Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Triangles

These used to be in regular rotation at our place, pre-kids. This afternoon I quickly threw a few together. They're so easy, I could do them quickly despite heavy eyes and aching legs.

Just leftover chicken, some shallots and grated cheese, folded inside a quarter sheet of puff pastry and baked at 180C for 15mins. Yum.
I served with snow peas, cherry tomatoes and shop-bought pasta salad, but they are just as yummy with steamed veges. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Too easy Pumpkin Soup recipe

I love soup. I know some people say soup is not a meal, but I beg to differ.

This year our favourite is pumpkin. I generally use a nice butternut pumpkin as we enjoy the sweet flavour - but I have been known to sub-in some sweet potato or carrot if they are cheap. My kids actually seem to prefer the 50/50 pumpkin/sweet potato blend best :)

Here is my lazy mothers' recipe for Pumpkin Soup. I always double it - that way there's enough soup for two hearty meals!



750g pumpkin
250g potato
700 ml of vegetable stock
1 large onion
1 tbs crushed garlic (I buy the kind in a jar)
tbsp oil (to fry)
1/2 tsp ginger (optional)

Cream if desired

You will also need a very large pot and a stick mixer

1. Preheat oven to 175C degrees.
2. Peel potatoes and cut into halves/quarters
3. Place pumpkin and potatoes into oven to roast for 45 min

This is a double quantity batch

4. Fine dice onion
5. When pumpkin and potatoes are done, cut into large chunks. Pumpkin skin will come away easily. Discard skin and seeds. (leave browned outer layer of potato, it will add flavour)
6. In a large pot, fry oil ,onion and garlic. I let mine brown a little, but you can just fry til onion turns translucent if desired.
7. Add ginger and stir
8. Add pumpkin and potato and stir until well mixed.

9. Pour in stock
10. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30mins
11. Allow to cool before blending with a stick mixer
12. Add boiling water if you prefer a thinner soup. Add cream as desired (not necessary, but we like it)
13. Serve :)

Makes well over a litre. I find I can roast the vegetables while the kids do their homework or I put them all through the shower. Roasting them first makes them easier to peel (I hate peeling pumpkin) and also gives a nicer flavour and slightly darker colour to the soup. Actual 'cooking' time is quite minimal and I know that this is a healthy meal my kids will love.

Leftovers can be reheated or even frozen (I prefer to freeze it before adding cream but it's ok to do either). I have also stirred left over soup through a pasta dish the next day instead of tomato based sauce.

Let me know if you give it a try!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Houston... we have a problem

I caught up with an old friend last week. A friend I hadn't seen in eighteen months, despite the fact we live within walking distance of each other. I brought fruit, she brought coffee and cake, we both brought kids and met at the local park.

After all the greetings were done, and we let the kids loose on the playground, I saw her watching my Small Boy extra carefully. It's a look I've seen before. "What's wrong with this picture?"

It's kind of hard to blurt it out. How can you tell people your child has a problem without feeling like you are letting our child down? Every time I tell strangers, "He's hearing impaired, I'm sorry," when he takes the lollipop/balloon/whatever they are offering without a "thank you", I feel like making those excuses for him might be hurting his little ego.

I find myself pushing him around Coles in the trolley saying things like, "Oh, you are a lovely boy! You're so handsome and I love you so much" just to sort of reaffirm to him that he is just such a delight to mother. I don't want him feeling anything less than the wonderful, smart little person he is. I suppose I'm putting myself in his shoes. Imagining how much I would hate for everyone to know that I was behind in such important skills - listening and talking.

You might be thinking, "why isn't she worried about him being trapped in a body with no way to communicate his ideas?" and that's because despite the lack of speech, he communicates beautifully. He has an expressive little face with dimples when he smiles. He does some signing on the important things. Apart from this - between his pointing and showing he always seems to get his message across. And when he can't? Well he does it himself. He's been pouring his own milk and cereal for eighteen months now (sometimes at 3am if he gets hungry). He drags a chair to reach for things like the secret m&ms in the fridge. He pours his own water and peels his own bananas. He can even turn on a computer and put his favourite show on iView! So, there's no need to be feeling sorry for him. He's quite content.

So... back to my playdate.

I have a system of sorts. When I need someone to know what is wrong with the picture I sort of casually slipped the following phrase into conversation, "...since the surgery..." For some reason, if you mention surgery, people will always always say, "Oh... what surgery?" That's my cue to let them know about his ears and how now he can hear and how with only a few months of hearing under his belt he's doing quite well with his talking.

It's the only way I know how to put a positive spin on the whole thing.

If we open with surgery, people are suddenly filled with admiration for my brave boy. They want to hear about his successes with his talking instead of commiserating the fact he's behind. I don't want to hear anyone saying things like, "Oh, he'll catch up when he's ready" or saying things like, "Must be because he has older siblings to do the talking for him." I want to hear, " - it must be like a whole new world has opened up for him! Isn't he doing well to be so happy about it all?"

He's ready. He's working hard. I have no doubt speech will happen and the less pressure on us, the easier it will be. It makes me feel so much more confident when people acknowledge the effort he's making, how brave and smart and happy he is.

In the next few months, we find out if he needs more surgery. I believe in the power of prayer... if you do too, please add us to your list? Pray that this first surgery was enough to correct the issue in his ears and the only other hurdle we have is getting him speaking.

Thanks for listening  :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

My favourite wall

We have a huge wall that runs up along our staircase at home. It is visible from our lounge/dining and kitchen and was so bare and so blank for so long (ten years in fact).

The problem was not so much deciding what to put there, it was more the whole putting my money where my mouth was and getting something printed.

I knew I wanted canvas. I knew I wanted happy memories. I knew I wanted photographs we'd taken. Picking them was the first hurdle. On the one hand we had pretty good photos we'd taken - but they seemed to lack personality and... happiness. Then we had photos that were great mementos of fantastic days, but they fitted more into the snapshot variety.

In the end I decided on happy memories. After all, who cares if it's a masterpiece - I wanted something that made me smile every time I looked at it.

Then we had to find the right deal. Anyone who knows me well knows I'm a bargain hunter. I wanted HUGE but on a TINY budget.

I ended up finding a couple of deals through Groupon with Fabness and a fb site "Cheap Canvas Prints". In the end I was able to do the more grown up landscape prints I wanted AND the fun family memories. I got seven enormous prints (ranging from 40cm x 60 to 100 cm x 50cm) for around $200 delivered.

So here it is... my favourite wall

The top image was taken in Verona last year - after a trip to finalise some details with my Grandfather's estate (and a visit to other relatives) we took a detour on the way home. Italy always lifts my mood after saying goodbye to my family. This photo was taken at the end of a long and satisfying day - full of crepes, pastries and hot chocolates as we strolled along cobbled roads and shaded pathways.

Miss Piggy and I had been pirouetting in the town square just before taking this photo - we looked downright crazy, but why not? We were in a magical place where nobody knew us!  We balanced the camera in the seat of the stroller outside the front of our hotel. After the photo, we climbed the stairs to our ancient but gorgeous hotel room - with a huge comfortable bed under a skylight that let us see the stars. A day that will be hard to beat.

I don't care that a lamp post dominates the picture or that the lines are not really in keeping with rules of photography. I love the colours and the feeling it gives me when I stop to look at it. It really takes me back.

The bottom image was taken a few months later - under a setting sun at a local beach. It was windy Wintertime but we had so much fun chasing the kids on the wet sand. We have lots of snaps from this happy afternoon. And I love that J's hands are on Small Boy's chumpy little legs - it reminds me of that newly-two-year-old who just loved to run and whose little legs didn't listen to mummy.

We used a tripod placing the camera above our heads, a timer and some long arm stretches to press the button. The sand around our feet is pretty messy - but that's because we've been running around like maniacs for an hour.  I'm sure a professional could pick dozens more faults with this photo... but I love it.

I'm so glad that I waited those ten years to fill this wall - because I filled it with pictures of our completed family. We're all there, and we're all happy and for that reason these photos are the epitome of perfect to me :)  

(Inspiration for this post comes from reading Kate's post at Picklebums)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Long overdue

Wow... it has been a long time since I touched this poor neglected blog! I'm not making an excuse but so much has happened over the last nine months.

In amongst the usual craziness that comes with work and three children, I ran myself a bit thin. And... I started to doubt myself as a mother. I really got myself into a place where I started to doubt my ability to cope, to judge, to understand my own children.

I felt something was wrong with my youngest but listened to everyone who told me, "He's fine. He'll talk when he's ready." I started going to seminars on autism when people told me that his reluctance to talk may be behavioural. But I couldn't quiet this small voice in my heart that told me what I knew.

The signs were there. Not responding to his name. Communicating with his hands and with a series of grunts. Slow reaction time. Siblings who just stopped talking to him. Thank God for a GP who didn't treat me like a hysterical mother and who sent me for another hearing test - this time one that used technology to measure hearing rather than the behavioural tests I was sure the Small Boy was fluking.

I knew it. I knew it. Now I was mad at myself for not making more noise, for not making someone listen to the truth I already knew. My son was deaf.

I saw was because when we were told (two and a half years into his little life) that he was hearing practically nothing, a crazy medical machine was put in action. Suddenly, after being told on a Tuesday that he was impaired, we were booked in for a Thursday exploratory op with surgeon I'd just met in the hospital where every elderly family member seemed to go at the end. At end of term, no less. And with Miss Piggy's birthday on the Wednesday.

I felt like I was being sucked into a tornado - the very same people who told me his mutism was selective were now saying there was a very real and medical reason for his not talking. I started worrying about the affects of anaesthetic, of staph infections, of doctor error. I started trying to convince myself it wasn't his ears. I cried and I cried and I howled hysterically. I rang our GP at home to ask a billion questions. But in the end, what choice did I have? I knew they were right. I'd known before they'd known.

So... my Small Boy is no longer deaf. Thanks to the miracle of modern medicine we have a temporary 'fix' that means he now hears in excess of 95% of the world around him. We have spent the last few months teaching him about the hearing world (along with dealing with floods and tornados, but that's another story). Is anyone out there interested in hearing about our journey? Is there anyone out there with tips on teaching a now three year old to talk? Has anyone got a similar story to share?

I'm doing OK - really I am! I'm feeling positive about my Small Boy and his ability to cope in the big world. He's learned that people talk with their mouths open, that hand dryers (despite their ugly growling sound) won't hurt you and that saying, "Maa," is bound to make his mother cry.

So far to go... yet we've come so far already. Thank you for listening :)
I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)