to find some balance between work and family.

The year has been great for our kids, we've managed to get them everywhere they need to go and with a mix of hubby working onsite/from home, we've only needed to have our small boy cared for outside the home three days per week.

It worked pretty well - except for one thing.. me! I didn't cope very well with fulltime work in conjunction with being a well-rounded person. I also didn't feel I was being a very good parent, particularly given that I have a two year old son who is yet to call me 'mum' (or say much at all for that matter). I was tired, cranky, guilt-ridden and unhappy.

So this week I'm grateful that we are in a position to let me drop back to four days.

The extra day at home means I can take my small boy to music, have some one-on-one time with him (when I returned to work, he wasn't even walking so this is a pretty big deal) and work through a speech program with him. It made my week feel so much shorter and I feel happier and more balanced already.

I'm grateful for time, for patience - for knowing when to say 'enough' and for set ups that allow a compromise (I know not everyone is as lucky as me).

I'm also grateful that I'm here - as a 'replacement' baby conceived after my parents lost their eldest daughter, I know that things always happen for a reason - even awful things. I think that has helped me deal with some of the tragedies that have happened to me over the years - knowing that the awful thing happening to me means that something good will eventually arise out of it for someone.

I always take time to reflect on how lucky I am to be living the life I have on the anniversary of her birth and death. And I hug my own precious children (none of whom turned up when we planned for them) and celebrate how surprising and wonderful life can be. Back in the days when I was lamenting the fact I didn't think I would ever have a baby, I could never have known that it was all in God's perfect timing, that I had to wait for these *particular* three beautiful people to make their way into my life... and I wonder if my parents thought the same of me and my younger siblings.

Soppy, aren't I?

Joining in with 52 Weeks of Grateful over at Kidspot.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dinner for Breakfast - part 1

Sometimes I just feel like dinner is beyond my realms of capability. When it's been a long day at work, a big day out with the kids (or I just haven't been to the shops in a while) I really struggle making dinner. Well, truth be told, I struggle to make dinner every night! I HATE to cook, but since I LOVE to eat, it's just one of those things I've learned to do.

When we were first starting out (and I was new at kitchen things) we used to eat pancakes for dinner quite a lot. Not the fluffy round ones the Americans make, but thin crepe-like pancakes we enjoyed as kids. The sort my mum used to roll up with lemon and sugar as a treat.

We learned that all sorts of leftovers made tasty pancake fillings - ham, roast chicken, avocado, cheese, turkey and cranberry, even salads.

We often added a bit of cheese, onion or garlic to the batter before frying to give it a bit of extra flavour.

Tonight we made them for our kids and they were a hit! We put cheese, ham and shallots into the 'dinner' version, and nutella in the 'dessert' version.


Basic pancake recipe

3/4 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup milk (or 1/2 milk, 1/2 water)

1/4 cup of cheese
Handful of chopped shallots/onion

1. Combine all ingredients with electric mixer
2. Fry as per crepes on a flat pan
3. Add desired filling, roll and serve

Cheap and cheerful :)
I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)