28 May 2009

The Votes Are In...

...here is the vote tally:
Treasure Chest: 6
Pirate Ship: 5
Dinosaur: 5
Tractor: 1

So the winner, by ONE vote is the Treasure Chest Cake.
Now, just to keep it interesting, the winner (Linda) is married to an uber-designer who does all their kids' birthday party invitations... so Linda is donating her prize to the next runner-up... which happens to be BOTH the Pirate Ship and the Dinosaur. Thanks Linda!
So congratulations to Elizabeth (Pirate Ship) and Amanda (Dinosaur). Your cakes are amazing.

I will contact you to arrange your prize! Personalised party invitations for your next kids' birthday party. You have the option of an electronic version (Amanda is EcoMum) or printed. You can add a photo is you wish, you can choose from my available designs or request a specially designed one for your party's theme. (Click here for my kids party invites webshop)

Well done, great effort, enjoy your prize... you deserve it!

And a big THANKS to everyone who voted!
Click here to see all 60 cake entries
27 May 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow...

Princess decided she didn't like her fringe anymore, so she cut it all off.

Here she is, the culprit responsible for sending my blood pressure through the roof, wearing a borrowed headband and looking somewhat subdued after things had simmered down a little.

Far from being wordless - as you can imagine - I had a lot to say about this! There was a lot of shouting and many tears (and not just on her part). She is starting school soon! She is having a Princess Party! She has no hair in the front!!

And this is the second time she's done this - her hair had only just started looking normal again after the last time she took to it with the scissors (before Scrag was born!!!)

There's nothing I can do to fix it. All I can do is cover it. I went for a walk around the corner to my good friend Linda's house (distancing myself from the tragedy that was my daughter's hair helped me calm down, the fresh air helped my breathing return to normal, and telling her about it helped me see the funny side). Thankfully Linda had a spare stretchy hairband that she lent us to cover up the MESS so we could be seen in public. (Oh my gosh, people will think I did this to her?!!! What kind of mother cuts her daughter's hair like that???)

Today I stocked up on stretchy hair bands in every colour available and a hat. It's going to take a long time to grow back. So if you're wondering why the Princess is wearing a hairband in every photo for the next year or so.... now you know. She is nearly completely bald at the front of her head!

Boo hoo.... boooooo hoooooo.... bboooo hhhoooo... (hic) boooooo hooo....


What is a champion?? Is it just the person who comes first in a race? Or does being a champion have something to do with having a winner's attitude? Determination? Stickability? Courage?

I think so. And I am so proud of my son, Dash, because in my eyes that kid is becoming a true champ.

This morning was the junior school cross-country race. I was requested/begged/ordered to be there to cheer on the sidelines. So there I was, chatting away to one of the mums and waiting for the racing to start, when another mother approached me, with a concerned look on her face...

"Oh, Simone, there you are. Is Dash OK? We tried to call you...!"

Huh???? My heart starts to beat faster, breathing becomes a little rapid... Has he been hurt? Was there an accident??

Sure enough, he is in the sick bay; he cracked his head on the corner of a table after tripping over in his excitement to get to the race. There was lots of blood, and potential for stitches...

I rushed to the office and there was my wounded soldier, patched up but looking glum.

He really wanted to race! The office lady said, oh well, if he really wants to...

Dash needed no second invitation. He was off out the door lining up with his buddies.

He started off near the front of the pack, but the best I was hoping for was for him to finish without too much drama.

I should have set my sights higher. Should have known my son is a very determined athlete.

When the bunch headed out of sight, Dash was sitting around 4th place.

When he reappeared and headed down the home straight he was coming in second!!! Eeeeeeehhhhhh! I was screaming my head off, "Go Dash! Go Dash!! Yeeeeessssss!!!!"

He placed 2nd! With a head injury! I am in awe. In my eyes he's a champ!

The little guy who won the race is also a champ in my book... he came over to Dash, shook his hand and said, "Well Done!" Impressive.

One of Dash's classmates hobbled in near to last place, crying and injured, having fallen badly. Dash went over to see if he was OK and we helped him to the office. Last year he placed really well and I think he was heartbroken at coming in nearly last. But I told him, wow, you finished the race! And you were injured! What a brave boy you are... you can be very proud of yourself.

He seemed to brighten up after the office lady and his teacher joined in praising him for his bravery in finishing. It would have been so easy for him to just give up. He was hurt and bleeding. But he kept going, limping to the end. To me that's a champion.

There's so much hope for our country with champions like these lads coming through! Their mummies can be very proud!
26 May 2009

On Yer Bike!

A gorgeous crispy autumn weekend, and finally, Mr G got us out on our bikes... including moi! Unbelievable. Dash was off at a friend's house, so it was just Princess and Scrag, me and the Hubby, out for a lovely cycle on a glorious day.
We headed off to Western Springs, a lake in the middle of the city, not far from where we live. Of course I was nervous; I haven't been on a bike since our weekend adventure at Taupo, where my good friend pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Princess was on Dash's old bike with trainer wheels, Scrag was safely strapped into the bike seat on the back of Daddy's bike, which we've had since Dash was a baby.
We managed to get around without any crashes or toppling into the lake. No innocent bystanders were harmed or run over.

The autumn leaves were stunning, I couldn't resist stopping constantly to take photos.

I hope this is the start of many more biking adventures to come!

24 May 2009

And the Winner is... Help! I Can't Decide!

OK, I was meant to post the winner of my cake competition and giveaway here yesterday. Problem is, there are just too many great cakes! 60 in fact. All unique, all gorgeous, all made with love. Thankyou to all the wonderful mums who took the time to share their creativity with us. You have made my job too difficult!
I loved the touching creativity of cakes made by kids (Oscar's Grinch, Miss E's Football & Butterfly), Susie's boys' lolly creations). I loved the colour and diversity of all the entries, the drama and love that went into the making of all of these works of Edible Art.
The random draw was the easy part. Princess drew out a name... Nicole, from Taupo, New Zealand. Congratulations Nicole! She has chosen a Farmyard Invitation for her daughter Sofia's 5th birthday party coming up soon.

But then the difficult part: picking THE BEST cake out of all those fabulous entries!

I managed to narrow it down to four stand-outs with the help of Mr G, Dash and Princess. But now I really think I need your help. I am asking you to vote for your favourite out of these finalists (below): You have until Wednesday, 7pm.

Please help!

Leave a comment telling me your favourite out of these 4 cakes. The finalist with the most votes will be named the Winner and receive the prize: Personalised Kids Party Invites designed by me (click here to see my webshop).

(a) Tractor Cake

(b) Pirate Ship Cake

(c) Dinosaur Cake

(d) Treasure Chest Cake

Which one of these is your favourite?? Please leave a comment with your vote...

22 May 2009

Groovy Disco, Baby!

My Princess is turning FIVE in July. She enrolled up at school the other day and starts school visits on June 11th (here she is on Monday, up at school).

This huge milestone brings to an end a long association with our local kindergarten. Dash started going there a month before his 3rd birthday, so for the last three and a half years I have been in and out of kindy nearly every day. But next term sees the end of that (for a while at least).

Pity it's only now that I'm in a position where I can finally start to get involved!

I finally put my hand up for something - helping with the annual Disco.

My good friend Linda is heading up the committee (she's great); and she managed to pull in lots of parent help; one mum is a real live DJ, and another dad has a great sound and lighting rig. I volunteered to help decorate, do the flyers and suggested a theme: Under the Sea.

Last night was the Big Event. Yesterday when we walked in after two typical kindy sessions (complete with glitter and playdough all over the floor) I couldn't have imagined that in the space of two short hours we could turn the place into a magical Underwater Disco Party.

The kindy kids had gone to work making gorgeous glittery fishies, mermaids and starfish. I had leftover pirate and sea-creature decorations (from Dash's 5th Birthday Party), and my friend Kelly went to town covering every door and window with blue cellophane and green streamers. There were colourful festoon lanterns, twinkling blue icicle lights and even a real disco ball. All the kids came dressed in theme: mermaids, pirates, sharks, octopii....
My Good Ole hubby consented to be Crazy Pirate Guy, using his piratey antics to get the kids up dancing; he was equipped with a treasure chest of spot prizes. Isn't he great? Mr G has no shame, just loads of fun (one of the things I love about him, he is so great with kids).

Scrag started out riding on daddy's back, but after a bit wanted to get down and join in the fun. I kept losing him in the crowd but after a few moments of panic, sure enough, there he was on the dance floor, wandering around and jiggling to the music. He's a little party animal!
Ahhhh, my only regret is that I didn't get involved sooner. I am brimming with ideas for the next disco... I'm thinking a Jungle Disco; we could hang vines everywhere and the kids could help construct lots of trees; they could learn about jungle animals and the rainforest and... ahhhh, but I won't be here. At least not for a few years until Scrag turns three.
It was so much fun and very satisfying working with those great kindy parents. I will miss them. But at least they will soon all be up at school too... and maybe I can put my hand up to help at school...?
20 May 2009

Wordless Wednesday: You're Gorgeous

My daughter: strong, feisty, generous, funny, precocious, loving, affectionate, silly, maddening, crazy, hilarious, clever, adorable, honest, brave, loud, sweet, beautiful, precious. I love you up to the sky.
Top Photo taken by my clever friend Meg
19 May 2009

Fussy Boy's New Favourite: Pumpkin Soup

The other day I felt like some pumpkin soup. It was a Saturday, and we were all home, but I knew that Fussy Boy (aka Dash) never touches anything as healthy as homemade soup full of vege goodness. So I dished up four bowls, for Papa, Mama, Princess and Baby Bear. Mmmmm, we slurped that pumpkinny goodness down and dipped our bread in. Baby didn't quite finish his, so there was a few spoonfuls left.

I was heading to the sink when Fussy Boy entered, come for his plain bread and butter.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Mmmm, yummy pumpkin soup!" I replied.
"Yeck!!" Mr Fussy said and pulled a face.
"Hey, want to try some? You might like it! Just a taste... here just a teensy bit...."

He hesitated and then came slowly forward, accepting the offered spoon (He has been improving at trying new foods).

Tentatively he stuck out the tip of his tongue and licked the tiniest dot of soup off the spoon... hesitated, took another little lick, then swallowed the whole lot!

"Yum!" he exclaimed. "Is there any more???"

I started dancing around the room singing, "You like pumpkin soup! You like pumpkin soup!" (OK, a little OTT, but this is Fussy Boy we are talking about here.)

He finished up what remained of the soup, and for the last few weeks he has been asking for more pumpkin soup.

So there are some pumpkins baking in the oven, and there will be pumpkin soup tonight. And here's the recipe that turned the skeptic into a Soup-Lover...

Roast Pumpkin Soup

The beauty of this recipe is that there is no chopping or peeling involved! I learned this method from my friend Sophie, when she lived here in New Zealand. You can also add peeled potatoes and/or kumara* to make a thicker (sweeter) soup that goes even further. In these photos I stuck the whole pumpkin in the oven (lazy me). It still worked OK but it was messy trying to get the seeds out. It's easier to buy the pumpkin in two halves and scoop the seeds out before cooking.


1 medium sized pumpkin (preferrably in two halves with seeds scooped out)
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 Tablespoon of chicken stock powder
2-3 teaspoons of Spices (garam masala or Ground cumin)
3-4 cups of water
Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Bake the pumpkin in the oven for about 1 hour at 180oC, or until soft and skin is easy to peel. Peel off the skin (this comes away very easily once pumpkin is cooked)
  • In a large pot, heat the oil then saute the onions and garlic. Add pumpkin and spices
  • Add water, enough until the pumpkin is well covered; then add chicken stock, cover and reduce the heat to low. Leave to simmer for half an hour or so.
  • Put the mixture into a blender and give it a whizz until smooth.
Serve with crusty fresh bread and a sprinkle of grated cheese and cracked black pepper. Yummo!
Leftovers (if there are any) can be kept in the fridge and re-heated the next day. They can also be frozen.

*Kumara is New Zealand sweet potato
17 May 2009

Let the Fun Begin...

A milestone has been reached in our household: The First Tantrum by my little love, Scraggy. What the heck, he's only just turned 13 months old!

Not only is his tender age a shockingly early start for tanties, but he is also so darn adorable, sweet, lovable and kissable - not the kind of bubba you would ever think could be a tantrum-thrower of any prowess.

It all started with him getting hold of the phone. The real phone. He was walking around with it, holding it up (backwards) to his head, doing his bow-legged cowboy strut around the place. Occasionally pushing buttons. Very happy and pleased with himself.

I let it go on for a few minutes, then decided I better pry it away before he accidentally called Emergency Services.

Nothing prepares me for this sweet little boy's extreme reaction. He throws himself to the floor and his screaming I'm sure can be heard for miles. I try to calm him by distracting him with favourite toys - he throws them to the floor and continues wailing and flailing.

At this point it's kind of funny and just a little bit ridiculous. Ahhh, what the heck, let him use the phone, we have a PIN number on it...

Clouds part, sunshine returns. Happy child wandering through house babbling on the phone and pushing buttons... until responsible big brother comes across him and knows that little Scraggys shouldn't really have phones... and tries to take it from him.

Once again, we see cute baby flinging himself to the ground, banging his head and fire engine sirens let loose in our kitchen.

I decide, hey, better not set a precedent of caving to terrorist demands, so I decide to change tactics and hang tough. No phone for baby Scrag.

Big brother is distraught because the little guy is so upset; he tries to pacify, comfort and cuddle little brother. There is further flailing and flinging; toys are thrown, someone's face gets scratched in the process and big brother is reduced to tears. He is also now upset with mummy because I won't go and comfort/appease the toddler who is throwing the tantrum.

I try to explain that we can't give in to tantrums and we have to let him ride it out, and picking him up will only make him angrier... big brother is not impressed with these hands-off tactics.

Just then Daddy arrives home on his big white horse, and enquires about the fuss (which has now been going on for 25 minutes or so).

I explain, Oh it's just our first toddler tantrum.

Daddy laughs. Hey we've dealt with professional tantie-throwers before, he reminds me. We can handle this little guy.
He scoops up the red-faced amateur and blows his snotty nose. Just like that the tantrum is over.
That Scrag is such a daddy's boy.

So I guess my baby is now really a toddler. Boo Hoo. And it's just a case of the Terrible Twos slightly (like a whole YEAR) early!
When did your kids start throwing tantrums? Classic terrible twos or early starters like mine? Share your stories and help me feel better!
15 May 2009

Housework Woes

Here's a thought... I wouldn't mind housework if it just stayed done. I think my main objection to it is the almost absolute pointlessness of it. You clean the floor; ten minutes later the crumb fairies have been back, and your work is undone. You clean the toilet... 5 minutes later the weewee pixie has left a little present on the seat and if you don't look before you sit.... ugh!

Toys that you have gathered neatly into boxes magically reappear all over the floor as if they had always been there.

Cupboards and drawers that had been carefully sorted, within hours are once again bulging with items crammed and dumped any-old-how.

I mean, it's not the actual doing of the housework that gets to me. In a way it's kind of satisfying, therapeutic even. Shiny sinks, smear-free walls, plumped pillows... ahhhh yes. Satisfying.

It even works up a sweat; I can vacuum and call it exercise (I read that somewhere).

But darn it, as soon as the ravening hordes return from their rampaging elsewhere, it's as if I never did a thing.

Kids burst in the door shedding coats and shoes, bags and random bits of paper. Cupboards bang open, cereal crumbs and milk puddles scatter across the once-shiny bench; the kitchen floor which only seconds ago was crumb free is now a place you don't want to walk barefooted. The telly goes on, the games and toys come out, discarded clothes litter every bedroom floor...

Then hubby walks in and wonders what on earth I have been doing all day... Am I ever going to get off the computer for long enough to tidy up the place???

What the heck, I might as well have just been blogging!
13 May 2009

Wordless Wednesday: What's a Scrag?

Definition of a Scrag: A charming rogue, a rascal, a cheeky monkey. Scrags are equipped with a deep throaty chuckle which is extremely infectious. If a scrag starts laughing, all human beings in a 100 metre radius will join in. Scrags are extremely kissable and have big blue eyes which sparkle with mischief. True scrags love nothing better than Scraggin' around.

Definition of Scraggin' Around: Roaming through the house looking for interesting things to do, such as investigate the interiors of cupboards, washing machines, open doors and toilets.

12 May 2009

Change of Season

Seems, to me, my kids are always out of sync with the weather. They don't seem to feel the cold in winter, and then they put on their winter PJs in summer!

When Dash was three he was a huge Crocodile Hunter fan. He refused to wear long pants all winter, because "Steve wears shorts".

This morning I tried to convince him to put on his longs, he begged for his sports shorts (to play soccer in of course). When I wasn't looking he ran out the door and headed for the Walking School bus - at 7.50am! Just so I wouldn't make him take his shorts off.

Thankfully I heard the door slam and took off after him.
"Get back here!" I yelled across the street at his retreating, shorts-clad figure.
He heard, me but kept running (yes, he's called "Dash" for a reason!)

"Get back here or you won't watch the Newcastle game after school!" Ahhh, yes, helps to know their "hot buttons".
He meekly returned, I insisted he put on his longs and a warm jumper (did I mention he was wearing a soccer top with just a polyprop underneath?)

He left at 8.00am - still 15 minutes early, but at least he looked warm.

Then there's Princess. There have been legendary Wardrobe Wars in the past. Peace has reigned for quite some time in the Land of the Wardrobe, but with every new season there are border skirmishes.

Princess doesn't understand the concept of autumn, or cold weather or dress appropriately for the season.

She started to throw wobblers when I insisted on jumpers and bootlegs, jackets and tights, gumboots and socks. She wanted to head to kindy in her shorts and t-shirt.

In the end I had to revive my old methods - take everything prisoner, hold the clothes hostage until she gets the message. I cleared out every summer item of clothing from her drawers, bagged them up and she had no option but to dress warmly.

There were some tears at first, but now she is delighting to parade her warm clothing choices before me. "Look mummy, aren't I dressed warmly for kindy???" she asks proudly.

Hmmm. That may well be, but hidden underneath those warm layers is the t-shirt she earned back through good clothing choices.

I go to pick her up this afternoon and she comes skipping out to me, bare-armed. The teacher said at one point she was also barefooted, having ditched the gumboots until the teachers insisted she put them back on again (it's been a chilly 10oC lately).

Oh well. We'll get there I guess. Probably just in time for spring when the change-of-season fun will start all over again...

Do you have this issue, or it is just me??