Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spooning it up

I have been a bit slack about teaching Little E to use utensils, mainly because of the mess involved. But she's nearly a year old, and while the warm weather lasts I decided I need to make the most of the opportunities it offers for spreading mess outside instead of all over the floor.

Yesterday at breakfast I stood behind her and helped her eat most of her bowl of porridge with the spoon in her hand. For the last few mouthfuls I took my hand away to see what would happen. I expected lots of mess and not much eating. She was actually better at it than I expected! She can certainly grasp the spoon, and knows how to maneouvre it to her mouth, but needs to work on the scooping food onto it part. She had her lunch at playgroup so I didn't let her do any of it herself. Dinner was an absolute debacle; she fussed, wiggled, wouldn't eat with a spoon, with fingers, or from a spoon controlled by me. In the end she ate a bit of potato, mushed some more into her hair; chewed, spat out and mushed almost all of the chicken balls and repeated the process with banana.

I tried to repeat the process at breakfast this morning but I think I was a bit enthusiastic about how soon I gave E her breakfast after her milk. She fussed and resisted, and I gave up on her using the spoon, and shovelled about half the bowl into her myself. Then she spewed it all up. All over herself, the chair, the floor, and my foot. Aside from being a bit surprised she seemed ok afterwards, is perfectly fine now as far as I can tell ,and I'm putting it down to too full a tummy when she started eating.

Lunch today was vegetable and lentil soup and was a mixed bag of success. She managed some of the bowl with me helping, some of the bowl with me feeding her, a few mouthfuls on her own with a spoon and a lot of sticking her hands in the bowl. We repeated the process with yoghurt for dessert and I was very glad we were outside on the grass!

Perhaps the lesson learnt is that self feeding is best reserved for breakfast, when she is fresh for the day, and lunch, when she has just got up from her nap.

We will persist.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Down down?

I don't know what to think about the supermarket price war thing. A while ago I read a Choice article that said for products containing only one ingredient, for example, tinned tomatoes, there is very little difference between the quality of the various brands, so you might as well buy the cheapest. I often bought the Coles/Woolworths/IGA home brand of things like tinned vegetables,  butter, basic bread (for toasting) and eggs.

I never bought the homebrand milk because as someone who doesn't like the taste of milk on its own and therefore worries about getting enough calcium I've always thought it worth paying the extra for the high calcium Brownes one. Now that Coles is doing the $1/L milk thing, and has extended it to eggs and today chicken as well, I confess to feel suspicious about the apparent generosity of their intentions. I find myself reaching for the Coles brand of tomatoes, eggs, butter etc, and then wondering whether I'm getting sucked in by buying it. Wondering whether I'm exchanging a short term saving for a destruction of competition and therefore a long term cost increase. How much resilience do the smaller companies have? If I do buy the Coles branded stuff, and if everyone else does too, will there will be any options in a year or two? And then I wonder whether that is madness and I should stop amping up our shopping bill by buying branded products, and have faith in a capitalist market to take care of itself.

Do you buy the home brand products?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tasty little banana mountains

These are the tastiest funny-looking food I have ever made! I have no idea why they rose in such strange shapes. But they wound up fluffy and sweet, even though I reduced the sugar content, and were extremely pleasant still hot from the oven together with a lazy cup of tea after dinner! (They are also a nicer shade of brown than the photo suggests).

As a footnote, I can’t believe I used banana for cooking when the little blighters are so expensive, but I was lured in by the temptation of false economy. They were $9.99/kg at Coles earlier this week (and today were $11.99/kg!) except if you bought them by the over-ripe bag, whereupon they were $1.99/kg. So I put back the two not-over-ripe ones I had chosen and we got eight bananas for something like $3.50. I actually think we wound up ahead; although I did have to cut out bits of most of them, and froze chunks of a few others with popsticks in them as icy poles for Little E, we definitely wound up with more than two bananas in total. And that is a good thing, as I think Little E might stage a revolution if I tried to restrict her consumption of her beloved nana! After all that, we ended the week with only one black-and-sorry-beyond-redemption piece of fruit in the fridge. So I reduced the recipe by half, and voila! 12 tasty little banana mountains.

Today I am grateful for ... fresh, safe food

Little E is a fruit fiend. She would happily live on fruit alone if we let her. Today she ate: a frozen pear/raspberry square in her porridge; bananas, strawberries and kiwi berries for morning tea; more strawberries with her lunch; more banana with dinner. And that was a fairly moderate day! 

Yesterday I surprised her with a bowl of the first strawberries she had seen in a few weeks as the season seems to be ending here and she was just delighted. She peered into the bowl on her tray, realised it was strawberries, and looked up at me with a huge smile. She then carefully picked each one out and it was obviuos she was savouring them. Fortunately she also gobbles vegetables, including the green variety.

Anyway. I have been horrified by the news that Japanese fruit and vegetables, as well as tap water, might not be safe to give children. I am very careful about what Little E eats - up until the last week or so she really hasn't had anything with sugar (other than what's in her beloved fruit) and only very minimal salt. I figure I won't be able to control her diet forever, and at any rate I just want to ensure that what goes into her little tummy is as good for her as it can possibly be. The idea that the food and particularly the water that is available  to  give children might give them horrible illnesses is just awful. We're not talking about our completely first world problem of some things just being not as healthy as others, but the food that's on the shelves in the shops, and what comes out of the taps, being actually life threatening. What would you do? If you're Japanese you presumably don't have the option of just getting on a plane and going somewhere else. How do you feed your children, knowing that what's available might be down right dangerous? I suppose Japan is lucky in that it is a rich enough nation that it can import food if it comes to that.

So today I'm thankful that (so far!) I have a baby who is happy to eat what is fresh and healthy, and that I have easy access to food that not only meets those criteria, but is simply safe to give her. I have to say that it's not something I ever thought I'd need to feel grateful for.

To see who is grateful for what, this week visit And Then There Were Four (Maxabella is on holidays).

Thank you Carol for making my morning!

Thank you Carol, from Naturally Carol for nominating me for the Liebster Award! This apparently is an "award" bloggers give each other, with the intention of expanding the readership of lesser known blogs. After some googling, it seems that "lesser known" means  blogs with less than 300 or 3000 followers, depending on who you ask. Either way, I think I'm safe!

To accept the award you must display the logo and write a post about it. You must also pass on the award to 3-5 other blogs that fit the criteria. Then link back to the person who gave it to you.

So my nominations are:

1.  This Growing Life - because a big of nepotism never hurt anyone! Go visit my cousin V for her interesting and amusing pieces on growing a garden and two small boys, as well as the occasional thoughtful commentary on politics near and far.

2. Life in the Country - for its entertaining, gently self depricating snippets about daily life on a farm in Western Australia.

3. Team O'Toole - I only discovered this blog yesterday and I'm hooked!  It contains the beautifully written chronicles of a family in Victoria. The kind you wish you'd written yourself.

And whilst you are visiting these three lovely ladies, please also drop in and see Carol and enjoy her clever crafting, lovely photos and observations on life in general.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book of the Week: What the Ladybird Heard

Julia Donaldson continues her winning streak. This book features farm animals complete with noises (always a popular theme in our house) rhyme, rhythm, repetition and a bit of subtle comedy. There's also a small, glittery ladybird to look for on each page.

Our favourite part is the recitation of what the animals say:
"And the cow said "MOO!"
and the hen said "CLUCK!"
"HISS!" said the goose
and "QUACK!" said the duck.
"NEIGH!" said the horse.
"OINK!" said the hog.
"BAA!" said the sheep
and "WOOF!" said the dog.
One cat miaowed while the other one purred ...
and the ladybird said never a word."

And if I needed to justify this week's choice to myself, Little E just  saw which book I had open and walked (staggered really) all the way from the ottoman to the table saying "boo boo boo!" as a demand that I stop writing about books and start reading them.

Radio demography

Throughout high school and uni the only time I listened to the radio was in the car and it was Triple J, all the way. I liked most of the music, I liked the succinct news bulletins and I generally thought the announcers were funny, or at least amusing. Once I lived in East Perth and worked in Perth my car time each week was minimal and my radio listening dwindled towards the non-existent.

However, over the past few months I've been turning the radio on at home during the day, for company and interest. For a while E looked astounded every time the voices started up, and I referred to it as the "magic talking box." Now I just say "shall we have some company? Find out what's going on in the world?"

My complaint is this: despite having had a significant birthday last month, I am not old. But neither am I 18. I was sad to realise that I actually don't enjoy Triple J that much anymore, at least not for extended periods. Way too much hip hop and somehow the announcers are grating and just a bit teenage. I whinged to D and he said "we've outgrown their demographic." I don't know if Triple J has a stated age range, but if they do, I suspect that D is right, and we're at the upper end of it.

But what to replace it? Certainly nothing that's on FM. On the days there's no Parliament, I quite like ABC News Radio (in Perth, 585 on the AM dial) even though it can get repetitive on days where nothing much happens. Through lack of other options, it appears to be a choice of that or 720, the local ABC station, but that means facing the dreaded talkback. If I am feeling especially tolerant I sometimes find talkback amusing. Mostly it's just an easy form of exercise as it gets my blood pressure right up!

Does anyone have any radio suggestions? 

Image credit

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Today I am grateful for ... simple times and happy days

We've had a lovely weekend and I'm reflecting on the happiness of simple things. The weekend included not-too-hot weather, finishing E's birthday sandpit, visits to both sets of grandparents, a walk and play at a local lake with friends, and E's big cousins' birthday party. Nothing momentous, entirely memorable.

I was too slow for the link list, but head to Maxabella Loves to see who else is grateful for what this weekend.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book of the Week: Toddle Waddle

Oh, Toddle Waddle. Little E wants nothing but Toddle Waddle. Toddle Waddle ad infinitum. Toddle Waddle, you are going to make my brain explode.

It's a recommendation, in a warped kind of way.

(I wasn't planning on doing a Toddle Waddle review, as Cousin V at This Growing Life did one a little while ago. But given the above, I felt somewhat obliged).

Party preparations

Not-so-little E turns one in a few weeks and I confess to being a little excited. Conveniently, 3 April is a Sunday so we are able to have a little party on her actual birthday.

I have a shelf in the big white cupboard full of party preparations.
Invitations: immediate family, plus one little friend who we see at least once per week and his parents, but still, somehow, 16 people. I am glad we decided against inviting playgroup friends as that would have tripled the size in one go.
Sugar birds for decorating cup cakes. We thoughts about attempting to do a tree shaped cake with the birds on it, but decided cup cakes with birds are more fool-proof.
Cutters for bird/other popular animal shaped biscuits. Probably gingerbread ones as I doubt E will eat biscuits (I'm thinking a cup cake will be enough of a sugar shock for one day) and gingerbread is D's favourite.

Food colouring made from vegetable extracts and without chemicals, purchased whilst we were thinking about the tree cake, but we'll probably use this to make cup cake/biscuit icing more interesting.

Bird-shaped chocolate/icing moulds, purchased impulsively when I was feeling ambitious about the cake. I'm not actually sure that we'll use these but I figure they'll be good for Easters to come if not for this party.

As I said, just a little excited!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A little domestic moment

Our current favourite packet curry sauce, Passage to India's Tikka Masala. About 750 gm of casserole beef, an onion, a bit of carrot and celery, all chopped and thrown in the pressure cooker whilst Little E unloaded the contents of three drawers, tried to strew a packet of Shredded Wheat all over the floor and renewed her ongoing efforts to climb the pantry shelves whilst I am not looking.

Rice, reheated from the fridge.

Chapatis, from this recipe. Cooked in the half hour after Little E went to bed. Apparently only chumps have two naps a day, even if this means that when they have their dinner at 4.30 they are so tired their head has to have little rests on the high chair tray, so the half hour after E went to bed was 5.30 to 6.00! (It also means that she is tired enough to sleep for 13 hours at night, so she doesn't wake up too horrendously early).

Salad, off the standard variety.

Ooh la la!

(Another belated) Book of the Week: Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin

I like this book so much I bought it for Little E when she was far too young to appreciate it (she still is really). Accordingly we hadn't read it for a while and I was very pleased to rescue it for where it was languishing on her shelf when we went looking for something to read before bed. tonight. She crawled around her bedroom floor loudly repeating "boo boo boo" (book) in a very pleased manner whilst I read it even though I doubt how much attention she was paying. 

This book is such a cracker that it's hard to pick between the language and illustrations. The book is a description of ten instruments from an orchestra with each page containing a verse devoted to a different instrument. The language is lyrical,  sophisticated and often alliterative:
"Flute that sends our soul a-shiver;
Flute that slender, silver sliver.
A place among the set it picks
To make a young SEXTET - that's SIX."
The illustrations are bright and whimsical. The musicians are a suitably eclectric and eccentric looking bunch. The orchestra's two cats, dog and mouse also feature on each page.

We don't have any other Lloyd Moss books but he has a couple of others about music - one called Music Is, another called Our Marching Band. The illustrator, Marjorie Priceman, has written another book that we enjoyed: How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Today I am grateful for ... a healthy baby

One of E's little friends from playgroup had his head cut open this week because he was born with fused skull bones.

Another friend's child recently started speech therapy because he is 18 months old and doesn't have any meaningful words/sounds yet.

I am grateful grateful grateful for our share of the life lottery, particularly, this weekend, for our littlest angel's good health and development that is as it should be.

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