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.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Triplet Trouble

I love my kids.

I do.

I really, really do.

It's just that, at the present moment in time, I need to remind myself of this fact several times a day - because they are getting on my last nerve. It's not really that they are spectacularly different than other seven year olds. It's not even that they are more special or more clever or more cute than their peers (although, of course, we know that they are.) It's just that, right now, they are the single most irritating people on the planet. What's more, they've taken this triplet thing to the extreme and they are not only individually annoying, they are annoying as a group. Once, twice, thrice annoying.

Part of it is just age-appropriate boundary testing - as in, if I keep whining and annoying my Mum about this, will she eventually snap? Short answer: YES. Part of it is just that DH and I have raised them to be independant thinkers, so they have a natural tendency to question authority and demand fairness at every turn. The main problem of course that life is not fair. DS has yet to figure this out, though, so his current habit is to disagree with everything DH and I say. "This plate is hot, be careful!" "No it's not." DD1's main issue is that she believes that she works harder than the entire world. Once a week she has to set the dinner table. Every week, she asks for help...because, you know, it's really hard to fold 5 napkins. It takes her 4 times as long to complain about it as it does for her to actually complete the task. DD2 is actually the least annoying of the bunch, except for her new habit of turning everyone into vampires (via biting them of course) and breaking into strange accents. What can I say, it's just one long party in our house, unfortunately with no alcohol or pot to dull the pain.

So let's look at a few examples of why the kids are giving me some serious cause to go and Google "child free holidays" all afternoon.

The Undies On The Stairs: A couple of days ago, some kid took some clean laundry up the stairs (this in itself is an act of miracles, but I digress..) On the way, they dropped a pair of bright yellow undies, which landed on the floor at the bottom of the steps. Said kid either missed it or ignored it, but the end result was those undies sitting at the bottom of the stairs for TWO DAYS. Yes. Myriad children (and husband) went up and down those stairs six bazillion times and yet not a soul picked up those lonesome yellow undies. Me? I noticed them. I ignored them, to make a point.

You know how frustrating it is when you are trying to make a point about people leaving their stuff around, and a) nobody notices the stuff and b) nobody notices the point you're making? It's VERY IRRITATING. Eventually I lost the plot and shouted, "Okay, surely I am not the only one here who sees the undies on the floor? Surely?" To which three kids answered, "Undies? What undies?" I kid you not. Is it no wonder I find myself Googling "adult only vacation ideas?"

The Strawberry Incident: A couple days ago DD1 and DS stood at the kitchen counter, eating strawberries out of a punnet. They finished the whole thing and left the empty box and a trail of green tops on the bench...and wandered away. I called back DD1 and asked her to clean it up, to which she replied she didn't eat any, it was all DS. Considering I stood, ohhh, six inches away and watched them eat them...this wasn't going to fly with me. I made her go and clean it up, and on the way she mumbled something about "I always have to clean up! I'm not cleaning DS's messes too!" A couple minutes later I came back to find the box gone, and exactly half of the green tops still on the counter. I kid you not. Is it no wonder I find myself Googling "one bedroom houses, Melbourne"?

The Lunch Bag Complaint: One of the things which is bothering me is how ungrateful my kids seem. Don't they realise what a cushy life they have? Short answer: No, of course not. They just have zero concept of how good they have it. On Fridays the kids' school has hot dogs on offer (there is no other hot lunch available). So I give them one paper bag with their hot dog order, and one with some items for snack time. Because I am the best parent in known history, I often write them a note on the bag. The note is sometimes their name written in a funny way, a joke, a silly picture, whatever. It's become something they really look forward to. However a bit like blogging, sometimes I find I just don't have my lunch bag mojo. Such was the case this past Friday, when I could think of nothing witty. So on DS's bag I just wrote, "Have a great day! I love you! Love, Mum" with a nice smiley face.

Yes. Well. DS was not impressed. "I want a picture. Will you draw me something? Put more stuff on my bag! The girls got more stuff on theirs! Mine is so booooring!!" I nicely, calmly said no. I even - (best parent ever, remember?) - took the time to explain that I was pretty tired and that I was sorry but I had no patience or creative juices to write more on there. The complaining, however, proved to have a stronger will than I did, and it continued on. And on. And on. And on....until such time as this parent did what any other parent would. I said, "You're not happy with it? Okay!" and scrunched it into a ball and threw it across the room. Sadly, this lost it's effectiveness when I realised it would be ME picking up the paper ball later. I kid you not. Is it no wonder I find myself Googling, "one woman boat trips to the middle of the ocean"?

....and then there are the fights which I break up (because, you know, they sound and look like they are killing each other) only to have one of them bob up and complain, "MUM! We're playing! You interrupted the game!"

...then there are the fights I don't break up (because, you know, I don't want to be accused of interrupting the game) and within minutes someone comes to me with a bruised elbow, poked-out eye, or bloody scrape on their shoulder complaining that I did not 'save' them from their siblings. Ooooyy.

...and then there are the children who cannot remember to take a sweater with them to school, but who complain bitterly when you don't remember to bring them an after school snack.

....and then there are the children who refuse to do their readers with me, because DH (apparently) asked them to do it with him. Of course when DH comes home, all readers are suddenly forgotten, which means that in the morning I've got a jolly great complain fest because they "forgot" to do their reader and I didn't remind them.

...and then there are the turkey sandwiches which they love on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday but then inexplicably hate on Thursday. How could it be that I "didn't remember" that they don't like turkey sandwiches?

I think you're getting my drift here, people. The edge of my rope has been reached and I am hanging on, precariously, by the itty-bitty thread at the end of it.

Just when I think I've really, truly had enough (Google search term: remote islands) DD2 calls me into the bathroom, to show me this creation:

*sigh* Good thing they're so damn cute, otherwise: Google search term: triplets for sale.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I crumble for you

A couple of nights ago DH and I caught an old episode of a UK show called "Friends for Dinner." The basic idea of it is that some famous chef shows up at your house, gives you their cookbook, and gets you to cook a meal for your friends. They help you with dessert and then leave you to it. You get their phone number, so you can call them in a panic (which of course you do, because, sheesh, if *I* had Nigella's number I'd be ringing her just because I could.) Of course you also happen to ring them right when they are in the middle of service in their restaurant. So then - surprise! - you serve up a perfect dinner for your guests and guess who! comes over for coffees at the end.

It's a great example of how the British can make a food show based on almost nothing interesting and yet it's totally riveting. So on comes this episode which features Jamie Oliver - back when he was cute and baby faced and all full of pukka and love - and I tell DH that I've seen this episode about 5 times. So much so that I vaguely recall writing the dessert recipe on the back of an envelope somewhere.

The next night we had the IL's over and the boys of the household were on dessert duty. Of course, Jamie and his berry crumble sprang to mind...and out comes the binder which has said envelope-scribbled recipe on it. A freezerful of berries, a splash of balsamic, and away we go. I will say this crumble is fairly tart in nature, so if you prefer it sweeter, chuck in a bit more sugar. An easy, simple, delicious dessert, easily made by one engineer and one enthusiastic helper.

Jamie Oliver is on telly making Berry Crumble

Mixed berries (approx 1 punnet or 150g per person)
1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T vanilla sugar
2 T water
Chopped fresh mint
250g butter, softened
500g flour
200g vanilla sugar
pinch of salt

Mix the berries with the vinegar, sugar, water and mint. Set aside to mascerate while you make the crumble mix. Tip the remaining ingredients into a bowl and, using your finger tips, crumble into fine breadcrumb consistency. Divide the berry mixture into separate remekins, filling quite high. Pile the crumble mixture on top into a small volcano. Bake at 200C for 30-35 minutes or until browned and crisp on top.

Note: The crumble mixture above makes enough for about 12 individual serves. If you only want to make 6, halve the crumble recipe but leave the berry amounts as is.

Serve with ridiculous amounts of cream and/or ice cream.


Monday, August 25, 2008

I *heart* cakes

Some recent creations to come from the Three Sweeties kitchen...

These are really simple but I really like them. Something about them screams "art deco" to me...

Not exactly my most difficult decorating job, but I just love how SpongeBob and Patrick look as though they are on top of a wave. Funnily enough my Mom and siblings adore SB. In Spanish his name is (supposedly) "Bob Esponja" (no idea if I spelled that right.) As I was making these, I found myself talking to myself in a ridiculous Spanish accent. "Hokay, so I feneesh de two Bob Esponjas, now I gonna' do deh Petreck..."

These are totally nothing special, other than I like the shade of purple I got.

This was the set up for a "shabby chic" wedding I did in early August. I love this photo - something about the angle and the mirror make me think it looks like it came from a magazine. As a point of interest, all these products were gluten free.

A recent cake for a friend's Dad - who has wanted a fish tank his whole life but whose wife refuses to let him have one. The fish, plants, gravel, etc are all edible, and actually on all sides of this cake. See that dark fish on the bottom left corner? The rest of his body is actually stuck on the side so it looks like he is swimming around to the front. For those with good eyesight, can you see that I've even got breathing bubbles on there? (and on top as well!)

This cake was for a wedding - it's about 12-15 kilos in weight because that's masses of fruit cake in there, more than a litre of rum, and a shit lot of marzipan as well. I think the cream coloured icing marries well (pun intended) with the colour of the material used. The material covering the board and around the cake is actually material used in her dress. The middle band is inspired by her dress, which you can see here:

I added some pearl studs to it, just to add a bit of interest and make it a bit easier to pull apart when it came to cake cutting time. I love how you can see the waves in the background of that photo ... just kinda adds to it all for me.

Coming up in the next few weeks are endless cupcakes, pirate ships, a High School Musical cake, and a grand piano! I've got loads of cake adventures coming my way - which is exactly how I like it. Opinions, comments and suggestions all welcome.

The apple doesn't fall far...

Recently the kids were asking me all about death and dying, in specific all about what it meant to write a will. I was explaining that DH & I had written our wills before the children were born, and while there was provision for children, we really need to write them again to reflect our family as it is now. They wanted to know all the finer details of will writing, and what specifically DH and I had put in ours. I have to say the discussion really revealed their true personalities. DD1 started to sniffle and whine, "But I don't want you and Daddy to DIE!" and DD2 wanted to know, "So what did you leave me?" but DS? Well, DS started to cry. Really and truly tears...and when I asked him why, he said:

'Because, if I was born when you wrote your will, I would have asked you to leave me all your cookbooks!"

Ahhh, boy after my own heart. He only stopped crying when I promised that in our new wills, NO MATTER WHAT, he gets all the cookbooks. ALL of them. "Remeber what I said, Mum? ALL of them. Even the crappy ones you don't like! Don't leave one single one out!"

Now there's a boy who knows were real value lies.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

You and Your Mama

DD1 looks a lot like me - she's the one that everyone says comes from my side of the family. In addition to being really tall, she has been blessed (cursed?) with my big ol' wide nose and slightly manic personality. Other than the colour of her eyes, she really does look a lot like me. Yesterday she commented that she has never seen a photo of me as a little girl - and she was very curious to know what I looked like back then. So I gave her the most honest answer I could, which was, "Well, just imagine what you look like, then put in blue eyes and be fat."

Nothing like a bit o' honesty, right? For what it's worth, DD1 is a total beanpole. So she's what I think I would look like if I were skinney.

...and then I was perusing the time-suck which is facebook, and I noticed that my neice looks so much like her Mom (my sister.) There are some expressions she makes which are just SO much like my sister, it's wierd and wonderful all at once.

...and then a few nights ago I found myself eating a midnight snack of a cup of sweet milky Elite coffee with a piece of toast covered in cream cheese and strawberry jam. No prizes to those who guessed that the aforementioned snack is one of my Mom's favourites.

...and then, I commented to my sister about us suffering from FNS. FNS = fat neck syndrome. For reasons nobody can explain, all the women in my family suffer from, well, fat necks. Even in those fleeting moments when we are skinney, we have fat necks. Random doctors in the street have stopped me to ask if I've had my thyroid checked lately. Little do they know that I've found myself wishing for a thyroid disorder so I could take some pills and magically lose 100 pounds. My own GP asks me, at EVERY check up, if I've had a thyroid test. My answer is always the same, "No. I just have a fat neck. Get over it." Sadly, I have my Mom to thank for that. (Don't worry Mom, I got lots of good things from you, too. Don't read this and get all brogez with me.)

It's interesting, the whole mother/daughter relationship and the traits we share. Whether we like it or not, we take on some of he traits of our mothers - even if we vow never to be like them, it's almost as though we have no choice. Even those people who claim they are NOTHING like their parents will eventaully find themselves doing or saying things which their parents said and did. I can see my own daughters already taking on traits of mine (carb addiction, anyone?). I wish I could pick and choose the parts of me which will eventually come to pass in them, but life doesn't work that way. If I could pick the traits they got, I'd pick:

- An ability to laugh at the most inappropriate moments. You would be surprised how many difficult situations can be diffused with a well-placed bout of hysteria

- A fantastic turn of phrase and love affair with the English language

- The ability to have extended, in depth conversations with absolute strangers ... and then leave that conversation feeling as though both of you have learned something*

- A deep and lasting affection for baked goods

- The ability to feed a family on only the scraps in the bottom of the fridge and the back of the pantry

....and a myriad other parts of me which I think are worth preserving for future generations. So, dear readers, tell me what legacy your Mom left you (fat necks included) and/or what traits you would like to leave your own daughters.

My Mom emailed me and told me that I have to set the record straight: a) my big ass comes from her side of the family, my big neck from my Dad's side. Great! Buggered from both sides! Nnniiiiccceee.

* Case in point: last weekend DH & I went to Sydney for a wedding. On the plane home I was sitting next to this old guy, and I noticed that everyone who walked past him said, "Good game, mate, good game." I asked him why and it turns out he is the president of the Geelong Football Club. Not only that, he's been president for 10 years, owns and operates the bigest fruit & vegetable supply company in Australia, and is a father to 8 daughters and has 18 grandchildren. He and I got on famously and both enjoyed the conversation enormously - I think we were both sad to land in Melbourne! I only learned on my return that this guy is really bloody famous, and apparently I am the only person in Victoria not to know who the hell he was. BTW, he's much more handsome in real life than in that terrible photo.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The cupcakes you see above were for a recent client. The order was for 2 dozen cupcakes, in vanilla, with a white chocolate ganache swirl in bright pink and turquoise blue. Just to give you a bit of background, the client called me no less than 15 times about these cupcakes - a couple calls to ask about pricing and placing the order, some to ask about the colours, order a stand and then cancel a stand, ask about payment, change the colours of the papers, change the icing flavour, and so on and so forth. Literally, this guy drove me crazy.

I noticed that every time he called, he'd have to 'check with the lady' about things and then called me back. Eventually I asked who 'the lady' was and found out that she is his girlfriend, she's "significantly" younger than he is, and she has a hard time making up her mind (his words, not mine.)

Over the weekend DH and I were away, so the business was in the capable hands of NN. The girl in question came to pick them up, seemed happy, and left. I came home to 6 messages on my voicemail from the man. Long story short, she hated the cupcakes and threw them away. She eventually made her own and served those. WHY? Because they were not exactly what she wanted. WHAT was wrong? On some of them the icing did not go exactly to the edge of the cupcake. You can SEE some cupcake around the edge. Apparently she left my kitchen, called him, and was in hysterics about how they were not what she wanted at all.

When I expressed shock and dismay at this, he told me that she wanted what she saw on the website. Newsflash, sweetcheeks, some of the cupcakes on the website go to the edge, some don't. There is, oh, maybe a quarter inch of cake showing - which he argued with and told me it was rather more than that. *hands man a ruler* He then tells me that if he went to McDonald's he would expect to receive exactly what he had seen on the menu, not some "sloppy mess" imitation of the item.



It took a superhuman effort not to go completely postal on his ass.

I don't think the cupcakes above are a sloppy mess. I do think that one in the middle isn't exactly perfect, but that's it. I think they look great, and tasted great too. If what you wanted was exactly to the edge, you needed to specify that. If what you wanted was some cookie-cutter, factory made piece of crap, DON'T come to me. STAY AWAY from me, in fact - because what I make is hand made - as in, by a person with hands . So, being HUMAN and all, there are going to be a few variations. I think it's time you and your little sugar baby girlfriend woke up to the fact that us humans live IN THE REAL WORLD.

The client went on to tell me that the girlfriend saved them "in a bag" to see what I would say about them. Well, fucker, here's what I have to say: your girlfriend is a nitwit, and I'm not sure who is the bigger idiot here. YOU, for being with someone so smart they aren't capable of ordering their own baked goods, or HER, for being with someone stupid enough to be pussy whipped by the likes of her.

I think he was expecting a refund. He got this post instead.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ask for it

....and if you're wondering why, in that last post, I called for help instead of driving the kids into the river, this story explains it.

DD2 was the last to make it out into the real world, but the first to be released into my care. She spent just one night in the nursery before they gave her to me, telling me that I had to learn to take care of them eventually, so I might as well start with one.

So there I was, 2 days after giving birth to triplets, with a new, live baby in my room, and I had to look out for her. How hard could this really be, right? She was cute, soft, smelled nice. She was quiet. She was just a sweet little lump wrapped in a bunny rug, in that plastic bucket in the corner. Easy peasy.

...and then it was midnight, and all through the hospital, not a creature was stirring...except for DD2, who decided midnight was PAR-TAY time! She wiggled, squiggled, squirmed and made a few mewing sounds. It was okay, because I knew exactly what to do. I very carefully changed her diaper. I wiped her sweet little bottom with soft cotton balls. I played with her toes. I got my (pre-prepared) bottle ready, I cosied into the chair and I fed her. I gazed adoringly at her perfect nose. I counted her tiny little curled fingers. I burped her, re-wrapped her, and popped her back into her baby bucket. I was a parenting LEGEND. She was quiet and content...for exactly enough time for me to climb back into bed and close my eyes. Then came the noise. THE GOD AWFUL NOISE.

For the next 6 hours, there was screaming, crying, yelling, cursing and hysteria... and that was me. She was much, much worse. It was, by far, the single worst night of my life. Suffice it to say I seriously found myself wondering if I could just shove those babies back up my hoo-hah and call it a day.

Finally, finally, at about 6:30 in the morning, she fell asleep. Exhausted from the noise of my crying, I suppose, she finally gave up and fell asleep. A few minutes later the nurse comes bustling in, wishing me an annoyingly cheerful good morning. My response was to burst into tears and tell her there was nothing good about my morning. I sobbed out my story of The Night From Hell and how I was going to be a terrible mother and this child would never forgive me and she (and I) would need therapy forever more.

The nurse? She laughed at me. Laughed. She composed herself, looked at me with a curious expression, and said, "But WHY didn't you just press the nurse button? We would have come and gotten her out of here for you, so you could have some rest. There was no need for you to suffer all night."

Here's the thing. It never occurred to me. Not for one single, solitary second did it occur to me that I could ask for help. I never knew you were allowed to press the button and ask for help. I thought I had to do it all by myself. Wasn't that the whole point of getting her to room in with me?! You can imagine the look on my face, can't you? A mixture of, "Well fuck you and your stupid nurse button!" and "Holy shit, I am the biggest idiot in the history of the free world."

And this, dear internet, is why I now know when, how, and if I should ask for help. Some people (hello, MIL) think I don't ask for it enough. The reality of it is, that one night with DD2 - that night in hell - taught me about not only about the importance of asking for help, but it also taught me about my inner strength.

...and THAT's why I called DH instead of heading for the river.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A major design flaw

One of my worst memories from the kids' early infancy is also one which highlights a major design flaw of children - they don't come with instructional manuals. I'm married to an engineer and even he has moments where he wishes he could just RTFM (read the fucking manual.)

The witching hour had come (for all babies, somewhere between 3-6 pm) and I was at home alone with the trio. One kid was crying and the other two were content. I took crying baby (god knows, now, WHO that kid was) and picked them up to give them a cuddle and a bounce. Said kid was happy for a few seconds, and then would let out an ear-piercing scream. Resume cuddle and bounce, and hope for the best. Few minutes later, second child starts to cry. They were pretty small (and I'm pretty big) so I picked up crying baby #2 and rocked them both. Forget my hearing, I was managing okay, although my back started to ache. Of course baby 3 had some extra sensory perception and could TELL that I was both tired and in pain, and thus started up his/her own crying. Just to, you know, ADD to the whole experience. Obviously I couldn't jiggle them all in my arms, so I thought I'd just...sit down. HA! BAD IDEA. All children are born with an altitude meter, and so they know when you are sitting down, and they DO NOT LIKE IT one little bit. You may not sit down with a baby, because by doing so you are risking getting tinitus from the screaming in your ear.

I put one kid in the bouncer seat thingie, and held onto two. With my foot I attempted to jiggle the bouncer, but as everyone knows those stupid things don't bounce all that well (considering it's called a BOUNCER, you expect the bloody thing to BOUNCE, don't you?) This plan was a good one, but it didn't work. The noise had approached deafening levels, my back had approached pain level 18 (on a 1-10 scale) and no amount of singing, jiggling, massaging, asking nicely, begging, pleading or crying was working to get these kids to SHUT UP.

In that moment I understood why women do things like drive their kids into rivers and basically go completely bonkers in the space of 10 seconds.

In that moment I also realised that there was really only one more thing to do - cry (literally) for help. I called DH (who at that time worked 2km's from home) and begged him to come and help me. He agreed, and I hung up the phone, sat on the floor and cried. I cried and I BEGGED, literally BEGGED these babies to stop crying. I could not, for the life of me, work out what the heck was WRONG with these kids. They had no obvious signs of tired, hungry or dirty. They were just crying, and for no reason.

Me, I was crying for a very good reason. Some MORON made me in charge of these three human beings, but completely FAILED to tell me how to look after them.

Thereafter I found myself wondering why placentas did not come equipped with a (waterproof, of course) book on WHAT THE FUCK TO DO WITH YOUR KID instructions. How amazing would it be to have a sort of Almanac of your child's life, where on any given day you could look up that date and it would TELL you what the problem was and how to solve it. Surely...surely that would be a heck of a lot more useful than a sack o' bodily stuff which you plant in your backyard.

I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On flags and Jews in sport

Like every other school in the world, the trio's institute of education is obsessed with all things Olympics. Not, of course the things about the Olympics which make me want to hurl - you know, small things like POLLUTION, and HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS and MASS CONSUMERISM OF CHEAP STUFF LIKE T-SHIRTS and DRUG CHEATS. Instead they are focussing on all the happy little things like teamwork, global happiness, cute little mascots and other crap. Gotta love 'em. It's particularly funny because us Jews don't really, you know, DO sport. Sure, there have been a small handful of Jewish Olympians (Mark Spitz, I'm talkin' to YOU) but on the whole we just aren't great athletes. Unless you count eating, in which case we are world champs.

Case in point, on the front cover of the Australian Jewish News this week there is an article about the ONLY Jewish member of the Australian Olympic Team. Australia, a country who kicks some serious athletic ass in the summer Olympics, especially given the number of medals per head of population. So WHICH Olympic sport is this Jewish athlete playing in? Yes, people, it's the sport of extreme physical prowess and manliness: table tennis.

But I digress.

So the kids' school is doing a mini Olympics, with each teacher representing a country, and then a random assortment of kids get assigned to each country. For those who are curious, my house is now inhabited by the following:

1 x American (me)
1 x Australian (DH)
1 x American (DD1)
1 x Chinese (DS)
1 x South African (DD2)

We are nothing if not diverse and multicultural and...just don't mention the war, okay?

There I am in the playground when this really (nice but) annoyingly athletic teacher bounds up to me and says, "HEY! You're American!" (No SHIT, Sherlock.) Apparently she is the teacher who is representing the US in this mini-annihilation and she wants to know if she can borrow my US flag.

"Flag?" says I, "WHAT flag?"
"You know, your American flag!"
"And why, pray tell, would I even OWN an American flag?"
"Because, you know, you're American! I've got an Australian flag on my wall."

To which my reaction was:

a) Like I give a shit
b) It's my fault you have no clue about home decore?
c) Yes, but you're sporty and sporty people have an unnatural fascination with flags

Answer: I was thinking a) and b) but I said c)

She then spent about ten minutes telling me how she herself owns a US flag (see? two flags now! I wasn't kidding about sporty people having a flag fetish) but can't bring it to school since it has inappropriate messages written on it...from when she was a camp counsellor in the US. THEN she proceeds to tell me that she had no idea it was illegal to write on flags, and then to exclaim yet AGAIN that I don't own a flag which I can loan her.

People, you know the drill by now -

To which my reaction was:

a) Like I give a shit
b) It's my fault you are too cheap to go buy a freakin' flag?
c) Yes, but you're sporty and sporty people have an unnatural fascination with flags and I am NOT sporty and hence I own no flags
d) It's not my fault you have stupid camp counsellor friends who couldn't just decorate a t-shirt or pillow case like normal people do
e) to just stand there thinking, WHY ME?

Answer: I was thinking a) and b) and c) and d) but I did e) and then I saw a friend nearby and I pretended to wave to her, said, "Sorry, I'm just going to go see my friend" and I RAN THE HECK OUTTA THAT PLAYGROUND, fast as my American non-sporty fat Jewish ass could go.

....and yet today I find myself wondering if there are people in the world who own flags of the countries they are from, just because, you know, they can.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Not so much a kiss as a peck

This blog post was written as part of Scribbit's August Write Away competition, whose theme is "First Kiss." I promise that eventually I reach a point that relates to that, just stick with me! Note, if I win this, I'll give the prize away to the first person who comments on this post.

I make no secret of the fact that my original life plan did not involve marriage, children or the eutopian blandness which is suburbia. My life was not going to include anything even remotely involving inane activities like doing laundry or wiping baby's bottoms or driving kids to and from football practice. I also make no secret about the fact that even though my life is not at all what I expected, I think it's actually a whole heck of a lot better than I expected. Sometimes it's the things which come along and totally change your plans which are so much more important than those plans which you actually stick to.

No need to bore you all with the details, really ... we've already talked about how choosing to do a one year study abroad here in Melbourne set into motion a whole series of life changing events.
Sure, I could easily write about my first kiss with DH (at the Melbourne Town Hall, at a comedy show). However, I've already talked about how it's a little bit scary just how much I adore my DH, to the point of somewhat freaky, co-dependant, lovefest-like proportions. We've even spoken rather a few times (!) about how much I love my trio...but let's go back a bit and examine something I've not talked about here - being pregnant.

Being pregnant with triplets - or hell, being pregnant at all - is a completely surreal experience. It's s very 'Aliens', you know? One day you're skinny (okay so I was never skinny), and then in a few months suddenly you develop this giant LUMP, and then the lump starts to move from the INSIDE, and then they cut a jolly great rip above your hoo-hah and WHOAH! There's, like, a whole PERSON in there. With, you know, arms and such. Or in my case, there's a whole HALF a soccer team in there. Really, it's just equal parts bloody amazing and equal parts totally freaky.

When we went to the first ultrasound, DH was immediately on board with this whole idea. "Triplets? COOL!" Me? Not so much. A lot of people ask me, "What did you think when you found out you were pregnant with triplets?" Truth is, I didn't know what to think other than, "OH SHIT. We've really done it this time! I'm going to be in tttrroooouuuuuu-BLE!" I spent the rest of my pregnancy in suspended disbelief. I felt my undies get smaller, my pants ride lower and my back ache more. I saw the pillow pile on my bed get higher, the steering wheel in my car get further away...but I never really accepted that I was going to be a parent. I know that must sound crazy - but it was such a far away idea for me, so totally outside of my comfort zone that I could not fathom it. At all.

Some people spend their pregnancies in a haze of hormonal happiness. Me, I spent it in a haze of, "What? This ol' bump? Had it for years!" denial. It was really only at the very, very end of it all that the enormity of it (my stomach, that is) started to sink into my brain and put down roots. We were in this mess together, and there was no going back.

The day the kids were born, DH and I were in the operating room (giant rip, people. Giant rip!) looking at each other like a bunch of mooney-eyed star-struck teenagers in love. (This is of course ignoring his constant winces of pain from some mega kidney stones, and my whimpers of fear and begs of, "please! don't make me!"...but those are stories for another day.) We were so excited about it all, standing there on the threshold of parenthood. Fast forward to the whole slice, dice, etc etc bit and there we were, arms akimbo with a heck lot of kids. We only had time for a quick cuddle and happy snaps before the kids were whisked away for checking over.

I, of course, needed to be sewn back up (and could you please do a tummy tuck while you're there? no? Damn!). DH asked me if it was okay if he went with the children to the nursery - to see them being weighed, take more photos, etc. I of course agreed, so he came back over, kissed me on the cheek and raced out the door after his new children, to play the part of doting Dad.

I didn't know it then, but that kiss...that 1 millisecond, peck on the cheek kiss ...the one that so easily could have been forgotten in a haze of beeping machines and doctors and nurses and chaos...was our first kiss. Our first kiss as parents, as partners, as confidants, as team members, and as brave explorers in this whole new world of being parents.

In my original life plan was an endless array of first kisses from gorgeous, funny, fantastic men who would turn my life upside down. First kisses in the rain in New York, under bridges in Italy, in dark smoky clubs and in doorways in small country towns. Kisses stolen in quiet moments, kisses hidden from view, kisses filled with the kind of passion you only ready about in books with long haired men on the cover.

The first kiss I got - in my new, suburban, married-with-kids life - wasn't any of those things. Not atmospheric, not stolen, not hidden, not passionate. In fact it was a nothing kiss, a throw away, don't even tell your girlfriends about it sort of kiss. At the same time, that kiss kicked off the start of my life filled with some of the most amazing, awe-inspiring, life altering moments....and isn't that what all first kisses should be about?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Not your Nana's Marble Cake

Oh how I love, love, lllooovvveee marble cake. Firstly because it's just yummy and kinda cool that it has more than one flavour in it, and secondly because these days it is considered fairly retro. The only place I know of where one can get marble cakes is at supermarkets, where it's covered in some hideous pink just-add-water icing and it costs less than $4. Of course you can also get it here, but then you knew that, didn't you?

Normally when I make it I just swirl it around to get a cool mixture - so imagine my anal retentive Capricornian delight when I saw that Nicole over at Baking Bites (NB: best baking blog ever!) has made it look like zebra stripes! Oooh! Matching! Lined up! I can combine my OCD tendencies and my cake making in one hit! Perfect!

I have to say upfront that I don't love the recipe. The cake itself is just...meh. Nice but nothing to write home about. My family loved it and told me it was delicious and "not too sweet" but for me it verged on bland. This would, of course, be beacause I've spent the last 30-odd years deadening my sweet taste buds with copious amounts of Sweet n' Low. Try the recipe for yourself. Me? Next time I do this, I'm using my standard Devil's Food Chocolate recipe and/or my Vanilla Bean Butter Cake recipe. The method is pretty easy (although a bit time consuming) but the finished product is well worth it. I also covered mine in ganache, because even though the top is as beautiful as the inside, I loved that cutting into it gave some surprise factor.

I think it would be seriously, seriously cool to top this with white and dark ganache in the same method. I'd have to try it though, as the consistency of them is different, and you'd have to play around with the temperature to keep it from being a chocolatey, messy puddle. An experiment for another day, me thinks!

The method below refers to how I did it and also my minor alterations because I prefer a much higher cake (eg I like the cake tin filled to about 1.5 inches below the edge.)

Zebra Cake
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 8-inch round cake pan with a circle of parchment paper and lightly grease the bottom and sides of the pan. In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar until mixture is light and creamy and the sug ar has mostly been dissolved. Stir in milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and almond extracts. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Measure out just over two cups of vanilla batter and place it into a pouring jug. Sift cocoa powder over the bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Put the chocolate batter into a second pouring jug. Pour some vanilla batter (about 3-4 T) into the center of the pan and let it spread slightly on its own. Pour the chocolate batter in the center of the vanilla (about the same amount). It will push out the other batter and, as it sits for a moment, will also spread itself. Alternating pours of the two batters, repeat the technique until all the batter has been used up. If you're coordinated enough, put one jug in one hand and one jug in the other and pour alternately- this significantly speeds up the process!

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the cake is light gold and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out the cake and remove the parchment paper. Reinvert on to a wire rack and let cool before slicing.

Serves 10.