Saturday, 29 June 2013

Photography with the Follans.

I have never invested in a good camera. I have had many, many crappy cheap ones over the years and then came the iPhone! We have had two fabulous Summer adventures and all of our memories were captured with a humble iPhone. There are some lovely photos.

This is one of my favourite photos ever:

But all I had was an iPhone to capture it. This day will always be one of my most precious memories. We should never have taken that wheelchair up onto that rock. It was a bit dangerous but it was a rare opportunity for our family to enjoy a moment as a complete family. Usually we are divided with one adult with Campbell at the last point of access and the other adult exploring with Drew and Joe.        This day was a precious one.

I have avoided the big, bulky, expensive cameras because I couldn't bring myself to spend so much money on something that I wouldn't be able to carry around everywhere because it was too heavy and awkward. I was also a little terrified that I'd drop it!! I didn't know how to take proper photos anyway. 

This is where The Follans come in. 

They are amazing photographers, and lucky for us, they are also lovely friends. When they were offering a DSLR workshop I got more than a little bit excited. I didn't have a DSLR camera but I signed up for the workshop anyway. I figured that I would get one somewhere for the day. Well after chatting to Andrew and Sarah about finally buying a camera (AGAIN), Andrew suggested getting a nice compact Sony NEX. Much neater and lighter than a traditional DSLR but with all the same features. I trusted his judgement and when I saw the interest free deals all through the Sunday papers I decided to dive in. I didn't buy the exact one Andrew bought for himself- I admit to getting a bit overwhelmed by all of the options and prices. I invested in the more affordable one. No regrets though, it is still better than what an iPhone can offer.

The workshop was fantastic. It was relaxed and easy to understand. There was lots of comfortable discussion and hands on practise. I felt very nervous sitting there at the start. The other cameras looked so much more professional than mine (meaning HUGE with heaps of accessories) and I had a moment of panic when I thought that maybe I wouldn't understand a word and look like an idiot. 

Now I simply can't look at every day moments without wondering how I could capture that lovely light. What ISO would I need? Hmmmm how could I improve the composition of this plate of biscuits. Really!!

I wish the sun would shine for 5 minutes in Sydney so I could take some photos. 

I braved the drizzle to experiment a little bit:


Please let the sun shine soon.



Sunday, 16 June 2013

This weeks biscuit barrel.

Well this 'week' is a bit optimistic- they might last 2 days at a stretch!

This was a creative exercise. We trialled some favourite ingredients to see how they would come together. The verdict:: well like I said they might last 2 days if we are lucky.

Here's what we put in::

90g butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tablepsoons of golden syrup
1 cup SR flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup rice bubbles (I warned you we were being creative)
1/2 cup sultanas
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped white chocolate

We melted the butter, honey and golden syrup in a saucepan and once it was cool we added it to the dry ingredients.
Bake in a moderate oven for about 12 minutes and your biscuit barrel will look like this:

but not for long!!!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The to- do list.

It's true! Isn't that silly.

My to-do list today:

1. Kiss and hug my boys- repeatedly until they tell me to stop.
2. Tell my children that I love them.
3. Sit in the sunshine and be still.
4. Drink tea.
5. Read my book.
6. Have a hot bath.
7. Bake something delicious.
8. Make some paper flowers.

Gosh I have a busy day ahead of me if I am going to get through all of that... I might have to combine some to fit it in....I can read my book in the bath with a cup of tea :)

What's on your to-do list today?
Can you add something lovely that will make your heart sing?

Friday, 14 June 2013

Enjoying the wintery sunshine.

I drive past this sign on my way to and from work and always wondered where the path would lead us. So with the sun shining and Campbell hanging out with his school mates today, we decided to pack some sandwiches and head off for a walk.






Oppps!



What a lovely discovery in the middle of the Sydney suburbs.

Campbell the comedian.

Campbell is feeling poorly tonight. We thought that his croaky voice this morning was his enthusiastic vocals in the early hours along with The Muppets theme tune...Da da da da dadada, da, da da dadada- if you were born in the 70's then you know how it goes.
He is really sick! The voice is just about gone, and he is tired and cranky!!!!

So he has just suggested that I get him a brandy. Being the BBC fan that he is he knows all about the medicinal benefits of brandy.

 My response was "no my darling but I have made you a lovely hot bath".

His response: 'how am I supposed to drink a whole bath!'

BOOM BOOM!!!!!!


This is all true- my gorgeous boy REALLY is a natural!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

That 'other' dinner my kids will eat.

I had a little victory today. I chucked some stuff in the slow cooker this morning and when I served it up tonight there were no wrinkled noses, no groans, nobody whining 'why can't we just have tacos again?'.

There have been some requests for a recipe after I bragged about my success...that put me on the spot. I really did just chuck stuff in the slow cooker but I can share what went in.

Slow cooker chicken with dumplings.

Chicken legs (I use a pack of 8)
Vegetable stock
Vegetable soup pack (or an assortment of vegetables- carrots, parsnips, turnip, potato, sweet potato, onion, celery, mushrooms)

1. coat the chicken legs in flour and pop into your pot or slow cooker.
2. chop veggies and throw them in too.
3. cover the ingredients with 1 litre of stock or water.

Let it bubble away filling your house with delicious wintery smells.

About half an hour before dinner I add some frozen peas and make the dumplings to add to the top of the pot.

Dumplings

I always guess ingredients here and they always work out fine. It is pretty much a scone mix really.
About 1-2 cups of flour (I shake into enough flour into the bowl until it looks about right)
A generous nob of butter or margarine.
Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like a rough bread crumb consistency- add a bit more butter if it is still pretty dry and not very crumbly.
Add enough milk to form a sticky dough.
Roll balls of the dough and set them adrift in the sea of bubbling goodness. Don't forget that they will rise a bit with cooking so don't make them too big.
They will be done by the time you hear "I'm staaaaarving".

Here is a link to a great dumpling recipe I found with more accurate measurements :)

This is just a photo of the left overs and not nearly as lovely as it was fresh from the pot. I didn't realise I would need photos at the time- who knew I'd be onto a winner?!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Time is ticking.



There is a sense of dread creeping into my thoughts...and heart. I am desperately trying to send it back into the corner where it belongs. It has the potential to spoil the little time I have left to just be 'Mum'.
It is nearly time to face the reality of my job again. That frantic pace, constant chaos and crazy busy. I am not at all looking forward to it like I had hoped I might. I believed that maybe being at home full-time would become boring after a few months, that I would be grateful to have an escape from the house. I was wrong. What I am craving now is more time with my boys, more time to explore my creative side and perhaps a chance to follow my heart.
I have made the most of the time I have had to make a difference for my baby boy. He remains a selective mute but he is becoming a little less selective about who he will speak to at school. Unfortunately the support I had assumed we would get from his teacher was not forth coming and has left his progress stagnated. I am quite anxious about what will develop in the next few weeks (my last few weeks), as the teachers ongoing and frequent absences are making it very difficult to move forward. I am really torn between a few possible courses of action- each of which will have consequences.
It has been so precious to have the time to manage our myriad of appointments without the panic and stress that comes with juggling a full-time job with a family. I have been able to take both Campbell and Jonas to their appointments and follow-up with all of the paper work and bills that come with that. While I know that Jonas will not be a selective mute forever (because I refuse to believe that) Campbell with certainly always have cerebral palsy, a vision impairment and autism- not to mention the list of other less prominent issues.  I would dearly love to have some guidance from a fellow Mum who manages a full-time job along with 3 children, 2 of whom have high needs. If you are out there please share your wisdom because I am floundering.

The terrifying realisation that my greatest value to my family is my capacity to earn enough money to pay our mortgage keeps prodding its way into my thoughts. I don't want that to be the case- in fact it breaks my heart. When I am working I give a lot of myself to my job. As a mother I hope that my children's teachers are devoted to giving them the very best that they are capable of, so I endeavour to do just that. I'm far from perfect, but my heart and soul is thrown in every day. It's very rewarding but it comes at a cost to my family. I am not sure that I am capable of finding a more functional balance. I struggle with the idea of giving less of myself to the children I teach and the teachers I supervise- I don't think it is ethical to do a half- hearted job. The truth is I will continue to face complete burn-out and exhaustion if something doesn't change.

I am just waiting for the perfect solution to land in my lap. I do wish it would arrive sooner rather than later so that I can just relax and enjoy this Mummy gig with all my heart. Hello.....if you are listening...today would be great!!!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

North Haven

This post is a special one for my friend Bron at Big Brother, Little Sister & the Baby. While I am enjoying reading about her trip to Asia, you can take a peak into our NSW beach holiday. I love reading about how Bron manages her exotic family holidays with a wheelchair to negotiate. I can't offer you exotic but we do have fun with our camper trailer and sense of adventure.

Our first trip with our camper trailer was to North Haven. What a fantastic luck fluke that was. After being there for several days the man who ran the cafe at the Surf Club wanted to know were going to borrow the beach wheelchair....ahhh YES!!! We had no idea they had one and for some reason it didn't occur to anyone to mention it to the family with the kid in the wheelchair. 

We have stayed in both of the caravan parks in North Haven. The one pictured here is closest to the beach and had lovely big grassy sites. There is also a good disabled bathroom, but it was a long walk from our site. We always had to decide on the spot whether we would prefer the inconvenience of a long walk to the bathroom with Campbell or a crowded, dirty site- you never get it all but isn't that the fun of camping?




North Haven Beach.



This is another nice swimming spot for the kids in North Haven. It's probably good for fishing here too but our boys were not at all interested at this stage.


A short drive into Lake Cathie is worth it. The lake is perfect for swimming when the channel to the ocean is open and the koala reserve is pretty special too.

Here is the lake- nice and shallow for the kids.


This is the beach wheelchair you DON'T want to borrow. They have two at the surf club- this one which collapses and causes Campbell to knee himself in the face- and the other one! 
The second time we went back the good wheelchair had been loaned out to a local lady who was using it to explore other beaches in the area. That's a great situation for her but a huge let down for us. We would ring in advance next time so we can make sure we can enjoy the beach without bleeding noses.

Make sure you take a visit to Laurieton and Port Macquarie too- especially good when you get the inevitable rainy day. It always rains when we go to North Haven and we even got an exciting hail storm on our last visit.

In terms of good family and wheelchair friendly holidays this is at the top of our list.

Oh no! I'm not really lame...am I?

I used to roll my eyes (very discretely) at those mothers who moaned about their teenage children not appreciating how cool they actually are. When they described their attempts at relating to their children in a really hip & groovy way my eyes really did had a mind of their own- they were rolling against my will!
Well evidently I have become one of those mothers...oh bugger!!! I just said 'evidently' that's just further proof of my lameness :/
No matter how irresistible it is to rock on with Drew while is he playing AC/DC on his bass guitar- it is not OK to dance! I attempt a really cool foot tapping & hand clapping thing....nup!
Is subtle head nodding OK? Nooooo! It's embarrassing!
But I am a really cool Mum! I always knew I would be! How did this happen?
He does let me 'rock on' with him sometimes & tries not to enjoy it too much (REALLY he actually loves my super cool grooving).

This beautiful boy has been perfect since he was a mere dream. After Campbell's very early arrival we were so excited about every single day beyond that 25 week mark. I love being pregnant & was enormously grateful for my growing belly. I did not give stretch marks a single thought, couldn't care less about weight gain and wouldn't dream of complaining about how tough it was getting to full- term. When I was a week over due right before Christmas I just busied myself with an abundance of hand made Christmas cards.
When my precious boy decided to arrive he was apparently a text book example. I had been dilating all week (rocking back and forth while making Christmas cards to get through the back pain). I woke through the night with intense pain & didn't have any doubt that I was in labour. By the time my Mum arrived it was intense. People claim that I even said the radio in the car was too loud & painful. I am very quiet while I am in pain. I don't like to talk & don't much like people talking to me.
The whole experience honestly was beautiful. He was overdue, perfectly healthy & doing everything right. It really hurt and all that...but it was perfect! He arrived quickly and without complications- he is and always has been a blessing.
I was smiling so much for days after he arrived that everyone thought I was a bit deranged...even my beloved husband. I loved him even more than I even thought possible. I loved Campbell with an even bigger heart & I was desperate to get home in time to share Christmas morning with him. I loved this precious babe in my arms so fiercely that nothing was ever going to cause him harm- ever!!!!

And I adore him still, even though he thinks I am lame. I forgive him for his eye rolls because he is the sweetest, most loving boy I could ever have dreamt up.

We all know that he has it wrong- of course I am cool.
 
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