Since the start of the year we’ve celebrated four birthdays (out of five) in the family.
Mine was in January, where I made my own birthday cake, carefully selected by the boys from the Womens’ Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Cookbook. It was the swimming pool cake, which I last had for my 12th Birthday, but this time I made do with what we had at home: packet red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, blue jelly, and Lego men as the swimmers. It looked a bit scary but tasted delicious and as you can see from the picture below, the kids were mesmerised.
Most recently it was Brian’s birthday. It’s always a simple request: ” chocolate”. Easily done. This year I made a chocolate mud cake in the Thermomix (new favourite gadget), with whipped cream icing and sprinkles. oh, it was good. And ask you can see, it caused the same response from the kids and the other cake!
We had parties for Archer and Violet two weeks apart (their birthdays are really six weeks apart but that’s just the way it worked out with grandparents away on the real date). Almost a year ago Archer has requested a ‘green car party”, so that’s what I delivered – a green car party with guests dressed in green, traffic light jellies and fruit kebabs, Tiny Teddy race cars and of course a green car cake (with Wagon Wheel wheels and liquorice racing stripes). Archer had a great time and had his “best friend” from preschool over. He got lots of new cars as gifts.
Violet’s party was an afternoon tea party. Seems I got a little bit obsessed with doilies since decorating her bedroom with doily bunting before she was born. So the party continued the obsession with more doily bunting, lace tablecloths, doily biscuits and a purple fondant doily cake. As we did with the boys, we invited lots of friends and family to celebrate the first year. It was such a lovely way to catch up with family, new friends and friends from our old church. It was a beautiful afternoon, and we felt so blessed to have such love and support shown to our little girl. Violet had her first piece of cake and followed it up the next day with her first word….”cake”!
The next birthday is not until October and the request thus far is for a rainbow cake. Let’s see if he sticks to his guns again this year!
It’s been an age (or so it feels when the small people in my house seem to have doubled in size) since I last posted something.
It has not been for lack of want. I have wanted to write plenty, however there seem to have been so many things that have taken that place. Life is busy! And for the most part that is a good thing, but I really want to remember what’s been going on in the busyness, while those small people I mentioned have been busy growing. I’m sad not to have written down everything that’s happened in the past few months, but I’ve decided I may as well just get on with it and start writing things down again rather than feeling sorry about it!
Part of the reason I haven’t written is that I spent a lot of time deciding if I should continue blogging. I mean, my blog shares nothing profound, it doesn’t have a special focus, it’s not controversial…..it’s not even uniformly presented. I’m not a “blogger”, and although I’m a mum I don’t fit the “mummy blogger” image I have in my head – the reason I started this blog was simply to keep a record of my family life as we grow together, as well as sharing some projects and other things I’m interested in too, and if anyone else (probably just friends and family) is interested then they can enjoy reading them too. I decided to make the blog private (so if you’re reading this, I feel very honoured that you are interested in our little lives) instead of canning it all together. Also, with Finn starting big-school it seemed like a good time to share family stuff only with a select group, I want the kids to be able to read this one day and be encouraged by it, and hopefully not be too embarrassed! I really try to share mainly positive, happy memories of our family life, not because we don’t have negative or cringeworthy ones (believe me, we certainly have them) but another reason I started writing them down was to help me to focus on the good days we have, so I can read back over them on a bad day (you know, the ones when you can’t see out from the cloud!)
So, I’ve taken the first step and finally put fingers to keypad! If you’re reading along with me, thanks for coming!
With all the comings and goings of the past couple of months I’m only just getting round to catching up on big events, like celebrating Jesus’ birth at Christmas.
We moved house just a few weeks before Christmas day, so our usual traditions weren’ quite as extensive as usual (I still cant find my big advent calendar bunting…). We did keep up with most of the traditions through, and created some new ones.
In the lead up to moving, the boys spent some time staying with each set of Grandparents for a few days so we could pack up. While they stayed with my parents (and while I was there too), we visited David Jones and the boys each picked a decoration for the tree. They each picked a miniature snow-globe and then enjoyed a babycino and gingerbread man with Grandpa – a lovely treat!
We shared Christmas lunch with our lovely neighbours (who we are so sad to live away from). They had presents for us under their tree which the boys VERY excitedly discovered and unwrapped.
After we moved in, Brian was sent out to pick our first (hopefully of many) real Christmas tree. After carting it out of the car and getting it upright and firmly standing in its holder the boys and I….well, mostly me…got to work decorating it. The smell was amazing!
[Disclaimer: I’ve put in the next paragraph because I had a few people ask me what we do as a family surrounding Santa. This is what we do so far (with very young kids), what they have retained so far and what they will continue to learn remains to be seen…]
We don’t ‘do’ Santa, instead we are teaching the kids about St Nicholas, who was a Christian man, motivated by his love for Jesus, who gave underprivileged children things they needed at Christmas (yes, it’s a very abridged version….). Our kids get a present from us (we give because God first gave to us), and they receive things they ‘need’ in their ‘St Nicholas sacks’ (undies, drink bottle, stationary….and a card game or small toy). Having said all that….this year we did a Santa photo. As a once off with the three kids. How do we explain all the Santas in the shops? – people dress up in the St Nicholas (Santa) costume at Christmas to remind us of his generous giving that sprung from a love of Christ. Overall, we are trying to teach the kids that Christmas is about celebrating the gift of Jesus being born as a gift to humans so we can know God (i.e. It’s not about them).
As usual, I baked a lot of gingerbread..this year the boys helped too (and loved it!).
We went back for Finn’s preschool graduation and Christmas concert, and despite being away for three weeks, he jumped back into the songs from the front (albeit standing still for lots of it), I was so proud of him for being part of it all.
We went to carols! What a fantastic way to experience a new community – with several hundred people singing and celebrating! We loved it! And Finn loved being able to read all the words to the carols in his song book.
Every Christmas Eve we have a birthday cake to celebrate Jesus’ birth. This year the boys helped me make a ridiculously complicated (but very tasty) chocolate mousse cake. After mucking up the base three times we finally got there. We sang happy birthday and blew out a big candle and read the account of Jesus’ birth from the gospel of Luke.
I took the kids to the Christmas Eve family service (in their PJs). Again, they were VERY excited, especially by being able to sing along to Colin Buchanan songs and see ‘Rescue Dude’ talking about the real super hero of Christmas; Jesus.
Christmas day was a great celebration. Violet opened her first present (a big Sophie la Girafe), and seemed to instinctively know what to do with the wrapping. The boys loved finding their presents under the tree and were busting to play with them.
We spent Christmas day with my side of the family, including my Nanna. We ate ham (lots of ham), salad and pavlova and the boys smashed the gingerbread house to bits so we continued to eat way too much sugar!
Boxing Day we spent with Brian’s side of the family. The cousins had lots of fun playing together and showing each other their new toys.
Well, I think that covers our ‘festive season’. If you read this far, thanks!
We have said “goodbye” to one church family and “hello” to another. Brian finished one job and started a new position. We packed up the house we lived in for the past four years and moved 60 kilometres away to a new house. Finn graduated from his beautiful preschool and is getting ready to start ‘big school’, Archer learned to use the toilet (among other things) and Violet learned to sit up and is trying to commando crawl. And me…well, I’ve been along for the ride too: carrying, packing, etc.
Like I said, it’s been busy!
So I’ll start with saying “goodbye”. Goodbyes are never easy. We have made some wonderful friendships, partnerships and brothers and sisters in Christ since being a part of St Aidan’s church. We were blessed to have great opportunities to commemorate that time during the end of November and start of December.
Saying goodbye also meant packing up to move house (something I hope not to repeat for a LONG time). We have a lot of stuff!! As noble as my intentions were to cull as I went, I still ended up shoving things in boxes at the last minute! Thanks to our parents for minding the boys while we packed and during the moving day, so we could settle in to the new house. And thanks to Pete and Mark for helping us pack….and pack and pack, and move and unpack!!
Saying “Hello!”. With great excitement we have moved into our fantastic new house, been warmly welcomed to a new church community and Brian has started his new Assistant Minister job there. We are so thankful for this community and this new opportunity to serve God. We are all unpacked and feeling at home with all the toys set up and the fruits of my months of ‘Gumtree-furniture-accumulation’ being put to good use in the house. The boys are enjoying being outdoors *all* the time and I am enjoying the fact that they will go play outside without me having to be right the there on top of them! Violet is enjoying having more floor space (without boxes everywhere) to roll around and try to grab things.
Finn finished up preschool a few weeks before the end of term but returned for the final day which was a Christmas concert and graduation. St Mark’s has been a really great environment for him: a small, single class preschool with very committed, loving teachers who have gone above and beyond the call in terms of meeting his needs. He has learned so much while he has been there. The kids are all going to different schools next year, which brings me to the next point which was getting ready for big school. After several days of orientation and round robin sports activities in November and December, we purchased school uniforms a few days ago. It is amazing how grown up a uniform makes someone look. Finn was really excited to be kitted up and is looking forward to starting in a couple of weeks. I can’t believe it’s nearly time – that journey is about to begin!
Archer was fairly upset not to have his own uniform to wear to preschool (to the point of tears) but is very excited to have his own back pack and new green lunch box to take when he starts in a week and a half (that’s right, a week and a half). I’m not sure I’m going to know what to do with myself while he is out of the house for two days a week. It’ll be me and the little lady! Another big milestone, but I know he is going to love it. He is delighting in being a “big boy” who has mastered the potty (and the big toilet when we go out), who helps me cook and who is eagerly anticipating his “green car party” in a few months when he turns 3!
Violet is 8 months old and is sitting up all by herself, strong and tall, starting to wave and is getting much more vocal. She has taken the move in her stride and is still delighting in everything and anything, as long as Mummy or Daddy are around.
I think that will do for a start of a catch up! Until next time…
It’s been a while between posts! What have I been up to? Hmmm where to begin? Well there has been a lot of cake ( and the associated events where said cakes were devoured) so let’s start there!
We kicked off September with our godson Reuben’s baptism. Such a privilege to be asked to play some part in his growth as a child of Jesus throughout his life, and such a special day to spend together. We are god parent’s to Reuben’s brothers also and their parents, Mark and Rachael, are our kids’ god parents. We treasure our friendship with them! Rachael’s sister Tanya made the baptism cake with a blue and orange theme, featuring some of the roses from Mark and Rachael’s wedding cake. Tanya has done this for each of the boys and it is such a lovely tradition and always looks beautiful.
The next celebration was my dear friend Ella’s son Angus’ first birthday. I made the birthday boy a monkey cake, with crunchy Co-Co Pops fur and Wagon Wheel ears. I love first birthday parties – the seem to be much more for the parents – like a “congratulations, you made it through the first year” celebration – it was great to see some old friends. The kids had a lot of fun too…and a lot of chocolate crackles!
Our next big do was Holly and James’ wedding. Oh it was delightful! Every detail was considered and executed beautifully, the sun was shining, the bride and groom were radiant! What really struck me was the couples’ deep commitment to each other and to Christ. Brian did the wedding and sermon and spoke a very personal message of Christ-like commitment to James and Holly.
The reception was at the State Library, which was the perfect venue for the book loving couple. I love a wedding where you learn more about the two families – this one delivered! I really enjoyed spending some time with some very special friends from church who I am going to miss terribly when we move on at the end of the year.
Miss Violet wore one of my old dresses and was a little trooper over a very long day!
Next was Violet’s baptism. After a week of gastro (Archer, Brian and Myself) I was starting to feel I wouldn’t have the energy to do much for it….well actually, all I wanted to make was a cake….a specific type of purple ombre layer cake I had found on Pinterest. By God’s grace we were all past our contagious phase the day before the baptism so I got baking! I It was my first go at a layer cake. It was not hard (only time-consuming) and very pretty. I used a whole bottle of violet-coloured gel colouring for the different layers and two tubs of decorator’s base cream icing to make the pure white icing. The little violets all over the cake were made a week or two in advance with my super-cake-decorating-creative friend Sue, out of fondant that we coloured violet and then rubbed edible glitter over. I was thrilled with the result. My beautiful Bible study girls and Sue made some other delicious (and mostly violet-coloured) sweets for supper too!
As well as Mark and Rachael, Violet’s godparents are Clint and Julie, who are friends from church. Brian baptised and preached at the service. It was so great watching Brian baptise and speak prayers and promises for his daughter. Such an important and significant occasion as we commit to raise Violet, and the boys to trust Jesus as their Lord.
Violet wore my baptism dress and a brooch with her name of it from my Nanna. I wore the brooch that Nanna had given to me on my baptism, 32 years earlier. We all wore shades of purple for our girl. Archer had a little meltdown up the front because I didn’t have his water bottle….(he’s two…) but was quickly appeased with cake afterwards!
My beautiful sister-in-law Belinda was in Sydney for two weeks and was able to be a part of the day too, and also for her baby shower (our next cake filled event) which was on the public holiday Monday (the day after the baptism). Her baby is due in January, but we thought this would be a great opportunity to celebrate the impending arrival with her. It was a fun afternoon tea with lots of scones and tasty treats and a few games. Belinda got to catch up with some old friends and family and we all got to admire her cute bump and speculate over who is growing in there!
While Belinda was around we also celebrated Finn’s 5th birthday with a Lego party. As we are in the throes of packing up our house I held it at a local council hall which we decked out in yellow. Finn had a few preschool friends, family and all the kids’ godparents and their children too. The played pass the parcel, a Lego and spoon race, pin the head on the Lego man (fantastically drawn by my friend Matt), decorated cupcakes, ran under the parachute and coloured in – there was not a dull moment! I made some Lego cakes (another Pinterest find) which were really easy (but again, time-consuming), rectangular cakes with marshmallows on top, covered with coloured butter cream. Finn had a great time and was tickled pink with the bounty of Lego he received as gifts. I have found myself thanking God for Lego a lot recently as it has kept him occupied for quite a while – long may it continue!
This weekend just gone my cousin Stephanie celebrated her baby shower. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it….but I did make her a cake – another layer cake, this time a blue one for the little boys that we are looking forward to meeting soon!
It’s been a busy couple of months – fun-filled to say the least! – I’m pretty sure that is all the baking I need to do for a little while, so now I need to stop procrastinating and clean the oven before we move!!
Do you ever have those days where you wake up feeling feral (not sick…just blergh) and just can not shake it? Sometimes I feel like I need something to break up the situation so I can just start the day over. I few weeks back now I had woken up tired, it was raining and we had no plans for the day – my patience was wafer thin to begin with…..what a great reason to bake.
I turned to a recipe I had save on Pinterest for some healthy sounding cookies. While they were baking, the boys and I made a fort using the armchairs and some old sheets. This provided the perfect spot to devour our treats (and I’m not kidding..they were devoured. I had to stop the boys at 3 each!).
This is the recipe (I used dark chocolate chips and sultanas, in case you were wondering, and hey tasted great!):
1 1/2 cups regular rolled oats 1 cup coconut flakes 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon allspice 1/4 cup of almond meal 1/2 cup mixed nuts, finely chopped 1 cup dried fruit (of your choice or chocolate chips or berries)
3 ripe bananas, mashed ( or substitute applesauce, or 2 eggs) 1/4 cup canola oil (or oil of your choice) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 175C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, almond meal, mixed nuts and coconut flakes. Stir in allspice and cinnamon. Add dried fruit and stir until well and evenly mixed. Make sure the dried fruit do not stick together in big batches. In another bowl, combine canola oil, mashed banana and vanilla extract. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
Take a large cookie cutter and press spoonfuls of the batter into it. Remove cookie cutter. Or simply form balls with your hands and flatten slightly. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
They were so yummy – you would hardly believe they have no dairy or sugar!
It’s been a while, so I thought I’d take a moment to catch up with where the kids are at, for posterity.
Findlay is a fortnight off turning 5 and is growing taller every day (118cm now….he’s gonna overtake me soon!). He is looking forward to going to big school next year but still loves going to preschool and doing yoga, presenting news and writing his (and everyone else’s) name. Currently I’m hearing him say lots, and lots and lots…..Phrases I’m tiring of include “you’re not the boss off me” and “naughty mummy, you shouldn’t do….x, y, z” – BUT most of the time I hear amazing questions that force me to think about how the world works. I love his logic and observations (like “Daddy, you don’t need a bear-bear (security blanket), you have Mummy”). He loves to read, to listen to German Language CDs (especially when he gets to operate the CD player), play on the ipad, climb (everything) and visit peoples’ houses. His drawing has really developed recently and he likes to copy pictures from books or thinks that I or his preschool teachers have drawn. He loves his sister, and wants to be near her whenever she is awake. He loves his brother too but likes to tease him, almost as much!
Archer is almost 2 1/2 and is fully embracing everything that being 2 means – lots of questions, lots of “no”, lots of tanties, many early mornings and a complete refusal to nap in the day time. That said though, he is such an affectionate and sensitive little boy who notices when I’m sad and tries to make me laugh, who wants to read stories and be beside me all the time and is proving to be such a gentle and caring big brother who loves to hold his sister’s hand and sing to her. He can sing Eidlewiess and Twinkle Twinkle and loves to jump on the trampoline and ride his little bike scarily fast down the driveway. He loves being outdoors and everynight when we pray together he says “Dear God, thank you for Grandpas and Nannas and Grandma and Granddad”.
Violet is 4 1/2 months and is a great joy on all accounts. She is the most placid and patient baby I’ve met and has been a source of calm for Brian and I over the past few months which have been quite stressful (for a range of reasons not to be discussed in this post). She was easily weaned from her dummy and has taken to sucking her fingers or thumb to sooth herself, so much so that she actully pushed her fingers through the fabric in her zip up swaddle so she could suck on them, making for the easiest trasition to a sleeping bag I’ve ever done. She smiles constantly and giggles lots and lots. She is very forgiving considering she gets pulled out of bed to go do things so frequently, and she has accompanied me to a hens’ day and a wedding in Adelaide with no fuss. She loves her bath and enjoys seeing my Bible study girls (who fawn all over her so sweetly) every Monday night. She sleeps well (an added blessing). She is constantly entertained and doted on by her brothers.
We are greatly blessed by these children and are so thankful to God to have the privilege of raising them – our hearts are full!
Oh it’s been so long since I’ve written! Such a busy few months and every moment I’m sitting still I feel like I’m half asleep! I thought a good spot to jump back in might be to share a sweet recipe I tried a couple of weeks back.
I made this cake for lovely Kate, who always makes the birthday cakes for our Bible Study group, for her birthday. It’s a nice, refreshing twist on the popular orange and almond cake and used up the surplus of mandarins I had in the fridge. The candied orange on the top really made it for me!
I can’t wait!….but until then, the nights are still cool and comfort foods are what I’m craving.
I made this soup to share with my parents yesterday and was just a little impressed with the product, so I had to share it. Such a rich and tasty soup and a nice twist on typical pumpkin soup….also a great way to use up the excess of capsicums I seem to have acquired in my fridge recently.
Roughly chop up capsicums and lay out in a baking dish with the unpeeled garlic cloves. Drizzle over 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and bake in preheated oven at 200 degrees for about 30min or until parts if the capsicum are starting to blacken. Remove from oven and allow to cool. When cooled, peel off the garlic skins.
Chop butternut pumpkin into cubes and boil in chicken stock. Rinse lentils and add to the pumpkin and stock. Boil until lentils and pumpkin are soft.
Add in the blackened capsicum and peeled garlic to the pumpkin, lentils and stock. Using a stick blender (or food processor), pulverise it until smooth.