Friday, 22 May 2020

The Adventures of Calliope

Hello 🐾My name is: Calliope
My nicknames : Cali, Scallywag, SuperCalifragalistic, pupper, pup tart, pu-ppee (high pitched), pup pup boogie, cali-lally, butthead.
Whose a good girl, whose a good boy (I'm not sure she means me but I likes the praise), 'what's this' - she's usually looking at the kitteh but this is the bestest nickname as it has foods in it and if I use my super stare powers I can gets some. My hooman only says Calliope when I'm in troubles.
My age is: I'm 4 next week, and I wants beef cake and a new squeaky.
My favourite human food is: pizza, duck, prawns and roast beef, I also LOVES chocolate and jaffa cakes, but everyone gets really mads when I sneak them so they hide them from me 
My biggest fear is: Bangs, bangs are the owies for ears and make my body do wobbles.
My favourite things to do: When my hooman says "agility?" we have the best fun's, taking toys on walks, digging up molehills until my hooman says enuff and squeaky disc jumpy game in the garden. Other hooman's too, they give loves, play with me in my house and agility hooman's give me foodies.
What I hate the most: Dogs - they are scary, I used to have friends but my hooman says I "can't be trusted" and am "a pain in the butt" whatever that means. Most dogs are worry monsters and need to go away from me so my body doesn't do wobbles. I try to be scary to frighten them away. When we play agility I always want it to be my turn to go play, and all these other dogs keep taking my turns so I have to woof to tell them to stop it's my turn! It makes my woofer hurt and my hooman sad. I'm scared when my hooman leaves me she won't come back. I knows she comes back to the hause so I'm not scared theres, but I think she might forget me if I don't shout HOOMAN HOOMAN at her, that hurts my woofer too.
Where do I sleep: On the floor near my hoo-man, except bedtimes when I sleep on the sofa in my bedroom because the bed is not for doggies and the man-servant says I'm not allowed upstairs in case I give him too many kisses when it's morning or try sleeps on the bed, I thinks he knows I will push him off to sleep next to my hooman. He says the kitteh can sleep on the bed though which is no fair, so I push her off my sofa.
Do I love car rides? No, except Mel's car mel's car means AGILITY and I have to dance around in the back whining to remind the hooman's we are going to agility - in case they forgets.
Do I snore? My hooman says the only time I snore is when I'm having bad dreams so she wakes me up.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

You're doing it right

Last night the kids were being little demons - fighting, screaming, shouting at each other, us, themselves, it was noisy, so, so, noisy and stressful.
The bedtime run up - where even more stress can be made by the tiny one procrastinating getting dressed into pajamas for up to forty minutes, I had enough.
 Ever the devious mother, casually I mention that the first person to get their pajamas on, gets first pick of the colour of bowl in which supper is contained.
They were massively underwhelmed by this and continued to argue about paw patrol and whose house is whose and which figure they are playing with, and will be buried with, so no, you can't ever, ever have a turn.

I sat watching them, wondering how they had forgotten to share, how sick of each other they seem to be, and what a rotten job we seem to have done at times.

I quietly pointed out that the FIRST child to get their pajamas on, could also sit on my knee while we watch my little pony on the tv.
I have never seen four kids get dressed so quickly, around 90 seconds, - a world record.

Ayla was first, sparking tears from the other three.
Quinn had forgotten how she loves to draw-out getting dressed for as long as possible until mummy turns a special shade of purple and starts screaming "get dressed" like some kind of banshee. Quinn's favourite place to sit is on me and she panicked she might be relegated to, the horrors "daddys knee". However, being the only kid who has to get a nappy on for bedtime she was slowed down more than the others.
Zarek who had dressed himself a mere fraction of a second behind Ayla, was very upset until I pointed out I had two knees and they could each have one.

Gaius who accidentally put two feet down the same trouser leg, which slowed him down, was screaming and crying, Quinn is sobbing on the floor at not being quite fast enough to win, when Ayla said "it's okay, I'm going to give my place to Gaius". Gaius stopped crying and Zarek piped up "Quinn, you can have my knee", and Quinn stopped sobbing.
I looked at my two generous children, who despite being cross earlier, had done something so altruistically kind and thoughtful to help someone else they could see is hurting, I realise we've not done such a bad job after all.
The look on Zarek and Ayla's faces said they were both sad to not get to sit on my knee but had decided their sadness was less than the two who were crying on the floor.

We went into the kitchen where the fastest dresser could now choose the snack bowl colour and again tears broke out from the two who got the colours least matching their favourites. (It's friday, everyone is tired and easy to cry).
 Ayla and Zarek negotiated with each other to swap bowls around until Quinn had the green one, (her favourite), Zarek the blue (his favourite), Gaius the orange and Ayla the purple (the smallest unwanted bowl) as a compromise to make the most people happy.

I gathered all four up in my arms, smothering them with kisses and telling them how kind they are and how proud I am before we all snuggled together on the sofa to watch the tv.
These precious moments, often discovered, or greater appreciated an afternoon of fighting and arguing just further demonstrate that while they might bicker over toys from time to time, when it really matters they always choose kindness.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Chunky Minestrone Soup

It's meaty, rich and chunky. The perfect indulgent winter warmer.
Freezes well and defrosts well too without becoming watery.

(I have made both a more watery version, and a thicker version to trial it, and I prefer it thicker and chunky. If you prefer it more liquidy, add more water to the pot when cooking.


3 Small cloves of garlic
1-2 Carrots (I use two)
1 Potato (any size)
2 Balls of frozen Spinach
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
2 Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
Tomato Puree (roughly 2 tbsp, a little more is fine)
1 teaspoon Dried Mixed Herbs
4 Rashers of unsmoked Streaky Bacon
30-60g of Dried Spaghetti snapped into pieces (I probably use whats left in the tail end of a spaghetti pack) and I definitely don't weigh it. Just grab a small handful ;)

(Pinto Beans can be added for the last few minutes before serving if desired or instead of bacon - one of my kids hates them so I exclude them if he is eating this too)

Put a tiny splash of oil (or a few sprays) into the bottom of a deep(ish) pan.
Finely Dice the garlic and add to the pan, setting onto a med-low heat (don't let it burn!)
Peel and finely chop the potato and carrot(s) then add to the pan with the garlic until the garlic has softened or browned. Give it a stir and let the flavours permeate through the veg.

Boil the kettle and add 300ml of boiling water in a jug to the stock cube. Mix until dissolved and then pour into the pan and turn up to a medium heat.

Pour in two tins of chopped tomatoes and your tomato puree - mix well.
Pop your spinach into the microwave for 1 minute to fully defrost - chop it roughly and then toss it into the pan (otherwise i find it all clumps together in one sodden yucky heap and the kids can spot it!)
Add the mixed herbs.

Snap up your spaghetti (4 times per length) and throw it in, turn the heat up to boil and let the pasta cook and the liquid reduce slightly.

Cook your bacon however you like (for this recipe I put them on a sheet of foil in the oven for about 10 minutes to get them dried and crispy) but you can fry it in a pan.

Once your spaghetti is cooked (6-8 minutes ish)  turn the heat back down to low and stir.
When the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from the oil and snip it up with scissors into little chunks and chuck into the pan.

(add beans if using)

Stir through for a couple of minutes and serve. If you are making it in advance, this soup actually gets better if you let it cool down, thicken and reheat it later on to eat.  

Serving Suggestion: 
I like to toast some pitta breads, cut them up with a pizza cutter and let the kids dip the warm dough in the soup.

Bon appetite!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

World Prematurity Day 2016

Little babies, born too soon,
Cared for, in a glowing room.
Tiny fingers and tiny feet,
Cuddles, when finally we get to meet.

Nurses care for and ensure your survival,
While empty homes await your arrival.
Parents cry to leave your side,
As they endure this unexpected ride.

But slowly, you grow, and progress is made,
This place where you are, is not where you'll stay.
Little babies, born too soon,
Growing, in a perspex womb.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Bonfire Night 2016

I still recall now, times after "lights out" when my parents would sneak up to my room with a KFC, chinese food left over from a takeout or to wake me to come see a lunar eclipse; and how special and exciting it was.
Tonight a truly mega firework display began in a garden nearby thirty minutes after the kids had gone to bed. Unable to contain my excitement, I snuck into their bedroom and whispered "is anyone awake?"
Gaius was, so I literally snatched him from his bed, threw him into my dressing gown, and carried him out of the house and down the street. He was bewildered, but excited - and I'm fairly certain I looked like a kidnapper. (I did take this opportunity to explain that if anyone who isn't mummy tries to take him out of the house at night, he probably shouldn't go with them)
I stood on the field near my house, holding him close in my arms, whispering to him that I hoped there would be some special fireworks and that we weren't too late when WHOOOOSH - the sky was filled with them, big ones, small ones, noisy ones, whistling ones, all the colours of the rainbow, as we stood, snuggled together, enjoying a special moment, just the two of us. He delighted in counting with me as we waited for new fireworks to begin, guessing what colours they would be and how many more before they end. 
We stood out there for twenty minutes, cheering, belly laughing, counting and snuggling (boy do my arms ache) before the display ended.
I'm sure tomorrow he might think it was all a wonderful dream - but I hope he will remember this for his entire life. 
When his Mama woke him in the middle of the night and carried him out into the darkness, to watch the sky explode with colour, I know I will.

Friday, 12 August 2016

The Dog Days are Coming

I am now 30 years old.
This is an age I always looked forward to, much like Jenna from 13 going on 30, I saw my thirties as a time for ME, 'thirty, flirty and thriving.'
My twenties can definitely be labelled the "family years". My entire twenties were taken up with getting married, buying a house, two pregnancies, birthing four children, and breastfeeding for a long, long, long time. This equated that for 42 months (or 3.5 years) in which my body was not my own. It stretched to grow people, it deflated to birth them and it leaked to feed them too (sounds glamorous huh).
I always viewed my twenties steeped in creating a family and building a home, and while I wouldn't change a second, I also saw my thirties then spent achieving other, possibly more selfish goals. Things for ME, things I want to do, or always wanted to do now that I'm an 'adult'. Yes for me turning 30 finally puts me in the realm of adulting.

After three and a half years my body has been lived in and used to sustain others.
And now it's mine again.

 I want to make something of it. I'm exercising more (and actually enjoying it) and chuffing down bags of crisps and plates of cake (the hazard of small children) far less than before. I am at a point where I want to be healthy, physically fit and able to accomplish runs, swims, climbs and sports. I always saw my body as a machine, a machine that should be able, if called upon, to run, walk, swim and climb my way through any situation. Rather than turning into a gelatinous sofa-blob monster.
This isn't to say I want to be thin (though a little off here or there might be nice) I just want to be healthy. I don't want to run a marathon - I just want to run through the park without collapsing after.
I want to work hard to grow our business into a thriving, multi-outlet venture.

So, I did something new.
I say I because I may have unwittingly strong-armed, (some might say bulldozed) the Hubster into it.

For the longest time I have wanted a dog. A canine friend to go on adventures with, exercise, have fun with. I quite like being on my own but when I'm out in the world, I prefer company, someone to share the scenery and to explore with. And oh, how I wanted a Dog.
Ever since I was a kid. I used to pretend to walk 'Sandy' my imaginary labrador to school each day, he would meet me to walk home each night, and as a grown up - that feeling never lessened (though I did stop walking an invisible dog down the street - its the stares that did it).
I heard the warnings that my life will never be my own again, and how I'll have to factor a dog into everything - but since having triplets wasn't exactly conventional - I have to factor them into everything anyway and my life is not my own anyway - why not factor a dog in too.

So - officially being an adult now and everything......I got one.

The Hubster - (and boy did I pick a good hubby), got how I felt. We had waited years for the time to be right to get a dog and now, it just fit. He figured that people already think we are crazy anyway, so we casually enquired about a rescue puppy - who happened to be the breed we had both wanted (smart, clever, agility potential, good with the kids) - expecting this will be a long, road of disappointment before we finally do get a dog - only to my utter shock, they rang us back later that day to say she was ours.

Our nine week old puppy Caliope "cali" joined our family on the 5th of August 2016.

I may have had a slight meltdown the first few days after she arrived with us (a story for another day). My dream had finally and overwhelmingly come true. Only now, despite hours of reading and watching dog training information. I wasn't sure how to handle it happening for real, and ended up freaking out I might just be making a huge mistake (since plenty of people felt like telling me I was).

Many thanks to the terrific Hubster for taking the lead (I may re-title this post, 'oh hubster, how great thou art' ), giving me space to regroup and recover my sensibilities. Thanks also to the really good people in my life for reminding me that I am raising triplets, I have totally got this.

My thirties shall henceforth be known as the Dog Days.
Long may they last.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

As Mighty As The Ants

The news is portraying a very sad and dark world this week. So many attacks, injuries and deaths. It feels almost overwhelming.

I left my house this morning and almost directly outside, a man and woman were having a fight in the street, her imploring him to calm down and him adamant he is going to go kick someone he was out with last night's, head in.
On the bus we have to redirect as the main road into town is closed. There are ribbons of police tape cordoning off the street, a riot van, police car and another car with its boot open. I don't know what has happened there, but you can guarantee it's not good news, it feels like the world is going mad.

I sit on the bus and think how right George Lucas was; fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to the darkside.
I'm scared.
I'm scared and I'm angry, not angry, I'm furious at how out of control things seem to be, how it feels like we are sat in a trolley, hurtling down a hill with no way of stopping before it crashes at full speed into a brick wall.
I'm angry that the chaos feels out of my hands, how it feels like parts of my life are spinning off their axis and I am powerless to stop them.

And then I remembered the ants....

Yesterday I was weeding our front garden while the kids were eating ice creams on the front steps. Next to the steps was a large mound of soil with plants growing on it. I pulled up the plants and a very large wad of soil came with me, along with a decent swarm of red ants.
I plopped the earth back on top and told the children it was time to go inside. Then I fetched a shovel, boiled the kettle, and went out to wage war.
I dug up the entire mound of earth, pouring boiling water on the ants and their desperate attempts to rescue the eggs. I dug and dug until there was no longer a live ant in sight, and no mound of mud on my concrete path, just a tiny hole in the concrete where I can only assume the rest of the red ant nest thrives on below my house.

(I am actually itching all over as I just think about that)

When I was a kid, from the first time I ever drowned a mound of ants - I felt guilty, such senseless destruction, and why, because I didn't like them being in my way?
With red ants it was different, taught at school they would bite me I always felt vindicated in their destruction, I would tell myself "well they had it coming, they are evil".

Yesterday I was afraid of the ants biting my children.
The very idea that whenever we walk down the path to leave the house, or when Quinn shuffles her bum down the earth mound to reach the ground or whenever we sit on the step they could attack them, made me afraid.
I decided to remove them, and I became angry. How dare they build a nest on my path where we walk everyday, this is my house, what do they think they are doing! This was a personal attack on my and my children, and I began to hate them, with their swarming masses, their bites just waiting to hurt us, their disgusting egg sacks. I felt victorious in every ant I killed, every egg broiled alive, every shovel of mud removed.
Last night a hedgehog was out snuffling around their corpses, eating a few survivors, bringing it's own destruction to their lives, I felt further vindicated in my act of destruction and I was glad, glad they were gone.

This morning, as I was leaving the house I saw something that really made me pause.
I killed hundreds of ants yesterday, possibly thousands, and now, maybe fifty, were carrying dirt and rebuilding the home I had destroyed. A couple were even bringing back the eggs that had swept away down the path in the rivers of boiling water, trying to save them, trying to rebuild.
I had wrecked such immense havoc on them, and there they were, just keeping going.

I'm not sure I have the heart to kill more of them. Who am I to argue with that utter determination. And while they are hardly some higher functioning intelligence or consciousness, they sure have some guts.
 Plucky bastards.
I'm going to have to relocate the mound, probably to the other end of the garden, away from the path - and fill the tiny concrete hole, because the mound is in the way, but that utter destruction  I wrought? It was mostly unnecessary.
These survivors, really don't deserve my rage, hatred, anger or fear. I just need to encourage them to come away from the path, it's not going to actually negatively affect my life to have them living across the yard, or round the corner from me.
I feel guilty.

There is so much going on in the world right now, that makes me want to bury my head and give up on humanity. The ants faced a massive cull to their numbers, their home, and they still rebuild.
There is so much anger in the world right now, that it can feel justified to be angry too, to be livid even at everyone, and everything, and all those opinions that don't match your own, and all the stupid people doing, saying and being things you just don't agree with. But that's not okay either.

No darkness is so all encompassing that you cannot shine a light through it.
So I have a challenge for you, I don't care if you are reading this the day I write it, when the world seems to have gone mad and lost it's way, when the angry voices are louder and seem to be the majority, or if actually its years later and you stumble upon this by accident.
But please, today do one selfless and kind thing.Hold a door open for a stranger, send a friend a text of love and support. It doesn't need to be a big act, just a small one, the only way to turn this tide of darkness, is to shine a light.
Be as mighty as the ants who carry such a small mound of dirt to help make something big together, do just one small act of good, and together these small acts can add up to something incredible.
There is so much dark, and sad and angry in the world right now, the world needs you to do something good today.