I'm no botanist but there are just a ridiculous amount of fantastically beautiful flowers, shrubs and blossoming trees around here. I'm sure every country has its uniquely impressive flora and fauna, but I am sure enjoying these ones that are at least unique to me.
PS - still in the throes of battling thrush...huge backlog of posts I'm hoping to get to, stay tuned.
It ain't pretty 'round here. To ensure you never think we're all rainbows and butterflies, making granola and having read-a-thons all day long, let me just record a run down of the last 24 hours or so:
carless (school break so Dad drives to work)
Mom & baby with thrush
pottytraining toddler with post flu-shot diarrhea (epic accidents)
baking/cleaning/setting up for...
7 yr old birthday slumber party!!!
sick baby & night terror toddler up all night (party guests slept fine)
13 hours of child care (Dad had to work late)
school sores return on Will & Dad
administer lots of medicines
baby falls off bed and down some stairs
5 drop dead serious sibling fights
2 teary breakdowns for mom (overwhelmed/painful breastfeeding sores*)
heavy weeding for upcoming house inspection
baby enjoys lengthy nudie time after bath
then also deposits post flu-shot diarrhea everywhere
Mom enjoys 3 (short) baths for post flu-shot aches/chills
5 kids storm the bathroom to chat with mom during said baths
older kids help make dinner, babysit and concoct a comfy couch-bed for Mom
pillows/blankets/clothes are dragged into the under-stairs cubby for the kids
Mom is simultaneously overwhelmed and relieved to have 5 children
Dad forbids flu shots next year
Awesome, right? Honestly, though, I think it's times like this that I can't help but smile because man, I'm doing it you know?! This is the trenches! This is my life. And I love it. Probably because I'm a sucker for a challenge. The crazier each stage is, the more I know I'll look back on it fondly, proud to have pulled it off without too much collateral damage. It's brutal and self-inflicted, but it's pretty great too. The sweet hand on the cheek, the imaginative free play, the snuggling/giggling/tickling/wrestling, the unsolicited I Love Yous. They are so funny and cute and clever and endearing, albeit hard and irresponsible and exasperating and messy. Parenting a large family is not for the faint of heart! But people have been doing it for eons and pulling it off (while pulling their hair out) and it makes me feel part of the cycle of life. When I discover a particularly tender library book with Summer, where all the pictures show the fun, enthusiastic kids with their loving, harried mom keeping things up in the background. Or catch a beautiful moment in another mom's life, as she soothes a scraped knee at the park or expertly entertains her monkeys through the check out line or sheds a tear of pride at a recital. I get all teary and my heart swells for a bit in gratitude that I get to enjoy this job, every day, for at least a few years on this earth. And then we'll all move on - they'll be grown and life will change and evolve into other chapters that aren't quite so hands-on. But I know I'll miss their smothering love. Their desire to crawl right inside my skin as we read together. Or jump on my back like I'm a moving target every time I walk by the couch.
I read an inspiring post the other day from a sweet mom of six who notes that really it's only 10% of our lives, if that, that we spend right here doing this (baby care) day in day out. And it's priceless, it really is.
* If anyone knows of a fail-proof thrush remedy, do tell! If I have to nurse any longer with stabbing pain and open wounds I might just die. I discreetly got some sun on them in the backyard today at the doc's suggestion. Also been taking and/or applying: nystatin, coconut oil, yogurt, breastmilk, clove/tea tree oil/vinegar swabs, Lansinoh, vitamin C, echinacea, spirulina, chorophyll, placenta, fresh garlic, and On Guard. (Sidenote: it's awkward enough to go braless, let alone topless, when you're 10 year old son is home all day...) My defenses are down from 2 recent all-nighters and an 8 week chest cold, but I'm starting to lose hope in all my natural remedies! Or maybe I should wonder how much worse it might've been...? Help a sista out!!
A while back the embassy organized a group of kids to take a tour of our local Glassworks building and do some creating themselves. It was a treat to see all their back rooms and machinery in action. As always though, the actual glass blowing was the most impressive. We watched him cool/harden a ball of hot glass mid-drip and then blow glass bubbles and shatter them. What a medium to work with. I can't imagine the stress as just the tiniest mistake in timing or temp can ruin weeks or even months worth of work.
The tour included a special exhibit they had on display - can't even begin to appreciate how hard it is to get glass to cool in these shapes.
At the end they got to create their own glass tiles. They were all over this. Safety goggles, diamond edged glass cutters, glass dust and shards in all colors of the rainbow... The hardest part was choosing their design. Pretty fun.
The final product was fired then cooled and ready a week later. And although it doesn't look like the professionals above, it was pretty eye-opening to what an impressive art form glassworking is.
I'm always on the look out for good healthy snack foods (since the after school snack routine around here is more and more like a stampede at the feeding trough and I don't even have teenagers yet!) The two recipes below have been big winners this week. I've also finally got some spirulina as I mentioned back in this post. I'm pretty sure it's kept me functioning through the last 6 weeks of the nastiest chest cold of my life. Mornings aren't pretty 'round here as I desperately try to eject the junk that's eternally rattling around in my chest. I feel like I've tried just about everything in the book now.
Incredibly, D hasn't caught it - maybe it's cause he drinks this every day... Honey & Apple Cider Vinegar - there's definitely something to that.
Anyway, enjoy some healthy snacks this week! (And a quick dinner idea for that leftover steak you don't know what to do with.)
Date-Nut Bran Muffins (adapted from Grandma's recipe)
2 C boiling water 2 C All Bran (little twiggy cereal)
1/2 C vegetable oil 1/2 C coconut oil (or applesauce) 2.5 C sugar 4 eggs 5 C whole wheat flour 4 t baking soda 1 t baking powder 1 t salt 1 quart Greek yogurt (original recipe calls for buttermilk) 4 C bran flakes (didn't have so I used part quick oats & wheat germ, plus more All Bran) 1-2 C chopped dates 2 C walnuts (or pecans) 1 C coconut Combine and set aside All Bran and boiling water. Beat oil, sugar & eggs. In separate bowl combine flour, soda, powder & salt then add to oil/egg mixture alternately with yogurt/buttermilk. Mix in soaked bran. Add flakes, dates, nuts & coconut & mix. Pour into greased muffin tins, filling almost to top then bake at 400 F for about 18 minutes. (Huge recipe. Store covered in fridge for longer freshness.)
Almond Granola (adapted from Keeping Up cookbook)
1/4 C brown sugar 1/3 C honey 1/3 C oil 1/4 t salt 1 t vanilla 3/4- 1 t almond extract 4 C old fashioned oats 1/2 C flax/linseed 1/2 C coconut 1 C slivered almonds Whisk together sugar, honey, oil, salt, vanilla & extract until well combined. Fold in remaining ingredients. Spread onto rimmed baking sheet and bake at 300 F for 10 minutes. Stir well, then bake 10 more minutes until lightly browned. Remove, stir again and cool completely before storing in covered container.
Thai Beef Salad
1-2 leftover steaks, frozen Salad (lettuce/spinach, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, peppers, etc.) Dressing (mostly sweet chili sauce, with fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil and white wine/rice vinegar to taste)
Thin slice steak and stir fry it in some hot oil until warmed (Icaramelizeda sliced onion and some celery right before throwing in the steak) then lay it on the salad and apply a generous amount of dressing. We ate ours with a scoop of white rice as well. Scrumptious!
Every once in a while I'll do a post about what I call "Australianisms" - little quirky cultural differences I keep track of, including words or phrases that are different here. The latest:
Clean teeth (brush teeth)
Nail varnish (nail polish)
"You look so swish!" (stylish?)
Nudie Rudie (naked baby running around) Block your nose (plug your nose)
"We are moving house." (We are moving.)
Chippies (potato chips, since "chips" are french fries)
Give it a miss (don't go, miss out)
Master Desmond (baby prefix, opposite of Mister on official/medical forms)
"Leave it with me." (I'll take care of it)
"You've got sleep in your eyes." (those little eye boogers)
"I've got a blood nose." (bloody nose, possibly because that's a swear in England?)
"Can you sight my homework?" (check homework)
It's funny when I find myself starting to forget some of the old ways of saying things. By the time we move home I'm going to have to start up a list of "Americanisms" right?
Each year Canberra hosts an impressive hot air balloon extravaganza, but this year it coincided with the Centennial birthday of this great capital city as well. We got out and enjoyed the weekend celebrations from 6am launches to evening fireworks.
The theme was "In So Many Words" so there were word/letter balloons and stickers and word games and activities and giant words beamed onto buildings and built with natural materials and such. Very creative and interesting and random. Like the giant ants or this lady playing the saw, above. Or the techno-disco crazy hairdo station, below. We made a day of it and had fun getting out in the crowds.