Thursday, 14 December 2017

A Letter to my Playgroup Ladies...

Dearest Ladies,

This last week or so upon attempting to come to terms with Master Q going off to school next year I have had a lump in my throat as to the enormity of what this means to me. One of the things which has been at the forefront of my mind during these often tearful reflections is that tomorrow marks the end of an era. Tomorrow will be my last weekly trip to Playgroup.

Six and a half years ago as clueless first time mothers we sat bleary eyed around a packet of Tim Tams and shared, at times in tears, stories of bleeding nipples, sleep routines, nappy rash and oh yes a little thing called sleep deprivation. It was a comfort in those early days (for someone on the brink of postnatal depression) to realise that I wasn’t alone, that my worries and stresses were being experienced by others. Having my closest friends and family over 2000km away meant that this support meant even more to me than you will ever know.

Over these last six years we have shared so much together, excitement of new baby arrivals (we’ve had 25 kids between us can you believe it? And one more to go!!) Sad times, tough phases and hilarious stories . There were days when I’m sure we all pushed ourselves to front up, but I always left feeling better for it and it was all up to you lovely women.

I feel so grateful to have lucked upon such a wonderful group of women to share these first momentous years of Motherhood with and have made bonds which I know will be lifelong. Although our group numbers has dwindled over the years you all still hold a special place in my thoughts and my heart.

I have gained so much from you all, and have become a better Mum for it.

To the last few Ladies standing, I will miss our weekly chats, although I envision I will be turning up after school drop off next year sans kids as I think cold turkey will just be too much for me to bare. (And I’ll see you tomorrow with a packet of Tim Tams in hand!)

Before I go I want to tell you what great Mothers you all are. We may not have all approached Motherhood in the same way, but you are all Super Women in my book. And on those days where the shine on your crown might not seem so sparkly, look down into those little one’s eyes and remember YOU’VE GOT THIS!

Love Nicole xx


Sunday, 7 May 2017

She took a deep breath, and let it go

Let me set the scene... Husband is away for the weekend, I haven't slept well in the last few nights due to a cold keeping me awake and I also went to bed late last night due to a cheese/wine/talk fest with my girlfriends. So to say I was looking for an easy day today was an understatement. I was secretly hoping for it to be raining so we could just bunker down at home, but when the sun streamed through the kitchen windows I thought I would do the right thing rug the kids up in anticipation of the 13 degree day and drive the kids to the "good" park. At this point I should add that yesterday I bought the kids new shoes and clothes. Miss M has been wearing the sparkly boots since we bought them and Master Q has been doing the same with his runners and monster tracksuit pants. The control freak in me would normally tell them to change into old shoes and clothes so the new ones didn't get ruined but I told myself to let go a bit, what's the worst that could happen?!

We arrived at the park and the kids ran down the hill squealing with excitement. Miss M then ran with abandon straight into a WET.MUD.PIT! Master Q running too quickly to see what had happened followed right behind her and went A over T onto his backside. My regularly used profanity of the S.H.I.T variety rang out and Master Q started bawling. "I'm sorry Mum" he cried repeatedly between his tears. Upon seeing Master Q covered in mud Miss M then looked down at her own boots and burst into tears, “My new shoes!!!”, she wailed.
Well, could be worse, could have been something other than mud!
I could feel despair set in; I wanted to scream: This is how I'm rewarded for trying to be a good mum? Now we have to go back home, I have to clean mud off everything, the kids are beside themselves and their new shoes are ruined!!

I have reacted like this on many an occasion since being a Mum, and I know I’m not alone. You are tired and in need of a break and you just feel like you Can’t. Take. Anymore. It’s always something that you know in isolation and when told later to husband seems like no big deal. But at the time it just feels like it can’t get any worse.

This time however I told myself, NO. I wasn’t going to fly off the handle, I took a deep breath and instead said quietly, "It's ok honey, it was an accident, it will wash out". I pulled them both up to the car, stripped the still bawling Master Q to his undies and cranked up the heater. We arrived home and I took Master Q to the bathroom and gave him new clothes. I then glanced at the floor of the toilet and noticed an Olympic sized pool of wee on the floor next to the toilet. I chastised the culprit and proceeded to clean the floor of what now smelt like a public urinal. My newfound calm was starting to waiver and I could feel my blood pressure start to rise.  As I took the mud covered clothes and shoes to the laundry and started scrubbing, I said to myself, "Why do they always do this when you are tired and over it?, Why do you get punished when you try to do something nice for them? The day is ruined now.”

But as I cleaned the mud methodically from Master Q's shoes I realised I had a decision to make, I could let this continue to spiral out of control and let it ruin the day for all of us or I could take a deep breath, remind myself it was just two unfortunate accidents and that I wasn't being punished, that this is life with kids. 

This was another moment in time we had spent together, they were all precious, the good times and the not so good times. So instead of punishing us all, I got everyone changed, rugged up, back in the car and drove back to the “good’ park, via Maccas this time, cause that is what the moment called for. The kids couldn't believe I let them have "Old Macdonald’s” and they played happily at the park for the next hour...carefully avoiding the mud puddles. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Pressure of Kid-Free time

I am currently ‘supposed’ to be painting some cupboard doors. The kids are at my mother in law's for a few hours and it’s the first time I have had time without them for a few weeks. Every time I am presented with some child-free hours I cycle through this same set of emotions; the excitement and anticipation of actually ‘getting stuff done’, the anxiety of them not being around when I’m at home but mostly the pressure to be mega productive. For most of the time the obstacle to getting things actually accomplished as most parents will attest to-is the kids. One snack to another, one bottom wipe to another, you might be able to sneak some chores in whilst the babysitter (aka Netflix) has them preoccupied but that only lasts until the next cry of “I’m hungry!” or “I don’t want to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles again!” is wailed from the next room. So when I do get a day without these time sponges around my list of things to do is as long as my arm. 
Upon them leaving I usually start running around like a chook with its head cut off, doing a million things, but actually doing nothing. Then my blood pressure starts rising, “DO SOMETHING!” my little voice yells at me. I usually manage to tick the easy things off: washing, tick, beds stripped, tick, dinner prepared super early and dishes done, tick, tick. But it’s then that I falter. Sometimes I catch myself just staring into oblivion whilst I chastise myself for wasting time staring!

Not getting things done usually comes down to two things; one: the list of ‘to do’s’ is just way too long, and completely overwhelming, they are usually things like weed the garden, clean out clothes drawers, paint something (that could just be our house!) and reorganise the cupboards. I mean all things which of course can be done in a reasonable period of time (sarcastic eye roll emoji!). So it’s no wonder I instead end up standing at the kitchen bench googling things like the ‘best water filter system’ or ‘why is my mouth so dry’, yep very important things which can only of course be done whilst the kids are not at home. 

To make matters worse, husband usually has a list as long as his arm too, always house renovation items, which range from replace whole storm water system to make side gate and concrete the side path. Yes, these too are pretty easy jobs to tick off the list! (I need a sarcasm button!)

The second reason these things don’t get done; I don’t want to do them! If it was bake some biscuits whilst watching Netflix or rearrange friend’s pantry (which I’m dying to do by the way! - yes I know I have problems) then it would get done for sure. But painting what seems like the millionth door of our house or re-weeding the garden bed which I’ve already done three times in the last six months, then yeah, it’s not really on my ‘want to do’ list. Motivation is low.

So as I sat down to write this (with the glare of husband from outside watching me on the laptop) I realised, I need to take it back a notch, getting myself in a tizz over things that will just not be accomplished in a few hours is unproductive in itself. I will instead give myself just one of these ‘do not want to do' items to accomplish and then maybe I won’t feel so bad when I hear the kids run back through the front door.

On that note, the painting is calling, the clock is ticking but at least I can tick ‘write blog post’ off my list! ;)

Anyone else suffer from this affliction? Do you put major pressure on yourself to be productive when the kids aren’t around, or do you give yourself a break and breathe in the silence? (that sounds pretty good!) 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

One Bowl Sweet Potato Brownies (Low Fructose)

I'm really into one bowl cooking at the moment (as you can probably tell!), I still love the Bellini but at the moment I tend to bake things whilst I am cooking something else so using one bowl is super easy and doesn't add to the washing up.

There was some leftover sweet potato in the fridge the other day, I added a few other ingredients and voila! Awesome brownie! You can't taste the sweet potato which is great if your little ones are super picky (mine are only like this with 'green' things!!) and you are sneaking in more veggies!

Miss M has been having it in her lunch box for the last week (I froze most of it) and loves it! 
(I literally just made another batch and it turned out great again- definitely a winner!)

One Bowl Sweet Potato Brownie (Low Fructose)


1/2 cup mashed sweet potato* 
1/4 cup coconut oil melted** 
2 eggs
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white spelt flour
1/4 cup cacao
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven 180 degrees celsius and line a 20cm square cake tin
2. Place mashed sweet potato in a medium sized bowl
3. Melt coconut oil in microwave in a separate bowl
4. Pour melted coconut oil into bowl with sweet potato and combine 
5. Add eggs, vanilla and rice malt syrup and mix together
6. Add spelt flour, sifted cacao, baking powder and baking soda
7. Mix together until combined
8. Mix in the chocolate chips
9. Pour into lined tin and spread out to corners
10. Place in oven for approximately 15 minutes
11. Leave in tin for 5 minutes before placing on cooling rack 

They are awesome warm! Dollop some cream on it and you have a quick dessert!

*(I steamed some sweet potato and mashed it with a fork, doesn't matter if its lumpy, adds to the appeal!)
**(If you don't use the coconut taste- which my kids don't you can use butter or odorless coconut oil)

Pretty proud of this one! 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Best Ever One Bowl Chocolate Cake! (Low Fructose) ...and First day of School blues

Like a lot of parents last week I sucked up the tears and waved Miss M off on her first day of school. She was ready, so ready, she couldn't wait and apart from a little tear on the third day she has just loved it so far. It's great to see. 

The actual first day for me wasn't too bad, the logistics and organisation involved kept me occupied enough to not focus on the momentous (insert super emotional) occasion, but the weeks leading up, well that was another story...

In the weeks prior I experienced the full spectrum of the 7 stages of grief. There was the shock and denial that she was now 5 1/2 years old, where did those 5 years go?! Wasn't I just recovering from their babyhood?! Can't we just stop the clock?! Then there was the guilt; that I didn't spend enough quality time with her, that we never had one one time, that I spent too much of our time running around doing chores than taking it all in.(I still drift into this stage at times, but what Mum doesn't?) 

The anger and bargaining soon followed (husband certainly suffered through this part) five days at school is too long, maybe we should move to Finland where school days are shorter? Maybe we should home school them?  The sadness and loneliness was next. The house just wouldn't be the same without her around. How would Master Q cope without his bestest buddy? Many a night tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought about how much I would miss her. I still have days like this, but in the few days before school I had come to accept that this was an unavoidable part of life. That no matter how hard you try, your babies grow up. This next stage of our family's life would bring new adventures, new challenges and I am privileged to be able to witness it all. We are so proud of you Miss M! 

Just in case you still need a little comfort cake after school drop off I managed to come up with an awesome one bowl low fructose chocolate cake! I made this for husband's birthday and it worked out a treat! I detest cleaning up and love a recipe that calls for minimal equipment and minimal cleaning! 

Here it is!

One Bowl Chocolate Cake (Low Fructose)


125 grams 85% chocolate
125 grams butter
4 x large eggs
1/3 cup stevia
1/3 cup rice malt syrup
1/2 cup cacao
3/4 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup almond meal
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi carb soda 

(Note: If you are using self raising flour reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp)


1.  Pre heat oven to 180 celsius
2.  Grease and line a 23cm springform tin
3.  Melt chocolate and butter in microwave in a glass bowl in 20 second spurts until fully            melted
4.   Let chocolate and butter mix cool a little before beating in the eggs, one egg at a time. 
5.   Sift in the flour, baking powder, bi carb and cacao.
6.   Add the almond meal, stevia and mix well with a spoon. 
7.   Once combined add the rice malt syrup and the milk and mix until combined.
8.   Pour mixture into tin.
9.   Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
10. Remove from oven and let it sit in the tin for 10 minutes before removing. 
11. Let it cool on a rack before icing.

I used a chocolate cream icing for this cake as it is super easy!

Chocolate cream icing

1. Whip 1 cup of thickened cream until thick
2. Sift in 2 tablespoons of cacao
3. Stir in 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of stevia.
4. Make sure cream is whipped enough to hold its own and spread onto cooled cake!