Thursday, April 29, 2010

bye bye april

And what a weird one you've been.

Last year April was one of my most prolific blogging months, and there was lots to blog about. There was the one about camping (one of my favourites I must say), and Election Day, and our new Prez, and some doggie love, and lots and lots of food.
Moments of Perfect Clarity was made Blog of Note and Julie outed me, pushing my followers up from 3 (Julie being the only one I didn't know personally) to 35 overnight and forcing me to examine my own 'blog like nobody's reading' philosophy.
Fun times.

This year April has been, um ... exciting, in different ways.
Most obviously has been the presence of our Stella, not even an itch a twinkle in her father's crotch eye last year this time.
She's been delightful: she sleeps, she eats (and eats and eats and eats), she tolerates the most godawful amount of noise and disruption from her sister and dog and family in general. She's been a bit colicky, but in a most apologetic way, and she's keeping us all highly entertained with her massive weight gain (6kgs today - Frieda's weight at 4 months!).

What's not been as much fun is our ongoing sickness. Just recently I thought I should've started breast-feeding the whole family weeks ago, could've improved our general health no end.
Besides yukky and inconvenient and frikkin' expensive it's just been so b-o-r-i-n-g, and with husband still not 100% and myself periodically still feeling shite we're not completely over it.

And then there's been Frieda.
My monster. My heart. My sweetest child and my biggest trial. She's the acid in my punch, the unexpected clove in my dinner. She's the sun which breaks through my clouds, the jester of my court. She makes me smile through my tears, makes me cry with rage, plunges me into the depths of despair, makes me soar with love and laughter.
The post about Frieda, and how she's taken to this massive upheaval in her life, has been written and rewritten over and over in my mind. I need to sit and blog it out, I need to purge, to pour it all out and sift through it and wrangle it into some kind of structure. I need to download, debrief, expel.
Maybe I'll get there in May.

May will hold it's own trials and jubilations, but May will be May, it'll be a different month. And that's all we need right now.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

... and on with the whinge

Or maybe I'll just do this instead:

~ be grateful for the return of the internet, we've been without it for 6 days.

~ be grateful that although we could've had 2 weeks away on holiday with what we've spent on doctors and medication this month, we've been able to afford what we've needed in the way of health care. In this country, as in most in the world, this is not to be taken lightly.

~ that the special pharmacy colic home brew works, it really works!

~ that while we've been holed up at home for far too long, with the sinking feeling that we're missing the last fleeting days of summer, we've a nice comfortable home to be in, one filled with things to do and space to do our own thing.

~ that while parenting has never been more challenging than this while of newborness + manic nearly 3 yr oldness + colic + sickness, we're grateful that we're parents.

~ that Finding Nemo exists

~ that no matter how ill, we're always able to cook, bake and eat well

~ that we've family so close, and so willingly to help out

We're still not well.
Some days it feels like we're getting there, others just feel like we'll never be well again.
I've a theory Stella thinks we communicate by coughing and identifies us by our different hacks and wheezes.
Even our cat's got the flu.
The most robust of us all is the 6 week old. And she's robust indeed - weighed in at 5.7kg yesterday!

Cough wheeze sniff.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

sweet 'n sour

Sour ...
~ the respiratory issues in this family would make one think we live in an asbestos box. Husband and Child's coughs persist and my good news this morning is that I've chronic sinusitis, need antibiotics and have been issued a cortisone asthma pump for the duration of winter.
~ at exactly 6pm on Saturday evening Stella started screaming. It lasted for half an hour. The next night for an hour. The psychological wounds left from Frieda's 3 months of colic painfully re-opened.
~ Frieda's tantrums (which I've not had the heart to blog out yet) have become so ridiculously based on nothing that she had a 45-minute-verging-on-autistic meltdown recently because I didn't fold a baby blanket to her exacting specifications.
~ the custardy filling on the super delicious lemon tart we made this weekend.

Sweet ...
~ we celebrated Stella's one month birthday on Sunday.
~ the meringue topping on aforementioned lemon tart.
~ due to my bad health I qualified to receive one of the last remaining flu vaccines in the country. Score!
~ the only reason we had a second child (besides the whole duty sibling thing) was because we'd heard about a local pharmacy's homebrew colic 'miracle cure' and get this: it works!
~ being reminded of heart-meltingly divine things about babies such as the tiniest balls of fluff which hide in the hollow between their thumbs and forefingers.
~ Frieda's endless games in which I'm Mummy Chicken/Dinosaur/Rabbit/Wildebeest, she's Big Sister Chicken/Dinosaur etc etc and Stella is Baby Sister Chicken ... yada yada yada - she's a complete Jekyll and Hyde child at the moment, but when she's the good one (I momentarily forget which is which), she's divine.

And as for that tart ... the recipe calls it Marie-Therese Amichaud-Debize's Lemon Tart which is just fucking pretentious. I prefer to call it -
The Very Nice Lemon Tart which is Not Lemon Meringue No Matter How Much Husband Insists that it Is.
Or something like that.
Here goes ...

Basic blind-baked shortcrust pastry (buy it, make it - Marie-Therese would probably give a rat's ass, I don't)

Lemon Custard Filling:
Beat together juice of 2 lemons, 2 cups milk, 4 tbsp castor sugar, 2 tbsp cake flour, 1 tbsp cornflour, 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg.
The recipe says heat over a bain-marie but you know what? I cooked this in the microwave (shock! horror!), zapping it for 30 seconds at a time and whisking well inbetween until custard thickened.

Let custard cool a bit then pour into pie crust.

Beat 2 egg whites with 6 tbsps of castor sugar, spread over the top and bake at 170 degrees for 15-20 minutes. You could grill it a bit too if you'd like the meringue to darken significantly.

I can't explain exactly why it's not traditional Lemon Meringue. The lemony layer is not as tart as usual, more a velvety custard, and the meringue is not intended to be very light and fluffy, just a nice sweet topping. And while I'll always be a huge fan of LM, this was a nice alternative and much quicker to make (what with the cough, microwaving 'n all).
Either way, Stella loved it and that's what counts right?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

time warp

I once heard a story, bullshit no doubt, about a man who sat down in a restaurant and arranged a pile of R10 notes on the table beside his place setting. Apparently he then informed his waiter/ress (waitron?) that this would be his/her tip for the evening, and that he would remove and return notes to the pile depending on the service he received throughout his meal.
Great story.

It puts me in mind of my nights at the moment.
On a good evening I go to bed with 8-10 hours ahead until morning. I snuggle down and get comfy, this set of hours taunting me from the face of my bedside clock. As yet unsullied by insomnia, feeds, Frieda's nocturnal needs, car alarms, cat fights, snoring (husband's, not mine), the night stretches ahead.
But quickly, tragically quickly, I start to see the pile diminishing before my eyes and dawn approaching with ever-increasing speed.

Stella wakes short of her usual 5 hour stretch. She's awake for an hour.
As I doze off again, Frieda starts coughing, and then wakes. She's awake for an hour.
A small ginger cat scratches herself repeatedly beside my ear.
Car doors slam in the street, a high sharp laugh penetrates my slumbers.
I need to pee.
I'm getting panicky and therefore, can't sleep.
The pile gets smaller. There are only a few crisp, virgin hours left 'til morning. I feel ill.

In truth Frieda's finally sleeping through the night again as she recovers from the Big Easter Sick, but while I had a good sustainable rhythm going before that, this week or so of illness has left me with a backlog of exhaustion which requires more than one or two good nights to remedy.

I remember in one of the baby books I read before having Frieda (before I wised up and banned that shit from my home forever - purveyors of self-doubt and neurosis that they are) it was suggested that one refrain from checking the time when your baby wakes in the night, but rather just feed, change, sleep - the 'logic' being that if you don't know that you're awake at 3am you won't feel so tired.
Yeah right. I like to know, I've a big-faced digital monster next to my bed which I can punch to light up and reveal the time, and I feel much more in control when able to map my allocated hours, even if what my clock's telling me is deeply sad and depressing.

So imagine the confusion, horror nay, betrayal I felt this morning to discover that my clock was 2h slow all night last night.
Stella's perceived 'early' wake-up at midnight was in fact her normal 2am. The fight which took place between a taxi driver and a drunken Pom outside our house was in fact at 3 not 1 (incidently totally justifying my call to the local security patrol to come and shut them up). Stella's subsequent two wake ups were actually at 4 and 6, not 2 and 4, Frieda's coming into our room and wanting breakfast was at 7, not 5. See the confusion?

It was like that pile of notes kept falling off the table and on reassembly I wasn't able to see how many, if any, were missing. It was as if they were in a foreign currency altogether.
My brain, already working at lowest possible capacity, blipped and rebooted, my body clock gave up and shut down. Deep in my subconscious I cursed Sister Lillian for possible being right all along.

And do I feel more or less rested in the knowledge that I probably got more sleep than I thought even while stressing about the lack thereof?

Honestly? I'm too exhausted to know ...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

my facebook status ...

... kinda says it all ...

Molly  is seriously over this weekend. 4 x sick peeps, 1 x trip to emergency ward, 1 x family outing to the GP, 1 x GP house-call this morning, about a grand in medical bills, 4 loads of soiled laundry, a truckload of meds and the entire Planet Earth series. Twice. Roll on Tuesday I say!
6 minutes ago  · Comment

Friday, April 02, 2010

bad, bad friday

The first inklings actually happened yesterday, Thursday, when at an unprecedented early hour, and just a scant 45 min after we'd gone to bed, the Baby awoke demanding her first feed at 11.30pm. Simultaneously husband broke out in a fever, I got the dread feeling that I was getting the same ailment as him, and the Child started up her hacking cough from her bedroom across the passage, a cough which was develop fairly rapidly into cries for 'Mummmyyyyyy'.
'Twas then that I knew it would be Bad Friday.

The feeling grew throughout the night as every hour it seemed one of us would wake with some or other complaint, but had I been psychic I would actually have known back on Tuesday evening, when I fell prey to a random 24 hour stomach bug.
Because, of the smorgasbord of ailments currently on offer in our house: sinusitis, chest infection, tonsillitis, bladder infection and radically grumpiness, the one Stella chose to embrace was, of course, the shits.

She rendered a display on our cream bed linen which would've made Jackson Pollack a little envious. She projectile vomitted from her bendy chair on the table onto the black slate floor so that it seemed a flock of seagulls had spent the morning in the kitchen.
By midday I had a full laundry load of soiled clothes and blankets in the washing machine. She's currently asleep under one of her hooded towels, with a stack more of them standing by for whatever the night may hold.

But it was in the afternoon, with a swollen and aching throat, shaky limbs, my ears still ringing from Frieda's piercing screams to 'COME WITH YOU MUMMY', as I sat in the waiting room of the emergency ward with Stella, while she filled my cleavage with yet another load of regurgitated milk, that I really, really knew: Bad, Bad, Baaaaaad Friday.

Stella is fine, I've just got to keep feeding her and cleaning up after her 'til she gets better, Frieda recovered from the trauma of being left behind but still has her cough, husband kept his head down and more importantly, his cool, and got us through supper and bath time relatively incident free, and now it's 8.30 pm and I'm dousing myself with breastfeeding friendly drugs (read: highly unsatisfactory medicine) and going to bed to weep a little into my Orla Kiely's.

The Easter Bunny better have a truckload of chocolate heading our way.