Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book of the Week: DK Children's Encylopedia of Animals

This is one of E's big favourites at the moment. D takes her to the zoo pretty regularly, and like him she is besotted with all things animal.

It is definitely aimed at a slightly older (primary school?) audience, with snippets of information about the different animals in little boxes on each page. There are separate pages on topics such as animal classification, skeletons, senses, mammals and reptiles, as well as an alphabetical section about different animals. The back cover says it contains information about more than 2000 different species and I'd believe it, it really is a very detailed yet easy-on-the-eye book. It would be a great resource for school projects.

At this point E adores it mainly for the beautiful colour photographs. She has her firm favourites and can make the noises/actions of these animals very loudly and enthusiastically:
* Tigers/lions/cheetahs (all of these get a fantastic, r-rolling growl);
* Elephants (a funny trumpeting noise complete with arm movement);
* Dogs (either "fff-fff" [woof-woof] or a panting noise as Mum & Dad's dog pants more than woofs);
* Cats (meee-ow! meee-ow!);
* Gorillas/chimpanzees/monkeys (pats chest because of repeated readings of Rumble in the Jungle in which the gorilla "wallops his giant great chest");
* Kangaroos (bounces on spot);
* Rabbits (touches nose rather tha twitching nose); and
* Bats (flaps arms).

As of this morning I think she is also saying "baa" for sheep.

So, partly a post about a book we enjoy, partly a post about our clever litlte angel!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Parent Guilt

I've written before about the state of terror I entered upon realising I was pregnant, and the somewhat surprised happiness I felt upon Little E’s birth. This persisted until she was maybe 10 months old, whereupon she started sleeping properly at night. Suddenly I wasn’t constantly exhausted anymore. It was like waking up from a dream. I had the energy to be bored.

Now I vary between enjoying being at home with E, and wishing that there was something more to my life, and then feeling guilty for wishing that. I enjoy spending time with her. I know it’s a luxury that we can afford for me not to be in paid work. I love it when E learns things, I love it when I recognise an expression of mine or D’s on her face. Her cuteness and rapidly diminishing babyness and her beauty touch my heart multiple times a day. I feel enormously gratified that I can comfort her when no one else can. I don't like the idea of giving up the opportunity to witness/partake in all that, even to her grandparents. Simultaneously I want more. My brain feels tired from not being used in the ways I was accustomed to using it before her birth.

There are too many days when I have to force myself to play with E. We go out a lot, to parks and to see friends, which we both enjoy. But there are too many days where I find myself trying to distract her so I can do something else, like read a book or the newspaper or a stupid website, and not even enjoying it because for one who can enjoy any of these things whilst trying to watch a toddler, and second why should someone with a toddler get to do these things instead of playing with their child? I hope that if I was at work a few days a week that our time together would be more precious and I would be a better and more genuinely enthusiastic parent.

I have moments where I sit in the garden, drinking a cup of tea in a chair in the sun, watching E play, when I think “isn’t this better than being in an office, panicking about some case or the other, writing lists of the most urgent things I have to do so I can prioritise how to get through the day, telling some poor blighter that if he doesn’t come up with an astronomical amount of money we’re not going to be his lawyers any more?

Some of the time it is, and the rest of the time it patently isn’t. If you’d asked me how I felt about work two years ago, I’d have probably said that I was keen for a change, and that I wanted the opportunity to stay at home, read stories, play with a baby, go for walks, to not be responsible to anyone but my family. Nonetheless, despite the near constant stress, I was proud that I managed my job the way I did. I know all the reasons I resigned when my maternity leave ran out are good reasons. It was an easy choice at the time. I’m not desperate enough to go back to that job and given my commitments now, I hope I never am. I know all the reasons why criminal law is a hard job to do part time, and why it’s worth waiting for a job that I can comfortably do part time to come along.

We could try to have a second baby sooner rather than later, but, probably selfishly, I want a little bit of time where I'm not pregnant and not caring for a tiny baby as well as a toddler. E is nearing the end of breastfeeding. If I became pregnant immediately it would also mean being out of the workforce for probably 3-4 years and that seems like a long time given I only worked for 6 years before Little E was born.

It frustrates me that all of this isn’t even an original way to feel. Is all of parenthood a universality? Can’t I have even one unique experience?

The dominating feelings right now are impatience, frustration, guilt. Those are not good ways to feel.

I hope something turns up soon.

** I finished writing this five minutes ago and then read a lovely post at Team O'Toole. I am converting this into my Grateful post because I should focus on the many good things in my life and not be a misery guts. I am grateful for the fact that I have the opportunity for the work/baby dilemma to occur. Here's to positivity.

My Grandma's Chicken Paprika

I thought I'd add a recipe to Kate's Menu Monday even though it's not Monday (and thank God it's Friday, while we're at it). Back in the days when I got paid to work, this was quick enough to whip up after work, and if you have people coming for dinner it dresses up well as dinner party food. D will eat this and he doesn't much like chicken. Little E (14 months) will eat it if I finely shred the meat. For me, it is mainly comfort food, because it is a dish that both Grandma and Mum cook, and which I never get sick of. So here it is:

1kg chicken (thighs or drumsticks, not breast as it is too dry)
1 brown onion
2 dessert spoons of good quality sweet Hungarian paprika**
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 green capsicum
1 red capsicum
A little cornflour
Parsley and yoghurt/sour cream for serving (optional)

1. If you are using thighs, chop them into bits of whatever size you fancy.
2. Dice the onion and fry it gently in olive oil on low heat until it is transluscent. Be careful not to let it burn. Do this in a thick bottomed saucepan that has a lid.
3. Add the paprika and stir for another 30 seconds or so. Be especially careful not to let it burn at this point as burnt paprika tastes really bad.
4. Add the chicken and brown it. You might need to this in several batches.
5. Add the tomato paste.
6. Put the lid on and let it cook. The chicken will release enough juice that it shouldn't need any additional liquid but if it looks like it's burning/sticking then you can add a little water.
7. If you are using drumsticks it takes longer to cook and I usually cook it until the meat is falling off the bone and then remove the bones because D is a fuss pot about meat with bones in it, but you could leave the bones in if you prefer. It takes maybe an hour to cook if you're using drumsticks, less for thighs.
8. Cut the capsicum into strips and add it about 5 minutes before it is finished.
9. Once it's cooked if it looks too watery, thicken with a cornflour paste.
10. Serve with chopped parsley and a dob of yoghurt/sour cream on top.

We mainly eat this with rice or thick egg noodles but you can also have it with boiled potatoes. It is good with green beans or carrots and peas on the side.

** Grandma and Mum both moan about the quality of paprika available in Australia and specifically in Perth. Their brand of choice when it is available is Hoyt's. Apparently you should keep it in the fridge to ensure it stays fresh.

Monday, May 23, 2011

There's a Cricket in My Toilet Eating Cake*

Well, probably not eating cake. But there must be something enticing about the place, because the little blighter persists in hanging out in there. Night after night. Chirping its head off. It might sound petty to begrudge a tiny insect a home in our toilet. I wouldn't care, but for the fact that the toilet is well within cricket-chirping distance of the spare room, where I flee every now and then when D is snoring, or I am feeling wiggly and restless and know I am annoying him, or I want to read later than he does. Oh, the irony of fleeing a large snorey man and being kept awake by a tiny annoying insect.

We have lived in this house since December 2009 and the cricket infestation has been irritating me ever since. Ever. Since. December. 2009. Each time I have lain in the spare room hurling silent curses toilet-ward I have vowed that I will get up in the morning and Google "how to get rid of crickets." And, at least lately, in the morning the porridge-producing, bottom-wiping, showering and dressing routines begin, and I forget. 

I actually remembered just now because we've been watching a Ricky Gervais show about a bloke travelling in India, and D commented that India is never quiet at night time. And I thought "ah ha! I just remembered where it is never quiet at night time! The toilet! And the spare room!" After a minute or two of silent self congratulation I finally sat down with my Google and discovered:
"In certain Asian cultures, crickets are revered for their amorous love songs. They are kept as pets and housed in intricately designed cages to bring cheer to living quarters."
That was just what I was after, but I nonetheless persisted with said website,** which went on to recommend setting sticky traps which will "soon be transformed into ghastly insect graveyards, which make great gifts."

Such comedy. Nonetheless, it sounds practical enough and it doesn't involve blitzing the smallest room of the house with uber loads of nasty chemicals, so I think I will add "sticky traps" to the shopping list. And given it's only taken, oh, about 17 months to complete the first step, no doubt the resolution of the second step will be just as prompt.

Stay posted.

* With apologies to Hazel Edwards.
Image credit

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Today I am grateful for .... good food, good company and a little break

Yesterday, in belated celebration of my Dad's 60th, my parents, my sister, my sister's boyfriend and I had a lovely long lunch at Riverbank Estate Winery in the Swan Valley. D took Little E to his parents' house and they also visited his aunt and uncle's house where there is a cat, dog, chickens and numerous birds and parrots.

It felt extremely luxurious to have a two course meal that lasted for more than two hours and during that time to not have to dispense food cut up into little pieces, wipe sticky fingers, pick up the little pieces from the floor and wrestle a toddler in and out of a high chair. I also enjoyed uninterrupted conversation (even if a fair whack of it was about Little E) and food that I didn't have to cook myself.

We then paid a fleeting visit to the Chocolate Factory (along with half of Perth, those guys must be making an absolute fortune) and then suddenly it was 4:00pm and time to go home. Full, happy, renewed. We should do it more often.

'Grateful Saturday' brought to you by Maxabella Loves.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Will wonders never cease?

It's a two-nap day!

I am doing a victory dance (albeit the quiet kind that involves sitting at a computer drinking tea).

Image from

Morning Interlude

I am not sure I approve of a 9:30am nap (even it is is following a 5:15am wakeup) as it will probably mean that all sleep for the day is over by 11:00am. Or if I can possibly persuade Little E to have any more it will be just as we're ready to go to playgroup this afternoon. But I do approve of the opportunities it allows:

Perfect for a day when the weather gods conspired against us and denied us our morning walk.

Happy Friday to all near and far!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Today is the morning that follows one of Those Nights

Screaming and Panadol and refusals to sleep from 11:00pm to 1:00am. A return to midnight milk to wash down the Panadol. After five minutes or so of frantic sucking Little E looked at me, somewhat perplexed and said "no mo?" And I thoguht "too right there's no more, you're trying to have dessert only six hours after you had dinner and the poor boobs aren't used to it anymore. They thought they didn't have to come up with the goods for another 18 hours. So yeah, there's no more. Sorry about that." But she still decided that chomping away even if there wasn't much there to chomp on was worth it for another 20 minutes or so, until I had had enough and took it away. Whereupon she screamed some more. I was so cold from what felt like hours of sitting by the cot patting and sssshhing and sneaking to the door only to have the protesting start again that when it finally ended I needed a hot water bottle to defrost with.

Blah. So this morning is the morning after all that. Where despite D's generously letting me sleep in a bit, although I'm sure he didn't really get much more sleep that I did, I am sitting here feeling tired and grumpy and unenthused about the whole full time mothering thing. And playing on the computer whilst E variously grizzles on the floor next to me, torments the cat and dumps folders full of paper on the floor. And I keep swearing I would stop playing on the computer whilst she is awake and needing my attention. Blah. Am going to go attend to those scattered papers and stop being a bad mumma.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hello, Sunday house

Soup in the pot, waiting for it to be dinner time. 

Bread in the oven, nearly done. 

Stewed apple (for crumble) on the stove. 

Clean clothes on the line.

Grey skies outside. 

Stories and giggles from the bedroom, as D is here to entertain E whilst I manage all of the above.

Grandparents arriving soon.

Happy days.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today I am grateful for ... autumn

On the other side of the country it’s all looking a bit grim and chilly. But here in Perth, city of endless sunshine, it’s just about perfect. Cool nights, ideal for sleeping.** Crisp mornings hosting our wonderful long walks with two other playgroup mums and bubs. Adventures in local parks and playgrounds that don’t require lashings of sunscreen and wrestles with toddlers and their hats. Sun drenched afternoons. If this is global warming, then I have to say I’m enjoying it!

** At least that is the theory. Darling Little E, Mummy loves you. But she does not want your company at midnight.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quite possibly the cutest pair of shoes in the world

I would wear them if they came in adult sizes. 

They certainly come in adult prices!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hello, neglected blog

Not quite sure what happened here. Part of it was that D was on holiday for the whole Easter week and I became various kinds of lazy.  E and I also got a round round of colds for the month which did not inspire me to spend time after she went to bed writing.

As well as writing lazy, I became was parenting-lazy. I let D change all (well, most) of the nappies. Every second day, after I fed E, I poked D out of bed and got back in it myself for another hour or so (the other days it was his turn to sleep in). While we played in the garden, I let D get up and chase after E when she ventured out of sight. I let him read her book after book whilst I read the paper. His holiday was my holiday as well, and, I have to say, it was great. The two of them seemed to enjoy it as well.

Some other stuff that has happened over the last couple of weeks:

1. E had her first chocolate on Easter Sunday. She was curious about it, but not enraptured.

2. E decided that if she was going to bed at 5:30pm she was going to wake up at 5:00am. Not cool. So we spent four or five days pushing her bedtime back a bit. She now goes to bed at between 6:30 and 6:45pm and sleeps until about 6:00 or 6:30am (if we're lucky).

3. We are in the process of cutting out E's morning milk feed, leaving only the bedtime one. We've reached the point I thought we'd never get to: the thought of stopping breast feeding entirely saddens me. Much as I enjoy the little person E is becoming, I selfishly want to hang onto the times of day when she is mine alone. However, she is a stubborn little one year old and shows no inclination of stopping the milk feeds by herself. I think if we left it until she was a stubborn two year old it would be much harder. So far cutting out the morning feed has been quite painless - D gets up when E does, and shovels porridge into her quick smart. I don't appear until after her little tummy is full. It seems to be working so far.

4. E is much more articulate. A few days ago she used two words together for the first time: "mo boo?" ("more book?") Her favourite phrase is currently "no mo!" ("No more!") It's usually accompanied by a vigorous hand push of the offending bowl. D also taught her that tigers, lions and cheetahs all make growling noises. When asked "what noise does the *insert animal* make?" she replies with a fantastic, French-r-rolling growl. She has such a sweet, high little voice.

5. She's also much steadier on her feet. She needs a hand to hang onto when stepping over the door sill, and wobbles about in sand, but for everything else she's very quick and sure. She hasn't resorted to crawling in a couple of weeks.

5. We've started doing looooong early morning walks a few days a week with two of the other playgroup mums and their bubbas. We've been heading out at about 7:30 and not getting home until about 10:00, having incorporated a playground or two and a cup of caffeine. We take plenty of snacks for the babies and they babble away to themselves and each other and are remarkably tolerant of the extended periods in the pram. The cool mornings are lovely and so is the exercise.
And that's where we're at folks! I hope everyone had a happy Easter and a bit of a break too.
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