Baked butternut for baby

photo 2-25

Don’t think I’m going all Maggie Beer on y’all, but here’s a recipe. I know, I know. But we’re back living in the land of spoon-fed solids* and I remembered a good one from the dark ages of earlier parenting. It goes a little something like this:


Baked half butternut.

Take half a butternut pumpkin, and scoop out the seeds. Chop half a smallish tomato, about a quarter of a zucchini, and a quarter of a small onion. Mix these with a tablespoon of orange juice (you can skip the juice, no worries – you could also skip the zucchini I guess). Place this mixture in the butternut’s seed cavity and cover with foil. Bake at around 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until it’s soft when you prick it with a fork. Actually, you could do that before you put it in the oven, too – prick it with a fork. I never remember to.

Then, scoop out the flesh – and the filling – into a bowl and blitz with mama’s omnipresent hand-held kitchen power tool.

This is so scrummy, next time I’m baking a couple of pumpkins and keeping half of the puree, adding smoked paprika (pimenton) and cream or sour cream to make soup for the grownups.

So there’s a recipe, of sorts. I wouldn’t get used to reading recipes here.

photo 1*and, like nappy contents, we use the term loosely

The 11* commandments of mothers’ groups**

  1. Thou shalt not block the aisles with a pramslide.

  2. Thou shalt not take thine’s own baked goods to the café. (This is somone’s business, dammit. Brandish your baked goods elsewhere.)

  3. Thou shalt never change a nappy in view, or smell, of other patrons. No, not even a wet one.

  4. Thou shalt keep thine offspring close. The other diners don’t really want to play with your kids; they’re being polite.

  5. Thou shalt pay for damages, or at least offer.

  6. Thou shalt resist the temptation to bite the child that bit yours.

  7. Thou shalt seek approval before uploading to social media.

  8. Thou shalt help thine toddler pick up scattered toys, books, or furniture, unless they’re having a tantrum meltdown, in which case thou shalt leave in haste.

  9. Thou shalt not be boastful about a full night’s sleep, an active sex life, developmental milestones, or fitting pre-pregnancy jeans.

  10. Thou shalt not let thine dog lick another’s baby’s face. They do not find it cute.

  11. Actually, thou shalt leave thine dog at home. Six toddlers is enough animal madness for anyone’s sanity.

*because someone always has to go one better, don’t they?

**yes, ok, “parents’ groups”

Q. What’s the secret to successful parenting?


A. A fully-functioning, large capacity washing machine.

 I know how I’ll meet my wife. I’ll be at university, and I’ll be looking down at my phone, and she’ll be carrying a lot of books, and I’ll fake-accidentally bump into her and help her pick up all her books when she drops them. And then we will go out and then – BOOM – we will get married three years later.

Grand designs of my sons’ friend. How I love 9 year old boys.

Birth and beyond: breastfeeding after a reduction

Such a long time between posts, these days. Truncated posts die on my laptop from neglect. I’m sure I planned to write this one 10 weeks ago. It’s about boobs.

Breast and bottle feedingI love to breastfeed, and I’m embarrassed occasionally when I bottle feed in public as I’d much rather be displaying just how comfortable I am breastfeeding my baby anywhere. But you do what is necessary. And often, for me, a bottle is necessary.

Bosom bits

With the momentous cliffhanger that was the reveal of this baby’s gender well past, the next mystery on the list was whether these truncated breasts could do their milky thing. If you’ve visited this blog before, you may remember that, confident my family was complete, I enjoyed a breast reduction about 6 years ago and donated much of my milk-manufacturing tissues to medical research*.

My immediate post-partum doubt lay in whether there was anything left in the soon-to not-be-so-pert lumps that would be of any satisfaction for the little fellow. (I did, after all, tell the surgeon to “take as much as you bloody can”.)

I’d spent hesitant pre-birth months wondering: will they work? Or are they now mere decorative objects?

The short answer is: yes, they work. Kind of. The manufacturing part still happens. However, the storage facility doesn’t seem to be up to premium capacity. So we’re doing both, breast and bottle. Effectively it means I’m feeding double (twice?). I started the first month or so feeding breast first (twice and sometimes thrice each side), then a bottle of formula a little later. Manic pumping, I tried daily, in between actual feeds, to stimulate these remaining milk ducts and store a little of my own milk. My arse was permanently attached to that bloody couch, boob or bottle or pump in hand. I managed a mere ounce each pump, and gave the process up, leaving a handful of sad little milk bags in the freezer.

Excuse this detail, if you’re freaked out by it (not sure why, but that’s your issue) – but this is the kind of information I couldn’t find when I was pregnant and wondering about feeding post-reduction. So here’s some more bosomy news: my milk came in a day later than the last two babies. A was born Friday morning; I decided to comp-feed (give a complementary formula bottle) on Sunday night. I had thought he was satisfied because he hadn’t cried after I’d fed him virtually nothing on day three; I now know he’s just a chilled little man and maybe I should have started the comp feed on Saturday night. He lost 10% of his birth weight in the first four days, which is on the outer reaches of acceptable. His nappies were mostly dry and he was still passing a couple of urate crystals, suggesting dehydration. He soon made up for it, though, and is a bonnie lad these days. We are fortunate that he has always taken a bottle comfortably, and readily switches between bottle and breast. (He prefers breast.) I understand there’s a battle avoided right there.

Incidentally, when my milk came in, it was never with the lumpy sprinkler-like tidal wave for the other babies, rather a fuller swelling. The breast pads in the bathroom cupboard, I fear, are superfluous. I can get uncomfortably swollen, but not to bursting, it seems.

Now, nursing a three month old with a healthy appetite who’s hovering around the 80-90th percentiles on the growth charts, I still kind of demand feed, but it’s established a rough pattern. He takes a standard formula feed every 3-4 hours during the day, with breast feeds in between on demand. Bottle before bed around 6pm, and another when he wakes in the middle of the night (often 3am-ish). Then breasts when he wakes again (and by then, we’re both really ready for that!).

So there you go. Quite a specific post, this one. Wonder how many readers we lost along the way?


*As a side note, I now live across the back fence from a scientist whose breast cancer research is quite possibly using that same tissue. Weird or cool?

Gaining a dawn perspective

4am-ish. With my other babies I remember railing against this nightly interruption, percolating anger at interrupted sleep and promised daytime exhaustion. But these nights, this time, the night feed has been special. A time that’s just ours, almost stolen from the world. It’s snuggly and intimate. We hear the beginning of the dawn chorus most mornings (and dawn is something I’m more used to seeing from the other side, as the end of the day, not the beginning), and I’m conscious it won’t last forever. So we savour these soft hours. 


Halloween humbug.

The angst hits the primmer corners of social media about this time each year. “Why do Australian kids celebrate Halloween? It’s an American thing.” “It’s not our holiday.” “It’s demonic.”

Um, because it’s fun, stupid. And all the other countries seem to get the good festivals.

The anglo-Aussie white “culture” delivers scant giggles in the events category. Our national holiday is based on an invasion bordering on genocide. We stop work for a bloody horserace. And there’s only so much bushranger-idolatory one can stomach (beards aside).

Why wouldn’t you adopt some fun stuff? I love a chance to dress in something dire and join a mob of kids shaking down the neighbours for food of negative nutritional value. Who cares if the practice comes from the United States? It’s not like there’s no other American stuff we adopt. And it’s not just American events we cherry pick, either. We’ve been known to don a striped shirt and beret, stick a baguette under our arm, speak in an outrageously bad accent, while riding our bicycle in total Franco-style-theft on July 14.  Drink green beer on 17 March. Et cetera.

This Halloween, I’m hanging out with my Russian neighbour and his Russo-German kids, who celebrate Halloween with a neighbourhood Death Bar (last year I went as Tippi Hendren – and it’s not easy to make stuffed toy birds look menacing, I tell you). The usual neighbourhood quota will be there: the Greek kids, the half-Spaniard from the next street, and maybe the Brazillians from two streets over. My Arabic/Kenyan friend from down the road might pop on with her Italian house guests. All being a little bit American.

The next day, I hope to visit the crematorium with any interested family members. I’ll visit the resting place of my four grandparents’ ashes. A totally conscious co-opt of another cultural event. Mexico’s Day of the Dead is a fantastic day to borrow, and on 1 November, I might just be a little bit Mexican, too.




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