About Me

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The past two years have been all about adjusting to motherhood and finding my way through it via craft. The out pouring of this came in the form of my blog Aunty Mum. Now I'm finally finding my feet, the children are growing, I'm getting some independence and my interests are morphing . . . into cooking. Join me in exploring creativity in many forms, food, fabric, frowns and laughter.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Summer Storms and Children

I have been praying for a summer storm for some weeks now; partly to reduce my water consumption on the garden and partly to reduce the fierce humidity we live through. I realise that in some parts of the world our humidity is negligible, however, being acclimatised to this climate, it's been pretty horrendous. The storm hit today.

I've also been trying to get into the routine of doing quite a lot of house work on Sundays in preparation for when I have Monday mornings to myself (seven days to go, but who's counting?) and then I won't feel the need to clean in my childless time but to create instead. Unfortunately, it took quite some time to prepare entertainment for the children. Nana dropped off these foam alphabet tiles on Saturday morning and I've seen them made into structures so I vacuumed out the spare side of the garage and got constructing. It took around 45 minutes to get it all put together and Kayley and Rogan were very impressed. Being an ex-building officer I wasn't so impressed with my bracing, however, I warned the occupants that, if they were careful there was no reason it wouldn't stand for the whole day. Alas, two year old sister got involved and nine minutes later there was a pile of tiles on the floor and three children looking for something to do. Hmmmm, well done Aunty.

We did manage to muddle along nicely for most of the day and the children got stuck into the toy box for the first time in months. I've been worrying about how little time they spend rooting around among the toys, but I realised today that hot and sunny weather isn't conducive to indoor toy playing. Alas, with the roast in the oven the power started to go off. We had four power outages over about and hour and I was beginning to panic over dinner. Thankfully the meat was cooked so I sparked up the BBQ and roasted the veges on there. (Don't look at the burnt pieces as they were cleverly cut away prior to serving.) The power turned on just long enough to get the beans (straight from my vege garden) up to the boil before going off again and so I put the pot on the BBQ also. Dinner was on the table at 6pm and was rather delicious regardless of the trauma that went into making it.

And the power was on again by bath time. We have gas hot water and the califonts don't work without electricity to spark the gas alight. I guess, for the most part, we can survive without electricity . . . and who really needs a bath? I could have soaped up the kids and made them run around in the rain if the worst had come to the worst. In fact, only one catastrophe today. Rogan, who was doing his best to amuse himself, was playing spinning tops in the lounge, lost his footing and crashed head first onto the foot stool. I spent half an hour at the table with cold peas pressed against a nice blue egg shape on his forehead. Strange how children don't realise you're not nagging when you keep asking them not to do something until they eventually hurt themselves. Bless him. He's fine really. They're off to Nana's tomorrow morning as I have important birthday shopping to do for Rogan's fourth birthday on Wednesday. Can you believe it? One year and he'll be at school!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

We're Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

Actually, we've already been. Last week we headed off on a big adventure to Auckland Zoo. I was pretty excited, if a little daunted about dragging three children (two of whom are preschoolers) on a two hour plus journey for an over night stay in a tiny motel room.

However, while as an adult I don't deem the trip an entire success, the children haven't stopped raving about it since we arrived home.

The trip was a long, hot one and I'm grateful for airconditioned vehicles. We crammed the three children into the back of the vehicle and mum and I took bets on who would be the first to crack under the travelling pressure. I would never have picked Kayley but she was the first to lose the will to live and let us know about it for the duration of the journey. It wouldn't have been so bad had she not lost that will in Waihi . . . a mere 40 minutes from home and only a quarter of the way into the journey. Here we all are stopping in Ngatea for morning tea and a wee stop.

Rogan faired a little better and it wasn't until the boredom of the motorway got to him that he begged every thirty seconds for the trip to be over. Thankfully it wasn't too far from there. Janae, strangely enough, was the hero of the day and didn't moan once, found numerous exciting things to see on the way and was our little travel star.

We got to the zoo (along with half the New Zealand population) and got started. Pridelands was our first stop and the rhinos snorting, sneezing and generally standing about was our first encounter. I was just about to read out all the interesting information for my little darlings to learn something on our walk when Nanny announced "Right, we've seen that one, keep moving." Hmmm, interesting. When she did the same thing at the Lion's enclosure I knew she wasn't going to be one to hang about and contemplate life as a lion, rhino or any other animal; nor was she interested in learning. She was determined to get around the whole zoo in record time.

There were, however, a few places even she couldn't resist stopping and enjoying both the animals and the children's reaction. The sea lions was just one attraction that took us all in. They're huge and they seemed content to swim round and round past the window enthralling Rogan. It didn't matter how many times they came round, or that he knew they were coming again, every time he jumped about shouting "there's one, there's one . . . look Kayley, there's one".  Eventually we had to leave the cool of the underwater viewing and head out into the heat. It was our one true mistake in the whole excersion. The Auckland Zoo is set on a very sheltered hillside in West Auckland and the temperature in there must have been over 30C which meant, by 11am most of the animals had crawled away somewhere cool and secretive to await dinner so we didn't see as many animals as we would have liked. The one animal that did capture all our hearts though were the mere cats. And I couldn't resist taking the children down into the tunnels and domes that allow you to pop your head right into their enclosure and see what they're doing. Of course, it never dawned on me until catching sight of the first tunnel that these were designed for children. So, while the kids raced ahead on their feet and sped up and down ladders, I slowly crawled my way through hot and stuffy underground tunnels trying not to grumble.

We stayed in a lovely motel not too far away with a pool, which served to cool us all considerably, not far from a pretty decent park and close enough to get an early dinner and early beds for our weary travellers. Hmmmm, nothing went quite according to plan. Not one of the children fell asleep before 9pm and all were awake by seven the next morning. I was awoken by Janae grinning at me over the edge of her porta-cot saying "good morning" and hot Rogan pressed as close to me as he could get.

The journey home was much better than the previous day (why does going home always pass quicker than the reverse trip?) and we didn't lose the will to live until about half an hour from our destination. Janae fell out with Nanny and cried for a good while then fell asleep for 10 minutes, Kayley moaned for the last half hour and Rogan snored. Needless to say, all three were tucked up in bed by 6pm that night and didn't stir until gone seven thirty the next morning. I achieved one thing I've longed for since becoming a  mother . . . a sleep in.

Hats, Hats and More Hats

I sometimes wonder whether it's my colour tastes that are off or others. I made the pansy hat as a template for my friend who wants a hat for her daughter. She loved it and asked if I'd make hers in browns or greens. Hmmmm. I'm not sure I'd be putting my three year old girl in a brown hat. But with all the love I could muster in each stitch I put this togther.

The most interesting, and most difficult part of the hat was the flower. I trawled through my flower book, I flipped endlessly through a flower book loaned me by Greedy for Colour, I made three versions of sunflowers and finally came across this little gem. I'm not over the moon about it, mostly due to the fact that it's brown but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she'll like it.

I keep going into Creative Outlet for yarns and keep looking at these fabulous hats the shop are selling on behalf of someone. I checked out the price yesterday and discovered that $50 was too steep for me to buy it so I can deconstruct it to figure out how it's made so I decided to try and figure it out from memory. It's not quite right but we're getting there. (I decided to use the browns for the trial as I'll struggle to use them up on stuff for us.)

I tried to get Kayley to model it for me but she was more interested in her candy cane and Bob the Builder than modelling for her favourite aunty. And, it's too big for her anyway.

So now it's head down while I make a scarf for another friend. I was so shattered after a day of battles with children yesterday that I just didn't have the energy to give it a good go. Let's hope that today is better. We're heading off to the park and beach this morning for a big play and lunch so I'll drag it all along with me and hope for some peace.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Think I'm Going to Like Preschool

This morning the universe was working in my favour. I left Kayley chopping down some yummy sheep with Grandad while I took the little ones to preschool. Upon returning I found that Grandad had taken Kayley home with him. Wow! Childless for a few hours. Needless to say, I cracked the whip and made a banana cake, a russian shortcake and a sultana and apricot loaf; I vacuumed and I finished mowing the lawns (again). Then I sat down to start a wee cushion to make my outdoor, afternoon crochet experience a little more comfortable.

Janae is now home and very happy. She's lunched and now she's tucked up in bed with her favourite Thomas the Tank Engine book and singing about babies going to sleep. You know, I think it's easier to appreciate our children when they've been away from us for a little while. I couldn't stop walking past and giving her a kiss or a touch on the head while she ate her lunch. Bless her little heart. Don't worry, I'm under no illusions that, by bed time tonight I'll be more than happy to close the doors on the three of them and hide away in the cool enjoying their sleeping absence.

So, I managed to throw together a pansy for the hat last night. Here's Rogan in all his glory this morning. I'm much happier with the finished result now.

Speaking of Rogan . . . when I arrived at preschool to collect Janae I walked in on news time. Rogan was standing before his peers with a crown in his hand . . . Kayley's crown no less. He was telling his mates how we bought the crown (Nana gave it to us on Saturday), how it belonged to him (it is, in fact Kayleys) and how, when he wore it he was a princess (but he spent the weekend at the top of the slide with it on his head shouting "I'm the king of the castle"). He's a funny wee boy sometimes. He must have smuggled the crown into his bag this morning without anyone seeing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Whew . . . A Super Sonic Sunday

Having ended yesterday on a high by getting my mound weeded (no that's not code for brazillian, it means I got all the weeds out of my hillock garden) which was some feat, I started today on the same note. I was meandering outdoors about 8am this morning in the cool summer air and looked over at what is supposed to be my vegetable garden. It looked like it was predominately weeds with one enormous pumpkin plant that's going to be Kayley's prize winning pumpkin for school.

With a resigned sigh I picked up a shovel and a hoe and set to work. Two hours later I had a giant mound of weeds, a big space of dirt for our winter veges, ten tomato plants loaded with little green tomatoes promising to be chutney and sauce in the next few months, another pumpkin plant that has two good sized eaters and more to come, some lovely herbs and so much more. It was back breaking and trying at times as I ended up with three little helpers looking for cenitpedes (yuck), worms and rogue potatoes we'd missed on the first dig over.

So with that achievement under my belt I decided I'd procrastinated on Lucy's hat long enough. A friend has a three year old daughter and she wanted a woollen hat with a flower on the side for Lucy. Apparently she'd been trawling through TradeMe and seen some she likes but decided she'd "support local" and buy one off me. A great thought, but I hadn't made a child's hat of that description. Now I have and here's Janae modelling it. (It fits Rogan better but I thought I'd better not post a photograph of a three year old boy in a girl's hat complete with flower as much as he'd have loved me to.) I'm not completely happy with the flower and I've found a lovely pansy pattern in my new crochet flower book by Nicky Epstein so I'll whip that up tonight and see if it looks better.

So, needless to say, I'm shattered. I had anticipated getting everyone to bed early tonight but it was gone seven and I was more than a little grumpy by the time I re-entered the living room to the days mess. It's still there and will remain so until tomorrow morning now.  But I have to end on a nice note rather than a grumpy one by including this photograph. This week's icecream of choice is Goody Goody Gumdrops and, if that's not decadant enough, the children also insist on Hershey's chocolate sauce. Here is the face of a two year old who absolutely loved her pudding tonight.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Solitude . . . Yeah Right!

Today the children spent the day with their maternal grandmother and their two older brothers. I was so pleased when I phoned Nana last night and she was excited to have all five of her grandchildren together for the second Saturday in a row.

I went to bed with visions of all the things I'd do with my solitude. Unfortunately, life's just not like that.

My mother arrived on my doorstep at 8.30 this morning with a long list of jobs to do. Sigh. So, we dressed for the outdoors, bundled the kids along too (their visit wasn't due to start until the very sociable hour of 10am) and got to it.

We pointed almost all the cobbles, we washed and hung out clothes, we weeded, we mowed lawns. I had a quick break at ten to drop the children in to town then back to the grind. While mum mowed I got busy indoors. I have spotless bathrooms, toilets and bedrooms. My kitchen bench and sink gleam, my floors are so clean they're almost slippery, there's not a spot of dirt on the carpet. And all the while this is going on I'm glaring and the clock watching my hours of solitude go swiftly by.

I felt awful about feeling so crabby. My mum was helping me in enormous ways, as she always does and all I could think of was a loving and kind and daughterly way to say "Mum, sod off and leave me alone." Alas, I just couldn't come up with a way to say it nicely so we got lots done. I was rescued finally, about 1pm (I had to collect the children at three) when the mower ran out of petrol and mum decided to take herself home for a much needed shower and a read of her book.

I quickly threw myself down in my favourite chair, grabbed my crochet and enjoyed completely awful weekend reality TV while trying to complete my latest project. I've just completed it and here it is! It does require a couple of finishing touches like that of an iron and a needle to put away the little tails, but I think this will be one item I will use a lot in my kitchen. And, the most interesting part to me is that this is only the second crochet project I've made (and completed) all for myself. Throughout the last week of making it I've been running through my head who the best person to give it to would be. But I'm not giving it away if I can help it. I picture making the children's lunches while they're still playing in the garden and throwing this over to keep the pesky summer flies off until they're ready to come eat, covering the salad that goes with almost every dinner we have at the moment while I finish off preparing the rest of the meal. Thank you Sharon for the great pattern books (now I've started I won't be able to stop) and thanks mum for the meshed fabric that inspired me in the first place.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Smallest of Things

I've heard about this kind of thing, I've even seen it in comedies but never thought it would happen to me . . . or to Rogan in this case.

This little bead, ended up embedded in Rogan's nose this afternoon. I had taken one out of the bottle to check it's compatibility with a little flower I've made to adorn Janae's ballerina cardigan and then went to do something else. Rogan arrives with his finger up his nose telling me he can't get his ball out.

I freaked. I tried to get him to blow it out but without success. So I phoned my friend to tell her to put her visit on hold and bundled him into the car to race off to the doctor. The whole time I was terrified he'd sniff and choke on it.

Thankfully we arrived, the doctor saw us straight away, and with me and a nurse holding him down, a long bendy pair of tweezer scissors and some steady hands from the doctor the offending item was removed fairly quickly. Rogan was a bit bummed that he couldn't take the bead home again but cheered up when he got his sweet as a reward for being so brave. Let's hope he's learned his lesson as I don't want any more visits to doctors from such things.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Janae's First Day

This is the image and the point at where I almost shed a tear today. My little baby growing up and off to preschool. Bless her little heart, she strutted in there like she owned the place and I was struggling to keep a grip on my emotions.

I find it strange that I have longed for this day, and waited patiently until she was old enough to join her big brother for a few hours a week. When the time came, however, it would have been so easy to pick her up and take her home with me.

I was strong though; I got her settled and the snuck out the door for a girly lunch with my big girl (Kayley) and my mum.

So here are some "settling in" pics to show how she was never going to miss me as much as I'll miss her.

All ready for their big day. Bags packed and itching to get in the car.

There's nothing quite like dinosaurs to keep you amused for ages. Banging them on the table helps too.

Not the best of days but they got outdoors for some of it. I just hope Rogan gets to do his own thing and doesn't have a little shadow constantly on his heels.

So the stories of her first day were interesting. Apparently she loved playing with the tap in the toilets and thoroughly enjoyed spraying the other children: the other children were not impressed. So teacher dipolmatically tried to get Janae to turn the tap off. She gave her the 'look' , turned the tap on harder and splashed some more kids. That's my stroppy girl. Thankfully teacher has much more patience than me and directed my little diva outdoors for afternoon tea.

As for tonight, it took all the patience I have not to lose my temper with my extremely tired girl. We've had tantrums and tears, but there have been giggles and cuddles too. She's all tucked up in bed and Rogan and Kayley are thoroughly enjoying having the sofa to themselves for a bit.

However, they're all tuckered out tonight so another ten minutes, two more stories, a sit on the loo and a bit of toothpaste and my home will be a haven of peace.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another Project Down

One of the reasons I like to make children's clothes is that they're so quick. And this particular pattern was a breeze too. It's all done in half dc, singles and reverse singles so it was a piece of cake.

It was supposed to be for my market stock but it just looks so good on Janae that I couldn't resist giving it to her for this winter. Then I know just the lovely lady with a fairly new baby girl who will love it too once it's outlived its usefulness in our house.

It's been a hive of activity around here lately. I've managed to get those lawns done at long last, I've swept up the dirt Kayley managed to get all over the drive while cleaning it (hmmm not even sure how she managed that), we've had a trip to the park this morning, a trip to Nanny's for a swim this afternoon, a lovely roast chicken dinner and I'm almost half way through my next project.

Never one to stick to wool for long I picked up a huge piece of mesh my mother gave me to use as throws for food. I'd always planned to do a crochet border around it but hadn't found the enthusiasm for it. Now I know why. I've cut it down so it's not a large piece any longer (pictures tomorrow with luck) but it's taking ages. It took me about five hours just to do the foundation that sets the crochet onto the fabric. But I'm determined to see it through to the end. The pattern comes from a bona fide vintage pattern a friend picked up at the Bethlehem markets for me. She has a throw with a ballerina crocheted into the corners (her grandmother made it for her) and she's now scouring all the markets she goes to to find the pattern for me. But she couldn't resist picking up a few pattern books anyway. I think she said they were about a dollar each so they were worth the trip in my opinion.

I've also got my first commission. I had a friend over for coffee yesterday and while our children were racing around like crazed animals she spotted my almost complete cardigan. Not being a crocheter (is that a word?) but having got this particular book out of the library numerous times, she's asked me to make her a little cape. I'm only too happy to do it, and I've already made one, knocked it up in a couple of nights so am more than keen to whip out another one. Let's hope everyone who sees her wearing it loves it and wants me to make something for them too.

Night night xx

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vintage Yarns

Remember, many months ago I mentioned that I'd been given a big box of wool and yarns from a family member? Well, I've got the crochet bug back and I've been diving into the box.

Having almost completed the cardigan, with only one and a half rounds of the last sleeve to complete when I ran out of cotton, I had to force myself onto the next project.

This was supposed to be one of my market pieces, however, I love it so much that I'm just going to have to give it to Janae. But, it's this piece that has made me entitle this post "Vintage Yarns".

When I was checked out the pattern and reading the requirements I saw that I'd need two balls of 50gm wool. Hmmm, the balls I had that were appropriate for this garment didn't look even 50gm size. They're not. They're a mere 1 ounce. You'll have to think real hard to work out how small that is but, trust me, they don't go far (I think 50gms is 6oz). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll have enough, but I'm sure I will. I've completed the back, both fronts and three quarters of one sleeve and I've used almost five balls. However, I still have four balls left.

The most beautiful part about these wools is that they're just that . . . wool. No acrylic blends; just pure New Zealand wool. I mean, check out the labels . . . with brand names like Aotea and Kaiapoi they couldn't be from anything other than good ole kiwi sheep. It's almost as lovely as the stuff my mother used to spin when I was a child.

So I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll have this garment almost completed and will be able to show you the finished article. However, I've got a full day. Janae is off for her official visit to preschool in the morning ready for her first day on Thursday, I've got the lawnmower (kindly delivered by my father) waiting to mow my hideously overgrown lawn, I've got Nana and the kids' big brothers arriving for a barbecue tomorrow afternoon and I have challenged myself to a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake style pudding. Added to the pressure on Tuesday I have a friend coming over with her twin boys. She's not seen my house before and I'll be darned if I'm going to show her around it when the bath is full of sand, my ensuite is full of children's clothes and bath toys (they like using my shower, and that's probably because the bath is full of sand), the carpet is covered in Rogan and Kayley's afternoon snack of cornchips and broken biscuits from the bottom of the pack and the patio is covered in stuff (magazines, cups, toys, chairs, tables etc etc). So I've got a lot to be getting on with. Best get to bed in readiness for the enslaught!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

We're back on track

I've finally found the time to sort out this old computer of mine (it's so old, it's the first computer I got myself when I went to university). Where did I find the time? It's one of those nasty, cloudy, humid and hot nights where sleep just wasn't going to settle on me so I got up and phoned the internet company. They kindly talked me through getting set up and here we are.

I really have nothing to say at twenty minutes to one in the morning but I just had to share some of these photographs . . .

Here's Rogan on Christmas day in the pirate gear Santa brought and looking amazed at what ever else he was opening.

The fabulous paddeling pool that Nana has given us. It's so good even I got in with the kids one particularly hot day (you'll never see a photograph of that though).

Kayley bought herself a new head band with her first ever pocket money; she came home, swiped the camera without me knowing and took a series of self portraits. These will make a fabulous page for Nana's scrapbook.

I know this looks a little like a mug shot, and so it should, but I had to include it. We still have a substantial amount of dirt as opposed to lawn as it's just not the right time of year to grow grass. Janae starts the day looking beautiful and clean. Within the first hour this is how she ends up. She cannot resist sitting in the dustiest part of the property and playing with all the sand toys Santa brought her. Thankfully their grandparents dropped off the sandpit today so we hope to have a lot less dirt and a wholelot more sandy knickers from now on (if her brother and sister ever let her in the sandpit that is).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blissful Children

While I can't post photographs, it doesn't mean I can't paint pictures with words. Today I have words of happiness.

Nanny and Grandad arrived this afternoon with a trailer full of children's garden toys. (Their garden must look pretty empty now.) So I have three children squashed into a little sandpit, a swing and slide set not too far off and their covered paddeling pool that their Nana gave them. There's no excuse not to have something to do now and there's no excuse to play on the dirt that's awaiting grass seed.

So happy are the children right now they've decided to delay dinner until about 6.30 so they can keep playing then shower, stories and bed following dinner as they know I'll not let them in the sandpit in their pajamas. This, it has to be said, is a major breakthrough as they've been the most difficult children to keep fed this summer. Every fifteen minutes I've heard that they're starving to the point of near death and if I don't feed them immediately they'll surely fade away to nothing. It's cost an absolute fortune in groceries and is one of the primary reasons I'll be glad when school goes back.

Well, I mustn't let the opportunity go to waste. I've got my crochet, a cold drink and magazines all out on the table on the patio under my newly mended umbrella and enjoy a gentle little shower of water as the sprinkler goes past. Lovely!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm still alive . . .

And kicking. Unfortunately my laptop died over Christmas so I'm working on my very old mac and things aren't quite the same in cyber world now. I'd love to add some photographs of the new crochet pieces I'm working on (hats and a cardigan right now) but, alas I can't seem to get my site to do what I want on this computer.

Note to self, call the computer company again and find out when they're going to collect my computer.

The children are all alive and kicking too (not each other too much thankfully). I can't believe we're in the countdown to school going back already. Rogan and Janae start preschool on Monday and then it's only two weeks until life returns to normal.

They're off to Nanny's for a play this morning so I can grocery shop in peace. I swear, if one more woman at the supermarket tells me I've got my hands full (like I don't know that) I'll clobber one of them. But today it's solitary bliss and I might even treat myself to a quiet coffee.

Right, beds to make and then we're off. I'll keep working on getting this sorted so I can post some photographs.