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Please excuse our grotty stovetop; I can’t get that brown grot off and have just about given up trying.

I recall our nephew, three years older than But Why, going through a stage at about three and a half years of age, during which he would only eat pancakes for breakfast.

It’s interesting that But Why is now three and a half, and all he wants for breakfast is pancakes.

He’ll eat other things if I don’t have the time or inclination to make them, but when asked, the answer is invariably, “Pancakes!” after which his little brother repeats in a desperate, breathless fashion, “Cayyy!  Cayyy!!!

This post isn’t about my children and their predilection for pancakes, though.  This post is actually to share my failsafe pancake recipe.  Understandably, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to test this!  I know that pancakes are nothing special, but you don’t want this blog to be just about my kids and my complaints, do you?

The measurements below are for what I’d call a ‘family-sized’ serving; that is, the amount I make when all four of us are at home.  There’s still a fair quantity of leftovers, but this is what I do:

  • 1.5 cups of plain flour

  • 1.5 cups of self-raising flour

  • 3 eggs

  • approx 50ml of apple cider vinegar

  • approx 500ml milk (light milk seems to work the best)

In a cup or container large enough to hold all of the milk, pour the apple cider vinegar, then add the milk and allow to separate.

 

Add flours to a large bowl (sift if you want, I never bother because I’m lazy) and stir to combine.

 

Add eggs and mix in as best you can.

 

Add about half of the milk mixture and stir until combined.  Try to whizz the lumps out before it’s too runny.

 

Add the rest of the milk, or as much as required to make the batter a runny-but-not-totally-watery consistency.  I usually find that I don’t use all of the milk.

 

Fry on medium-hot until cooked.

You’ll notice that I don’t add sugar to my pancake batter.  This is largely because my boys like Nutella on their pancakes, and there’s more than enough sugar in that anyway, but the truth is that they really don’t need it.  The great part about not adding sugar is that any leftovers can then be used for a savoury dish later in the day if you’re feeling lazy and want a pancake sandwich.

What do you mean, you’ve never tried a pancake sandwich?

Übersquick

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It’s so easy to think that you’ve got things under control, and that the worst you have to deal with might be a few tantrums and the toddler throwing food everywhere.

Oh, sweet, innocent Author of last Friday, how I miss you.

Saturday morning, we were off on a family adventure.  Taking the train into the city, going to Fitzroy Gardens, off for a fun picnic in the newly-changed-and-mercifully-cooler weather after the Heatwave O’Doom last week.

We were already having a good day.  The kids were cheerful and we were looking forward to a fun day together.

As we were about to get on to the train, I noticed what I thought was dirt or pollen or something in But Why’s hair and tried to brush it off.  On closer examination, once we were sitting on the train, I realised that there were probably about three dozen of these weird little things attached to his hair on top of his head…

Oh shit.

Oh Jesus H. Christ.

Oh words I probably shouldn’t write on this blog in case my mother reads it.

Please please please don’t be what I think you are.

A quick Google and some image matching confirmed it.

Nits.

There’s a special kind of horror that comes with realising that your child has a creepy crawly parasite in their hair, one that is a pain to get rid of, and one that it simply isn’t possible to develop an immunity to.  I tried to squash the initial denial – maybe it isn’t what it looks like? – but as I instinctively started picking and squishing eggs out of his hair, I had to admit to myself that it was exactly what it looked like.

So then the questions.  How long had they been there?  Were any of the rest of us infected?  A quick look through Bamm-Bamm’s mercifully thin hair indicated that he was untouched, but But Why had probably close to three dozen eggs that we were able to find.  No crawling ones, though.

We still went to the picnic, though the entire time I was imagining putting But Why in a headlock and shaving off his curls to make sure the little blighters were gone.  As soon as we got home, I sent Ralph out for ‘the strongest killing thing you can find’, and proceeded to make an enemy of my son as I scrubbed and picked.  I checked Ralph, and found nothing.  I was extremely grateful for his dark hair; so much easier to see anything small and stuck to hair shafts against a dark background than on our pair of pint-sized blondies.

The following day, I bribed But Why with a new Octonauts DVD and proceeded to spend an hour going through his hair with copious conditioner and a lice comb.  I pulled out a grand total of eleven eggs, and once again, no live lice.  I contacted the mothers of his friends that I knew – one has reported back that she has, mercifully, found nothing lurking on the heads of either of her older children – and called his daycare first thing Monday morning.  The funny (well, not ‘funny’ exactly) thing is that exclusion regulations only require a child to stay at home until treatment has started, so But Why was actually okay to go to daycare.

A conditioner/combing this afternoon revealed NO EGGS!  Obviously I’m not going to take this as a given, it’s always possible to miss one or two, especially when you have a fifteen-month-old climbing all over you trying to maul your boobs as you comb (thanks, Bamm-Bamm), so I’ll keep combing for a few more days.  Still, I feel like we’ve dodged a bit of a bullet.  Obviously it was only one or two lice, and they either moved on or died by the time I found the infestation, and there were a total of about 50 eggs – which, by louse standards, is not a large family at all.  Bamm-Bamm and Ralph escaped infection, insofar as I’m able to tell, so did I (but I’m going to get Ralph to check me properly once the kids are in bed anyway).  It could have been much worse.

What it has taught me, though, is not to be complacent.  I managed to get through my entire childhood without ever having head lice.  Until But Why had his bout of them, I’d never actually seen a nit.  That’s why I had to Google to make sure – all I had to go on were the Google Images pictures, and diagnose from there.  I suppose I unconsciously assumed that because I’d avoided them for nearly thirty years, that my kids would somehow do the same.

Not so anymore.  We’ve switched to tea tree shampoo and a daily lice-repellent spray made of a combination of tea tree essential oil, eucalyptus oil, and water.  I’m an obsessive head-checker now.  Just one more thing to add to my list of Stuff To Make Sure Of, but a necessary one.

Let’s hope that this is the end of it, and that But Why doesn’t catch it again.  I’m hoping that informing the daycare will mean that they’ll check the kids – there’s a consent tick box on the enrolment form – to nip this in the bud.

We’ll see.

Signing off, Author the Exterminator.

Grind

I’m finding parenting incredibly draining at the moment.

Bamm-Bamm is teething, or going through some sort of developmental phase, or is in fact the devil incarnate, or possibly all three simultaneously.  The upshot of this is that his sleep habits have gone completely to hell.  Completely. To. Hell.  Before this started, he was finally down to only waking once or twice a night (and yes, I’m aware that once or twice a night is still a lot for a fifteen-month-old, but compared to what he had been like, waking anywhere between five and eight times a night for months and months on end, twice didn’t look so bad to us), but for the past week he’s been up again and again and again and again, refusing to settle 90% of the time unless I feed him, and screeching, “Mummy!  Mummy!  MUMMY!!!!!” at the top of his lungs until I appear.  Ralph just doesn’t cut it most of the time, unless I’m so destroyed that I can’t drag myself out of bed again, and then Bamm-Bamm just has to put up and shut up.  He’s not settling at bedtime anywhere near as well as he was doing, and it’s not entirely attributable to the ridiculous amount of noise that the neighbours’ children make in their backyard between seven and eight in the evening these days.

During the day, he’s grumpy, clingy, miserable, and he wants to nurse constantly.  I’m very pro-breastfeeding, and fed But Why until he self-weaned seven weeks before his third birthday, but I’m getting so freaking sick of the demands for Boobie that I’m seriously considering cutting him off early for my own sanity.  I am not an all-you-can-eat buffet, damnit, I’m a human being and sometimes I don’t want to be touched!

If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear this was a Wonder Week, but he’s too old for the last one and too young for the next one by several weeks.

 

And then there’s But Why, who is so, so very three.  Two was a walk in the bloody park compared to three.  I really don’t like three very much, and I’ve heard that four is worse.  When he’s good, he’s wonderful, brilliant company, hysterically funny and sharp as a tack, but when he’s not…

Tantrums over the tiniest little things.  Dozens every day.  Look at him the wrong way, and he’s wailing on the floor.  Cut his sandwich into triangles when he wanted squares, and the world is falling apart.  Pick out the wrong colour socks, and he’s in hysterics.  Tell his brother off for something, and he’s inconsolable.  His toys have to be just so, and if they’re not, all hell breaks loose.  Nobody is allowed to touch certain toys, which is pretty hard work to explain to his toddler brother, so they’re fighting like feral cats at the moment which absolutely breaks my heart.

 

Oh, well, there you go, as I’ve been typing this, Bamm-Bamm has woken for the second time since he was put to bed… less than a hour ago.  Looks like we’re in for yet another very long, very unpleasant night.

 

I’m so damned tired.  Mentally, physically, emotionally, I’m just drained.  They’re just relentless at the moment.  I don’t know how people with three or four or five kids manage to raise them without losing their minds.

The Brown Crayon

My cat Boof is not the brightest crayon in the pack.  I would even go so far as to say that if he were indeed a crayon, he’d be the brown crayon.  Or maybe grey.  Some dull, not very bright colour, in any case.  He isn’t brown, mind you, he’s black and white, but he certainly does some stupid things.  Case in point: as I type this, he is making out with a wool jumper of mine which is hanging on the clothes horse behind me, drying.

Boof has recently cost us somewhere in the order of $2000 through sheer stupidity.  It started with a great deal of vomit.  Everywhere.  Three days in a row.  On the third day, Ralph and I confirmed that it was Boof doing the chucking, and so we took him straight to the vet.  Unfortunately for us, it was a Sunday and the regular vet was closed, which meant that we had to take him to the emergency vet.

Emergency vets cost a bomb.

He was poked and prodded, and they weren’t 100% sure on the issue.  Could have been a stomach bug, could have been an intestinal blockage, could have been pancreatitis etc.  The upshot of it was that finding out through them was going to cost nearly two grand just overnight, and so we opted for pain meds and a wait and see approach, figuring that if he needed a repeat visit in the morning, at least it would be Monday and we could take him to his regular vet down the street.

It was pretty clear to me the following day that he still wasn’t right, so I booked him in for an appointment.  They suspected a urinary blockage, but whilst he was waiting to be transferred to their major surgery (they have two; the one in our town is sort of an offshoot and all of the main stuff, x-rays, surgeries etc. happen at the main clinic some 30 minutes drive away) he piddled and pooped in his carrier, so they told us he could come home.

He seemed okayish, but then he didn’t eat.

For days.

On Thursday, I called the vet again and told them straight out that something just wasn’t right.  Call it furrmama instinct, but I just knew there was something seriously wrong.  They asked me to take him to the main clinic the following morning for tests, so I dropped him off on my way to work.

They did x-rays and a barium study.  I stopped back at the clinic on my way home that afternoon, and they showed me the x-rays.  The barium didn’t move from Boof’s stomach at all in an hour and a half.  They told me that they would take one last one, and if nothing had happened, they’d have to go in investigate.

I told them to do whatever was necessary to get my Boof well.

That evening, I got a text from the vet who was looking after him.  They’d gone in to see what was blocking him up, and removed a foreign object from the beginning of his small intestine which was preventing pretty much all food and most water from getting through.

My poor cat.  He must have been in so much pain.

I went to collect him the next morning, and got a bonus ‘foreign object’ in a specimen jar.  It’s about the size of a small marble, and rubbery when you shake it… we suspect that Boof’s long-standing penchant for chewing on balloons finally caught up with him.  They are now banned from our house; no mean feat when one has two small children.

For nearly a fortnight after surgery, Boof was recovering well… until he started vomiting again.

Back to the vet for more tests.

The good news the second time was that there was no repeat blockage.  The current theory for the second round of chucking is that after not eating for the better part of a week and a half (he lost a lot of weight – luckily he was a big cat to begin with, and had the weight to lose), he was simply gutsing his dinner (and Princess’) and then bringing it back up because his stomach was, and is, still irritated from the blockage and the surgery.

And what did we learn from all of this?  Aside from reinforcing our suspicions that Boof really is incredibly dumb sometimes, we learned that PET INSURANCE is important.  And now we have it!  The cats are seven years old and we can reasonably assume they’ll live at least another seven, so hopefully we won’t have any more unexpected enormous vet bills anymore.

Still… I love that idiot.

“Next year,” I thought to myself some weeks ago, “I resolve to actually have a New Year’s Resolution.  But one that I have a chance of following through on.  It’s all well and good to resolve to lose weight or do pushups, but any idiot knows that I won’t be sticking to anything like that.  No, I need something that I can actually manage to maintain.  I know, I’ll resolve to blog again.  I can manage that.  Probably.”

And so here I am.

I was a frequent blogger some years ago, way back in the LiveJournal days, before I had children and life became so hectic that I neglected it for first weeks, then months at a time.  I still have that journal and still occasionally (very occasionally) update it, but I felt that a fresh start was probably necessary for this to really work.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, my LiveJournal is locked so that only other LJ users on my friends list can actually read it.  This becomes a problem for non-LJ users, but was necessary due to a complete sociopath who hopefully has gotten some serious counselling in the nearly ten years since we butted heads.  Utter fruit loop.  But I digress.

The second reason is my children.  I’m not sure of the shape that this blog will take – I’m not intentionally starting another ‘Mummy Blog’, although I’m sure it will closely resemble one on a fairly regular basis, simply because my children are the biggest part of my life – but when I am inevitably writing about my children and their antics, I want to use pseudonyms in case they Google themselves one day.  Or their friends do.  I can imagine the mortification of a fourteen-year-old boy as his mates find a story about him running naked down the street at age two.  At least a pseudonym makes them technically unsearchable in that way.

To that end, I will finalise this entry by introducing the main players.

Those of you who know me already know my name and the names of the members of my family, but in the interests of internet anonymity, I’m going to use pseudonyms on this blog.

There’s me.  The Author.  Original, no?  Well, it’s the best I can come up with right now.  I’m in my late twenties and I work part-time at a public high school attempting to teach science and mathematics to teens and tweens between the ages of eleven and sixteen.  I have been doing this in some capacity since 2007.  I usually enjoy it, although I won’t deny that I’ve been thoroughly dicked around by The Powers in the past as well.

I am the eldest of three children, and have a younger brother and sister.  My family remains nuclear.  Dull for blogging, but I’m not complaining about my parents still loving each other after nearly 31 years of marriage.

There’s him.  He’s my husband of nearly five years, and five years my senior.  I had no idea what to use for a pseudonym for him, so I looked around the internets for inspiration and found… a picture of Ralph Wiggum.

Hello, Ralph.  I might borrow your name for my other half.

Ralph is in his mid thirties, and works for a largish university.  He is the middle child of three, with an older brother and a younger sister.  His brother is married with two sons, and his parents are also still married to each other.  Too bad if you wanted a blog with step-drama, because there isn’t any anywhere here.  We are presently doing some serious work on the whole harmonious marriage thing after a recent issue, and seem to be managing quite well at not throttling each other at present, but that’s the only place where things might get a bit Jerry Springer.

There’s are our sons, But Why and Bamm-Bamm.

But Why is aWhy?lmost three and a half years old and is either the sweetest kid on Earth or a miniature moody hormonal adolescent, depending on his mood at the time.  He is a very serious, easily rattled and quite anal little fellow who has no ability to cope with not being able to do things perfectly, instantly (such as reading or writing, both of which he wants to learn how to do, but both of which he’s cracked it with many times).  He is also a very kind and considerate child, especially toward his little brother who exasperates him no end, though But Why adores Bamm-Bamm and vice versa.

But Why is capable of asking endless streams of seemingly unrelated questions, skipping from letter sounds to why planes are noisy and why do they have wheels and what is fire and why is it hot in a matter of minutes, and this is what suggested the pseudonym ‘But Why’ to me.  Talking to him is both exhilarating and exhausting.  He seems to be troubled by a lot, though, and I worry about him no end.

They're like twins!

Our younger son is Bamm-Bamm, a name chosen because he is what you would get if you threw Evel Knievel, Dennis the Menace and a giant teddy bear into a blender and blitzed them.  He even kind of looks like Bamm-Bamm…

Bamm-Bamm keeps us laughing, that’s for sure.  He’s a pocket rocket that’s into everything and has very strong opinions about everything.  At time of writing, he has just turned fifteen months old.  He has an impressive vocabulary for a child of his age (around 65 words at last count), and not surprisingly, along with words for things he likes (‘duck’, ‘car’, ‘food’, ‘brother’, ‘cracker’ etc.), he also has a reasonable repertoire of words to get what he wants (‘down’, ‘me’, ‘no’, ‘play’ etc.)

Then there are the cats.
He is Boof, a complete boofhead who is noisy, far too aggressive towards our other cat, and also a complete sook.  He has recently had surgery to remove an intestinal blockage caused by eating a balloon, of all things, and because he is too dumb to not do it again, balloons are now banned from our house.
She is Princess, a fluffy ginger tabby who is the gentlest most passive creature imaginable, who has a really bad habit of piddling on pretty much anything.  We suspect that she probably needs serious therapy.  Both of our cats are seven years old, and were adopted from a shelter in early March 2007.

At some point there may be another child, but so far, no.

The idea of this blog is just to write.  It won’t necessarily be the most brilliant stuff around, or even the most interesting thing you’ve read all day, but it’s a resolution that I actually have a chance of keeping.  If it’s been more than a week between entries, BUG ME.  Ask me a question or three.  We’ll see how well this resolution pans out.