Sunday, July 29, 2012

Food: Before and After Children

As I write this, I am home from work with a sniffle, and M is at daycare. Now, let me put two and two together for you.


So I have time to ponder while I take panadol and lie on the bed. I did the washing up and had a giggle to myself about how much our lives have changed since M turned up, and inevitably how much they'll change again. Namely, how we eat as a family.

Post fancy dinner cups of tea by the open fire at Cradle Mountain Lodge.

Dining Out
Before Kids:
Which restaurant shall we go to tonight? That fancy French one is always nice, and they're generous with their wine pours.
After Kids:
Quick! She's asleep! Pull into McDonalds! Go drive through - QUIIIIICK!

Fast Food
Before Kids:
But we had McDonalds LAST week. Can't we go to Hungry Jack's this time? Or maybe that new pizza joint?
After Kids:
Quick! She's asleep! Pull into McDonalds! Go drive through - QUIIIIICK!

Cooking at Home
Before Kids:
Do we have to make Spaghetti Bolognese tonight? We had Tacos two days ago, and they're kind of the same, you know, with mince?
After Kids:
Here! Spaghetti Bolognese! And it's unseasoned for Millie! Here's the salt and pepper if you want it. I'm going to bed.

Before Kids:
I don't want Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner tonight. We had it LAST night.
After Kids:
Oh yum! Dinner! Already cooked! Wheeee!

On Wine
Before Kids:
<perusing the bottle shop idly. Mr S in the Red Wine aisle, me in amongst the sweet whites.>
Me: Oh hey! Look! That wine we had at that fancy restaurant the other night for $85/bottle? It's here for only $45! Wow!
After Kids:
Mr S: We've almost run out of wine leftover from the wedding. I really hope we see that Banrock Station on special for $6/bottle again soon.
Me: Still breastfeeding. Also, pregnant again. BUY SOME LEMONADE PLEASE.

Taking Wine To a Party
Before Kids:
Oh this is a nice vintage. And look, only $28!
After Kids:
We don't go out. Let alone to parties.

On Food and Hygiene
Before Kids:
Oh yuck! That knife fell on the floor for a second. The cat has walked on that floor. Get a new knife!
After Kids:
Millie, what are you eating? A biscuit? When did you last have a biscuit.... yesterday perhaps? Whatever. I washed the floors yesterday... I think.

On Baking
Before Kids:
Mr S: Can you make those yum chocolate chip biscuits again this week? They were so good I ate six at a time and they're all gone.
Me: Sure thing! I'll use the Lindt chocolate again!
After Kids:
Mr S: Can you buy me some Tim Tams please? I saw them on special for $2.
Me: Sure thing!

Cups of Tea
Before Kids:
Oh lovely! Piping hot cup of tea!
After Kids:
OUCH! Tea too hot! I'm so used to it being lukewarm now.

Before Kids:
Tea is not hot enough. Tip it out. MAKE ANOTHER.
After Kids:
Oh look! Tea! I forgot about that! *gulp*

Before Kids:
I'm going to lie here on the couch in silence, taking miniscule bites of my chocolate so it lasts forever.
After Children:
Cannot type, for Millie has wandered out of the room and I am busy eating chocolate at the speed of light before she comes back into the room. Will not share, IT IS MINE, and besides, chocolate isn't great for kiddies, you know?

How has your food life changed after kids?

Friday, July 27, 2012

FFS Friday / Shiny Things Friday

  • I'm pretty sure I had a list of things to FFS about this week. Pregnancy with Millie stole my brain and what little memory recall I had... it came back briefly, but now it's completely gone again. So, FFS.
  • Traffic. Dear Tasmania, when I'm doing 80 in the 80 zone with doubles lines and my indicator on because it's night time and I'm going to pull in to my driveway on a highway, it's not smart to overtake me around a corner. I know you needed to get to your home in your dirty great ute approximately 10 seconds earlier than you would have, but seriously? FFS.
  • Also, on the main highway to Hobart, the right hand lane is for overtaking. Not moseying. Or squaredancing. FFS.
  • I wonder what the road rules say if I refuse to let you merge in front of me when I'm maintaining the recommended 3 second distance from the car in front of me? I'm not game to try this. FFS.
  • BN Update: they have been quiet of late. Aside from watching them stack their wood pile one piece at a time without a wheelbarrow, I think they're hibernating for winter. I don't blame them. 
  • Millie has learned to shake her head for 'No' now. She knows what it means... Now, offering food is blessed with a 'No' headshake, but placing a plate in front of her and leaving her to it means she'll eat. Ok. FFS.
  • Toni (Braxton) and David (Hicks) are in full force this week. Oh my god. Toni sings her greatest hits all day, and David lectures about human rights. SQUEEZE. FFS.
  • Millie got sick again this week. I point all my fingers at daycare, even more so after I was part of the following conversation:
Daycarer: 'Just to let you all know while you're here, head office have notified me that Whooping Cough is having another pandemic in Southern Tasmania. I ask you to be aware of the symptoms and keep your kids away.'
Me: 'Did you wind up getting your booster shot yet, Daycarer?'
Daycarer: 'On my list! Never fear!'
Parent #1: 'My kids aren't immunised for anything.'
Parent #2: 'Us either.'
Parent #1: 'I don't reckon them immunisations do nothin' anyway. Kids still get whooping cough. Besides, it's not dangerous if they're Kid A & B's age. It's only if they're Millie's age, or you know, like the bub in your belly Amy. Besides Daycarer, we don't socialise with anyone apart from youse here.'
Me: slackjawed.
Daycarer: Watching my face.
Daycarer: 'You know that you can get it from people coughing in public, right?'
Me: 'And, um, you can carry it? And even if kids get it whilst immunised it's not as severe or necessarily life threatening.'
Parents #1 & #2: 'Oh wow. Really?'
Me: Slackjawed.
Daycarer: 'Oh Parent #1, Kid A is complaining of a sore throat and she's been really unwell today.'
Parent #1: 'Oh it's nuthin. Just a harmless cold. I'm really depending on you this week Daycarer, it's my last week of study.'
Me: Slackjawed and attempting to maintain calm.
I recognise that we live in awesome country where we have the option of choice as to how we raise our children. Unimmunised, whatever. I don't agree with it, but that's your choice. Sending your sick kids to daycare and being uninformed about the risks of your unimmunised kids gets me on a high horse.
That afternoon Millie ran a 38oC temperate, woke every two hours overnight but seemed better by morning. I took her the daycare with the instruction to call me if she got any worse. She slept for five hours, but that afternoon came up suddenly with spots all over her face. We wound up at the Dr an hour later, with the diagnosis of a virus, a viral rash and instructions to stay home. So we did. She didn't go to daycare the next day. I kept my sick child away from all the other children.

And it got me to thinking - what happens after #2 is born? Do I need to keep Millie away from daycare until #2 is 6weeks and able to be immunised against Whooping Cough? Oh bloody hell. I don't know.

So really, FFS.

  • I also made mention to Daycarer that if the other kids are sick and the parents won't keep them away I don't want to take Millie there to get sicker, and I sure as hell don't want to pay for it either. FFS.
  • Then there's the Septic Tank Cowboy. But that's a whole other post. No really.

Shiny Things Friday

I made my own bias tape this week. After two failed attempts this year, colour me proud.

As I was making said bias tape I looked out the window. Neither of these two
are Lucy.

I made my own fabric labels. COLOUR ME EXCITED!

Okay, so I made the labels to cover up a Bias Binding Boo Boo.
But it looks ace.

I bought some fabric from Ros' Etsy shop. She is an enabler.
She is also an absolute sweetheart and I want to make her cups of tea.

Sick baby before we went to the Dr. It's in Shiny Things because
I rarely get epic snuggles like this. But look how sad she is. :(

After M was at the Dr and we got her to bed, Brinner was totally called for.
Free range eggies, free range bacon, good spinach, great mushrooms,
turkish bread. Yum!

Front page of Tasmanian Farmer. Good job, guys!

May the stripey bumpy force be with you.

When we had a Sick Day yesterday M was mildly cheered by dressing up
and drinking from her new sippy cup.

M's Plego is from the cheap shop, and you'd never know... besides this.

26 Weeks. The Bump is the only perky part of my body anymore.

It's Lifeline's Stress Down Day today. We are trying!

After a Preg-Reno tanty last Sunday when Mr S went to help a friend
move some of his belongings on his only day off, because he's a lovely kind generous
man, he came home with these for me. The fabric is a giant vintage tablecloth
I've had my eye on for weeks. I love him.

Linking up with Sarah for FFS Friday again. Loving her, as always.

Dear Baby G

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday - the Good In a Septic...

This Thursday I am grateful for two things. Oh so very very grateful.

1. I am thankful that I was not home alone when our septic overflowed from two points on Sunday night.

2. I am thankful for Steve the Country Plumber who turned up less than an hour after I called him, located our septic tank, was apologetic that he had to tear up some concrete*, unblocked the septic tank, came and had a cup of tea and a Tim Tam, showed me pics of his granddaughter on his iPhone, covered up the giant holes in our yard, and only charged us $120. I love the country.

*PS Who covers the septic tank access point with concrete? Seriously? Steve the Plumber called the last tradies Numbskulls. I heartily agreed.

Steve did a stellar job covering the open pit.

That used to be a concrete path with lush green lawn next to it.

Now, I'm thankful I have running water and plumbing that works again. There's far more to this story, but as I'm not thankful for it (AT ALL) you'll need to tune in tomorrow. Now, I bask in the glow of a good country plumber.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mrs Smyth Creates #6... and the Crafty Create Link Up

Oh golly. These last few weeks have been seriously sew-free. It makes me sad, so I fired up the trusty machines again and the craft room looks like a bomb site... all is well in craft land.

While I haven't been sewing, I've been organising. And cleaning my house. Who knew scrubbing a stove was so satisfying? I did tell Mr S that the stove has been scrubbed within an inch of it's life by me (Mum does it every time she visits, never fear) twice while we've been living here. Yup, you guessed it. Pregnancy makes me clean. MUST. SCRUB.

But here's what I've been crafting and sewing recently...

I was gifted these epic bags of fabric...
yes. I know I have a problem.

I decided it was high time I made my own bias binding.

Success! My technique needs tweaking, but we got there in the end.

Pattern pieces for my new handbag. It's Simplicity 2381 if you were interested.

I made play doh for my little lady. This set of photos was taken in 5 minutes.

I made my own fabric labels, using Ros from Sew Delicious' tutorial.
PS. Ros is an absolute sweetheart.  I want to make her cups of tea all day.
Also, she's selling some ace vintage fabric in her Etsy shop. Go and take a peep!
(not that I'd know. I don't need any more fabric. *cough*)

Label hastily crookedly sewn on. May or may not be to disguise
a bias binding boo boo. (BBBB)

Bag front starting to come together. My goodness I love this fabric.

Finally, my sewing helper. She sits on my lap and now pretends to
sew as well. I almost died of the cute.
So, what have you been up to these last few weeks? I'd love you to link up your crafty posts!
Grab the button and pop it in your post, and link up down the bottom. Can't wait to see what you've been up to!

Mrs Smyth Gets a Life

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding... more childhood comfort food.

As I have mentioned previously, my Mum didn't bake a lot. But as I've also mentioned too, what she did bake is seriously emblazoned in my heart. With a gaudy red loveheart and 'Mum' tattoo through the middle of it.
The Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding was (when I lived at home, Mum is still very much alive and kicking, HI MUM!) Mum's go-to dessert I think. I remember it making semi-regular appearances for Sunday dinners and special occasions.

When I moved out of home I dutifully wrote it up and put it in my recipe display book, and when I made it tonight I was struggling to find it in my recipe binder. When I did eventually locate it, I had to prise the pages apart because they were stuck together with what appeared to a mix of cocoa and brown sugar. Oops.

Ye olde faithful display book, resplendent with stains.

I've adapted the recipe a little bit over time to suit my tastes more. This of course means a bit more sugar and cocoa.

It's a wonderful pudding to put in the oven as you're serving dinner, and it just burbles away merrily with no intervention needed from you until it's allotted time is served in the oven. Then you serve it to your guests, or just yourself. Mr S takes his with ice cream, I take mine with lots and lots of the sauce.

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

Mum's Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 tsp vanilla essence
30g melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup extra cocoa... I usually use about 1/2 cup cocoa here...
1 3/4 cups hot water... I use 2 cups.


  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC.
  2. Sift flour and cocoa. Add sugar. (my recipe says sift the sugar. Doesn't work. Just stir it through.)
  3. Make a well in the centre of the mix, stir in milk, vanilla and melted butter.
  4. Beat until smooth.
  5. Pour into a lightly greased dish.
  6. Sift brown sugar and extra cocoa together. (Again with the sugar sifting. Just pat it on top.)
  7. Holding a spoon close to the surface, pour the hot water over the top of the pudding.
  8. Cover and bake for 50 minutes.

Serves 4 or one Amy and one Mr S, twice.

What's your favourite pudding? Tell me! I'm a hungry hungry hippo!

Friday, July 20, 2012

FFS Friday / Shiny Things Friday

The Blogger's Block Edition.

There you have it.

It's been a really tiring week with the pinnacle being Lucy waking me up at 4am on Wednesday morning so I could show her the food. I went back to bed and stared at the ceiling (and Twitter) until 4.45... and just as I drifted off, M awoke at 5am.

And now, I can't think of anything to write about. I'm still too tired. FFS.

So I leave you with a picture of my lunch date today, and a promise to get back to my whinging next week.

Dear Baby G

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I don't really like this week in July. Every year I get more anxious as it approaches and I never quite know how I will feel.

You see, five years ago this week my Dad died. Now I've got Millie and another one on the way, the gravity of losing a parent seems magnified. I run through the scenarios in my head - if something happened to Mr S, how would I cope? How would I honour his memory to his children, OUR children? That's a rhetorical question. We've talked about this as Mr S takes off for another South-West Wilderness hike.
But yes, thankful.

I tearfully explained to Mr S this week that this year, the anniversary of Dad's death really make me sad. It's as if the everyday fog of grief has lifted a tiny bit, and I now remember with searing clarity, the week leading to his death.

The decision I made to drop everything and fly interstate to see my family and my Dad. Finding out that Mr S packed his suit because he suspected he might need it. Realising that I hadn't thought about that. Sitting with Dad in his hospital room. The way that grieving people can behave. Singing songs to my Dad. Listening to him talk to me for the last time. Finding a new normal in a hospital room.
Realising that I have to find a new normal outside of that hospital room.

And Mr S said to me 'I know how horrible it was. But be thankful you had that time with him, that you got to say goodbye.'
He's so right. (yet another reason why I love that man.)

I'm so thankful that I got to drop everything to be with my Dad. I'm thankful that I got to sit with him in his hospital room with my family around, chatting normally and including Dad in the conversations. I'm thankful that we found the humour in the situation more than once, because I know that's what Dad would have wanted. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to sing my songs to Dad, one last time, and that if I'd ever doubted the power of music, I stopped doubting and started believing at that time.
I'm so thankful I got to have one last conversation with him.
I'm so thankful that he was here, for without him, there'd be no me, no Ben & Sally, no Millie.

He was an awesome man with a ripper Dad sense of humour. And I'm thankful for that, too.
After all, who else's funeral would it be okay to be walking through the chapel, hearing the mix CD I'd made randomly from Dad's CDs, only to hear a song pause and hear the singer say 'I'd like to thank you all for coming here tonight... but I know that you don't give a f**k.' Oops. Sorry Mum. I laughed out loud. But I think Dad would have liked that.

Linking up with Kate for Thankful Thursday.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ever stood up for yourself? In public?

I am exceptionally bad at this. I quake. I blush. But I feel this fire in my chest that I recognise is one or two steps from flying off the handle. Since I've experienced pregnancy I feel like I imagine a toddler would feel when they're being... you know... toddlers. You know, when you know it's not a big deal, but you find yourself getting more upset. So you stop to ground yourself. It's okay. A deep breath. Then, it's not okay. NOT OKAY NOT OKAY NOT OKAY.
On Friday I did the food shopping after putting it off all week. We'd finally run out of bread, milk, M&M's and cereal. You know, the staples. But it was a bit of an epic fail. 

So, let's tally up my Food Shopping Mistakes:

  • Millie looked tired as soon as we rolled up (#1) and started screaming as soon as we hit the banana aisle (i.e. the first aisle). She wanted my list. My only piece of paper (#2). Therefore, no. Therefore, screaming. TOTAL FSM: 2
  • I had snacks in my bag (deduct #1), but not what she wanted (#2 is back). She wanted my list. Not any stinking food. TOTAL FSM: 2
  • By Aisle 2 I worked out that as long as I could keep her hands busy we might be okay. Rice Bubbles only lasted half an aisle. I spent the next three aisles being smiled at gently by other patrons as Millie held a packet of powdered milk and I pointed to the cows on the packet and bellowing 'Moooo! Cow!' at 5 second intervals. Thankfully she caught on and was mooing with me.
  • Powdered milk not cutting it. (#3). Firelighters would be better, no? No. (#4). Matches? No. (#5).
  • Fine. Take the list. (deduct #6). TOTAL FSM: 5
  • Another shopper kindly hands me back my shopping list after she accidentally ran over it, after M threw it on the ground. (#6 is back.) TOTAL FSM: 6
  • I hit on genius and give her a banana. Usually I'm tearing open packets of cheese slices in the dairy aisle. Banana is a hit. (deduct #6, #5 and #4.) TOTAL FSM: 3
  • Peace and smiling and cute little 'Na Na' chats through the dairy aisle.
  • We hit the checkouts, M finishes her banana and hands me back a sweaty mauled banana skin. She writhes and bucks in the trolley seat, punctuated by her looking at me saying 'Oooh! Uhoh.' She's snapped the seatbelt. Like, off. HOW? (#4 is back.) TOTAL FSM: 4
  • We wait in the shortest line, someone in front taking an abysmally long time with a tiny trolley of shopping. I see another shopper give me a sneaky glance from behind me, and sprint to another checkout who's just opened. (#5) TOTAL FSM: 5
  • I find another checkout and stand there trying to contain an unrestrained Millie, when it happens.
  • A male shopper around my Mum's age sidles up to Millie, shucks her on the chin and says'Why are you so happy? Oh, that's why. The bloody dummy in your mouth.'My eyebrows shoot up. I turn to face this man, slack jawed. I turn half back to my shopping and the rage rises in my chest.
  • I turn back and say 'Good thing she's my child then, isn't it? We're completely fine with her having a dummy.' What I don't say, but really long to, is (cover your eyes Mum) 'And go fuck yourself.' (Subtract 6 FSM points for not using profanity in public, when it was completely warranted and excusable.) TOTAL FSM: 0

The shopper in front of me looks at me slack jawed. I unload my shopping on to the conveyor belt and glance backwards. His wife comes up and says 'All our kids had dummies. I had to take one to the post office in a box and pretend we were posting it to Western Australia to get rid of it.'
I smile weakly and mumble something about M not feeling well today and not having a dummy all the time, all the while thinking 'Shut up Amy! You don't need to make excuses!'


My shopping errors are all but erased by this time, and are made even better by the delightful checkout lady giving us Millie's eaten banana for free. My heart stops racing after a few minutes and the world returns to normal.

That's the first time a stranger has said anything to me in public about anything to do with my kid.
When did that become okay? I stood up for myself in public that day. And I'm proud I did.

Do you stand up for yourself in public? How do you do it?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dear Dad

Has it really been five years? I know that Mr S and I have certainly done a lot in five years, but still, five years sounds like a lot.
There are no words to explain what it's like without you. Aside from quiet. (ha ha!) It's still incredibly crap without you around, and I suppose it probably will be for a long time to come.
I wish you knew Millie, and had met Rob and told Sally how great he was, and held Sam, met Stacey and told Ben how amazingly wonderful she is.
I think my biggest observation of the time since you've been gone is how much other people's lives go on. I wrote an entire album about this, and especially the song 'Turning'.


I’ve been building blocks
and I wondered why they fall - it makes no sense at all
then it was time I blinked and shadows changed, and a swift breeze took you away
I am counting cards, trying to find a hand that fits
I know it’s real, my world stops and yours will keep on turning
and so it seems I am a changed woman now
 - I’ve split apart at the seams
I now know all I am made of is tears
and there’s a grey spot in here
I am counting cards, trying to find a hand that fits
I know it’s real, my world stops and yours will keep on turning
the sun shines now I thought it’d be a little less,
but there’s a warm breeze instead
I’m taking stock of all that’s good in me
from me to you, you to me (me to you, you to me)
and I counted cards, I’ve never found a hand that fits
I know it’s still real my world stopped and yours will keep on turning

I found some pictures I'd like to show you...

Dad with me, circa 1983.

Boxing Day 2005. We are all exceptionally hungover after
having been drunk since 8am Christmas Morning.

Sally and I can touch our toes. Dad wonders why we would want to do that.

Come on Dad - give it a try!


Sally has a mid-photo nap. Dad finds some perk.

Blue steel... sort of...

Dad with his medal presentation at his retirement, 2007.

Dad (stylin' red head with beard!) with my brother Ben in 1979.

Dad with requisite wide-neck tie and Mum in jumper dress...
I'm going to guess in the 1980's?

Dad with his grandmother, Mildred Alice Blanchard.
(Millie's namesake!)

Dad with Sally and Ben at the Eurobodalla cheese factory, 1990ish?

Mum and Dad on their wedding day, 1974.

Dad and I in Melbourne, 2005.

Dad and I outside Port Arthur, TAS 2005.

My favourite photo of all, Dad giving me a horsie ride - 1985?

You were not a serious man, so this is the photo we put
on the front of your Order of Service at your funeral.
Missing you as always, Dad. Hope the jam doughnuts are fresh, the tea has milk, there's a meat pie close by and endless footy.


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