birthday party debrief

Well, that was massive. Most of the kids we thought were coming came, along with a few blow ins who were in the park at the same time and who just joined in. Which was totally fine, because despite my fear of undercatering, there was plenty. For food we had big fruit platters, a big bowl of kettle chips, lots of  cold cheese paztizzis cut in half and fairy bread - the only item I could have done more of. Drinks were very dilute cordial with some extra food colouring - it looked great but tasted disgusting and one boy was heard asking another if the blue was any better than the red. The answer, they're all tewwible. Oh well, we'll do better next time.

fairy cake

happy birthday grace!

treasure hunt

After the first lot of food, we had some games - statues and musical shenigans that ended up with me leading a crazy conga line and doing the hokey pokey. Then they ran around and played in the playground.Some of the kids lost their fairy dresses and went around in underpants (at another party not so long ago they all got naked and went paddling in the creek - I wonder how long before they're all too grown up to consider such a thing). Meanwhile I snuck home to get the cake.* It was very heavy, but instant wow effect. Kids called to each other, it's the cake, it's the cake and gathered around. We cleared the table and put out the cake and two platters of cupcakes and cheesecake slice. Lit the candles and sung happy birthday - Grace looked very happy indeed! Cake was served and then we it was time for the pinata which Gerard made. Despite taking some bashing (towards the end I gave it a couple of good whacks I gave it a couple of good whacks with the cricket bat myself) it was a big hit and the kids went crazy when it burst and lollipops and pirate money burst out .But that wasn't the end, there was a treasure hunt too! For the lolly bags. Gerard had hidden clues around the park and the kids swarmed in around in a pack looking for them - it took a while before they got the idea but it was a tremendous way for them to run off some of the sugar crazy.

And then that was it, for another year. 

* I totally loved making this cake and can't wait to make another. Grace loved it too and carried the fairy barbie around the supermarket. She has continued to love her ever since she came out of the cake. I always thought I would be totally against barbie dolls, but I'm starting to feel that not making a fuss one way or the other might be the way to go (and I'm quite happy for her to cut their hair off or otherwise transform them). It was also the first time I have used butter cream icing. Much better for decorated cakes. All these things I thought I'd never do - barbies, cake bling, buttercream. What can I say?

eating the carcass of a bejewelled armadillo after all

In the aftermath of the sugar high to end all sugar highs, I have no photos. Not yet anyway - because I'm too dammed exhausted. The party was good, if somewhat nerve wracking for all the reasons that parties are. You would think party stress would be less so for a child's party than your own, but no. At least, not for me.

Maybe I'll write about the party tomorrow. After I've rested some more. And downloaded the photos. If I can get out of bed. I almost didn't get up this morning, my muscles would barely lift themselves from the sheets and I lay there weighing up whether to stay home sick and cope with visitors, renovations, more party clean up and general domesticity or go to work and talk as little as possible. Work won as the less onerous option and my body reluctantly arose. After breakfast, I selected a boring but comfortable outfit that I'd had the foresight to iron the day before the party and dragged myself onto the bus. At work my nose started dripping, I sneezed alot and the posters on the wall moved in disconcerting ways.Then I had the brilliant idea, maybe I could have a flex day tomorrow - and leadership at  work thought it a brilliant idea, I have too many flex credits, Tuesday is the day they need me the least and it's better for their stats if I don't have a sickie. So then I thought, if I can just soldier through to the end of the day, I can have the special orange scented white and dark chocolate cinnamon cheesecake I saved from the party and secreted in the fridge for dessert in front of the telly with Gerard and then sleep in tomorrow. Two things to look forward to.

The day wore on. It wasn't that busy, but there were some pretty crazy conversations. Like the one where someone was complaining about the pay rate (yes I agree it's hard to live on that little money) and pumping me for ideas on how to campaign for a pay increase (yes, I agree it's tough but nothing I can do to help you with that right now) as the late afternoon queue backed up behind. Oh, and the guy complaining about no-one noticing the queue and me being there all by myself right as people from all over the office were coming out the front and taking people from the queue back to their desks. In my day, we expected to queue. Hell, sometimes I queue longer at the post office. He left after I suggested that there had been no wait at all this morning. Oh, and then there was a lovely lady who was a bit miffed at me when I suggested she sit at the next desk to fill out her form while I served someone else and said nice clothes. It was all I could do to smother my sarcasm and not reply, and what would you wear to work, sweetie? So yeah, there were several points in the day when the thought of the cheesecake and another day off were what moved me forward. 

Then it took me longer to leave work than it should have. So as a consequence I missed the tram. Missed the train and missed the bus. Got home just as Grace was finishing her dinner in front of the telly and G was making us brown rice and tofu (actually a good choice for dinner - nothing like too much fairy bread to bring on a brown rice craving). Then G told me there was no more cheesecake left. Sniff. Like a good host, he offered a piece to our guest, who liked it so much that she ate it all up. There had been enough leftover for me, G and Grace to have a nice sized helping each. I didn't get a chance to savour it properly on the day, so I'd planned it this way you see. Anyway it was very rich, so it is no surprise that eating two and a half serves might have given her a tummy ache. Sniff. Never mind. I still have my day tomorrow and I can always make another cheesecake. Sniff. So we had some leftover birthday cake instead. Hence the title. Because that's what it kind of looks like. A crazy pink buttercream armadillo carcass covered in jewelled sweets. Now with pieces hacked out. Yum. 


Grace turned five this week and as usual, I've been sentimental about her birth and her tiny babyness. Goodness, it seems so long ago, and yet not at all. Concurrently. On the whole*, I'm really enjoying Grace at five. The conversations, the drawing, the enthusiasm for going to school and learning to read. The making things out of sticker tape and cardboard boxes, the big post office constructed from boxes and buckets and other pits and pieces found in the backyard. The way she and one of her friends spent an afternoon putting every single toy to bed somewhere in her room. The toy picnics and outings. It makes me reluctant to clean up her room for weeks on end, because who knows what story I would be breaking**... 

And she still loves to give her old mum a big cuddle and hold hands. Isn't that the best? And she loves it when I go to school to be a parent helper. Although we did have a conversation the other day about what embarrassing means. Grace said it was when you were rude and your underpants showed when you didn't want them to. I do hope it's a while before I become embarrassing. 

So anyway, we are having a big party in the park tomorrow. Grace decided that she wanted to invite the whole class (like another kid did) so we said as long as it was afternoon tea in the park, that was OK. And despite there being two other parties on the same day, a surprising number of kids are coming. And thankfully the park is full of space for burning off all that sugar craziness. Hopefully the cake will be big enough!

Happy birthday Grace!!

* Not to say that I haven't enjoyed other ages, of course I have, but five is really fun. Oh, and not to say that there aren't still fights and tantys and being told that you're a mean mum and you've ruined my whole day hnnmmphh etc... Still, the good far outweighs the bad. 

**Although it does get to a point where even Grace thinks it's a good idea if we clean her room and start again. Last time she told me that I did such a great job mummy. Not always the case!

family visit

Betty and Camo, Ruby and Maeve came to visit for two weeks in April. It was all too brief and I didn't take enough photos, mostly being too busy being in the moment. Then after they left, I was sad and busy and a bit cross that they're not just down the road anymore. Because Grace and Ruby see to have left that awful fighting stage behind. It was all sweetness and light, no seriously, it was gorgeous watching them play and hang out. And watch television together.

And then there is Maeve. Growing up so fast. No longer a baby and into everything. Absolutely everything. She is so delightfully cheeky.

Sigh. I need to get my next lot of leave approved so I can book some tickets. More visits required. Frequent visits.

more about our vegie box

Downloaded about three weeks worth of photos the other night and right at the beginning are the ones I took on the day we had our turn sorting for our organic fruit and vegetable collection. Some boxes are better than others, that was a pretty good one - the nashi pear were absolutely sensational, with more crisp crunchiness and taste than I've ever had in a nashi before. I must find out which variety it was so I can plant a tree. The strawbs were also rather good, even though we didn't get many. It was a box of much halving - half a punnet of strawberries, half a pumpkin, quarter of a cabbage. A bit hard for the families that get a half box, some of them got a slither of cabbage and four strawberries... or so it seemed.

on the table

hello, caterpillar friend!

These days we have a rhythm for doing the collection. G goes to Ceres and does the pick up (which I don't much enjoy - driving into Ceres makes me tense), we both bring it all into the kitchen and I do the sort. Which I do enjoy. But I'm glad we only have to do it every ten weeks or so. When it's not our turn to sort, the pick up is much easier and more pleasant than going to the supermarket. Drive or walk with the trolley (ok mostly we drive and so do others) to a neighbours house - have a chat (or not), pick up vegies, go home and make dinner. 

cabbage , lettuce and eggplant

our vegie box

The biggest challenge is actually getting through the box. It's $40 and given the quality most of the time, very good value for organic fruit and vegetables. But we have to be very disciplined and not buy extra fruit or vegetables until we eat what we have. Even if it's not exactly what we want to eat. Otherwise you end up with a fridge full of slime. It's definitely a different way of cooking and eating and we're getting better at it - although we have been known to fall for the fresh figs at Hassoons and it's hard to go without cucumbers or salad. I'm starting to see a pumpkin and go, OK, we could have pumpkin pie or cake, a pumpkin pizza or roast pumpkin with brown rice and almonds and then prepare the seeds. Or I look at a cabbage and think, yay coleslaw! And Japanese style cabbage pancake - which someone from the co-op suggested and is new on our rotation.  Leeks, on the other hand I struggle with. I know lots of people love them but Grace won't eat them, even in pie and I can't say I blame her. Leeks seriously underwhelm me. At least we're having a break from them this week. The plums this week are very nice. Sweet yet tart, juicy and crunchy - they'll go quickly. Must plant a late season plum too.  We also got bananas again and nobody seems to be eating them before they become too ripe. So I think tomorrow I'll make at least four loaves of can't be stuffed banana bread for the freezer. And perhaps try to give some away. People like to share their food around here - abundance is good like that.   

new taxes we could all grow to love

I have to tell you, I had a shit of a day at work today. Busy and hard. Making me feel like crying with anger and frustration and sadness hard. One of those days when all the rhetoric of social inclusion and ending homelessness disappears into the bureaucratic swamp. All I wanted to do was make an appointment with a housing worker for a bright young kid who was finding it difficult to study because they didn't know where they'd be sleeping each night. Actually, it was more complicated than that (it always is), and in the end I had to escalate the matter up the tree because sometimes you have to do everything you can not to let that person fall through the cracks. Really, as a society we need to do better. As a world we need to do better. Much better.

As I was unwinding after my day, cruising bloglines I saw this video at hugo and elsa. God, it's good. I laughed and then I thought, you know, why not?

You can also read more about the Robin Hood tax here, and while you're there become a fan on facebook (maybe also send a suggestion to your friends) and check out the famous Australians who also think it is a good idea.

Now while we're on the subject of new taxes, you should also go and read Kim's post Mad as Hell. She's right, we need a better approach to disability services in this country. You can read more about the issue on the Mad as Hell website and I personally think that the proposed national insurance scheme, something like the medicare levy is totally achievable and sensible. Hell, maybe some of the Robin Hood tax could help out too. I am acutely conscious as I do my work that large sections of our community live in unacceptable poverty, especially in a country as prosperous as Australia*. Having a disability or caring for someone with a disability makes it far more likely that you'll be one of them. As it says on the Mad as Hell website, The disability support system must find ways to achieve positive outcomes for people with disabilities and plan for future needs.

Don't you love social media? If lots of people got behind these ideas, maybe just maybe we could change the world.

* I think we also need to help people in other parts of the world. Basically I think we need to spread it around. The natural wealth and resources of the world belong to each and every one of us. Not just those most adept at turning them into riches for a few.