My Baby is FOUR

A Birthday Interview with PICKLE – age 4

Who is your favourite person in the whole world? Jack

What is your favourite colour? Red

What is your favourite dinner? Lasagna

What is your favourite thing to wear?  My knight’s costume

What is your favourite sport? Cricket! (Daddy was so proud!)

What is your favourite song? Bonkers (Dizzee Rascal; making Daddy proud again!)

What is your favourite cereal? Weet-Bix

Who is your best friend? All my friends.Finn, Graci, Max, Isla, Chloe…and Jack

What do you want to be when you grow up? An adult! (bahahahahaha) I’d like to cook dinners. (Me: do you mean like a chef?) I’d love to be a chef!

What is your favourite book? Tickle My Ears

What are your really good at? Playing board games

Where is your favourite place to go on holiday? Wanaka

What is your favourite memory? Going to Nana and Pops’ farm

If you had $1000, what would you buy? I’d go to the Toy [and Transport] Museum (in Wanaka) and buy a Playmobil knight with a dragon

What is your favourite vegetable? Cucumber

If you had one wish, what would you wish for? For Hulk to have a sword!

What is your favourite ice cream flavour? Chocolate chip

Who is your biggest hero? Hulk (ha – literally)

What do you like to do with your friends? Play

What is your favourite animal? Lion!

IMG_8224Happy, happy fourth birthday to our baby, our cuddly little Bear. You make us laugh countless times each day, with your infectious smile and the way you move to the beat of your own drum. You completed our family four years ago, and we love you a trillion!
xxxxx

5 Years of Blogging | GIVEAWAY |

| WINNER | @neo_crazybugs

On June 1st, 2011, I published my very first blog post. Then I sat back and hoped that someone, anyone, would read it.

Five years on, and I’m still going, grateful for all the someones who read that first post, for the friendships I’ve made through the mummy and New Zealand blogging communities, and for the moments in time captured in each post.

To celebrate Tall, Short, Tiny & a Pickle turning FIVE, I’ve put together a wee prize pack for one lucky reader.

5yearcompPRIZE DETAILS:  All Good colouring book | Coral Colours Eyeshadow Quartet in Mallee Spice | knitted-by-me ear warmer in teal (brighter than photo suggests) |  Essano Rosehip Gentle Facial Exfoliator | 3 pairs of made-by-me Rose stud earrings (black, salmon & aqua) | Whittakers Marlborough Sea Salt and Caramel Brittle chocolate |

TO ENTER: simply leave a comment below! For extra entries, visit me on Instagram and Facebook. Giveaway closes at 8pm on Thursday 16 June, 2016.

Please note: due to posting restrictions, this giveaway is open to NZ Residents (18+ years old) only.

Easter 2016

Autumn in Central Otago is one of my most favourite times of the year. The Clutha River winds its way through the region, accompanied by lines of tall poplar trees that are slowly shedding their cloaks of green for capes of red and orange. It’s a stunning time of year to visit, and we are so very lucky to have a place to stay that is just over three hour’s drive from Dunedin.

We spent Easter in Wanaka, and it was unseasonably warm (hot, even), but predictably beautiful. We went with no plans, and spending a relaxed few days with my boys and my parents was just what my soul required. I didn’t check the internet once, we paid little heed to the clock, and we had a blast.

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My parents very kindly looked after the boys one morning when the hubs and I decided to climb Roy’s Peak, a 16km round trip just out of Wanaka. We started our climb around 7.30am, claimed the peak before 10am, and enjoyed a morning tea of fruit and cold sausages looking out over a bed of thick clouds. Sadly, this meant the views were obscured from three-quarters of the way up, but under the cloud bank, the views were breathtaking. As we descended, we met hundreds of others beginning their climbs, and even though we’d missed the views, we had to admit that having the peak to ourselves for a while was a good trade-off.

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We celebrated Tiny’s 6th birthday on Easter Monday, with playground visits, a fish-and-chip dinner, and a chocolate sponge made by my mum. He thought it was pretty special having a holiday on his birthday, and my parents thought it was pretty special spending the whole day with their grandson on his birthday.

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{{SIX}}

Today, you are six. I look at the confident, smart, happy and devilishly-handsome boy in front of me, and can’t quite believe that it has been six whole years since you came into our lives.

Favourite book: Dragon Knight series
Favourite colour: red
Favourite food: pasta and wraps
Favourite toy: LegoFavourite character: Iron Man, all of the Avengers
Favourite place: Wanaka

2Waverley (6)

You’re the kind of kid who makes friends with everyone, and your teachers always say that you’re never short of play-mates. However, you have your crew, and your close friends are very important to you. I love that when we walk into school, there are always people calling out “Hi!” to you. You have this understated, even unconscious, magnetism, and people seem drawn to you. I hope that you never lose that. I also hope you never lose the confidence that recently saw you sitting in the principal’s office, eating chocolate biscuits, in your bright orange undies – the fact that someone else had mistakenly taken your shorts after swimming didn’t faze you in the slightest; you had a special morning tea date with Mr McD and nothing was standing in the way of that!

I’m so stoked with how much of a book nerd you have become. When Dad took you and your brother for a “mountain” walk recently, you wanted to pack a book to read at the top. I couldn’t stop smiling, because that sounded like a pretty great idea to me. It does make me a little sad that you now choose to read in bed for 15 minutes instead of being read to, but it also makes me immensely proud. I hope you continue to love reading as much as you do now, and I promise I will always make books a priority for you.

I love that your little brother is one of best friends, and how much you love to play with each other. Sure, there are times when he breaks your Lego creations and that upsets you a bit, but you are easily reasoned with and you forgive quickly. The games you play together are so intricate, and often I don’t know which character I’ll see from one minute to the next, but you include him in everything and encourage and support him, too. I hope your bond will always be as tight as it is now.

You have a maturity that often astounds me, and an astute and observant eye. You notice everything, and remember everything too – your memory is better than Dad’s! But you also know how to be a kid, and I hope that sense of fun stays with you throughout your life.

You’re six today, my little buddy, and while I’ve heard some discouraging things about six-year-old boys, I’m looking forward to all the fun and challenges that this year brings.

HAPPIEST OF BIRTHDAYS TO YOU, J – WE LOVE YOU AND YOU MAKE US PROUD EVERY DAY XXXXXX

Pickle is Three

He’s determined, stubborn and incredibly headstrong.

IMG_6012 Plantation Island (68)        He’s cheeky – a joker – and doesn’t follow the crowd.

Plantation Island (97)Plantation Island (79)He’s affectionate, a lover of babies, cuddly, kind and compassionate.

Denarau (22)He’s smart, and imaginative and dreamily creative, and a little bit silly.

IMG_6030IMG_6104He’s a huge fan of stories, drawing and Lego, and anything his big brother is doing.

IMG_6129IMG_6132He’s THREE and he’s ours and we love him.

Happy birthday, baby bear xxxxxxxx

{{FIVE}} Superhero Party

Tiny took less than two seconds to decide that he would like a Superhero Party for his 5th birthday. I have no idea where his current obsession with masked crusaders comes from; he’s never seen a cartoon or movie or comic book featuring any of them, it just seems to be an innate rite of passage for little boys.

However, I was more than happy to roll with his idea – everything about it screamed “easy” and “fun”, which are my favourite words when it comes to party planning. I like having a theme, but I’m certainly not aiming for pin-worthy parties!

Superhero Party Invitation

Steph from Paper & Ink designed these amazing invitations for us; everyone loved them and I couldn’t recommend her enough.

I made these treasure bags out of fabric I found at Spotlight,

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and the cake was my go-to chocolate mud cake, decorated with fondant and Blokhedz – I finally found a use for them!

Superhero Cake

I bought Batman and Superman duct tape, and POW washi tape from Warehouse Stationery, and used them to decorate paper plates and cups. The masks were also purchased there, for the grand price of $2 per pack of eight; I was going to make masks but couldn’t have made them for that price.

Superhero party

Games were chosen by Tiny: a treasure hunt, and Catch the Villain, using cans of Silly String, aka Spiderman Spray. Both were simple and fun for this age – they are old enough to play a couple of organised games, but prefer to race around and make their own fun.

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Tall had fun playing the Villain, and all the kids seemed to have a fun time. Tiny is insistent that he’s going to have a superhero party for his 6th birthday too, so it’s fair to say he had a great time too.

{{FIVE}}

Tiny turns five

My biggest baby turned {{five}} today.
Five is so big yet still so small, but the changes it brings are huge.
After the Easter holidays, he will start school, and everything will be different.
I know that it will be amazing and that he is ready for this, but I also know that he is suddenly very aware that everything will be different too.
Yesterday he cried, and my heart broke as he sobbed about how he won’t see his friends anymore. We wept together in the car after kindy.
How do you explain to a five-year-old that you can still be friends with people even if you don’t see them every day? That can be so hard even as an adult, but somewhere along the way we must just understand that those threads bind us to our friends no matter how close or how far we are.

Tiny turns five

Tiny turning {{five}} also means we have been fumbling our way through this parenting thing for five years now.
I think we’re doing okay so far, if Tiny is anything to go by.
He’s awesome.
He is kind, caring, funny, smart, compassionate, empathetic and generous.
He loves his friends and his little brother; he enjoys his own company, but will happily engage with anyone.

Tiny turns five

{{five}}
Crikey.

Happy birthday, my biggest baby
xxxxx

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake

Yesterday was a dear friend’s birthday, and a few of us gathered for a playdate which also involved cake and bubbles. I offered to make the birthday girl a cake; my directives: it must be chocolate, and dairy-free.

I flicked through my trusty hand-written book of favourite recipes (collected over the past 13+ years), and found a recipe that could easily be adapted to become dairy-free; it was also considered low-fat, and suitable for those who can’t eat egg yolks too.

The result was, quite honestly, spectacular. I was really pleased with how light and fluffy the cake was, and it was damn tasty to boot. I was going to get a photo of the inside of the cake, but it didn’t last long enough for that kind of carry on.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake

3/4 c caster sugar
4T dairy-free margarine
3/4 c boiling water
1 1/4 c self-raising flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 180degC. Grease and line the base and sides of a ring tin.

Completely dissolve the sugar and margarine in the boiling water.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda into a large bowl; add the liquid mixture and beat with an electric mixer for 60 seconds.

Add the egg whites and beat for a further 30 seconds. Do not overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin (it will be quite liquidy, but don’t worry!), and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.

Cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust with icing sugar, or drizzle with melted dark, dark chocolate, or smother in a dairy-free buttercream frosting:

Melt 50g of dark, dark dairy-free chocolate and set aside to cool*. Beat 100g of dairy-free margarine until pale; gradually beat in 200g icing sugar, and a splash of vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the cooled chocolate and splodge onto the cooled cake (fold in a little water if the frosting is too stiff).

*if you add the hot melted chocolate into the buttercream, it will harden immediately and you’ll end up with a still-delicious-but-not-quite-right chocolate chunk frosting. Trust me on this one – let that chocolate cool.

Enough

(Disclaimer: this isn’t a cry for validation or platitudes, it’s merely a musing on something I’ve noticed about myself over the past few years)

Every year at this time, a feeling of maudlin insecurity creeps into my mind. I begin to feel that greedy monster called Comparison unpack his bags, and his friends Insecurity and Self-Doubt start to make regular house calls. I like to think of August as my month of throwing Pity-Parties-For-One.

I start to question everything. I wonder whether I am a good mother, or a good wife. I wonder where I fit with my friends. I wish I was as thin as one, or as fit as another, or as pretty, or as friendly, or as smart, or as fun. I feel envious, and unsure of my place.

I feel nostalgic, and wonder what life would have been like if we’d stayed living in London. I feel regret for things I did or didn’t do when I was younger, especially around my choice of study. I’m insecure about everything, and I re-play conversations in my head, wondering if I said the wrong thing, or interrupted too often, or said too much. I long for things I used to have, or wish I had; material things, as well as things like daffodils, perfect vision, a tan.DaffodilsI know I do it, and I know why I do it. I’m tired. I’m over winter, and it’s almost my birthday. I know that these feelings will subside in a short space of time and that I’m being self-indulgent, but I allow myself to wallow in this self-pity for a bit, because I know that in all reality, I AM enough. I know that comparison is unnecessary, unhealthy, and unhelpful, and so I give myself a mental slap on the face and after a while, that monster and his friends pack quietly and go, threatening to return in a year’s time.

Does anyone else feel this way as their birthday approaches, or is it just me?