The sweetest thing

As I mentioned in my last post, my parents took Elspeth away with them on Thursday. This has given Aidan and I a little bit of peace and quiet and relaxation. However, there has also been another unforeseen consequence of the absence of Elspeth.

Evelyn, deprived for the first time of her older sister, has become a completely different child. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with her normally, but now she is showing so much more confidence, she is less needy and clingy, she smiles and laughs and plays more, and is just the sweetest thing!

Under normal circumstances, Evelyn is a very mummy-centric child. If I’m around, she generally just wants me to hold her. Now, though, she is equally happy to be with her daddy or to play alone. It’s as though she sought me out to escape the overwhelming presence of a three year old, and now the house is hers to explore and enjoy.

It might be my imagination, but I think she’s talking more too – well, babbling. Making a greater variety of sounds, and making them more frequently. There is space for her voice!

Elspeth returns tomorrow, and I hope Evelyn is able to retain this new-found confidence in herself and her place in the household.

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Alone…

This afternoon, on their way from one place to another, my parents dropped in for a cup of tea and a biscuit. They do that a bit; my house is conveniently located for them, plus it contains their grandchildren.

Towards the end of today’s visit, Elspeth expressed a desire to go and stay with her nanny and poppy for a few days. A last minute decision was made, a whirlwind of packing ensued, and off they went, leaving me home with a very tired Evelyn.

Evelyn went to sleep immediately afterwards, and now here I am… effectively alone. I’m not used to this anymore. I really don’t know what to do with myself. I could read, or watch a movie, or study, or sleep. I could eat yummy things without anybody stealing the food from my mouth. I could just sit staring out my front window, except the neighbours might find that a bit creepy.

So what’s it to be? I’ve got Pillars of the Earth on DVD…

McDonald’s Style Sausage – gluten free, lactose free

I’ve just tried a home made replica of McDonald’s sausage biscuits – you know, the ones you get in McMuffins. Honestly, it’s been so long since I ate at McDonald’s that I can’t remember what they tasted like, only that I like them! So I couldn’t tell you if this is an accurate reproduction, but these do turn out very yummy!

Ingredients:

500 grams pork mince

1 tablespoon ground sage

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

Method:

Mix all ingredients together very well, by hand is best.

Roll the mixture out flat, to a thickness of about a centimetre.

Cut it into whatever sizes or shapes you want; I used an egg ring to get basically muffin-sized sausage biscuits.

Fry over medium heat, about four minutes each side or until fully cooked.

These can then be eaten alone, or in a sandwich or muffin, or however you like really! I had mine in a sandwich with cheese and tomato sauce.

Camping

In the last three years, our family has not had a holiday which didn’t somehow involve either my parents or Aidan’s. We’ve stayed with them, and we’ve stayed elsewhere with them, and Aidan and I have left the kids with them to go out by ourselves. But never have the four of us been away on our own before. Until now!

This past weekend – from Friday to today – we’ve been camping! I know what you’re thinking… comfort-loving me, and two small children, camping out in a tent over two freezing nights? Madness!

However, I am surprised by how well we all did and how much I actually enjoyed the experience. The camp ground was gorgeous, set by a lake with lots of bird life, and the nights were filled with stars – and, well, clouds too. But it was an astronomy camp, so the stars were the main thing! Yes, the nights were cold, but we had lots of clothes and an extra doona to throw over us all. The kids enjoyed it, and slept better than I’d hoped in the tent; in fact, even now we’re home Elspeth is asking to sleep in the tent again!

So it was really nice, quite restful, but obviously you don’t sleep as well as usual in a tent… so I’m pretty tired. Good tired.

 

Spiders again, bloody hell!

Here’s one I sprayed earlier.

I’ve probably blogged about spiders before. I’m arachnophobic, and I don’t just mean I don’t like them.

They’ve been stalking me lately. I keep finding them in and around the house. It’s like they know how I feel about them, and they target me deliberately. I just found one in my toilet, abusing the surface tension of water. The cheek of him! However, that was a simple fix – two flushes later, he was dead and gone. The thing that really freaks me out is how the hell he got there, and how I didn’t see him sooner. I drink a lot of tea, you know, which means I end up in that room pretty frequently! How many times I had been without knowing that little critter was lurking?

Every time I see a spider, I become convinced that they’re everywhere. In my mind, I can’t escape them. Certain places or objects are worse than others; I can’t use a clothesline because I associate them strongly with spider inhabitation, and anywhere I’ve already seen a spider becomes forever a place to be wary of.

Sometimes the phobia seems to be getting better, and I freak out less. I get optimistic and think maybe it will downgrade to a simple fear or dislike. But then it blossoms to full force again. These fluctuations don’t seem to have anything to do with how many spiders I’ve seen lately or anything; they seem random. I’m actually in a slightly-less-phobic period right now, despite being stalked. It’s nice, and I hope it lasts this time.

Quotes from a three year old

Here is a random selection of recent amusing quotes from Elspeth, or conversations with her. Enjoy!

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August 27:

Me: Ok, Ellie, you can stay up for another five minutes.
Ellie: FOUR minutes!
Me: Ok!

September 4:

I told Elspeth that her sister makes disgusting smells, and a few minutes later she said to me, ‘I’m making a disgusting smile!’

September 5:

After clearly watching too much Playschool: ‘Come on, you be a butterfly too! Flutter flutter flutter.’

September 10:

While sitting on the toilet, having been bribed to do so: ‘I’m just doing this wee for a marshmallow.’

September 14:

‘Oh, there’s a sandwich in the toilet!’

September 23:

‘We live on the Earth, and Mercury doesn’t have a moon, and Venus hasn’t got any water!’

September 27:

While watching Aidan use a screwdriver: ‘I’m watching daddy screw!’

September 30:

Ellie: Do you like beetles?
Me: To eat?
Ellie: No, to look at.
Me: Yes, I like to look at beetles.
Ellie: Well, there’s not one here.

October 16:

‘We don’t live in Australia; we live in K-Mart!’

October 21:

Ellie: Can I have chocolate milk?
Me: No.
Ellie: Nanny will say I can have it.
Me: Go and ask her, then.
Ellie: Nanny, can I have chocolate milk?
Nanny: What did mummy say?
Ellie: You can say yes!

October 28:

Ellie, sounding genuinely distressed: Oh no! We have to buy a new beanbag!
Me: Why, what’s happened to this one?
Ellie: Evie got sandwich all over it!

November 1:

I told Elspeth I would go to the gym later, and she didn’t realise I meant after Aidan got home. She demanded to come with me, saying ‘Otherwise Evie and I will be all bored and lonely!’

November 3:

Ellie: One of our fish died and we had to put it in the toilet. Poppy doesn’t put his dead fish in the toilet. He puts them on the grass so Tiffany [my parents’ cat] can eat them.
Me: Yes, but we don’t have a Tiffany.
Ellie: We could get one. Then when Luggy [our surviving fish] dies she can eat him.

November 9:

Ellie: It’s time to do a handstand.
Me: Um, ok.
Ellie: I don’t know how. Do you?
Me: I haven’t done a handstand in about twenty years.
Ellie: Oh, well, maybe when you’re a bit older you will know how to do a handstand.

Me: Finish your dinner and you can have an icy pole.
Ellie: I’m not dinner hungry anymore. I’m icy pole hungry.

Humans changing the planet

Modern humans tend to consider their own destructiveness as being minimal up until around the time of the industrial revolution. And indeed, there is no doubt that our impact on the Earth increased. But that was far from the start of our planet-changing activities.

Archaic humans (Homo sapiens idaltu) were migrating from Africa around 70,000 years ago. (From here, I will use the abbreviation ‘kya’ for ‘thousand years ago’, so that would be 70 kya.) 100 kya, the world was dominated by at least three distinct great ape species, including our direct ancestors. By 30 kya, our ancestors were more or less alone; we’d overrun our cousins.

Migration from Africa seems to have been driven largely by population pressures and the need for food. We followed the big game west, out across Europe and Asia, over land and water and ice.

Around 65 kya we arrived in Australia. By 50 kya, many large mammal species here were extinct, hunted and eaten by our forebears. The same pattern can be seen in the Americas; extinctions followed the arrival of humans.

It wasn’t just animals we did as we wished with. It’s estimated that about 10% of the Amazon is in its current form due to the intervention of early humans. We encouraged the plants that were more beneficial to us: the plants we could eat from, or those which would suit the animals we wanted to eat. We discouraged or killed off plants that didn’t suit us. Burning the undergrowth left more space for large game herds.

For about 10,000 years we’ve been domesticating food plants, cultivating what we want to eat and clearing out the plants we can’t use. This in turn lead to an expansion of population, as our deliberately chosen and cultivated crops could support more people than foraging for naturally occurring plants.

So basically what I’m trying to say is that humans and our ancestors have been transforming Earth for our own benefit for a very very very long time, and that’s on top of natural events and constant climate fluctuations. There’s some food for thought when you consider trying to reverse it all. Good luck trying to figure out what’s ‘normal’, ‘natural’, or ‘pristine’; is it a hundred years ago, or a hundred thousand? I’m not saying don’t try. Just be aware of what you’re trying to save the planetĀ from.