Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blowing the budget

Obviously it costs more to run a family with two kids than one. But what I hadn't anticipated was that recently, not at all coincidentally with Little Bro's increased self-assertiveness, our "discretionary spending" has increased: we've suddenly turned into a family that buys two babycinos or two textas where previously one would suffice (and that's despite Big Bro's best efforts at sharing). And it's not going to get any better- we are just around the corner from being a family that buys four icecreams, four meals or four plane tickets. And I won't even start to contemplate what it will be like to budget for groceries for two active, hungry teenage boys!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Slow, slow...

I really have a photo backlog here! There are a bunch of unillustrated posts waiting in the wings to be connected with their photos- soon, soon... So there'll be a few backdated posts, including:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kites Away!

Flying a kite is something I've enjoyed for a long time. It's only ever been on an occasional basis: I have a hazy memory of the maiden flight of my first kite- yellow plastic, with a picture of Charlie Brown- from when I was about five. Sadly, it flew only once, getting stuck in a tree (what else would a Charlie Brown kite do?) and breaking a strut.
When I was about 13 my dad gave me a kite. We only flew it every now and then, but one tradition was to fly it at our friends' farm south of Hobart, often after Christmas lunch. It eventually met its end in a tree, but before that I remember one windy spring day when I had a whole day without university lectures (unusual for me) and I luxuriated in my freedom by taking the kite to the Hobart Domain and flying it.

Every year, the City of Darebin, in Melbourne's North, has a Kite Festival. Since hearing about it a couple of years ago, I've been keen to go, and finally this year we made it. Big Bro even insisted on taking his fish kite, which we attempted to fly... which wasn't easy as at that stage I was there without B, so I was trying to marshall Big Bro into assisting to fly the kite while reassuring Little Bro that every time I ran along the grass I wasn't abandoning him! But we enjoyed watching the pros, as well as cruising the community stalls that seem to do the rounds of the festivals (Metro Fire Brigade balloons, anyone?).
Naturally the Kite Flying Association had the biggest and best- flying bears, a spinning windsock, and people using fishing rods to launch their kites! There were plenty of great designs- a bat, eagles, a shark, as well as traditional kite-shaped kits.

My favourite, though, was the squid looking down on the proceedings with a bemused twinkle in its eyes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy days

As I've said before, as lovely as my little boys are, a part of me is looking forward to being able to reclaim sone aspects of my pre-child life as the boys get older. Yesterday I had a sniff of how this could work.

We started like most Wednesdays with our weekly grocery shop, and then moved on to another shopping centre where in addition to finding two tricky birthday presents, I was actually able to try clothes on not once but three times! AND I managed to buy some much- needed new jeans! (I was glad the shops were fairly quiet, so noone else heard me justify to Big Bro what I liked or didnt like about each item I tried on!)

Later, at home, after a bit of recipe simplification, Big Bro and I made a birthday cake for B (hummingbird, mmmm) while Little Bro slept,

and then we all headed outside to dig a trench and fill it with compost in preparation for a new box hedge.

With everyone chipping in, we managed to finish the job- I was stunned! The boys cleared about a metre of trench- and it was lovely to see them actually working together. And to top off a productive day, I managed to fit in a gym visit once the boys were in bed.

Part of me thinks, if only every day could run as smoothly... while the other part knows that our days of spontaneous chaos and chaotic sponteneity will soon have to give way to a more structured week. So I'll enjoy each happy day as it comes.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How do you like your chocolate?

I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm a chocaholic, but I do enjoy chocolate.

So when I was wandering around the shops at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport in December with a few last Kroner to spend, I was interested to see some out-of-the-ordinary chocolate varieties.

The Lindt Touch of Sea Salt got a good review at Chaos Theory, so I took a bar of that. Back home, I tried it... yeah, it was ok, though not something I'd buy again. It tasted like... nice chocolate... with a bit of salt. I'm sorry, but it just didn't do it for me- my first impression was that it reminded me of eating with my boys, where every now and then I wind up eating food A with a touch of random food B that they've mixed in- such as chocolate with a bit of salt. But perhaps I shouldn't be surprised- when we lived in the US I never appreciated the chocolate bars with embedded pretzels (really!), and I've never bothered trying chocolate potato chips. With a few exceptions (like maple syrup and bacon, mmm), I'm just not that into salty-sweet.

My second purchase was much more of a gastronomic success: "Winter" flavoured chocolate, with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and ginger. Sounds a bit weird perhaps, but think of mulled wine or a ginger snap in a chocolate. To be fair, the flavour didn't go down so well with some people I offered it to- interestingly, males (B included) tended to give it the thumbs down, while females were generally appreciative. Given Marabou is a Swedish brand, I guess I'm unlikely to find any more Vinter Chocolate in Melbourne, so maybe one of these days I will have a go at recreating it myself.

So those are my weird chocolate flavours- how about you? What's the strangest- and best- chocolate you've tasted?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Out of sight....

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Work things (of the paid variety) took over my major blogging time in February. It was a large-ish submission, much of it online, and in the evenings I would work until I had run out of energy to write creatively in an online text box... By which time I had run out of energy to blog creatively into an online text box!

Despite the lack of published evidence, I was still in a blogging frame of mind and was thinking of posts and taking photos, which I'll now try to get uploaded and explained. (Anyone know how to automate the image reduction processes for blogging? That is my major rate limiting step.)

One thing I realised in February was that being a parent is a good way to stop paid work taking over my life. While the boys are awake and in my care, there is no way I can be focusing on the finer details of justifying other people's salaries or who my consumers are. So the essence of "This Growing Life" has been continuing: we've been seeding and weeding, learning the finer points of breadmaking and paleontology, and playing a MasterChef challenge with one giant
zucchini, a handful of parsely, three green beans and 10 minutes to get a meal on the table. All good.

Catch you again soon!

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