DS plays basketball - which is a good thing, too, because he comes from a long line of Amazonian people, NONE of whom played it and ALL of whom grew up being asked if they play basketball. At least he will be spared that experience.
He has practice one night a week and a game on a Saturday. I can't make it to the Saturday games, so I go to the practices to watch him. I am in fact the ONLY parent who goes to practice, all the others drop and run. The first few weeks, DS instigated the "no reading work stuff" rule. Apparently I go there to actually WATCH him. Then he instigated the "no playing on your phone" rule, and then the "no texting, no messing about in your handbag looking for non-existant stuff" rule...because apparently...I am actually there to WATCH him. Problem is, with all these rules, DS is totally ruining my reputation.
Sitting in the corner of the stadium, being the ONLY parent there, with my kid's eyes boring into mine virtually yelling through those baby blues, "WATCH ME MUM I SAID WATCH ME!!!" ... I look *exactly like* a Helicopter Mum. You know the ones we talk about right here on this lovely blog - Mums who hover over their kids and are in their face all the time. The mothers I find extremely irritating, the mothers I think are ruining their kids' lives, the mothers I run a mile from.
The other day I was sitting in the corner (dutifully watching, I'll have you know) and the Coach approached me and said, "emzee, don't you want to go get a coffee...or...something? You don't have to...stay here, you know."
Shit. He totally thinks I'm a Helicopter Mum.
"Um, well, yes, I guess I'd *like* to get a coffee, but the deal is, I can't make it to Saturday games and so Boy asks me to watch him at practice."
"Oh. Okay then," says the Coach (snickering to himself at how son-whipped I am), and he walks away.
It took an incredible amount of will power not to race across that stadium, grab the Coach by the arm and spill out really fast: but you don't UNDERSTAND, Boy is a triplet, and one-on-one attention from a parent is HARD to get, and I'm just trying to be a GOOD mother and watch him a little bit, and it's the ONE time of the week he and I get to just hang out together, and I SWEAR I am not a Helicopter Mum like all those bitches who hang out on the sidelines during Saturday games and yell and clap like recently escapees from the asylum. REALLY. I'm just a normal Mum, OKAY, and there is nothing WRONG with me sitting and watching a bit of (admittedly boring) basketball practice.
I didn't do that. Instead I sat there and thought, "Well, Boy is happy and I am happy and if there is the faintest sound of thwacka-thwacka, well, I shall just put my fingers in my ears and sing LA-LA-LA!"
Sunday, May 29, 2011
DS plays basketball - which is a good thing, too, because he comes from a long line of Amazonian people, NONE of whom played it and ALL of whom grew up being asked if they play basketball. At least he will be spared that experience.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
The good news is, we survived the slumber parties au deux. The bad news is, I now know what all those parents mean when they say that parenting girls is MUCH harder than parenting boys. The battle of the sexes is not one I've ever really experienced - because we were so focussed on day to day survival, we never really stopped to think about which sex is easier to parent. I would even go so far as to say I thought the whole "boys are easier" thing was a load of crap, along with other parental gems like "sleep when your babies sleep" "stretch marks go away if you rub them with cream every day" and "co-sleeping is a great idea!"
One night spent in the company of all boys, followed by one night spent in the company of all girls will change your mind on this one. Immediately.
The boys were predictably loud and boisterous, and pretty much ignored our efforts to corral them. However once DH used his Mean Engineer Voice (tm), they settled down and were absolute angels. They ate when we told them, helped themselves to drinks, used their manners, and basically had a whale of a time. As long as they were all fed and watered, and given something to focus on (a game, a movie, whatever), they were really great. Hardly a peep out of them. Of course there were two extremely irritating kids...but then those were the two who were far too precious to sleep over, so we booted them out the door before the real fun began. Actually, it's amazing how much getting rid of those two changed the whole energy of the party. It went from frantic and insane to calm and fun. So the boys were boys - they threw a bit of popcorn around the joint, ate far too much of everything, and watched something like 5 movies over the course of the event. In the morning they ate, hung out, and just...chilled out all over our lounge room for hours on end and had to almost be crow-barred right out of there by their parents, several hours after the party ended.
The girls, however....ohhhh, the girls! The girls whined, complained, and nudged their way through the whole thing. Not enough chips, not enough games, stupid music, she touched me, she also touched me, her blanket is near me, I can't sleep in a room with 4 walls, my blanket is too wrinkled, my hair is too neat, aren't there any other flavours of chip? and so on and so forth. If they needed anything, it started with a whiny voiced, "mmmiiiicccchhheeeeellllleeee, I *need* a glass of water!" and then Princess would wait for me to fetch it for her. Ridiculous. I peeked in on them during the movie to find some watching, some dozing, some playing, and some reading comic books (and it was 7 girls, you do the math). It was as though they were not all at the same party. It was a long night for DH, who had to get up loads of times for crying, whinging, attention seeking needy females (which might describe me sometimes, but certainly not in the middle of the night.)
In the morning, the whole lot of them were up, dressed, packed up and ready to go at PRECISELY the time the party was meant to end. Early, even!
It really struck me how the boys were incredibly self-sufficient and self-entertaining while the girls looked to others (namely, DH and I) to get their needs met and their entertainment organised. If the boys were not happy (which didn't really happen) they would just move onto something else and be done with it. The girls needed to tell the world about it for several minutes, eventually be re-directed, and then whine about that, too. Fascinating stuff. Of course, it was the GIRLS who instigated a burping contest over dessert (which DH won, of course, for being able to burp the alphabet to a crowd of girls shouting at him to "do it! do it! do it!").
Girls, boys, whatever - I've learned my lesson on having two slumber parties. Probably a good idea, just don't expect your sanity - or your carpet - to recover anytime soon.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
This year my children are turning ten years old. I've had them in my life for a decade, which seems like a really long period of time, except that it's really just a very fast blink. Safe to say it's been a decade of change not only for me but for the world at large. For almost all of my childrens' lives, the United States has been at war. They do not know of a world without the internet. A mobile phone whose only function is to make calls is, to them, not really a mobile phone at all. A library with only books and no computers in it is not a library. They don't know what video tapes, cassettes or typewriters are. In their short lifetime, they have witnessed acts of terrorism, extremes of weather, 'rare' events like tsunamis and devastating earthquakes and it does not seem at all strange to them to be able to video call their family overseas. The NEXT ten years of their lives will probably find facebook and twitter obsolete, mobile phones able to cook them dinner, and possibly the Melbourne Demons might finally win a Premiership again (okay, maybe not. But all things are possible, right?). These children were fortunate enough to be born into a world which is constantly changing...and that's a pretty good description of their lives thus far. These three kids are constantly in motion - at their age it's not just about the basketball games they run in, the ballet classes they spin in, and the gymnastics team they bend in. It's about the changes to their bodies, their minds, their spirits which subtlety happen every moment of every day as they hurl towards teenage-hood and eventually adulthood. I can't help but feel a little melancholic about the idea that my babies are not really 'babies' any longer...although they will of course be MY babies for all eternity.
When they were little, I used to read the Triplet Connection newsletter and see pictures of trios in their teens and think...good god, how does one get that far?! I never thought we would make it through their first year with our sanity intact, let alone do well enough to now have the time and peace of mind to write this as we embark on their tenth year. Just goes to show that what looks impossible in the moment..becomes totally possible when you just take it one day at a time. People who ask how I cope with raising triplets always get the same answer - which is - I feed them and I love them, and I maintain a sense of humour. Simple as that.
I'm going back to individual paragraphs this year - because if nothing else, it's their individuality which has shone through this past year and I think it's best to honour that in this post.
My lovely, gorgeous, smiley free spirit Lola (Alexis): You, dear heart, are by far the easiest child to parent (but I suspect both your siblings will someday read this and argue this point mightily.) You are easy to parent because nothing - well, almost nothing - riles you, except of course if Dad and I are far away or you are feeling a little unsure about what might happen next. You have grown HUGE amounts this year - not only have you got the longest legs ever, but you've started to spread your wings and test out the joy of independence. I am pretty sure that it's only the very lucky people in the world who get to feel your love - because to be loved by you is a feeling like no other. You love with every single fibre of your being and you show that love in hundreds of different ways. I've got drawers full of drawings you made "just for me," I've got bruises on my arms from your bone crushing hugs, and I've got the sound of your laughter in my ears from all those times you found something I've said uproariously funny (even when it wasn't.) This year you've found your place in the world - enjoying every minute of Girl Guides, continuing to excel at gymnastics, making friends at your new school and of course being the inventor of the "love cam." Every time Dad and I stop to have a cuddle (which is pretty often, we're saps like that), over our shoulder can almost always be found a giggling little girl whose hands are shaped into a heart, peering through the heart-shaped hole and singing, "OOOhhhh, Mummy and Daddy are in lluuurrvveee!" You, Alexis, are what the world needs LOTS more of and then some - love, joy, and free spirit.
My precious, sensitive little girl - my eldest by thirty seconds - please spend the NEXT ten years of your life being as loving, artistic, and unique as you've grown to be thus far. Continue to not let anyone dictate how you will do things, continue to march to your own tune, continue to make your own choices and be your own person in everything from fashion to food to music. You may be the quiet one, the sensitive one, the one who we ALL underestimate ... but in your quiet thinking moments, your keen observations about human nature, your thoughtfulness, your care and consideration of others - you actually make the most noise of all. Please continue to fill our lives up to the brim with joy and wonder, and remind us of the importance of the simpler things in life.
Boy - who puts up with the most unoriginal nickname of all - came back to me this year. Last year, I lost him, and I'm ashamed to admit that at the time I didn't even know it, because it happened gradually. Boy - or Julz as most people refer to him - disappeared into a world of anger, frustration and irritation. It has been a tough road back for my son, but this year we finally seem to have found the right school for him, and the change has been dramatic. My laughing, smiley, cheeky son has found his place in the universe again - a place with so many friends and activities and excitement that it is occasionally a little overwhelming for the both of us! Julz, you are exactly like your Dad in so many ways - smart as a whip, a true gentleman at heart, a fan of a good feed, and in constant need of a cuddles and love. Lucky will be the woman who captures your heart - for you, my son, are all about heart. The same boy who finds smelly socks funny, who crawls around in the dirt at Cub Scout events, and who tears up a basketball court...has also been known to cry at sad parts in animated films, bawl at the end of a good book, and yell at the TV when you think the judges got it wrong on Project Runway. Oh, my boychick, our lives would be so terribly boring without you in it. You question everything, you push the boundaries, you fight for what you believe in (even when we all know you're wrong), you take charge of things when nobody else will, you're helpful and you're funny and you are...just exactly the kind of boy I always hoped to be able to mother. Recently a friend told me he went to buy you a book for your birthday, and he knew he'd get it right as long as he found something either factual, or funny, or both. I think that pretty much sums you up - the big boy with the big heart and the even bigger laugh.
My sensitive, loving, crazy smart boy - for the next ten years, just keep being who you are, except maybe occassionally break a rule or two. Getting out of your comfort zone once in a while is a good thing. I promise. And as I often remind you, I've NEVER made a promise I could not keep and I am not about to start now (or else you will remind me of this moment forever more.) Continue to learn and grow, continue to question and remind, continue to help and be helped...and continue to love and be loved. It's true that "knowledge is power", but love makes you more powerful by far.
Kiki - ahem, that's Miss Claire The Most Amazing Girl In The World if you please - I'm pretty certain that you were born right under a spotlight. Some children are born under a silver star, some with a silver spoon in their mouths...but not you. You were born standing on a stage, under a spotlight, with an enormous disco ball rotating overhead, and a catchy pop girl power song playing through the speakers. Goes without saying, you were also born wearing some sort of ultra-sparkly, ultra-purple, ultra-FABULOUS outfit..with matching earrings...and nail polish. Even with all of that, you're somehow also the girl who lives in shleppy yoga pants, with a mis-matched t-shirt and who loves to snuggle up in the warmth of sixty five thousand blankets. You are a person of contrasts - the same girl who complains bitterly when I haven't got her fake eyelashes on precisely straight enough for dance competitions is the very same one who will noisily slurp chicken soup, make a mess everywhere she goes and insist on not washing her favourite hoodie for weeks on end. Oh, my Clairis Bo Bearis, so much of parenting you is like looking right into a mirror. We're both stubborn, and loud, bossy, smart, funny, love being right, and always want things our way or no way..and goes without saying, we're awesome. You've got me beat on several levels though - you are far more brave, far more mature, far more confident, and far more in control than I've ever been - and you are only ten years old. You are also one of the funniest people I know - not in so far as your comedic timing (although you've got that, too) - but because you are truly witty, quick and sometimes just downright hilarious with the things you come out with. You are a born performer in every sense of the word.
Missy Claire - as you round the bend onto ten years old - here's what I want for you for the next ten years. Continue to make the world sit up and notice you, and continue to believe in yourself as much as you do. Continue to enter every room with fanfare and a musical introduction and continue to be your own worst critic and biggest fan because both those traits will serve you well to achieve bigger and better things. If I were to ask one favour though..it would be for you to learn tolerance. Not everyone can be in the spotlight, and not everyone wants to be - but sometimes, it's the people who are not the star of the show who play the most important roles. Don't forget that even the shiniest of stars need a sky of other stars around them in which to hang. Your Dad, siblings and I will always, ALWAYS be in the audience cheering you on, showering you with calls for encores and filling your dressing rooms with flowers - just don't forget that even divas need their entourage.
So, my Lola, Julz and Kiki - Happy 10th Birthday. This past year has been a fantastic journey together - in some ways literally as we once again travelled our way around the globe together, and in some ways emotionally as we navigated the highs and lows of the first signs of puberty. For our part, Dad and I have continued to raise you the only way we know how - which is of course with patience, with wonder, with gratitude, with adventure....and of course, with love.
You are about as loved as three children can possibly be...and then a little bit more besides.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
The money is in the bank thank goodness - but the time to get groceries didn't happen so tonight was (and of course, you are all dying to know about my eating habits, right?) another case of hunting around empty shelves to make dinner. I'm beginning to see this as less of a burden and more of a challenge.
I made this Israeli thing I grew up eating, but for the life of me of course now I can't remember the name of it (it's Shakshouka, thanks Shaina!). In any case I fried up an onion in some olive oil, chucked in a tin of canned tomatoes, reduced it down, then threw in a dozen eggs whisked with salt and pepper. Just for fun I also threw in the decidedly dodgy bit of kabana we had around the place. Cooked it until yummy and served it over toasted English muffins. Gourmet? Totally not. Yummy, filling, and just right for a make-in-minutes Autumnal dinner for hungry three and me? Too damn right.
...and then, just to prove my genius here, I managed to make egg salad for tomorrow's dinner, cook some potatoes (also as part of tomorrow's dinner), and then make an apple and walnut cake (for which I had all the ingredients except sugar, but I managed to overcome that by raiding the guests' sugar and creamer set at the back of the sideboard.) I managed all of that without going to the supermarket (although to be fair, we get milk and eggs delivered so that's a bit of a cheat.)
You know, I think I'm just going to give up on the whole supermarket shopping thing. At this rate I'll be making dinner out of nothing for weeks! (and hell, it'll help with the weight loss, right?)
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
For a whole bunch of reasons, we meal plan for our family three weeks in advance - something I've mentioned here before, and something which makes most of my IRL friends smirk at me (secretly, they teem with jealousy over my awesome-ness). The basic premise is that we have a laminated menu sheet on our fridge, and we fill it out once every three weeks (in theory as a family but in reality me and whichever kid is interested in helping). Then once a week, we go shopping for the items we need for the upcoming menu.
This past Sunday, I looked in our totally barren pantry and told DH that we needed to head for the supermarket...to which DH replied, "Umm, let me just check that we CAN go to the supermarket," and through the magic of internet banking, determined that we were in fact flat broke.
As in, there was $5 (almost exactly) in our bank account, and it was 4 days until payday, and we had a whole lot of not much food in the house. Which meant no grocery shopping for us, sadly.
Heston, we have a problem. (NB: Foodie reference, and a hilarious pun. Bonus points if you get it.)
The pantry was SO bare we didn't even have things like tinned corn. Or pasta shapes. Or jam. Or really any of the basics of life (and I'm not talking about luxury items. I'm talking actual FOOD.) The fridge was so bare that I looked at the empty glass shelves and thought, "Hmm, must really clean those. Bit grotty!"This is of course because I could SEE the shelves clearly because there was no items in there blocking the view.
Before I go any further - Dear Mom and IL's who are reading this: Your grandchildren were not going to starve. I promise. I know you are reading this and shaking your heads at me and my insistence on extreme independence (extreme stupidity?!) but we are okay. REALLY. I promise I would tell you if we were not okay. The lack of funds is not a usual thing for us. Okay, it is, but not in that extreme way - that was just the money planets being misaligned.
Anyway - so here is what this week's menu was meant to be:
Monday - Osso Bucco served with wet polenta, green bean salad a la DS
Tuesday - Lemon chicken with roasted baby beetroot
Wednesday - Pumpkin risotto with garlic bread
Thursday - Devilled sausages, mashed potato, and "interesting veg" (clearly we were not too inspired when we wrote this menu.)
Friday - Sabbath meal with all the usual trimmings
For the record, that's a normal menu week for us. We eat well, we eat healthy, we eat interesting - and yes, my kids will happily eat all of those items. Week before had things like chicken & leek pot pie, lamb kebabs, thai chicken cakes, grilled fish and so on. Yes, we're awesome like that.
ANYWAY, I had absolutely no way of affording a single item on that list. And here, kids, is the important message of this post - if you keep your fridge and freezer well stocked in the first place, you will never starve. I even wrote about the importance of this here.
But, I know you're thinking...I just told you that my fridge, freezer and pantry were bare. I knew that, which is why I called DH on Monday and said, "So, sweetheart, tell me. How does one cook dinner when one has no idea what to cook with NO ingredients *and* one has no money with which to acquire ingredients?"(yes, I really talk like that..) to which the smart arse replied, "You're a chef. Use those skills and figure it out! Oh, and I think a kilo of mince is hiding down the back of the freezer."
OMG! We had mince? MIRACLE!
Well, with a kilo of mince I can make almost anything...and so, armed with my coveted scrap of protein, I made dinner. Monday was lasagna. Possible because I had pasta sheets, canned tomatoes, the mince, minced garlic, milk, butter, flour, a half a sad wedge of parmesan, and a whole cupboard of dried herbs. Easy. In fact I made a MASSIVE tray of lasagna (admittedly, a bit lean on the meat sauce part) and then DH and I had lunches for several days as well.
Tuesday - there was no miracle mince to be had, and also no money magicked into my account so I was still screwed, culinarily speaking. I went freezer diving, and found a massive container of chicken soup left from Passover. I also found a mostly stale multi-grain baguette, and in the cupboard we had half a box of couscous. The fridge had butter and minced garlic. Voila, dinner for Tuesday, solved. Chicken soup with couscous in it, served with garlic bread baguette.
Today is Wednesday, and I must tell you that I am feeling pretty bereft here. What little pantry stock I have is dwindling, there is no protein anywhere to be had (not even a tin of tuna, another staple which had been decimated for kids' sandwiches purposes.) I pretty much decided we were eating lasagna for dinner again (leftovers)...when I thought I'd give the pantry one more try. Tucked up the back I found two ancient packets of falafel mix. Then in the potato box I found 5 red potatoes that had sprouted. In the fridge I found a heart of cos lettuce (note, it has great keeping qualities which is why I like it) and a small block of feta left over from a late week menu item. So tonight's dinner - falafel, herb roasted potato wedges, and salad of cos and feta with a balsamic dressing.
The point of all this is just to show you - in a very real life sort of way - that you can actually feed your family on next to nothing. If you are prepared with a reasonably stocked fridge, freezer and pantry - or even only halfway prepared as I was this week - you can actually make something out of nothing. Admittedly, for tomorrow's dinner I am down to a can of cannelloni beans, a can of apricot nectar, a couple of apples and some breadcrumbs and I have no earthly idea what the hell culinary creation I can pull out of my arse this time (although I don't think there will be any takers for arse-flavoured dinner anyway.) We might not be eating like kings this week, but I'd argue that we are eating pretty well. In fact, if I were to write a menu right now, I'd happily put ANY of the items from this week on it and be happy about it.
So, while this week has been (for me at least) just that tiny bit depressing, it's also shown me that a bit of kitchen nous, a few 'in stock' items, and a bit of mental effort can result in some pretty fabulous family meals. The added bonus? My fridge shelves are sparkly clean.
(But thank god pay day is tomorrow.)
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
In the car the other day with me, DH and the trio...DD1 is looking out the window at the shops we're passing and says, "Mum? What's a Brazilian?"
I hedged a bit, and then finally said, "Ummm... you know how some women get their legs waxed? So a Brazilian is when women get their cha-cha waxed." (and then tried to curl myself into a little embarrassed ball while trying not to giggle like a 4 year old)
To which DS replied, "No it's not! It's someone who comes from Brazil! DUH!"
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
A couple of years ago I was working as a chef part-time in a food business/homewares store. I totally hated that job. The work was okay (food is food, after all) - but the owners were total shmucks and I couldn't stand them. They had no problem with the HUGE amounts of food that got thrown out every day, would re-sell food which was truly past it's use-by, and basically ignored any and all of the suggestions of the chefs for how to sell more and waste less. It was both professionally and personally speaking a total soul destroyer.
Sidebar: The story about the chocolate is an example of how soul-destroying this job was. They had some (disgusting) European chocolate bars which did not sell, and not only tasted like shit, but were several months out of date and the chocolate had bloomed (this is when it gets affected by temperature/time and it turns white). They made us cut the bars in half, cut the ends off, and dust liberally with icing sugar..and then label them "chocolate bites" and the staff had to imply that us chefs had personally made them. They also charged $2.50 for them. Seriously.
If I'm to be honest, I also hated that yet AGAIN I was working a second job because the business was not making enough, I was worried about money, and DH also had his share of job issues. It was a very fraught time for me. The door to the kitchen area was hidden around the corner of the shop, and on the display shelf nearest the door were a heap of these antique-style lolly jars. I adored those jars, and every time I walked in or out of the kitchen door I'd see them and covet them. They were the sort of totally frivolous item one uses to display bits - not exactly useful in any real way (unless you really and truly have a sweet tooth, I suppose.) They were *exactly* the kind of thing I'd thought I would put in my pipe dream fantasy cake shop.
Several months into the job, on a whim I bought five of those jars. I just loved them so much, and anyway I got an employee discount - so I figured, what the hell, even though we were pretty broke at the time. I thought I'd buy them just in case I ever did realise my dream of the cake shop which had been living in my head all these years. I brought the jars home, then took them to work - where they promptly got shoved under my desk and sat there gathering dust. I never even took them out of the boxes and bag they came in. Just shoved them there and then every once in a while I'd steal a little look under the desk just to remind myself that someday, they would make it out of there. Of course, all this time I also secretly harboured thoughts that they'd NEVER make it out of there - but then small business is often about the swings and roundabouts.
This afternoon I unpacked all the boxes for the new shop - and of course, those lolly jar boxes were there, waiting to be unpacked as well. They will form part of our big front window display* - and probably be filled with a cupcake, or maybe some colourful lollies - but the point is that they will be front and centre in the "pipe dream fantasy cake shop"...which ACTUALLY EXISTS.
Sometimes, dreams come true. Apparently, you've just got to shove them under a desk for a while first.
*(and I'll post a picture of the whole display once it's done, I promise.)