Friday, 30 January 2009

Family Flowers

Sweeney's pretty confident with his snub-nosed scissors, and last night he got them out of the drawer and announced that he wanted to "do some cutting in the garden". So we went outside and he cut the heads off some marigolds, brought them to me to hold - "here you go, Mum".

Each one was for someone - Nana, Grandad, Grandad O'Neill, Kimberley, Harper, Joe, Dom, Emma, me, Dad-when-he's-back-for-a-visit.

Then he completely art directed this photo. Chose the teacup and the props, set the shot up, turned different lights on and off.
Of special note is inclusion of Noisy Car. That's a very important car.
So I had a little misty going on at how sweet and clever he was being. Got past that when he updended all his puzzles through the living room, cackling malevolently.

Thursday, 29 January 2009


I figure part of being a good and effective parent is demonstrating to your kid that you support their interests, so long as they're still a ways away from polishing guns and driving cross-country, cranked up on meth.
Today Sweeney cut preschool and we went to the Botanic Gardens with the splendid M-Z and W-D kids. Sweeney tramped up and down paths like an infantryman, then they all played at the (excellent) playground until it was time for ice blocks, collecting pine cones on Pine Hill, a look at the roses, and home for a snooze.
I saw that TV3's running a cartoon of Spiderman, so when Sweeney got up from his nap, we had a look. Discovered the following about Sweeney's interest in Spiderman:

  • he has no idea who Spiderman actually is;
  • he's attracted to the spider part of Spiderman - definitely not the man part; and
  • he doesn't understand the concept of heroes and villains - he called the villain "Green Spiderman!" whenever he came on.

He's not watched cartoons before, and he is only two-and-a-half. No, that's not quite right - he's watched The Simpsons and Futurama , and really, really likes them. With Futurama, he likes the Planet Express ship crashing into the screen during the credits.

How different is his interest in Spiderman from his interest in Thomas the Tank Engine?? With Thomas, he's got some books and trains and track and he plays with them regularly. He was terribly attached to his Thomas sunhat until the Spiderman hat came on the scene. I think the differences are:
  • I see no value - creative, aesthetic, narrative, educational or otherwise - in Spiderman. I'm not terribly attracted to Thomas, either, but I like the way the original stories came about, I think anyone who thinks up a character called The Fat Controller has to be supported, and I'm terribly fond of Ringo Starr;
  • this interest in Spiderman has come about purely because of Josh at preschool, and his interest in Spiderman. He's a little older than Sweeney, and they're great pals.
Ringo and the Fat Controller don't stand a chance.
I still have some say about what he eats, and last night I nearly wept with joy when he scarfed down the omelette I put in front of him for dinner. It was packed with mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini and onion. Why are the quick, easy, thrown-together-at-the-last-minute meals the ones that get the best reception?

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Ultimate Muffin is Out There

Today I made dairy-free banana muffins - actually vegan banana muffins - and they came out looking not too bad. Nigella has a terrific dairy-free banana muffin, with a couple of eggs thrown in, in Nigella Express, and that was the muffin of 2008. This is 2009 and I've got the time and interest right now to wade through the web to find the Ultimate Muffin.

Yesterday I made vegan chocolate muffins that I found via 20 Cent Mixture. Thanks Louise! I substituted stewed apple for most of the sugar, and can report that they were more than acceptable to both Sweeney and myself.

I'd show you a photo of how the muffins turned out, but they look kind of unprepossessing, and I don't like icing, so there's no prettying them up. I just ate one, and crikey, that's a sweet, sweet muffin. Sure to be a hit with the little chap. If I make these again, I'll definitely cut down on the sugar.

What is worthy of a photo today are the butterflies in the garden. There are three of them, they must've just emerged, what with the sitting really still and slowly beating their wings. They're yellow admirals, not terribly special or anything, but it's so nice to see them sitting on the bobbing flowers in the breeze.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Arrivederci, Leo ...

Summer!! Going to bed at night, leaving windows open. Eating all your meals on the deck. Cicadas making a racket. Leaving Sweeney's half-finished glass of milk on the bench overnight and finding yoghurt-y lumps in its place in the morning. Not even bothering to watch the weather report because you just know it's going to be splendid the next day.
And barbecues. Sweeney and I shlepped to a barbecue on Saturday night to say goodbye to Sweeney's pal Leo. Leo's a few months older than Sweeney, and to demonstrate his more worldly status, is moving with his parents to Melbourne. I spent a bit of time with his mum and dad while I was pregnant, and I remember the first time I saw Leo, at just a few days old. At the time, two thoughts were prominent for me:
  • how very, very much I envied Deb for not being pregnant anymore; and

  • how perplexed I was at the comment that it took a while to understand "what his noises meant" when they brought him home.

I'd never considered that there'd be any ambiguity about what your own living, breathing baby would try communicating to you. It seemed to me that my fetus' kicking and slithering and tumbling were quite clear in their meaning. It drove me nuts that I couldn't sleep until 5am each night, but it made me happy to see his feet making waves on my belly in the middle of the afternoon as I sat at my desk. It tickled me to lie on the couch at night, or stand in the shower, and watch him move about. I felt like he was just, and only just, keeping me onside with him. Like he was pushing his luck with japes and a wilful streak and suiting himself, but pulling back at the last minute with a glorious smile.

Which is how I see him now, actually, but I didn't when he was newborn. Right in front of me, he seemed fragile and vulnerable, and that gave me the willies. When I was pregnant, he seemed athletic, impervious, never out of sorts or in need. Once he was born, he cried at being naked, hungry, whatever, unless he was asleep, and he was so pink and delicate-looking. That's all by the way, now. He's his own person, a character that impresses and unhinges me.

And Leo, too. We don't get to see enough of lovely people, we always think we'll have more time. Miss you, lovely people.

Part of being his own person meant that Sweeney came a bit of a cropper out scootering this evening. He's mastered the little slope at the south end of the street, so he tried out the big slope down to the alley at the north end. Ker-splat!! He got back on his scooter before he finished crying, though. So proud.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The First Cianfotta

I made a cianfotta for our dinner last night from my new fave spot for food, 101 cookbooks. The photo on the site looks fantastic. Mine looked rather different - that's mine in the picture, but tasty nonetheless. Of course Sweeney wanted baked beans and corn chips, followed by muesli bars and an ice block. Well, that's what he wanted, not quite what he got. If he had his way, he'd eat ten ice blocks a day.

The chap who designed the renovations here years ago popped round this morning, doing some work for my neighbours. Caused me to cast a critical eye over the house and realise there's barely a surface free of toys, books or clothes. What with being sick last week and being generally a bit haphazard about things, things have slid somewhat since the beginning of the year.
A further resolution has been added to my list: to have people over more often, so I'm forced to keep tidy and organised. Shame is a strong compeller for me, it's true. We go out quite a bit, now it's time to lure people to us.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Start the year off ...

as I mean to go on. This year is great, so far. My resolutions are simple, and so far, I've actually kept them:
  • make keeping healthy a priority;
  • make keeping chirpy a priority;
  • eat healthily as much as possible; and
  • feed the cat daily.

Although I did give myself food poisoning last week - made a fantastic coleslaw, and there was a lot of it, and I just kept eating it each day, and eventually it delivered its own body blow. Still tasted brilliant, though. I kept thinking of Homer Simpson eating an old, enormous meat sandwich that put him in hospital repeatedly. The experience reinforced my resolve about staying healthy, because three days of wrangling Sweeney, while aching for a truck to run through the house and squash me, was horrible. We read a lot of stories while lying down, I watched him run up and down the beach while I lay down and he was really co-operative about having a few early nights.
Sweeney's got a big thing for Spiderman right now. He's never seen Spiderman, and in fact I've steered him towards Superman because he's always been my favourite of those, ahem, super men, but there's a chap at preschool who lives in Spiderman gear and the enthusiasm has rubbed off. Why I mention it is that I found a Spiderman cap the other day at the Sallies shop on Ghuznee St, and it made me think about:

  • how he's already, at two-and-a-half, more impressed by his peers than me;
  • how fantastic it is to know what he's interested in, because he actually tells me. With sentences that come out of his mouth; and
  • how little I like Spiderman.

I guess I never expected to bond with him over bedroom furnishings or anything, but I really thought I'd have more time than this to fill him with awe than anyone who can ride a flying fox or do a big splashy bomb off the side of the pool. But I have to admit, when he turned up on the deck in his new hat, he looked awfully chuffed, and that sort of thing sends my chirp levels right into space.

I've found a sensational website,, which is informing a fair swag of the eating that goes on in our house. Reasonably healthful , mostly fruit and vege-based fare, some of it quite complicated. While I'm in holiday mode, it's nice to take time to find interesting things to make each day, and spend time doing it. Rather than freaking out that we've just got in and dinner needs to be ready in five minutes or he'll go beyond hunger like he does, and he'll refuse to eat and demand a trough of milk or just muesli bars instead. The absolute joy of him willingly eating a vegetable - tonight he mowed through cobs of corn like they were wine gums.

Today I made some Triple Ginger Cookies, using up some crystallised ginger that's been antagonising me from the back of the pantry for ages. True to the name, they've got ground ginger, stem ginger and crystallised ginger in them, so they're not suited to the ginger dilettante. Also molasses, which I love, but don't often think to put in anything I'm making. My mum's a big ginger fan, and also a lover of food in biscuit form, so a bunch of these little beauties are going a parcel to her tomorrow.
As for the cat, it's one of Sweeney's chores to feed her each morning, before we head off to preschool. His other chores are to brush his teeth twice a day, and tidy his toys up before bed. He's taken it on himself to put his own sandals on every day, and to have a stab at putting on his own shorts. He's the sort of kid who makes things routine very fast, so I figured if we made feeding the cat his job, he'd make a fuss if it didn't happen.

So that's the resolutions.

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