Thursday, 25 March 2010

Quick catch up

Argh, where is the time going? I can't keep up with life at the moment. But I did want to just stop by and post a quick catch up - a little list of the most significant things going on for us right now.
  • I'm pregnant. Yep, odd declaration for a bullet point I know, but life's been a bit like that at the moment.
  • I am flying to the US on Sunday to attend a conference on the Right to Water... without Lily. Ahhh! I am a little sad about this and anxious about how it will go, but I think she'll be fine. She's gotten so big recently.
  • The following Thursday P and Lily are flying to the US to meet up with me and then we are all flying to Mexico! Yay!
  • We'll be in Mexico for three weeks and plan to do lots of beachy stuff and a bit of cultural stuff too - like visiting some Mayan ruins etc... Most significant of all (as far as Lily is concerned), we are also planning to swim with dolphins.
  • I am massively behind schedule with my PhD due to 3 months of severe nausea and vomiting. Yes, I was lucky enough to get hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness) and it wasn't very conducive to thesis writing...
  • I am a little bit stressed right now...
I hope that you are all going really well and plan to be back some time soon with some more interesting stuff and maybe some photos of faraway places.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

White (& red) lunchbox

I didn't realise until I'd finished making Lily's lunchbox yesterday that it was basically all white. In a vague attempt to remedy the situation I added some grapes and tomatoes, but still, it was basically a white lunchbox...

Specifically it contained two corn thins with ABC spread (almond, brazil & cashew nut); an egg white (she hates the yellow part); half a pear; and those token tomatoes & grapes.

Friday, 19 March 2010

'Slug' noodle lunchbox

Yesterday morning Lily woke up and said, "I want tofu in my lunchbox today."
"OK," I replied.
"With broccoli and zucchini," she added.
"OK. Would you like rice or noodles with that?" I asked.
"Noodles. You know mama; noodles are like slugs," she said.
"I guess they are kind of like slugs. And broccoli is like trees, isn't it?" I replied.
"Yes. And zucchini is like fish."


Anyway, so I put udon noodles in her lunchbox with broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower and tofu; and I popped in some watermelon and rockmelon to round things out.

All up it was a very successful lunchbox. It came home completely empty, except for a little pile of tofu in the corner. The tofu I used was left over from our Vietnamese take-away the night before and I have to admit that it didn't look very appetising cold... Next time I'll put in some freshly cooked tofu from the fridge.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I have to admit that I was drawn to this novel solely because of the title. I love the idea of someone loving books so much that they would steal them. And, I should say upfront, that it delivered far beyond my expectations.

What I didn't realise was that this book is set in Nazi Germany during the Second World War and that it was sad. Really sad. I'm quite glad that I didn't know either of these things, because they would have put me off reading such a brilliant book. I'm really struggling these days with coping with sadness in books, and there really are so very many books and films about the holocaust, aren't there?

Of course, my ignorance didn't last very long. Within the first few paragraphs our narrator, death, is fairly explicit about the emotional roller coaster that we are about to board and the historical context in which it will take place. But, you see, by then I was hooked. That's how long it took: one paragraph, maybe two.

The book is the story of a young German girl, Liesel (or "the Book Thief"), who is traveling by train to Munich with her mother when she watches her younger brother die. This is when Death first encounters her and hangs around long enough to watch her steal her first book, The Gravedigger's Handbook, from the cemetery where they bury her brother.

Liesel continues on to Munich where she is left with a new foster family, the kindly Hans Hubermann, who plays the accordion and occasionally paints houses, and tough-as-nails Rosa Hubermann, who calls her Saumensch or pig (which we will come to understand is a term of endearment). She begins school at the age of 10, unable to read, meets her neighbour, soon-to-be-bestfriend, Rudy Steiner, and plays football in the street. Every night she wakes up screaming after dreaming about her brother's death and Hans is there to comfort her and, soon enough, to teach her to read.

Things take a darker turn when the family takes in Max Vandenburg, a young Jewish man, and hide him in their basement. The tension created by that courageous act is then increased as bombs begin to fall on Munich.

Despite the grim subject matter, this is such a beautiful story. At its heart it is the story of a young girl coming of age and learning the power of words and of love. Her relationships with Hans, Rudy, Max and even Rosa are so carefully developed and feel so utterly real that it is impossible to distance yourself from emotional vulnerability that is part and parcel of such strong friendships.

As for the sadness, well I'm not giving anything away when I say that I cried myself to sleep after finishing this book. Our kindly narrator essentially gives it all away in the first few pages. But that is what makes this book so wonderful. It is not held together with the suspense of wondering what is going to happen, it is held together with the story of why we should care.

Cheese & crackers lunchbox

In yesterday's lunchbox I packed a cheese & tahini sandwich; some more cheese & rice crackers, some grapes; and a salad of avocado, cucumber, capsicum & a cherry tomato. We also popped in a soy milk popper in the hope that it might help her relax at nap time (which is after lunch). Previously Lily napped almost everyday at preschool, but she hasn't napped for over a week now and she is fading quickly in the afternoons...

When I picked her up the crackers & cheese were gone, as were the soy milk; half of the grapes and part of the salad, but the rest remained. She decided to eat the cheese sandwich while we were still gathering her stuff though, so all up it was a successful lunchbox.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Sushi lunchbox

In yesterday's lunchbox I packed some tofu & avocado sushi with some little packages of soy sauce; some salad and a little tub of cream cheese for dipping; some grapes & rockmelon; and a tub of berry yogurt.

You may have noticed that we have gone back to the old lunchbox. Sigh. Sadly Lily has informed us that she prefers this one, because it fits inside her "Elmo lunchbag" (photo below). Double sigh. Stupid branded kids crap. Boo hiss.

Anyway, this was too much food, again (possibly because they cooked pesto pasta for morning tea and she had lots of it!). She ate her yogurt and all of the tofu sushi, plus a bit of the fruit and salad, but the rest of it had to wait until afternoon tea. Even then the avocado sushi was dismissed.

Lily’s ‘big bed’

Over the last few weeks Lily has decided to try sleeping in her own bed.

Your reaction to that last sentence will probably depend on what you think of co-sleeping. Some people, for example, will be thinking, “It’s about bloody time!” For them Lily has been ‘too old’ to share our bed for quite some time. In fact, for many it was always a bit of a suspect thing for us to do.

In contrast, my reaction was fairly mixed. It was one of pride, of excitement and, in all honesty, of deep sadness.

I loved sharing our bed with Lily. From the moment we brought her home my instinct to physically comfort her at night was overpowering. My sleepiness dulled the shock of all the changes that this new life involved and I found that I could just nurture (and feed) her without thought. Sharing the bed with her Papa also meant that they got to bond quickly despite his full time job.

As time went on Lily began to snuggle us back. The warm feeling of her little arms wrapped around me and the rhythm of her breath would often lull me back to sleep when I woke during the night.

These last few weeks I have missed her little body next to mine, but I am also enjoying her pride in claiming her own space and we’re still finding time for plenty of cuddles – especially when she creeps back in during the night.


Do you have a co-sleeping story to share? Perhaps you'd like to enter it into the Co-Sleeping Essay Contest? See Blue Milk from more info.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Three! (or my adventures with veg jelly)

On Sunday Lily turned 3 and we had a party for her. Here she is with the 'pool cake' that she insisted on having.

I had a bit of drama making the 'jelly' in the middle. There is only one brand of veg jelly crystals in Australia that seem to make a lime flavour (none of them do 'blue') - Vitarium. However, Coles only stock their raspberry flavour and although Vitarium said that they would post me a sample of their lime flavour, it never arrived in the mail. So, on Saturday night I followed a recipe that P. googled for making jelly with agar agar (which, by the way, costs $18 for 50 grams!).

Can I just strongly recommend that you do not follow that recipe yourselves? When I followed the instructions to the letter I ended up with a few large lumps of solid agar agar jell suspended in lime cordial juice. It didn't look appetising (not that I find jelly particularly appetising, to be honest). So, in a small panic, I heated the whole lot back up on the stove and found, to my relief, that it did dissolve again. I then added some extra water to cover any that may have evaporated and (after it had cooled somewhat) popped it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning I got the 'jelly' out of the fridge to find that it was now a very solid lump. I let it warm up a little, but nothing changed, it was like a massive, bowl-shaped jelly baby. Ahhh!

So, in the end, I mashed it with a potato-masher and spooned it into the middle of the cake... Looks 'fabulous,' doesn't it?

On a more serious note, poor Lily got a fever on Sunday afternoon after all the guests had gone home and was quite sick until sometime on Monday night. She had had a pretty exhausting week at preschool (a week of no naps) and I think that the excitement of the party may have just all been too much for her. (Hopefully it wasn't the 'jelly'.)

I'm just glad that she was OK for the party itself, because she had such a good time.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Tempeh wrap lunchbox

Friday's lunchbox was a tempeh wrap (with a bit of extra tempeh on the side); a local autumn plum; some rice crackers & cream cheese; and a blueberry & vanilla yogurt.

When I picked Lily up from preschool her crackers and cream cheese were gone, as was her yogurt (but she told me that she dropped it and I don't know how much she had before that happened) and a few pieces of tempeh. The wrap, however, was still mostly intact and the plum had barely been touched.

I asked her why she didn't eat her lunch and she said that she was too tired. I think her preschool is just fabulous, except for one little detail: they don't sit the kids down to lunch until 1pm. To me that is absolutely crazy! Lily is generally ready for lunch around 11:30-12 (aren't many adults?), and she is exhausted by 1pm. I've talked to them about it, but nothing seems to have changed...

To be fair, they do have a decent morning tea around 10:30-11am with fruit & veggies, and yesterday the children had cooked a 'cheesy vegetable bake' and eaten that with their morning tea (and this is fairly common). So, I may be overreacting. I do, however, wish that they would eat a little earlier.

Fortunately most of the food didn't go to waste. We had tofu, veggies & rice for dinner, and I added in the rest of her tempeh & the veggies from her wrap to her plate.

Friday, 12 March 2010

I covet

image via design inc.

I have been yearning to put a tree on the wall in Lily's room for ages now. The problem is, of course, that we rent. In Australia this means that we have extremely limited rights to do anything at all to our home (i.e you need permission to put up a picture hook!) and we only have a 12 month lease, so anything we do do may have a pretty limited lifespan...

image via home sweet home

Despite all this, I thought that I would share some of my recent finds with you. Maybe you'll be able to use them? Or, maybe they'll still be available next century when we can afford to buy our own house...

First up there is this gorgeous fabric wall sticker from I love my messy room.

I particularly like it with the addition of animals and the fact that it is fabric is pretty cool too. Apparently it can be re-used and will come off the wall without damaging it...

Next up is a wall sticker from the wall sticker company. This one is made of vinyl, but it is a Lara Cameron pattern that I have always loved...

It's also available in wallpaper, which would be very cool (but would really really need to go on the wall of a house that you weren't renting...)

Soba noodle lunchbox

In yesterday's lunchbox I packed a soba noodle salad with broccoli, tofu & sesame seeds, next to it are a few sugar snap peas and a little tub of miso sauce for the noodles, up the top is a nashi pear and a few tiny teddies.

Sadly Lily was exhausted by lunchtime and barely touched her lunch. Fortunately, she ate it all up for dinner (when served alongside some fresh miso soup), so all was well in the end.

Oh, and it turns out that she prefers her nashi pear peeled... Not sure how long I should cater to this preference though - isn't there a ton of nutrients just below the peel?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Lunchboxes... back with a vengeance

One of the things that compelled me to start blogging again was our recent acquisition of a new lunch box for Lily. It's a Laptop Lunchbox (bought from here) and I love it. (Pathetic, aren't I?). Anyway, be prepared for an onslaught of lunchboxes for a little while as I work through my excitement...

This is a picture of yesterday's lunch: animal pasta & cheese, with a little tub of tomato sauce, some watermelon, a salad of capsicum, tomato, avocado & cucumber and some blueberries & yogurt.

In case you were wondering: Yes, it was too much food. She demolished the pasta, ate most of the watermelon & blueberries, but that poor salad was barely touched... Next time I think I'll pack less pasta.

I'm back

Dear blog

I've missed you. Without you I seem to have stopped recording and reflecting on the little moments that make up my life. Despite good intentions I haven't written a single 'letter to Lily' and I've barely taken any photos. To make matters worse, I don't seem to have more time either. In fact, I've realised that you were a great solution to writer's block and I've been a little, well, blocked without you.

So, I guess what I'm saying is: will you have me back? I can't promise to be faithful or devoted, in fact, perhaps it would be best for the long term if I avoided even thinking such thoughts. But I do promise to respect and value what you add to my life.



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