Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My best picture

This is my new favourite photo of me. Joodles took it - he's totally into taking pictures these days, and usually they're a blur with a thumb across the top, but every now and then, they work out. He is three years old, after all. Every time - whether it's with a play camera or the real one - he says, "That's a lovely picture!" afterward. It's awesome. Please note the scraped-but-not-yet-plastered-or-painted wall, the cooler that's been sitting there since Christmas because there's no room in the basement, the container of wilted, compost-bound spinach, and the empty peanut-butter jar. It's the little things, you know.

I like this photo because I look like a Nice Mom in it, not the Ill-Tempered Cranky Mom I often am. It's been ten years since I've had a full-night's sleep, and six years since I had a job outside the house. I've been either pregnant or breastfeeding or both since roughly New Year's Day, 2008. I live on coffee and discarded sandwich crusts.

I'm knackered.

I've been talking about motherhood a lot lately, with the moms at playgroup, with the parents of Miss B's peers, with anyone who'll listen because being a mother is pretty much all I do these days. I've been inspired by Melanie's recent posts on the topic. Not that any of us are coming up with anything revolutionary, more just that we're becoming able to admit that being an at-home parent, while tremendously rewarding, is also mind-numbingly tedious.

I think it takes a while in the trenches to be okay with talking about the incredible tedium of parenting. In the early days, with a new baby, there's the shock of responsibility, the daily heartbreak of immeasurable love, the physical and mental exhaustion, the pride, the confusion, all that. It's okay to talk about it being hard, but it takes a while - and, for some of us, a few more kids - to admit that it can be so, so boring.

Not all the time, obviously. We have fun, we snuggle and read books and watch movies and bake muffins. My kids are hilarious and sweet. But they - especially the boys, being of preschool age - ask questions relentlessly, often at the same time, and generally unrelated to each other (Cha: "Why are dinosaur bones under the dirt? How did the animals in the museum get dead? Is it a Grandma day? Do we have anything sweet to eat? What about maybe some chocolate? Why don't we have any chocolate? Can I have a vitamin?" Joodles: "Can I play with the cookie cutters? Remember when Twilight and Trixie were wearing those amulets? Do you have a hammer? Do you have a screwdriver? Do you have a miter saw? Does Daddy have a miter saw? Does Uncle Don have a miter saw? Is that Nanny's car?" AT THE SAME TIME.) Miss B has deep emotional needs, being a swoony, melancholy, head-in-the-clouds nine-year-old, and Pickle needs all the things babies need.

Then there's the tedium of the things that I hear come out of my mouth over and over every day. Did you brush your teeth? You have to brush your teeth. Where did you put your sneakers? Stop hitting your brother. Stop kicking your brother. Give the truck back to your brother, please. Watch out for the baby. Remember that the baby is sleeping! Please don't climb on that. Put that back, please. Snacktime is soon. Lunchtime is soon. Suppertime is soon. No, you don't have to eat it. No, if you don't like it you don't have to eat it. Pick that up, please. Blah blah blaaaaaaah.

I remember, from when I was a kid, my mother's exasperated refrain of, "My God, I sound like a broken record!" Since it was the 1980s, I understood this as "I'm repeating the same line,ad infinitum, like a scratched vinyl LP." My kids, being of the electronic generation, think I mean that I've actually broken my personal record for ceaseless nagging. I think they're proud of their role in this small but significant triumph.

I have tried my best to stop nagging, and believe me, I've reeled it back. I don't yell as much as I used to, either (I'm not going to lie, I'm a yeller). But I'm certainly not a delight all the time. Not that I feel that I need to be, just that it's important to admit, as parents, that we can be just as unpleasant as our children.

My best tool has been getting out of the house with the kids. I'm much better behaved when we're out, and so are they. I used to think that this was because I feared the judgment of strangers and so kept myself in line, but I've realized it's just that I'm an extrovert, and I'm more comfortable and happy when I'm surrounded by other people (other adult people, not the kidlets). When I'm happy, they're happy. Even if we're just at the park, in proximity to random strangers walking dogs, or to a gym class from the private school getting some fresh air, I feel better. I don't even need to talk to them, I just need to know they're there, and I feel more human.

All this to say, I suppose, that it's encouraging to see a photo of me being Nice Mom, because it proves that the kids see me that way, at least now and then. I'm probably not as much of an ogre as I sometimes think I am (especially on those wonderful headbutting days, when I manage to sink to the level of a four-year-old). Not just a good mom - which I know I am, and I don't mind admitting it - but a nice, pleasant, fun, relaxed mom.

Look! Not grumpy at all!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Pickle turned one on Wednesday, much to everyone's surprise. Wasn't she just born not that long ago? How can she be a year old when she's such a wee tiny thing, cruising along the edges of the furniture in her six-month clothes? Such a dainty little pixie, but able to give as good as she gets from her two big brothers. 

(Pardon our lack of kitchen ceiling. Renovations never end around here.)

We had all available family over for a little lunch today to celebrate. Crustless quiche with ham, havarti, local field greens, chives. Beet-carrot salad with beets and carrots from Lester's and green onions and dill from our CSA share. Potatoes and fruit and bacon.

She does like the helicopter the boys gave her. In her delight, she whacked herself in the head with it. She made a quick recovery, though.

And there was cake, naturally. A flourless almond Swiss roll with Chantilly cream and strawberries. The cake recipe itself came from my old copy of The Joy of Cooking, and it's super easy and tasty - it's just eggs, almond meal, a little sugar, and vanilla. It turned out bigger than I had expected, and eggier. I think eggs today are a lot larger than they were in 1974. But what odds, it was delicious. I would love to do it again with a citrusy curd filling. I'd never made a rolled cake before, but there's nothing to it; you just turn your big rectangle of cake out onto a clean tea towel while it's still hot, and roll the whole thing up, then let it cool on a rack. When you're ready to fill it, gently unroll, slather your filling on, then re-roll it without the tea towel. I think that description makes it sound harder than it really is, actually. You'll have to trust me.

It was a hit with everyone except Joodles, who really doesn't care much for cake.

Ah, Pickle. She's such a delightful little creature. Today she vroomed her first fire truck. She'll be walking any time now. She waves "good-bye" and "hello" and babbles incessantly. She has four sharp little teeth (the top ones have just broken through) and she likes playing with containers, eating handfuls of dirt, and peeling the skins off onions with her tiny little baby fingers. Not the worst hobbies, I suppose. Her siblings adore her. Everyone adores her, actually. And she likes everyone, as long as she's in my arms or Hubby C's when people address her. She's particular about that.

Happy first birthday, my dear little imp! Thanks for completing our family!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An afternoon at the park

It was nice. Summer weather is lovely. Picnics are my favourite.

(It was Pickle's first time in the swing. She was pleased. Tomorrow is her birthday. How about that?)

Monday, January 7, 2013


I don't normally go in for matchy-matchy, as a rule. But I made an exception. I had ordered this sweet bird print to make a wee dress for Pickle. Then Miss B saw it, and loved it.

I had only ordered half a yard: plenty for a baby dress, not enough for much of anything for a nine-year-old. So I split the fabric up. (Pardon the lack of ironing and the odd stray thread in the photos. I snag my pics when I can, and there's not a whole lot of time for styling these days.)

I found this slate-coloured corduroy at the fabric store, and used some purple velvet ribbon I had on hand, and voila, matching girls.

Pickle's dress closes with a single button in the back. Miss B's skirt has a plain elastic waist.

(Again: pay no attention to the loose threads. )

Pickle's feet are far too interesting for her to look up at the camera. But those cheeks are magnificent, aren't they?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's a whole new year

Here we are. It's still Christmas at our house (and in much of Newfoundland) until Old Christmas Day on January 6th, because we like to kick it old-school. So the tree goes up on the winter solstice (new this year: celebrating the solstice with walnut-orange suns and chocolate moons) and comes down now in a few more days. It's a bit of a cultural mish-mash, perfectly suited to our family.

It's been a lovely holiday season, with a select few party appearances, and lots of cozying up at home. The weather has been windy and wet, and we've been holed up with new toys. A marching band kit. Two different pirate ships. Wooden skittles. Flashlights. A kazoo and a slide whistle. Dress-up clothes (postman, pirate, outlaw, king). Miss B has books stacked up to her eyeballs and a long-coveted pair of boots. Pickle has many toasty sweaters and lots of jingly and shaky and chompy things.

Christmas Eve pyjamas were handmade this year: flannel pants for the boys (same old excellent kid pants, with the pattern arranged so that I didn't have to sew the side seams), with matching animals appliqued to some warm, waffly undershirts, and a peasanty situation for Miss B.

The kids were so happy. They still are. Miss B is currently visiting her dad's family in Ontario, and we miss her. We made another batch of marshmallows for when she comes home on Friday.

(Homemade marshmallows dipped in milk chocolate and toasted coconut are another tradition. So tasty. So messy. Once the dipping is done, I take the leftover coconut, stir it into the leftover chocolate, add a handful of raisins, and make some manner of delicious chocolate bark. It is magnificent.)

And now here we are: 2013. I don't generally make New Year's resolutions. I'm not one for grand gestures, and making life-changing decisions on a day so fraught with meaning and symbolism just isn't my style. Plus, I'm perfectly content with my lot right now, and can't think of much to change. I do have two things I'd like to work on, though:
: : Eat some lunch. I spend all this time making great lunches for the kids (well, great lunches for Miss B, and boy-pleasing lunches for the boys), then spend my day subsiding on sandwich crusts, handfuls of chocolate chips, and tea. Not exactly awesome.
: : Do some selfish sewing and spiff up my wardrobe, because these days my closet is looking grim. I spend all my sewing time making things for the kids who really don't care all that much, and no time making/refashionng/mending my own clothes. I must fix this.

And that's about it. I think this is going to be a good year. Maybe I'll even blog a little more often, hey?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November bouquet

Usually, November is second only to April in terms of meteorological rottenness, but this year things are different. On my way back from the compost this morning I picked and ate three alpine strawberries, one huge raspberry, and the last of the cherry tomatoes. I also gathered up the last of the flowers - dwarf cosmos, calendula, sweet peas, nasturtiums, violas, nicotiana, crimson-flowered broad beans - before they all freeze tomorrow.

The last couple weeks have been busy with nothing in particular, just busy. Quiet busy. Busy wiping noses, busy planning Christmas, busy making a mess and cleaning it up and making a mess again.

I made some of these, from this recipe, but I changed a few things. I used 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4 cup applesauce instead of all butter, reduced the total sugar to 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar, used 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup white. I only had quick oats on hand, so I used those, and reduced them to 1 1/2 cups so the bars wouldn't be too dry. Plus I added 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds. They were yummy.

Play dough and cookie cutters. Bliss.

We made doughnuts. Some day, I'll tell you all about my lovely doughnut maker. For the record, this is a regular-sized doughnut on a saucer, not a gargantuan doughnut on a dinner plate. In case you were worried/intrigued.

Hubby C is going out of town for work for four days and three nights, leaving me to navigate meals and bedtimes single-handed. I must sit down now and plan out suppers and lunches, otherwise it will be a long stretch of buttered noodles around here. Not that buttered noodles aren't sublime, in their way, but I should at least attempt to get these children to eat the odd vegetable, I suppose.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Handmade weekend

It was at the same time busy and not busy. Dance class, shopping with Grandma, and a Girl Guides hike for Miss B, a meeting and then yoga and groceries for me, a friend's birthday party then an outing with Daddy for Cha-bear. Joodles and Pickle along for the ride, with no social engagements of their own just yet. Somehow, amid all this, the weekend still seemed leisurely. Pretty calm, aside from two boys who are still pretending to be knights and bashing each other with swords.

I wasn't able to get out to buy anything for our little birthday friend last week, so we were gift-less come Friday night. Rather than rush to a shop on Saturday for a gift, I made this  sweet purple velvet crown for her (she's a very dress-uppy young lady). The velvet is from an old thrifted skirt, the rick-rack and flower are ancient, and the ribbon was in my stash. I'm so pleased with it.

No wrapping paper? No problem.

My meeting was a pot-luck, so I made some orange-date scones.

Sunday morning was crisp and beautiful, and required cinnamon buns.

See that? It's Miss B's long-overdue nightgown. Finally finished! I'm a little embarrassed at how long it took, considering that it's pretty much the easiest pattern ever. She loves it, and would live in it if I let her.

Wooly babies. Pickle's hat is the standard-issue woolen baby cap that my midwife knits while her clients labour. Seriously, the hats just fly out of her hands (she knits lots of other things, too...). You can spot the midwife babies all around town by their hats.

I also made a lovely pair of Big Butt Baby Pants for Pickle's big cloth diaper bum. I think I'll try to make another pair this afternoon. I love them so much.

How was your weekend?