Iron Chef Mint

And so came the turn of mint… With Jasmin somewhere in the US, our numbers were a little depleted, even more so when the Prossers failed to show.*

In looking for mint recipes, it was clear that mint is generally an add on rather than a central ingredient in a dish, though this doesn’t stop it being a feature ingredient. And the yummy array of dishes for the day proved as much.

The weather was warm and spring-like enough to make mint juleps as a thematically appropriate drink. We then started with the chicken and mint wontons which Rachel had whipped up. The boys in particular were quite keen on these.

In a turn of events that will surprise no one when mint is the theme ingredient, salads made a bit of an appearance. We had three quite different ones: my Vietnamese chicken and mint salad, Andrew’s mint and pea salad and Rachel’s beetroot, haloumi and mint one.

There were also a number of permutations of lamb – Steve’s marinated lamb and mint stir fry, Rachel’s lamb with mint and macadamia pesto and my lamb and mint cutlets on mashed minty peas.

All extremely delicious, and even better, we got to enjoy it all in the mild spring sunsine.

But no meal would be complete without dessert, and to the boy’s delight Rachel delivered with mint and choc-chip ice cream.


*The Prossers got the time wrong and turned up at 4pm, just after the rest of us had left…

Motherhood, work and the dilemmas of identity

The other night I arrived home from work at 6.40pm, just as the small boys and James were about to start dinner. Joining them I apologised for my lateness, and Sebastian said:

“It’s ok Me-me, we would rather you be late for dinner some times than have no money.”

For the last six weeks I have been the lead instructor on the drafting of legislation which usually would have taken months nd months to prepare. This has meant that precise instructions, and, more importantly, prompt precise instructions, have been required as we have dwelled on the minute details of our legislation. I have worked longer hours, in the evenings after putting boys to bed and on the weekends. I’ve taken my draft legislation with me to the hairdresser and to Kids’ City. I’ve read it on planes, I’ve provided comments while comforting wailing 4 yr olds. But this is not a woe-is-me story. In general I have really enjoyed the work though, I probably would have preferred slightly less of it. And I know that this incredibly intense period is finite. But I am doing something exciting, something that has never been done before. I am helping to craft something, I am helping to make laws, to hopefully make things better.

But family time has suffered. I have hardly walked the big boys to school or picked up Zac from childcare during this time. James has carried most of this load without complaining. I’ve cooked dinner once or twice a week at the most.

Sebastian’s comment the other night made me think a little about the nature of work, or identity and of why I work. It is not just about the money – although it is clear why Sebastian might think that. When the small boys say they don’t want to go to school, sometimes I tell them I don’t really want to go to work,  but I have no choice. When they ask why, I saw it is because we need to get paid, to be able to pay for the things that we have.

But that is not the only reason.

I am a mother and, I think, a pretty good one. My children are articulate, secure in the knowledge that they are loved, have plenty of activities in their lives without being over-programmed and are learning to be independent, both in activity and thought. We are often complimented on their behaviour, even when we are not totally convinced they’ve been terribly well-behaved. I have read books to one, two or three small boys most nights since they were little more than babies. We cook toegher, play monopoly, have tickle-fights, ride our bikes, go to museums.

My identity is not, however, as a mother. Obviously, it is clearly part of who I am, it is a core component of the Melissa-ness of me, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But I still find it weird when I am classed as a “mum” before anything else. This is not how I think of myself.

My work, my study, my writing, my friends…all these things are important aspects of my identity. My position at work, what I do, what I want to achieve, my ability to mentor and support junior staff – these things are critical components of who I am. I never even considered being a stay-at-home mother full time. occasionally I toy with the notion of part-time work, but when I consider that I would probably need a less demanding, likely less interesting kind of job to make that happen, I abandon the notion. I am fortunate that usually my work lets me have a life as well, Usually I can pick up Sebastian and Jude once a week straight from school. I can be at home in time not just to eat dinner, but to make, or help make it, as well. I can get to school assemblies and other events when I need to.

My boss, who is a working mother like me, suggested that perhaps part-time work for women has, in some ways, been a barrier to feminism. it has reinforced the idea that women should be expected to never miss a school function while still earning a living and still cook and clean and do everything else. For what is time off from work if you are just spending it cleaning? I know that part time work is an important option, but I think it is also important to not always be seen as a mother first.

So I need to teach Sebastian, and my other boys, that working is not jsut about money. It is about my identity, about the contribution I can make, about the opportunity to use my brain and expand my knowledge. Work is about who I am.



More puddings! Lemon delicious

With an abundance of lemons and not a lot of cooking time, we decided to try out the recipe for individual serve lemon delicious puddings.

Sebastian did a sterling job with the zesting of the lemon…

…and the squeezing of the lemon. Together we mixed it all up and transferred it into its mini containers – preparation time was very quick.

We put it in the oven for the allotted cooking time, but think it was just a few minutes too long, as it ended up not quite as self-saucing as we would have hoped.

Nonetheless, it was quite delicious – certainly James’ favourite of the puddings so far. And really, it just proved once again that it is really really hard to beat a simple lemon pud!

Choo choo!

Having forgotten or gotten the time completely wrong for two birthday parties on two consecutive weekends (such a bad mother), there was no forgetting Brodie’s party to which Zac had been invited. As it was at the Kingston miniature railway, I took Sebastian and Jude along also to join in the training riding fun (at a small additional cost to myself).

The trains really are fun, and we all (myself included) had our fair share of rides. You know times have changed when the boys’ point of reference for the trains was Chuggington rather than Thomas.

Zac also had a good time with the party food and Sebastian and Jude demonstrated enough good manners to be rewarded with the leftover party bags post-party. So everyone went home thoroughly happy!


Sleep reading

So I went upstairs the other night to check on the boys before I went to bed. I saw this…

…and had just started telling Jude that it was way too late for him to be awake and that he must turn off his light, when I got to see him from a different angle.

He was fast asleep. I was completely correct, it was waaaay too late for him to be awake.


During the holidays, we engaged in our usual Boy Swap arrangements. Sebastian and Jude spent a day at Martin and Daniel’s house, then Martin and Daniel spent a day with us. On this particular day there was the added highlight of our boys spending the night at Martin and Daniel’s house in between.

I drew boy herding responsibilities for the day and decided to go with the wear-them-out-early-then-retreat-to-the-couch strategy. My principle weapon was bowling.

Sebastian and Jude have both been to bowling birthday parties, and despite a few requests, we had never made it there ourselves. And, hey, I happen to like bowling too for a bit of fun. So off we went.

Due to a holiday special, the place was pretty packed, but we managed to get ourselves a lane. We kept the gutter guards up, so no one could feel like too much of a loser, and went for it.

Early controversy ensued as the automatic scoring wasn’t being entirely accurate and Sebastian’s less-than-optimal amount of sleep the night before became obvious. But then I worked out how to adjust the scores, and the competition was on.

Sebastian used his powers of geometry to assist when using the roller-thingy, but they all alternated between it a freehand. Sebastian and Daniel led the small boys, but Jude and Martin impressed with their sportsmanship.

And the best bit – I beat them all! Got to have some parental glory some time…

Feeding the ducks

After disappearing for the winter, the ducks are back at the wetland pond just up the street and around the corner from us. With ducklings! Lots of little fluffy cuties.

This means my own little (not-so-fluffy) cuties must feed them!

No better combination than spring, ducks and stale bread.