A Lego Party

4 Balloons on the trampoline Lego Cake 4th birthday Lego cake Lego biscuitsM&MsStep 1: collect balloons, crepe paper and treats in the main Lego colours.

Step 2: bake your go-to chocolate mud cake. Press the bottom of a (brand-new) Lego board onto fondant icing to create those iconic “bumps” and decorate using Lego brick sweets and (clean) tool-wielding Lego people from the birthday boy’s collection.

Step 3: roll refrigerator cookies into rectangles and set overnight; cut into blocks for baking. Ice with coloured royal icing and corresponding candies to make Lego cookie.

Step 4: employ your other half and your mother to blow up 40+ balloons. Argue with OH about the quantity of balloons needed. As he walks out the door at 8pm to buy more, remind him that you want blue, red, green and yellow balloons only. Yelp in horror when he returns 20 minutes later with bags of mixed colours and attempts to add orange to the mix.

Step 5: Go to bed and dream about Lego cakes and balloons.

Step 6: make pizzas, decorated to look like cheesy Lego bricks with little slices of pepperoni arranged demonically perfectly atop the cheese.

Step 7: sit down and relax while your birthday boy has a blast with his little mostly-kindy friends.


Cake for a Cat

image  On Sunday afternoon, Tiny asked if we could bake a cake.

“Absolutely!” I replied. I love cake.

“For Cat’s birthday!” he called from halfway up the stairs.

The crocheted soft cat I brought back from Valparaiso when I was pregnant with him. The cat that sits on his bed before being tossed during the night. Oh.

Any excuse for cake, right?

I wanted to bake a cake that would be easy for him to help me with, so chose the One-Egg Chocolate Cake recipe I’ve been using since I was 11-years-old.


Except…Tiny chose to play with his toys and leave me to do all the hard work. Sigh.

When the cake had cooled and been iced with a frosting-that-almost-failed, he did help me decorate it with (a few too many) sprinkles, and nine of the candy-coloured Trade Aid candles I was sent by lovely Miriam.

Cat, Teddy & Jelly

We sat at the dining table with Cat, Teddy, Jelly and Pickle. We sang “Happy Birthday” over and over, and blew out the candles at least eight times. Pickle thought it was hilarious; Tiny thought it was the best party ever.


The cake was pretty tasty too.

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Just Rollin’ With It

In my own home, I am a bit of a control freak.

Actually, scratch that. In my own kitchen, I am a bit of a control freak.

On the rare occasion that my husband cooks (not because he can’t cook or is lazy, but because I enjoy it so much that I hardly ever give him the opportunity), I struggle to stay out of the kitchen. It takes every inch of my willpower to sit in the lounge, to leave him to create as much mess havoc chaos deliciousness as he desires, to bite my tongue and not offer up words of advice unless he asks for them.

Recently I decided to make animal biscuits with Tiny. I made the cookies – cooked them, and cooled them – then invited him to decorate them with me. He excitedly washed his grubby little hands, dragged one of his little chairs to the bench, and watched as I made a beautifully glossy royal icing. I tipped silver cachous into a small ramekin, and opened up shakers of chocolate hail and 100s & 1000s, all the while instructing him not to eat too many sprinkles.

We had a two-man assembly line going. I iced; he sprinkled. I showed him how to gently, gently shake the sprinkles evenly over the biscuit, then watched as he dumped a heap in one place. I was about to launch myself at him, to tell him he was doing it wrong, to show him how to do it my (pretty) way, when I suddenly gave myself an invisible slap across the cheek.


Motorbike Man and the Police Man were on the lookout for rogue animals, apparently.

I backed off. I let him sprinkle to his heart’s content. I watched as he placed seven cachous “eyes” on the belly of a dog.

He was so proud of them all. So proud. He desperately wanted Daddy to come home so he could show him his handiwork.


He *may* have sampled a bit of icing. And some sprinkles. Possibly. Can’t be sure.

His biscuits looked beautiful. They weren’t uniform and pretty, as I would have liked, but they were colourful and fun, and they had been made that way by my boy.

And I realised I’d enjoyed letting go, enjoyed letting him have free reign to decorate these cookies the way he wanted them. I’d rolled with it, and it felt freeing, relaxing, a little bit mischievous. Best of all, it felt so good to see how thrilled he was with his work. It was good for us both.

Linking up with lovely mama Miriam for

BMWB(Have you entered my Strawberry Jam giveaway?)

Good Things in a Jar

IMG_2425I saw this idea on Pinterest earlier in the year and thought it looked like something fun to do with Tiny. I’d forgotten about until now, however; discussing a visit from Nana and Pops suddenly brought it to mind.

It couldn’t have been easier to make.

Take one large jar. Make sure it’s clean on the inside. Rummage through your craft supplies for a scrap of paper, something pretty to embellish, and a black pen. Stick your paper to the jar with glue or tape; attach your pretty thing in the same way. Write “Good Things” on the paper.

IMG_2423Voilà. You’ve made a Good Things jar.

Now the fun part – thinking of good things to put in your jar.

I sat down with Tiny to talk about all the good things that have happened this year so far. It took a little while for him to get the idea, but with some gentle coaxing, we managed to write down a handful of good things that have happened in 2013 thus far.

Being almost-three, the first good thing he came up with was the new “fire engine and trailer and rescue boat” Nana bought him at the airport. I wrote it down, and into the jar it went, then I gently suggested that perhaps the visit from his grandparents was also a good thing. He agreed, and suggested that visits from Grandma and Grandad are good too.

IMG_2430With more subtle encouragement, he thought of half a dozen good things to go in the jar. We decided that seeing Pickle can’t talk (and his list would be boob-based anyway), we were allowed to think of good things for him, such as learning to sit, and getting teeth.

I think we’ll write down “good things” at the end of each month, which will give Tiny a good opportunity to stretch that little memory; it will also be interesting to see how his view of things changes over the year. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to talk about what’s been happening with my biggest boy, as another way of having one-on-one time together.

Linking up with Miriam for


Teaching Kindness

Somewhere along the way, I started to use the word “kind” instead of “nice” when it came to Tiny’s behaviour towards other people. It made more sense to me to instil the idea of kindness at an early age, to label a behaviour in this way, to encourage thoughts of how our actions might affect others, instead of labelling actions as “naughty” or “nice”.

For example, when he takes a toy off another child – most often, his baby brother – we talk about it being unkind, and about how it makes him feel when that happens to him. He gets it, even if it doesn’t stop the behaviour…he’s not quite three, afterall.

This coming Saturday, February 16th, is The Sisterhood’s National KINDNESS Day. Sisters all over the country will be doing random, and not-so-random acts of kindness for friends, families, strangers.

I plan on taking my boys with me when I drop my kindness bombs on unsuspecting Dunedinites.  I want Tiny to see how good it feels doing things for other people. I want him to see that we don’t always need or get recognition for being kind, and that good deeds and gratitude comes in all forms. I want him to begin to understand that sometimes, we do things because it is GOOD and KIND and DECENT, and that everyone has the capacity to be good and kind and decent.

He’s going to help me bake for other people, and make a delivery to the local maternity ward. He’s helped me choose some treats for random sharing, and will come with me on all my missions. He won’t understand it all, but I’m going to use Kindness Day as an opportunity to expand his self-centric horizons.

Are you planning on joining us in being extra-kind on Saturday? Check out The Sisterhood Facebook page, or click on the image below for ideas, or to share your own.


Linking up with Miriam for

A “Yes” Day

Last week had a relatively rotten start around these parts.

Tiny was missing his daddy who had to go back to work after a fun three weeks, and I was missing him too. I was tired, having been up a few times with the baby in the night, so when Tiny had been put into time out for the umpteenth time, I lost the plot a little.


He’d just eaten the wax on a big candle, and then he pulled Pickle’s birth certificate out of its tube holder, scrunching it up, and eating some of it.

I swore at him, which I’m mightily ashamed of, and childishly ignored him while he bawled in the hallway. I was so angry that he’d ruined something of his brother’s, and it took a while for me to calm down sufficiently to remember that we have another copy of the certificate, and to be able to talk to him about what he’d done.

When Tall got home, Tiny was in time out again, and his favourite race car had been confiscated. By then, I was able to see the funny side of the day (just!), but it was also starting to get some cogs whirring in my brain.

When Tuesday was another bad day, I decided to put my plan into action, and so Wednesday became a “Yes” day.

When Tiny asked for chocolate (Nutino) toast for morning tea, I said yes. When he asked me if I wanted to play with his race cars with him, I said yes. When he asked if he could watch a cartoon, I said yes. When he asked me to have running races (which he always wins, regardless) and to read him a story and to go for a “ride” in his (imaginary) fire engine, I said yes, yes, YES.

I drew the line at more chocolate toast at lunchtime, and when he asked if he could throw a golf ball inside, but for most of the day, when it was appropriate, those oft-spoken sentences – “Not at the moment, I’m busy,” and “In a minute” – weren’t uttered.

When Tall got home, the mood in the house was positive. The laundry was unwashed and the dishes hadn’t been washed or cleared, but we were all happy.

I’m thinking that a “Yes” day might become a weekly thing around these parts!

Joining Miriam for

Time with Tiny

Before Pickle joined our family, I made a concerted effort to spend time creating memories and moments with Tiny. We did loads of fun stuff, just the two of us, and even though he won’t remember it, I hope that at the time, he knew how special those moments were.

Sadly, since Pickle arrived, we haven’t had many moments like that. In fact, we’ve had none. No moments where it’s just him and me, even when Pickle’s asleep, because he’s usually asleep on me, or we’re out and about doing jobs.

Thankfully, he’s had loads of time alone with his daddy, special time where the two of them have gone to the park or to the museum, to see a race car exhibit or to the pool. I’m glad that the two of them have been having fun together, but I miss spending time with my big boy.

I’ve been inspired once more by Miriam, inspired by the intentional way she parents her two cutie-cuties. Inspired by the way she takes the opportunity to be present in their lives, without spending loads of money, without needing the latest gimmicks.

It made me realise that at nearly-three, it’s still the simple things that will mean the most to Tiny. I don’t have to take him to a café, or spend lots of cash to spend quality, fun time together.

Yesterday, instead of taking Pickle to the supermarket (which guarantees at least a small morning sleep; he likes to drift off by the yoghurts and hummus), I decided to take Tiny instead. Just the two of us. Like it used to be.

He was so excited when I suggested that he could accompany me. “And not Pickle?” he asked, hopefully. “No buddy, just you and me.”

But I wanted to make it even more of a big deal for him, so I wrote him his very own shopping list. Well, I say “wrote”, when really, I drew some rudimentary pictures of things I knew he’d recognise.


(Hey, I never said I was a very good artist.)

Who would have thought that a simple thing like having his own list, and his own pencil to cross things off would make such a difference? But this little man proudly carried his list to the car, and for the entire five minute journey, repeated the same sentence over and over again: “I’ve got my shopping list and my pencil, Mummy.”

At the supermarket, I let him discover his items (with a little help to find broccoli, as it was above his eye line), and he was pretty pleased each time he was able to cross something off. And at the checkout, he told the good-natured operator numerous times that he had his list and his pencil and that we’d found everything to put in the trolley.

Simple. Easy. So fun, for us both.

And a good reminder for those moments when I just wish he’d be quiet or stop whinging, a reminder that he’s a little boy eager to learn, a little boy who absorbs everything through repetition, and a little boy who is a delight to spend time with.

Joining in with the ever-inspiring Miriam