To my big boy

Mothers Guilt…. We’ve all experienced it – in many cases it can even start before the baby has arrived!  I simply love being a Mum to my two little boys, watching them growing up and helping them to discover their world is the most amazing and fulfilling job I have ever had.  My Mother’s guilt is always lurking in the background though – I will feel guilty when frustrated about having to read Dear Zoo for the 15th time, when Liam has toast for lunch if it’s one of those days, for either spending too much time with one of them when the other also wants my attention, or wishing I could spend more quality time with them one on one.

I had been feeling particularly guilty lately for not spending as much ‘fun’ time with Liam as I used to.  In between trying to get him to sleep in his own room through the night, our half hearted attempt at toilet training and the day to day trials of having a toddler and a baby it’s been tough.  To try and ease my guilt, I decided we’d go along to Rhyme Time at our local Library, confident that Liam would enjoy himself and we would have a fun morning out together. This is a letter I wrote to him after our day.

Dear Liam,

I know this year has been hard on you.  You didn’t understand why Mum couldn’t play with you as much when I pregnant with your little brother, or why I had to stay in hospital and leave you at home.  After your brother was born,  you barely saw us for the first four weeks as you were shipped around between different babysitters. Then this tiny little person came to live with us, someone you weren’t allowed to touch or play with, and were always being told to stay away from.

That’s why this morning was important. It was an opportunity for us to enjoy some time together, just like we used to. You love to read, sing and dance.  I wanted to have some fun with you, I don’t want to always be telling you off, or rushing around. For this half hour I want to be able to enjoy having fun and being silly with my big boy.

Once we arrive, you know where to go – straight up the back where all the other little kids are.  You are so excited, there are books everywhere! And you are allowed to pick them up, look at them and I even tell you we can take some home with us!  All by yourself, you pick a book about your favourite things – trucks…. As soon as I see it I smile, you really are too clever.

We find a spot, and even though your friends are there, you still want to sit on my knee.  You are so excited to have found your truck book you are loudly pointing out all the different trucks you can see. Aiden senses that we need this time, just the two of us.  He happily watches us from the pram, all smiles.

As they are getting ready to start, you glance up to see what all the fuss is about.  The music starts, and you pause from your book to see what is going on. The singing starts and you see the other children stand up and start dancing about.

You clap your hands, a huge smile spreading across your face.

You join in the actions, all the while still clutching at your book.

You are so happy, you are having fun

You look back at me to make sure I’m still there.

Watching you wriggle around dancing makes my heart melt.

Afterwards, you run around having fun with your friends, looking at more books – all the while with a big smile on your face.  These are the moments I will remember when I’m getting cranky or frustrated, these are the moments that remind me why I love being your Mum.

xx

music man

Christmas Baking – Shortbread

Is there anything better than shortbread at Christmas time?  This is the only time of the year I ever make this (all bar last year when I made interesting shaped shortbreads for my sister’s hens night), and i just LOVE the stuff.

This recipe is from my Mum, going waaaay back to when we were kids and she was stuck with us in a Doctor’s waiting room watching crappy morning tv shows (this was the early 90s – some things haven’t changed though), and she saw this on a cooking show called ‘What’s Cooking’. She was so impressed with it, that she wrote down the number at the end of the show, and called up to get the recipe posted to her – that is a hard copy typed out and sent through the post – yes kids, this really used to happen!  Since then it’s been her trusted recipe, which over the past few years since I’ve been making it I’ve called my own.

My biggest tip is that you need to make this in a cool room – living in Brisbane this can be hard during the Summer, so I always try to make it first thing in the morning.

Shortbread

250g softened butter

125g caster sugar

25g rice flour

5 drops of vanilla essence

375g plain flour

* Preheat oven to 190 degrees.

* Beat together the butter, sugar and rice flour until they turn white. Add a few drops of vanilla essence and continue to beat.

* Gradually add the flour to the mixture, whilst continuing to mix on a low speed until a paste forms.

* Turn mixture onto a cool bench dusted with flour and work until a smooth ball forms.

* I split my ball into two and place one in the fridge, covered in glad wrap.

* Roll the other ball until apron 1cm thick and use cookie cutter to make desired shapes.

* Bake in oven for approx 12 minutes until edges start to turn a golden brown.

Christmas baking – Rum balls

Half the fun of Christmas for me is all the yummy baking I get to do in the lead up to the big day.  As well as making traditional favourites, such as fruitcakes and shortbread, I also love to make rum balls.  My little helper loves this recipe, and surprise surprise his favourite part is helping crush the biscuits, closely followed by stirring all the ingredients together.  He isn’t a huge fan of covering the balls in coconut, as he can be a bit precious when it comes to getting his hands dirty – this is the same toddler who will happily use both of his hands to dig through dirt.

This is a great recipe to make with kids, and is an even better christmas gift – that is if you don’t have your toddler climbing the fridge shelves to eat them…..  Enjoy!

rumballs

 

 

250g of crushed biscuits – we used arrowroot

1 cup of coconut plus extra to roll the balls in

2 tablespoons of cocoa

1 tin of condensed milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence – or 4 dessertspoons of rum if you prefer

* Crush biscuits, add all other ingredients to a bowl and mix together

* Roll tablespoon of mixture into balls, cover with coconut and place in the fridge to firm

Toddlers and Patience

Toddlers and patience….  Two words that don’t really go together and I’m not sure if they should even be uttered in the same breath!

We have decided to be crazy adventurous and drive the 1700km from Brisbane to Bendigo next week.  To make things even more insane fun, we are leaving on Friday and need to arrive by Sunday morning, as the boys are being baptised that day.

Let's hope he is this happy during the long drive.

Let’s hope he is this happy during the long drive.

Now, Liam is not the most patient little man.  It was only last week that he was getting quite cranky when he had to wait for his milkshake and toast when we were out for breakfast…. so the thought of him having to sit in a car for a looong time is a bit of a worry.  Even on short trips, he is now starting to pull at his harness and tells us that he is stuck – he obviously doesn’t quite get the concept of seat belts!

When a milkshake is this good it's hard to wait!

When a milkshake is this good it’s hard to wait!

Our plan is to load him up with a few of his favourite books, trucks and cars – as well as having plenty of snacks to keep him amused.  We’ve also got audio books and a couple of CD’s we can play along the way – I am thinking of ‘forgetting’ to pack the Wonky Donkey though…..

As much as I love our iPad, and will be downloading a few kids apps in case we get desperate (a big thanks to the Multitasking Mummy for a list of great kids apps), I am hoping we will be able to survive the trip without resorting to technology to keep him occupied.  As kids, we travelled the same trip many times and survived without watching movies and cartoons along the way and I am hoping we will be able to teach him that he doesn’t need to be kept occupied every second of the day, and sometimes he needs to be able to just sit back and watch the countryside fly by.

Have you ever gone on a long road trip with a toddler? Please hit me with any suggestions you have to keep them amused!

PS.  I know there is a VERY strong possibility we will have the iPad out and cartoons playing by the time we hit the NSW border…

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

 

Orange and Ginger Cake

Thanks to The Multitasking Mummy, we recently collected our prize ‘The Cookbook’ by Ella’s Kitchen from our local post office (we were home when they so called ‘attempted’ to delivery the parcel.. don’t even get me started!).  The book is filled with lots of recipes for toddlers and kids, and has given me some great ideas to mix things up a bit.

We – well really ‘I’ decided to try the ‘Awesome Orange and Ginger Cake’ since we had all of the ingredients.  It was a good recipe to make with a little helper, Liam had a ball sifting the flours, adding the egg (and shell) and stirring all the ingredients together.  I felt the sugar content was a little high, so I halved the amount of golden syrup, and reduced the amount of marmalade to 175g (next time I would try making it with orange zest and juice).  We also decided to add some shredded coconut on top, a job which Liam really enjoyed. When we were licking the bowl, Liam commented the the mixture was ‘hot’ – I think he was referring to the ginger which isn’t used to.

Liam was a bit impatient waiting for the cake to bake, and spent a lot of time staring through the oven door, whilst telling me the oven was ‘hot’ and ‘ouch’.  When the cake was out of the oven and had cooled, he was very excited to try some of ‘his cake’.  Our version was quite moist, and still quite sweet with a strong orange flavour, despite altering some of the ingredients.  The shredded coconut on top really went well with the flavour, and I’d include it next time we make this.

Given I had a very enthusiastic little helper, the cake turned out quite well.  We cut it up into small toddler sized pieces and popped them in the freezer, they will come in handy for a special treat.  We are looking forward to trying our next recipe!

Orange & Ginger Cake

75g unsalted butter

150g golden syrup (I used 75g)

225g self raising flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

225g coarse cut orange marmalade (we used 175g)

1 egg beaten

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

* Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a 20cm square cake tin

* Melt the butter and syrup in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring well to combine. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside

* Sift the flour, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl, slowly pour in the syrup mixture and stir to combine

* Add the marmalade, egg, orange juice and 1 tablespoon of hot water and mix until combined. Add a further 1 – 2 tablespoons of hot water if you feel it’s needed (i.e. mixture is too stiff)

* Pour into the cake tin and spread evenly, bake for 30 – 35 minutes until golden.

* Cool in tin for 15 minutes, before removing and placing onto a wire rack to cool completely

Linking up with The Multitasking Mummy for Mummy Mondays

Just the two of us

Last night we had an adults only night out (and not in the x-rated way that sentence sounds)!   It was the first time since Aiden was born, and only the second time this year we have been out without the kids.

Party Time!

Party Time!

Since all of our family is interstate, we don’t have the luxury of going out by ourselves very often – to be honest, not at all!  We were very fortunate that Scott’s Christmas party coincided with a visit from my Mum – who was more than happy to look after the boys.

Luckily there were no tears (from either the boys or myself) when it was time for us to leave, and we were even able to get a couple of happy snaps of the four of us before we left.

Scott and I both enjoyed ourselves, it was nice to be out and not having to worry about Liam racing off or getting bored, or finding a quiet spot for Aiden to be fed and have asleep, but we both agreed that we missed them.  We enjoy taking them out with us, whether it be going out for dinner, or going somewhere for an adventure.

Yes it’s nice to have Mum and Dad time, to focus on our relationship, and to remember that there is more to us than being parents.  At the same time though, spending time together as a family of four is something we both truly cherish and enjoy.

Just the two of us!

Just the two of us!

How often do you have a night out without your kids?  Do you spend most of the night checking in to see how they are going?

White Chocolate, Macadamia and Coconut Cookies

Last year, Nestle bought out a book ‘Australia’s Sweet Baking Favourites’ as part of a promotion when you bought a few of their products.  Being the recipe book collection/addict that I am, naturally I got it.  There are some great traditional favourites in this book, but I was eager to add my own spin to a recipe. I settled on the White Choc Chip and Macadamia Cookie recipe since I had a few organic (read expensive) macadamias left over from a slice I’d made a few days before.  Naturally, it only seemed right to add coconut to this mixture to make these taste even better.

We LOVED these, and it just adds further proof (not that I needed any) that coconut makes everything taste better.  Enjoy!

white choc chip macadamia and coconut cookies

125g softened butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 3/4 cup sifted self raising flour

1 cup white chocolate bits

3/4 cup coarsely chopped unroasted macadamias

1/4 cup shredded coconut

* Preheat oven to 170 degrees and line two baking trays with paper

* Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, then add the egg and beat until just combined.

* Stir through the flour, white chocolate bits, macadamias and coconut until combined

* Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on trays – leave approx 3cm gap between cookies, and press down on them gently to lightly flatten

* Bake for approximately 15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack

Monkey See Monkey Do

With our little man racing towards his second birthday, it seems as though every day he is amazing us with new words and tricks he has discovered.  What has really been an eyeopener over the past couple of months is the role we are playing in teaching him these new skills.  This was made quite obvious over the weekend, when Liam started running around yelling ‘shoo fly’ when I picked up the can of fly spray to hunt down the couple of flies buzzing around (I have a bit of a ‘thing’ having flies buzzing around the house – Scott calls it an obsession).

It’s really only now sinking in (yes, I know I should have realised this earlier), the massive role we as parents play in shaping our kids into the people they will become.  It’s not only what we say and how we say it, but also our everyday behaviours which they observe and act out.

I'm not complaining about this!

I’m not complaining about this!

This topic came up during a conversation with friends over the weekend, and we all could relate to stories about our toddlers knowing their way around our smartphones/ipads etc. It was only last week, that I caught Liam proudly sitting up at the bench, chatting away on my phone whilst typing on the computer.  Whilst this all seems like harmless fun, it has made me much more aware of the time I spend on these devices, and trying to limit their use.

Oh dear!

Oh dear!

Fortunately (I think), he has also picked up on some of our less glamourous behaviours, and is super keen to help pack/unpack the dishwasher, vacuum and has a bizarre fascination wiping surfaces with cloths.

We have been mindful for quite some time about the language we use, to the point where I now play audiobooks and kids CDs in the car, as some of the words he started to repeat from the radio were a little disturbing – however if I hear the Wonky Donkey one more time, I will not be held responsible……..

What is the strangest behaviours/words your child has picked up from you?

Linking up with the amazing Essentially Jess for IBOT

Strawberry Santas

I’ve been spending a little time on Pintrest lately…. ok, maybe a LOT of time.  It’s totally justified of course, Liam’s 2nd birthday is next month and I’ve been looking for party ideas.

I’ve come across photos of these cuties a few times, both on Pintrest and Facebook, and our Mum’s group Christmas Party on the weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to give them a go.

There really isn’t much too them: Strawberries (the bigger the better), Whipped Cream (I add vanilla extract and icing sugar to mine) and dark chocolate chips.

Simply cut the strawberry in half, add a dollop of whipped cream (I used a piping bag), put the top of the strawberry back on (Santa’s hat) and add a couple of chocolate chips for his eyes.

These are super easy and yummy, and are a perfect snack on a hot day.

Too cute to eat!

Too cute to eat!