Saturday, September 11, 2010

Best Playground Ever

With climbing mazes, multiple flying foxes, monkey bars, swings, four different slides and other incredible play equipment, this is the playground of children's dreams. And all in lovely wood, beautifully etched. Except for the slides of course. Wooden slides. Ow? Otherwise very hard to maintain. Surrounded by lovely greens and right next to a community centre. 
Corner of Epsom road and Langs road in Ascot Vale, directly across the road from the Melbourne Showgrounds. If you get tired of the endless noise of bleating animals and human herds at the Royal Melbourne Show, come here for a bit and let them run wild while you finally find a place to sit down. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010


The wasteland behind our street is suddenly covered with grass and flowers. It's one of the best views of Melbourne city you can get.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Work invovles...

...preparing all these meals and more all week long and trying to keep up with these bloody customers that keep buying them up. 
Love it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Australia Post Sucks

You know I do a lot of online shopping. I could nearly call it a hobby if only that wouldn't make me an incredibly sad person. In any case for the last two months none of my orders have made it to our front door without some major effort on my part. Not my giant Lark Sale order, not any of my Bebe Online road test products, nothing. Occasionally we receive a postal card telling us to pick our package up in a few hours, but every time we do, the time of attempted delivery stated on the card is a time that I was sitting at home waiting! Most of the time we receive a final notice card from the post office telling us to pick up our packages that have been mouldering in the back room or they will return them to the sender. Annoyance! We had this exact problem a year ago in the month that I gave birth to Wolf. I ordered a ton of stuff in preparation for his arrival and we received none of it. After we came home from the hospital we called head office and discovered that we had five packages waiting in the post office. No notice. Nothing. 
Worst yet, Josh made a call to head office to make another complaint about non-delivery. Just after he hung up he went into our bedroom and caught sight of the postal contractor van, and the bastard of a contractor running from it with a postal note which he dumped in our post box before driving off. Didn't even bother to deliver the package to our door. It was right there! In the van! It's not like it's very difficult to get into our building! Unlike many apartment buildings the security door stays open all the time (stupid Footscray. If anyone needed security doors by the load it would be Footscray residents.). Now we have to wait till after 4:30 to pick it up from the local where there is always a line 10 people deep. Wolf HATES the post office and always kicks up a fuss when I take him there.
Australia Post SUCKS. It is almost enough to deter me from shopping online! Which I love! Gah.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

First Catering Job

A few months ago one of my loveliest of lovely friends, Rachel, asked me to cater her daughter's first birthday. Just arrived home from that gorgeous party. Which I of course didn't manage to take pictures of because at first I was too busy taking care of the food, and then I was too tired from the last two days of cooking to do much but follow grumpy, tired Wolf around as he tried to snoop into other people's things.
If not for the new job which is taking up all my time, and which I will tell you more about later, I would have seriously considered starting up a children's birthday catering service. Something that does both good adult food and genuinely tasty, healthy and thought out kid's fare. But so busy right now. So many ideas though. All thanks to Rachel really, who planted the idea in my head. It's something to mark down for the future when there is both time and money and maybe a kitchen that I can take more than four steps in.
Still I did take a few pictures while in the process of cooking. Altogether I made nine platters of food for two babies and I'm not sure how many adults. I was happy with everything and we left the party in the wake of mostly empty platters!

First thing to be made was flapjacks with roasted pumpkin seeds. Did a vegan version for the two vegan guests and the rest were made with butter. Honestly when making the vegan flapjacks, it wasn't as fun as usual. You really need the scent and flavour of butter to make the whole dish pop. I don't know how they manage without butter. Or eggs. We stock all the alternatives at Passionfoods where I work. I am yet to attempt to cook with soy cream.

Rolling out short crust pastry for mini quiches and tarts. Just a basic butter, flour and water recipe. But it tastes so good! My go to pastry recipe every time.

The start of beautiful pizzas. A lovely sticky pizza dough from a really basic recipe that I'll post up later. It doubled in size within an hour and gave a base that was both chewy and crispy.

Wolf tucking into a piece of uncooked pizza dough. Tried to take it away from him but he cried. He really liked it. A lot. He ate...quite a bit. More than he did actual pizza.

A third of the batch of mini potato, rosemary and gorgonzola pizzas. These went down really well! So simple and tasty. Rosemary stolen from the local community garden. I say stolen, but that plant is so overgrown it pushes right through the fence. Someone's got to cook with it!

I made way too much pizza dough. So we had tomato, basil and mozzarella pizzas for dinner. This had a killer base that was nice and chewy in the centre but really crispy round the edges. The only problem with it, is the dough is so hard to clean from the bowl and from any implements used to cut it. Sticky stuff.

Stupid picture won't rotate. The first of a dozen duckie shaped sandwiches for the babies. Filled with either banana and cinnamon, vegemite and cheese or avocado and turkey. I may have to do these all the time, because I managed to feed Wolf two avocado and turkey sandwiches before he realised there were also pancakes and refused to eat anything else after.

Fruit platter that I knocked up this morning. Admittedly strawberries and honey dew melon are very much out of season. But they always look so good on a fruit platter. New season blood oranges and pink lady apples. I love the black trays I served everything on. They were an amazing find, at only 50 cents each!

Well that's all the pictures I have. I wish I'd taken more pictures, like some of the mini tomato and basil quiches and the mini ciabatta that were filled with turkey, ligonberry and camembert or bacon, tomato, avocado and mayo or radish, carrot, avocado, rocket and vinaigrette. They were really cute.
Hopefully I'll get more opportunities to do catering for friends and relatives in the future! It was a bit of work, but a lot of fun and a great result in the end. It was all worth it to see Rachel's happy face and also a bit of relief and not having to do it herself. The cake she made was amazing. I'll see if I can get a picture from her. It was a giant cupcake cake. Amazing to behold.
Personally, I would be happy with the reverse, if someone would just do all the decorations, table setting, invitations etc. for me instead while I cooked (hint, hint, Josh.) A few more birthdays and he might get the picture.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Curtis Stone, you bastard

It has been a glorious Thursday morning for market shopping. Lovely and drizzly, hardly anyone at Queen Victoria Market, plenty of parking spots (for free till 10am) and your pick of the produce. Perfect weather for strolling around with Wolf cuddled up in a sling, sipping hot chocolate with doughnuts from the American doughnut van whose queue usually spans half a city block but we didn't have to wait a second. 
Wolf adores the market; he rarely gets grizzly and usually receives so many snack gifts from vendors that you hardly need to feed him any lunch. There's just such a wonderful atmosphere about the market; everyone there definitely loves and cares about food.
Inevitably you can't buy everything at the market - I'm yet to find a stall that sells flour tortillas or recycled toilet paper - so eventually we headed to the big shiny new Coles in Flemington, right next to the racecourse. This gleaming store is so unlike their old ones with wide aisles, a cavernous ceiling and pyramid piles of gleaming fruits and veggies in wooden boxes. It attempts to suggest itself as a modern market with purchased character, but a floor free from fallen outer cabbage leaves and stray citrus and smelling as ever of pine cleaning fluid. Watching Masterchef (like every other bloody person) I have endured so many Coles endorsements per minute that the logo feels burnt onto my retinas and am haunted by Curtis Stone's rictus grin. It turns out they film those Coles advertisements at that very store. We had a sneaking suspicion. It's too shiny by half. There on an elevated set with a fake kitchen not attached to any power source was the man himself, who could be best described as orange, with a 'mother' who could be best described as looking shell-shocked, despite her efforts. I had to resist the urge to lob some reduced price fruit bread at him. He has so many minders, I'd be tackled within seconds. Don't want to smudge that fake tan now.

Curtis's parsley crusted chicken schnitzel with sweet and sour cabbage. A family meal for four, under $10. When I purchased three free range chicken breasts at the market today, it cost me $9.90. How exactly then does one afford the oil, onion, garlic, cabbage, red wine vinegar, sugar, carrot, white bread, parsley, flour and egg listed in the recipe? Only battery farmed hens jacked full of steroids, blown up like balloons within a matter of weeks, could be so cheap. What a life; valued no more than it's pale and tasteless flesh. There was a huge furor over Curtis's Coles recipe cards specifically listed 'Coles cage eggs' as ingredients. In a blog entry for Channel 7's Sunrise program, Curtis stated that:

'this error was identified after the recipe had been publicly released and at that time I immediately contacted Coles and instructed the removal and reference to the caged egg as I do not support this ingredient in any shape or form. I have always been interested in how ingredients are sourced and produced and am a firm believer that the key to great cuisine starts with great ingredients - it has always been my philosophy to only use free range eggs. Eggs are a delicious and nutritious ingredient, and if you have happy chickens you have tasty eggs.'

The new recipes following this issue do specifically list the eggs as free-range. Happy chickens, really? How happy are battery raised chickens? Never seeing the sun, never walking on real dirt and grass, with hardly any room to breath, occasionally trampled by your fellows. I imagine having your growth a accelerated by hormones might hurt a bit. 

I can't stand this. Who could? What this man is saying on these bleached clean advertisements is 'Hey middle-class families driving your kids the three kilometre trip to school in four wheel drives earning five times more than your average line cook by pushing other people's money around, you don't have to fork out anything to feed your family. You don't have to give a shit about the farmers who grow and raise the ingredients, the animals that end up on your plate, the cost-cutting non-sustainable practices employed by everyone straight down the line, because I don't give a shit either! I'm Curtis Stone and I have a big shiny smile that I get bleached once a week and I'm really rich and and have an enormous cock and Oprah loves me.'
More or less.
I just left my job at a place that supposedly prided itself on turning fantastic produce into beautiful international food. I'll try not to get started on that place. But how many different names could we come up with for something that is more or less a pastie? How many patrons of middle-eastern decent would genuinely recognise any of that food as that of their home country? Aioli is not mayonnaise blended with Greek yoghurt. It's just not. And we used boxes full of cage eggs and around 10 kilograms per day of battery raised chicken. That last one I didn't know till near the end. A customer asked if the chicken in our tagine was free range and I said 'Of course'. Then I returned to the kitchen to confirm this with the other cooks and no one said anything, which was all the answer I needed. Now I work in a beautiful store full of amazing ingredients that are green, sustainable, humane, healthy and delicious. Sure people spend more money there, and admittedly most of our customers purchase these products to alleviate their guilt over their not so environmentally friendly practices. But at least they're trying.
People in a position of power or influence have the responsibility to use their powers for good. Celebrity chefs have the responsibility to try and change the greater public's perspective on food, to encourage the purchasing of sustainable, humane produce and how to use it.
And Curtis Stone, two chicken breasts on a pile of cabbage and carrot would not feed a family of four. Where are the carbs? Those bread crumbs don't count. Those kids would be right into the chips and chocolate post-dinner, watching TV and playing video games till the sugar and fat rush subsides. You freaking idiot.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Inappropriate Obsessions #1: Yo Gabba Gabba!

    I know Wolf isn't supposed to be watching a lot of TV yet. He's been pretty good about it; he actually often turns the TV off himself, but then again that might just be his obsession with pushing buttons. Ah, true in so many ways. I've been determined to avoid anything Wiggles related, none of that new-age Teletubbies-like In The Night Garden stuff and I have to admit I really hate Hi-5. Mostly because of re-casting. I hate recasting. I don't care how many of the girls decided to do bikini shoots for FHM, they were the originals. Very good looking originals. 

    I love Yo Gabba Gabba! More than Wolf, who paid close attention to the first couple of episodes but now tends to wander off by the time the Super Music Friends Show comes on in the middle. Which is of course my favourite part. This is not entirely my fault. This show is designed to appeal to Gen Y parents and Gen X parents to some degree as well. 

    The star line ups are as good as Sesame Street's, with Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, Mark Mothersbaugh, Tony Hawk, Elijah Wood and Amy Sedaris.

    Even Anthony Bourdain, of No Reservations and Kitchen Confidential fame appeared in one episode as a Doctor. Amazing. He was admittedly sort of awkward and it felt like any minute now he would drop the kindly facade and start swearing like a maniac. Still, having a daughter must have tenderised him A LOT. There was a spoof of Steve Zissou from The Life Aquatic. There are occasional beat-boxing lessons. Segments are divided with animations of the child guests as avatars in 8-bit video games.

    Favourite bands like Of Montreal, Band of Horses, Hot Hot Heat, Datarock, The Ting Tings, MGMT, The Shins and the Little Ones have performed on the Super Music Friends Show. They're not even all well-known bands; most are sort of pushing the mainstream side of Indie music. And they're actually good songs by great bands with interesting riffs and not naff lyrics that don't make blood pour out of your ears. A truly amazing thing when it comes to kids shows.
    I'm both amazed and terrified at how this show is specifically marketed to parents like me. I'm not sure I've ever felt the glare of targeted demographic so much in my life; even the TV toy advertisements that brought immediate greed into my eyes as a child have nothing on this show. 
    Call me a hipster parent if you want. I don't care!

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    The zoo

    Melbourne Zoo is possibly the most pram friendly place I've ever been to. Even on a Monday the school holiday crowds push their strollers through the lovely grounds, and never find a tricky spot to narrow or too rough to navigate. You can take your strollers to the underground seal enclosure, through the butterfly house, the aviary and even the reptile house. Very impressive. Our strider DLX tends to be a bit fat in the wheels too, so we were very impressed. 
    I'd mostly visited the zoo on school trips and only remember one other childhood visit and another adolescent visit (a not very successful date) in my life. Filling out questionnaires on obscure animal facts and the awkwardness of teenage romance meant that I've never really appreciated the really lovely grounds of the zoo and it's impressive layout. Visiting the zoo had to be one of the best family trips we've ever had!

    Wolf seeing a pelican for the first time. I forgot how massive they were.

    Josh and Wolf checking out some interesting looking monkeys.

    That much talked about baby elephant that everyone wants to see. Very cute. Chased some pigeons.
    I love hearing every possible pronunciation of 'elephant' from all the kids. Nothing gets kids excited like elephants! Wolf just stared open-mouthed. The biggest living creature he has ever encountered! 
    It must be so amazing for little minds to realise that there are animals other than birds and domesticated pets out there.

    Wolf posed briefly on this elephant statue before he tried to fall off. The elephant enclosure is all Thai themed, and walking into the dense foliage it's actually quite believable. There are signs and banners and little Thai style huts scattered all along the trail, looking very authentic. Even the kiosk serves curries and stir fries!

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Best Burger Ever

    I am admittedly a bit of a burger fiend. You wouldn't know that, because it was something that belonged in my pre-Wolf life. It reared it's head most during my pregnancy where one of my number one cravings, whether I had morning sickness or not, was a lovely burger. At any time of day. TGI Fridays, Misty's Diner, Grill'd, Hungryjacks, even the much detested McDonalds. I'd try any pub burger, and even if it wasn't any good, try it again next time. I give burgers second chances. The combination of juicy beef, cheese, sauces, pickles and salads in between two halves of a bun is irresistible. Particularly good is a burger that has tomato and mayonnaise. There is something about that wet and messy combination that is just so good. 
    Can a food obsession be hereditary? I know my dad loved a good burger. At his best he was a tall and chubby fast food lover, a fast driver and generous gift giver. When my mum was at work or when he picked me up from school, he would drive us places for greasy food my mum would disapprove of very much. We bonded over dripping burgers and soggy fries. He always added lemonade to McDonalds chocolate milkshakes. It was his signature. I can't remember whether he grilled a good burger himself. There aren't enough barbecues in my childhood memory to say for sure. I years past I sometimes I ate a burger in memory of my father, wishing he were beside me enjoying himself too. 
    But as my focus post-Wolf has been on home cooked food and shedding baby weight, I haven't had a decent burger for ages. Until last week.
    Behold, the best burger I've ever had. Ever. 

    There are a few bites out of it. I nearly didn't take a picture, I was so preoccupied with eating. It has everything: beef pattie, cheese, bacon, egg, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, tomato slices, shredded lettuce. Not eaten anywhere fancy. Just sitting on a bench on a large median strip in the middle of Albert Park. 

    Which means I could only have gotten this burger from Andrews Hamburgers. An institution. A legend. I wonder if my dad ever went here when he was younger. Walking around Albert Park trying to decide where to eat and then happening upon this much lauded little shop was a wonderful surprise but also bittersweet. I'd nearly forgotten about Andrews, a favourite of my favourite chef at my former workplace. Someone I adored completely but would probably never get to work with again. I did  imagine him standing outside waiting for his order.

    Josh loves a good burger almost as much as I do. It's a wonderful thing to be able to share a long-time vice. He's not big on chips though, so there are some areas where we disagree. In the background is the Albert Park Hotel. We could have eaten there, or grabbed an Andrews burger. Not a hard choice in retrospect.

    Wolf too will become a burger aficionado in time. At the moment he enjoys the elements of a burger individually, not yet ready to experience all the flavours at once. But he would have gotten a taste for them in a the womb, so it probably won't be too long. 
    That Andrews Hamburger with the lot was the best burger I've ever eaten in my life. Eating it I think I remembered every burger I'd ever eaten, as though I'd died and my life was flashing before my eyes, only in burger related terms. That sounds incredibly pathetic, I know, but like so many other kinds of foods, burgers have left an indelible stain on the fabric of my life. 

    Andrews Hamburgers
    144 Bridport Streeet
    Albert Park
    9690 2126

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Daydreamers Indoor Play Centre

    Before going to Daydreamers Indoor Play Centre in Windsor for Wolf's 1st birthday party, I had been pretty dubious about these places. Honestly I was still a little uncertain leading up to the day of. In my limited experience they are cavernous rooms filled with the sound of screaming hyperactivity and the smell of endless sausage rolls and are sticky underfoot. I wasn't actually proven wrong, but the overpowering fun and goodness of the place eased my mind. 
    Walking in Josh and I were so impressed with the sheer size of the place and how airy and colourful it looked. Particularly striking is the amazing multi-level maze that dominates one half of the centre.

    It's definitely more for walking kids two and over, but there is also a jumping castle, ball pit, massive slide and a car racetrack for those awesome Flinstones like cars that kids propel with their feet. There is just so much to enjoy here. There is also a infants play area very well stocked with toys suitable for the under 1s. I can't wait till Wolf is big enough to enjoy more of these attractions. Parents can follow kids through the multi-level maze, which is a good thing too because it's massive and there are certainly moments where you won't be able to keep your child in sight. 

    The hangar like space is bright and airy with the assistance of multiple skylights, balancing the harsh fluorescence that you usually find lighting large spaces. There's lot of space for parents to sprawl with large and small tables spread across a fake grass lawn by the maze, a lounge area particularly good for nursing mothers by the infants play area, and also seating by the cafe. The cafe is fairly impressively stocked and the coffee was decent, which is more than you can expect for a lot of these places. There's a good combination of healthy snacks, lunches and sweet treats available

    There are two party areas at Daydreamers, and for Wolf's party we got the marquee. I didn't actually have to ask for it, so it was a nice surprise when we arrived; it just looks like the inside of a jumping castle, without the bouncy bottom. Thank goodness really. Everything was ready when we arrived so all we had to do was wait for the other guests to arrive. The other party area is slightly smaller and more open to the rest of the centre. You still get the odd uninvited guest wandering in and out of either area, but it's sort of cute. Unless they poke a finger in your cake. No one did at Wolf's though there was some very tempted little ones.

    First birthday parties are covered under Daydreamer's themed parties, which start from $320 for 12 guests and include invitations, all decorations, table settings, children's food, entry to all play areas for children and adults, small gifts for both host and guests and the services of a party co-ordinator. Adult entry is free no matter how many attend and grown-up food platters can be purchased separately. For older children's parties, prices can start from $240 or $195 for a mid-week party. As far as party costs go, this is quite good, as I first approached the Family Life and Home cafe in Prahran, just the next suburb over. While Family Life and Home is a little bit fancier, in that the decor is hoping to please hipster parents tastes, the food is more upmarket cafe and there is a store full of expensive baby goods, I was quoted that the cost of a birthday party would start at $700 and fairly skyrocket from there. 


    The kids food was basic, which was necessary as most of Wolf's friends are a couple of months younger than him. Stuff like vegemite sandwiches, cut fruit and sausage rolls. I also ordered a couple of platters for grown ups; a seafood platter and a ciabatta and baguette platter at $50 each, both very much up to a decent cafe standard and more than adequately served 13 adults. You can also order birthday cakes through Daydreamers, but I chose to make my own; a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Recipe posted on the Bebe website.
    Staffing was impressive. The young team were enthusiastic, efficient and all smiles. We got great service, someone was always around to answer questions and they were very easy going. I thought anyone who had to spend all day listening to children scream and cleaning up after their mess would be quite jaded and disgruntled, but either they are incredible well trained or have hide as thick as a dragon's.
    Wolf's party was a lovely, nearly stress-free (as much as I am ever not stressed), and entirely fun day and the centre's excellent organisation meant I had plenty of time to socialise with the other parents and watch my little boy enjoy himself with his friends.

    If any of you lovely readers are now considering having a party at Daydreamers, I've been given four $45 party vouchers for use with any party extras at Daydreamers. Every little bit saved counts! If you'd like one just drop a comment on this post and I'll email you directly for a postal address to send it to. 

    Daydreamers Indoor Play Centre
    61 - 71 McIlwrick Street,
    Windsor 3181
    9521 2170

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Things I love about the day after a party

    Beautiful flowers in the kitchen from Andy, a complete gentlemen who brought a gift for Wolf, the flowers for me and a bottle of wine for Josh. They brighten up the whole apartment and don't look like they're going to wilt anytime soon.

    A dining table completely clear of bicycle helmets, bicycle tools, wallets, paperwork, bills, empty cracker wrappers, receipts, dirty mugs, smelly work shirts and mysterious napkins. Imagine what that must look like usually. This sight is bliss.

    Wolf discovering edible gifts that he didn't notice in the excitement of the night. Like this miniature gingerbread man from Uncle Andy.

    Seeing the row of cards on the windowsill full of well wishes from so many wonderful people. Wolf is really lucky to be so loved.

    Leftover decorations hanging from the ceiling fan. Quickly knocked up from patterns printed off the computer and stuck together with tape and sewing thread. But the effect was nice.

    The very last piece of Wolf's birthday cake, saved for our family afternoon tea. I hope everyone who brought home a piece had theirs for tea too. Though knowing some boys and girls it probably didn't last the night, what with exam study and late night milk feeds.

    Wolf's First Birthday Party Take Two

    A lovely friend said I took photographs like a professional because I take so many at one time. It's not true. It's because it's so hard to catch a non-blurry photo of Wolf. These are the only clear photos I managed to take on Thursday night. But what a night. So much food. With three days preparation it was actually no stress on the day. Beautiful family and friends that are like family came to celebrate with us in our tiny two bedroom apartment. Wolf got some lovely presents and he enjoyed himself thoroughly even though he had terrible sleep the night before and woke up too early from his second nap and stayed up 5 hours till about 9pm. 

    Not Wolf but I had to take a photo of the food. For posterity. It was too much! As per usual.

    Wolf unwraps a few presents with his two grandmothers and his paternal great grandmother. I was so excited and honoured to have Elva there. She is one of the loveliest women I've ever met; the kind of granny you find in storybooks almost. She's in her 80s but she drove all the way from Cranbourne to Footscray!

    Wolf's first taste of his chocolate birthday cake. I say first, but really he had a lot of the off cuts while I was putting it together. Just to make sure that he would actually like chocolate cake. He's still a bit unsure. Probably because of the added complexity of cream cheese icing and chocolate ganache icing. 

    After this picture all that is left on his table is an enormous brown smear. For once, a nice brown smear from Wolf. Actually some of the cake is on the floor and his sippy cup is sticky with frosting. I found it later. Buried under some presents.

    Wolf attempts to put himself in a box. There was a gift in this box. A lovely squirrel shaped lamp from his Godfather from Corky Saint Claire. I'll put a picture of it up later. Wolf has this weird thing for folding box flaps in on himself, like he's trying to post himself somewhere. I wonder if he's trying to tell me something, or if he's just discovered that being crushed into a cardboard box is somewhat like being in the womb. Only sort of cold and square.

    It was such a lovely night and I'm amazed at the number of people we fit in our place. I'm so thankful for the friends and family we have that supported us through Wolf's first year. We're really blessed all round. 

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    My boobs are mine again

    This morning I think we reached the end of an era. For the first time Wolf genuinely didn't feel like any breast milk this morning. He latched on, got bored, pushed away from me and started beating Josh around the head. I knew it was coming, as for the last couple of weeks I haven't had to express milk when I went to work and we're down to only two feeds a day. But even those couple of feeds, which just a month ago he seemed to want desperately, are starting to get shorter. I just hope he keeps it up till Thursday so that I can at least say that I managed to do it for an entire year. Manage is perhaps not the right word. Where so many women I've read about or talked to have found the experience of breast feeding quite difficult, overall I've had a really easy time of it. At first there was all the trouble getting Wolf in the right position and the pain and bleeding, but all the months after that have been a breeze. I'd even stopped freaking out about whipping the boobs out in public if a feed was necessary. Breast milk has had the ability to instantly calm Wolf down or cheer him up when he has been completely miserable, often for reasons that neither parent can fathom.
    I can't imagine having to do formula, and am actually impressed with people who do, because it seems like a lot of extra work; sterilising, mixing, heating over and over again. In that sense women who can breast feed are lucky, because they can use the instant food they make automatically and don't necessarily need to take extra vitamins or add anything to baby's food, because the immunities are provided in the milk. 
    On the one hand I'm quite relieved, as this means my bra size will stop fluctuating. I went from a 12B to a 14E! I got properly measured for the first time since I was 12 and am apparently a 12D and hope to stay there until subsequent children arrive and my breasts reach my naval. I can buy normal bras that don't snap open at the front (which means they won't accidentally snap open when I'm working). I've ended the embarrassing trek up the stairs at work, hiding myself in the store-room with my handheld breast pump, yelling at everyone that I hear approaching not to come in lest they see something they really don't want to. 
    On the other, it's a little sad. The end of a private bond only Wolf and I shared. I'll really have to cut down on the calories as boob milk won't be stealing the fat from my diet. Early morning wake ups will actually mean getting up and making Wolf's breakfast immediately rather than the lazy lie in with the three of us in bed while Wolf enjoyed a leisurely entree to his day. 
    Alas, he is a big boy now. I stood him up on his feet and he actually stayed up for a few seconds unassisted and took a couple of staggering steps towards he before he collapsed in my arms. He capably feeds himself most things (given not with any sort of cutlery) and seems keen to move on from sippy cup to normal cup. His favourite meal is no longer milk, but a lamb chop or roast potatoes. Look at him with his little push-cart. Not a baby anymore but a little boy. 

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Wolf's First Birthday Party

    lf's actual birthday isn't until June 17, this coming Thursday. But we chose this family friendly long-weekend Sunday to host the kid-friendly party at Daydreamers Indoor Play Centre in Windsor. A bit of a hike from Footscray but mere minutes away from where we used to live in Prahran. I have to say it was a place very much well worth the trip and an absolute dream for a first birthday party. But more on parties at Daydreamers later this week (I have work tomorrow and I'm so tired from today...).

    Two old friends meet again after a long time! It's been months since we've seen Joshua. He's so big!

    The kids from Mothers Group playing together. Wolf hogs the ball!

    The nicely decorated table. Everyone tucking into the food. Um...that's just the kid's food. The adult food is on another table. All the grown ups ate well with a seafood platter and a mini bagel and baguette platter. Coffee on tap. It's necessary for this level of fun and exuberance.

    More eating and party guests. You can't see from this picture but we're sitting under this massive blow-up marquee like the top bit of a jumping castle. It's quite cool but also the reason it's a little bit dark! Kids ate fresh fruit, vegemite sandwiches, sausage rolls and veggie sticks.
    It was awesome to finally meet everyone's partners and see how all the resemblance worked in the babies' faces. A reasonably relaxing time for parents.

    Singing happy birthday. Wolf has no idea what's going on. Neither do I really. I'm burying my face in his shoulder because I'm so proud, excited but also nervous.

    I love seeing friends from different times and places meeting each other and talking. As I attempt to pull Wolf away from the camera, I see Rachel and Steph talking and it's so lovely!

    Wolf gets excited about the decorations. After this picture he will try and eat the streamers.

    Wolf had a taste of his own birthday cake. Admittedly he and I ate a lot of off cuts and test cupcakes the day before. It was a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. I don't often make carrot cake or cream cheese icing, but both turned out nicely to my relief. It was a very baby friendly recipe and one great for first birthdays.

    Lovely Rachel and a party blower mesmerise Beth. I tried to teach Wolf how to use one of those but he mostly chewed on the end. It would have been a good way to practice teaching him how to blow out candles. Or set the end of the blower on fire.

    Our friends gave Wolf some really lovely birthday gifts. Exactly the sort of thing we needed and wanted for him. Great friends!

    From Sienna, Jasmine and Ivan, three lovely board books. We didn't have these ones yet! I'm excited to read them to him.

    Cool Brio racing car and walking Turtle from Marea, Linda and Juan. I adore wooden toys for Wolf; they last longer, look better and feel more solid. These are so awesome. Wolf is gonna love them.

    A cute toy mobile phone from Joshua and Masako. This might prevent Wolf reaching for my Iphone.

    Gorgeous double breasted fleecy jacket and lined cargo pants from Beth, Rachel and Christ. Perfect for this weather and exactly what we need.

    Adorable sweater from Charlie, Grace, Steph and Andrew. This is so cute. Wolf will look just like his dad. I love this preppy boyish stuff for Wolf. It makes him look so grown up. And he is!

    I love this long-sleeve grow suit from Greta, Rachel and Leigh! Super soft, lovely colour and cute animal print. We need more long sleeves for sure!

    Thanks everyone for a wonderful day and the fantastic gifts for Wolf. I hoped that today would not only celebrate Wolf's birthday, but also bring our whole families together to meet and to celebrate the luck of meeting each other in all circumstances, be it from a workplace, through a friend or partner or in Julie's little maternal health office. Thanks again guys!

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