Wednesday, 15 November 2017

All kinds of news and rambling

Right.  Time for a bit of a news update.

First of all, let's get the most tiresome stuff out of the way: A's food issues.

I started writing this last week when I was feeling very low about the whole situation.  We've since been to the doctor and we've already seen some improvement.  But I'm going to leave this here as a record for myself I guess of how hard it got and how upset I was.  Why am I compelled to record this stuff???

She is off the jarred food so I guess that's one thing.  But now it means her preferred diet consists of hot chips, chicken nuggets, hash browns, cheese toasties, tater tots, yoghurt, stewed apple, McDonalds hot cakes (I know I know), crackers, and biscuits.  Like that is a conclusive list of everything she will eat.

She will occasionally try new things, but she doesn't like anything.  No pasta, no toast, no weetbix, no avocado, no vegetables, no meat, no fish, no eggs, no nothing.

As an example, I made banana cake the other day.  She tried a bite.  No good.  Cake.  The child does not like cake.  I mean.  What even is that.

I've spoken to the Plunket hotline (the equivalent of Ngala if you're in WA, or whatever your baby nurse hotline is called) and they said put her on a toddler formula to ensure that she gets a good range of nutrients, and if she doesn't eat what's for dinner, that's it.  No filling up on junk.  Which I knew already, but probably did need someone to say to me bluntly.

So now she doesn't eat and she cries her eyes out because she's so hungry, and I can't give her anything.  And now I'm crying a bit thinking about it.  It's so hard.  Denying your child food when they're hungry feels pretty shitty.  Excuse me.  But it does.

The update to this being that we've moved on to a slightly less hardcore version of the Plunket advice.  And she's eating a few new things.  So on we go and hopefully in a year these issues will be a distant memory, in the same way that J's fussiness has improved over time.

Now onto happier tales.

I have to-ed and fro-ed about toilet training J, and have documented my dithering on here.  I've tried, not very hard, then given up and we go back to nappies.  She'd been very keen to wear knickers but not so hot on the actual using of the toilet part of the deal.  That's been going on for a couple of months at least.

Anyway the other day I went to pick J up from kindy and lo and behold there she was in a pair of knickers.  Apparently she'd taken her nappy off and told the teachers that she wanted to wear knickers (sorry, she keeps correcting me - UNDIES).  And she's been wearing knickers undies ever since.  AND she's even willingly used the toilet!  She's been doing really well with it - she even held on all the way to the supermarket toilet the other day - all pretty much self-directed.

We also took the side off her cot the other day.  Big step.  Plenty of people had said to me that if she's happy in the cot, which she was, why change anything.  It just seemed like time though and with the toilet training it made sense to update the bedding arrangement since she will eventually need to be able to get up in the night.  And she is so proud of her "new" big girl bed.

I've been surprised by how emotional all these big kid changes have made me feel.  I'm so happy to leave babyhood behind and yet all these things remind me that time moves on even when you might want it to slow down.

I think it's the fact that I know, I know for sure, that when they're bigger and more difficult and complicated - but yes, more independent and easier in a lot of ways - I will look back wistfully at these days.  So you try really hard to enjoy and soak it up while they're small.  But then they wake eleventy billion times in the night or have a screaming falling-down tantrum in the middle of the shop.

I can't remember where I was heading with this.  But anyway.  Babies don't keep.  Put them in a jar.

I have no clever segue into our next topic so let's dive on in!  Where will this stream of consciousness post take us next I wonder?

Ah yes, hydrangeas.  Picked from my very own garden if you don't mind.  Which I don't because I am beyond thrilled.  But they did wilt within a day in the vase, even though I plunged the cut stems straight into cold water as I was picking them.  Why did that happen oh wise readers?

Also, you know how I'm deeply obsessed with knitting now?  Well I am.  And I made another sweater - this time for J.  Who is as deeply thrilled with it as I am.

I wish I'd made it a couple of inches longer now.  Why do these kids keep growing?  No way it's going to fit next winter.  Luckily we live in Taranaki and she'll get plenty of wear out of it this summer.

The cardigan I'm making for A is slow going but it's getting there.  The pattern is definitely a stretch for my beginner skills and it'll feel like a real accomplishment to get it finished.  

The other day I was trying to figure out what it is that I so enjoy about knitting.  I guess it's a bit like the adult colouring in trend.  It's an activity that engrosses you, and which also provides instant gratification in the creation of something tangible.  

I love to make stuff for my kids, whether it's food, growing flowers they can pick or vegetables that they can eat, or these clothes that they can wear which have (and excuse me here for some very soppy sentiment) love woven into every stitch.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

I made a sweater!

Let's get the other news out of the way first.

We got a swing set.  Game changer.  Independent play!  Well it was for the first day until J realised that she could ask me to push her on the swing and now I'm back to where I started.  If I'm honest the squeals of joy (from her, not me) do make it all worthwhile.

We have tiny peaches!

We have the world's most hopeless hunter.  Which I am 100% ok with...

Because we recently had a resident mother duck with some very brand new ducklings.

We've had the most exhausting revolving door of illness with the girls.  I don't know if they're actually sick anymore.  I think the coughs are just part of their personalities now.

Now that's out of the way, onto the whole point of this post - which you may have guessed from the title.

I made a sweater!  I knitted it with my very own hands!  It took hours and hours.  And, most importantly, it fits over my head.


Please forgive the poorly-lit late night self-timer photoshoot.  A fashion blogger I am not.

It's pretty lumpy and bumpy, and you can see where I added in a new ball of yarn, and one sleeve is definitely longer than the other, but to say I am proud would be an understatement.

It was surprisingly easy because the pattern came with a series of video tutorials to knit along with.

If you're similarly deranged and would like to waste hours of your life creating a garment of mediocre quality (not the pattern's fault, I hasten to add), the pattern I used was:
The Everyday Raglan by Sheep & Stitch

Since making this sweater, I've now started a child's size raglan for J and a sweet little cardigan for A.  It's all very rewarding.

Made anything with your very own hands lately?

Friday, 20 October 2017

Fussy eaters, and dusk at our place

I looked at the calendar this morning and realised we've been in NZ for six months already.  Which means that our wood burner has been going for approximately five months, three weeks and three days.  Give or take.

Yup, two-thirds through October and we're still lighting the thing almost every day.  And, for me at least, the novelty hasn't worn off yet.  The carting, the stacking, the sweeping, the kindling, it's all worth it.

I have a confession to make.  Baby A (how long until I have to call her Toddler A?) is a good eater - loves her food - but she eats jar food almost to the exclusion of anything else.  Well, she also eats cracker-type things, and weet-bix for breakfast.  And yoghurt.  But when it comes to her main meals, she only accepts food from a jar.

It's my own fault of course.  She started out on homemade pureed vegetables, then we got ready to move to NZ so I switched to packet food because: stress... and here we are.  She's been eating 90% packet food for over six months and now accepts no substitutions.  She likes anything, as long as it comes out of a jar or a packet.  Any tips on how to get her onto regular food??

To illustrate the depth of obstinacy in this child, she won't even try cake.  It gets dropped off the side of the highchair tray along with any other lovingly prepared meals.

McDonalds hash browns?  Acceptable.  Mum's mini-quiches?  Most likely poisoned.  I mean I thought J was fussy.  This is on another level.

So, yeah.  Like I said - any and all advice gratefully received!

On a different note, last night I got both kids into bed, stepped out the back door, then leapt back inside to get my camera.

The light, my god, the light.

I took approximately eleventy-billion photos which I have tried to whittle down for you.  These are pretty much unedited straight off the camera.

You know how baby animals get all skittish and crazy at dusk?  Our calves are no exception.  They have a well-worn racing circuit around their paddock and off they go, bucking and leaping.

With occasional stops for pats.

I love - no, I love - where we live.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

More rain and indoor pursuits

Edited to add my muesli recipe which I should have included in the original!

You'll be shocked I'm sure to hear that this week we've had a whole lot more of this:

In the interests of accurate reporting I should add that we've had a day or two of sunshine and warm temps as well (19C the other day!  I nearly melted!  I'm being sarcastic obviously!), but mostly it's been very wet.

Can you believe my flowers, which have all been going strong in vases for weeks?  I'm very lazy about changing the water and it's always warm inside due to the fire, and yet still they give and give.

Anyway, the rain has kept us indoors most of the time which I wouldn't mind at all except OH YEAH I have small kids who are going insane.

We're all doing our best but the cabin fever is reaching a critical level.

My knitting is still going strong, and in fact I've cast on another project.  I'm making a raglan jumper for J in this adorable self-striping yarn.  It's working up very quickly and I have to force myself to keep working on the jumper I'm making for myself.  The adult jumper pattern comes with tutorial videos and I won't be able to finish either garment without the assistance of those videos.  So I have to keep working on mine even though I'm at the round and round stage of knitting the body and it's sooo borrrrrrinngg.

So I should have these done for next winter anyway.

What else have we been up to here?

We've baked some biscuits.

We've eaten lots of dippy eggs (or duppy iggs as my little Kiwi calls them).  Did I mention we have chickens now?  Normally there'd be a photo or two of them here but it's way too wet out there to be mucking about with my camera.  And I assume you know what chickens look like.  Ours are brown. There's three of them.

I've made a batch of my trusty muesli.  No yucky dried fruit.  Just the good stuff, ready for my yoghurt tomorrow morning.

If you're interested, here is the recipe:

6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup honey
1 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 180C.  Line two baking trays with baking paper.  Place oats in a large bowl.  

Gently heat maple syrup and honey together in a saucepan.  Once warm and combined, pour over oats, then toss with two metal spoons.  

Spread oat mixture evenly over baking trays.  Bake one at a time for 15 minutes or until golden.  Watch them closely to make sure they don't burn - this can happen within a moment!  

Once toasted, remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Repeat with remaining tray.  

Once cool, place mixture back into mixing bowl and stir through coconut, pepitas, and sunflower seeds.

You can add in anything you like in the last step.  Some other ideas: dried apple, dried apricots, dried cranberries, chopped almonds, bran, linseeds, ... whatever!

I serve mine over natural yoghurt with some in-season fruit.  Or tinned peaches.  You really can't go wrong.

There's been lots of building with blocks and some of the constructions are quite elaborate.  Until A the one-woman demolition team rolls through.

I think the most newsworthy news item this week is that A's sleep has taken an amazing and unexpected turn.  She sleeps!  She sleeps all night!  She sometimes wakes for a bottle at 4am but the rest of the time she sleeps through!  Don't worry, I'm keeping my glee in check because I know all too well that things could turn back the other way but it sure is nice, and she is SO much happier.

Speaking of A, I was having a read through my old blog from a year ago and it's funny how much you forget.  A year ago I was talking about what a chilled out and easy baby she was, the big sleeps she was doing overnight.  I totally forgot what an easy newborn she was.  I wasn't exactly smug back then but I have certainly attained a difference perspective on it all.  I'm so glad I've got all the ups and downs recorded.

Monday, 2 October 2017

World of Wearable Art and the ever-growing menagerie

This weekend I went for a whirlwind visit to the World of Wearable Art exhibition.

How's the alliteration in that sentence!

What an experience.

I went with B's mum and I'm still sort of processing what we saw.  The show was nothing like what I expected, not that I had really known what to expect.  Googling it and asking people, no one can explain what it is.  Now that I've seen the show I can understand why.  I still can't explain it to you.

It's fashion, costuming, music, dancing, art, and performance, all rolled into one.  It's a spectacular spectacle.  Overwhelming, exciting, eerie, and beautiful.  Clearly I don't have enough adjectives to describe the experience but it was truly breathtaking.

I didn't take my camera, and in fact photos aren't allowed during the performance anyway.  It was nice to just enjoy it without always half-thinking about capturing good images.

I had such a wonderful time.  We drove to Wellington, which takes about 4-5 hours, leaving New Plymouth about lunchtime.  It's an easy and very picturesque drive down, past the mountain and the lush rolling hills of Taranaki and then the open plains, before the hills creep up and in as we approached the Kapiti Coast.

We dropped our bags at the hotel in Raumati Beach, got changed, and headed down to Wellington.  We somehow snagged a free car park right near the venue, and then had an amazing dinner at Two Grey.  They were doing a set menu for WOW which was insanely good.  As in, I ran my finger around my plate to get every drop of the sauce.  That good.

Then the show itself was mind-blowing, and just long enough for our bums to let us know we had done a lot of sitting that day.  We got back to Raumati just before 11pm and rolled into bed for a blissful uninterrupted sleep.

I woke before the alarm (as usual) and was soon in our courtyard soaking in the solitude - just me, the birds, and my cup of tea - and watching the clouds roll overhead.  It was a real treat to just have that early morning stillness, especially when mornings at home are so frenetic.

We had a delicious breakfast at a cafe across the road from the hotel, before hitting the highway back to New Plymouth.  The rain settled in as we headed north, and I arrived home almost exactly 24 hours later.

I feel so refreshed.

I really, really needed that.

Briefly, in other news...

B has perfected his onion ring recipe.  Crisp and light as air.  And very hard to stop at one.

The various bulbs in the garden are starting to look a bit tired and are flopping everywhere.  I know I have to let them die back to feed the bulb for next year, but once that's happened I'll be digging them out.  I can't deal with how messy the dying back stage is so they'll go into pots where I can move them out of sight once they start falling over everywhere.

New growth everywhere you look.  Even my poor lily of the valley shrub which couldn't muster even one flower this winter has marshalled itself.

The maple is unbelievably pretty.

And look at this sunshine!  Don't worry - it's raining again now.  Of course it is.

I got a proper written letter from my mum, along with an article from the Weekend Australian newspaper all about Taranaki!  Number 2 region in the world to visit in 2017, people!

As you may have seen on Facebook and Instagram, we have the sweetest little calves here now.  Oh. my. GOD.  They are adorable.  And can you believe their tiny little raincoats?!  I know.  I know.

Unfortunately this means that I have re-commenced worrying excessively about their wellbeing.  I mean, I thought I worried about the older cows.  The worrying about the calves is NEXT LEVEL.  It's exhausting.

Surely farmers don't fret about their livestock this much.  Do they??

I really never expected that I would be so concerned, not just for their welfare - that's obvious - but for their wellbeing.  Are they cold?  Are they scared?  Are they dry?  They're so little.

Luckily they have one very attentive mother-figure in me, and a perhaps even more attentive one in J.  Little A loves them too but she's more inclined to screech excitedly at them.  I have to physically restrain J from trying to go in the paddock to give them "cuddles".

We're getting some chickens this week which means the menagerie will be almost complete.  Just a couple of sheep for the orchard paddock.  And possibly a dog in a year or two's time.  Oh and let's not forget a pony for J.  Maybe a couple of goldfish.  And hell, why not throw a few ducks into the mix?