It's been a long time coming as they look on enviously at their friends with gaps in their gums and wonder when their turns will come. Naturally, there has also been animated conversations about the Tooth Fairy and the amount of money she leaves behind.
The innocence and imagination in childhood is so precious & hilarious and I will be cultivating them for as long as possible.
Anyway, Daniel is the first cab off the rank. His bottom teeth had been wobbling for a few weeks and the acute angle of his tooth on the morning of Mother's Day indicated it might (finally) happen and ...
... a quick squeeze of his cheeks and popped! Awww.. that little teeth that I grew in my tummy. It's sooo teeny tiny. Oh my heart. On Mother's Day.
He is one up on his sister and darn proud of that! All her teeth are still rigidly in place so a little more patience is required.
Yes the Tooth Fairy crept into their bedroom last night and left a $1 gold coin on his side table and removed his teeth (in a zip lock bag no less).
So this happened a few weeks ago and you know what, it wasn't hard at all. In fact, I was looking forward to turning 40.
I spent my entire teenage years badgering negotiating with my parents to let me 'spread my wings'. Despite their protests and bribes, I scored an overseas gig as an intern (at 18) working for Channel 9 and TAFE in South Australia for 3 months - that was the turning point. Shortly after, I was accepted by 6 Australian Universities and attained a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television Productions after 12 months. All that fueled my determination to grow up away from everything familiar and everyone close and dear..
You could say I was filled with trepidation, madness and at the same time, consumed by excitement, curiosity and giddy with determination and rebellion.
My twenties were a blur of corporate choices and getting ahead, falling head over heels in love, learning to snow ski, buying the first property, caring for a Siamese Cat, getting married, selling the unit, building a house and undergoing a few years of surgeries, fertility treatments and miscarriage.
Then in my beautiful and heart wrenching thirties, I met my babies and became a mother. All the fear, doubt and indescribable joy & gratefulness...it's amazing that I am still alive to tell the tales! Then we hit the Big Stuff. Should I stop working? Who is going to care for them? Where will they go to school? Will we ever stop being sick? Another round of grommet insertions for the son, another trip to the GP, more money to the pharmacy, sleep deprivation, mind-numbing routines, team tagging with the husband so that we could function at work, the list went on and on. Thirties are not for the faint of heart.
And then, I go from watching ABC for Kids to binge watching my favourite TV Series. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
I am at peace.
Bottom line? I am suddenly owning it. I am proud of the woman I am, scars and all. I still have no idea what I am doing half the time. My children are 7, quite independent and still go to bed at seven on school nights.
I forgive myself and move on when I do not get it right the first time. I recognise my good intentions and unending love for my family. I am passionate about my job and love the people I work with. I know I am imperfect, yet honour myself for doing the best I can. I am not worried about the people who judge me. Also, I'm fully down with skinny jeans as opposed to jeggings. I will freely admit that I love Rom Coms as much as Game of Thrones. I am not embarrassed to tell you that I put up Christmas decorations in November because I love them so much. I adore the finer things in life and I deserve them.
It was so much fun celebrating your birthdays a few weekends ago. We took Friday off, set off to our favourite spot and spent every moment together. Just the way we like it.
Both of you are amazing children and I regularly pinch myself for being blessed with you pair.
Thoughtful, kind, cheeky, tenacious, caring, loving, helpful, hardworking, precocious and funny are the top 10 characteristics that comes to mind.
I am regularly astonished by the things you both say and understand as well as the manners in which you conduct yourselves in all situations. I love listening in on your conversations and especially the exchange of jokes followed by deep belly laughs while lying on your beds in the evenings.
You are such good friends to each other and that makes me even more grateful knowing that you will always have each other.
Thank you for adding so much more colour and depth into my life along with moments of heart palpitations.
Happy 7th Birthdays, my babies.
May you always know and feel how much you are loved and cherished.
Ox tail is one of my favourite cuts of meat when making a stew because it is full of flavour and the meat falling off the bone is simply sublime. The bonus? Everything is cooked in the one pot.
The twins would rank this all encompassing meal one of their TOP 5 FAVOURITES!
ROBUST OX-TAIL STEW
1.5 kg Ox-Tail
1 brown onion
6 gloves of garlic
2 sticks of celery
1 medium sized carrot
1 medium sized sweet potato
4 sprigs of dried or fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
6 sun-dried tomatoes
1 tin of diced tomatoes
1 tin of water
1 tin of lentils, drain of liquid
2 glasses of shiraz (or your favourite red wine)
1 tbsp Chicken Bouillon powder
1 tbsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste
In a deep casserole pot over medium heat, brown ox tail on all sides and season with salt and pepper. This process will take around 10 minutes.
Remove browned ox tail and leave it aside. In the same deep casserole pot, add garlic-celery-carrot-sweet potato-thyme-bay leaves and honey. Mix well and add honey as well as a small sprinkling of salt and pepper. This process will take around 5 minutes. Add red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot and be sure to scrap as much of the brown bits so that it clings onto the vegetables (think massive flavour!)
Place ox tail back into the pot, add water, diced tomatoes, chicken bouillon powder and lentils. Make sure that the liquid just covers the top of the meat.
Cook on high for 5 minutes, followed by a simmer for the next hour with a lid over the pot (with a small gap to let the steam out so it does not overflow).
Please let me know how it goes for you if you attempt this recipe.
We were very blessed and fortunate to be able to take an overseas holiday at the conclusion of a full school and work year. To re-group as a family and reward ourselves for staying on course with a few wobbles thrown in.
Our first destination was to the pacific island of Fiji. Only 3.5 hours flight from Brisbane. We were on Fiji time from the moment we stepped on board the plane.
It is the ideal location for us because we ceased to be busy, routine was thrown out of the window and we thrived on Fiji time (in all sense of the word).
We rejuvenated at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton on Sonasali Island. To get their from Nadi International Airport is super easy.
30 minutes by private car and a 1 min boat ride from mainland.
We arrived at a secluded tropical paradise and stayed in a beach bure (Fijian word for wood-and-straw hut). The unobstructed views, swaying coconut trees, friendly smiles and waves lapping onto the shore serenaded our bodies and mind to just ... relax and breathe deeply.
Our days were spent in the pool, by the pool, at the pool bar, on the sun lounges...you get the point. In the evenings, we would head to the restaurant for dinner, hit our pillows by 9pm, awakened leisurely at 9am, be one of the last families to show up at the extensive breakfast buffet before plunging in to the pools for the day.
There was something for everyone. We were 1000% present with each other and nothing else mattered. Just us.
Charlotte and Daniel went to Kids' Club for a few hours and met other children, learnt to catch sand crabs, made a kite using recycled materials, etc. The husband went to the gym and I read...check out my reading spot below:
Suffice to say, we were very content and grateful.
After three full days on beautiful and relaxing Sonasali Island, we departed for our next destination. To my surprise, I found myself slightly teary when we departed because the Fijian people we had encountered were absolutely beautiful and that deliberate pause was exactly what my soul desperately needed.
Vinaka vaka levu Fiji and your people. We will return.
It is true that time flies even faster when they start school. Just like that, they are in Year 2 and will be turning 7 years of age in a few months. They are definitely taller, certainly more knowing and are generally nice kids.
When I pick them up in the afternoons, it is often a challenge getting any information out of them regarding their day and their usual response is "we did so much and cannot remember" so I turned the tables on them.
On Tuesday, I asked them to find out (through observation) what makes their teacher smile / laugh. Their observations informs me that she has a terrific sense of humour!
Yesterday evening, they told me that one of their classmates has special needs so an opportunity presented itself. Their task is to introduce themselves and give him a high 5. "What if he does not high 5 back?" asked Charlotte. "Well, just tell him - have a nice day" was my response. Charlotte and Daniel beamed.
What about you? What do you ask your children after school?
The climate in southeast Queensland lends itself to cold refreshing salads almost all year round. We love salads that are full of colour, crunch and bursting with flavour.
This week, I was a very grateful recipient of fresh produce that were loving tended by a dear friend and the ideal way to treat them is showcasing their glory without any fuss. Once again, the fresh ingredients listed can be whatever you desire. The element you cannot differ from is of course, THE DRESSING.
Its simplicity and visual appeal coupled with a few key pantry staples saw the birth of this creation which was devoured by my family repeatedly. Oh how my heart sang that evening!
Vermicelli Rainbow Salad Serves 4 - 6
1 x 250g packet of mung bean vermicelli / glass noodles
1 medium size lettuce
1 medium size capsicum
1 medium size carrrot
1 medium size cucumber
3 tsps sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, cut into small bits 90ml extra virgin olive oil
6tbsps soy sauce
Cook the mung bean vermicelli / glass noodles in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Put the cooked vermicelli in a colander, run cold running water over it. and ensure that it is drained well. Place the drained vermicelli onto the servicing platter or bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and tossed with fingers.
Prepare the dressing. Place a very small pot over medium heat on the stove, add the oil and garlic. Wait till the garlic is almost medium brown in colour, add honey - swirl the pot to mix it followed by soy sauce - swirl it. Cook the dressing on low heat for 5 minutes. Turn it off and set it aside to cool
Put the vegetables on top of the vermicelli noodles and toss with fingers to mix them all in. Pour dressing over the mixture and toss with fingers again.
Enjoy the salad on its own or as a side with a main meal.
By the time mid-week comes around, our refrigerator is almost depleted of its supplies so I rummage - work out what is still available and create a meal from it.
Clear soups are a firm favourite. It is devoured heartily, everyone leaves the dinning table with a full tummy and a firm smile of satisfaction plastered on their faces. That fills my heart with gladness.
So if you have "leftover" fresh produce that are hardy in the refrigerator, consider making a soup (if your weather is conducive) instead of a salad or stir fry.
The fresh produce listed in the ingredients below are merely what were left in my crisper. Create your own flavour combination with what you have got especially when you know they will impart amazing flavours.
Chicken Soup with Meatballs Serves 4 - 6
2.5L of chicken stock* 2 medium sized carrots 2 medium sized potatoes 2 handfuls of raw peanuts
1 medium size broccoli
1 corn on the cob
1/2 punnet of cherry tomatoes
1/2 handful of goji berries
500g pork mince
2tbsps oyster sauce
2tbsps soy sauce
1tsp sesame oil
1 egg, beaten
In a deep pot over high heat, add the chicken stock while you prepare all the ingredients. Add the prepared ingredients into the stock with the exception of the meatballs, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.
While the soup is getting up to temperature, prepare your meatballs. In a deep bowl, mix all the ingredients and shape each ball with your hands. Set aside.
When the soup starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium and add the meatballs. Turn the heat down to low and let the gentle heat of the soup caress all the elements. Walk away and have a glass of wine at this stage.
During the cooking process, you will notice foam / scum rising to the surface of the soup. Skim it off to create a clean and clear broth.
In each serving bowl, add raw broccoli florets and cherry tomatoes. Then pour the hot soup and all the beautiful vegetables & meatballs over them (broccoli florets and cherry tomatoes). Have it on its own or with Jasmine rice / noodles / pasta.
* Chicken stock
If you are a purist and prefers making your stock from scratch - I applaud you.
If you have a favourite pre-prepared chicken broth from the store - use it.
I had none of the above so I used the next best thing which always guarantees me maximum flavour - Lee Kum Kee Chicken Bouillon Powder. You can purchase this at most Asian grocery store. If you are using this in your soup, add 3 spoonfuls (using the plastic spoon) in its container) with 2.5L of water. It is the bomb and my family wasn't thirsty after drinking this soup.