Friday, January 31, 2014

The simple things in life

At the beginning of the school holidays, the kids and I sat down and discussed what we'd like to do over the next six weeks. One idea that was quickly floated and agreed upon was that we'd meet Lee for a picnic lunch at a lovely park near his work. Somehow, between the various celebration days, going away, house work and kids visiting their grandparents (a lot!) it never seemed to happen. 

This morning, on the last official day of the holidays the opportunity arose. The kids and I took on a task each and set about making a picnic. I made Ham and Cheese Muffins (with help from the kids), Erin made fruit salad, (aided by Connor) and Connor made a Cheese Salad (aided by Erin). I bought some Ginger Lemonade and we set off for City Park.

Last official day of the summer school holidays. 

The kids are out there (waves in general direction of playground) somewhere.

There's a black swan in the thick of all those seagulls.

It was a glorious day with plenty of wildlife on the lake and kids in the playground. Lee and I had started the day on a downer, so took the opportunity to take a breath and just be together. It was the perfect end to a lovely 6 weeks.

What I didn't expect was that a new opportunity arose. I managed to tick off one of my 45 goals for the year.

28. Swing on a swing. 

Okay, as goals go it was probably the easiest, but sometimes we adults need a physical reminder that the simple joys are often the most pleasurable. And the kids loved it. Erin gets so excited when I decide to take on a goal and this time was no different. She cheered me on as I took off my shoes, set up the seat against my bottom and took off into the sky. 



Look at me, Connor! Connor! Connor, look at me.

Can you see me, kids?

Are you watching?

I'm flying!



...aaaay. And...

Back we go!

Up in the air, I fly
Zoom zoom a zoomer zoom zoom

Ready to disembark, and...


Ta da.
I sailed, I dipped and I tipped backwards for that little flutter in the stomach. And finally I dismounted and she high-5d me.

Yeah, it was worth it just for that.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If you want something done properly...

I'm aware that this week teachers in WA are heading back to school to prepare and ready their classrooms for next week's influx of students.

Things are no different here in the Batthouse as next week Erin returns to school and Connor and I resume our homeschooling. Today the three of us got in and in short order turned the ex-reading room/catastrophe into Connor's school-room. It took us 90 minutes (we also cleaned out the drawers) but it was totally worth it.

Connor, being given the task of sorting working pens and textas from their non-working counterparts. In our house we call this "Keeping Connor busy while we work." Only kidding. It was a job that needed doing and he did it well, despite having a bad sick day.

10 minutes previously there was barely room to walk in this room. Erin and I quickly put things into piles before pulling them apart again and putting them away.

The first sign of order appears. My teaching stationary for the upcoming school year.

Connor's desk, before we go to work on it. You can't see it, but at this point there's a thick coat of dust on every surface.

We have a saying in our house: "If you want something done properly, get Erin to do it."

And voila!, Connor's learning space. Okay, Aisla's cot doesn't feature a lot in our studies, but that's the best place for it, for now.

The complete learning area. 

Our new, improved school room. I am so proud of the kids and how much work they put in. Erin, particularly worked right through with me, cleaning out drawers and the desk, shifting boxes, dusting and vacuuming. Connor did the best he could, especially as he had to keep leaving the room to deal with his RS.

And school is open for some pre-term revision.

Connor gets into the swing of maths...

And is pleased with the results.

And afterwards, Erin even rewrote the White-board facts for us.

And now, for cooking news.

When asked about her favourite meals, Erin always states "Mum's Kedgeree and Dad's Spaghetti and Meatballs." At the moment she has a goal to learn 6 new recipes by the end of the year and Kedgeree is on the list. She's making it today for tomorrow night's dinner and has asked me to write it out for her to keep. Not only have I done that, I'm also putting the recipe here for her future reference.

Lyn’s Kedgeree

Cooking times: Rice 30 minutes plus 10 minutes standing time
Cod 5 minutes first side, 4 minutes second side
Boiled egg 5 minutes
Heating in oven approximately 25 – 35 minutes.

1 ½ cups brown rice
3 ½ cups boiling water for rice
500 g slice smoked cod
1 cup milk for cod
1 hard boiled egg
1 raw egg
1 cup cheese
Pepper to taste
Parsley to taste
A good squeeze of lemon juice

Cook rice in microwave, removing every 10 minutes to stir and add more water as necessary
Meanwhile, boil cod in milk until soft. Remove and allow to cool slightly, then flake into smallish pieces. Remove any bones that surface. Leave skin in.
Using an oven-proof casserole dish, add cod to rice along with boiled egg, raw egg, cheese, pepper, parsley and lemon juice. Stir well, then top with a little more cheese. Cover and heat for approximately 25 minutes. Remove lid and cook a further 5 minutes. Heating time depends on temperature of Kedgeree when placing in oven. If it’s cold from the fridge it’ll take longer than if it’s assembled then cooked straight away.

Oh, and for what it's worth, Lee's Spaghetti and Meatballs is my absolute favourite meal. It's the first thing he ever made for me and is still my number one comfort food.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A little goal goes a long way

7. Paint my nails black. Accomplished 28 January 2014

Completing this goal actually took a lot of courage. All my life I've been told that black nail polish denotes rebellion, and if there's one thing I've striven to be it's a 'good girl'. So, I approached this particular goal in two lots, first by painting my toe nails, then, when I felt comfortable with the result, I did my fingers. I did it while studying about firearms today, so the timing definitely felt right. All in all, I rather like the result and even applied a second coat. I just hope it's easy to remove by Sunday.

As usual, as soon as I completed this, Erin cheered me and said 'Good on you, Mum." She really is behind every goal I accomplish. She took the two pictures of my hands. What she doesn't know is that I won't be washing any dishes over the next few days.

Small steps. Literally.


They actually turned out quite nice

Sunday, January 26, 2014

One of the most worthwhile goals to date

43. Take a tour. Achieved 26 January 2014.

Connor's ongoing Rumination Syndrome (or Disorder, whatever) means he can't go to school, so it has fallen upon the family to homeschool him. Now, technically the responsibility is mine as I'm home full-time with him, but as Lee is both a qualified teacher and the "fun parent" he is also listed as being Connor's teacher.This means we work together to find new and innovative ways to educate Connor (and Erin by extension) whilst making it look like another Battersby fun-day.

One of our family goals for 2014 was to take two family outings together. Now, you might be thinking; "Two? Just two? What sort of parents plan such a tiny amount of outings?" Well, I can give you an answer to that. It's the sort of parents who have to carry multiple sick bags wherever they go as well as tissues, wipes and hugs. It's the sort of parents who have to leave any given situation in a hurry and who are never certain if the money they've just handed over will disappear in a rainbow of the previous meal/drink as they run for the car and home.

One of my goals for the year was to take a tour. I feel I live in a great state with a wonderful (and tragic) history and I'd like to view it through the eyes of a professional. I also want my WA-born children to see, feel and understand the background of the place they call home.

So, let's roll that up into one happy parcel. Connor was fairly well, so we decided to strike while we could. We packed up the car with home-made Cheesymite Scrolls, home-made scones with jam and cream and 10 litres of cordial and headed off to Fremantle Prison whereupon we paid $53 for our family ticket and took the Doing Time Tour.

I have to say at this point that our guide, Steve, was amazing. Not only did he speak with authority and gravitas, but in a room full of adults, he treated Connor* with absolute respect. 

*Sidebar: Connor was the only child to ask a question: "Why were convicts made to wear the arrow on their uniform, rather than some other symbol of their imprisonment?" Within minutes Lee was surrounded by adults exclaiming "That was a fantastic question," and "I would never have thought to ask that," and  "Your son is so smart." Yeah, folks, that's my kid. 

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the arrow is a trademark that means "Property of the British Government." At the point we learned this, every adult in the room oohed because not one of us had realised this. We'd all thought it was just the symbol for 'convict' or 'convict-made'. Thanks to our boy, we all learned something new.

Anyway, for 90 minutes we toured the facilities, filled in a worksheet, looked up our ancestors (Lee and I found many possible family ties within the Kielys, Battersbys and McMahons) and enjoyed some quality-learning Batt-time.

Of the interesting things we learned, we discovered that flogged prisoners really did have salt rubbed into their wounds (as protection, not punishment); that there was one warder to look after 160 prisoners in a yard and they would do nothing to interfere with a fight; that kitchen hand was the most sought after job in the gaol; that Fremantle Prison was one of the first prisons in the world to loan books to prisoners for free (they actively encouraged education) and had a library of 10,000 books; and that every year the family of Eric Edgar Cooke visit the prison to honour those whom Cooke slew. They actually visited last year on 26 January because it marked the (50th?, 55th?) anniversary since his rampage began. As a serial-killer aficionado, I find Cooke a fascinating character, so hearing this choked me up a little.

Anyway, as goals went, it was probably my favourite to fulfill. Lee, the kids and I came out of it full of excitement and chatter about what we'd seen and learned. We were also a little saddened by the execution room (Connor had to leave because it upset him) but we also enlightened by the understanding we gained about a different time and place in history. 

So, at the end of the day I encourage all Perthies and visitors to check out the Fremantle Prison. For us, it was worth every penny.

Connor and the flogging stocks. In the early days, one convict received 100 lashes with a cat o'nine tails for swearing at the C of E minister. The last prisoner to be flogged (1940s) received 25 lashes for ... his 4th count of paedophilia.

I don't know what this is, but it seems important so I took a photo.

A door to a prison cell. Everyone of these contains the "Property of the British Government" arrow. The guide showed Connor first, then showed everyone else.

On the left you see Connor's head. To the left of that is the Execution Room, complete with noose, and 13 foot high pit. Connor left the room and I joined him.

Original convict uniform. Yeah, complete with arrows.

Ummm, keys.

Lee, inside an original cell. As the years went on the cells got bigger.

A shot of my husband. Because I love him.

Friday, January 24, 2014

It was awful, but it had to be done.

37. Clean the internal doors.

Honestly, there's not a lot to report here. The job seemed massive at first, but the kids are on holidays and they helped me. We all did one door each day with Lavender Spray and Wipe. It took 3 days to complete and now I have a bad headache, Erin is coughing a fair bit and Connor has an upset tummy (and not in the usual sense of Connor having a sick tummy). May be related, may be not, but I'm glad that job's done.

And because this seems like a bit of an empty post...

It's Onwards and Upwards for me.

As I'm a lover of all things Plantagenet and Tudor, I've signed on to do this 6 week course mid-2014.

I'm currently doing a Forensics Course and at the moment we're looking at DNA. It's really interesting and I'm learning a lot, part of which is, I don't want to study Criminology at Uni.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's not like you HAVE to have a goal to get things done.

It's hot and I don't have aircon and I'm feeling annoyed with the world and what do I do when I'm annoyed with the world? That's right, I bake. Yeah, despite it currently being 36 deg C in my kitchen, I need to cook me some food.

Today I found a kick-butt recipe for Cheesymite Scrolls on Facebook and immediately had to try to make them. Connor and I went shopping, then set to work.

Because we only have small chopping boards, we cut the dough in two and made them in two batches.
This made it a lot easier for Connor to handle.

A true little Aussie, Connor likes to be able to see his Vegemite.

Ditto, the cheese.

Proud as punch (and really sweaty to boot). We used the daggy off-cuts to make a little one which you can see in the top right corner.

It may be the holidays, but this is something to put in the homeschool file. 

Tada. And yes, they smell absolutely fantastic. Rich and Vegemitey and Cheesy. Can't wait for everyone to get home to try them.

We possibly could have rolled them a little thinner but I'm not complaining about the effect. Go, try. Kudos to my sister-in-law Donna who made them pretty much the same time as us. 

If you want the recipe then I direct your attention to

Monday, January 20, 2014

Snatching success (and my reputation) from the jaws of failure

2. Make a Swiss Roll from scratch. (Achieved 20 January 2014)

Lee and I try hard to give our kids good experiences. We want them to be able to look back at this time in their lives and say "Yeah, I had a great childhood." Not only did we come from marriages that ended, we both came from broken homes and neither of them were ideal breeding grounds for the adults to come. However, we somehow made it through, a little scarred, but determined to make things better for our children.

And now we're down to two and we want to do the best that we possibly can for them. And now, because I think Lee is the best Dad I've ever seen in my whole life, I'm switching from 'us' to 'me'. 

I'm a good parent. Despite the example led by own parents, I've managed to create an atmosphere of love, discipline, rights, responsibilities, safety, community and individuality for all my children. I always put it down to 'parenting by opposition', in that whatever my parents did, I did the opposite. But that's not totally true. I do have memories of my parents getting together and doing things that made us, at least for a few minutes, a happy family.

Swiss Roll is one of them. A very sharp memory from my childhood is of my parents in the kitchen one Saturday, making a Swiss Roll together. I remember licking the Sunbeam beaters once the egg whites and sugar were whisked. I remember the scent of vanilla as the finished cake came from the oven. I remember my parents struggling to upturn the cake onto baking paper and tea-towel. I remember the aroma of sugar cooking as they rolled the still-hot cake and tied the ends together. I remember the great unroll and the way the ends turned up ever so slightly in preparation for the layering to come. I remember the people I loved working as one, a sign that things really could be good in a marriage when two were united in a common goal.

Finally they would smooth on the jam and the cream, and voila! Swiss Roll (or at least in the French part of Switzerland).

Hence my goal for the year. I wanted to recreate the experience for my children. Lee's sick so he didn't join in (although he did help as we struggled to turn out the sponge) but it was still a co-operative experience for Erin and Connor. Together we surfed the net and found several sites dedicated to the Roll. We chose what seemed to be the easiest recipe then looked at various Youtube videos on how to tackle the rolling process. Opinions varied in some aspects, such as whether to separate eggs or not (the recipe we used said not), whether to roll hot or cold (we went hot), and the temperature of the cooking cake (ours called for 200 deg C).

It's cooked and looks exactly the same as the one in the Youtube video.

The rolling worked! Now to warm the jam and then unroll...
Uh oh!

Despite the assurances of the BBC site, the cake cracked horrendously as it unrolled. 
I could cry, but I'm a seasoned cook. I know how to rescue a project.

I went ahead and spread the jam anyway, then once more began to roll.

It's official. I can now say I've made a Swiss Roll from scratch.
Don't judge me. You're not my supervisor.

However, first a taste test, and yes, it tastes exactly like my childhood.
But that is not to be the end of it. I'm made of better stuff than this. 

My Erin also has a goal: Learn 6 new recipes for the year. To date Erin has cooked 3 new recipes.
At this point, my goal turns into her goal as Erin turns my Swiss Roll into Trifle.

Cooled Pineapple Jelly has been poured over Swiss Roll and peaches and is now in the fridge for an hour to set. Meanwhile, we have Raspberry Jelly cooling in preparation for when the first layer is set.

Several hours later, we've added the second layer of jelly, a layer of custard and dollops of Vanilla Bean Fruche. This is Erin in "Oh, yeah!" mode. Also, in the oven to her right is a Kedgeree, recipe #5 for my girl.

Okay, to the casual observer, it may seem that my goal failed, but not in my family's eyes. We worked together to recreate an experience from my childhood but in the end made it totally unique to us. My beautiful girl is now as pleased with herself as I am for trying something new. Win, lose or draw? Nah, total win, my lovelies.