Friday, 16 November 2012

Remembrance Day

The snow speckled fields and trenches of Vimy Ridge
This year I thought the Little Dude (nearly 5) was old enough to be taught about Remembrance Day.  I had talked to him about the horrors of war before and thought this would be a good time to bring home the human face of war.

I explained to him the terror and courage of soldiers, the mateship, the death and maiming, the families left behind, the bloody futility of war and how, though we are staunch pacifists, we should be ever-so-grateful for the sacrifices of those who fought for us. With a tear welling in my eye, I explained to him the minute's silence and how we should observe it.

At 11 AM we turned on the radio to listen to the Ode of Remembrance and hear the Last Post haunt our silent room.  As the bugle played I told him "this song is called the Last Post," and my thoughts wandered to my visit to battlefields of France.

The bugle faded and the minute of silence started.  It was broken prematurely by the Little Dude's innocence: "did they kill all the mailmen?"


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Monday, 29 October 2012

Energy Levels and Timing

A great place for a nap
I am writing this post while tired, more tired than usual that is, as an experiment to see how much it affects my performance.  I won't be editing it, or touching it up, so please enjoy the rawness...it kinda fits in with the post's content.

--

When the Little Dude was about two, we were at the park with a good little mate of his, who we'll call the A-train, and his mum, the Ringmistress (if you want a great sewing blog to inspire you, check hers out).

For every step the Little Dude took, the A-train chugged about 100.  The Ringmistress covered some miles that day while the Little Dude and I were pretty chilled.


The Ringmistress commented that it must be great having a kid with even energy levels, punctuating the statement with a small sine wave drawn in the air, compared to a kid with energy spikes and plunges, gesticulated with wild sawtooth waves painted up in my face.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Does the Postman Tell You He Loves You?

Some readers of this blog expect it to be full of funny little stories about my mental kids.  I'm sorry to disappoint, but the title of the blog quite clearly says "One Sleepy Dad" and not "One Sleepy Dad's Lunatic Kids' Antics and the Cute Stuff They Say."

But, taking Sleepy Dad holistically, it would be unreasonable not to include some tales of the cute chatter that falls from the mouths of his kids.

I give you the post you have been screaming for. A brief hit of the darndest things said by the Little Dude this week. And a little story of Squeaker the slugger.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Having a Hoot


I think the Little Dude has a crush on a girl at kindergarten, we'll call her Hoot on account of her saucer eyes, much like an owl.  Hoot is a lovely, spirited, forthright and happy little girl. They hang out at kindy and play together all day, and the Little Dude quite often talks about her at home.

Last week,the Little Dude said to me "when will you tell Hoot's mummy where our house is so she can bring Hoot over to play?"  I told him that I'd talk to her on Monday, when I see her next at kindy.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Hidden Trap

We all have problems.
Being a stay-at-home dad is fantastic.  But it isn't the societal norm, and, as such, the road can be bumpy.  I blogged previously about how people treat stay-at-home dads (in pantaloons) like idiots.

Sadly, I have come up against another, unexpected problem: men.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Music and Laughter

My kids love it when I play songs for them on the guitar. They are, possibly, the only two people on this planet who do.  When I ask other people to make a request, I usually get asked if I can play "On a Hill Far Away."

Hrmph!

Kids love music.  They also love being right.  The most fun I have had with music and the kids is deliberately singing songs wrong.  A really good example of this is Old MacDonald.  Get the kids to choose each animal and when it comes time to make the animal noises, DO IT WRONG. Quack instead of moo.  Roar instead of squeak.  Oink instead of neigh.

They will be in hysterics, especially if there is more than one kid present.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Face on Your Eggs


These were ejected from our chickens' bums.
What is it with kids? They happily eat one food for years then suddenly decide they don't like it. And no amount of rational discussion can convince them that they still actually love that food.

But, as the saying goes, you can't use a rational argument to convince someone of a position they didn't enter into rationally.

Enter egg people. Characters so adorable you just want to eat them...if you are four years old, that is. The Little Dude was bursting to eat the egg men, and pig, and unholy blood-sucking butcher of the night.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Crazy, funny t-shirts

I'd like to thank Shirt Happened for their support. I told them I'd give them a plug, so please get on over to this great site for the latest crazy, funny, t-shirt designs. I've even added a few suggestions that they've turned into shirts so I was pretty chuffed to see that happen ... or should I say shirt happened?!

Anyhoo, I glad I got through this post without making a typo on their name. I do try to keep things clean.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Tarte Tatin

Oh Tarte Tatin, how do I love thee.  Or do I just love the idea of you.

Tarte Tatin is a rather simple dessert, from France, that I love everything about, except I can't eat much of it.  It is too rich, but I still seem to be in love with making it, eating a bit of it, then refusing to finish it. But perhaps your sweet teeth are more vigilant than mine.

The short history of Tarte Tatin is that it was a mistake.  Two sisters, the Tatin sisters, ran a hotel.  One of the sisters started making an apple pie but left the apples cooking in the butter and sugar too long.  Rather than start over, she cleverly threw a sheet of puff pastry over the pan and put it in the oven to finish baking.  She turned it out, upside-down, on a serving tray and all the guests loved it. And because of her bumbling incompetence/genius, we now have the world famous Tarte Tatin.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Telling the Truth (to everyone, including yourself)

The Little Dude, now four years old, has become a handy little liar; a straight-up, bald-faced, pants on fire fibber.  Actually, that's selling him short, he's damn convincing.

The lies often revolve around hygiene, claiming to, but not having, washed hands and brushed teeth. Other times it is blaming Squeaker (15 months) for things such as losing his shoes. He has Athena fooled most of the time but I like to think that I catch him out a little more often.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

A Tart You Can Take Home to Meet Mum


My pre-parenting career required a LOT of abstract problem solving. I had to formalise problems and then devise algorithms to solve them. Invariably, the simple, elegant solutions were the best.

In the kitchen I have a particular fondness for this elegant formula:

Pastry Cases + Filling + Frangipane = Yum

What is frangipane? Is it an almond paste? A filling? A topping? A pastry? A cake? A custard?  I don't rightly know, so we'll just say "yes" to all of those questions because it shares some properties of each.  

What is yum?  I'm not exactly sure but it tastes good and has the added benefit of hardening your arteries.

We will be using the frangipane as a rustic topping on the tart, but it can also be used as the filling if you alter it slightly (see the frangipane section below). If you use the frangipane as the filling, the fruit filling can be used as a topping by pressing pieces of the fruit into the frangipane.  If you take care with the presentation you can make some very elegant, food-porn quality tarts.

These tarts are dead simple and can be knocked up in no time at all (get your mind out of the gutter, I am talking about tarts as food here). There is also a lot of room for creativity with fillings and frangipane flavours.  This recipe should make six tarts that are 10cm (4in) in diameter.

For a guide to my recipe notation, see this blog entry.

To get started, preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F).

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Venus

Venus transiting the sun, in my backyard,
projected through a handheld telescope.
Today is a special day to be an Earthican, if you are interested in more than what is in you own backyard, that is.

The 2012 Transit of Venus is a rare celestial event where Venus blazes a trail across our local star. Every 108 - 121 years, Venus crosses in front of the sun twice, with about eight years between passes.  If you missed it, well, start dieting, exercising and living healthily because the next one won't be until 2117.

There are two stories about the transits of some 240 years ago that I like.  Scientists of the day were attempting to measure the distance to the sun using parallax and they needed measurements from around the globe to perform their calculations.

The first story is of Captain James Cook setting sail for Tahiti to observe this event. After lazy cocktails and basking in the sun, he opened sealed orders informing him that he was to search for the fabled land of Terra Australis.  And by skipping a few pages of the history book we end up with me tapping away on my keyboard on Australia's Eastern coast.

The second tale is not so happy.  It is of the misfortunes of Guillaume Le Gentil.  A Frenchman who was to observe the transit from Pondicherry, India.  On his sea voyage, war broke out between France and England (shock!) and when he arrived at Pondicherry he found it had been taken by the English.  The English forced himout to sea and he set sail to Mauritius. On the day of the transit he couldn't take any readings because of the rolling and banking of the ship.

He decided to take readings of the 1769 transit in Manila and filled the intervening time mapping the east coast of Africa.  When in Manila, the Spanish weren't welcoming so he set sail for Pondicherry once more.  Pondicherry was once again under French rule after a treaty in 1763.  He built an observatory and patiently waited the transit.

The weather was fine in the days leading up to the transit but the skies clouded over the whole day of the transit.He took no measurements.

But it gets worse!  The return trip was plagued by delays; storms, dysentry, unsettled humors.  He made it back home some eleven years after his departure.

But it gets worserer!  In the intervening time he had been declared legally dead.  His wife had remarried and his greedy relatives had picked apart his estate.  He had even lost his seat on the Academie des sciences.

He did remarry, reclaim his job at the Academie and lived a few more decades.  I bet he's glad that the next transit wasn't going to be until 1874!

One Sleepy Quiche

The other day I was walking through the garden wondering what to cook for dinner.  I looked at the herbs, vegies and chooks and it all came together: Sleepy Quiche.


Never fear, I didn't use a chicken, not even the lazy leghorn that is off the lay, just the freshly laid eggs I had been collecting all week.  I got to picking and plucking (but not the chicken, always with the chicken, try stop focusing on the chicken!) and filled a basket nicely. 

This Sleepy Quiche has roasted cherry tomatoes, wilted baby spinach, zucchini (courgette), bacon and onion in the pie.
Nice haul. I must remember to get a bigger basket.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Squeaker and the Giant Milk Mess

Squeaker (14 months) has developed a really annoying toddler behaviour.  She's deliberately gagging herself with her fingers, and laughing hysterically about it.

I first noticed it while she was playing on the rug last week.  A few fingers down her throat, gag-splutter-gag and then a great giggle. She tried it again and I pulled her fingers out.

A few days later, from the back seat of the car, I heard the nefarious gag-splutter-gag. And then the giggle.  The Little Dude thought it was funny too.

Then I clued in: she's doing this to get attention.  And we just fed the beast with laughter.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Happy Birthday, Squeakmonster

This week we will celebrate a very special day: Squeaker's first birthday, and I couldn't be prouder.

A whole year of blessings has past and I am so grateful for the experience and memories.

Like her sleeping on my chest for the first few months of life; little snuggles so cute and warm.
Happy birthday, Squeakmonster

Or crawling at six months of age, insisting that the fastest way from point-A to point-B is by crawling over Daddy.

And the first time she outwitted me at just seven months old.  She had been told, repeatedly, not to pull the bath plug.  She looked up at me adorably while sucking the water out of a face washer; she got the cooing response she sought. All the while her other hand was slowly creeping to the plug behind her.  I am sure her wiles will fool me many more times over the years.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Death...That is All

When I was seventeen my grandmother died.  Somehow I had managed to avoid, or be shielded from, death for that long. Amazing.

There is no puppy heaven: discussing
death honestly with children shouldn't be hard
Image credit: Zach Weiner SMBC
Buy the shirt: SMBC Alien Shirt
The downside to this is that I was totally unprepared for the event emotionally and mentally.

Death is the most certain thing in this life and in our society is shrouded in taboo, wishful thinking and outright dread.  It is the cause of much anxiety, fear and irrational thought and behaviour.

I wanted to take the power of death away from my children's minds.  When the Little Dude was two I bought him a pot of flowers to care for.  He would water it every other day and harvest the flowers to give to Athena.  On its own, this was a boon to him.  He had a responsibility (watering) and would reap the rewards (flowers) and he revelled in treating his mother kindly by giving her flowers he grew himself.

But I had a more sinister motive.  I knew the cosmos flowers were cursed.  In a few short months the plant would be spent and die. This is good.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Would You Say That to His Mother?

Who likes complaining?  Not me, but I sure can go for a rant once in a while!  Buckle in and prepare to dodge Sleepy spleen....

I love being a stay-at-home dad.  Sure it is a little bit different, a bit quirky to some.  My blogger profile sums up my thoughts on how this role is received in the public sphere:
A stay-at-home dad, a vocation so odd to most I meet; a strangely plumed bird that curiously stays close to the nest to nurture its young, it needs to be studied with furrowed brow and poked at with long fingers.
In general, society isn't ready for us.  People can't quite wrap their heads around the concept. I know another stay-at-home dad who was told he wasn't allowed to join the local mothers' group because he packs nards in his pantaloons!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Surely It Can't Get Any Worse...


Some days everything goes worng.  That typo, sadly, wasn't deliberate despite its remarkable illustrative utility.  I like to call less benign personal misfortunes a "kick in the nuts."

Sometimes a sequence of mishaps occurs and you are left wondering how things could possibly get worse, that you couldn't possibly get another kick in the nuts.

And then you do.

I love these moments.  I'll be at my wits' end wondering how a situation could get worse when, out of the blue, a final kick in the nuts is delivered and there is no recourse other than laughter.

Because if you didn't laugh, you'd go insane.

The scene of the crime
When the Little Dude was 18 months old I was talking to a cluck of mothers.  They were all talking about the disaster of a deuce in the bath.  I foolishly piped up to inform them that the Little Dude had never been so  vulgar as to muddy the waters at home.

As surely as night follows day, pride begets a fall.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Service to Resume Shortly

There have been a few technical difficulties in the sleepy house lately.  Two faulty power supplies have taken down two motherboards, a hard disk and a graphics card. There was also a faulty SATA hot-swap bay causing confusion and delay to the fault-finding exercise.

Or, for the non-techies, computer go boom-boom.

Oh the machinity!
But the good news is that my main PC is now operational and there will be new posts starting in a few days.

To my most loyal reader, the Russian spam bot, hold tight!  You will be updating your database shortly.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Unbaked Beans

Unbaked Beans
This is one of my "go to" meals when making dinner seems like an insurmountable chore.  I always have the ingredients in the cupboard and it is pretty easy, so much so that I am tempted to add a peasy into that description.  It is a great meal for learning about the elastic nature of recipes, just about every ingredient can be successfully substituted.
For a guide on my recipe notation, see this blog entry.
Unbaked Beans refers to the fact that this dish isn't baked, just simmered on the hob.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Language of Sleepy Dad's Recipes

Mmmm, delish.
Part of being a stay-at-home Dad is that you are responsible for all that goes into your kids mouths as well as all that comes out of them.

I will be posting recipes, occasionally, and with these I thought I'd better ensure people understand my notation. Most recipes use approximate measures and are not very scientific.  Baking, however, will be more specific (like a formula).

So this is what I say. followed by what I mean:

t = teaspoon, 1t = 5ml = 1/6 fl oz
T = tablespoon, 1T = 15ml = 1/2 fl oz
C = cup, 1C = 250ml = 8.5 fl oz
g = gram, 30g = 1oz
kg = kilogram. 1kg = 2.2lbs
ml = milliliter, 30 ml = 1fl oz
L = liter, 1L = 1 quart

Oven temperatures are always for fan forced ovens.

Viva metric!  But I will post imperial equivalents where possible.

And always, always remember: never ever put poison in a meal.


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Making Banananas Funnerer

A likely bunch
I know how to spell banana, I just don't know when to stop.  This is an old saying in computer programming circles for poorly constructed looping algorithms. They don't know when to stop.

Kids love bananas.  What's not to love?  They can be peeled, chomped, mashed, put on bread, eaten with ice cream.  There isn't much about eating bananas that kids don't like.

But like the programming loop that doesn't know when to end, I like to keep the bananana fun going a bit longer.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Finer Points of Gifting

Last month the Little Dude completed his fourth lap of the sun.  As tradition dictates, we had a party and cake and celebrated the birth of this amazing little creature.  We couldn't keep a lid on the festivities and family and friends all showed up to let him know just how special he is to us all.

Jackpot!  
Athena and I are really slack at giving each other presents.  There is a little saying in our house that if there was something we really needed (read: wanted), we would've bought it on the way home from work. Neither of us has the collector's disease, so whenever the odometer rolls over, it's pretty much a handshake and commiserations.

But kids' birthdays are different, they are magical.  We think they are really special little people and we want them to feel really special because being a kid is really special.  And everyone else in their lives thinks the same.  So much so that the inundation of presents is almost too much.