Author: thethingsnotsaid

Old fashioned slice of sweetness

The Louise Cake is a classic Kiwi tea time slice. I imagine that it’s been around for decades, because first of all it’s called Louise so it must date back to the Seventies at least. It doesn’t have any fancy ingredients, a simple treat that goes very well with a cup of tea and a yarn. It’s made up of three layers; “cakey” biscuit bottom, jam and coconut meringue topping. What I love about this, is that you can easily make it gluten and/or dairy free, it’s nut free too so you can pack it off in the children’s lunch boxes or donate it to a school cake sale.  Plus you can have fun with the middle layer; it could be any flavour jam, or lemon curd, caramel or if you can eat nuts, you could spread Nutella in there. Oh my gosh, I want to do that right now! Despite having three layers, it is quick and easy to make and it looks really pretty. I’ve used the recipe given by Natalie Oldfield in …

We’ll always have ice cream – Part Two.

Our family have worked through some major life changes in the last few months.  Moved country, sold our home, given up our dog, new job, new schools, new friends and I’ve (temporarily) given up sweets.  These are all major changes. All. Of. Them. I’m not an expert in child psychology or parenting, but I generally fulfil the role of Change Management Co-ordinator in our family, so I thought I would share some things I’ve learnt along the way. As I said in Part One, children do adapt to change but it takes time and they need help to navigate through the choppy waters of change.  As their parents, we are in the best position (frankly it’s our responsibility) to help them along the way.  And at the same time, parents can make things harder if they’re not switched on to the version of events as experienced by the little people. Something I realise now I have hindsight on the first half of this year. It’s not surprising, given I blog, that I believe when you know …

We’ll always have ice cream – Part One.

There are many observations and pearls of wisdom that I have heard over my time as a parent: “It gets better” “Try not to be anxious about it, they smell your fear.” “Oh I breastfed my children until they were one and they never get colds.” “You can’t give in to them or they will just keep doing it.” “I’m sure that’s perfectly normal but perhaps just go to the doctors to check it out.” “My my, what spirited children you have.” In relation to all this moving around the world business we keep subjecting them to (OK it’s only been twice in five years but it feels pretty regular from where I’m sitting), you often get one of the most popular phrases about children said to you: “Children are really resilient, they will adapt to the changes.” And it’s true.  Children are resilient and they do adapt. However, that 10-word sentence does not tell you how they will adapt, or what you should do to help them through change, or at what point you …

When the dust settles

In a few days time, we will have been in the UK for five months.  That’s almost half a year!  It has gone by so quickly, but I also think I should get some kind of a badge for the 143 days of “settling in” graft I’ve put in. Repatriating has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. It sits somewhere above emigrating and mercifully quite a bit below IVF on my hard things to do chart. I think what I find hardest is the underlying sense of being just a little bit lost in my life. Which is even more unsettling when you are a 41 year old wife and mother, who should really have her shit together by now. In actual fact my level of “togetherness” is probably not bad, all things considered.  I feel like I grew up a lot in my thirties and it turned out to be quite a decade of achievements and milestones, personally and professionally. I have my faults and I still wonder at …

Three countries in one summer

When we were in New Zealand we would often talk to ex-pats about their experiences of visiting home.  Due to the distance and expense the whole family would generally need to take four weeks off to make the visit manageable.  Even then, they would always come back totally shattered because the four weeks would be a mad rush around various friends and family homes scattered across the country, the whole family staying in one or two rooms, managing the children’s behaviour as they juggle tiredness and not being in their own space along with trying to squeeze in a few landmarks or “must-sees” of the UK, of which there are many! One person suggested to Gareth, when we had been considering it a couple of years ago, to go over in the UK summer, rent a big holiday house in some beautiful part of the country and book in friends and family to come and visit you.  That way, in between the two 32 hour flights your family has had to endure, they can stay …

Family Pizza

I don’t want to sound like one of those smug women who brags about how she cooks everything from scratch, knows the exact vitamin content of every meal she serves up and would just die if her child discovered Haribo. Mainly because I am not that woman. Frankly I think the love of Haribo is genetic, so my children don’t stand a chance. However I do like us to have a baseline healthy, balanced diet. I am genuinely fascinated by food and cooking, so it’s not too much bother for me to learn recipes, try out something new and explore what works for my family and what doesn’t. I’ve been enjoying making homemade pizzas for a few years now.  At first I did everything from scratch, even the tomato sauce but as I think it’s a pack of lies that strained tomatoes will ever reduce down to a thick sauce, I have learnt to cut some corners here and there. Making pizza dough is really easy and produces so much tastier, more satisfying pizzas. Unlike …

Not as easy as it looks

You know how there are things in life that look easier than they actually are?  Like handstands, setting up your iPhone and baking macaroons. Well I am here to tell you that emigrating is way harder than you might think, and I’m pretty sure most people think it’s really difficult. I don’t find the administration of it too hard.  There are a lot of forms to fill in, you have to plan ahead so you meet deadlines and as much as possible, you need to organise the various stages of moving from one country to another to happen in a coherent order. Instead, one of the many things I am really struggling with this week (it’s been a particularly tough one) is how drawn out it is.  We have been in the UK for 10 weeks now, but our belongings only arrived on Wednesday. In the last couple of months, Gareth has started a new job, we’ve found a place to live, the children have nearly done a half term of school and I have …

Fix You

There was no one, particular event that put the line “I will try to fix you” into my head, but once it arrived a couple of weeks ago, it stayed and has danced around ever since. Therefore, I will blog. I’ve been thinking about how much of what I say and do is motivated by the ‘fix you’ intention.  I’m not alone either. When I take a step back from the interactions I have with others, those close to me and those that are new to me, there is an element of us all trying to “fix” each other.  If you look at the news, it’s filled with examples of people going out of their way and in fact to extraordinary lengths to “fix” others. Listening to Chris Martin’s words (and after Googling ‘chris martin explains fix you’), it’s clear that the song is a declaration of commitment to someone he loves.  He’s saying he understands their hurt, that he’s there for them and will help them through a hard time. The motivation is care …

A Wise Woman Builds Her House

When you move from one country to another, you have to be flexible about your living arrangements.  Ultimately, you are going to be unsettled for a significant period of time, and you need to be OK with that.  I think there are ways of making it less stressful, but they require money being no object. It would be things like setting up a house in advance of you moving, or living in a furnished house for three months whilst you wait for your belongings to arrive on a ship, or owning properties in various parts of the world…that sort of thing. I have learnt a lot about myself in this area of emigration.  Main thing being, to have the ability to make the most of a situation when it’s not comfortable for me.  In our family, I am the home maker.  I don’t mean Gareth doesn’t have a part to play in building our home, his DIY skills are second to none and he puts up shelves like a champ, but as it’s me who …