Thanksgiving Planning!

I know that here in Ireland, we don’t generally celebrate Thanksgiving. It is an American holiday – and my family thought I was crazy when I first said I was going to start “doing it”.

My reasoning though is that any holiday that is about Giving Thanks, or Gratitude, is a holiday that we should celebrate. A great reminder to be thankful for everything that we have. It also gives us a chance to get together as a family. At the moment, we do a big family Christmas dinner on Stephens Day – but we realise that as the children have their own families and plans change, it won’t be as easy to get everyone here for dinner on Stephens Day. So I thought that at least if we had Thanksgiving Dinner in November and then their Dad’s birthday in January, that at least it should take the sting out of the Stephens Day fading away. (Although we are hoping that it still doesn’t go for a long time!)

So we do Thanksgiving! I decided that we’d have more American style dishes and sides with our meal, rather than our standard Sunday dinners and I definitely wasn’t allowed do the Christmas sides this close to Christmas!! It means I have to do a bit more research and planning for Thanksgiving, which adds to the work – but is also a bit of fun!

So that is what I have been doing today, writing lists and planning the next few days!

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Pumpkin Picking!

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Pumpkin Patches are a relatively new idea in Ireland (as far as I know anyway!). We had planned to go to one last year but couldn’t for some reason, so this year I was adamant we were going to go.

The one we chose to go to was one that we didn’t need tickets for, and no entry fee. You could go and pick your pumpkins, potatoes and corn and pay for what you got. This took off the pressure of paying in advance – although we paid for it because of the giant pumpkins our kids chose!!!

We all got our wellies and waterproofs on and headed through the “haunted” corn maze to the pumpkin field. The kids had great fun running around the field looking at all the different sizes, colours and shapes of the pumpkins. Then they decided that they wanted to get the biggest possible pumpkins – which was an idea we should have knocked on the head, but we didn’t! We’ll know better for future. We did manage to talk two of them down to looking for nicer looking shape and colour ones instead of just the size being the priority. They stood over their chosen pumpkin until we arrived with the wheelbarrow.

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You can see the size of the two giant ones, particularly when you notice the size of the wheel or even the “large” pumpkin underneath the two giant ones!

We got a little shock when it came to paying, but they did a bit of a deal for us. And we did end up with 5 big pumpkins in our “trolley”. The farmer was over talking to us, about the amount of eating we had in the wheelbarrow – and even though we only wanted them  mainly for carving, we are going to do our best to use as much of them as possible. I’ve been searching for recipes and ideas, and what is best way of freezing the flesh or the purees. You might be seeing some posts of any successes coming up in the next few weeks!

Pregnancy – how life changes you

So a little bit about my fertility history…. (it is relevant to the punch line, I promise!)

I have three children, but I’ve had six pregnancies. I conceived my first child simply, first month I even thought about it, and it was all fine. I didn’t even know about any issues or complications people had. It took me three pregnancies (one miscarriage and one ectopic) over two years, and lots of months trying in between, to get my second child. I honestly thought I wasn’t going to get a second child, and it was so important to me – growing up as an only child, it was everything to me. But my miracle baby arrived. And my third child took months of trying, one miscarriage and then a successful pregnancy.

I know how lucky I am. Many, many women in similiar situations never get the first baby, let alone a second or third. And secondary infertility is huge, and people rarely know anything about it – until it happens to them. I am lucky. Infertility fullstop is a huge, often untalked about, issue. It affects so many. And people don’t talk about it. I know when I was going through it I couldn’t talk about it. After I got my second child safely, then I could talk about it.

But the problem is that it takes the shine off the whole experience of being pregnant. The fear throughout is there with you the whole time. You know how many things can go wrong. You know what it is like to plan a whole future out, based around an Expected Due Date, only for that pregnancy to be gone, and your future life be torn down around you. Yes you do have to get back up and build a new future life, but there’s always a part of you that gets a little bit lost with those dashed future hopes and plans. Each time.

So the relevance of this story is that I am pregnant. Again. On what I am hoping and praying is my happy healthy 4th child.

But it is very early days. I only found out this week. I haven’t even been to the doctor. Next week I will go for the important early scan to ensure that the sac is in the womb and not growing in my remaining fallopian tube (as you are at increased risk of a second ectopic pregnancy after having one). But I’m scared. I’m so excited and happy about it all, because even though I don’t “do pregnancy” well (bad morning sickness and SPD) I do love being pregnant, it is such a special time. A miracle. But I’m so scared for these first 13 weeks. For each week and stage, and constantly questioning every niggle and symptom, and hoping that at each scan they see that things are progressing properly. And almost preparing myself in case. But then the excitement slips in. And I’m just so scared at the same time. It is a really odd feeling.

We haven’t told anyone yet, and although my friends know that I would love a fourth child, they also know that I really wanted to get fit and healthy before getting pregnant so that the pregnancy would hopefully run smoother. I’m not fit or healthier, I’m extremely overweight and only joined back to Slimming World two weeks ago, so I’m hopefully on my way to losing a bit of weight. So nobody thinks I’m ready to get pregnant really I suppose. So it’s our little secret, for the next week or two anyway. I don’t feel sick yet, luckily so it is easier to hide because when the symptoms kick in, it’s more difficult. But I’ve gotten to share the excitement and the fear with all of you now too!

Happy Mothers Day (belated!)

Happy Mothers Day! For yesterday.

I hope everyone had a lovely day. My day was actually no different to most, seeing as the hubby and Miss Q went off rotavating the allotment, leaving me to keep an eye on the dinner (after they prepped it and got it on!).

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But must say the hubby made a big effort for me, and I got not one, not two but THREE bunches of tulips! So my house is full of beautiful flowers this morning – which definitely make me smile!

And they also made me a cake – using marzipan. Miss Q’s school homework this week had  a history of “Mothering Sunday” and how it was tradition to make/bring simnel cake, which is a fruit cake covered in marzipan. I love marzipan so told her she could make me one for Mothers Day – but without the fruit cake bit! So on Saturday they found a recipe for an almond and marzipan cake and firstly made the marzipan from scratch on Sunday morning, before then baking the cake. Very impressive 🙂

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I hope that you all had a lovely day yesterday, whether it was Mothers Day for you or not. We had some lovely weather too so I think people had a great weekend – but because of the Boy and his chicken pox, we didn’t get to leave the house and enjoy it!

Chicken Pox!

I’ve spent the past 2 weeks inspecting my son, since Baba Z broke out in chicken pox. We’d had a visit from friends 2 weeks previous to that, where the following day one of the children broke out in chicken pox – meaning she was here when the child was most contagious. I didn’t mind at all, don’t mind having them out of the way. My eldest had them when the Boy was a baby so it was just the younger two.

Two weeks later – Baba Z got them. She was fine with them luckily. Gave her anti-histamines to keep the itching at bay, although she said they weren’t itchy, just tickley! I got a cream that I was recommended – Eurax, but she wouldn’t let me put it on her. I also gave her “oat baths” – where I put porridge oats into a new dish cloth and tied a hair bobbin on it so it didn’t fall out and put it into the bath with her.

The problem with chicken pox is that the child is contagious for the 2 to 3 days before the spots appear. So I was trying to keep plans at a minimum because I didn’t want to visit my Granny or families that hadn’t had chicken pox – in case the Boy then broke out in them. He was slightly off form over the weekend so I didn’t bring him to football training or a friends party in case. And then on Sunday night there was the faintest sign of a red mark on his back…. so I kept him home from school. And then on Tuesday the marks turned into the chicken pox spots. Phew… I’m glad I wasn’t being a completely paranoid hypochondriac mother!! 🙂 And at least he’ll now have them done and dusted and out of the way. Fingers crossed.

Birthday Reminders!

I had to laugh last month when my husband rang me and asked to be put on to Baba Z to wish her Happy Birthday. I told him he was a day early.

I thought it was very funny because he’s never got any of his other kids birthdays wrong – and I said that to him! And sure didn’t he say, yeh that’s because you always text me and remind me to wish them a Happy Birthday! Which of course is true, and he was right the next day I didn’t even think to remind him of Baba Z’s birthday, because she’s too small to notice him not calling, whereas the older kids all would!

Pancakes… yum

So I know Pancake Tuesday isn’t until next week – but for pretty much all of February my kids request pancakes, on a pretty much daily basis.

I have two types of pancakes I make, one is the little round “American Style” pancakes, and then these, the bigger thinner ones.

I found this recipe on the Delia Smith website and it makes perfect pancakes, always!

For our family of two adults and three kids, and whoever happens to be here, I always make a triple batch. It also keeps in the fridge for a few days.

Ingredients (for the triple batch):

  • 330g plain flour
  • big pinch of salt
  • 600ml milk and 225ml water
  • 6 eggs
  • a big spoon of butter (over 50g)

On her website, she has the proper method outlined for mixing this. I just throw the first four ingredients into a bowl and whizz up with a hand food mixer. Then on the pancake pan I melt the butter and pour a small bit into the batter, but most into a bowl to use on the pan between each pancake. So they all get the buttery goodness!

I also think that my pancake pan and ladle are big parts of the success of the pancakes. I bought the flat pan in lidl about 2 years ago, to replace the one I had bought years before that. It was definitely less than 20euro and it came with a ladle. I was in a fancy pants pots and pans shop at the weekend and saw a pancake pan on sale for 65euro. My pan is perfect so keep an eye out for when they come into your local Lidl!

When it comes to frying the pancakes, rub the melted butter (on a piece of kitchen roll) onto the hot pan, pour on a ladle full of pancake (depending on how thick you like them – experiment!!) and roll it around to cover the pan fully. When the edges start to curl up off the pan, it means the bottom of the pan is starting to cook. After another minute, turn the pancake and cook the second side too.

Depending on who the pancake is for and what they want on it, I sometimes put a bit of butter on the cooked side of the pancake after I turn it, and when its melted I’ll put a spoon of sugar on while still on the pan so it melts into the butter a bit. Yum! And then the lemon when it comes off the pan.

The kids love golden syrup or chocolate spread (my homemade one, so at least it feels healthier!). I’ve tried savoury pancakes but they don’t go down very well here. If you’ve any ideas for easy toppings that could become family favourites, please let me know! 🙂