Monday, 28 January 2013

Half way there

My 1st ever bump shot.  Just for you my last but not least.

Yesterday I reached 20 weeks. Halfway to being star-shaped. I meant to write something yesterday but, as always at the moment, I got caught up doing other things. It was the end of a long week. We've had uncle Ben and Tonton Benoît staying, we've had the gastro, we've had school stuff, we've had a warning from the bank about the unofficial overdraft on our overdraft and we've had the car break down. We've had... enough.

I'm a bit wiped. And here I am halfway through my third pregnancy and feeling, I can't quite find the right word... disassociated... from it all. During my first two pregnancies, pregnancy really defined who I was, but this time, it's almost like it's all going on without me really thinking about it. I can't feel any movement, we can't find any names we like, I can't imagine my youngest child at all. In fact, typing "my youngest child" just now, is about as close as I've come to feeling a connection. I'm hoping this is normal.

I think maybe tiredness plus Januaryness is just leaving me blue. We're feeling very anchored in Béziers and in the domestic at the moment. We're seeing more and more of the friends we've made, I've been getting more and more involved in school life, I do a lot of reading, I do a lot of baking. And this is good. And bad. Sometimes what I perceive as the smallness of my life is reassuring, and sometimes it makes me want to run screaming for the hills.

Next weekend I am off to Paris (my Christmas present from Fanf) all on my toute seule, to see me old mucker Michaela. There will be concerts, and restaurants and cinema and even, with a bit of luck, a long-awaited trip down the Parisian sewers. None of which is really going to put me in the mood to consider a third descent into newborn sleep deprivation hell. But hopefully, a bit of the wide world will refresh the parts that Béziers cannot reach and I'll return to embrace the life I've chosen and the new adventures ahead.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

(Mini) Greedy Bird Baking Enterprise: Coconut carrot slices

Sorry, I seem to spend most of my time writing about cake. There are worse fates I suppose. I did quite a lot of research this week into healthy, sugarfree, no fat no fun cakes to bake. For the sake of my unborn mini-beast. And then I thought, hell, unborn mini-beast should start as it means to go on. And we made these, which are high fat, high sugar, high fun. Several commenters on the BBC Good Food website complained that there was too much butter. One for the Canteau-Pilbeams, I thought.

There are carrots in it.

It is so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so. So good. And because it's quite a large cake I had to eat quite a lot of it so that I could fit what was left in my cake box. The mini-beasts helped. A bit.

We've been stuck at home today with a disappointing sort of freezing sludge endlessly drooping from the sky. The kids have loved it! Jigsaws, plasticine, games, indoor dents, nailpainting, dancing. Topped off with tea and cake. As always down here in the sunny south, it's a blessed relief to get a stay-at-home day every once in a while.

Nicely insulated with coconut and carrot cake I decided we couldn't miss the chance to experience what became real snow and I persuaded the kids to go for a walk. They loved it! There were proper big flakes that stick to your eyelashes. They had a whale of a time throwing snowballs at me. Not at each other. Just at me. One hit my bum. It was very wet, cold and unpleasant. They laughed.

I love the snow. I love the freshness of snow air. The mini-beasts were giddy with excitement. So was I.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

(Mini) Greedy Bird Baking Enterprise: Cheese scones for school

One of the many nice things abour Matilda's new carey sharey school is that every morning her class sit down together for a little mid-morning snack, provided by the parents in turn. You can bring in anything you want, homemade or shop-bought, depending on how much time you have, plus some fruit. The idea is that the children get to try lots of different foods (I've seen piles of pains of chocolat on several occasions, so not always that different) and share a moment of downtime. I think it's a nice idea and enjoy making things to take in. So far I have provided a banana, date and cherry loaf and white chocolate, cranberry and coconut cookies. It's my turn tomorrow again but I thought I'd try something savoury and maybe a tad healthier this time. I also enlisted Matilda's, and therefore Owen's, help. O does not like to be left out of the GBBE. Scones are a good thing to do with kids, lots of fun easy skills to practise.

Mixing and kneading.

Rolling and cutting out.

Brushing with milk and sprinkling with cheese.

All made with cheddar. Stealth tactics to infiltrate the French palate with English cheese.

Monday, 7 January 2013

What would Moominmamma do?

I have many maman friends who inspire me but I also have one very important source of literary inspiration: Moominmamma.

For quite a while now the bedtime routine round here has involved tucking the mini-beasts up in bed and reading them a chapter of a book. A proper book, with illustrations, but not a picture book. We've read Winne-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, we've read The Twits and Fantastic Mr. Fox, we've read a couple of Paddington books. I'm not sure how much Matilda and, especially Owen, take in but I think it's good to get them used to enjoying the words and to building relationships with characters who they've grown to know and love, without pictures. For both of them, their absolute favourite characters are the Moomins whose adventures are liberally interspersed between the others. Generally if there is a change of author it is at my suggestion, the kids always ask for the Moomins. I think we can say that my work as a mother is done.

When I'm reading Tove Jansson to the mini-beasts I'm continually struck by thoughts and ideas which I love and want to remember so I decided that I'd try and note them down here. And they tend to be thoughts and ideas which come from Moominmamma. We're just finishing up the third book so I've missed out on some of the earlier stuff but no doubt we'll come back to them. I also miss the nights when Fanf reads (we take it in turns) so I'll just have to reread (for the umpteenth time) the whole lot myself. Ah, life is hard.

Anyway, for my pleasure, and hopefully for yours, two Moominmamma quotes that speak to this Minibeastmamma, taken from our current Moomin book Moominpappa at Sea.

"What a pity mothers can't go off when they want to and sleep out of doors. Mothers, particularly, could do with it sometimes."

"'We've found a crate of whiskey,' Moomintroll told her.
'Splendid!' said Moominmamma. 'Then we must go for a picnic!'"

Friday, 4 January 2013

Back to reality: the nice bit

It struck me that it's been rather a long time since I posted lots of gratuitous photos of the mini-beasts. Yesterday afternoon we went down to the park in the glorious winter sunshine, for once I didn't forget my camera, and Matilda and Owen obliged me by being in perfect sibling harmony.

Here they are building a bridge to cross over the monster-infested seas. Matilda's idea. (Don't tell them they had to be in the sea to build the bridge...)

Crossing the bridge.

Making gâteau. Matilda's was raspberry, Owen's was cream.


Being together.

Being gorgeous.

After the excesses of Christmas, a little reminder that kids don't need toys. Just imagination. As for me, I'm suffering from premature nostalgia for my time with these two. We had so much fun yesterday. I can't help but be anxious about how le petit dernier will change the dynamics of our family. I read somewhere recently that a family of three is a triangle, four is a square and five a star. I have to believe that our fifth point will make the whole star shine that much brighter.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Back to reality

I came home from the Vendée to find:

1. A small colony of beetles infesting the lounge and kitchen.
2. Numerous unidentifiable patches of sticky on the floor.
3. A half-empty glass of orange juice growing mould in the sink.
4. Leftover Snow-capped fairy cakes growing mould in the cake tin.
5. Dustballs (moutons in French) the size of actual sheep. Everywhere.
6. A dead lizard in our bedroom.

If I were one for making New Year's Resolutions clearly this year I would be resolving to keep a tidier house.

Thank goodness I am not one for making resolutions of any kind.