Wednesday, September 18, 2013


You may or may not be aware of the political news from Down Under.   If you are, you will most likely have heard that the Australian people ( I can't say 'we' as I can't vote here yet) have just elected Tony Abbott's Liberal (read Right wing Conservative) Party into Government.  I think it was rather a vote against the nonsense from within the ruling Labor Party, but there we go.  Anyway, you will surely have seen the many quotes from the newly minted PM about women, the environment and refugees ("Stop the boats!") to name but a few.  You might also have seen that the government of Afghanistan has more women in it than the cabinet of Australia. Good times.  

I never thought of myself as particularly political until we came here.  I also used to laugh at my husband for describing himself as a feminist.  Maybe I am changing with age, maybe I see the world differently because I have children.  Certainly I am much more aware of injustice and inequality than I was years ago.  

A couple of weeks ago I was helping our most-likely-to-be-an-engineer boy to write an essay.  The topic was Life in Other Lands and was to be based on a novel they had been reading about a girl in Afghanistan.  We spent a lot of time talking about the way that women and girls were treated by the Taliban in the 1980's.  Jonathan, really struggles to get his head around the issues of sexism.  It makes absolutely no sense to him that women shouldn't be able to do any job that they want to, or that they should be objectified.  He gets that there are maybe some jobs that are physically more suited to men than women or vice versa, but believes that anyone should be allowed to have a go at what they want to do.  All 3 of my older boys have asked many questions during the (interminably) long election campaign about the Liberal Parties views about women and about issues of feminism in general.

He loves the tech subjects at school, electronics and graphic design are his favourites so far, but he has throughly enjoyed the traditional 'girl' subjects, food tech and sewing.  Last night he noticed that the pocket of his hoodie had come unstitched so asked, NOT if I could mend it for him, but, if he could borrow my sewing machinre to fix it himself!  I did offer to do it, but he got quite annoyed at me!  

He did a great job and has asked if he can use my machine during the holidays to make some cushions.  Absolutely!  I posted this pic on instagram last night with the hashtag  #proudmama

After dinner, Joseph, decided that he wanted to make muffins.  This has become his thing and his favourite are the Gingerbread muffins from Susan Reimer's wonderful 'Muffins: Fast and Fantastic' book.  He refused all offers of help so I took photos!  Again these got posted to instagram #proudmama.

And here's the result with my cuppa at 11 o'clock this morning.  So very good!

Now Archie has not been making muffins or mending things, generally he is just being 'nearly 15'.  To be honest, it hasn't been a fun year, I struggle to parent him and often feel like we're in a big black hole.  He drives me to despair but then I see glimpses, as I did on Sunday

We were at the new house of friends.  While the other boys were vegging on their ipods, Archie came and spent ages entertaining my god-daughter, then he and John played games with Robert and his friend while we organised lunch.  He was polite, helpful, thoughtful and cooperative and John and I both told him how proud we had been of him.  It can happen occasionally and it's always good that it happens outside the home, but it would be lovely if it happened more often at home...

I didn't post this then, but I will now #proudmama

The point of this post was really to show how proud I am of the fact that my boys are growing up to be the kind of men that, I hope, will treat others with respect no matter whether they are male or female, black or white, rich or poor.  The kind to take responsibility for their actions, not put the blame on others.  My motto in life is from Micah in the Old Testament.  Ch6 vs 8 encourages the reader to 'do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God'.  This is what I hope for my kids, it seems to be so obvious, doesn't it?

Anyway, enough of the heavy stuff for now, more reasons to be a #proudmama -

Smallest Boy has his very first Sports Day on Friday.  He has been preparing for weeks.  He loved the running races, had fun in the egg and spoon race, but really showed them who was boss in the sack race!

That's me in my green cardi to support Green House!

And last, but certainly not least (or quietest),  Miss Meg sat her piano exam and got an A, then proceeded to perform for the whole school in the annual Talent Quest.  No photos of that sadly, but I do have a pic of her up a tree...

That's my girl! #proudmama

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The next adventure.

Here are the thoughts I jotted down in January about my last baby starting school.  A bit late, but hey, better late than never!

"After 14 years and 3 months of having at least one child at home, the next chapter is now beginning.

No5 started school yesterday.  We live next door but managed to arrive late as he couldn't find his hat, nevertheless he was excited, happy and ready to go.  He has the same Kinder teacher that my daughter had 4 years ago, and although new classrooms have been built since then, he knew the routine and what was expected of him.  

I've read a number of blog posts, facebook posts and Tweets from mothers who have shed tears and are sad that their babies are off to big school, lots of people have asked me if I would be sad or shed a few tears.  My honest answer is no.  I'm not sad, I'm delighted!  From his point of view, this is what is meant to happen, kids grow up, develop their own personalities and move away to start their own lives.  If I've done a decent job as a parent, then hopefully each stage will go relatively smoothly.  As for me, I've sent kids to play group, nursery, Infants/Primary and now High schools for the last 10 years, the practicalities are no big deal, but rightly I suppose it IS a big deal for me as much as for them.  I didn't cry, I'm not sad, but from here on in my role as a parent of a pre-schooler is over, a part of my life is over for ever and I will miss having my little buddy around during the day.

 In actual fact I think the role of a parent gets harder once your kids are at school.  After school activities and homework, keeping up with who is doing what/going where/friends with whom etc intensify (especially when you have 5).  I had always looked forward to the kids being at school so that I could get a job, until older, wiser parents told me about how much more older kids need parents around than younger ones, and another great friend told me that findings from a conference she had attended show that kid do drugs and get pregnant at 4pm because parents are at work and don't know what the kids are getting up to.

Maybe I should have pointed out that he is not yet 5.  This has been an issue that I would not have had to think about in the UK, but I have been asked if he isn't a bit too young for school, especially when some in his class have already turned 6.  My answer is simply that he's bright, he's bored with pre-school and he's ready.  So am I.  Yes, he's a bit small, but interestingly, one of the already-6-year-olds is smaller than him.

I guess we'll wait and see how he goes..."

UPDATE - September

As we get close to the end of term 3, I can give a little bit of an update.

At the risk of sounding like a show-off mum, he's doing really well.  I mean REALLY well.  His teacher told me that he has read every book in her classroom, the year 1 classroom and is now reading at a year 2 level.  My response was to apologise!  I haven't taught him, but the child loves reading.  I was helping out in Kinder this morning and he insisted on writing 3 pages about Thunderstorms rather than the 1 sentence he had been asked for, frankly his handwriting is shocking - he's a lefty- but his spelling was all correct.  I truly don't know where he came from and to be honest, he scares me!


This year has flown.  I had such great plans and as usual they have come to very little.  Nevertheless, we've been busy.  I was sorting through photos on the computer and realised that I have not shared any birthday cakes with you this year so, in order to justify my blog title, here are some cakes!

Smallest Boy was 5 not long after starting school in January (that should probably have been a blog post in itself, I did scrawl some stuff in a notebook that I might share at some point) and requested a very grown-up Spiderman cake.

I love the pre-emptive "Don't even think about it" hand over big brother's mouth.

Blue icing.  Awesome idea before bed...

A month later we had No 2 boy turning 13, another teenager in the house!  He requested pizza so I baked him one.  Someone on Instagram thought it actually was a pizza so I must have done a good job!

6 weeks later we had No3 Boy,  he asked for a 4-star Dragon Ball, from Dragon Ball Z.  I had to google that one!  This was what I came up with...

Being the very lucky child that he is, he managed to score a second cake when he had his birthday party.  I wanted something impressive without too much work so did a variation on a rainbow cake.  It turned out well but I think I might vary the amounts a little next time to make the rings look more even.

Then the Girl had her birthday and I was stuck.  She is horrified by anything "too girly" but had no particular ideas.  I spent a while googling and searching Pinterest (yep, days gone right there) and found this (there are lots of images but I still can't find the original).

Pinata cake!

I've got one more to do this year, tricky one as No1 will be 15.  Maybe something a bit understated?