Through your eyes – at the beach

When we tell you we are going to the beach, your eyes widen and a huge smile appears.  In the car we tell you we will go for a swim and make sandcastles – and if you are really lucky you might get an ice cream.

We arrive and you announce we are ‘all done’ and start telling us again we are at the beach.

You are patient as we unload the car, slather both yourself and your brother in sunscreen and walk towards the beach.  As we walk through the park and get our first glimpse of the sparkling ocean, you point at it excitedly and keep saying ‘beach beach beach’.

Your excitement is obvious, you want to walk on the sand and help us set up.  You become impatient as you get changed into your swimming gear, and yet another layer of sunscreen is applied.

We pick up your bucket and shovel and you take your Dad’s hand as you drag him towards the water, all the while shouting ‘beach, beach, beach’….. just in case we didn’t know where we were!

I sit in the shade with your baby brother and can feel the cool sea breeze touching my face and the hot sand between my toes.  I feel overwhelming happiness as I watch you pulling your Dad towards the water.

I watch you come to a sudden stop as you get closer to the water, you look up at your Dad with an expression of uncertainty – the water here is different, you are used to the calm stillness of your pool at home.  You tentatively make your way closer to the water, as the first ripples of water touch your feet.  You shriek with delight, your whole face lights up and you look up at Dad to make sure he is still there and has seen it to.

As the water rushes back out, you again call out with excitement, your feet sink into the sand and you find the whole experience to be hilarious.  The waves again roll in and I can see your confidence grow, as you start to splash around in the water.

A larger wave comes in and you tumble over, you quickly get up and after a quick look at Daddy to make sure everything is ok, you cackle with delight and ask for more!

As the time passes, and you become more sure of yourself, you hold onto Daddy’s hand as you begin to explore, stopping to look at shells and rocks on the sand.

You run your hands through the sand, picking up handfuls of it and letting the grains gently run between your fingers.  You help Daddy dig a great big hole, and think it is great when you need his help to climb out.

When it’s time to go, you do protest.  There is so much more you want to experience, but you begrudgingly hold our hands as we walk back up the sand.

beach

Linking up today with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Our Big Boy’s Construction Party

After all the planning and preparation it’s all over for another year. Yesterday our big boy, our rainbow baby turned 2 and we held his birthday party.  To me, a birthday party should be all about having fun……. and the food!

Since I am keeping things ‘simple‘ this year, we decided (I say ‘we’ but really mean me!) to keep things small and just invite his little friends that he sees regularly.  In theory this is fine, but when you then add parents and siblings it can turn into a much larger gathering quite quickly!  Regardless, we had a great day with wonderful friends and great food (well at least I’m hoping everyone liked the food!).

Liam Party 3

 

I may sound surprising, but I like catering for parties/friends and I enjoy sitting down planning menus and working out when everything needs to be done – shocking I know!  This year I was determined I would be organised and keep things simple so I could enjoy the day and not end up stuck in the kitchen.

I attempted to complete the grocery shopping earlier in the week, but when both the boys decided to fill their nappies in the middle of Woolworths (and neither was in a good mood about it), we had to cut our shopping trip short.  I then spent the day before the party, baking Blueberry, Carob and Coconut muffins, Corn, Cheese, Spinach & Tomato muffins, Sausage Rolls and I got started on the birthday cake (I will post these recipes later this week).

Last year I went all out with a two tiered fondant covered jungle cake – however trying to work with icing in the middle of summer is NOT a good idea and I decided to save myself some heartache (as well as $$$ from not running the air conditioner full time to keep the cake cool) and decided to make a good old butter cake.  To jazz things up a little, I made a chocolate swirl butter cake by making one plain butter cake mix and one chocolate butter cake mix (just add 2 tablespoons of cocoa and 2 tablespoons of milk to my recipe) and combined the two together in two separate cake tins.

The hours of my life that I lost to Pintrest paid off. As our big boy is a obsessed fan of trucks, I just had to make him a cake with a truck on it.  To make a construction cake, I cut the two butter cakes in half, and sandwiched then together with chocolate buttercream (just add 3 tablespoons of cocoa and 3 tablespoons of milk to buttercream recipe).

I then (with just a little bit of trepidation) used a knife to cut away a chunk of cake to create the ‘falling rocks’ effect.  I used the remaining buttercream to cover the rest of the cake, and then created the rockfall effect using crushed chocolate ripple biscuits as dirt, and Violet Crumble as the rocks.

Liam Cake

 

I decorated the base of the cake with yellow smarties, and added a toy truck and some construction signs to the top of the cake.

Liam Cake 2

 

Our big boy LOVED his cake (especially the truck on top) and was super keen to try some

Liam Cake 1

 

Again thanks to Pintrest, I got some great ideas for table decorations. I found the two truck I used at K-Mart for $10 each which I thought was pretty reasonable, especially as they already have been given a good workout being driven around our yard.

Liam Party

 

I also made little cars using tiny teddies, smarties and some melted dark chocolate.  These were a big hit with the kids, and while they were a bit time consuming, I made them the day before and just popped them into the fridge.  I found using a toothpick to apply the chocolate to the teddies and smarties to be the easiest way to go.

Liam Party1

 

I may have gotten a little too carried away with the catering, we also had sandwiches, cheese and dip platters, pizza slices and fruit salad boxes…. not to mention chicken nibbles and mini sausages that I forgot to put out!!

All the preparation paid off, I was actually able to sit down and watch our big boy playing happily with his friends and the feelings of happiness and just a little pride were overwhelming.  I think he sensed that it was a special day, he was particularly affectionate towards all of us, and was in a great mood all day.  I admit I’m a little sad it’s over, as it means my big boy is growing up, but I also can’t wait to celebrate many more special birthdays with him.

How do you celebrate birthdays?

Linking up today with The Multitasking Mummy for Mummy Mondays

Surviving a road trip with a toddler & baby

It’s now been a week since we arrived back home after our 4500+km road trip.  The holidays are over, our bags are all unpacked, new toys and books have all been put away, and we have returned to a somewhat modified routine, as Daddy has still been on holidays.

In what may seem like a strange turn of events… we not only survived our trip, but we were still speaking to each other at the end of it, and even enjoyed ourselves just a little bit!  My husband even commented that he was ‘surprised’ we were not at each other’s throats during our travels- should I be a little concerned that he thought we would be?!?!

It’s just now on this thankfully cool Sunday morning (seriously the weather in Brisbane has been crazy – even the water in our pool was hot yesterday), that I’ve had a chance to sit down and put together my top tips for car travel with kids.  By no means do I consider myself an ‘expert’ but considering we travelled 1700km each way down to Victoria with an almost two year old and a seven month old and not only did we survive, but we have said we would do it again – I figure I should share some tips on what worked for us!

  • Dry Erase Board – we had a lot of fun drawing pictures and writing our names on the boards.  The crayons were a great size for our little man to hold and draw with.  It was also an opportunity to learn about different colours and shapes that we drew.

car travel 1

  • Board Books – easy to handle/turn pages for the little ones.  You  can also pack a few of them as they don’t take up too much space.  the ones that come in a little box/suitcase are great – Just as much time was spent pointing out all the trucks/cars/diggers etc on the box the books came in as was spent on the actual reading of them.
  • Food…..  Our big boy likes to think he is eating at a buffet ALL OF THE TIME….  so having little bags filled with different foods was great fun for him.  We had grapes, strawberries, apple, dry biscuits, vegemite sandwiches and fruit bars.  Also the squeezie yoghurts were a big hit.  I also made sure to have food handy for our little man, so I could feed him whilst we were travelling.
Yes.. he is eating a paddle pop.  Bribery again at its best!

Yes.. he is eating a paddle pop. Bribery again at its best!

  • Audio Books and Kids Music – I’m not sure what it is about the Wiggles, but everytime we put it on the boys would go into a daze and inevitably fall asleep.  It was amazing, our big boy could be on the brink of a meltdown but as soon as he heard the opening line of Hot Potato he would instantly chill out!  We think there must be some subliminal message behind the music that adults don’t hear!  The Roald Dahl audio books were also a big winner, especially the us – we really enjoyed listening to stories we had also grown up with.
Thank you Wiggles!

Thank you Wiggles!

  • Bribery… All I will say is that this worked a treat!!!  Especially when our big boy would just start to lose it when there was only 20kms or so to go.
Bribery - this is what you get if you are a good boy.

Bribery – this is what you get if you are a good boy.

  • Lastly, and maybe most importantly – Don’t have a plan.  This was a hard one for me since I always like to be super organised.  We had vague ideas as to where we’d like to stop for breaks and stay overnight, but we really let how the boys (and us) were feeling dictate where and when we stopped.  If they were asleep, we would keep on going, if they were starting to get cranky we’d stop.  I spent a lot of time sitting in the back with the boys, which whilst it was a bit cramped, I really did enjoy.  We had a mostly great time singing songs, reading and just being silly to help pass the time.
Even our little man got in on the action!

Even our little man played silly games with us!

What are your top tips for travelling in the car with kids – safe travels to everyone on the roads over this holiday period x

PS…

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I wrote about my illusion we wouldn’t need technology to keep us amused on our trip. The iPad did come in handy a couple of times times (a big thanks to The Multitasking Mummy for her kids app recommendations), as a distraction when we were getting back in the car – our big boy has a strange fascination with ‘Daddy’s keys’ to the point he becomes quite obsessed with getting his hands on them.  The iPad was a great way to distract him for 10/15 minutes until we were on the road again and he would move on to something else.

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 – 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