Monday, January 31, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

And I'm back to meal planning with a vengence! Yippee!

In our kitchen this week:

Beef stroganoff, brown rice and steamed veg

Vegetable and noodle stir fry

Chilli con Carne

Megadarra - Random Recipe from AWW Cook, p 400

Baking and Extras:

Wholemeal bread, meusli, 3 cheese muffins

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Planning a 'Different' Kind of Birth

Settle in for a long read, I apologise in advance!

I am a massive natural birth advocate who has, due to circumstances beyond my control, never experienced a natural birth! I had a Caesarian for each of the boys for different reasons and it is something that while not technically 'regretting' it, I'll always wish things had turned out differently. But, I'm coming to peace with the fact that it is just part of my motherhood journey.

Due to having two previous Caesarians I wasn't really interested in attempting a natural birth again (for the record, I know VBA2C's have been done and I applaud those amazing women that have done it, but for me and my circumstances, not worth the risk), one of the main reasons being that we're now living in a regional area and the facilites at our local hospital would not have been favourable if something untoward had happened. Sure enough, during my first appointment with my Obstetrician he said that he wouldn't be comfortable supporting me through a VBA2C (Vaginal Birth After 2 Caesarians) so we'd book in for an 'elective' C-section. I was expecting this so negotiated with him to have the booking made as close to, if not after my due date to give the baby as much precious 'womb time' as possible (Most 'elective' C-sections are done at 38 weeks). He was fine with this and I was so impressed with his confidence in my opinions and thoughts. He listened and took copious notes!

A few weeks ago a friend gave me some information about Maternally Assisted Caesarians, in which the mother plays a key role in delivering her baby during a Caesarian section. She scrubs in and is kept sterile and after the Obstetrician delivers the head and shoulders, she reaches down with her sterile, gloved hands and delivers her baby the rest of the way and straight onto her chest for immediate skin-to-skin! How amazing! I knew as soon as I read the article that that would be my ideal birth situation, as the immediacy of skin-to-skin contact after birth is so important for mothers and babies and something I had missed out on with both of the boys.

After talking it through with my Doctor at my last appointment I was so encouraged (yet again) by his willingness to listen to my opinions and viewpoints. He seemed very keen to talk and read more about the procedure, which he'd not heard of. He was very supportive of immediate skin-to-skin and when I said that I was unsure of the hospital policy because our eldest children were born at a different hospital his response was 'stuff the policy, let's see what we can do!' I mean really, he could have knocked me over with a feather after that!

The appointment ended with him asking me to email him all my info, plus a birth/breastfeeding plan that we can go through at the next appointment. I'm beyond excited to even be discussing this with him, the possibilities are just too much to contemplate sometimes!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Chicken Tractor

We are housing our 6 chickens in a second hand chicken tractor. Matt is in the process of building a permanent coop, but you know how things are, it's taking a while. :)

Our wonderful tractor. So glad we were able to purchase one second hand from a friend. It was less than half the price of a new one and in excellent condition.

The plan is to have the orchard area fenced off so the chooks can free range while being safe from the dogs (there has already been an incident, but we won't go into that) and the permanent coop will have a little chicken door we can open from the inside to let them out into the orchard (once we cage the trees and build the fence of course).

The girls working over our horribly grassy and overgrown veg patch. The a-frame to the left is the half-built permanent coop with the orchard area behind waiting to be fenced.

Until then they are in the tractor being let out to roam around for a couple of hours in the afternoons once the dogs have been put away. We've moved the tractor onto the veg patch so they can get rid of all the grass and plant remnants and get it ready for more planting. Once they've done their bit we'll move them onto another section of overgrown veg patch and plant out where they were. We'll keep moving them around, following their progress through the garden with seedlings and directly sown seeds. Hopefully this will prove more successful than our last lot of vegie gardening which was an abysmal failure!

 The area where the tractor was for about 2 weeks. Grass is gone and the soil has been turned over and full of valuable chook poo. We've now sheet mulched and are waiting for seedlings to be ready to transplant.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who Needs Fancy Craft Activities?

A pair of scissors and last year's calendar kept this boy happy for well over an hour.

All pieces were then dutifully picked up and kept for a collage activity later.

My not-quite Wordless Wednesday. Head over here to see some more.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We Survived!

First day of Kindy done! No tears shed by either of us (I'm so glad I didn't make a scene!) and while the day was not 'wave goodbye to Mummy at the door, come at pick me up later' it was not as terrible as I was expecting.

All Elliot wanted to do was explore the fort and outdoor play area and then get stuck into the collage table. He wasn't such a fan of mat time and just wanted me to sit with him. He also sat as close to the edge of the mat as possible! He was hesitant about joining in, but once Mummy was a flippy floppy scarecrow he was fine! Archie and I left during Morning Tea time and came back about an hour or so later to see him playing on the fort (yet again!) with a couple of other little guys, chatting away, so that was heartwarming.

 Another half-day today and then a few days off until proper hours start next week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Feeling the Bloggy Love

Over the past week or so I've gotten a few new followers! Yay!

Thankyou for stopping by and showing your interest but I have a request. Firstly though, an admission - I'm not the most technically-minded person on the planet and I'm having trouble finding the blogs of some of my followers. I click on their name and see their profile, but sometimes a blog isn't listed.

If you're a follower and I haven't visited your space, I'd really love to! Please leave a link in the comments section of this post and I'll pop on over.

If you are more technically minded than me, please tell me if this is my doing and how I can fix it.

Thanks again for reading,
much love,
Vic xx

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Safe Little World

This Friday marks the end of my safe little world of having my boys home with me. Next week Elliot enters the big wide world of Kindy. Here in Queensland, that is the year before full-time school. A part-time, non-compulsory year at a private or community Kindy.

He will be doing a five day fortnight from 9 - 2:30. This is his first time away from me without being in the care of a close family member or friend and I'm a little nervous. I'm not nervous about the care he will receive while at Kindy. His teacher is amazing, her ideals are very much in line with mine when it comes to Early Childhood Education, she runs a fully play-based curriculum, completely child-led and child-centred. She is passionate and dedicated and just a warm, caring personality.

I'm nervous for all the things he'll be exposed to that will be out of my control. Things the other kids will say, things the other kids will do. I'm nervous about him needing me and me not being there. I'm nervous about his sweet little innocent personality being walked over by more dominant children. I'm nervous about other people not getting his funny little quirks that are just par for the course around our house.

Despite my well-hidden reservations, he is so excited. I know he'll relish the routine of Kindy, he's already practiced packing his bag and he's picked out his clothes for his first day. He's practiced telling his teacher that "I have special suncream in my bag that is just for me because the other suncream might make my face go funny" (he's allergic to regular suncream and his face comes out in hives!)

So Monday is going to be a big day in our house. I'm hoping I'll be brave, but I can't promise anything!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Basil Pesto

100g basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
75g pine nuts
75g finely grated parmesan cheese
200ml olive oil

Process basil, garlic and nuts until finely chopped.
Add cheese and with motor running add oil through liquid spout.

Homegrown basil and homegrown garlic. So easy and so yummy with pasta!

This made a thick, dip-like pesto. To make it more saucey simple add more olive oil. This quantity made plenty for our dinner and lots more for the freezer.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meet the Girls

Don't forget to check out the other pics here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An Island of Pink in a Sea of Blue

I mentioned last week amid the flood crisis that we had our 20 week scan with the baby. Everything was fine, bub is looking good, everything in the right places and all that. We dropped the boys at a friend's place for the morning so that Matt could come too (Thanks Saminda! xx).

Despite my objections, I promised Matt that we would find out the sex of the baby. And I really did need to keep this promise as I reneged on a similar promised when I was pregnant with Archie! During Elliot's pregnancy I had promised Matt that if we didn't find out with the first, we'd find out with the rest. Well, I'd told him all of Archie's pregnancy up until the scan that yes, we'd find out. Then, on the drive to the scan I just couldn't do it. I felt so bad for him because he really wanted to find out but I just couldn't. I absolutely couldn't break my promise to him again!

So, as by the pretty obvious title :) we're expecting a baby boy! We are very excited, the thought of parenting a girl after two boys was pretty daunting. I'm excited that they'll all be growing up relatively close in age, give or take two years between each one. I'm relieved we don't have to go out shopping for a whole new wardrobe of pink! I'm not a girly girl and I cringe when I walk through the girl's clothes sections in the shops, so many frills and lace and pink everywhere! Not that I'm anti-pink, I'm just not a fan of those super sugary girly girl clothes. A teeny part of me is disappointed that if this is the last baby for us I'll miss out on those mother daughter moments that are so special and unique.

But, I am preparing myself for a mothering life that is full of noise, fun, activity, energy, early mornings, train tracks around the house, cheekiness, adorableness, laughter, mess, running instead of walking, yelling instead of speaking quietly and food. Oh the food. They eat so much now, Lord help me when there are three teenage boys to feed! Luckily, the kitchen is my favourite place to be, cooking for my family! :)

Image found here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Strip Washing Cloth Nappies

I thought I'd take advantage of all the rain we've been having to give our cloth nappy stash a strip wash. Strip washing removes any built-up washing powder residue, increases absorbency and leaves nappies smelling wonderfully fresh (which ours mostly do anyway because I only line dry them). The built up residue can also lead to skin irritation in some bubs. It was never a problem for Elliot, but Archie has been suffering from a bit of nappy rash lately so hopefully this strip wash will sort it out.
To strip wash the nappies you just need to put them through a hot water wash cycle with no powder or detergent. The water will probably be sudsy from all the residual powder being washed out. After the initial wash cycle you just need to keep rinsing until the water runs clean. On our machine it took one more rinse and spin cycle. Then hang them on the line in the sun to dry. Easy peasy!
Some people say to put a bit of vinegar in the final rinse stage to make sure there's no residue left but I don't use vinegar on our nappies. It can destroy the PUL (waterproof) lining and the elastic. A cloth nappy stash is such an investment I'm not taking any chances with it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Doing Our Bit

Along with donating cash here, the boys and I helped get some goods together to send across our town's swollen river. One suburb and a few smaller communities further out of town are still cut off with no shops or supplies.

Another friend did all the organising, we just rocked up and helped load things onto utes. I think it was a good experience for Elliot to help him understand that there are lots of people that are much worse off than us, very close to home. He's only 3, so obviously has no idea of the devestation that has happened. He now though knows what a flood is, understands that they can be very dangerous and to stay away from water over roads or water that isn't normally there. He's also started playing 'floods' with his toys, one car rescuing another from flood water or cars and trains not being able to cross bridges or roads because there is water over them. For me, he's seen enough and has enough understanding. I don't want to traumatise him by going into all the details, but he's learning from this real-life experience.

Loading up the ute to be driven down to SES boat at the river. I'm on the right with Archie in the Ergo. Seriously don't know how I'd get stuff done without my Ergo!

Cheeky boys in the ute.

He is also starting to understand about food and what a precious commodity it is, although we've always been very open about where our food comes from. He sees the cows that give us milk. He knows that when we eat chicken it was once a chicken. He knows that vegies grow in the ground and what most plants look like.
When we went to the shops a couple of days ago to get some fruit and veg, the shelves were bare. He wanted zucchini, but there weren't any, he wanted to get beans and broccoli and capsicum and all the things we usually eat. I explained that we can't just have what we feel like at the moment, we have to make do with what we've got. He seems to be ok with it so far but who knows how long we'll have to ration for?

We have one more meal's worth of fresh veg and then it'll be onto freezer and pantry meals. As a real vegie boy, I'm anticipating more questions from him! But if not eating fresh vegies for a while is as bad as it gets for us we've been extremely lucky.

Bel at Spiral Garden is donating 50% of all orders to the Red Cross Flood Appeal. Also Pip at Meet Me At Mike's has an extensive list of other ways people can help.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Not-Very-Creative Space

I'm just not in the right mind at the moment to be undertaking crafting. There is just too much stuff going on with the floods for me to concentrate on anything too taxing. Even our 20 week scan with the new baby yesterday didn't really lighten the mood. The news was all good, I'll post a bit more about it when I'm feeling a bit more chipper, but it just feels wrong to be posting about our happiness when so many are going through inconceivable heartbreak.

So in keeping with the Thursday theme of My Creative Space, I can announce my 5 recipients for Pay it Forward: 2011. I've no idea what to make for any of them, but one recipient will be moving into their dream home later in the year, so I'm thinking something 'housey' for her, another is a recently new mum (for the third time) so I'm thinking something 'just for her' for her and that is as far as I've gotten!

Two of my recipients aren't bloggers and they are:
* My mum - Lynne
* My dear friend and old neighbour - Kelly

The other three are bloggers and they are:
*Bec from Timber and Tin - dear friend and old neighbour
*LJ from With My Own Two Hands - an old Internet friend. We've been on this journey of parenting together since we were each pregnant at the same time with our eldest children.
*Amy from The Clip Cafe - a new blogger friend who is enviably crafty and creative

My goal is to have everything made and sent before the new bub arrives in June! For some real creativeness head over to Kootoyoo!

Please also remember to give anything you can spare to the flood appeal. Every cent is going to be needed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flood Relief Appeal

As I already posted about, our town was hit by the Queensland floods on Saturday. The waters have receded slightly but are going to peak again over the coming days. We are cut off from all supplies as the flooding intensifies south and there is talk of petrol rationing.

However inconvenient the flooding has been in our town, we have seen nothing like the devestation seen in other regional areas, Toowoomba in particular. Lives have been lost, people are still missing, homes are destroyed, businesses and livelihoods wiped out. Brisbane, our state's capital city and our home town is now in the path of flood water. It is very likely to be bad and we have a number of friends that have homes that may be affected.

I urge you all to help if you can, to give what you can spare. Every bit helps. The Queensland Government has set up an appeal and you can donate here.

Sending everyone affected by these horrible times much love and strength. xx

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Natural Learning

Elliot reached a massive milestone at the end of last week, he wrote his name for the first time ever! And it is legible! He wrote it completely from memory. See what you think!

I'm really not a big pusher when it comes to the boys' "education" for want of a better word. Being a teacher I've seen many kids being pushed into doing things before they're ready and it just ends in disaster. Better to just let them embrace each new thing when they're interested and go from there. We are very lucky that Elliot just seems to have a real interest in numbers and letters (numbers in particular) and he has a great memory. He loves jigsaw puzzles and things that have method and order. Anything sporty on the other hand, good luck! :)

So after he wrote his name he then went on to write Archie, Daddy, Matt and all the numbers from 1 to 20. I wrote them and then he copied them. He did want to write Mummy and Vicki too but I could see he was getting to his limit so suggested he go and have a play and come back in a few minutes. So in typical Elliot style he went and read some books!

I am so proud of him. I know he'll do brilliantly at Kindy next year but I am going to miss him. :(

Edit: Thanks to Helen who reminded me that El actually goes to kindy this year. In two weeks! Argh!!! But that is a whole post of it's own :(

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

So here is our plan for this week, subject of course to flood waters and what's in the shops.

Because of my food hoarding ways we're actually ok with most foods except fresh fruit and veg and eggs, which the boys eat at an alarming rate that is difficult to keep up with at the best of times. We have 20kg of wholemeal flour in the shed so we can make as much bread, pasta, muffins, biscuits or baked goods as we need. I also keep a fully stocked pantry of tinned lentils (as well as dried), tomatoes, chickpeas, tuna, kidney beans etc plus a chest freezer full of nuts, seeds, oats, different flours and small amounts of homemade stock and meat. The house freezer is full of frozen homecooked meals, frozen berries, butter, frozen peas (from the shops) and a few bits and pieces of who knows what hiding at the back! That is actually the first time I've typed all that out and really, I think we'll be fine! Especially because we can still get into town and the shops!

Chicken curry with brown rice and steamed veg

Fried rice

No idea yet, will so how the mood takes me!

Prawn laksa (if I can get prawns)

veg and noodle stirfry with boiled eggs

Pork sausages with mashed potato and steamed veg

Broccoli casserole

Don't forget to sign up for this year's game of Pay it Forward. I'd love to send some handmade gifts out there!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cut Off

Well our town is now affected by the floods devastating so much of our state. Yesterday morning the main bridge into town went under, later in the afternoon a smaller bridge went under and the water level is continuing to rise. They are estimating it to peak sometime today.

Our place is unaffected by flood waters, but we have friends who's houses are flood prone and we're hoping and praying they're ok. One family in particular are isolated between the river and flood water so they haven't been able to get out since about lunchtime yesterday.

Let's just hope that it peaks where they are predicting and there will be little damage to property. Let's also hope that the rain eases for a while!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pay it Forward: 2011

I promise something handmade to the FIRST 5 people who leave a comment here. However, to be eligible, you must repost this message, offering something handmade to 5 other people. The rules are that it must be handmade by you, and it must be sent to your 5 giftees sometime in 2011. Ready, set, GO!

The wonderful MilkyMumma posted this and I'm joining in.

I encourage you to join in too!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Summer of Water

This summer will be remembered as the summer of water.

For our little family, for positive reasons, our tanks are overflowing and have been for months, the boys have been able to play with water unchecked by a Mum who is a self-confessed water miser.

The overflow from our tanks. We've got our very own water feature!

As I type this the rain has been beating down steadily for yet another day and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. The boys have been loving playing in the rain and puddles and having deep, deep baths every night. It is raining so much at the moment that it doesn't matter how much water we use, we can't keep up! It is completely out of character for me to be so reckless with water use, but being on tank water only and seeing all our precious water spill out of the tank overflow and down into the bush has made me relax a little. I still think about it every time I turn on the tap, but then I have a little converstation in my head about how it's raining outside and the tanks are full, so it's ok to press the full flush button for just a wee! :)

How much fun is riding bikes in the rain?

For many thousands around our state though, this summer will not be remembered with fond memories. Many towns are battling with rising flood waters, with homes inundated, with businesses destroyed. This summer will be remembered with tears and heartache. We are pretty safe from flooding here, but the town we live near is very prone to flooding and the bridge into it was closed as a precaution just after Christmas.

Please keep all those affected by the floods in your thoughts and prayers. There has been so much heartache already and the rain continues to fall.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Special Time

A month or so ago I had a disastrous morning a the beach with the boys, just horrid. I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to take a 3 year old and a rambunctious 19 month old to the beach by myself! Elliot just wanted to be in the water with me and Archie kept taking off up the beach and running away! Argh! After an hour or so I'd had enough so packed us all up and came home. Poor El was so upset, he just wanted to stay and dig in the sand and play in the water but I just couldn't do it any longer. You know those mothering moments when you've just had enough? It was one of those moments.

I promised Elliot on the drive home that one day just the two of us would go back to the beach and we'd make a day of it. Well, today was that day!

He was so excited! It was such a lovely day. We swam in the ocean, chased waves, we dug holes and let the waves fill them up, used our shoes as cars and made roads and hills and attempted a tunnel. We had Fish and Chips for lunch then a big play in the park. The poor wee man was so exhausted he fell asleep in the car on the way home, still in his swimmers!

Elliot and I haven't had too much 'just us' time since Archie was born and it was lovely to connect with him and just have fun! I'm so thankful that Matt is still on holidays!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Matt!

Yesterday we celebrated Matt's birthday! We had a quiet day at home and doing a few (boy-ey) errands in town. We went and looked at chainsaws and ramps to get the mower or scooter onto the trailer, we filled gas bottles for the BBQ, we went to the rural supply store. You know, all the fun things!

Elliot and I working on Daddy's cake. I had to buy plain flour especially for the cake! We don't normally have it in the house! But, what the birthday boy wants the birthday boy gets. :)

It wasn't all fun and games for Matt though. He started the day with a quick dash down the driveway to get the bin out after the truck came early! We missed it on our side but luckily the driver stopped for it on the other side of the street, but we were nervous! It was pretty full after Christmas, plus we were away for the last collection and forgot the time before that! He also got a call for help from his brother who's ride-on mower was broken and he needed a had pusing it back up onto the trailer. Matt really owes him because his brother came over and mowed our yard on Monday (which looked like a jungle) because our mower is broken! Hence the need for ramps to get it on the trailer, so we can take it to get repaired!

Matt's parents gave him a Bunning voucher for his birthday and it all got spent on this climbing frame for the boys! What a father, giving the boys a gift for his birthday!
We finished the day wonderfully though with Matt's choice of dinner and birthday cake (he chose a BBQ and a Chocolate, Rum and Raisin Cheesecake) and lots of time relaxing on the verandah. Oh and a great, crazy family dance to Billy Ocean's Get Out of my Dreams. I absolutely love this song, probably because when I was a kid I won a copy of it on vinyl at roller skating! I was such a child of the 80's! ;)

Matt's special request was a BBQ for his birthday dinner, which he cooked himself! Funny man!

Hip Hip! Hooray!

Happy Birthday Mattie! xx

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Oh my, how quickly time flies, another year already!

Last year turned out to be a great year for our little family. Some of the highlights have been:
  • Our dreams of land, animals, growing our own food and space for the boys to run and get dirty and make noise came true when we found our wonderful new home. 
  • Continuing to live my dream of being at home with the children. I am so thankful every day for the choices Matt and I have made as a couple that allow us to give this wonderful opportunity to our children
  • We finally got chickens! This only just snuck into 2010, we picked them up on the 30th December!
  • Strengthening and building relationships with some wonderful women in our new town. Moving to a new place is pretty scary, but I've made such a great little group of friends. They are so supportive and thoughtful, all our children get on really well and they have been an invaluable part of my adjustment to moving away from my amazing Brisbane family and friends.
  • Watching my Mum take an amazing leap out of her comfort zone and travel around India! What a massive culture shock for her, but I'm so proud of her!
  • Finally, the most exciting part of 2010, becoming pregnant with our third child!
I'm so looking forward to all the possibilities of a new year and of course meeting our new baby in late May/Early June! Instead of a list of resolutions that are impossible to keep, this year I'm focusing (with the help of some wonderful womenfolk) on just one word. My word for 2011 is:


Action for us to take leaps and do things, instead of just having great ideas.
Action around the house in terms of keeping on top of housework, laundry, yard work etc
Action in taking time out for myself when I feel myself needing it, not when it's too late and I've snapped.
Action with the boys and being present with them.
Action out in the yard, to continue working on our sustainability, adding infrastructure and building more on our plans.

Wishing you all a happy, joyous, productive and enjoyable start to 2011! May our enthusiasm now last all year!