Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Belligerent Parenting

In the past, I've been apprehensive about posting on parenting.  All parents feel judged by other parents, and with good reason: all parents are judged by other parents.  This is not to say that all parents are judgy, but I'm pretty sure that all parents have a moment where they think to themselves, "I wouldn't do it that way!" I know I have on occasion and I don't like that about myself.

What it comes down to, I believe, is belligerent parenting.  That is to say, parents develop a belligerent shell about the choices that they have made in raising their children for the sake of their sanity.  There are so many books on parenting out there, so many options all say "pick me, pick me, I'm the best!" and they can't all be the best as they often contradict each other.  Counter-contradict?

All children are different and none of them come with manuals.  There are manuals, however.  Plenty to choose from and buy.  Not one of them is perfectly tailored to any given child other than the one being written about.  When you do learn/discover the things to do for your child from these manuals, advice or trial and error, you're willing to fight about them (the things that work, I mean).  I'd like to tell you about some of them.  (Adrian and I are on the side of attachment parenting, which is intense, but we think has many benefits.  That is to say, we do a good deal of attachment parenting, but not all.  We aren't co-sleepers except in cases of sickness or upset.)

When our son was very, very young (when you count growth in days, not even weeks), I read a book that implied, heck it blatantly said that babies can all put themselves to sleep with no help from the get-go.  I'm the youngest and had never spent that much time trying to put newborns to sleep.  This sounded genius.  But it didn't work.  And I must admit, I never actually allowed little fellow to bellow and shriek for 10 minutes to go down.  Handily, my mother was around at this point and she helped me realise that rocking little man was a good thing.

We really did try everything that we were supposed to:  watching for sleep signs, putting him to bed right away, getting a schedule in place, rocking and patting, standing near and singing.  He needed more help.

During that very trying time, I have read some books that have really helped me understand baby sleep.  They said that some babies just need a bit of help to get to sleep.  And that's okay.  I could be belligerent about my son needing help to sleep when people looked askance at us rocking him, holding him, "coddling" him beyond the "appropriate" time.

He sleeps well now.  He still wakes up at night for a few reasons.  Wet bum.  Teeth hurt.  Bad dream.  Wants his parents because a) he's lonely, b) he's scared, c) he's a sinner.  I go to him.  If I'm exhausted, my dear husband goes to him.  He settles easily.  It's the choice we've made as parents.  It's not always easy.  And he can (and has) sleep (slept) through the night.

Our son received nothing else to eat except for breastmilk, directly from me from newborn to 6 months.  Sure, it was difficult.  I could never be away from him for more than a few hours, and it had to be around the feeding schedule.  I've never pumped and dumped.  I don't actually understand how breast pumps work.  We have no bottles.  He was comfort fed at times, though I did generally pay attention to the clock.

Even when he was 6 months and had "started" solids, he wouldn't really take any rice cereal in 'til about 7 months.

We very slowly started him on different foods.  I tried to do the whole new-food-every-three-or-four-days thing and wasn't always successful, so while most of his friends were eating plenty, he was still learning about fooding.

It hasn't stopped his appetite and now you wouldn't know the difference.  Except he hates pasta.  Who hates pasta?

I wanted to feed him until 18 months or so, but didn't think that through and when I got pregnant realized that I didn't want to put myself into a tandem feeding situation.  Plus, I was eating all day long to maintain livingness and was still losing weight.

We waited til after we got home from Canada to wean him.  Then I cut out day feeds and then night.  Comfort feeding and night snuggling made our travelling much easier.  It made flights less painful for his ears and was an easy remedy.  He got a bad ear infection while we were there and sometimes that's all he would eat.  It was really hard on me, but I'm incredibly glad that we did it that way.

He was weaned at about 14 months.  Adrian would go to him at night.  Sometimes that would work, sometimes it wouldn't.  But now he's quite done being fed by me and we can cuddle again at night or in the day, no problems.

Toilet Training
Watch this space.  Haven't gotten there yet!  We're in the preliminaries (sitting on the cool cars seat before bath.  But he doesn't seem to know why.)

These are things that we do with our son.  This is how we are raising him.  Sometimes we'll learn something new or read something which will change our thinking about something.

I'm not saying that we have it right and you have it wrong.  This is what works for us, and I'd probably fight for your parenting choices too, even if they contradict mine if someone was attacking you.  Parenting is hard enough without all the backlash and fear of judgment from other people.  Be firm in your decisions.  Know why you are doing them.  Do what is right for your baby and your family.  And if you're interested in any of the books I've read (and partially ignored, I'm sure.  I've even thrown a few out that I didn't like at all) feel free to ask.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Okay, so I've talked about food and cooking a lot as of late.  There are many reasons for this:
  1. I'm hungry all the time as I'm pregnant.
  2. Cooking/baking is my main hobby.
  3. I enjoy this hobby and try to not complain on the internet about things I don't like doing, so you hear about it.
  4. It's an adventure to see what the small child will eat and when.  He has no problem with cheese or fresh vegetables, but it's interesting to see which meat will be okay.
  5. I find it interesting to read about food and find recipes, so I think I should share them, but mostly I share that I'd like to share them.
Today, that last reason changes.  Here are recipes (and some pictures) of recent food projects in the house.  The kitchen really.  Where I spend much of my time barefoot and pregnant.  Although, to be fair, I'm pregnant everywhere.  Barefoot too.

There are a lot of similarities to these foods as they are an attempt to get vegetables and meat into one small person.

Sausage Rolls
Sausage mince (that's the filling for traditional sausages)
An egg
Seasoning (I usually use herbamare)
Mustard, dijon or hot (optional)
Puff pastry (about 4 sheets, but it really depends on the amount of filling you've made)

Grate the vegetables finely, add the mince, breadcrumbs and seasoning to achieve a dryish texture, add the egg to bind it all together.  Cut puff pastry in half, and make ropes of sausage which you lay across the middle.  Then roll them up into cylinders, cut in half and bake at 200 C for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and meat is nicely cooked.

You can also throw in a can of peas, carrots and corn or whatever other vegetables you're trying to hide.  I just love celery, carrot and zucchini.

A very wonderful lady called Odesa gave me this recipe.  Odesa, nothing compares 2 u.

Easy dough
A container of sour cream

Add flour to sour cream and knead until you achieve a nice stretchy dough.  It was around this point when I thought, hmm, I don't have a lot of dough for the amount of filling I have...

Fried onion, 1 cup before frying
6 Potatoes, I used 3 royal blue and three white
Fried bacon, crumbled
Grated cheese
Frozen spinach blocks

Boil potatoes and spinach.  Drain off water, add other ingredients and mash, mash, mash or blend, blend, blend.

Cut the dough into circles, fill to full and stretch the dough to close, pinch firmly.  Drop in boiling water.  They should float soon.  If they don't float, they aren't fully closed and are turning to gloop.  Rescue them quickly.

After they have all boiled and dried, fry in butter and serve with sausage and sour cream.  Or in my husband's case, hot sauce.  I ended up having about three times as much filling as needed, so made puff pastry circles and baked those perogies, rather like pasties.  And with the leftovers, I made mashed potato patties.

Left, pergoies. Right, pasties.
Homemade Pizza and Garlic Fingers
I got the recipe from here and aside from hand kneading and using 2 cups of whole wheat flour and one of white, I followed the recipe.  It really does work well.  I made pizza from scratch again last night and my son clapped when it came to the table.  That's good for one's soul.  For toppings, we use any and all of the following: salami, green olives, grated/chopped zucchini, grated carrot, sliced capsicum (red), fried tomatoes, basil leaves, swiss brown mushrooms, bocconcini balls, mozzarella, leftover roasted vegetables, etc.

Garlic Cheese Fingers
This is not my recipe to share, but I had to show them off.  They popped out of the pan while baking and I thought they might amuse Vanessa who gave me the delicious recipe to begin with.  It was a nice night with roast beef and vegetables.  Little fellow even ate a yorkshire!

They look more like popovers than when I made popovers, oddly enough
Chicken Nuggets
This is the little fellow's favourite, so I make them every week.  I try different things sometimes, like crumbing them in polenta, but apparently we all hate polenta.

General breading mixture
Panko breadcrumbs
A pinch of salt and pepper
Italian herbs

Cut two chicken breasts into small pieces.  Dip in flour.  Dip in beaten egg.  Dip in breadcrumb mixture.  Pan fry until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.

Chicken Nuggets.
On the left they are dipped in panko crumbs, the right, wholewheat crumbs
Back in the day, I would have used a similar breading (but with paprika) on beaten chicken breasts, to be used as schnitzels or (once fried) topped with freshly chopped tomatoes, onion and garlic, more seasoning and a bit of pasta sauce and heaped with mozzarella and cheddar, baked in the oven for half an hour.

I do miss grown up food sometimes.  I could really go for some spinach cannelloni today.

White Fish, often Snapper 
Ruby is the best, but Queen's good too.  Okay, Orange Roughy is the best, but I'm not allowed to have it.
This is another breading mixture I use a lot.  It started as a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Extra virgin olive oil
The juice and zest from a lemon
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Dip, dip, dip, fry.  Make tartar sauce.  Yum.

Rissoles/ Hamburger Patties
500 grams of ground beef (beef mince)
Finely chopped broccoli florets
Grated carrot
Finely diced onion

Mix all together.  Shape into patties.  Pan fry or barbecue until cooked through.  The little fellow ate these on Tuesday.  It was the first time he'd eaten hamburgers or rissoles.  Felt like Christmas.

And that, my friends, is that.  

(The photos aren't great, I usually take them really quickly when we're half done as I remembered that wanted to put them up.  Plates by IKEA.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tas-mania: Hobart

The view from over there, looking towards Hobart

When we stayed in Tasmania last October, we stayed in a suburb called "Lindisfarne" (possible pronunciation, "Wooster").  It was just on the other side of the bridge from Hobart.  It was a lovely place (Possums), up a ridiculously steep hill that I would hate to attempt in a standard.

We loved our time in Hobart.  It was such a relaxing time.  It's a lovely little city, with buckets of history and tiny brick buildings meant to keep out the wind and the wet.  We took ourselves on a walking tour, which started in Battery Park (I believe that's the older section).  Our walk took us past tiny cafes and bakeries and we put our holidaying spirit into gear, stopping at as many as possible so we could try all of the local flavours.

May I just say, very much yum to the local flavours.  We ended up going back to this one bakery a couple of times.  Everything looked amazing and the coffee was spectacular.  Hey, I could drink coffee then...

Our walk took us through Arthur Circus, which is a roundabout with tiny little houses on it.

Arthur Circus

We walked to Princes' Park and ended up at the bottom of a hill at the Salamanca gardens.  Maps are great, and I'm a pretty good navigator, if I do say so myself, so we'd planned out the walk before we got down there.

Salamanca Market
As it was a weekday, the markets weren't bustling, but the shops were still interesting and varied in their style.  Tasmania seems sort of old world and special to me, so I was hoping for a souvenir that reflected that, but would you believe old world and special is also expensive?

We headed back up the hill to rescue our car as the parking time was almost up.  As we walked up the hill, we tried to remember exactly where we parked it.  And what colour it was.  Good times with rental cars.

It was found easily and we moved over to the CBD, which was not far at all.  Hobart is built right next to the harbour.  We happily walked most of the day, sadly losing our squeaky friend Sophie somewhere.  Adrian's glasses had busted and a man from Seattle fixed them.  He and I agreed that the best salmon is from Seattle, but Tasmania's is pretty good too!

Oh, the fish... we ate fish our first night there, just fish and chips takeaway and, my! it was delicious!  Flounder, I think.

I can't remember where this was

We went to Mures one night as well, which I highly recommend. Everything that we ate had been caught that day and fresh fish is incredible.

Fish and chip wagons

They have these cute little fish and chip wagons which are actually boats.  Unfortunately we ran out of meals before we managed to eat at one.  Next time.

I'm sure I had more to tell you, but I've forgotten.  It's been awhile.

Oh, we couldn't find little fellows socks the first morning and he had to brave the cool temps (15 C) wearing his mother's.  Upon taking a wrong turn, or as we navigators call it "the scenic route", we stumbled across a baby store and fixed that, only to find many of little fellows socks easily when we got home.  We'd also found coffee and to my knowledge, there is not bad coffee in Hobart.

We went to a cheese factory for lunch the one day.... Just a moment while I remember what eating brie is like....  Soon.

Mount Wellington

(That's the thing to look forward to with birth, right?  The food that you get to eat after?  Except not anything that could hurt baby's belly.  I have a dream day.  I wake up at 10 am, have three coffees, 2 margaritas, eat olives and soft cheeses and then go back to bed.  I told this dream to a single male friend of ours and he didn't understand.  He said it sounded like depression.  Not depression, it's deprivation.  Anywho...)

Cool rocks up high

So go to Tasmania and experience the delicious and beautiful place for yourself.  Be swept up in the mania!  And go to Mount Wellington.  We did, but I'm not writing about it.   It was lovely (and cold! Hooray!).

Hobart from Mount Wellington

[First joke, stolen from D. Barry.  That is to say, Dave, not Diana as she is fictional.]

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tas-mania: Richmond

(Given that the Tasmania visit was nearly a year ago, I should probably finish the posts...)

The Bridge in Richmond

We didn't spend much time in Richmond, so I can't tell you too much about it.  I can tell you that it wasn't a goth living in the basement, helping with IT.  Like much of our Tasmanian adventure, it had a beautiful pastoral feel and we drove up to it via a windy road between green spaces and tempting (but ignored) wineries.

In Richmond is the oldest continually used Roman Catholic church in Australia.  There's also the oldest still used bridge, and handily they were beside each other.

The Catholic Church and Bridge

Adrian spent some time getting good shots of the lovely views, little fellow and I sat around (and given that he was solely mommy-fed at the time, probably he ate).

There was also a very pretty Anglican church there.

We didn't get much time there; it was at the end of an already long day but it was worth the trip and, I think, worth a second trip to see all that Richmond really has to offer.

The Inside of the Catholic Church

Friday, August 17, 2012

Celebrate Good Times

On Monday of this week, I finished a project that I've been working on for two years.  And by finished, I mean, I got to a very important milestone.

I was very excited.

I had actually been planning a blog post that I would put up when this joyous time occurred.  It went like this:


But instead, I hung out with my husband, ate some celebratory ice cream and fruit, and went to bed.

There is something important that one should do upon accomplishing something, and that is to celebrate.  And quickly.  None of this, "oh, I'll go and get a pedicure next week" nonsense, because the thrill is over, the day is done and often the celebratory occasion is neglected completely and not just diminished.

I learned this from a friend of mine who has a masters in Russian literature.  Surely, there is much to celebrate there.

So the very next day, we had a coffee out.  This is not an infrequent thing, but still special and quite the most delicious hot chocolate I'd had in awhile.  We bought an A&W rootbeer.  Very exciting as it is imported and on the pricy side.  We even consumed it.

Okay, so it wasn't a huge celebration, but to be fair, it's only a milestone and not the whole thing done.  A very important milestone.  More of a 10 mile stone or something.  And celebratory drinks tend to be alcoholed, which is unacceptable at this time.

At any rate, this is the important part:


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


We all of us have a calling. Several callings, really, that apply to different aspects of our lives.  At this time my prevailing vocations are those of stay-at-home mother and housewife.

Because these are my primary callings, I often find myself immersed in chores that are not my favourite.  I've never been too keen on laundry or dishes.  Ironing isn't the bees knees.  But I have learned to be content and even joyful when I do them (and try to stop griping) as doing them is part of the other thing that is so wonderful.

It is a great opportunity to spend so much time with my young son whilst growing our second child.  I get to help our son learn and grow.  I get to see all little developments and changes.  It's truly amazing, even while being tiring and rather difficult.

I don't always do the best job at my callings.  I grump about dishes, growl about reading the same book for the 11th time in a row, complain that I just mopped the floor 2 hours ago and look at it! and whinge that I'm too tired to make dinner and wouldn't we all prefer takeaway?  And worst of all, I get frustrated that my primary callings supersede the less important ones, which I'll be honest, are sometimes more fun and rewarding.

There was a day when, standing at the sink washing another load of dishes, I had a realization that I was abhoring my God-given tasks.  When I whinge and wish and wonder why I don't get to do other things, I'm taking for granted all of the blessings that God has richly poured into my life, like the fact that we have enough to plan different dinners and the plates are dirty because we are full.

There are parts to every vocation that aren't fun.  That's not the point.  The point is, we are called to do them.  It's hard for us to remember this in a self-centered, super-instant-gratification society, its how it goes.  If the crap is not shovelled from the elephant stall, who's going to want to ride him?

So I encourage you to embrace the difficult parts of your callings.  Learn to love them in silly ways, even if it's just seeing them done!  For example, some parts of my callings are frustrating or difficult for me, so I relish the fun bits.  I love cooking and baking and continue to experiment and play despite the extra dishes that come along with them.  And Adrian always appreciates my efforts, even if the little fellow does not.  In fact, cooking and cookbooks have become my primary hobby.  I have no time to read books (because I am one of those people who just wants to read 'til they are done), but I can peruse a cookbook.

There are also amazing and wonderful parts to vocation.  I love my little boy cuddles and hugs and the silly times we have.  It's heart-filling and so fantastic.  So many other wonderful things as well...

Most vocations are in part transitory.  I won't always be a stay-at-hom mom, even if there will always be dishes.  Keep going, you can do it!