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We wish you a merry Christmas December 30, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in Uncategorized.
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(belatedness being the name of the game here….)

Our crib was the Princesses main play thing until Santa crossed our path.  The figures were never in the same place, spent a generous amount of time elsewhere (read here – on the floor) and we obviously have two sets of the main characters.  Next year they will be three as I’m sure The Star will complain and will want to have her own. In reality we did start off with 3 sets but one of them was made of breakable material and were reduced to unmendable masses of bits in less than a day.

Our Christmas day was spent mostly on Gozo but as usual we also visited our other part of the family on the other island Malta.  The girls had a very good day but The Princess has now serious doubts about the existence of Father Christmas who this year they met early in December (I’ll write a post about this, promise), got her and The Cherub identical toys, knew we would be in Gozo on Christmas Day,  and visited us again at our relatives in Malta but this time it was really her cousin dressed up. The Star was not so worried about all this.  Her thinking skills focused on the content of his sack!

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It’s a mummy’s life. May 17, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in Life with 3 princesses.
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I was inspired to write this post by this.  I read this blog religiously every day.  I love it.  I like what it looks like but mostly what this mummy writes about.  And I’d love to be more like her… more regular in her posts and working in PR (plus being one of the top persons of the UK in her job…isn’t that just wow!).

I also fell in love with this on sight. This is a mother of 4 girls from whom I am hoping to learn a thing or two.  A few days ago she wrote this.

Caught up in between a rock and a hard place….I often wonder when the rock will shift a little as the hard place will be …em hard to soften. So what’s all this about really? 

When do the struggles to handle the kids become easier ones?  And more importantly, will the struggles ever change to somethings like fun? Or better, are motherhood and struggles intertwined? 

Now I know that some time ago I wrote about how I feel our worse is over and it is.  Only I know what 2009 was like and my-oh-my if I’m glad it’s over! But entertaining 3 little girls is not an easy task.  As is not easy all the rest. (Please here read: sleepless nights, teething, temper tantrums, nursing endless colds,  regressions, frustrations, hyperactivity, food loves/hates, sensitivity, trying to hug 3 children at the same time, … )

Are we influenced by the happy family pictures we see splashed out in various mags and billboards which seem to imply that if we use such and such we will look like this?  We all know it’s all fake but we hope that it is not and that at least part of that happiness (read also spotlessly clean house) rubs off.  Add to this the fact that there is nothing, no course, no book, no advice that can prepare a girl to becoming a mother of one, two or three (and more for others!), and we have tired, frustrated mums.

Back to the rock, I can’t help now but put myself in the picture where I can see me between the rock (the kids’ age) and the hard place (the family).  The kids’ age is changing, bringing with it subtle but sure changes to our rhythm as a family.  But a rock it is and I’m getting the distinct impression it will always be.

I hope and pray that with time, the efforts we put in now will pay back.  Hopefully before the Princesses gallop off into the sunset.

Quality time April 5, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in Life with 3 princesses, my opinions.
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One of the things I enjoy most of all the tasks motherhood entails is initiating my daughters to different experiences. I try to follow them in their development and in their questions to lead them to start appreciating the things I love.  I might be sounding manipulative but in reality I’m not really….or so I try not to be.

Last Friday I took TP to the ceremony that marks Good Friday for the Roman Catholic church, the faith in which we’re trying to raise my children.  I’m not using the word ‘trying’ lightly here.  In this country it’s the norm to baptise babies in their first months of life (at least this is true for a very high percentage of the population).  This is a responsibility that my man and I don’t take lightly.  We don’t want our girls to follow the religious traditions (of which we have many and counting) for the traditions but because they actually believe in their meaning.  Consequently we are trying to instil in them an appreciation for nature and its beauty and an awareness of a greater being that loves us all unconditionally.  I was always against exposing the girls to the grimness of the crucifixion of Christ and tried hard to keep them from the viewing the myriad of statues and images we come across regularly in our daily life here.  But the assistants at the school they attend thought otherwise and one fine day (about 4 weeks ago) TP and TC came home telling me about what happened to Christ and about what the bad people did.  Both aren’t yet 5!  Knowing there was no way of undoing this, I acknowledged the story and reinforced whenever I could the  ‘Jesus our friend’ part.  I really don’t know what goes on in the head of children.  I had thought they would be disturbed by the brutality but they were not and I still don’t know why.  So come Good Friday, I took TP to a beautiful short ceremony.  She enjoyed the music and the atmosphere of calm in the tiny modern chapel I chose.  And for the first time in her life realised there are prayers adults know by heart and that she would like to learn them.

On a lighter note but similar issue, today I took TP to a story telling session at one of the most beautifully restored (in my inexpert opinion) locations in Malta – the Sacrestia Vault at the Valletta Waterfront.  One of the main reasons I prefer and actually love living on Malta (the larger island)  instead of on Gozo (where I was born) is that there are different events taking place that sometimes (though this is not the rule really) we are spoilt for choice.  Today we attended a story telling session – Ronnie the rocking horse.  A short but delightful event that TP enjoyed to the full.  Schumann’s music in this restored vault accompanying the magical story of a toy and a little girl is simply enchanting.  I don’t think I can be called manipulative when I seek to encourage my children to appreciate and enjoy the timeless beauty of classical music through events like this. 

I have to say I enjoyed both outings with The Princess who lives up to the nickname I gave her to the full.  She gets interested in things, wants to dress appropriately for where we are going, and asks a million questions before we get there and after we leave.  She is a great observer and misses nothing.  She is a joy to be with and I find myself looking forward to’our’ next quality time appointment.

Being a mother means also shouldering the responsiblity for passing on a value system to our children.  To do this, our own value system needs to be in more or less good shape. I hope mine is not seeming or is skewed.  I try hard to keep a level head and to understand the community we are living in.  Maybe the fact that I reflect on my choices helps.  Maybe I need confirmation that my efforts are in the right direction.  Maybe I’ll only understand if what I’m doing is right (or wrong) after it is too late to do anything about it.  Maybe this is why parenthood is said to be the most difficult job in the world.

Kwarezimal March 17, 2010

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Traditionally in my country Malta, Lent, the 40 days before Easter Sunday is a time when people try to make some sort of sacrifice usually related to the food they consume, so typically children are encouraged to give up sweets for the whole of the 40 days (which for some excludes Sunday) or not eating meat on Friday (vegetarians and vegans did not exist when all this started). Today,  I don’t know how many still bother or care or take the trouble or take this in its original context (most use the excuse to loose weight), ie that of making some sort of sacrifice with a sense of reparation for sins committed or in preparation for Easter Sunday, but the alternative to eating sweets, ie the baking of kwarezimal is popular again.

I think the word Kwarezimal comes from Italian quarezima (lent) and quaranta (40).

In reality I don’t know how, in olden days, when there were hardly any sweets to speak of they found this to be an alternative to sweets.  I think this was just an excues to make this delicacy.  Also I’m not sure if traditionally they would have used pure ground almonds and glace cherries as I’m not sure how readily available they were or who could really afford them, but anyway here it is.

This is not my recipe.  It is Peter Dacoutros’ recipe.  He gave it on TV in his weekly programme Aroma Kitchen.  I think this is the best cooking programme on the local stations. (Pity its aired on One…but such is life!) Mind you I don’t watch it every week but I like it – the team – Peter, Aaron and Manuel look and sound like they are genuinely having fun producing the programme, love good food and would like every one to know how to produce perfect grub every time.  They give hints and tips on how to know if you’re doing things well and how to prevent certain disasters in the kitchen.  Last year, at about this time, I came upon this programme by chance as Peter was doing his kwarezimal.  I tried it and for me its is the best I’ve ever tasted …

Here is the recipe (makes 10):

400gr plain flour

1 (a bit more than level) tbsp baking powder

300 gr sugar

200 gr pure ground almonds

4 drops almond essence

100 grams glace cherries, chopped (I chopped them very very finely)

2 tbsp golden syrup

2 tsp mixed spice

half tsp ground cloves

2 tbsp orange-flower water

grated rind of 1 orange (local)

grated rind of 1 lemon (local)

1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder

around 3 tbsp water

For coating:

1 tin golden syrup (I used far less)

250 gr blanched almonds roasted and chopped (once I sued chopped pistachios… they looked nicer)  

Method:

Grease 2 baking trays and dust with flour.

Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa into a bowl. Add sugar, ground almonds, spices, cherries and rinds, and mix well. Add the orange flower water, almond essence and golden syrup and mix.  Slowly add the water to obtain a mixture that is neither too soft nor to dry. You might not need all 3 tbsp.  Best keep the mixture on the dry side. Now divide the mixture into 10 parts.  With wet hands form each part into a sausage and flatten them down sightly on the baking trays. Allow enough space between them as they will swell during baking.  Bake in moderate oven (mine is 160 degrees) for exactly 22 minutes.  They look nearly uncooked when you take them out and still bendy when (after 2  minutes)  transferring them to the wire rack.   While still hot coat the Kwarezimal with the golden syrup and sprinkle over the chopped almonds.  Best served next day.

I love them with freshly brewed coffee.

Cheers.