Friday, 29 October 2010

Friday in photos

Photos from the preparations for tomorrow's birthday festivities. There will be everybody. All the inlaws. Even the inlaws' inlaws. In our one little house. That is now besmattered by the fruits of my labours and needs sandblasting to get it clean. Methinks one shall not bother.

I have made chocolate birthday cake, caramel shortbread and my chocolate coconut squares are currently baking in the oven. A big thank you to Wrigglesworth who has sweetly slept the day away.

1. Decoration preparation.

2. The cake :q

3. Some yummy coconut mix.

4. My little pot of leftover caramel. Cunningly hidden behind the biscuit barrel, and guarded over by Wrigglesworth's Corsican donkey, who has been perched inexplicably on the serviette holder by the Monster.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

2 years old today (not 5)

Whenever anyone asks her the Monster says she is 5 today. But then I am 5, papa is 5, Tontine is 5. Everyone is 5 years old. Whilst that would probably make the world a rather lovely, if very messy and very loud place, it's not true. Matilda is 2 today. And she has been ratcheting up the tantrums just to prove it (maybe I should have accepted her first suggestion and skipped the terrible 2s altogether).

I think I'm supposed to write what she loves and what I love about her.

She loves everything.
Except being told what to do. She doesn't mind if you ask.

I love everything about her.
Even the bad things like her stubborness, her anger, her complete unawareness of herself in physical space. Secretly I like all these things as they come hand in hand with her vivacious fearless personality.

Matilda loves life and I love living it with her.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Bare Necessities

"And don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin' about it
I'll tell you something true

The bare necessities of life will come to you."

This pretty much sums up my life post mini-beasts. And like Baloo (my constant companion these days) at the moment (as in today, who knows about tomorrow...) I'm feeling at one with life. So, my bare necessities are, in no particular order:

My fella
My Monster
My Wrigglesworth
Friends (brothers count as friends remember)

What are yours?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Old Wrigglesworth is sucking me dry at the moment. He wakes at least twice a night and feeds a lot during the day. I have tried to make him wait a bit, so that I get a chance to refill, so that he can then fill up and therefore go longer between feeds. Nothing doing. It's a vicious cycle. I'm hoping that the increased feeding is temporary and due to the onset of the winter cold and/or a growth spurt. In the meantime, how to cope with the demand? I don't know if it is a medical fact, but it is certainly a Bex fact that the one thing guaranteed to increase milk production is chocolate. Strange? Well not really and it's true. And, as it turns out, chocolate is also very good for lethargy and depression. (Not so good for fitting into one's trousers and cavities but you can't have everything).

So, to all my breast-feeding lovelies out there, eat chocolate. Even if you're not running low. Because prevention is better than cure, right?

And to all my non-breast-feeding lovelies out there, eat chocolate. Even if you're not feeling lethargic or depressed. Because prevention is better than cure, right?

Dr. Bex has spoken.

[For serious cases apply the above, Cote d'Or Lait Amandes Caramélisées avec une pointe de sel.]

Monday, 25 October 2010

Cordon Bleurgh

Does anybody else get bored and frustrated at having to think up healthy, cheap but tasty meals every day of the week? In my case, twice a day. I love eating. I love cooking. When I have the time to plan and execute in peace, preferably accompanied by a comedy musical soundtrack and a glass (or several) of wine. But the daily grind of feeding my little hoard sometimes gets me down. I lie awake at night (often with Wrigglesworth suckered on) desperately searching my culinary memory bank for new and interesting ideas, usually to no avail.

Thank heavens there are two simple house rules which make my life easier:

1. Everybody says I love pasta.
2. The egg is your friend.

I estimate about 90% of food consumed in this house (that's discounting chocolate, which would probably bring that figure down to around 15%) is either pasta or egg based. Or just pasta and eggs. A special mention should be made for cheese, pesto and soy sauce, which will add flavour to any old tat I throw together.

Today's RsTBC: pasta and eggs.

The mundanity, the mundanity.

[Photo shows Barilla Piccolini pasta for mini-mouths, a new and exciting pasta discovery.]

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Greedy Bird Baking Enterprise #11 Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Icing

This was a dry run for the Monster's birthday cake and, halelujah, RTBC to the power of 1000, it worked!!! I used Mary Berry's recipe for Chocolate Birthday Cake but with some white chocolate butter icing. I intend to colour the icing blue to make water and then add some water themed decorations, boats, fish, a duck or two perhaps. All things the Monster loves. I need to put on my thinking cap to work out how I might fashion said decorations from Haribo sweets. Now where did I leave that damn thing, last seen circa January 2008?

Most importantly of course, the Monster loved the cake.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Conversations with the Monkey

Ok, so the post I was going to write is down below but before you get to that look at that little YouTube video box. Yes, yes, I did it, I managed to get a video from my camera to my blog. I am so proud of me. Today's RTBC (forget the kids) I am a technical wizard. Prepare to be bombarded!

Me: So, what would you like for your Christmas present?
The Monster: Une banane.

I don't know if I should start worrying about her spiralling monkey fetish but I certainly approve of her modest choice of present.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

More sibling love

I try very hard to make this blog not simply a "Look, oh just look at my kids and how beautiful/talented/eccentrically amusing they are" blog but, well, they are. Sorry, I can't help myself. The Monster loves giving Wrigglesworth cuddles at the moment, and he seems to enjoy these near-death experiences (ok, he looks a little afraid in the 2nd photo). Here is a selection of some of the best cuddles.

The last photo was taken this morning while they were watching The Jungle Book. The Monster keeps asking for "the monkey song". Does it freak anyone else out that Kaa has the same voice as Winnie the Pooh?

p.s. Do you recognise the shirt Sheriff?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Bex's Bookshelves: the earth hums in b flat, by Mari Strachan

My mum passed this on to me. Normally not the type of thing I'd pick up, it looks like chick lit and there's a review from Marie Claire on the cover. But actually, it was quite good. How's that for an insightful review. It's set in late 1950s Wales and is told from the point of view of 13 year old Gwenni, who's a bit weird (she likes books, why is loving literature so often a symbol of weirdness?). The book follows Gwenni's discovery of those secrets that everyone in a small community knows about but noone mentions, including depression, infidelity and murder. In fact if you take away Gwenni's quirky voice the lives of those around her, and her own, are bleak. The book is unsentimental and engaging. As I said, really quite good.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sunday in photos

A trip to the beach at St. Pierre sur Mer.

There's something about staring out to sea that makes me feel strange, a sense of the whole world laid out before me, of my tiny pinprick insignificance, of being part of a huge big something that I don't understand but nonetheless feel connected to. It makes my head spin. I love the feeling. I find it reassuring.

Greedy Bird Baking Enterprise #10 Chocolate and Coconut Squares

My one perfect square.

The rest of my rather less than perfect squares.

The chocolate stuck. I think this is because in my desperation to get some coconutty goodness I ripped them from the tray too early. Another baking enterprise that we will be unable to share. Oh damn.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


I have only just begun to mine the rich seam of Lindt word play... and look what I found this morning.

Best of all, it is one solid block, no pieces. Or rather just one big piece.

This went a little way to consoling me for the lack of the luscious MiK this weekend. She was meant to be hopping on the TGV from Paris last night but the French are on strike, indefinitely, and she couldn't get her train. Damn their Gallic eyes. Fortunately, I am on a one-woman stealth mission to infiltrate and destroy them from within by polluting their gene pool and breeding them out of existence. Whilst nonetheless preserving their enviable lifestyle, delicious cuisine and joie de vivre.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday in photos

Wrigglesworth doing the Can Can.*

The Monster being a monster.**

* The Can Can is part of Wrigglesworth's cultural heritage, on both sides. Did you know that the Can Can is actually the Galop Infernal from Orphée aux Enfers by Jacques Offenbach? One of the most important French musical comedies, as discussed in a most erudite thesis by one Dr. Pilbeam.

** The blurry photos are to capture the ecstatic movement and ebullient spirit of my two mini-beasts. Not, obviously, a failure on the part of the photographer.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Bex's Bookshelves: The Yiddish Policeman's Union, by Michael Chabon

I also finished my book today, I really am on a roll. Breast-reading is one of the best things about breast-feeding, I'm still managing to deplete my book stores pretty fast. I have already read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (a tip from the ever reliable Joo) and Wonderboys by Chabon and loved both of them. He's very clever, very funny, but this book was a bit too clever for me. Or maybe I'm a bit stupid (see previous post). Or maybe it's just the sleep deprivation but I found the story quite hard to follow and the characters hard to care about. I read up a bit about the book afterwards, and then it struck me as even more clever. It is a detective novel set in an alternate history amongst a temporary Jewish settlement established in Sitka, Alaska during World War II. In this alternate history the State of Israel was destroyed in 1948. If I understood the politics and history of the Middle East I would probably not have felt so clueless but I'm ashamed to admit I only have a very tenuous grasp on world politics. I did appreciate the very funny Chabon. Although what made me laugh most were jokes about a woman getting pregnant (already a mother of two) but being so tired that she didn't remember having sex and a baby's nappy smelling like it contained a dead sea-otter.


Today I burnt my fingers on the hob. I was trying to turn the grill that covers the hob round (whilst using it to fry sausages). I was repeating to myself Don't touch the hot bit, don't touch the hot bit. And then I touched the hot bit. I don't know what hurts more, the burns or the knowledge that I am terminally stupid. Turns out it was the right way round in the first place.

However, today was a good day because I ticked lots of things on my list. I am a fan of lists. I don't function very well without them. Ticking things off gives me a sense of achievement. Recently though, in an attempt to make myself feel like I am getting anything done at all I have been adding things like Cook dinner, Clean teeth or Get up. But today I did proper things. Much as I'm sure you'd be fascinated by the minutiae of my life I will share the two most important.

1. I finally got Owen some passport photos taken. This means I can apply for his passport and we can travel abroad.
2. I refilled my chocolate drawer. To the brim.

I also went out walking with my little man and took a nap. Go me.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Matilda meet Dorrie

A big big day in our little lives. I read my Dorrie books to the Monster. These were my favourites when I was a kid. I always wanted to be a witch. I still do. The Monster liked pointing out the cat and the fille on each page (Joo, you're right, I should write something about her acquisition of two languages, but I fear that might require more brain power than I currently possess). The illustrations in these books are beautiful and my rubbishy photos don't do them justice.

The surprise for me was how I suddenly found myself relating to the Big Witch, Dorrie's mum. At one point she snaps at Dorrie:

"Not another word! I have two headaches at once and I do not want to hear excuses. SIT DOWN!"

Of course it turns out that the Big Witch should have listened to Dorrie all along. A lesson for me there.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I get by with a little help...

I was going to write another miserable post about how much I miss my friends and how lonely it can feel sometimes when they're all so far away. But I've written that already and anyway I thought there had been enough misery. And while nothing can replace sharing a cup of tea/piece of cake/glass of wine/big hug face to face, telephones are good. I have had several brilliant phone chats with friends* in the last couple of days which have reminded me what a brilliant bunch you are. I have the best group of friends in the entire world. Ever. Sometimes I find it hard to find the time to call/write, sometimes communication is punctuated/completely halted by screaming children but chatting to you always makes me feel better, happier and loved. I know that at this stage in my life, jetting around the place to see you all just ain't gonna 'appen but thanks to the wonders of modern technology I feel like we can stay close until the little ones can be shipped with me or shipped off somewhere else when I want to travel. Of course, any of you that feel like coming to Beziers, temporarily or permanently, you know there is always space in our homely little hovel.

*Brothers count as friends ;)

Monday, 11 October 2010

Reasons to be miserable: Mea mama

I didn't quite feel up to writing this over the weekend. I wasn't sure I'd write it at all but I think it will help me... maybe my fellow mums. Friday night was a new nadir in my mothering adventures. It started well. I put Matilda to bed, I had fed Owen and he was all sleepy in my arms. I always cuddle him for a bit before putting him in his cot, until I feel he's no longer restless. I was just getting there on Friday when Matilda suddenly burst into tears. I decided to put Owen to bed anyway and went into her. She was crying uncontrollably and burbling something at me that I couldn't work out. It's a difficult stage in her communication at the moment, she thinks she's talking, she knows what she's saying, we don't always understand. Struggling to calm her I heard Owen start screaming. Realising I couldn't leave him to cry I left her and went in to find him lying in a pool of sick and that everything needed changing. I took him in my arms and went back in to her. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do so I started screaming. At this point the fella came home. Poor man. He went in to Matilda and I rocked Owen. Then, because I felt terrible for screaming in front of Matilda I suggested we swap children so I could reassure her. He said I shouldn't but I insisted, which was the wrong thing to do because I was shaky and emotional. To try and calm her I walked up and down with her in my arms but she was writhing so much I couldn't hold her and dropped her on the floor. She seemed more shocked than hurt and I just took her in my arms, sat on the bed and rocked her in my lap. She calmed down so we got a book and started reading. I then noticed she had a huge angry bruise on her cheek. I started to cry again but could see this upset her so held it in until we'd finished reading and I'd put her to bed. Then I cried most of the evening and lay awake most of the night, imagining Matilda looking like the Elephant Man in the morning and feeling like the worst mother in the world. The bruise is still horrid today, it makes my heart pinch every time I look at her.

There's not much else to say. These things happen, that's what everyone tells you. That's what my lovely sister in law Steph told me on Sunday but she knows (she has three children, including twins) and I know that "These things happen" doesn't even begin to cut it. There is nothing but remorse and guilt when you lose it in front of your children or lose attention for a moment and something bad happens. But the only thing to do is to tell yourself "These things happen" and try to make sure they don't happen again. Even though you know they will.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Greedy Bird Baking Enterprise #8 & 9 Marbled Fudge Cake & Devil's Food Cake

So tired, can barely type but had lovely weekend. The Stephs came today, made lots of cake, took some photos of cake, ate lots of cake. Cake. Tired. Cake.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Insanity Watch, Day 4: End in sight

My mini-beasts have been crying in shifts since about 10pm last night. So all those pleases, nobody heard them. I was trembling this afternoon I was so tired. I had chocolate and it helped, so maybe it was just withdrawal.

Anyway, forget the misery and look at this little lot of RTBC:

A present from the lovely Katie. Two new recipe books of cakes, one "fast", one "easy" (sound like my kind of cakes) for me to cock up, ruin, "reinvent" in my own special way. Plus some new music (halelujah, I can't remember the last time I bought myself a CD) and the BBC adaptation of Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky, which now I'm an out and proud telly addict I can admit I'd heard about and really wanted to watch. How did Katie know? She's just brilliant that way. Katie, the parcel couldn't have arrived at a better time, thank you so much.

Current level of insanity: Lady Billy McWonkey
A high-functioning lunatic.

Friday in photos

Scenes from Beziers market.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Insanity Watch, Day 3: Lindtsanity

I had a meltdown last night when it took me 3 hours to get Wrigglesworth to sleep. There was a lot of screaming and crying. Him and me both.

Today has been better. Due in no small measure to the fact that I fell off the chocolate wagon and into some Lindt. I found some Lindt Seasalt chocolate (thanks for the tip Anna, it is amazing). I also bought some Lindt Menthe Intense because I didn't want to be "limping" as the French say when they want a second drink. Nothing to do with chocolate but any excuse to eat more of the precious stuff is good in my book, however tenuous.

Current level of insanity: Willy Wonka
I don't think this needs explanation. But watch out kiddiwinks, Mr. Wonka has all sorts of imaginative ways of dealing with naughty children.

I wrote this earlier and have now got both children in bed, 9.30pm, not bad. Please please please, all the pleases, let them stay there... And a big thank you to Dan, for being my Sanity Sheriff and ringing me tonight to give me a proper check and to Jen, for your comments, your photos, our chats, just knowing you are across the pond having your own highs and lows with Miss Pixie and just being you makes me wonderfully cheerful.