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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Splish Splash I Was Making a Bath

Tracey says she's thinking of giving up work on the weekends. This has nothing to do with her being preggers and everything to do with me being the one who looks after the kids when she's not here.

This all came about last night because I decided to bath the kids. I know! I was being wonderful - it makes no sense. Until you know.....

I started the bath and immediately informed the kids they'd be expected in the bath in a couple of minutes. You have to give them notice, it seems, because they can't possible put down their DS or books or toys straight away. That would lead to anarchy.

Thus informed I went into the kitchen to make Tracey and myself a cup of tea (I'll just point out I'm still being Mr Wonderful here). While the kids bath I drag a chair into the bathroom and I like to read a book and have a cuppa.

My friend Luke arrived, fresh from France, to chat about his trip and.....

...Tracey made a splashing sound as she walked through the hallway. Baths can fill up pretty darn quick if you're not keeping an eye on them, hey.

So now it seems, despite all my awesome tea making, I'm irresponsible and can't be trusted to watch over the kids.

On the bright side, the kids had a grand time splashing around in their heated indoor pool.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sister Smackdown

Conversation turned to sibling rivalry at work today when one of my colleagues mentioned an ex boyfriend of hers had come into the branch. It seems her sister also liked this young man when they were in their low teens and was a bit put out when he showed a preference for my workmate. So the older sister tried to kill her younger sister with a brick. As you do.

From the raised eyebrows I think we were all waiting for the punchline - I'm pretty sure no-one believed her.

"Dad didn't believe she tried to kill me either," she sighed. "But my sister explained she really did, only she slipped on a step and missed my head. Broke my arm though."

While I'm pleased the two of them seem to have worked things out now (Arm has mended. Boy has a gut.), it does make me wonder what the next twenty years has in store for us.

And it's not like we don't have our own family history of poor sibling relationships - I have an uncle whose big toe was chopped off by one of his brothers.

And my own father was no better. Apparently he tried to shoot one of his older brothers when they were kids. Correction: my father didn't try, he DID shoot his older brother.

Story goes, in a time of great need my uncle won a race to the outhouse, so my dad went and got his gun, put a bead on his brother as he stepped out and then, BANG! Right between the eyes.

"You could have killed him!" my Grandma yelled at my dad.

"What the hell do you think I was trying to do?!" my dad yelled back (you know, if he'd gone to jail I might have had two dads).

So far the only really serious disputes we've had to deal with are fights over the Wii (simple, turn it off) and talking during a movie. But then Master19 & Miss16 have polar romantic interests, so competing for boys' attentions hasn't really entered the picture yet.

"My advice," said my work colleague, "is don't have girls less than two years apart. They'll compete for everything."

Well that memo has arrived a bit late, hasn't it?!

I can't do much about the inevitable rivalry, it seems, but I can at least make the weapons scarce. Although now I think I'm putting way too much faith in the fact we live in a house made of wood.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A head like a Who

When I arrived home from work today I was afraid my good wife was losing it.

She'd been at it again - cutting the kid's hair. This time she'd removed my son's fringe but left ample length near his crown.

When I saw him I thought, "That's nice, if you're into Dr Seuss or the Addams family."

Running my hand through his hair to make sure it was as bad as I feared I had the feeling our public image might not survive this pregnancy if this was a sign of things to come. Any day I might come home to find Miss7 sporting a half a Mohawk or Miss4 with a bald runway down the middle of her head, all in the name of baby-brain fashion.

Next I had to work out how to approach my wife about Master6's new do. I've always found the direct approach works best.

" had some free time today? look beautiful, by the way.....nice work on the fringe. Hey, on a different topic, those glasses of yours are pretty old. Would you like a new pair?"

Several curt sentences later we'd gotten to the bottom of it and it turns out the whole Horrible Who Haircut was my fault. When Tracey went to grab the clippers they weren't where she'd left them because I'd packed them away in an all new, she'll never think of looking here, spot.

So dumb things are happening around here and I'm to blame - everything is a-o-k and running as normal. Time for a beer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Revenge of the Chicken

High on my list of things I like to do on a Saturday night is sitting in a hospital waiting room with two overtired children.

Master19 has returned home for a couple of days and I'd cooked us up some nice chicken cutlets for dinner tonight. No sooner had we eaten our meal when I was bathing the girls and noticed some marks on Miss7, who had a slight fever this morning, & Miss4.

Deciding we were probably dealing with Chicken Pox, given the time of the year and our sort of luck (the type Alanis Morissette was singing about in Ironic), I took them down to the hospital - with Tracey pregnant we felt we needed to know what we were dealing with sooner rather than later.

When the nurse asked to see Miss4's stomach and back I lifted up her nightie and we all simultaneously discovered Miss4 hadn't put undies on. 

Naturally, my children were beautifully behaved, if by 'beautifully behaved' we mean they didn't knife anyone or set fire to trash cans. If you take the definition to mean they were quiet and respectful of each other's personal space, then not so much.

Back in the waiting area I exhausted myself trying to keep Miss4's legs together and her nightie covering her bits - an incredibly difficult task given that she thought it was hilarious she could wiggle her butt monster at strangers.

Learning from waiting rooms the world over, the hospital has installed a huge screen telly to keep the wannabe patients distracted. Unfortunately when we sat down I realized the second Jurassic Park was screening. As it was near the end I kept my daughters attention firmly on myself for five minutes while a mummy T-Rex fed  her baby some bloke. 

Another five minutes we discovered it was a Jurassic Park marathon, as the third movie in the series started up, so I asked them to change the channel. They put on football. I don't like watching sport much unless it's the back story in a movie, but at least nobody was being eaten.

After an hour, when it appeared we weren't getting in anytime soon to see a Doctor, I left Master19 with the girls and ducked home (we're less than 2km from the hospital) for some undies and drawing supplies to keep them occupied.

Master19 said I'd been gone about a minute when he received a message from my facebook: hi Geoffrey. I am off to bed now. If they are chicken pox please call my mobile. I will only be having a nanny nap. I hope you are having an awesome time! lol  

Thinking I'd deserted him, he said his first reaction was, "You bastard!" Then he remembered I would never ask him to call my mobile because I don't know which button to press to answer it, so it must have been Tracey.

Three hours later we were home with a positive diagnosis for Miss4 - she has a terrifying and untreatable case of butt monster. 

Miss7 just has Chicken Pox.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Herd of Worms

I've always loved the idea of going bush and living the life of the Aussie Jackaroo, but sadly it was an impossible dream because I just don't have the legs for it, plus I look dreadful in an Akubra - it's my head, it's an odd shape or something.

As you might imagine, a family the size of ours produces huge amounts of waste, and not all of it can be flushed away.

To help minimize our carbon footprint we've three worm farms and two compost bins scattered around The Ranch (read as, our small suburban block).

We used to pay $150 extra a year to the local council for a second wheely bin - that's how much rubbish we made each week. Now we're down to a respectable single wheely bin and we're producing black liquid gold, which is like steroids for plants. Unfortunately, though, I think the kids have been watering the weeds instead of the plants because we're down to two tomato bushes but we've weeds in the grass which are leaning more towards shrubs.

A worm farm will cost you about $125 new, although you might be lucky and pick them up secondhand on ebay (why anyone would want to sell theirs is beyond me). Either way you'll get hooked. I've even named all my squirmy little wriggler mates - for simplicity's sake they're all called Doug.

We built up from a single farm, splitting the herd when it was thriving. Feeding them is just a matter of throwing in fruit and vege scraps, coffee grinds, tea bags and any cardboard as well (they break it down and also use it to breed in). Hardest thing about managing a herd of worms is trying to work out where to put the ear tags.

I love worm farming. It may not have the romance and image of the Jackaroo, but it does give me the opportunity to tell people I oversee 10,000 head.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Number One's and Number Two's

Excitement levels were through the roof here in Devereauxville tonight because for the second time in her short, sweet, nappy filled little life Miss1 managed to announce her intentions and make it to the loo, even if she was prairie dogging.

Tracey makes a big deal out of baby's first time rolling over and first steps and stuff. For me, toilet training is high on my list of milestones I look forward to, and it's not just the chance to eat with my fingers again.

I look forward to having my baby toilet trained for the same reason I live in town where there's a sewerage system instead of on a property where we'd have to deal with a septic tank - poo combines poorly with air and I don't want to have anything to do with it once it's been set free. Unfortunately with nappies you not only have to clean the baby's bottom, the nappy also hangs around in the bin until your pregnant wife threatens to throw up on your shoes if you don't remove the rubbish outside immediately.

I'd rather we all just flush and forget.

So we go all carnival when a little one starts going to the toilet, with clapping and big smiles and falsetto encouragements. We like to let the little ones decide for themselves when they're ready, rather than try force it. Biggest problem can be they scare themselves silly the first time they manage to drop the kids off at the pool. Master6 was a couple of months between tricks.

As for number one's, you hear people talk about putting ping pong balls in the loo to give the boys something fun to aim at. I learned a lot about training boys to pee standing up when Master19 was a young'n and my advice is don't let them know they can! At least not until they can also understand you never put your hand out in front of you to balance yourself while you widdle - especially important in public urinals. And if they are weeing standing you don't want to talk to them. They will turn to face you and this messes with their aim and your clean tiles and possibly your feet. Although this is apparently good for tinea :)

I was talking about toilet training at work today and people were kicking in with some advice. For example, someone suggested for number two's putting lots of toilet paper in the bowl to avoid the shock of splash-back.

Are you kidding? I mean on the face of it there does seem to be some logic, but if you do this you avoid any chance of getting potty and bath out the way at the same time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Three Monkeys In a Bed

As a special holiday treat, Miss7, Master6 & Miss4 are sleeping together in one room. I'm in awe of how kids can find a thrill in the little things.

I guess, as an adult, we're always having to consider the bigger picture and foresee potential problems - for example, I am a little worried about the dutch oven effect in their room because they had lots of fruit today. Of course, having foreseen this I can choose to do something about it - if one of them wakes up later tonight I'm sending Tracey in.

Naturally, sleep was very low on their agenda when I first turned off the light. For a little while I stood outside their door and listened as my monkeys chuckled and talked. These will be the moments they reminisce about when they're older.

Sweet Dreams Mango Chutney

The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity. Grab a large pot and put all the ingredients in it.   How's that for minimalistic?   Bring to boil before reducing the heat and allowing the mixture to simmer, stirring often, for about 1 hour, or until thick. Allow to cool while you sterilize some jars and then fill them up with this glorious chutney.

You will need:

Mango flesh, 1.5kg, diced
Onions, 1/2kg, diced
Raisins, 1 cup
White vinegar, 500ml
White sugar, 750g
Salt, 1 tablespoon
Mustard seed, 1 teaspoon
Mixed spice, 1 teaspoon
Curry powder, 1 teaspoon
Ground cloves, 1/3 teaspoon
Nutmeg, 1 teaspoon

When mangoes are in season we freeze the mango cheeks so we can make this recipe all year round.

We use our Sweet Dreams Mango Chutney with ham on sandwiches or even lathered over chicken breasts and baked, but the main reason I insist we maintain a steady store in the larder is I always add a big dollop into my bowl when I'm wolfing down a delicious green chicken curry.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

I don't want to say our original sleep mat saved our marriage (because Mummy & Daddy love each other and we're never, ever going to leave each other) but it certainly brought back some sanity into the house. Not the whole enchilada, mind, but I stopped hiding the knives, that sort of thing.

A lovely friend dropped over some baby stuff for us last night. We were given blankies and baby mags and all sorts of wonderful things. What I'm most thrilled about is the Angelcare Movement & Sound Monitor (sleep mat) because I'd only said to Tracey the night before we needed to replace our existing one.

Before our sleep mat, our little cherubs would be woken up every two hours by a fretting mum or dad because they hadn't been able to see or feel the baby's chest rise for a breath. Here's the thing about babies who are jolted awake from their quiet slumber by someone shaking their chest and yelling, "OMG. Breathe, baby, breathe!" They aren't happy. And when baby's not happy, no-one's happy.

It's so tempting when you fall pregnant to go crazy decorating your nursery. I know first time mums who refuse to have anything secondhand for their cherub, as though it's some sort of measure for the extent of their love. Here's the heads up, people - your baby doesn't care. It wants a feed, it wants to burp, it wants a sleep and it wants it's nappy changed (baby won't know the importance of name brands and a good decorator until it's second year).

Fact is, a lot of stuff people buy for babies is unnecessary.

Here's my top five baby money wasters and the alternatives:

Baby Bath

If you want to make bathing your angel a nightmare, this is what you need. Baby baths suit anyone who can't see that walking a bucket of warm, soapy water into the nursery to bath a baby who's lack of control over their limbs turns them into a carpet sprinkler. After you've dried and dressed your little one you then have to bleed the water back into the bucket and trace it back through the house, or alternatively, when you're sick of waiting for gravity to work, you decide to carry the bath itself through the house - so you can thoroughly soak any of the carpet the baby missed. Instead, use the kitchen sink, or the laundry sink - they're even at the right height. Some people even like to shower with their baby, although not me - I have showers to escape the family.

Change Table

I'm a little bias against change tables because as a baby Master19 fell off one. Somehow. He was fine (babies mostly bounce), but I've never fully recovered. Plus I made the mistake of telling him when he was older and he uses it as an excuse for everything he's ever done wrong - "must be from the brain jarring I got when you threw me off the change table." That sort of thing. If you want to avoid giving your child power over you I suggest you use the bed. I find my wife's side of the bed is particularly good for changing number two's. When they're older, of course, we change them wherever we catch them.


Nice for photos and for when you show friends around the house, but they don't do anything a good cot doesn't. And the thing is you'll still have to buy a cot when your little one outgrows it by six months. And besides, if we had a cradle I'd know it was a cradle and I'd think, "that's a cradle" and then I'd never get that Cat's In The Cradle song out of my head. There's enough unavoidable insanity around having babies, no need to deliberately start jumping cracks in the sidewalk. We have a cot with an adjustable base (makes the base higher to avoid unnecessary bending) and some inserts. My grandparents used to keep their babies in the emptied bottom drawer until they were ready for a cot. They still grew up just as loved.

Baby Perfume

Totally unnecessary. Unless you live in Melbourne. I believe Family Services frowns on poorly turned out babies in the shopping centres down there. Seriously though, babies are the most perfect smelling things in the whole world. And if your's isn't, one of you is just going to have to harden up and change that nappy.

Name Brand Baby Clothes

No-one cares. They're looking at your gorgeous baby. They're checking to see if you've lost your baby fat. They're thanking their stars you didn't take their favourite baby name. And consider this, if they do notice a Prada or Versace label on bub's one piece they'll probably be distracted from noticing your bub's rosy cheeks and silky soft hair. Is that really what you want? Most of our baby stuff is secondhand anyway, which works for us for two reasons:  Firstly, they wear it for so little time it's usually still in pristine condition when a friend's bub grows out of it and they pass it on. Secondly, we keep our bed in our house and for the first three months we never want to be far from our bed - so it doesn't matter what baby wears because we aren't leaving the house.

What you need to spend all this money on is a coffee machine for dad and maybe a home brew kit for mum - she's not working now so she's got all that free time. Double bonus because she can't drink while she's breastfeeding ;) Seriously though, for my money you're better off buying a sleep mat. They aren't pretty and no-one will say "oh, what a beautiful sleep mat" when they visit, but it's worth it. When we installed a sleep mat we could all sleep soundly knowing if the baby stopped breathing the mat would alert us. That's smart money, right there.

Sweet dreams everybody.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We're having take out tonight,

Shhhh.....can you hear that? The sound of only ONE child in the house.

Best sort of sleepovers tonight - the type where they sleep at other people's houses! Grandma is back from my sister's place and missed our little munchkins so much she has Miss7, Master6 and Miss4 staying the night. Add Miss16 sleeping over at a friend's house and I'm changing our postal address to Easy St. We haven't even turned on the telly - don't want to ruin the sweet, sweet, addictive silence.

Naturally the first thing we did was to run out and grab Chinese. Thirty dollars instead of eighty works for my wallet. Plus we could eat stuff like Pad Thai or Satay Chicken with peanuts in them because Master6 wasn't around - didn't though, because parental guilt is harder to ignore than Mr Abbott's budgie smugglers.

I think Master19 & Miss16 have become suspicious of KFC and Chinese nights only occurring when they're not home for dinner. The rest of our kids are delightfully oblivious.

We had planned on sitting down at the restaurant to eat tonight but by the time it was cooked we just wanted to race back home to soak up the stillness. And Miss1 almost kind of yawned so we really, really wanted to put her to bed. Then we sat at the dining table and did things like finished sentences and didn't share the food off our plates. Almost an out of body experience. Certainly an out of the ordinary one.

And now I'm thinking maybe Grandma has missed the kids enough for them to stay another night. Afterall, we haven't had a meal of crumbed fish and chips in ages - we could even bypass the cod and order the barramundi.

Not that we'd plan it that way....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How To Assemble a BBQ

Tracey's enthusiasm for our new BBQ waned a bit yesterday when we drove to the pickup area of the store and discovered some assembly was required. She looked at me doubtfully.

I assume foreseeing a need to assemble flat packed goods is why parents of my generation gave their young boys Meccano sets. 

My father-in-law wanted to know why we needed to replace the BBQ in the first place, as he gifted it to us only ten years ago. I explained it was old, wobbly, rusty and generally past its use-by date. These things happen to old BBQ's, I told him.

Not to his BBQ, of course. It’s circa 1980 and in mint condition. This would also have been a much stronger argument if he hadn't also given Tracey's sister an identical BBQ to ours at the same time, and hers still looks as good as the day she got it home.

When Tracey found a BBQ in a catalogue for $98 she was excited because it meant I would remove the old eyesore BBQ from the balcony. Of course, for the big money we paid, our new BBQ is the Hyundai Excel of the BBQ world (only with a pinstripe or mags because we paid an extra $30 and got a hood), but at least I can burn meat outside, the way nature intended.

Eyesore or not, Tracey wasn’t convinced having me assemble the new BBQ would improve the look of our outdoor area.

"We can return it," she suggested. But I wasn't having any of that defeatist attitude. I was a man, albeit not a particularly handy one.

"I'm sure I can do it," I said confidently. To fully understand how ridiculously misplaced this confidence was you would need a tour of our property, where you'd be dazzled by an array of poorly hung photos, poorly repaired fence palings and poorly assembled Ikea-style furniture which no one is allowed to put stuff on for fear of a fatal collapse. 

I explained to Tracey she'd need to return my hammer.

"You don't need a hammer to erect a BBQ, Bruce."

Poor Tracey. She knows so little about man stuff. "And what if the holes for a bolt don't line up?" I asked her, eyebrows raised to give my face an especially slapable appearance (or so she tells me). 

Tracey keeps hiding my hammer. Occasionally I'll stumble upon it and race around the house hastily and happily banging away at things until Tracey snatches it off me and hides it again. She tells people I have a tool handicap. Or I'm a retarded tool, something like that. "I guess I could always use glue. Do we have any araldite at home?"

"I'm sorry, we've changed our mind," Tracey said to the nice lady who'd just dragged the huge box along the concrete floor to the dock door. Sometimes my wife has no faith in me at all.

After a curt discussion, where I promised I wouldn't put big nasty dents in our new BBQ or go near it with glue, Blu-Tack or masking tape, we were heading home with a big box in the trailer. 

Now the thing about pregnant women is they don't like to do a lot of heavy lifting so our new BBQ remained safely stored on its box on our trailer for the next 20 hours while I tried to work out how I was going to move it onto the balcony. 

For anyone with a similar tool disability, here is my step by step advice on assembling flat packed BBQ's:

Me, 'helping' Neil.
Step 1. Invite over a mate to help you unload the awkwardly large BBQ box from the trailer.

There really is only the one step. The rest will take care of itself because no man worth his salt can resist the chance to work with tools and build something.

Except me. Despite my parents best efforts I was never good with Meccano. Even my Lego creations would fall apart. I was more of a Chess playing sort of kid. 

We got lucky with the BBQ, I didn’t even have to invite anyone over. Some out of town friends showed up for a quick coffee on their way to visit local family. My mate didn’t even ask if he could start putting it together after we carted it onto the balcony, he just set to work pulling bits out and fitting them together. When they left, four quick coffee hours later, I had a BBQ which looked just like the picture in the catalogue.

So Neil, my tooled up friend, check mate!  Ooops...I mean, cheers mate!  

Paint Box


The kids were very excited about our new BBQ. Not. But they were very excited about having boxes to paint and pretend are cars and houses.

While I seasoned the new hot plates I made up some paints for the kids and cut them loose. They were so into this the DS's (which have come out of mothballs for the school holidays) were forgotten in lieu of a paintbrush.

Unfortunately I didn't think to have them take off their good clothes before they got into it, but I can't think of everything now, can I? Tracey might feel like we didn't need her ;)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Breakfast Pizza

Probably obvious from the photo but Tracey wasn't here for breakfast this morning.

After a little do at the in-law's last night we had about half a pizza leftover. Even if it isn't a post sleepover breakfast it is just perfect for the first Sunday morning breakfast of the school holidays.

FYI, I had mushrooms.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ten Things To Remember With Slumber Parties

  1. Supervision. Make sure your partner is home and hasn't sneakily organised an extra shift at work or a hen's night. If you're to be alone with a group of six or more kids, forget baking cookies and making fruit cups in the afternoon before they arrive: work on your will. 
  2. Emergency Numbers. Always (and I can't stress this enough) grab phone numbers for the parents. Not just a mobile number, those things can be turned off. You want home phone, work phone, Grandma's phone and neighbours phone. If they're going out to dinner to take advantage of a kidless night, you want the restaurant's number as well. For the record, the acceptable list of dialing-inducing-emergencies can stretch to include, in no particular order, vomiting, fever, singing, backchatting and wanting someone to wipe their bottom.
  3. Mealtime. When I was a young sprog we ate what was put in front of us. Not anymore. Navigating through one kid's likes and dislikes is hard enough, but organising a meal around a group of fussy eaters is a nightmare. So buy lots and lots of pizza. Everyone likes pizza. It's the food equivalent of Lady Diana. Beauty of pizza for dinner is leftover cold pizza makes a fantastic breakfast alternative, so it's really two birds with one stone. Important to note you should only attempt the pizza breakfast if your wife is sleeping in.
  4. Snacks. You will need lots. I recommend an assortment of high sugar sweets, salty crisps and full strength softdrink. But for the love of Pete don't let the kids near any of it or they won't wind down enough to sleep until the following afternoon. Hide the stash in your bedroom and duck in for an energy boost every half hour or so.
  5. Board & Card Games. Have a heap of games ready for them to play - Snap, Pairs, Trouble, Battleships, Guess Who, Monopoly - anything to keep the little darlings occupied so they don't annoy you. If they don't like the games you've given them, offer them alternative games. My favourite alternative game is pick up sticks. Then have them pick up the toys. Then pick up the books. Then pick up the clothes. Then pick up the rubbish. You get the idea. So will they.
  6. Electronic Games. I'm often amazed at how a group of kids will sit and watch someone else play a Playstation or Xbox game. Boring! But they do, and happily. Lots of g-rated games around to keep them happy. Racing games like Mario Kart are good because more than one or two can play. As a general rule, avoid anything with blood, kill, dead, theft or assassin in the title. And, unless you're deaf, you'll also want to avoid the Singstar games.
  7. Neighbours. It's always courteous to let your nearest neighbours know when there will be a night of screaming kids at your house. But I say, bugger them. This is payback for all those teenage parties until two on a Friday night when you were trying to get your baby to sleep. This is revenge for them dragging their wheely bin out past your window at 5am in the morning. This is for when they trimmed your overhanging mango tree and called the dog catcher when Fido went walkabout. Open the windows, turn off the lights and play Murder In The Dark until midnight.
  8. Sleeping arrangements. Separating the boys and girls is the least of your worries. Make sure you have enough beds or your kids will share yours and you'll have a night of elbows in your ribs and knees in your back. Shouldn't be a problem though because it's remarkable what kids will accept as a bed. Not only is every sofa or armchair with an ottoman acceptable, a doona spread out on the floor to strategically look bedshaped is also a bed. Ditto for soft towels and thick bedspreads if you're really stuck.
  9. Getting them to Sleep. Phenergan works. 
  10. Goodbyes. Don't drag the farewells out - you've already done so much and every hour chatting with a kid's parent is an hour their kid could be in the next room trying to shove a slice of pizza into your Blu-Ray player. Make sure that before they leave you let all the parents know all the bad stuff you let their darlings eat so they won't allow their kids stay over again any time soon. Finally, if this was a birthday sleepover put a message in your electronic diary for the same time next year reminding you not to do anything this stupid again.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Our Favourite Snackythings

You wouldn't know it to look at me (yeah, right), but I love snackythings at night while relaxing with my lovely Tracey. One of our favourite snackythings is bruschetta. The joy of bruschetta is you can use whatever you have available to make them. That said, this is how we build one of our favourites:

You will need:

Turkish bread
Baby spinach & rocket
Olive oil
Garlic clove
Salt & pepper to taste

Make nice slices of your bread, about half to one centimeter. Toast or grill the slices for a few minutes, until browning around the edges. Rub the garlic clove around the browned edges and drizzle with olive oil. Layer a little herb (basil or dill, for example), a leaf (baby spinach or rocket or both), a thin slice of tomato and a slice or two of soft cheese (bocconcini or mozzarella). Grill some more until cheese is melting. It takes less than ten minutes, including grill time.

And as you can see, you can subsidise anything for just about anything - for example, a sourdough loaf is perfect. Add some ham or prosciutto, or pesto or sundried tomatoes or olives for a nice change.

Seriously. Best. Snackythings. Ever.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Check out my rump

Highlight of my week is checking out the weekly supermarket catalogues. Upsets Tracey sometimes though, because it ties up the bathroom for so long. Happily, local supermarket having a special on rump steak this week - $5.99/kg for whole uncut. So we grabbed ourselves an impressive $53 slab and I've been carving it up for the last hour.

While I sliced we cooked ourselves a chunk and I expect to finish chewing it sometime tomorrow. But what do you expect for $6 a kilo?

Not a problem though because I've diced the whole lot up for stews, stir fries and casseroles. Tracey is the queen of the slow cooker.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Crappy Feet

This morning, after a particularly awful night with Miss1 and her asthma, I had to take Miss4 to pre-prep while Tracey walked zombie like around the house trying to find her brain.

This was the first time I’ve dropped Miss4 to her pre-prep because I’m normally at work by this point, so I was keen to do everything right and make a good impression. I signed the register, put the lunchbox in the fridge, stored the bag in the rack and took my girls over to the mats to sit down for the morning farewell.

The suspect.
You’d think I’d done this a hundred times and I’m sure the other parents were nodding and chatting quietly amongst themselves at how effortless I made it look.

But then, sitting on the mat with the other mums and dads singing the morning song, I suddenly caught a whiff of something all too familiar. I shoved my nose into Miss1’s nappy, but wasn’t tempted to make gagging noises, so it wasn’t there.  I looked around me. There were several toddlers, but none had a nappy hanging low and kicking around their ankles.  I looked at Miss4 – had she tooted and followed through?

All of a sudden I realised it was me. No I hadn’t soiled my undies. Sometime between home and pre-prep I’d stepped in a pile of dog-porridge.

Sadly, this is far from the first time I’ve done this sort of thing as my feet seem to attract poo.

A few years ago I was rewarded with a three day whirlwind trip to Queenstown in New Zealand because I was so awesomely awesome at my job (and I have a glass statuette to prove it).  Actually what I was really, really good at was writing up how awesomely awesome I was at my job and making sure the right person in head office got a copy.

My creative writing skills were repaid handsomely with an all expense paid holiday with activities galore and food so good I swear I can still taste it.

Exhibit A.
One of the highlights of the weekend was a jet boat and helicopter experience.

Disembarking from the jet boat at a preordained spot up a long shallow and very cold river, the thirty or so people I was with were shepherded through a field with long wet grass to the waiting helicopters. And do you know, of the entire party I was the only one to step into a fresh cow pat just before boarding.

And it wasn’t the offering of a small cow either. I swear I went in ankle deep. I spent the entire flight trying not to stink out the confined little cabin instead of enjoying the view. On the other hand I was too annoyed to be scared about plummeting to the ground and dying painfully at the centre of a huge fireball,so there was an upside.

Unlike this morning.  

Two thirds of the way through the morning song I was thinking I’d gotten away with dragging poo into their fresh, clean classroom. All I had to do when the song finished would be to rub shoulders with the non-poo carting parents as I walked nonchalantly out the door. The grass outside would take care of the evidence.

But when the song was three bars from the end Miss4 shot up on her feet, pointed at my shoe and yelled, “POO!” at the top of her voice.

There may be a question mark over whether or not some parents were nodding and chatting quietly amongst themselves about me when I arrived, but I don’t think there’s any doubt they were doing it when I left.

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