Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Bread, baptism, and The Bod

This will only be a short post as I've run out of steam again.  Can't be bothered to blog.  However I still feel obligated to Future Prue to keep things sort of up to date here.

My news at the moment can be summed up by the letter B.


I've entered the complex yeasty world of sourdough.  For the uninitiated, sourdough bread is made without commercial yeast.  The raising agent is in fact a starter - a living mixture of flour and water in which resides wild yeast.  Because of the nature of wild yeast, sourdough is in fact a fermented product and therefore has many health benefits not gained from regular bread.  It's a tricky beast to master and my first loaf was small, dense, and frankly inedible, but I'm having a lot of fun trying.


The girls were baptised last weekend.  It was a lovely low-key day and they both behaved themselves perfectly.  Considering A's rambunctious personality and J's fear of water on her head I was pretty apprehensive about how things would go, but luckily it all went smoothly.

The Bod.

I've signed myself up for an online 12-week fitness challenge called The Bod

Back in the days before I had two babies in quick succession, I went to the gym regularly.  I got up at 5am to go running, I did yoga, I portioned out healthy foods into plastic containers, and generally took care of myself. 

That feels like a very long time ago.  

As A approaches her second birthday, I'm really feeling the need to carve out some time for myself.  To do something that's just for me.  I'm not upset by my reflection in the mirror, this isn't about a number on the scales, it's not about that; it's more about how I feel.  I feel weak, flabby and unhealthy.  I rarely drink water, I eat way too much at mealtimes, and I'm eating non-nutritious foods most of the time.  I'm also fresh out of excuses so it's time to make the changes I've been talking about for so long.

Don't worry, I know someone else's health/fitness program is rarely very interesting for anyone else to hear about so I'll keep the reps and macros talk to a minimum on here.

And that is about it.  Until next time!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Follow-up to babies who do not sleep: lessons in control and surrender

It was about a year ago that I wrote this post, pouring out my exhausted heart on the topic of my non-sleeping child.

It’s weird reading it now and remembering how sleep deprived I was, how I was just barely hanging on.  How panicked and desperate I would feel in the hours before bedtime, wishing that that would be the night she’d have a good sleep, finally, so I could too, and yet knowing that she wouldn’t.

Having already had a good sleeper in J was both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing of having a good sleeper in the other room was that I knew that A’s sleep was not my fault.  Mine to fix, yes, but not caused by me.  We did everything the same with both girls.  Some kids sleep, some don’t.

The curse of it though was that - despite knowing it wasn't my fault - I still felt compelled to try and “fix” A’s sleeping.  I needed to find the cause, the problem, and resolve it.  Then everything would be fine.  I knew, from J, that babies can sleep deeply and consistently every single night.  So I kept trying to solve The Problem. 

It took a long time - a REALLY long time - for me to just accept it and surrender to it.  There was/is no Problem.  This is just how she sleeps.

After that, everything changed.

Well, ok.  Nothing actually changed.  Her sleep is still inconsistent to this day.  She still wakes, although nowhere near as much.  She still sometimes spends hours awake in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.

What has changed, though, is my attitude.  I no longer obsess.  Well, I'm still me.  I do still obsess sometimes.  But what I don't do anymore is try to get to the root of The Problem, or wonder if we should wean her off the dummy, or do controlled crying again, or what.

It helps that the wakings are far fewer these days, or that I now have a group of friends here in NZ, several of whom also have non-sleepers.

Turning one year old helped.  Learning to walk helped.

The passage of time helped.

She has now slept through the night plenty of times.  That's the exception rather than the rule, though.  When she wakes I give her a bottle.  I could try to wean her off that but I just.do.not.care.  She often comes into our bed.  We're all getting the most sleep we've had since she was born and that's the main thing.

What I have had to forgive myself for is who I am in the middle of the night.  It is not a good side of me.  When she has a bad night, I'm furious.  An Exocet missile just looking for someone on whom to unleash.  At her, at B, at the world because I just want to go to sleep.  I snap and snarl, and sometimes I cry.  It all feels so much bigger and so much worse at 3am (or 4am, or 5am...).

Once she's finally back asleep I'll lie awake and torture myself with guilt and shame over the way I treated her, the things I said under my breath, the anger and resentment that always seems to be right there under the surface.  The dark feelings caused by so many sleepless nights.

It has been a very hard road.  So many tears I have shed from exhaustion.  Feeling ashamed of her not sleeping when her peers have long since put those broken nights behind them.  Feeling almost hysterical with desperation for a solid night’s sleep.

Just barely hanging on.

I always try to look on the bright side, but this has been something that has been tremendously difficult with very little upside.  If anything, the upside for me has been what I have learned to succumb to as a parent.  Relinquishing control, in all kind of ways - not just sleep.  I never realised how many things I was giving myself a hard time about for not being perfect.  Or things about life with small kids that I was still resistant to.  Ideas I had held onto from before I'd had kids about the kind of parent I would be.  There’s so much I’ve let go of.

I've also been able to really look around and see how many others are dealing with the same thing.  Maybe it's not normal, but it is common.

It's only the end of the world if you decide that it is.

And maybe that's what it comes down to.  There are so many things in life that you can't change.  Family who push your buttons, a job, or a partner who can't or won't give you want you want.  A child who doesn't sleep.  You cannot change them.  But you can change how you respond to them.  Maybe that's the thing I needed to learn.

Or, maybe, I'm just really really sleep deprived.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Wintery things

Whoops, look at that, nearly three weeks since my last post.  I'm going to blame sick kids (yes, again/still/this is just who we are now) and having to prepare tax returns in two countries.  That's fun.  Oh, wait.  No it isn't.

Moving along!  We've had a cold snap with frosts most mornings.  The fire has been going non-stop.

That Fair Isle knitting project I talked about last month is done and could I be more thrilled with it?  No I could not!  Ravelled herePattern here.

Minor issue is that it's miles too big for J because no I didn't do a gauge swatch and no I will never learn.

I was a bit nervous getting started with the colour work but once I got the hang of it I really enjoyed the process and watching the pattern appear.  Plus the inside looks pretty cool too!

I haven't taken any photos of them recently but the twin lambs are growing at a great rate and as boisterous and funny as lambs can be.  Did I tell you the mother died?  I went out one morning and she was just lying there.  The poor little lambs were huddled up next to her cold body, no idea what to do.  We caught them up, got some milk down their throats and now they're as tame as anything.

The best part is that they bring out the lamb in our ram, who's not much older than they are.  He's a lot bigger than them and when he starts dashing around leaping off things with them at dusk they run off terrified.  I'm spending a lot of time at the windows ignoring my own children.

What else?

J's re-toilet training has gone - dare I say this - very smoothly.  We've now completed the sticker chart I created for it and I think we're sorted on that front.  I hope.  I will never be complacent about these issues again.

The den of germs continues, unfortunately.  I know it's the season for it but SERIOUSLY.  It has not stopped.  This week I took A, who was reaching monomental levels of clinginess even for her, to the doctor where she was diagnosed with strep throat/scarlet fever.  At least it can be treated with antibiotics unlike the viruses they seem to catch over and over again.

I really must get some vegetables into them. 

Speaking of which, A is off to the dietician.  Her diet is still ridiculously narrow and although she's still on formula to ensure she's getting all the nutrients, I just can't see how she will ever expand her palate.  It's been the same for months now.  Crackers, Marmite toast, and yoghurt.  If the dietician says that's fine, I'm ok with it.  But at this point I just want a professional's opinion and guidance.

With all the illness, A's sleep has gone completely off-track again.  She's sleeping in our bed for half the night and if I so much as think about trying to return her to her room, she screams until she vomits.  It's good fun for the whole family.  Oh, wait.  No it isn't.

I have a post percolating on the subject, especially as it's almost a year since I last wrote about it at length.  I know, boring!!  But I want a record for myself.

Generally life is actually pretty good, illness and dying stock aside.  B is working five minutes down the road which means he's home every night and has weekends off.  I filled out forms for J's school enrolment which brought up a lot of unexpected emotions for me.  I thought about doing plastic-free July until I unwrapped the fifth muesli bar of the day and realised that I have a long way to go.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Signs of spring?!

It's finished!  It's finished!  I finally completed my Posy Cardigan which Ravelry tells me I started on the 3rd of April.  I'm so happy to have it out of the basket.  And I'm (predictably) really happy with the result. 

Of course there is the odd mistake so that you know it's handmade.  And I know I shouldn't point them out but...

I had so much trouble with those diamonds you guys.  I had to rip back so many times.

How did I not notice that this was going awry??
Anyway.  It's done.  Raveled here.  Next!

The rest of the news today is perplexing and exciting all at once.  If we're friends on Instagram or Facebook you would already know: we have lambs!  Twin lambs!

The poor mother had been creeping around the paddock for a week with a huge belly and the fullest udder you've ever seen.  Every morning I looked out the window expecting to see a tiny bundle beside her.

Then one afternoon we were moving some fallen tree branches in the paddock and B said that she was lying down as he drove past and didn't get up.  Then he suddenly realised that she had a tiny lamb there with her - so new it wasn't even on its feet yet.

It was so magical and exciting watching her gently cleaning and nuzzling her baby and then nudging it onto its feet.  Her tummy was still pretty big but we didn't see any more babies before dark so we assumed she was done.

Then the next morning I looked out the window to check how they were doing and... is that... that looks like... TWINS!

They are SO CUTE.  I'm dying.  I look out the window about 40,000 times per day.  I'm trying to only go out there once or twice a day, and not get too close, but it's really hard.  They are adorable!!  We had about 36 hours of seriously wet and stormy weather straight after they were born which was almost more than my nerves could take.

But she is an excellent mother and very protective.  One of the lambs mistakenly wobbled over to the ram who gave it a bunt with his head and that mother was up and between the two of them in a flash.  She's also given me a warning when I've got a bit too close.  Ok fine.

So we have lambs and as I was walking back to the house I realised the daffodils in the paddocks are up.  Some have flowers on them already.

Yes chookies, you're very photogenic too.

And I see my jonquils are already flowering beside the house!  What month is this?

I must tell B that we need to paint the house a darker colour as the white is a disaster for photography. 
He'll totally understand
Last of all, something for the "things I want to remember" file, J has been coming out with the sweetest little comments.  In between the threenager attitude from hell that is.

Here are a few examples from the last couple of weeks:

  1. We were driving to the park on a sunny day and out of nowhere she piped up, "We're so lucky aren't we Mummy?".  I NEARLY DIED.  "Yes honey, we really are".
  2. Having breakfast together as a family on the weekend she was tucking into her food saying, "Oh, yum!  Delicious!" then looked over at my plate and said, "Your breakfast looks lovely too Mummy!"
  3. Then this morning I was getting A dressed and J says, "That's a nice top.  I love your top, A!"
See what I mean?!  Scrumptious.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Frost, knitting, and headache-inducing things

Having just come back from a swimming lesson with A, I'm going to go right ahead here and say that the true sacrifice of parenting isn't loss of sleep, or body autonomy, or lifestyle, but getting out of the pool on an 11 degree day and dressing your child first.

Just saying.

In related news, we had our first frost on the last day of May.  It's definitely less of a novelty to me than it was last winter, but I still nipped outside in my jammies to take a couple of photos.

Seeing the sun rise on the mountain will always be a novelty and a thrill.

It's been a while since I updated you on my knitting!  If this is the most boring topic imaginable to you, you might want to skip the next little bit...

The project I was working on had ground to a complete halt waiting for the needles to be restocked at my local knitting shop.  Then finally I got the needles and promptly snapped one as soon as I went to wind it onto the cable.  But things are now ticking along and I'm only a couple of inches from the end.

I cast on this little cardigan thinking I needed a nice quick project but it's turned out to be one of my longest, and most challenging.  I had to learn to knit from a chart and had many, I'll say it again, many struggles with the lacework.  I got there in the end and I now feel very confident reading a chart but man.  Did I get furious with myself there for a while.

Then it came time to do the sleeves and I'd heard about this so-called "magic loop" method which meant no double-pointed needles.  So me being me of course I had to have a go at that.  I don't actually mind DPNs too much, but this pattern has lacework around the cuffs and lace on DPNs is definitely up there in the headache-inducing stakes, for me anyway.  Magic loop took some getting used to but it most certainly is easier than double points and especially easier to do lace on a magic loop.

So those are two new knitting skills I can tick off - charts and magic loop.  And the best part is that I will not have to sew up a single seam on this garment.  Insert muppet arms here.

Next up, because I do still need a quick and easy project, I'm making a beanie for J.  But because once again I am still me it'll also be my first Fair Isle/stranded colour work project.

Will report back with photos if all goes to plan.  And only if I ever finish the cardigan.  I've made a very strict rule that I am NOT to start the beanie until the cardi is blocked, buttoned and handed over to the recipient.

Big news this week is that J had her first ever sleepover away from both me and B.  She slept at B's mum's place on Saturday night and by all accounts had a ball.  Fish and chips for dinner, big splashy bath, then snuggled up for the night in her very own big girl's bed.

I, however, was totally bereft, looking into her dark little room here at home and even hoping a bit that B's mum would ring to say J was upset and needed to come home.  I know.  What is my DEAL.  This is entirely not the mother I expected to be.

Other, more annoying, news is that apparently we are going to do toilet training again.  Yes, you're right, we did do it six months ago.  It did go really smoothly.  I might have even been a bit smug.  But at some point that I can't remember exactly she put a nappy on, and ended up back in nappies full time.  That has been the case for months now.  I've let it go on so long because I was - WAS - a believer in going with the flow, letting her set the pace, etc etc.  

But... this is pretty rubbish you guys.  We really have to do it all again??  Does this stuff happen to anyone else?  Why does no one tell you these stories?  So I am telling you: go with the flow, but not too much.  Let them set the pace, unless the pace is so slow that it is in fact backwards.  Unless you enjoy the process of toilet training so much that you want to do it more than once.

The sticker chart is back up on the fridge.  The undies are on the bum.  We're on day three.  Wish me luck.

I'll leave you now with some peaceful autumn/winter scenes around the farm.  

There's not many things cuter than a fat little lamb.  The knock-knees get me every time.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Mrs Woog's Potato Bake

I don't know about you, but generally speaking I'm a sharer.

Admire my ring?  Here, try it on!
Compliment me on my jeans?  Here's where I got them!
Enjoy my cooking?  Let me give you the recipe!

I've never really understood the point of guarding your best recipes, and keeping them a secret.  Why can't we just know all the herbs and spices, KFC?  Share and share alike I say!

As you might have guessed, this is actually leading somewhere which is to tell you that I have the best and only potato bake recipe you will ever need.

I found it years ago from the ever-reliable Mrs Woog (funny name, very funny woman).  And just to be clear, yes, I did get her permission to share it.

Prior to this my potato bakes were pretty unreliable.  Hard uncooked potato, bland, too runny, too dry, too fiddly to make.

So many recipes tried and failed the test.  I just wanted a good simple potato bake.  Finally I gave this one a go and instantly it became the only potato bake recipe I use.  It gets a rave review every single time.  It's basically impossible to stuff it up.

Got your pen ready?

8 large potatoes
600ml cream
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1 cup tasty cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 200C.

Grease a large casserole dish.  Slice the potatoes to approx 0.5cm thick rounds, and arrange in dish in layers, seasoning with salt and pepper every couple of layers.  I don't bother to peel the potatoes because I like the skin and am also lazy, but you do whatever you prefer.

Add the crushed garlic and the stock powder into the tub of cream and shake to combine.  Pour over potatoes.  Season the top with salt and pepper, and dot with butter.  Honestly I often forget to do the butter.  Let's say it's optional.

Cover potato bake with foil - I usually add a layer of baking paper underneath to prevent sticking - and bake covered for one hour.  Remove foil and baking paper, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for a further 10 minutes.

You're welcome!

Oh, and I also recommend putting the casserole dish onto a baking tray before putting it in the oven.  I've had overflow issues before and no amount of potato bake can compensate you for having to scrub molten cheese off the bottom of the oven.

Are you a recipe sharer or do you prefer to keep the goodness to yourself?  Didn't your parents teach you to share?  Just kidding!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Think healthy thoughts


Insert the world's longest groan here.


When did J have gastro?  Like a month ago?  So, yup.  Both girls have been sick preeetty much constantly since then.  Basically as soon as the weather got properly cold (we've got tops of 10-12C at the moment), the sickness moved in.

After the gastro, I think J or maybe A or probably both started coughing.  Is it just my kids who always always cough until they vomit?!  Why universe why?  The washing has been BIBLICAL.  The screaming and not sleeping and the fevers raging off the charts.  It's all been less than ideal and now I have some weird Pavlovian response where I break out in a cold sweat at the sound of coughing.

It's so boring, and yet stressful at the same time.

Clearly we have got to stop visiting the McDonalds playground.

All that aside, I've actually managed to do quite a few non-mum things these past couple of weeks which has been awesome.  Of course because I'm me I usually spend the whole time away thinking about the kids and wondering if they're ok which kind of defeats the purpose, but sometimes I get home and they really were ok the whole time I was gone and that is a tonic.

A couple of weeks ago it was the Ten Tenors.  I was a bit apprehensive as I don't love opera which is what I was expecting they would be singing.  But I have a rule never to say no to a night out if I can help it.  But then I found out it was the same night as the Royal Wedding.  Disaster!!

But, but!  It was AMAZING.  My expectations were way off, first of all.  They did sing some operatic numbers but 90% of it was music I know and enjoy, and the performance was incredible.  I mean they really know what they're doing.  I highly highly recommend seeing them if you get a chance.  Breathtaking.

AND we got home in time for me to watch the Wedding.  Yusssss.

Then this weekend my friend L and I went to a jam and chutney making workshop.  We had so many laughs - especially those ones when you're in the middle of class and you're giggling uncontrollably and have to stop but can't - and learnt a lot in between times. 

Basically, you can make jam or chutney out of anything.  We were asked to bring any organic produce we had to spare and it all went in the pot together.  Game changer.  I mean we kept the jam and chutney separate but you know what I mean.  We got a jar of jam and one of chutney to bring home too which was awesome. 

AND L and I went to KFC for lunch after which in my book makes for a pretty perfect morning.

Check out these stunning rainbows we've been having.  As J and A like to say, WAINBOW MUM

And then lastly, J's kindy ran a fundraising movie night showing The Breaker Upperers which was bloody hilarious.  Again, highly recommend.

Although... I did get home from the movie to discover that A had not in fact been to sleep yet.  Less than ideal.  And she's had a shocking few nights' sleep due to this bloody coughing.  Groooaaannn.

We're just getting it all out of the way now, right?  Right?!

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Being ambitious... or not

I was thinking the other day (yup, here I go again...) about ambitions.  Or lack thereof, as the case may be.

I often sometimes feel dissatisfied with what mothering small children offers me day to day, but I'm mostly very content with what I'm doing right now.

I don't have big dreams of greatness for myself.  I never have.

Evidence of Mum! Photo courtesy of my dad a couple of weeks ago at J's kindy

My parents raised me to believe that I can do and be anything I want.  I went to a fairly prestigious girls' school where it was assumed that you would be a) graduating in the top whatever percent of the state and b) going to an equally prestigious university.  I didn't know what I wanted to be, unlike the future doctors and lawyers in my year, so I did whichever subjects appealed to me at the time.  My uni entrance score didn't get me in anywhere.

I worked in a supermarket for a while.  Worked in my dad's office.  Did some conveyancing which in a very roundabout way got me into the oil and gas industry.  Which, as an aside, is also how my life suddenly and wonderfully changed direction and how I met B... but that's a story for another time.

When I finally landed in oil and gas, I loved I mean really loved my work.

I was even sent to a... symposium? conference? seminar? whatever it's called for up and comers in the gas industry.  The problem once I got there was that I realised I knew nothing about the pertinent issues facing the industry at that time.  I had no opinion, nor even any basic knowledge, on the potential carbon tax - sorry price - to be introduced.  I had no engineering degree, or any degree.  I didn't even really understand how my industry worked.

I came home and thought hard about actually trying to catch up academically.  To take the next step.  But really.  Doing an Engineering degree part time for ten years?  I'm hopeless at maths.  I hate studying.  I just really loved my job.

Eventually it dawned on me that I loved doing what I was already doing.  I didn't want to become a manager or an engineer or climb to the top of the corporate tree.  It was just ingrained in me that you keep striving towards the next goal, that next step.  But actually I wanted to type, answer the phone, manage diaries and travel, and format documents.  It's what I was good at and what I loved doing.  Why do anything else?

No next step.  Just do my best at my job, which was nothing grand but which I adored.

And, now that I'm a full time parent, I'm not in any rush to return to the workforce.  Obviously we're really lucky that I have the choice whether to work or not.  But I'm not feeling like, man I wish my kids would grow up so I can get back on that career ladder/start that business/conquer that dream.

I, uh, have no dreams...?

I've never had a life plan or even a five year plan.  I had no idea that I would end up here.  I have no idea where I'll be in the future (although I really hope I'm still here).

I'm very content.  When my kids are older and more independent I can see myself quite happily doing more of the same.  Baking.  Knitting.  Gardening.

I'm not old-fashioned at all, I would very passionately define myself as a feminist, and yet here I am feeling extremely fulfilled in the old-fashioned role of housewife (not that I would ever call myself that).  In this day and age it can be hard to admit that you don't actually want to do anything else.  To not be ambitious.  I guess the thing is choice.  At least we have the choice.

You go conquer that corporate world if you want.  And I'll sit by the fire knitting if I want.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

And now for some answers...

Ok so that last post with all my burning questions is officially my favourite post that I've ever written!  Thank you so much for all the responses.  I loved reading everyone's thoughts.  Although I still don't know what to do with Snapchat.

If you've no idea what post I'm talking about or if you've forgotten it already, here is the link: All the big questions.

And now let's talk answers!

Spoiler alert: no one has the answers.  Disappointing.  I know.

When it came to dinner time with kids, most people do eat together as a family.  We still don't, and I can't figure out how to introduce it yet.  B gets home from work at 6pm at the earliest, which is also A's bedtime.  And the idea of him eating alone every night if I eat with the kids just makes me sad.  So for now we will continue to have two sittings for dinner until the kids get older.

Oh and as for dinner prep, some people do it earlier in the day, and other lucky people have partners who are home by that time to assist with kid wrangling.  What must that be like?  I bet it's wonderful.

Showers.  Some, like me, shower at night.  Other (again, lucky) people have kids who they can plonk in front of the tv or, and this really has me daydreaming, are able to get up before their kids wake.  I bet that's pretty bloody wonderful too.  I hope you guys appreciate this.

Most people are also interested in a good not-falling-down brand of jeans.  My friend E recommends Country Road jeggings (don't let that name put you off apparently).  Link here: Country Road Jeggings.  I'm going to invest in a pair myself.  I have nothing to lose at this point.

*hitches up waistband for eleventy billionth time today*

As for make up, most say no not every day, except for maybe some basic eye make up and foundation.  I wear it very rarely myself.  Sometimes I remember to put mascara on but mostly I'm bare-faced and pretty unself-conscious about it.  It's very freeing don't you think?

The accumulating stuff is an issue for everyone!  Which is comforting but doesn't solve the problem does it.  The best suggestion was to burn it all.  Efficient.  Oh and my question about this inadvertently led to further questions from you re my passing mention of the oil diffuser.  It is Doterra.  My mother in law gave it to me.  I literally know nothing about oils, but I do like this thing and use it regularly, hence it taking up valuable real estate on my benchtop.

No one is actively interior designing their house.  Phew.  Me either.

No one has a great solution for dealing with the phone storage issue.  In fact some people are hoarding literally thousands of unread emails on there, which I still feel a bit woozy when I think about it.

I just realised that all the questions in the original post are numbered 1.  Fail.

We are all inventing stupid errands to get out of the house with the kids some days.  Phew.  Me too.

None of us are mindless consumers.  Op shopping is popular and definitely one of my favourites to get a shopping fix for next to nothing.

My friend L gave me a good tip re Instagram stories: use them for things like photos of dinner or videos of kids that don't need to clutter up your actual feed.  It makes sense to me now!  I have mostly stopped posting dinner photos for that reason... although I definitely do not need another excuse to post even more stuff of my kids.  Sorry in advance everyone.

Still no one can explain Snapchat to me.  I need a 20 year old friend I think.

Wasn't that fun and informative?  I already have a whole list of new questions which I'll probably pester you with at some stage down the track.

Oh and if you didn't get around to answering the original questions I'm still very interested to hear your input.