Today

Firstly, apologies for that last post. Boring huh. I was trying to find other pieces of furniture that push my buttons because well, I like furniture, but you know, tiredness and searching skills on the internet just didn’t quite hit it off.
Yes I am aware that is what the “draft” button is for, but you suckers get me boring posts and all.

Grover is a month old today.
One Month.
Who knew!
I still haven’t quite worked this little fella out. He’s quite wakeful and difficult to settle… in that he likes to be held. And is awake. A lot. This morning I was up with him feeding, crying and screaming some more from 3 until, oh 5 fucking 45.
And yes, that is a real, official in a Greenwich kind of way, time.
I have called him Whingey McCranky Pants on quite a number of occasions.
He does like to have a good long scream, with an impressive dropped bottom lip, peppered with these little “huh” sighs when he’s taking a breather. Either his gut hates my breast milk or the kid just likes the sound of his own voice.
He’s started to smile which is really very lovely and he has the most lovely lilting cooing sound that does indeed endear him to me even more.
And so his life is underway.
Here is where I could do the whole “Dear Grover” post, but really? Na.

I just returned from Oscar’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting. Apparently we’re not calling it an IEP anymore, I think the word Education and Goal were mentioned but I sort of forgot to listen.
These meetings make me feel ill.
I formulate all these scenarios in my mind where they’re going to ambush me with a Powerpoint presentation on just how bad Oscar is. Just how far behind his peer group. Just how hopeless the situation is. And just how much we’re kidding ourselves that mainstreaming him was a good idea.
Not that I’m prone to melodrama. Or anything.
Of course, it was nothing like that.
We talked about his issues (that he actually likes being different and having his own rules or directions for things and that as he gets older he needs to just follow the rules for the pack. Oh how I yearn for him to be a sheep.)and what our goals are.
We’re all on the same page.
There is no questioning of our choices for Oscar, just discussion on ways to make it work and to ensure good outcomes (and how I HATE that word) for him.
And there you have it.

Spaghetti with cauliflower strascicata and pennies dropping

Jared Ingersoll’s Spaghetti with cauliflower strascicata (but made with broccoli)

Adapted from Danks Street Depot  

 

  • 1 packet spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of broccoli (if using cauliflower the recipe stipulates 1/2 head)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 2 large red chillies, chopped (seeds in if you like it hot) – leave out if making for kids
  • 1 tblsp capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted in a 160C oven until golden
  • 200g parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  1. Cook the spaghetti then drain and toss through a little of the olive oil
  2. cook the broccoli in the rest of the olive oil
  3. once it starts to colour add the garlic, then the anchovies, capers and olives (and chillies if using)
  4. cook until the broccoli is nice and soft
  5. add half the parsley and the spaghetti and toss thoroughly
  6. once the spaghetti is nicely reheated add the breadcrumbs, parmesan and left over parsley
  7. As the parmesan starts to stick to the bottom of the pan use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan
  8. Serve with a wedge of lemon – totally lifts the whole dish.

This recipe is taken from the Dank Street Depot cookbook, but they use cauliflower and also put a couple of red chillies in there. I just used what I had, in that I used broccoli not cauli, didn’t have any herbs to speak of and also didn’t put nearly that amount of parmesan in it. But it was delicious and the kids loved it. Shame about the finger I nearly lopped off when chopping the olives.

*****

The boy made eyes at me all day yesterday. It came after I had thought to myself that he’d changed in the last 24 hours. Then those eyes, still deciding what colour they’re going to be, that look like pools of mercury cornered me so. Taking my breath away.
But he has. Changed that is. His face has changed shape ever so slightly and there is intent in his gaze.

 

He’s a screamer too, which has taken me a little aback.

 

He wakes with a good hearty yell and needs several of them before going off to sleep.

 

Tonight, I tried to settle him in his cot as he is very partial to going to sleep and then sleeping on me. And I am very nervy about setting up bad habits now. I know I know, it’s not even three weeks yet. But I know what I need to stay sane.

 

 

 

 

Badger wrote today about not being that much of a baby person and that she’s really glad it’s me here lactating not her. And the thing is, I hear her loud and clear. I guess it seems so contradictory to say that I’m not really a baby person when I’m here with number four (and that suddenly the idea of Chef getting the snip seems so… final, and maybe, just maybe I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet. If you get my drift.)
Like Badger, I enjoy my children the older they get. I suck up everything they write about read Badger, Blackbird and Suse with their older boys as it is so obvious how much they too enjoy each of their children the older they get.

 

I think I said it before, but I really do just ‘function’ through these early weeks and indeed years.

 

Having Jasper has given me the chance to enjoy those younger toddler years that I barely escaped with my life with Oscar and Felix. In fact Chef and I refer to them as the dark years.

 

But being back in the land with a toddler and a neonate ain’t no picnic and I’m not about to perpetuate some earth-mother myth that it is. I find it a bloody hard slog. I internally scream at least once a day. Progress (from the days of Oscar and Felix as toddlers) is that I can now see a bad day as just that and not spiral into an abyss of “holy fuck I’ve really ruined my life and this parenting thing is scary shit that I’m not cut out for and why is Chef just sitting on the lounge over there, Jesus Christ who did I marry and while I’m fuming why don’t I just eat a block of chocolate washed down with a bottle of wine followed by a large packet of chips with maybe half a cake as a digestiv”.

 

But that doesn’t lessen the number of bad days. Or OK days. Or fucking brilliant days.

 

And that scream? Used to be loud. And ugly. And directed at my children or my husband.

 

Now, just as there are bad days and good days, the scream is just a scream, simple frustration at trying to reason with a child to young to understand that watching Thomas the Tank Engine for six hours straight is ENOUGH ALREADY and tiredness from helping a newborn work out what on earth has happened to his safe, warm cocoon and negotiate his first few days in the world and exasperation with a nine year old asking “what next Muma” for the upteenth time.

 

But I know this time will pass quicker than it currently feels it is and that indeed I won’t ever really remember what it was like (hell, isn’t that why we all go back and do it more than once?).

 

And I look at my bigger boys with that swelling chest kind of pride.
Oh sure, they can shit me big time.
But it’s the honour in being a part of forming a person. Of being there each and every day and seeing their passions develop, of helping them through the rocky parts and of just hanging out that just rocks my world.
So while I am a pretty utilitarian when it comes to me as the mother of a newborn and toddler, while I tend to just clench the jaw, grit my teeth and beligerently tackle each and every day one by one I do so now with a quiet peace that the days I truly get a kick out of, dare I say enjoy are not that far away.

 

And in a funny way, knowing that makes me enjoy this time with Jasper and Grover in a way I never did with the first two.
Perspective is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

 

But this realisation? Which softens me ever so slightly has made me realise and recognise some other things about myself…

– that I always say I love change and really? I don’t. Sure it depends on the situation but in all honesty I like order and structure and knowing what I’m doing today, tomorrow and where I’m headed beyond that. I write endless lists. I concoct six month, 1,2 and 5 year plans. On everything.

– that I’m easy going. I put this in the same category as all fat people are jolly and all black people can dance. I like things done certain ways and I get antsy when people do it differently. Even if it’s in their own home. This is bad. I know. I am better at not caring or being such a control freak these days, but that’s just because I’m tired and more focused on ensuring one of my kids isn’t drowning eating all the junk food playing doctors and nurses missing.

– that I’m taking it one day at a time, but I always have my eye on the horizon (I’ve been talking to people about work for goodness sake… and I don’t go back until February).

– I really need to learn how to relax. Without it involving eating or consuming alcohol.

– I can be perceived as exuding confidence and self-assuredness but in reality am plagued by self-doubt and need a lot of reassurance and positive affirmations from those around me. Not everyone mind you, I have particular people, mentors if you will, in all aspects of my life whose opinion I seek out and use as a kimometre.

– While in my work I adhere to the policy of “not a word too many” here I waffle on and on and on…

 

I saw my shrink today and we both agreed that I’m travelling ok considering the baby isn’t even three weeks old. I told him how on the days I feel like I’m being swallowed by the relentlessness of the routine (or lack thereof) of domestic oblivion I adhere to the policy of ‘just achieve one thing’. So instead of being overwhelmed by the “I have to clean the house” I work to the “just get one load of washing done”.

 

He told me about how today there is this absolute focus on “outcomes” and that it is such a bankrupt mindset in that it pays no heed to the effort put in to get to that outcome, the quality of the work along the way and so on. And that my attitude was the right way to go – I mean, what is the point of me having the outcome of “I must have the entire house cleaned and pristine” if reaching that outcome turns me into a suicidal mess?

 

Instead, I focus on just one aspect of the outcome, and the sense of achievement in getting that done probably gets me closer to the goal intact than if I started at our ensuite and worked my way through the house to the back doors. We also talked – a lot – about my mother. But that is for another time.

I don’t think I’ve said anything well here. I can almost hear the pissed-off-ness of those who are trying to have children or would love to have a brood and thinking how ungrateful I am or how different they would be if they had four children and the rest of you? Well the collective head tilt is going to give you all a stiff neck. Just take it as the ramblings of a tired woman who had baby vomit on her shoulder for so long it dried and went crusty before she noticed it and almost cut off a finger tonight when trying to make dinner with a crying baby and a toddler demanding The Woefuls Wiggles and Thomas on alternately after each story and whose favourite activity is now climbing onto the coffee table, then standing on the arm of the chair and taking flying leaps onto the lounge and two bigger boys being absolute legendary angels.

*****

Moments in time

You know those moments,

From when you first find out there is a new life growing inside of you and you experience the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with probably the most expansive unexpected news you will ever hear. For us, it came on the day Jasper turned one.

Abject shock, smoldering excitement, and a simmering worry on so many things which once that life is realised no longer matter.

Through each following week and passing season when normal life keeps on, filling your world with anxiety and stresses that in six months, one year, three years, a decade, will be forgotten. Cast aside by new anxieties and stresses. But also overwhelmed by memories filled with love, friends, good food, laughter, expanded families and other milestones achieved.

Then that new life is here. Given a name and so a part of your life, your family and your world so instantly that unless you stop and think really hard about it, the life you led before they came into the world seems distant, shadowy and so a work in progress.

And those early days and weeks go by in a haze of sleep deprived survival mode. When this little person does little more than suckle, sleep, burb, fart and poo more goop that you ever thought could possible come from such a little being. And it all washes over you. Seems so overwhelming. You look at your older children and think of all the things you haven’t done with them that you promised you would – that science experiment, that book, that movie, that recipe, that time. And feel such immense guilt. Make a silent promise to try harder, to find that time, to make the effort when all you want to do is lie down and close your eyes.

When there are nights and indeed days when no amount of nursing, patting, singing or cuddling will comfort this new little person who seems to be shaking their fist at the world.

And that just when you feel your spirit breaking – that it’s all too much, that you can’t do it, that your boobs can’t take it anymore, that you just.need.some.sleep. and why won’t anyone give you some space – you get the look.

When this little life stops going all crazy cross-eyed, stops staring at the lounge fabric in complete fascination and looking at you with a furrowed brow and looks at you. Holds your gaze. Stares into the corners of your soul while pulling on your heart so hard in makes you cry.

And you hold this little person tight and sob that you love them no matter what and that they are the most precious person in the world. And still they hold your gaze as if to say, “It’s OK mama, I know.”

Nine months of memories

A whole new world

Edible

Two weeks and still besotted:

The kid can get some air:
I haven’t been down the back of the backyard for some time:

There are cumquats on the cumquat tree.

a LOT of weeds (there used be herbs and various little crops of veggies which the possums ate)

rocket!

two lemons ripening and even a lime (see, tucked away there in the middle of the shot, just near the bottom)

and at two weeks and two days, weighing in at 4880g (10pd8oz) the Grover is getting grooves:

Banana and raspberry bread*
125g butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup frozen raspberries
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

– preheat oven to 180C (350F)
– grease and flour a 19x11cm loaf tin
– cream the butter and sugar together until pale
– add the eggs one at a time
– fold in the bananas, raspberries and vanilla
– add the dry ingredients and be careful not to over mix
– pour into tin and bake for 1hr 15min

* this is based on Bill Granger‘s Choc Banana Bread – simply replace the raspberries with chocolate. It is divine when served warm, straight from the oven when the chocolate is all oozy. I have a love hate thing with Bill Granger as his recipes and recipe books r.o.c.k. but his tv show shits me to tears. Everything.so.white.and.happy = makes.me.want.to.hurt.someone.

*****
In other news, it’s been lactation central over here. Grover is a feeding machine and I’ve had a few nights in a row where he’s basically unsettled from 2am to, oh, n.i.n.e. Today it was 11. Then there was the whole 4-9pm rigmarole, when he just wanted something to suck. I fell for it a few times but then realised what was going on. Chef stepped up and got him through the last hour. He’s a sucky boy, just like Jasper was. The fist is getting closer to the mouth and I’ve seen him isolate his thumb a few times and even make do with a finger. The sooner he gets it worked out, the better.

The Early Childhood nurse visited yesterday and the boy has put on 570 grams (1pd3oz) in 10 days. This mama’s mammaries know their stuff.

Tomorrow is my official weekly rest day in that Jasper goes to daycare, so there will be a catch-up nap (or two).

Sigh.

Two weeks

Can you believe it? And I’ve only cried a handful of times. I haven’t really yelled at anyone, although there was the once I did at Jasper which made the baby Jesus cry because that child? That third child who can and does get away with everything? Is SO cute and endearing that the fact these traits are matched by cheekiness and we’re-just-on-the-border-of-fully-fledged-naughtiness mean the latter are totally obliterated by the former. Each day he adjusts to the existence of Grover and has started calling him bubba. I am having niggling worries about his (as in Jasper’s) speech development as he’s 20 months but we’re only getting single words and well, let’s just say we’re pretty experienced in this house with speech disorders and milestones and well, he just ain’t hitting them. Thank GOD we’ve got a good speechie w/ Oscar and will discuss the third child with her next Monday when this term’s schedule resumes normal programming.

See that? That was a massive tangent that can completely be blamed on being really fucking tired.

Last night was one of those nights everyone remembers from their own days at home with a newborn. The nurse-a-thon (thanks Krista, that phrase is now officially in the lexicon) started at 8pm and continued every two hours until about 9am, with a nice unsettled phase running from 2-4, which saw Jasper wake and Chef bring him into our bed where he gave a good crying screaming fit due to no bottle being produced and no engagement whatsoever in his various pleas to go down the backroom and watch ‘toot-toot’ (Thomas the fucking tank engine and all his stupid petulant friends at the most dysfucntional railway this side of CityRail. Seriously people, that the lazy-arsed Fat Controller – under instructions from his doctor ‘not to push’ no less – has not ordered an enquiry, nay a Royal Commission, into the perennial failure of the buffers is beyond me), which in turn woke Oscar (although he’d been whimpering in his sleep for a good half hour) who cried loud and hard when Chef told him that no we were not going to visit Nana and Grandpa and to go back to sleep because it was the middle of the night, a claim he clearly didn’t believe as he got up half an hour later, went to the bathroom (a during the night miracle for Oscar as he clearly adheres to the principle if you can get up and go to the toilet you might as well just do it in bed), and then proceeded down to the back room as if it was morning. See, I know you all remember those kind of nights.

A few years ago I saw a program, probably on that hideous construction called the Lifestyle Channel which is dedicated to indulging bores with their own programs all the while taunting me with programs of life changing adventures and stunning house renovations, where some cleaning wonder woman (see, B.O.R.E) said the greatest way to overcome the what seems insurmountable cleaning requirements of a home is to break it down into 10 minute alotments. To explain further, while I know it isn’t necessary, instead of thinking “oh god I’ve got to clean the pantry but where to begin” you simply think “I’m going to clean the pantry for 10 minutes” and of course, what happens, is you get totally into it and do the whole bleeding lot and lose a couple of hours of your life you’ll never get back. But, there is something to be said about the approach. That is, when I get all gnashing-of-teeth and irritable because of the state of the house and where to begin and blah blah blah, I just do the “just do x for 10 minutes”. I did that this morning and by close of business I’d vacuumed, done four loads of washing (and hung it all out), put washing away (gag), cleaned the fish tank (I KNOW!) all on about three hours of cobbled together sleep. Wayheyhey!

In other more concerning (and far less boring – I can’t believe I just typed 12 lines of crapulence about cleaning) news, I seem to have lost my cooking Mojo. First was an appalling stir fry for dinner on Wednesday where I over-soaked the noodles and it was just glug fest. I was so cranky no one dared question it and all ate it up dutifully. Then there was the appalling failure of my attempt at the Dank Street Depot bacon hash. A tragedy. I even have photos of the start of the process as it was going to be this triumphant post of deliciousness. So tonight was frozen offerings from my stepmother. I am concerned nonetheless.

So the newest boy is two weeks old today. I have nutted out that he likes to trick me into thinking he is hungry and have a good yell just before surrendering to sleep (he is more and more a carbon copy of Felix each and every day) but I’m onto him now. The milk/hormone rash is appalling on the wee chap and we seem to be in 48 hour pattern, just as Felix and Jasper followed. It’s funny isn’t it, just as the little guy gets covered with an angry pustule rash on his face, I think he is completely and utterly adorable.

The big boys return to school tomorrow. (Cue collective sigh of relief now.)