Friday, 16 January 2015

A Mothers Love

Last night my fifteen month old daughter stayed at her grandparents' house, ready for her fortnightly Friday play date with them. The fortnightly play dates became a regular thing a few months ago in order to enable me to prepare the house for the arrival of D2, and because Lara's grandparents think she is a lot of fun to spend the day with. Whilst I love the time to get things done, and have fond memories of quality time with my grandparents that I'm grateful Lara has the opportunity to create, I miss her like nothing else. However, this week I was counting down the days to have a day off, a me day, for the first time since becoming a Mum. I didn't let myself feel guilty for it, I figured 15 months of being a 100% doting Mum allowed me one day of not being always switched on-and ready to engage with another person.

This morning I woke up after a lovely sleep in (6am) and laid in bed for another hour which was bliss, yet when Mark and I got up and had breakfast together I confessed to missing our little girl and feeling lost, and that the house felt empty without her (so much for being desperate for a kid free day). At which point he said that he seriously missed her too, which isn't surprising since Mark and Lara have been spending quality Dad and daughter time together on the mornings when he doesn't go for a bike ride, and I get to fall back to sleep for an hour, after an hour of feeding (growing D2 is making me tired again). The fact that our little lady is rapidly developing her character and communication skills also means that she is an absolute joy to spend time with. She is constantly impressing me and making me laugh.

My kid free day was productive to say the least. I dead headed all the Agapanthus in my front and back garden, dead headed the Bird of Paradise and pulled out vines that were strangling my plants (all before heat stroke kicked in), I did countless loads of washing, and filled four garbage bags with things for charity. Somewhere in amongst all that I even sat my fat, lazy 31 weeks pregnant bum on the lounge to watch an hour of trashy TV whilst I enjoyed a berry and banana smoothie for lunch (its too hot for real food), followed by litres and litres of water. I had a rather successful day and was feeling rather proud of myself. Yet nothing compares to the feeling I get as I am moments away from picking up my daughter who I've missed like crazy (sometimes I have to remind myself that she isn't sleeping in her bed), or the adorable "Hi" with the biggest smile and baby elephant run that comes to me with open arms when Lara and I set eyes on each other. Cuddles with my baby girl are always special, but after a day apart they are magic, no doubt for the two of us.

Cleansing-things for charity.
After giving Lara dinner ( we shared her carrot sticks) and playing blocks together she started her routine of saying goodnight to our dogs and giving them kisses, so we got her ready for bed (yes, she calls her own bed time and helps put her sleeping bag on) and read one of her Peter Rabbit books, before we had lovely cuddles and kisses and I put her to bed..even though I was really tempted to keep her up for a little while longer just so we could spend time together. As she is growing up so quickly I find myself hoping that our unconditional love for each other and willingness to spend time together will only grow. I'm also wondering how things will change when D2 joins our play group in a few short weeks.

Lara and Baxter also missed each other today.

Not a day goes by when I don't think about how lucky I am to be a full time mum, but days like today make me really respect the strength of working mums, I would be a babbling mess if I had to leave Lara on a more regular basis. In my mind, there is nothing better than being a full time mum-probably because I have the best kid ever.


After six days away on the boat, during stinking hot weather I expected to come back to a struggling veggie patch. Instead I was greeted by a rather reasonable harvest, which was a lovely surprise. What wasn't such a lovely surprise was the way the garden started to show me the signs of neglect over the next few days of me being home. Unless you have a self watering veggie garden it needs your attention daily, even if it is just a two minute check up to see if the watering system needs to be turned on for ten minutes, or if last nights rain was sufficient.

For the next few days I watered, fertilised, weeded (read, pull out the mint that I let spread as a ground cover-in hindsight I will never plant mint in a garden bed again) and mulched the garden, until I thought it was ready for some new seeds to be planted. So on the 11th January, whilst Lara slept, I got planting; black beauty zucchini, cucumber, beetroot, bean, pea and lettuce seeds were all sewn. Since it looked and felt like it was going to rain that evening I didn't bother wasting water to water them in, and just waited for mother nature to do her bit. That she did, and the next days was disgustingly hot with a light shower that night so I assumed that the veggie garden was relatively happy whilst I was dying from heat exhaustion on the lounge in the air conditioned house, too scared to venture out in to the sun as opening the back door was enough of a shock. Then yesterday I forced myself outside (to look for the neighbours' escaped rabbit-no sightings) and was utterly shocked by how much the garden had dried out and was struggling, so I've got my fingers and toes crossed that the seeds I'd sewn at the beginning of the week will forgive me for the neglect and sprout in the next few days, because we need food. The two cucumber plants gave up on me, the eggplant whilst still hanging around (she is much more upright this morning) isn't feeling up to putting out, and the beans have slowed down. That said, our strawberries and tomatoes are keeping Lara and I very happy....even if our clothes are covered in exploded tomato seeds from Lara trying to bite off more than she can chew.

And this morning I have an escaped chicken running around the veggie garden....I don't want to go and see if she has upset my seeds. Ggggrrrrr.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Cleaning Sickness

When cleaning physically makes you feel sick.
I didn't think it was possible, even for me. But the combination of light morning sickness (in the third trimester no doubt), low blood pressure and wiping down the outside of all the kitchen has me seriously wanting to puke everywhere. Thus I'm sitting at the computer to distract myself from the terrible feeling just below my throat, and procrastinating from any further housework...something tells me the whole looking down for too long issue isn't exclusive to housework, and I should probably wait for my coffee to kick in and drag up my blood pressure before I go and play in the garden-and try to forget how desperately the bathroom needs cleaning. Ah, the life of a stay at home mum ain't all roses. The playing with and teaching my daughter part is peachy, but the jobs are never ending.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Rain, Rain, Come Again

It seems like everyone at the moment is miserable about the afternoon storms and rainfall we are having in Sydney. Everyone except me and my veggie garden that is. Don't get me wrong, I am seriously effected by the weather, and need sunshine to brighten up my day and mood. However, at the moment we are getting sunny mornings (today is an exception), nice warm days and rain in the afternoon to cool everything down before we go to bed, and of course, water my garden. That means one less job for me to do, and paying for less water, so I'm a happy girl-yes, I'm still hanging on to my youth by calling myself a girl.

The veggie garden is loving the regular soaking. So much so that I'm currently getting away without mulching it. The mulch is sitting in the shed, just waiting for me to make time to do it. Regardless, we are getting a good crop of tomatoes, beans, eggplant, strawberries, cucumber and enough herbs to open a herb store. Admittedly the herbs are also doing a great job at making the veggie garden look more productive than it is, and keep the weeds at bay. They are also doing a good job at rapidly spreading over where I have planted lettuce seeds, so we are lacking lettuce at the moment, but that just makes for great basil salad.

The girls (chickens) are also loving the longer days and warmer weather, so we are getting lots of eggs. And I'm proud to say that we haven't brought bread for months now, I just keep making it and the loaves just keep getting better. Mark has also caught the bread making bug, so Sundays are often a team effort bread making day.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Busy Making

Today's harvest-you only get out what you put in.

Lately I feel like I'm so busy making things, not the crafty, creative things that I really feel the urge to be making, just everyday things, and I can't understand why I'm so tired. I'm busy making my toddler happy and attempting to educate her on a daily basis, and whilst it is the best kind of busy to be it also the most demanding. I'm busy making Lara's little sister, yes I'm six months pregnant and in denial that very soon I will be pushing out another babe. I'm also in denial that making babies is exhausting work, and can't come to terms with the fact that I like to nap when Lara naps, because that is when I should be getting jobs done-and not writing. I'm busy trying to make room in our home for said new baby. Don't get me wrong, we have the space, we've just managed to fill it with shit, a lot of which I've recently joyfully donated to charity, yet Mark and I still have sentimental things that whilst we never look at, if he knew I got rid of them I'd be in the bad books. This is where I need to confess that I also have a lot of craft stuff which I rarely make the time for these days, but I just can't seem to come to terms with getting rid of, because as I already said I REALLY want to make stuff. For example I have an old suitcase filled with materials, there is no way I'd throw the suitcase out, so it may as well have something inside it, right? And some of those materials are stunning left overs from when my Nan used to have ballroom gowns made for her, so I simply can't part with them-or think of a way to display them that won't leave them victim to children and dogs.

For the second time in my life I'm over food. It's a pregnancy thing for me. But this time I think it also has something to do with the fact that I feel like I'm constantly making food or thinking about making food. Luckily I have a brand new kitchen that I'm happy to be in. I've been enjoying making bread for my family, which if I'm honest was mostly brought on by the fact that you have to break a note to get a nice loaf of bread from the shops these days. So when I'm busy making bread I think about how delicious it is going to be, how much Mark and Lara are going to appreciate it, and that as a 'Professional Mum' I'm doing my bit to manage the family budget.

I'm also busy making the house clean and tidy which has never been one of my strengths (as I write this I should be taking Lara's nap time as an opportunity to mop the floors), and making our veggie garden productive, which took a big step backwards during our renovation. So after moping the floors I need to go out and plant some seeds in the veggie garden. Fingers crossed it isn't raining when the time comes for planting, but I'd be mighty appreciative of Mother Nature if she watered in my seeds for me. For a while there we were getting a bumper crop of beans, but a sudden heat wave took out two plants. My eggplant from last season is doing so well that it provided us with yummy dinner last night and enough left overs for today. That said I probably need to plant another eggplant plant, haha. The cucumber, yellow zucchini and tiny tomatoes are all showing promise. Oooh, that reminds me I need to plant more lettuce seeds too, you can't have a salad without lettuce.

Spot the eggplants...and lots of bare soil where food should be growing.

Hopefully in the next few days I will make time to make the house festive for Christmas, and might even get busy making some gifts. One can only hope. Now where is my magic Genie to clean the house? ----- Hours later, and WOHOO, I've managed to vacuum, mop and plant seeds all whilst Lara was sleeping. Days like these make me think I should start every day with coffee. Whilst planting seeds I did a quick harvest (see first pic), it was quick because there wasn't much to pick, but considering the amount of effort I've been putting in to the veggie garden lately I'm lucky to be getting anything from it. The only fertilising I've been doing is throwing used coffee grains over the garden, when it really needs a good dose of Seasol. Maybe that will happen tomorrow, time/coffee will tell. First things first, I seriously need to do some real desk work tomorrow. Sometimes I need to remind myself that busy is a thousand times better than bored.

Snacks for Lara and I...the cold snap today was not liked by any of us.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Garden Update

My first Brocollini.

Spring has finally sprung, and I am starting to feel like me again. I'm a lizard, and without warmth and sunshine I get very tired. This was even more apparent during the last few months when I was renovating, with a toddler roaming around the filthy, cramped house, (I will write about that soon, hopefully) and in the first trimester of pregnancy with D2. Needless to say I was exhausted, but now my house is no longer a construction site and I'm in love with my kitchen, I'm in the cruisy second trimester of pregnancy and the sun is out making my veggie garden grow-despite the months of neglect it had to tolerate whilst everything else was going on. I feel very lucky that it didn't all die, yet alone still being able to eat from it.

Lara and I are having fun harvesting delicious strawberries from the garden, and the other night I was very proud to make homemade kale chips from homegrown kale. Not all jobs can be done with Lara, particularly now that she's developed a taste for great soil, so I decided to wait until she slept to plant out some tomato lovely cow compost and chicken poo.

Sadly, my experiment for a lovely little tomato  recycled green house failed in the midst of renovating when we got a few huge downpours of rain. Turns out a few small gaps of glass are enough to let in a shite load of water. Thus my attempt to plant tomato seeds early in order to be planting out my own seedlings now failed.

Failed glass house-it only takes one small hole.

So yesterdays solution was to bite the bullet and accept some assistance from good old Flower Power. Yes, I bought some seedlings. With the plan to plant some seeds and hope they germinate in time to make the most of the spring and summer weather...we shall see when I get to that. I brought three different cherry tomato varieties since I've long given up trying to grown full size tomatoes. The bugs always get to them before they are ripe enough, and the cherry varieties are so much tastier anyway.

Sugar snap, Cherry Fountain and Tiny Tim.

The big surprise whilst I was taking stock of the veggie garden was spotting my very first brocollini. I planted a few seedlings months ago, but between the possums, bandicoots and rabbits only one survived, so to see it with something edible on it was a great surprise. But now I have to keep an eye on the white cabbage fly moth that is attacking its leaves, along with the kale and other leafy greens, there is always a job to do in the veggie garden, rewarding as it is. At this stage I'm hoping nature will sort it out, but I will reassess when I get back from my birthday long weekend retreat up Smith's Creek. Boy am I overdue for a few days of doing nothing (as much nothing as a toddler's mum can get away with), I'm really looking forward to soaking up the sun, reading, sleeping and eating, and of course having Mark on hand to share parental duties so I can enjoy a meal to lets see how much food prep I manage to do today before we depart.

Such a pleasant surprise.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

How to Celebrate a First Birthday

Lara's first birthday was a massive occasion that we celebrated with many family and friends for many days. Thankfully, after recovering from all that partying Lara and I were able to have a relaxing mother-daughter outing that involved two of our favourite things; animals and food...obviously the time since then hasn't been as relaxing as I'm only just writing about it now.

Mark and I knew that our little lady would be absolutely spoiled rotten with toys and clothes for her birthday, so we decided to get a Zoo Friends Membership as our present to her, since she is displaying an early love for animals. Not to mention that I love any excuse to go to the zoo, and it is a really good way to exercise without even realising it. So now we can drop in on our way to or from lunch outings, or plan to have a whole day week we are going to go and have morning tea with the new baby chimps.

Lara showed plenty of signs of absolutely loving her present as soon as we arrived at the zoo, pointing at the wild birds that roam the grounds and then spotting the first animal on exhibit; Nala the Tree Kangaroo. At first Nala was just chilling out, and I wondered if Lara would see her, but then all of a sudden this adorable animal looked straight at Lara who chirped and pointed in excitement as it appeared that the two of them acknowledged each other. And then this cheeky little animal put on a show, climbing along ropes and showing off her skills. Lara was very impressed.

Look Mum, Nala is putting on a show for us!

As we made our way towards the kids trail Lara spotted kangaroos, which she found surprisingly entertaining, and enough tourists with great accents for her to charm so they would talk to her....sometimes I worry that she would go home with anybody, she just seems to make friends where ever we go.

In the Backyard to Bush Kids Trail Lara was impressed when she saw a real sheep, they don't look that different to how they do in her books, and they feel rather different to her dogs. Then she saw, AND heard the pigs grunting away getting excited about their food, and she thought they were hilarious. Next she identified the chickens (even though they were fluffy little Bantums and look very different to our Australorps, so I was impressed), but one of the most exciting parts of our zoo visit must have been Lara meeting a children's Python. At first she was very cautious of it, rightly so, but then as she warmed up to it, and saw me patting it, she thought she would touch it, and the smile that came to her face during this interaction was priceless! It was almost like she knew she was being brave.

Lara meets a snake.

I don't know about this Mister.

This doesn't feel like Jet or Baxter.

After walking around for a little bit we decided to sit with the Elephants to have our afternoon tea treat. Our favourite; chocolate croissant, from the best place in Sydney La Renaissance. I don't think it will be long until I will have to buy two, because whilst Lara and I love sharing with each other, I think quietly we were both thinking "she got more than me". It is a serious case of like mother, like daughter when it comes to food with us two.

Lara and I hanging out with the Elephants...too distracted for a selfie!
As the day was getting on, and Lara was approaching her nap time, we headed up towards the Giraffes and Chimpanzees, but unfortunately the chimps weren't outside, so we are going back next week to see them. Hopefully we will be lucky with the weather again. So many adventures and learning opportunities lay ahead.