It’s cool to be a bit crap

With a short (but welcome) burst of school and kinder again this week, I’ve found myself taking stock of my winning and non-so-winning moments these school holidays.

Let’s start with my great moments – the ones where I was patient, creative and engaged with the children.  I baked with them (to be honest, it was more for them than with them).   I painted and crafted with them (and then finished their projects when they got bored and drifted off).  I took them to the library, to live theatre and the movies.  I spent a whole day making over their bedroom until it was fit for the pages of a glossy coffee table magazine.  I even strapped my bewildered feet into ice skates for the first time ever, in a surprise mother-daughter bonding session.

Looks pretty impressive on paper, doesn’t it?

School holiday moments (the good ones)

My feel-good school holiday montage

But in the interests of transparency, I’ll also share some of my not-so-great moments. Such as the three days straight where it rained pretty much constantly, and the puppy crapped and pissed in the house a lot.  On those days, the children fought and sulked, I yelled (even though I realise it’s not cool), and frequently resorted to eating chocolate hiding behind the pantry door.  To be honest, I was a bit of a grumpy cow.

And what made my mood even more morose was that all of my friends seemed to be doing interesting, fun-looking stuff on Facebook and Instagram.  I wondered why I was stuck in a funk at home, while everyone else was (apparently) exploring Melbourne and revelling in their children’s company?

Social media can be a bugger like that at times.  Like when you’ve just stepped backwards into a puddle of urine (again) and thrown the dishcloth dramatically across the kitchen and bellowed WHY IS THE DOG INSIDE THE HOUSE AGAIN?  AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO EVER TAKES HER OUTSIDE FOR A WEE!!? At times like this, it can seem like everyone is a more creative, proactive and fun parent than you.

creative parenting

What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I think to fashion superhero elements into the children’s clothing this morning? (image: Abbey Hendrickson)

But looking back on those grumpy cow moments, I’ve decided to cut myself a bit of slack, because the truth is that being in charge of little people doesn’t always make for a relaxing, uplifting experience.  At times it can be exhausting and (is it okay to say this?) pretty boring. I’m just not that into hide and seek. Or playing memory match, with the house a veritable pigsty around me.  Does that make me a crap parent?

What I suspect is that everyone has their crap parent moments.  We all lose the plot now and again, and say things we regret as soon as the words are out of our mouth (even the most excruciatingly patient, earth-mother types).  It’s just that we generally don’t broadcast them on social media.

And in the parenting stakes, I’m pretty sure it’s okay to be a bit crap now and then.  We’re human, after all.

So next time you read that blog post – from the amazing, inspiring tree change family who live in the idyllic farmhouse and gather organic vegetables, which they cook in their rustic kitchen and eat at their hand-crafted, reclaimed timber dining table every night … just imagine what doesn’t make it into the blog.

Like maybe sometimes the children refuse to wear the romantic gumboots and be photographed picking berries, and instead chuck an enormous tantrum and demand to play on their mother’s iphone, which she is constantly shoving in their face at every instagramable opportunity.

You’ve got to admit – it’s kind of fun to conjure up.

gumboots are so hot right now

Empty gumboots (image: Monica Hoinkis)

 

 

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NEWS FLASH: Impossible Quiche Saves Day

I’m sitting on the couch, snatching a moment of peace with my coffee and computer. The weather’s grey and drizzly, the puppy’s sprawled in the plush bean bag by the heater (I’ve conceded defeat on that one), and the room is filled with the loud tick-tock of a metronome.  One of the kids was playing on the keyboard, but has since scuttled off elsewhere, leaving just the oppressive tick, tock, tick, tock.  And so goes my Thursday afternoon.

dog comaWe’re almost a week into the holidays, and my patience is waning.  I’m trying to embrace the mess, but really I’m not fooling anyone.  I’ve reverted to ‘take no crap’ mode.  In the car just now I presented them with the facts: If you don’t stop arguing I’m going to lose the plot!  Of course, what I really wanted to say was I’m dangerously close to LOSING MY SHIT.

…< big breath >….

The addition of our newest family member – the delightful Billie – has added an extra level of intensity these school holidays.   It’s been wonderful watching the kids rolling on the grass with her, lovingly making her dinner and cooing to her while she laps up her puppy milk. And against house rules, we’ve engaged in many indulgent, late-night couch snuggles.  She’s beautiful.

billie on bean bag

With the territory though, has come a few not-so-great moments.  There’s the early mornings which always start with paper towel, Pine-O-Clean and rubber gloves.  And there’s the constant stream of ‘Billie NO!’ ‘NO SHOES!’ and ‘No BITE!’ exclamations throughout the day.  Beautiful, and kind of exhausting.

Because of the puppy we’ve stayed close to home this week, and I’ve been donning the apron and getting my Nigella on a bit.  So while I’m inspired, here’s one thing I’ve been meaning to do for ages:  I want to share the magic of The Impossible Quiche.

Don’t worry – I haven’t gone all ‘easy, quick meals for mums’ on you.  I’m just really loving this quiche right now – it’s dead simple and bloody delicious.

The ‘impossible’ component is the lack of any pastry, yet the oddly pastry-like end product.  And the bit I’m amazed by is that it’s all light and fluffy, rather than all eggy and wet like your traditional frittata.  As long as you have the integral ingredients of eggs, milk, flour and cheese, you can make up the rest depending on the contents of your fridge.

I also tried this with gluten free flour, and it still worked beautifully.  The kids and my ‘eggs are not dinner’ husband all gave it their seal of approval.  And (be still my beating heart!) it even holds up well for lunch the following day.

Behold.. The Impossible Quiche (thanks Anna!)

The Impossible Quiche

Core ingredients:

4 eggs

1 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup self-raising flour

1 1/4 cups milk

Discretional ingredients:

Spring onion / onion / any vaguely onion-like vegetable in arms reach

Chorizo / ham / bacon / last night’s leftover sausages

Cherry tomatoes / capsicum / sun-dried tomatoes / spinach leaves / any old crap from the crisper

Basil / parsley / neither

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 celsius and grease a large, round, quichey-looking dish (I use a non-stick fluted metal pie dish)
  2. Heat oil and cook spring onion lightly, then add tomato / ham / other crisper remnants and cook down for a few minutes
  3. Whisk eggs, milk and flour in a bowl, then stir in cheese and add vegetable mixture from the pan.  Season, add herbs.
  4. Pour mixture into quiche dish and bake for ~40 minutes, until golden on top and not wobbly in the centre.  Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Slice and serve with a green salad (the kids may baulk – but at least you tried)
  6. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and bask in the glory of the impossible quiche.

Go you.

wine

ps. It also helps to close your eyes and pretend you’re sitting in a wine bar
(Image: Judy Merrilll-Smith)

Hi, I’m the new puppy

Allow me to introduce myself – I’m model no. WHIPPET-14T.  I’m fitted with standard soulful grey eyes, and yes, I am very cute.

WHIPPET-14T

Care instructions:

During my first few days at home with you, you’ll feel like an anxious first-time mother with a precious newborn.  I’ll cry at night time, and catapult myself toward the laundry door out of desperation and anxiety, causing you to feel heartless for wrenching me from my mother’s breast.  And as you get up to comfort me, you’ll remember with horror, the broken sleep that comes with a newborn.  I’m pretty much as demanding, but you can’t breastfeed me to sleep.

To compound your anxiety, I’ll refuse to eat dog food or drink water, but I’ll delight in eating anything which is not a foodstuff.  Please see the ‘traffic light’ guide below for my preferences.

Puppy diet preferences - days 1-3

It’s universally accepted that puppies love to chew shoes – but did you know this is not limited to inanimate shoes?  I much prefer moving shoes (with real feet in them) due to their interactive nature, and the added element of potentially tripping the big person inside them.  Awesome.

If there are no shoes available, I’ll settle for odd socks, pyjamas or underwear.

shoe fetish Specifications:

The model you have purchased includes variable speed control (options being ‘ON’, ‘OFF’ and ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’).

In ‘ON’ mode, I am pretty intense.  If you plan on getting down low to say hi when I’m ‘ON’, you may want to cover your earlobes and nostrils – I’m fast, and my teeth are needle sharp.

Over the course of a day, be prepared for me to enter into the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ mode at random intervals (during which I have been likened to the lead character from The Wolf of Wall Street, after he’s just snorted five consecutive lines of coke off a prostitute’s buttocks).   In this mode, I enjoy taking flying leaps at your body, and running in crazed circles around the yard at breakneck speed.

'ON' mode

Factory settings mean that the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ phase is followed immediately by the ‘OFF’ phase (this may last for periods of up to 2 hours at a time).  During the ‘OFF’ phase, it is normal for you to wonder what has gone wrong with me, and to poke me to check if I’m still alive.  I won’t wake up.

I generally enjoy solitude when ‘OFF’, and may take to hiding under furniture to achieve this.  However, I’m very adaptable, and can just as easily complete an ‘OFF’ cycle while sleeping on a small bush.

'do not disturb' mode

‘do not disturb’ mode

 Warnings and troubleshooting

On the first morning, I’ll be so overwhelmed with excitement that I’ll leap out of the child’s arms and land awkwardly, provoking a good 15 minutes of high anxiety as I limp around the kitchen with a potentially broken leg.  You’ll wonder if there is a pet equivalent of the Maternal and Children Health line.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not know what the words ‘wee wee’ or ‘poo poo’ mean. I’m especially uninterested in these terms when taken outside in the rain in the small hours of the morning.

You are strongly advised to purchase paper towel and antiseptic wipes in bulk.

A personalised message from your WHIPPET-14T

I’d really love to know more about these things that you scatter around the house at night. Is this an obstacle course?  Are they like lily pads? Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to urinate or defecate on them.  As you will have noticed, I’m very careful to wee anywhere but on these.

Tonight's obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Tonight’s obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Also, thank  you so much for buying all of these colourful, chewy little rubber things for me.  You’ve gone to so much trouble to supply them in each room of the house.  But why do you always remove them from my mouth, as soon as I have my gums around their rubbery goodness?

I love loom bracelets

And finally – that really big dude with the low voice?  The one who thinks dogs should live outside?  Don’t worry – I’m working on him.  Last night when you were out, he let me sit in the lounge room and lick his toes 😉