Tuesday, August 28, 2012

so we've reached that stage

Tonight the big boys attended a two-part information session at school: part one was "How We Began" and part two was "Puberty Clues". You get the picture.

Charlie was typically quiet about the idea of going. Jasper stood in the kitchen bouncing a rubber ball filled with a 3D underwater scene and said "I think they have these every year and last year it was about S - E - X!" (Nervous giggle.) "What's a pubicle?"

Ah, wouldn't you love to have overheard the schoolyard chatter which led to that?

I would have liked to have gone but we had no babysitter.

Andy went into the fray and Clem and I stayed home and made cupcakes.

The session was apparently excellent, pitched just perfectly for the upper primary audience. The big boys were bouncing off the walls when they got home. It certainly seemed to have snapped the eleven year old out of a silent afternoon funk. I almost expected them to come home changed somehow but they were still just my boys.

Phew. Well, that's done. And I'm still giggling like a silly schoolkid at pubicle.

- Jane x

Saturday, August 18, 2012

polar panda

It's all about the birthday parties in Clem-land at the moment. His friends are starting to turn five. Today's party, at the zoo, came with the option of animal dressups and Clem wished to be a panda. I was pretty happy to oblige, given that I can see my kids' cute dressup days dwindling before my eyes.

(Excuse me while I have a "boo-hoo my baby's growing up" moment. On Thursday we received a letter saying his first school transition visit is next Friday. His face simply lit up with excitement. I'm excited for him and I know it's a new and positive phase for our whole family. But still... blink-sniffle, you know?)
I made yet another version of the Farbenmix Yorik hoodie pattern, this time Franken-patterning the hood with the Cozy Winter Hood (which has ears) from Oliver & S 'Little Things to Sew'.
The fabric is polar fleece from the 30% off sale at the shop around the corner. I know polar fleece can be made from recycled plastic bottles (I don't know if these ones were) and therefore could be an eco-friendly choice but even so... I just find it a bit... yucky. However this was inexpensive, appropriately fluffy and warm and best of all, right around the corner. If he wants to wear this as a regular hoodie, I think the cute-factor can overcome my ugh it's polar fleece thing.

He had a great time at the party. In fact, it was his second party today, with the first being a fairy party for a dear sweet girlfriend at a place called The Butterfly Room. He said "It was good but it wasn't as pretty as it should have been. I wanted it prettier." I guess 'The Butterfly Room' conjures up some vivid images in the four year old mind.

I don't really want to think about it but we'd better start planning his own October birthday party soon, I suppose.

- Jane x

Sunday, August 12, 2012

things we did not invite

That's a chicken louse being identified under a microscope. I realised the chooks had mites (red poultry mites) after seeing some on my hands after reaching into nests, and on eggs. And after cleaning out the chookyard and beginning treatments, I found this uninvited guest almost down my cleavage. Ack! Double parasitic whammy!

The girls are fortunately still looking in fine heath, although one has been laying on the ground rather than in the nest which is probably because the mites lie there in waiting. Little creeps.

I've started with a big cleanout of the yard and chookhouse. It's not very thorough however because the floors are just the earth. One reason the bugs have taken hold may be that it's been so wet and muddy, it has been hard for the girls to find a place to dust-bath.

Treatment so far has been:

  • Spraying nest boxes and all timber inside chookhouse, with special attention to the perches, with a mixture of water with cedarwood, peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils. Smells great!
  • Put wood ash from our fire in the yard for them to dust-bath in (they haven't touched it so far - it's meant to suffocate the mites - but at least I know what to do with our wood ash now).
  • Dusting of nest boxes with Pestene, which doesn't sound too completely evil.
  • Dusting a patch of chookhouse floor where the girls were dust-bathing with Pestene.
  • When the girls go to sleep tonight we will creep in and give them a dusting too.

I have ordered some Diatomaceous Earth which could well be 'the new coconut oil' if its many claims are to be believed. I aim to dust that around judiciously - and not inhale - too.
This is something else uninvited. It's chickweed and it's everywhere in our garden at this time of year. But thanks to Tricia at Little Eco Footprints, I view it with new appreciation because it's quite a tasty delicate little green and meant to be very nutritious too. I've been munching little pieces here and there and even tried this recipe for chickweed pesto.
The verdict? Not bad, very 'grassy' which I quite like although I don't think the kids would go for it. Feeling very River Cottage with this little wild harvest!

The garden feels like it's beginning to 'wake up' from winter.

Charlie helped me with some pruning (climbing a tree and chopping at it? fun!). He's keen to cook more and made some Anzac biscuits with almost no assistance.
And I've done a wee bit of sewing. Clem wanted to make a pillowcase for his new big bed. His choice of fabric made my eyes cringe and my heart melt simultaneously. And he insisted on the buttons, which he selected with great care. He sat on my lap while I sewed.
He loves it. Therefore, so do I.

- Jane x

Monday, August 6, 2012

squashed flowers

Tonight Clem asked me to go outside in the cold and dark with him and a torch, to "look for flowers to squash". Sometimes it's actually easier to be the good creative parent who says yes than convince a four year old of all the reasons this isn't such a good idea. So we went, and found a surprising variety of flowers for the end of winter.

We took them to the "flower squashing book" which is a Webster's Twentieth Century Dictionary that belonged to my Granny. Clem laid the flowers between sheets of paper (after unceremoniously shaking off the previous squashed flowers that were in there) and duly squashed the flower sandwich with all his might. Checked them - no not ready yet - so I suggested we turn the book upside-down so its weight was all on the flowers, and leave it on the shelf for a couple of weeks.

He was happy.

Not such a bad idea after all.

In another episode of "why not?" parenting, I helped Charlie make chocolate eclairs on the weekend. He wanted to cook something he'd never made before and I let him choose from a book of sweet treats. Of course he chose what was probably the most complex recipe in the book and something I'd never attempted. But we had all the ingredients and, deep breath, oh heck, why not?

Splodge. They were small and misshapen, the pastry cream curdled slightly and the icing never achieved the desired state of molten glossiness. But they were pretty tasty! And we learnt a bit. For one, we need a more accurate set of kitchen scales. Cooking like this can be as much chemistry as art, can't it?

In more successful cooking, Jasper had a couple of friends for his rescheduled birthday sleepover (postponed due to flu). Andy made pasta with all the boys and demonstrated patience in the extreme with this many helping hands.

Wow, we look like we're all about facilitating children's creativity here at the moment, don't we? Did I mention the number of times we had to say "no!" to Jasper's requests to play more Skylanders on Wii with his sleepover friends?

So now. To finish off a fairly random post, how about some silliness from the big boys?

(No children were harmed in the making of this blog post.)

- Jane x
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