I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

When Size Does Matter

Lego is my life. After several hours, bleeding fingers and a village made of: one plane, one ambulance, one house, several robots, a few sculptures and one 18 wheeler truck later, DS and I decided to get some fresh air. DS and I wandered to a local park today - a small park about a 5-10 minute walk away. It's one he hasn't been to in quite a while - several months at least. We get into the park and DS has a good race around and then says to me (with an edge of hysteria in his voice), "Mum? Something's wrong here! I think they remodeled this park!" The park hasn't changed one iota, but I could sense where this conversation was going. So, innocently, I ask DS, "Really? What do you mean?" to which DS replied, "Well the slide is much shorter and less twistier than it used to be, and the ramp to the play area is *much* shorter, and the see-saw isn't as bouncy as it used to be. It's kinda like the whole playground just...you know...well, its SHRUNK, Mum!"

He really believes that the park got smaller.

What he doesn't realise is that the park stayed the same, it's just that he has gotten taller, and stronger, and smarter in the meantime. The flying fox he was terrified of is now "weeeee!! look at meeeeeeeeeeee!" as he flies across. The twisty slide is an excuse to see how many ways you can go down - on your stomach, on your back, with legs in the air, backwards....the "baby" slide is for climbing up and the see-saw is for practising balancing on, not sitting on. Some of the apparatus he is now too tall for - he has to crouch down to see through the binoculars, and when he runs across the metal platform it sounds like a herd of wildebeest.

When I look at all he has achieved in the past few months, I think there is no greater gift than the privilege of being a part of his growing up. When he wonders why the park has undergone a major shrinkage, I find myself thinking that his growing up sucks. I miss my baby boy already.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Foodie Book Review

The above book: "Cooking for Kings: The life of Antonin Careme, the first celebrity chef" was a birthday gift from Louisa-Lou. It should be noted that last year Louisa Lou got me a book entitled "Still Bitter, More Baggage" so it's nice to know I am moving up in her world, in a literary sense anyway.

On first glance this book looked interesting, even though it's not really the sort of thing I would pick up for myself. However with chapter headings such as "Pastry Boy" and 'The Cook, his Book, His Wife and His Lover' - how bad could it be? And so I spent part of my summer delving into the amazing world of Marie Antoine (Antonin) Careme - whose birth in 1783 would go on to influence chefs for thousands of years hence. The book is written in a fairly simplistic style - basic explanations and descriptions rather than drawing grandiose mental pictures for the reader. It makes for a quick read - and while I could argue that it's not exactly "gripping," it was fascinating to read of banquets served 'a la Francaise' which consisted of literally hundreds of dishes, many of which would never be eaten. They were often served at the wrong temperature, out of the reach of the guests, and out of refrigeration or cooking for several hours before serving. A prolific cookbook writer (he had about 12 tomes to his name), pastry artist and talented chef, it isn't really Careme's personality which shines here. This biography is basically a glorified resume - but the food he prepares, and the influence he had are what lift this to a very entertaining and often inspiring read. Of equal interest are the politics and changing times of his career - Careme cooked for Napoleon as well as the Rothschild Family .

The book contains a number of his original recipes and menus, and I defy anyone to read these and not be at least tempted to try executing one or another of them. Sadly, his books are not widely read today - and his name perhaps a bit forgotten by modern chefs - but we are talking about a chef whose influence cannot be denied. Among his legacies - cookbooks (Careme was one of the first to write everything down), the chef's toque, the piped meringue, the 'service a la russe' method of serving (in courses rather than as buffet), the vol-au-vent, the bouquet garni, his development of the 5 stages of sugar - the list goes on and on. Ultimately it would be his passion which would be his downfall, as Careme died a common death of the day - too much time spent in underground, poorly ventilated coal-driven kitchens.

In short, this one is a must-read for any chef or foodie, if for nothing else than to preserve Careme's greatest gift to all chefs: the importance of the sharing and passing down of knowledge.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

(My kids, plus Poppet in the front)

So, we're back from our vacation in mostly sunny but sometimes not Rosebud, which is on the Mornington Peninsula. I really wanted this summer to be a fabulous one for the trio, who in 10 days are starting school as "big kids" - while they may have many more carefree summers, this one in effect is their last as footloose and fancy free children. This early part of their childhood is ending - and while I'm thrilled and excited about the next part, I'm sad to think that my babies have grown up so much, and that I'll never get to experience this again. So we've spent the summer having adventure after adventure - bowling, museums, beach trips, running around hedge mazes, picking strawberries, going to wave pools, riding ponies - and endless array of activities which were as much fun for them as they were for us! I have learned a few things, though, and present this list for your enjoyment.

The Good: Lazy days spent on a sunny beach playing for hours on end
The Bad: Sand in all places imaginable
The Ugly: Having your kids clean out each others butt cracks with a hose in the backyard and find it hysterically funny

The Good: Cheap imitation brand Cocoa Pops for breakfast (a no-no usually)
The Bad: Eating 4 boxes worth in less than 10 days
The Ugly: Small child requiring a hospital visit to treat constipation from influx of high-sugar items she's not used to

The Good: Salty fish & chips eaten outdoors with a sea breeze
The Bad: Realizing that no two calamari rings are made of the same thing
The Ugly: Wondering what exactly might be IN a calamari ring, if it's not calamari

The Good: Picking strawberries - red, juicy, stunningly bright fat ones under a warm sun with my family
The Bad: Trying to convince my son that he needed to stop picking them as we couldn't possibly eat as many as he was picking
The Ugly: The $65 bill which came from the 6 and a bit KILOS of strawberries we picked and consequently ate

You get the idea. We've had a lovely time this summer, and I'm hoping the next 10 days will also be filled with further adventures. Interestingly, DH and I recently had a conversation about families. We determined that while we grew up a generation apart, several thousand miles apart, and with parents from very different cultural backgrounds, we were raised in a similar fashion. A fashion which I like to think he and I are now raising our kids in - one in which our family operates as a team. We want to spend time together as a group, and will specifically seek out experiences we can do together. Sure, sometimes DH and I choose to do our own thing (peace and quiet should never be underrated) - but by and large we LIKE to spend time together. We WANT to do stuff together. We've spent the last 6 weeks doing fun things and being together because we want to, not just because we have to - it's just how we like it.

Note to my readers: I'm going to spend some time in the next few weeks thinking about how to organise this blog - it was supposed to be about food, work, and kids ... but seems to mainly be about random shit instead. I'm wondering if I need more structure. Suggestions welcome as per usual to emzeegee@hotmail.com or just posted here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Hello all,

With my Mom in town and the trio on vacation (before they start school officially - *sniff*) I forgot to update my blog and let you all know that we are on vacation! We're hanging out for two weeks at a beach house we've rented about an hour and a bit from Melbourne. So far we've avoided both sunburn and the giant jellyfish, and are having a fabulous time - pics to follow as promised.

"See" you all in about a week.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Special Kids

Recently I had a meeting with the trio's new teacher, as well as the acting Principal of their school. The discussion centered around one of my kids who has some emotional and behavioral issues which need some attention. The purpose of the meeting was basically to let these two educators know what the issues were, to let them know what we as parents were doing about it, and to basically get them "on side." At the end of the day this child will spend a LOT of hours at school, and these teachers will be almost as important as I will be in terms of shaping her and helping her grow. So I need their help and support - more importantly, my KID needs their help and support. It was a good meeting, and I'm confident that my little one will get what she needs, when she needs it. In fact I was quite surprised to find that they had already spoken to the trio's current teacher, and had already put in place some strategies to help her. So YAY them.

However. In late January she will be getting a formal evaluation - as in on paper - to help us determine how we can best help her. Her issues are fairly minor and as such haven't required formal evaluation to date, but as she is now entering a more structured environment I thought it best if we go through this process. Here is the thing - both those teachers told me not to panic if the evaluator makes it seem worse than it is, in order for 'us' to secure funding. In other words, it's entirely possible that this person would embellish the truth (okay: LIE), in order to get the school access to money to pay for an aide if my child needed it. This makes me slightly ill, it really does. I want the best for my kid, and would do whatever it takes in order to get her what she needs. But how totally FUCKED UP is the system that in order to GET her help, we have to LIE about it? If my kid is nuts, but not nuts enough to 'attract funding', then it's the poor overworked and underpaid teacher who has to try and do it all for her, and it's my kid who will miss out on the best start to schooling. We're in an enviable position of being able to afford private school - and a tiny school which means the class size is very small anyway - but what if we weren't? What if my kid were just one of a HUNDRED kids? There would still be a professional out there, exaggerating my kids issues, just so we can get "the system" to work for us.

I know, I'm not pointing out anything new. I know the system is in place for a reason, and I know that by and large it works, and I know there are parents and children out there with far bigger issues than we have. I just can't shake that feeling, though - that my kid is somehow just a pawn in this game. I went from feeling like "they really will help her" to "they just want to make sure we get money so that they don't have one more thing to deal with." I sympathise with them. I get it, I really do - how frustrating must it be to want to give each of these kids a fighting chance, but not necessarily have the time or resources to do it? Clearly, some reform is needed - and to be honest, I'm not sure what that reform is. My kid would be one of those who fall through the cracks if the evaluator wrote down the truth. I don't want her to fail - and so I have to be a part of this, well, deception.

To be fair, we haven't had the evaluation yet, and I don't know if the person doing it even would exaggerate the truth - perhaps she won't. The people in the meeting, though, basically encouraged me to encourage the evaluator to "use the right words to get funding" - in effect asking me to ask someone else to lie. The whole thing just leaves me with a horrid taste in my mouth. Reality is, sometimes the truth has to be bent in order to achieve your goals - but it still leaves me feeling pretty awful.

Anyone out there felt the same, or dealt with the same issues? What do you think?